Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and other world leaders will be meeting in the new United Nations building (pictured) in New York City for the 68th session of the General Assembly.

Rouhani Should Continue to Address Human Rights Crisis

(September 18, 2013) – The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomes the release today of several prisoners of conscience in Iran, including lawyer and human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani should continue to take concrete steps towards improving the urgent human rights situation in his country as he prepares to address the United Nations, the Campaign added.

The Campaign calls for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, including two Iranian-Americans currently imprisoned in Iran for political reasons, Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini.

“When I was released, I did not sign for furlough. They told me, ‘You are free,’” Sotoudeh told the Campaign. “Other prisoners and lawyers should be released, too. They are there for political reasons belonging to a period that is over,” she added.

Next week, Rouhani will attend the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York City. As Rouhani meets with other world leaders, the Campaign urges him to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran and other UN Special Procedures to visit the country. He should also make commitments during his UN visit to work toward a moratorium on the death penalty in Iran, the Campaign said.

“One of President Rouhani’s main goals for this trip is to reduce international tensions. He cannot achieve this goal without fully addressing the pressing human rights situation in Iran today,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The Campaign recently published a report outlining 74 specific recommendations for Rouhani’s government to end systematic human rights abuses. The report emphasizes the restrictions on freedoms of expression and association in Iran, and details recommendations to ameliorate the human rights situation in the country, including cooperating with UN human rights mechanisms and removing Internet censorship to allow free expression in Iran.

While Rouhani addresses the UN in New York, hundreds of activists, journalists, and dissenters remain in prison in Iran. These include the three opposition leaders held under house arrest with no charges for over two years: Mehdi Karroubi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mir Hossein Mousavi.

“At a time when bloggers, journalists, and activists are being persecuted for expressing their opinions, Iran’s foreign minister has an official presence on social media websites that are blocked for ordinary Iranians,” Ghaemi said. “Rouhani is in a position to ensure that all Iranians have freedom of expression. To assure the international community that he is serious, Rouhani should continue to take the necessary steps to stop the egregious human rights violations in Iran.”