The Words of the Riedl Family

NGOs Urge European Leaders In Geneva To Protest Iranian Abuses

Elisabeth Riedl
March 12, 2007

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NGOs urge European leaders in Geneva to protest Iranian abuses

Geneva, March 12, 2007 -- An international coalition of human rights groups called on nine European government ministers visiting Geneva today to rebuke Iran for its repression of women, dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities.

The letter by Women's Federation for World Peace, Hope for Africa, the Open Society Institute and 24 other NGOs from across Europe, North America, Africa and Asia protested Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's appearance today at the UN Human Rights Council, and urged German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Dutch Foreign Minister Verhagen, Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt and six other leaders to speak out during their turn at the Council podium. Mr. Mottaki was responsible for organizing the December conference in Tehran questioning the Holocaust.

According to Hillel Neuer, executive director the Geneva-based UN Watch, "the Iranian foreign minister is seeking to use the highest human rights body to legitimize his regime. To be silent about Iran's human rights abuses -- such as its recent arrest of women peacefully demonstrating for their rights -- is to condone them."

The text of the appeal follows below.

To: President Calmy-Rey of Switzerland; Foreign Minister Steinmeier of Germany, Foreign Minister Asselborn of Luxembourg, Foreign Minister Verhagen of the Netherlands, Foreign Minister Bildt of Sweden, Foreign Minister Moratinos of Spain, Justice Minister Clement of France, Foreign Minister Kieber-Beck of Liechtenstein, and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Johansen of Norway

March 12, 2007

All of you will address the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, March 12, 2007 -- as will Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We, the undersigned human rights non-governmental organizations, are deeply concerned that Minister Mottaki will seek to use the forum and authority of the new Council to legitimize his government at the same time as it perpetrates systematic violations of fundamental individual liberties. Accordingly, we urge you, as representatives of free and democratic states, to use the occasion today to speak out strongly against Iran's gross violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to endorse efforts to restore the mandate of the independent expert into the situation of human rights in Iran.

Iran's abysmal human rights record is well known and documented. Recently, the UN General Assembly, in Resolution 61/176 of 19 December 2006, cited Iran for numerous gross violations of human rights, including:

Violence against women
Harassment and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents, and workers' advocates
Absence of due process
Public execution
Increasing discrimination, including violent crackdowns, and other human rights violations against Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis and Kurds, as well as Baha'is, Christians, Jews, Sufis and Sunni Muslims.

Just last week, security police arrested more than 30 women for peacefully exercising their internationally-protected rights to free expression and assembly. Although the regime has since released most of them, it has promised to re-arrest the women if they assemble again.

In addition to all of this, the government of Iran, in violation of recent UN resolutions, has led an international campaign to deny the genocide of the Holocaust, including in statements and an official letter submitted to the Human Rights Council. It is unconscionable for Iran to exploit the UN's foremost human rights forum to perpetrate, in the words of French President Jacques Chirac, "a crime against the truth, the absolute perversion of the soul and spirit."

Iran also has shown its contempt for the Council by sending an official implicated in brutal abuses -- the man responsible for the torture and murder of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian journalist -- to represent it at the Council's inaugural session.

In light of all of the above, the Iranian Foreign Minister's appearance at the Council podium cannot pass in silence. We appeal to you to hold Iran accountable for its gross violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to endorse efforts to restore the mandate of the independent expert into the situation of human rights in Iran.

Sincerely yours,

International Humanist and Ethical Union
Dr. Rob Buitenweg
Vice President
The Netherlands

Indian Social Institute
John Thoonunkaparambil
Coordinator, Human Rights and Law Unit

Institute for Humanist Studies
Larry Jones

Open Society Institute
Mike Amitay
Senior Policy Analyst

Worldwide Organization for Women
Afton Beutler
Vice President of International Affairs

Thailand Burma Border Consortium
Sally Thompson
Deputy Executive Director

International ARC PEACE
Sven Thiberg
Professor Emeritus

Hope for Africa International
Dr. Charles Mwape
Regional Director

Transnational Radical Party
Matteo Mecacci
UN representative
United Nations Headquarters

Greek Helsinki Monitor
Panayote Dimitras

Women Environmental Programme
Priscilla M Achakpa

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Edward S. Beck

Presentation Congregation Lismore
Sr. Anne Shay
Justice Contact

World Federation of Scientific Workers
Dr. Shreesh Juyal
Vice President

United Nations Watch
Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

Association of World Citizens
Virginia Swain
ECOSOC Representative

R. Francois Garai
Main Representative

Endeavour Forum
Babette Francis
National and Overseas Coordinator

International Council of Jewish Women
Léonie de Picciotto

Fédération International des Femmes des Carrières Juridiques
Virginia S. Mueller

World Federation for Mental Health
Anne Yamada

Women's Federation for World Peace, International
Elisabeth Riedl
European Secretary General

Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts
Jose Adriaansen-Smit
NGO Liaison

International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization (IMSCO)
Frank Weston
President CEO

International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development (VIDES)
Maria Grazia Caputo
Executive Director

World Association for Christian Communication
R. Naylor
General Secretary

UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.

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