The United Nation Commission on Human Rights Presidente,
Fev, 19, 2004
Ambasador Mike Smith
Recently, Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo and his working group were commissioned on the UN side to have a trip to Iran providing a report on the current situation of freedom of expression. The final report is published one month ago. But some points in the report cause us not to believe it reflecting the grave freedom of expression situation in Iran.
Among them is that, political propaganda of one governmental party to show off their libral and reformative attitude, has been considered positive; While the reality is that both wings are the same in suppressing political, social and individual freedom. They have banned people, wishing for freedom of expression and maltreated the society.
We wish to draw your attention to the following points:
1-No free election has been authorized since 1979, so the assumption of existing a democratic Parliament cannot be true. According to the Islamic Republic constitution, the Parliament candidates have to be first certified by the security and judicial authorities and finally this certification should also be approved by the Guardian Council. These rules show that if an individual or a party does not formally deal with the Islamic regime or anyhow has a history of anti-regime action, s/he won’t be an eligible candidate (Article No. 20 in the report).
2-The special rapporteur in the Article No.25 has pointed to some issues in Islamic Republic constitution as issues in accord with human rights and freedom of expression; but he has forgotten to stipulate a very crucial proviso: “ If it is not against the basic Islamic rules”. The proviso clearly means that no kind of freedom which is interpreted against Islam basic rules, is considered legal and the violator is prosecuted. About the demonstration right and expressing the idea in the state Radio & TV, it is clear that in addition to the above-said proviso, the current regulations regarding broadcasting services governance and the need of getting formal certification for the legal and formal organizations(surely dependent to the regime) from Interior Ministry and its dependents violate this interpretation.
3- In the article No. 31, the special rapporteur surprisingly puts stress on “secular judgment” in the Islamic republic. Nobody can find any evidence in favor of this claim.
4- Also there is no occasion to be satisfied by the increased circulation of newspapers in the country (article 35); as this increase does not even compare to that of a few years ago and especially to a short period after February 1979 ( Bahman 1357). Formal statistics indicate that, considering country’s young and educated population, Iranian people not only entertain the censured publications, but also spend less than 20 minutes per year, on reading the texts published in Islamic Republic. Secondly, according to the laws on press only those who are close to the government can get a certification for publishing a journal, managing a publication company or a cultural institute and people against the regime even can not work in these positions. Also the claim of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance regarding a positive response to more than 99% of requests for certification of publication, seems very ridiculous. The positive response may be interpreted as registration of the requests in a formal way not issuing the certification, a process that takes normally several years during which security and judiciary authorities scrutinize the requests!
5- In article 36 the rapporteur points again to the circulation of published books, with no regard to some confounding background facts. Books publication that has been increased to twice compared with that of before revolution, whereas, the young generation reached to 7 times of that time, does not indicate any freedom or increase in this field. Since in a short glance at the topic statistics, it can be found out that mostly are on Islamic subjects which are published by the state organizations and the rest are also merely the academic and instructive legal books. As it is well known, there is a division in charge of censoring and giving formal authorization for publishing any kind of book within the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
6- The article No. 37 of the report states that it exists a draft in the Parliament to institute an independent media council; first, a project which could be easily rejected or pendant by higher institution like Guardian Council, is not enough to express satisfaction; secondly, it is obvious that even in such a council the people related to the regime wings have the right of membership and expression.
7-Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo astonishingly express his satisfaction in article 38 that in the publications and medias in Iran there is no pre-publishing censorship . Such an idea amazes us who have worked ourselves in Iran publications, newspapers, state Radio & TV. and news agencies, under the frightful shadow of censurship, regulations and instructions from different institutions.
8- The article 85 astonishes us too, concerning the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran has not authorized any political action in the last 25 years and has assassinated the opponents and dissidents within and outside the country; we disagree while no acctual free election was hold at all in the country, after the Islamic revolution.
9-Furthermore, the special rapporteur hasn’t pointed out directly to those political prisoners not connected to the regime or the prisoners who are related to the opponent parties. He ignored the unknown numbers of political prisoners who are connected to the opponent parties and exposed to torture and execution.
According to the above-mentioned reasons and existing evidences on the report imperfection, while objecting to some implications and wrong interpretations in this report which seems to be turned out because of some diplomatic considerations and prevented the rapporteur from giving a clear report, we are ready to meet UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights to present the related documents and information.
Mansour Koushan, journalist, writer and poet (banned publication editor in chief in Iran); Omid Habibinia, journalist and communication researcher ( chief of programming committee in research section of political secretary of IRIB, documentarist and cooperator in banned publications); Sayeh Saidi-Sirjani, writer and lawyer; Bassir Nassibi, cinéaste and researcher; Dorna Kouzehgar, journalist and human rights activist( ISNA newsagency translator and cooperator in banned publication); Sheema Kalbasi, poet and photographer; Abas Samakar, cinéaste and writer; Mehrangiz Dabouiy, film maker; Mitra Sadr, dancer; Farhad Majdabadi, theatre director and actor; Dariosh Shirvani, musicien and film maker; Niloofar Beyzaie ,stage director and journalist.