UN Watch Congratulates Human Rights Activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam

UN Watch sends congratulations and warm wishes to  Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a devoted activist and cherished colleague in the cause of universal human rights, and to Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of Defence, on their recent marriage.

Iranian-born Afshin-Jam has earned international recognition for her tireless advocacy on behalf of human rights victims in the Islamic Republic of Iran, deepening her activism after she rose to prominence in Canada and beyond as a beauty queen, singer, model and actress.

UN Watch gave Afshin-Jam its Human Rights Hero Award in 2009 in recognition of her activism, including as president and co-founder of Stop Child Executions, which fights for minors facing execution in Iran.

Appearing together with dissident and former political prisoner Ahmad Batebi,  Afshin-Jam represented UN Watch in a dramatic speech before the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, reproduced below.

She testified about her father’s torture by the regime, and presented a joint appeal by 50 activists for an urgent council session to investigate Iran’s “gross violation of all basic human rights.”

Iran immediately took the council floor to denounce her remarks as “unsubstantiated.”

Afshin-Jam’s persistent advocacy paid off. The council finally decided last year to create the post of a special investigator on the situation of human rights in Iran.

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Sept. 16, 2009 UN Human Rights Council Testimony by Nazanin Afshin-Jam, on behalf of UN Watch:

Madam High Commissioner, thank you for calling attention to victims of torture.  My father was tortured, by a vicious regime. I know what it means.

Thank you for spotlighting discrimination in Tibet; the violation of women’s rights in Sudan; and the shooting of human rights defenders in Russia.

Thank you also for putting a spotlight on the Islamic Republic of Iran: its fraudulent elections in June, brutal arrest of peaceful protesters, murder of Neda and other innocents, and rape of female and male detainees.  Detailed evidence of these horrific crimes was released this week by opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi.

This is the government that tortured my father. And sitting next to me is Ahmad Batebi. They tortured him for 9 years, for attending a student protest.

This is the government that has at least 160 juveniles on death row, in violation of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The evidence is documented in this new report by Stop Child Executions, entitled “From Cradle to Coffin: A Report on Child Executions in Iran.”

Madam High Commissioner, you spoke of human rights, courage and political will.

Mr. Batebi and I here today to present this appeal by 50 Iranian human rights defenders.

We urge you to call for an immediate Special Session of this Council, to investigate Iran’s gross violation of all basic human rights, and to take action to protect the victims.

After June, the world knows: President Ahmadinejad does not represent the people of Iran.  The people of Iran want freedom, democracy, and human rights.  The abuses are getting worse and worse by the day.  There’s no time to spare. Please, we need your help.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Iran’s response:

First and foremost, I should reiterate that the unbalanced and biased vision towards country situations in the world, prevailing in the aforementioned statements, has led to the stereotyping the situation in my country, while there are a lot of verily alarming human rights situations across the world, including among EU countries.

This negative approach, which is politically motivated, deprives one to gain a balanced constructive and inclusive attitude toward human rights. That’s why an outstanding 85% turnout of the Iranians in the recent presidential election and election debates have not caught an eye among these few countries.

Furthermore, the cause for releasing the detainees involved in the events subsequent to the election without mentioning the due process of law again shows a non-constructive approach towards human rights in a country.

Mr. President, what we really need is a change in such negative and non-constructive approaches.

Finally, with regard to the statement made by the UN Watch this morning, my delegation, while rejecting the unsubstantiated allegations therein, would like to remind the pertinent rules of procedures which stress accuracy and decency in addressing human rights issues before this august body.

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