links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Fiancé of Neda, Iran’s Slain ‘Angel of Freedom,’ Heading to Geneva Rights Summit.

THE UPDATE:   www.unwatch.org

02 March 2010

Fiancé of Neda, Iran’s Slain ‘Angel of Freedom,’ Heading to Geneva Rights Summit – Caspian Makan to protest Iranian government brutality.

A video of Neda's death found its way out of Iran, where it was uploaded to the websites of various media organizations, Facebook and YouTube. The dramatic 40-second tape stirred outrage and attracted tens of thousands of viewers.

GENEVA, March 2, 2010 One day after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the UN in Geneva that President Ahmadinejad’s June election was “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom,” Caspian Makan, the fiancé of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha Soltan, announced today that he will join other world-famous dissidents as a speaker at next Monday’s Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, co-organized by UN Watch, Freedom House, Ibuka and more than 20 other human rights NGOs.

Images of Neda’s bloody killing in June at the hand of the Basij paramilitary force turned an international spotlight on the brutality of the Iranian government crackdown against peaceful protesters.

The Tehran regime banned prayers for Neda in the country’s mosques, arresting anyone who held a vigil for her. Mr. Makan was then arrested and detained at Evin Prison in Tehran. He was beaten and pressured to sign a false confession.

Since his release, Mr. Makan has been an outspoken dissident for freedom in Iran, spreading Neda’s story and message around the world.

The Geneva conference is organized by a global civil society coalition of 25 human rights groups, including Burmese, Tibetan and Zimbabwean organizations (see list below), with support from the Canton of Geneva.

The two-day schedule features more than 20 action-oriented presentations and skills-building workshops, with the objective of advancing internet freedom, the struggle of dissidents against state repression, and reform of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council.

Speakers will include former political prisoners from around the world, including Rebiya Kadeer, champion of China’s Uighur minority and Nobel Peace Prize nominee; Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, Cuban dissident; Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident, winner of the 2008 Human Rights Watch Award; Donghyuk Shin, survivor of North Korean prison camps; and Phuntsok Nyidron, the Buddhist nun from Tibet who served 15 years in jail for recording songs of freedom.

The Geneva Summit will also feature eminent governmental and intergovernmental advocates for human rights, including Massouda Jalal, the former Afghan Minister of Women Affairs and first female presidential candidate; MP Irwin Cotler, Canadian human rights hero and former counsel to Nelson Mandela; Italian MP Matteo Mecacci, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur for democracy and human rights; and Jan Pronk, former Special Representative in Sudan of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Last year’s summit, covered by CNN, AP, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal, brought together former political prisoners Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt, Ahmad Batebi of Iran, José Gabriel Ramón Castillo of Cuba and Soe Aung of Burma, along with many other well-known rights activists and scholars. (See videos at genevasummit.org/videos.)

Admission to the March 8-9, 2010 conference is free, and the public and media are invited to attend. For accreditation, program and schedule information, please visit genevasummit.org/.

Visit the site during the conference to follow the live webcast, blog and Twitter feed.


Global Civil Society Coalition

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma

Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL)

Darfur Peace and Development Center

Directorio Democratico Cubano

Fondation Genereuse Development

Freedom House

Freedom Now

Genocide Watch

Global Zimbabwe Forum

Human Rights Activists in Iran

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l

IBUKA

Ingénieurs du monde

Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children

International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)

International Campaign to End Genocide

International Association of Genocide Scholars

Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme

LiNK

Respekt Institut

Stop Child Executions

Tibetan Women’s Association

UN Watch

Zimbabwe Advocacy Office

###

“Giving Iran Seat on U.N. Rights Council Would Legitimize Its Brutality,” Says Boyfriend of Killed Protest Icon

Patrick Goodenough
March 10, 2010

An Iranian whose fiancée’s death by gunfire became a symbol of opposition to the regime during post-election protests last year made an impassioned appeal Tuesday for Tehran to be denied a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in elections this spring.

Caspian Makan addresses the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, co-organized by UN Watch and 24 other human rights NGOs, Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

Addressing a gathering of dissidents and human rights advocates in Geneva, Caspian Makan, a photojournalist who fled Iran late last year after being detained for more than 60 days, said Iranian membership in the U.N.’s top human rights body would be a “slap in the face” of other members.

It would encourage other countries that have a tendency to flout human rights and undermine the credibility of the U.N. and the council, he said, according to a translation provided by event organizers.

“I feel furthermore that if the Iranian regime became a member, that would legitimize the inhuman and cruel acts the regime has perpetuated against its population,” Makan added. “Giving it legitimacy would encourage them to go further still.”

The U.N. has confirmed that Iran has submitted in writing its candidacy to become a member of the HRC.

On May 13, the General Assembly will vote by secret ballot to fill 14 of the Geneva-based council’s 47 seats. Iran and four other countries – Thailand, Qatar, Malaysia and the Maldives – will compete to fill four available seats set aside for the Asian regional group.

Makan was speaking Tuesday at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, a two-day event that brought together some 500 people from more than 60 countries, to discuss issues organizers say are mostly neglected by the HRC.

He told the gathering about Neda Agha Soltan, the 26-year old “deep thinker” and “artist at heart” with whom he had fallen in love after meeting her on a trip.

Makan, 38, said they had tended in the past not to vote in elections because they were seen as a charade, and taking part would be seen as “participating in the regime to some extent.”

But the 2009 election had seemed to offer in the shape of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi a “lesser evil” for young Iranians who “above all else wanted to get rid of Mr. [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad.”

Once it became clear that the election was rigged in favor of the incumbent, he said, Soltan had joined the protests.

Makan said that while trying to do his job he was an eyewitness to the violent clampdown by “the mercenaries of the regime” and “saw firsthand that the army of the revolution was shooting and killing the demonstrators from a helicopter.”

Four days before she died, he had urged Soltan to keep away from the demonstrations. “She said, ‘You know Caspian, I love you, I love being with you, but what is most important to me is the freedom of our people.”

On June 20, Soltan was shot in the chest on a Tehran street, apparently by a Basij militia sniper. Amateur video footage capturing the moments after the shooting was posted online and seen around the world.

“We have seen many people who have been wounded and killed, but this struck the world particularly hard,” Makan said of his fiancee’s death.

“We were able to see in the footage how good and kind she was and admire her attitude when faced with death, to admire her courage as a symbol of liberty, as she died hoping for a better life for the millions of Iranians who remained behind.”

Human rights researchers say at least 40 Iranians died during June and that the number more than doubled in the months that followed. The official figure stands at 44.

Last month, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, director-general of Iran’s Interior Ministry – whose functions including policing and overseeing elections – told the HRC that the June 2009 presidential election had been “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article

###