Briefing on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Iran

777 UN Plaza (Church Building) , December 10, 2004
On December 10, 2004 , a briefing was held on the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran , by the Women’s Freedom Forum, in the UN plaza in New York , which was attended by a number of NGOs, UN missions and the media.

The program began with a 15-minute film on the plight of women under the Iranian regime. This film depicted life in a country where women are treated as second-class citizens and are deprived from their most essential rights. Iran has been called a prison for women by the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations. Scenes of the brutal forms of punishment, such as stoning were also shown in this film. Due to the oppression in society and poverty, Iran has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. This film also provided footage and information on the growing phenomenon of human trafficking in Iran , which has its roots in the fundamentalist regime .

After airing of the film, Professor Donna M. Hughes, from Rhode Island University , and an expert on human trafficking spoke of the effects of Islamic fundamentalism, as a Misogynous regime, on women. Professor Hughes stated that one issue which separates Iran from other countries in dealing with the issue of prostitution and human trafficking is the fact that many government officials play a role in these rings or head these rings. She explained the connection and relevance of human trafficking and prostitution to the fundamentalist regime. In Iran prostitution is on a rise due to the growing level of poverty and the fact that there are barely any jobs available, in particular for women, the government also encourages people toward this path. Many shelters for runaway girls have been turned to brothels by government officials. Professor Hughes concluded that to stop these atrocities we need to condemn the Iranian regime and stand by the people who are struggling for freedom and democracy in that country .

Professor Donna Hughes’ speech was followed by a film on the situation in Iran , covering social injustices, human rights, suppression of women and the youth of Iran , executions, torture and the abuse the Iranian people are faced with .

In the next segment of the program, two victims of the Iranian regime shared their stories and revealed what they had witnessed first hand. The first Speaker was Mrs. Mahrokh. Mrs. Mahrokh was arrested as a university student in Iran during the cultural revolution of the Iranian regime. In a 4 year period she was placed in three prisons, including the notorious Evin and Ghezel Hesar prisons. She was severely tortured in this period; to this day some of the scars left behind by the inhumane torture she suffered are visible on her body. Her brother was also arrested five months before she was arrested; this caused great pressure for the family, leading to her father’s death as a result. Her brother was executed in 1988 during the massacre of political prisoners .

Mrs. Mahrokh was later released on condition that she would never reiterate what she had witnessed and suffered in Iran ‘s prisons, and promising to show up at the office of the revolutionary guards on weekly basis .

In 1987, Mrs. Mahrokh was arrested for a second time for not turning a blind eye on what she had witnessed and for revealing the atrocities committed by the Iranian regime. Mrs. Mahrokh was 6 months pregnant at the time of her second arrest but that did not stop the Iranian regime from torturing her at every chance. Due to the blows she suffered to her back she gave birth to her child two months premature. Mrs. Mahrokh told of the hardships she was faced with trying to raise a child under the circumstances of the Iranian regime’s prisons. Mrs. Mahrokh was released from prison 6 months before the 1988 massacres, she was told that if she is ever arrested again on charges of political activity she will be executed without a trial, and her husband would be forced to carry out her execution. She was also banned from leaving the country for 20 years .

Hajar Mojtahedzadeh, an 18-year-old college student, also shared her story. Hajar was faced with the harsh realities of life under the Iranian regime early on in life. Her father, a medical student, was killed by the Iranian regime when she was 2, and her mother was killed by the regime when she was 8 years old. Hajar and her brother grew up in the US where they were adopted by Iranian families .

The attendees were very touched by the stories told by the panelist and gave them a standing ovation to show their support for these brave women’s struggle .

The panel session was followed by a performance by a musical group dedicating their music to the sacrifices made by the Iranian people for peace and democracy and to show their solidarity with the Iranian people .

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On the Eve of December 10th, the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Women’s Freedom Forum will hold a conference detailing the egregious violations of human rights in Iran and Iraq .
The conference is scheduled for Tuesday, December 6, 2005, at 11:00 am in 777 United Nations Plaza, across from the United Nations, in the Church building, on the 2nd floor.
The situation in Iran is particularly alarming with a rapid rise in the number of executions since the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June. At least 92 persons, including dozens of minors and women, have either been hanged or sentenced to death in Iran in the past four months. Iranian courts have also begun handing down stoning verdicts after having been forced to halt such sentences under intense international pressure.
On October 18, 2005 Reuters News Agency reported that a woman by the name of Soghra has been sentenced to stoning and 15 years in prison in Iran . A week earlier, a senior cleric, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, insisted that the only way to combat social vice was to hand down more execution verdicts.
There have also been many press reports about the illegal detention of torture of Iraqi citizens by the Interior Ministry’s Special Forces, who are believed to be allied with the Iranian regime. The plight of women in Iraq has also deteriorated, particularly in the south where Iran has had the most penetration and influence.
Speakers will elaborate on the human rights situation in both nations and the plight of women, as the main victims of these atrocities. The program will also include reports and video footage presented by Women’s Freedom Forum regarding this pressing issue.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 6, 2005 , 11 a.m.
WHERE: 777 United Nations Plaza ( Church Building ), 2nd Floor

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