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June 20, 2011

NIAC Welcomes Appointment of Human Rights Monitor, Calls for Iran to Cooperate

Washington, DC – NIAC welcomes the appointment by the U.N. Human Rights Council of Ahmed Shaheed as the human rights monitor for Iran and calls on Iran to allow Mr. Shaheed to investigate Iran’s human rights record without interference.  Mr. Shaheed served as the foreign minister of the Maldives until 2007, when he resigned to protest the government’s failure to implement democratic reforms.

“By shining a global spotlight on the human rights situation in Iran, Mr. Shaheed can provide much needed transparency and accountability to help protect the universal rights of the Iranian people,” said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi.  “Iranian government officials have previously claimed they would allow the monitor access to the country, and the Iranian-American community joins the international community in calling for Iran’s government to uphold this promise so Mr. Shaheed can do his job.”

The appointment of Mr. Shaheed coincides with the news that 12 political prisoners in Iran have started an indefinite hunger strike in protest over the killing of two fellow political prisoners, Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber.  Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and other prominent Iranians have launched a viral campaign to create video statements of support and solidarity with the 12.

“The deaths of Mrs. Sahabi and Mr. Saber and the hunger strikes in Evin prison show once again why Iran must release all prisoners of conscience and the international community must make human rights a priority in dealing with Iran.”  

Although it is unclear if Iran will cooperate with the monitor or special rapporteur as the position is also known, Mr. Shaheed said he would investigate rights abuses regardless.  “The work will continue whether or not access is given, but will benefit from Iran’s cooperation,” he said.

Yesterday, a committee in the Iranian Parliament voted to bar the rapporteur from entering the country.  That contradicted a statement in May from Mohammad Javad Lairijani, head of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights, who said “Iran is maintaining its position of welcoming all [rapporteurs] and has no problem with their visiting Iran.”

The State Department also welcomed the appointment of Mr. Shaheed, saying “The special rapporteur will serve as a voice for the millions of Iranians who have suffered egregious human rights violations and are not heard by their own government.”

NIAC built strong support for establishing the human rights monitor through both grassroots efforts and direct work with key Senators and the Obama Administration to ensure the U.S. would work vigorously to build support for the measure at the U.N. Human Rights Council.  NIAC also convened a Capitol Hill conference featuring U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel and Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström to build broad, cross-regional support for the U.N. resolution creating the human rights monitor for Iran.




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