Banned Iranian Students at Human Rights Session in Geneva
Mostafa Khosravi and Nariman Mostafavi, two students who have been banned from continuing their education in Iran, are now continuing their studies abroad. Both were among the student activists who challenged the narrative of Iran’s official delegation and pro-government NGO delegations during the course of the Human Rights Council Session in Geneva. The two former student activists sat down for an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran regarding their motivations for attending the session, the presence of pro-government NGO’s that were covering up the human rights violations in Iran, and eventually about their own activities.
“We decided to have a sit-in during this Session, to protest the arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi and the indiscriminate violence in Iran. This Session was a good opportunity for the young generation who were political activists in Iran but left Iran due to the harsh conditions, to get involved in human rights issues and speak directly with the NGO’s, associations, and various groups and to express their own personal experiences; so the human rights activists of the countries present at the Session would be able to make better decisions for helping. In this Session, we witnessed that at the end of one of the programs, the speakers invited by the Islamic Republic expressed concern about the existing situation and even announced their readiness to cooperate with the Green Movement. These reactions were as a result of their learning about Iran’s recent experiences, and they directly associated with some of the difficulties and realities of Iran,” Mustafa Khosravi, former member of the General Council of Daftare Tahkim-e Vahdat, and current member of Policy Council of the Advar Tahkim Alumni Association told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “Those in attendance were not only exposed to diplomats and certain people representing the government. They were able to meet others at the Session who could tell them directly about what has taken place inside prisons and other places,” he added.
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Mostafa Khosravi was determined disqualified for continuing his university education in the Islamic Republic of Iran and expelled in 2006 for his political activities. During his education, he was arrested twice, once in 2003 for 58 days and again following the 2009 election for two days. He left Iran to continue his education shortly thereafter.
Regarding individuals who represented Iranian NGO’s during the Session, whose main activity was to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights record, he told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran: “Individuals who covered up the violations of human rights at this Session were either government representatives or representatives of Iranian NGO’s. But in Iran, we don’t have NGO’s that are independent from the government, especially in sensitive areas such as human rights, whether social rights or political rights. Some of the organizations that are present here, such as Organization for Defending Victims of Violence have been around for almost 20 years. But most of the individuals who established these organizations have backgrounds close to security organizations. We don’t expect more than this of them, because wherever in the world they go, it is their job to deflect attention from human rights [in Iran]. Whenever they are asked about the violations of human rights in Iran, they talk about Guantanamo. Their behavior is reminiscent of those [security forces] who confront people in prisons or people in the streets.”
Nariman Mostafavi graduated from Amir Kabir University’s Chemistry Department, and was a member of the university’s Islamic Association and a Cultural Deputy in Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat during his studies. Mostafavi told the Campaign that he was imprisoned for 70 days before the 2009 election. Prior to his arrest, he had passed the Graduate Admission Test with good ranking. “In a very strange process, I was not admitted to any day or night programs [in Chemical Engineering], but I was admitted…to Sahand University in Tabriz. But the Security Unit of that university told me that that they could not enroll me unless I signed a letter, authorizing the university to dismiss me whenever they saw fit. I decided not to go, because I knew that at the smallest incident at the university, they were going to expel me for sure. When I left the prison, I went to graduate school in Sweden,” he told the Campaign.
“It feels very bad. They are so brazen. Here’s a government that tortures and says I did not do it; a government that rapes and says I did not do it; a government that bans people from education, and says it is not so; and a government that kills people and says the victim was my supporter; and then they send representatives to the international community and tries to somehow force the statements it has fed to its own people, to the international public opinion, too. This really hurts my feelings. I cannot believe such collection of bad attributes in a group of people. We try to affect these people’s perceptions through our participation and to ask that they act more ethically in politics and to ensure that they cannot feed lies to the international community,” said the banned student activist about his presence in Geneva.