Tehran Welcomes Ban Ki-moon, Ignores Ahmed Shaheed
Over the past few days, hundreds of Iranians have engaged in a letter-writing campaign to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as he prepares to visit Tehran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement Conference. Those signing the letters (link in Persian) seek the Secretary-General’s assistance in inquiring about the health conditions of the Green Movement leaders under house arrest since February 2011. In addition to the letters, activists have created a Facebook page dedicated to sending this message to Ban Ki-moon.
“You travel to our country at a time when for more than 1.5 years, Mir Hossein Mousavi, former presidential candidate, along with his wife, and Mehdi Karroubi, the other Green Movement partner, have been under house arrest without appearing at a trial court and without any legal justification, facing various hardships away from the eyes of the public and their families. We, Iranian dissidents, ask you to visit with these innocently imprisoned leaders during your Tehran visit, and to assure us of their health and conditions. In your meetings with the Iranian rulers, call on them to observe the principles and rules of humanity in confronting their critics and opposition, and to object to violations of human rights in our country,” the letter states.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has had a contentious relationship with the UN in recent years. While Iran has experienced increased international isolation for its nuclear and foreign policies, the UN has repeatedly passed resolutions condemning Iran’s nuclear policies and human rights violations. In addition, Iranian authorities have strongly objected to the UN’s decision to appoint a country-specific Special Rapporteur to review Iran’s violations of international agreements to uphold human rights, particularly violations to the rights to free association, assembly, expression, and education.
While Iranian authorities prepare to welcome UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Tehran, UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed continues to await a visa to enter Iran. The Special Rapporteur has not been allowed to enter the country since the mandate was first approved in March 2011; his mandate was renewed in March 2012.
Iranian civil society views the Secretary-General’s visit as an opportunity for the UN to engage in some of the human rights monitoring that has been denied its Special Rapporteur, particularly with regards to the Green Movement leaders under de facto house arrest since February 2011.