Allow Activists Freedom of Movement
(28 July 2008) The Iranian government prevented Abdollah Momeni, a well-known human rights activist, from travelling to Malaysia to attend the upcoming Asia-Pacific Forum in Malaysia on 25 July, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
Intelligence and security agents routinely prevent opinion-makers, activists, and dissidents from travelling abroad to attend international conferences. “The government is in effect imprisoning these people inside the country, preventing their freedom of movement, in an effort to keep their voices from international audiences,” the Campaign said.
Momeni, spokesman for the Advar Organization, was due to leave Tehran for Kuala Lumpur on July 25, following an invitation to participate in the thirteenth annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum in Malaysia. The meeting is taking place with participation of nearly 200 regional human rights organizations as well a parallel event involving national human rights institutions. Representatives of two other Iranian groups, from Defenders of Human Rights Center and the Kurdistan Organization for Human Rights, are expected to participate in the proceedings.
“Denying Momeni to travel to this Forum is a barometer of the human rights situation in Iran that will not escape the notice of participants. The Iranian government has no justification whatsoever in preventing its citizens from participating in and contributing to such conferences,” the Campaign said.
Last year, security forces stopped Momeni in Tehran airport on his way to attend an event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Boston, USA. In June, government agents prevented Abdolfattah Soltani, well-known human rights defender and lawyer, from travelling to Geneva to attend a meeting of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.
In the past year, several other activists have been barred from travel by security agents in airports, including Hashem Aghajari, Issa Saharkhiz, and Taqi Rahmani.
The Campaign called on Iranian authorities to immediately stop arbitrary travel bans against activists and to allow their presence in international forums to enhance and improve the international community’s ties with their Iranian counterparts.