March 26, 2011

Boroujerdi's Letter to the UN Human Rights Council

In the appeal which was read at the headquarters of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on the 10th March 2011, by the Iranian journalist Nazenin Ansari.

Ladies and Gentlemen, according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Iran remains a signatory, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Religious freedom does not end with the right to hold certain beliefs; it is equally about not being discriminated against on the basis of the beliefs. . As the 1981 United Nations Declaration on Religious Intolerance emphasizes, it is that intolerance of others and their less favourable treatment that has too often become a catalyst for untold suffering and misery. (Inaugural issue of Iran Human Rights Review, Foreign Policy Centre, Preface by Cheri Blair.)
I appreciate that there are multitude of human right cases, the facts that distinguish Mr. Boroujerdi’s case are:
 He is a Shiite cleric who does not subscribe to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih.
 According to a most respected and internationally recognized Iranian human rights lawyer, 400 other clerics whose views are similar to him and are behind bars. Their families do not want any publicity out of fear.
 Boroujerdi, his family as well as his supporters on the contrary have remained vocal. They have energetically continued their campaigned despite being persecuted and castigated as “stupid” and “backward.” Indeed, they have continued their campaign even from behind bars even though they have been subjugated to solitary confinement, beatings, humiliation as well as physical, mental and emotional abuse.
 Boroujerdi has been inflicted with much pain and suffering since his arrest in 2006. He is not a well man.
 These people have no group supporting and protecting them outside of Iran. The pro-Islamic Republic groups abhor them and secular-minded Iranians do not trust them because they have come to abhor and mistrust anything and anyone related in any way to religion.
Developments since September 27, 2010, his open letter to the UN Human Rights Council was delivered:
 October 2010: Wrote a letter to Hassan Nassrallah criticising him for supporting the creation of an Islamic Republic in Lebanon and hosting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visit to the country.
 October 17th: He was beaten in Evin prison.
 26th October : Warns of plot against political prisoners.

 8th November: 6 of his supporters, 5 women and 1 man all with university degrees (among them a university professor, teacher and government employee) were arrested and tortured in section 209 of Evin prison.
 13th November: Boroujerdi was hauled to a secret location .
 27th of February 2011: Attacked and severely beaten by a group of wardens in Evin prison (His arms and legs were tied and his body was cut with razorblades. His beard was violently shaved which inflicted heavy cuts on his face. )
Mr Boroujerdi’s Letter to the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council
Ladies & Gentlemen, I send to you my greetings and pay respect to my dear homeland that is currently subjected to the harshest of discriminations, untold violence and death from inside Evin prison.
As you are aware, throughout history the interference of religion into the affairs of the state has ended in a clash of religions, fired the flames of extremism, violently gave birth to autocracies and flew open the gates to crime in the name of religion. Unjust laws against minorities, whether ethnic, religious or gender discrimination and inhumane punishment such as execution by hanging and stoning are consequences of the interference of religion into state affairs.
The Islamic Republic is a notable example of a theocracy. It has no respect for freedom of thought, speech, and expression. As such religious minorities of Sunni, Christian, and Zoroastrian, Baha’i and Jewish faith as well as Sufis and even Shiites who adhere to progressive interpretation of the Koran suffer repression.
With the interference of religion into politics, the beast of deceit and crime replaces Lord of purity, goodness and joy. Oh Lord, how witnessing such abominable misery and humiliation is worse than death.
My question to the regime in Tehran is how can you allow yourselves to interfere in the affairs of other countries when you silence and repress all independent voices?
The Iranian citizen is neither free to hold a private view nor allowed to vote freely. Humans have to be sovereign and allowed the freedom of thought. I know of no limits and boundaries in the search for God. All religious thoughts are sacred and no individual should suffer because of converting from one religion to the other. I respect every religion and faith that allows human beings to engage and reach understanding and unity. I have always encouraged engagement and understanding between all faiths as a stepping stone towards unity.
Loving and respecting all human beings equally is a sign of a free spirit and deserves our respect.
I believe that a free and fair referendum under the auspices of the UN is the only way forward for us Iranians and I call upon all freedom loving citizens of the world to support our people’s quest to become masters of their own destiny. The international community is inter-connected ad only through unity of purpose, fellowship can peace, stability and democracy flourish.
Once again I call for a distinguished panel of legal and international experts to review the consequences of the interference of religion into state affairs and assess how best to ask the UNGA to pass a resolution in support of separation of religion from state.
Seyyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, Evin Prison

I would like to conclude by some recommendations that have been put forward by various human rights organizations and activists.
The international community should:
 apply targeted sanctions (freezing personal assets or travel bans) to key Iranian officials who are directly responsible for human rights abuses on grounds of religion.
 support the call for the appointment of a special UN human rights rapporteur for Iran and encourage their Iranian counterparts to fully cooperate with all UN mechanisms and procedures by:
 Ratifying the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment without reservation- Upholding the Articles of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief
 Responding to the 1995 report submitted by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
 Accepting a request by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit Iran.

Finally now is an opportune time for the Iranian leaders and representatives of all faiths to come together and issue a joint statement directed at the members of the regime guaranteeing that in a secular Iran, members of the Islamic Republic system will be treated with decency in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international rule of law.
I started with a verse from Mowlana and I will end by another:
I am no longer just one drop. I have become the entire sea. I speak the language of the heart, where every particle of me united, shouts in ecstasy.
Thank you.
Nazenin Ansari

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