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A visit to Iran by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is urgent

In an open letter addressed on August 20th to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Pillay, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) invited the High Commissioner to conduct an official personal visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the context of post-election violence, harsh repression and other violations of international human rights standards by Iranian authorities, FIDH and LDDHI believe that, an official visit from the High Commissioner would provide a key opportunity to observe the reality on the ground, support the Iranian civil society and gather information regarding the human rights situation and the fate of hundreds of protesters and political prisoners as well as human rights defenders, currently in prison.

Full text of the letter:

H. E. Ms. Navanethem Pillay

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Paris Geneva, 20th August 2009

RE. Call for an Official Personal Visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellency,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LDDHI), wish to convey to you our deepest concern regarding the recent postelection violence, harsh repression, and other grave human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We are writing to you to call upon you to personally visit the country in order to gather information on serious human rights violations and complete your report on the human rights situation in Iran, in particular in view of the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review.

As you are aware, spontaneous protests to denounce the official result of the election have been violently repressed, several hundred people have been arbitrarily arrested, including reformers, students, journalists and human rights defenders. The numbers of those arrested, detained and killed remain unclear. The Iranian authorities have acknowledged the death of 20 persons during these events. On 10 August 2009, the commission of inquiry mandated by Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi, two reformist candidates in the recent election, presented a non-exhaustive list of 69 protesters killed by the authorities and the names of 245 persons still arbitrarily detained. During a press conference on 11 August 2009, Iranian judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi admitted that 4000 persons had been arrested during the post-election events, including 300 protesters still in detention. The vast majority of the persons arrested have been deprived of any independent human rights NGOs operating in the country, the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), FIDH affiliated member in Iran, and the arrest of several of its members since January 2009. We are convinced that a meeting with Ms. Negress Mohammadi and Mr. Seyfzadeh, founding members of DHRC, as well as with Mr. Soltani and Mr. Dadkhah, currently detained, would be also particularly relevant as a sign of support to Iranian civil society.

FIDH and LDDHI are calling on you to personally visit the country as soon as possible. Our organizations are convinced that your position would enable you to obtain crucial access to the Iranian authorities, access which is denied to national or international human rights groups in the context of the current harsh repression.

We thank you for taking into consideration this call and we remain at your disposal for any further information.

Souhayr Belhassen                                               Karim Lahidji
President FIDH                                                      President LDDHI

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