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Shabnam Assadollahi's speech

Shabnam Assadollahi
Human Rights Defender,
Executive board member, Neda For a free Iran, a human rights advocacy NGO,
Producer and host of Radio Hamseda-Ottawa 2003-2011
September 22, 2011, Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza,
The Manhattan Park near the United Nations HQ

Dear friends,

It is an honour to have the privilege of addressing you today. I would like to thank all the members of the Iran180 Coalition for inviting me to speak.

The United Nations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the freedom of thought, of conscience, of opinion and of expression to all people. Yet the Islamic Republic of Iran continually and consistently intimidates, arrests, tortures and executes innocent citizens who peacefully petition for their mandated rights. The basis of a democratic government’s authority is the will of the people. In denying the Iranian people their fundamental rights, the Islamic Republic of Iran usurps the will of the people. Governance in Iran is undemocratic, it is a theocracy that not only causes pain and suffering of the people but is a danger to the world. Let us be clear, the Islamic Republic of Iran does NOT represent the people of Iran. Let the world hear this message clearly.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed “serious concern” about Iran’s human rights record:

“...increased executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, and possible torture and ill-treatment of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and opposition activists”

Added to this list of authoritative, the persecution of minorities, including Arabs, Armenians, Azeris, Balouchs, Christians, Jews, Kurds and Baha’is; Ban Ki-moon noted the continued execution of Kurds on various charges, including Moharebeh (being “enmity against God”). Although there are about four million Kurds in Iran, they are barred from teaching the Kurdish language in regional schools.

Under Iran’s present constitution, key members of the government, parliament, judiciary and military must be Shiites, leaving Sunnis, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and others as second-class citizens, facing harsh treatment whenever they practise their faith openly. Nobel Peace laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi stated on Radio Hamseda in Ottawa in April, 2010: "Sunnis are not granted permits to build mosques in Tehran and every time they apply for (a) permit, the application gets rejected."

According to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad, Iran is the freest country... BUT this is the IRI Ahmadi Nejad is representing here today. Free to humiliate, free to imprison, free to torture, free to rape, free to execute...

This is the regime that Ahmadi Nejad is representing, a regime that its head of Human Rights Council shamelessly proclaims there is nothing more beautiful than stoning to death, cutting limbs and taking an eye out of socket! This is Sharia law at work.

Mr. Ahmadi Nejad is representing a regime post disputed election of 2009, jailed thousands and still today after two years there are some 650 remaining in prisons.

Mr. Ahmadi Nejad claims the Islamic regime of Iran is the freest country but journalist Ms. Somayeh Tohidloo received 50 lashes just last week for insulting him. Tohidloo was prosecuted in a sham trial. Among the charges she insulted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She was "convicted" and sentenced to one year of imprisonment, a $100 fine, and 50 lashes.

Her jail sentence was commuted. On September 14, she was summoned to Evin Prison and received 50 lashes. In violation of the Sharia law, she was lashed by a man to further humiliate her.

After Ms.Tohidloo was lashed, she wrote, "If I am trying to be patient, it is because I do not want morality to be destroyed. Even injustice and oppression do not give us permission to ignore morality. On the other hand, I am a small child of the great Iran, one similar to others, not more important. I am embarrassed about my sentence because others have paid a much heavier price. I would be grateful if you do not talk much about me, and make me indebted to you for your kindness. Our dream is a bright future and a green, free, and advanced Iran.”

She also wrote a blog entry titled "I Record This for the Future and for myself," addressing those who ordered and carried out her sentence: Be happy. Your intention was to humiliate me.... And I was humiliated today. My pride was broken. But greatness and smallness are in the hands of God. He is there, because if He were not, I would die today."

And still Ahmadi Nejad claims people can criticize and even insult him! Is this Not unmitigated hypocrisy?!

For over 32 years, Iranian women have been demanding changes to the country’s laws that allow only half the compensation for female victims of crimes as compared to men. This means if a woman and a man get into a traffic accident, the compensation given to the woman is half the compensation of a man’s.

In this age of women’s rights, women in Iran have long demanded changes to the laws that value the testimony of women as half the testimony of men. They demand changes to the divorce laws that give men absolute control and the right to have four ‘permanent’ wives and an unlimited number of ‘temporary’ wives. Iranian women are demanding changes to the laws that set the legal age of maturity for girls at 13 years old and 15 years for boys. This means that 13 year old little girls can be married off to men a number of decades their senior, with merely the consent of her male guardian, as provided by Article 1041 of the IRI Civil Code. IRI laws allow a girl to receive only half of the inheritance a boy receives, and the inheritance that a wife receives from her husband is even less than half.

The One Million Signatures Campaign was instituted to discover creative ways to change discriminatory laws and practices. Supporters of the Campaign aimed to gather signatures from ordinary men and women. With the objective of creating discussions about the discriminatory laws, they went door to door to collect those signatures. They intended to hand the signatures over to the Parliament of Iran. However, they paid a very costly price for their noble pursuits. Some participants were arrested, some received court summons, some were convicted of spurious offenses, some received travel bans, some were sentenced to five-year imprisonment and lashed by the misogynist’s whip.

With this record of continuous repression, is there any wonder why the Islamic Regime of Iran has persistently refused to ratify the Convention.

In a message sent by Nasrin Sotoudeh a human rights lawyer currently in prison and a strong advocate of the one Million Signature Campaign, she promised:

“I believe that just like how your country’s lawyers made great strides through their tireless efforts and were able to revise criminal laws, we also, through our struggles and efforts, will be able to help revise the laws that we object to. Even though we are living in a difficult time, millions before us have also trotted on the path to freedom and democracy. Just like they have succeeded, we will also overcome the hardships.”

Dear friends, I believe such hardships will be overcome if we join together and speak with one voice against this gross injustice that has plagued the United Nations. This overcoming will only happen if we speak up and exert inescapable pressure on local, national, regional and international governments and organizations.

The desire for rights and freedom is inherent in the nature of our species. For this reason when they are not given, they are demanded.

Together we must raise awareness and be the voice of those whose voice are being muted by repression and even now are struggling to be heard and those who have been silenced and are no longer with us. According to Amnesty International, the Islamic Republic of Iran executed over 250 people in 2010 alone. The report for 2011 is not published yet but the number of executions in the first quarter in 2011 is one in every 9 hours and executions for the month of September so far is 56+. This is often under pretext that they have been engaged in criminal activity.

A sad note here is that despite its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights the Islamic republic of Iran is the highest executioner of juveniles.

During a speech at Columbia University in September 2007, Ahmadi Nejad shamelessly claimed that there were no Gays in Iran... Why did he say that? Because, when their whereabouts are known they are taken into custody and are executed!

To date IRI has executed more than 2000 gays. Last week a news agency reported three gay men were hanged in public. State-run Iranian news agency ISNA reported that the men were put to death for acts against Sharia Law, "based on the articles 108 and 110 of the Iranian Islamic penal code."

The truth about the Islamic republic of Iran needs to reach the ears and hearts of the world, for knowledge is the vessel of constructive change.

Edmund Burke said “For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing."

My friends, given all that you have just heard and the evidence of the continuing human rights violations by the Iranian regime, should the Islamic Republic of Iran and its puppet Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad be invited to United Nations and especially to New York to represent Iran each year?

We must insure the Islamic republic of Iran hears our message clearly: “Your disingenuous polices, practices and discrimination are evidence that you are an international outlaw and have no place in the United Nations and that your inhuman ideology has no place what so ever in the world.

Thank you.

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