Iran’s Student Movement Makes A Strong Appearance At The UN Human Rights Council Session
Campaign’s daily blog from Geneva-With several prominent members from Iran’s student movement, former political prisoners, and expelled or banned students in attendance, challenging Iran’s official delegation and the state-supported NGO members, the United Nations Human Rights Council Session had a very different face this year.
The Iranian delegation, and of course their non-governmental companions, who did their best for covering up the widespread violations of human rights in Iran, were challenged several times during the four-week session by different groups who had traveled to Geneva over the past two months to provide a detailed picture of what has been transpiring in Iran for the almost two years after the Iranian presidential election and before it.
Pouyan Mohamoudian, a former student activist passed the graduate admission examination in 2008, ranking sixth place, but was not allowed to enroll in the university. “Unfortunately, I was banned from continuing my education and I became “starred.” The reason for this was that the Ministry of Intelligence did not approve my qualification for continuing my education,” Mahmoudian told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“I came to the UN with a group of other Iranian students who had to leave Iran, to try and talk to the diplomats from different countries and NGO activists here, in order to make them aware of violations of human rights in Iran. As I and the other Iranian students here are victims of violations of human rights in Iran, diplomats and human rights activists may trust us more in order to feel encouraged to put pressure on the Islamic Republic,” he told the Campaign about his presence at the Session.
“I and the rest of the students who are here were active in human rights inside Iran. It is interesting that we never even heard the names of those who are here now as human rights activists. We have never heard the names of the organizations they represent. When we talk to them, it is clear that they are using all their might to defend the Iranian regime, and sometimes when they hear us talk about the violations of our human rights in Iran, they say that ‘we were not told about this, otherwise we would have taken action.’ But in the end, they don’t answer the question that ‘if you are working as a human rights activist, what has been the result of your work and how come so far, those whose human rights have been violated have not been able to contact you and your organizations?'” said Mahmoudian about the pro-government NGO’s accompanying the government delegation.
“The presence of student and civil activists who have recently left Iran in such gatherings will help them find a better view into establishing contact with the human rights arena through special international occasions. NGO’s from other countries also trust those who have just left Iran about their reports and feel more comfortable,” said the banned student about the importance of the victims’ presence at international events.
Morteza Eslahchi is a former member of the Tahkim-e Vahdat Student Organization and Secretary of the Islamic Association of Allameh Tabatabaee University. During his university studies, Eslahchi was arrested twice and has been sentenced to two years in prison. He accompanied his other friends to the Session and participated in the side meetings along with other attending activists, informing others about the violations of human rights in Iran. “It used to be that those who were active in disseminating information about the violations of human rights in Iran by the Islamic Republic were always those who had been away from Iran for years, and despite their efforts, because of this distance, they couldn’t demonstrate the real atmosphere of Iran. But most of us are those who had to leave the country after the 2009 elections because of the atmosphere that had developed in Iran. Therefore, we experienced the real atmosphere of the recent years in Iran, and most of us have gone to prison. At this Session, when we faced the Iranian diplomats’ traditional method of evading answering [questions about] the current situation, we started a debate with them. Because we ourselves experienced Iran’s existing situation firsthand, we knew what they are saying and that they are merely evading the truth. For example, an NGO affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran had organized a meeting. We saw that they tried very hard to divert the attention, but it didn’t happen. We witnessed that one of the (non-Iranian) speakers the Islamic Republic had invited to a program managed by a government official, explicitly said that he opposes the Islamic Republic and supports the Green Movement. This was a failure for the Islamic Republic and a victory for the Green Movement at the UN Session,” Eslahchi told the Campaign.
“The Islamic Republic has brought a large number of people to this meeting as human rights activists and Iranian women’s rights activists, but we saw that they had no function at this meeting. Whether they honestly believe in the Islamic Republic, or whether they are provided in financial terms in order to attend these meetings, we saw that the things they were discussing were not real. The Islamic Republic has brought a great number of people as civil rights activists, and most of them could not speak English. I don’t know. The ones who consider themselves civil rights activist and as the elite and sit in the United Nation inside a diplomatic delegation, how could they not speak English?! From this instance alone it is understood who these people are. We also saw that they were careful facing us, sometimes on the sidelines they would talk to older Iranians, but as soon as they would face us, the younger ones, they would retreat quickly and get out of discussions because they know that we recently got out of the country and have experienced the recent events,” Morteza Eslahchi told the Campaign about the NGO’s accompanying the government delegation.
Eslahchi remarked about the extensive work of the Iranian delegation to deliver the ideal image of the situation of freedom of expression and respect for civil-political rights of the people within the country in these types of sessions. “I think that such efforts by the Islamic Republic are futile, because now inside Iran the atmosphere is so transparent that they can no longer cover up the events. No more, this show that they bring 60 or 70 people as Iranian human rights activists, bring some women as human rights activists, or bring a woman who introduces herself as a Kurdish Sunni and says that Kurds and religious minorities’ rights have not been violated… we witnessed in the sessions that not even the international community believes this anymore. At the sidelines of the Session, when I talked with some people from different countries, they said that they did not believe these fake words. They were fully aware,” Eslahchi told the Campaign.
Morteza Eslahchi concluded by assessing the Iranian government’s performance at the Human Rights Sessions. “The Islamic Republic hit a dead end in all its efforts. They wanted to bring an army of people to Geneva and spend a lot of money, they wanted to influence the public opinion. But others are fully aware, because now everything inside Iran is transparent and everyone knows how the Iranian people think and what they want, and what kind of position the Islamic Republic has inside and outside Iran. Everything is clear,” said Morteza Eslahchi.