Open letter to Canada and the EU Member states

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We are writing you in order to urge you to table a resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran at the UN Commission on Human Rights, currently gathering in Geneva.

Canada took the initiative of such a resolution last December, at the UN General Assembly, following the death of the Irano-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi, in July 2003, in Tehran, as a consequence of beatings while in custody.

Since the end of last year, the human rights situation in Iran has not improved, on the contrary. The recommendations issued by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in June 2003 have not been implemented. The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression published in January 2004 clearly points at very serious breaches of the right to freedom of expression and opinion in Iran. The recommendations included in that report have not been implemented either.

The election process of February 2004 has been largely criticised since more than 2000 reformist candidates have been disqualified before the election. These included many of the best-known figures in the reform movement. It is a violation of the right to free and fair election, enshrined in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran since 1975.

Today, 11 journalists are still in prison for the mere exercise of their right to freedom of expression while Nasser Zarafchan, a lawyer and human rights defender, is still behind the bars.

Last but not least, two intelligence officers were arrested and charged in August 2003 but the Kazemi trial is making no progress. In addition, no charges were brought against the Public Prosecutor of Tehran, who is still in place despite the fact that his responsibility in the arrest of Zahra Kazemi has been clearly established.

The resolution tabled by Canada at the UN General Assembly in December gathered a large support. We believe that there would be the same support for a similar initiative within the Commission on Human Rights.

In view of the gravity of the human rights violations taking place in Iran and of the lack of progress with regard to the issues of concern raised in the December resolution, we urge you to table a resolution on that situation in Geneva. Such an initiative would be a clear support for democrats and human rights defenders in Iran.

Sincerely yours

Nicole Filion
Ligue des droits et libertés du Québec

Sidiki Kaba

Karim Lahidji
Ligue iranienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme and Vice-president of the FIDH

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