“If the Iranian regime does become a member of the Human Rights Council, then it will be a slap in the face of the other members ofthe Council,” said Iranian dissident Caspian Makan in an address before the Geneva Summit this afternoon. Makan is the fiancé of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman murdered by the government troops during the June 2009 post-election demonstrations in Tehran. He traveled to Geneva this week to share Neda’s message and call on the United Nations to bar Iran’s bid for membership on the 47-member body.
“And I said to Neda, why do you want to demonstrate? She said, ‘We have a responsibility to defend our rights…I love you, Caspian, but what is most important to me is the freedom of our people.’ And I said to her, ‘What if you are arrested, what will happen?’ And she said nothing. And I said, ‘What if you are shot at?’ And she said to me, ‘Even if a bullet hits my heart, it doesn’t matter, because everyone will be marked,’” he said.
Makan experienced the transformation of Iranian society under the Islamic revolution and was part of the generation of young journalists and activist students who opposed the Ahmadinejad government and its repressive measures on civil liberties. He and Neda became engaged shortly before the June 2009 elections and chose to protest against his wishes and those of her family.”She died hoping for a better life of the millions of Iranians who remained behind, and her wish for the gift of freedom for her people.”
Sudanese political activist and former child slave Simon Deng, who sat in the audience, said, “Your fiancé gave her life to defend your people, your fiancé is a hero to all of us.”
David Suurland of the Foundation for Freedom of Information, whose own work focused on spreading mobile video technology in Iran, asked, “How can I make the voice of the Iranian dissidents heard?” The Internet has become a key battleground in Iran, where dissidents are jailed for posting opinions and organizing democracy rallies through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“I and other Iranians are surprised to see how the authorities of other countries sit at the same table and negotiate with him,” said Iranian activist Shaheen Sariri. “This is a kind of support they give to the illegal acts of the government. I would like to draw the United Nations’ attention to the issue that we have a Constitution, and it runs counter to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”