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Presentation the Campaign for Peace and Democracy would have given
if the delegation had been received at the Iranian Mission

We would like to begin by making one thing very clear — the delegation that sits before you is one that is independent of the U.S. government and opposed to its oppressive and anti-democratic foreign policy. Our position and support for human rights come with no strings attached and no hidden agenda.

We believe in solidarity among activists from different countries in their common fight for human rights, democracy, self-determination, workers' rights, women's rights and social justice. This solidarity is essential to the cause of peace. We are thus gravely concerned about continued legal and ethical violations by the Iranian authorities in the brutal silencing of its citizens calling for accountability and raising dissent. It is in this context that we echo the call of Iranian citizens: for freedom of expression and assembly; for the freedom to receive and impart information; for the right to form independent unions, associations and political parties; for the release of all prisoners of conscience; for a moratorium on executions; for the immediate end of all torture and forced confessions; and for the full rights of all religious, ethnic, sexual and other minorities.

Following the June 12th 2009 presidential election, the Iranian government has responded to peaceful, popular protests with sweeping arrests, excessive force resulting in the deaths and injuries of numerous demonstrators, restrictions on the media, and widespread violations of civil liberties. In the course of this crackdown student leaders Majid Tavakoli and Bahar Hedayat were arrested. Included in their sentences were the charges of insulting the Supreme Leader and the President. In addition to his reported five-year sentence Tavakoli has been banned from five years of political activity

We call for the release of all political prisoners, including trade unionists, artists, dissident clerics, feminists and human rights defenders of note is the recent restriction of movement and communication resulting in the de facto arrest of opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi as well as Fatemeh Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard. Pursuant to article 32 of Irans Constitution, charges must be brought against the accused within 24 hours; there is thus no excuse under Iranian law for the secret detentions of anyone.

We call for a moratorium on executions in Iran. The sheer rate at which executions are taking place is shocking to the conscience. Reports indicate that in the month of February 2011 alone at least 85 persons were killed. Many of the accused are given limited or no access to attorneys; they are often sentenced in closed hearings, with vague or arbitrary charges. For example, union leader Mansour Osanlou received a prison sentence for “acts against national security.” How exactly does organizing bus drivers threaten national security? The Iranian government acts in violation of its international and constitutional obligations to ensure due process of law.

Lawyer and women’s rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights defender Emadeddin Baghi and opposition leader Ebrahim Yazdi are reported to have suffered from grave medical conditions while incarcerated. We have received reports of torture and forced prison confessions from many political prisoners, all of whom have very limited access to legal counsel and their families, which increases our concern about their well-being. We urge Iran’s authorities to give Sotoudeh, Baghi and Yazdi and all other political prisoners access to their attorneys and appropriate medical care.

We do not invoke these allegations lightly. Nor do we limit this call to these individuals and leaders. In fact, many of the people on this delegation work tirelessly to defend those rights violated by the United States. We oppose U.S. economic sanctions and threats of war towards Iran. But we refuse to remain silent while those in Iran with whom we aim to work in solidarity have their rights systematically abused by their government.

The Iranian authorities have acknowledged their obligations under international human rights instruments to which they are a party, as well as the Iranian constitution. Yet all the human rights abuses reveal that Iran’s commitment to the rule of law is not genuine. Simply to deny these concerns as unfounded in the face of newspaper shutdowns, detentions of journalists, and disruption of communication amongst ordinary citizens is unacceptable and disingenuous. The government’s lack of transparency only lends to the urgency with which we make these calls. 

We affirm that we will continue to call for an end to the human rights crisis and for the right of all Iranians to hold their government accountable. Thus, the Iranian government shall not remain immune from criticism where anti-war and peace activists see the continued violation of these rights.