Iran — Can Human Rights Defenders start thinking about a safe return?

November 19, 2013


Things are clearly changing in Iran. It is too early to think that human rights defenders can all safely go back, but the fact that Arseh Sevom – a moderate and informative blog voice on Iran –  devotes a part of today’s post by Peyman Majidzadeh to this question is telling. Here are some excerpts:


This morning, Tuesday 19 November, we heard news of a bombing near the Iranian embassy in Beirut. As of this posting, more than 20 people were killed including Iran’s cultural attaché. It’s been more than 100 days since Hassan Rouhani took office. Despite slow progress on human rights, many exiled activists are planning to return. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear negotiations are about to restart, and Iran’s top negotiator is working to get his country’s message out via social media. Over 25 NGOs and civil rights organizations wrote a letter asking UN representatives to vote to hold Iran accountable for continuing human rights violations. The message: human rights are not negotiable.

Iranian Exiled Activists to Visit Homeland

….With Ahmadinejad in power many activists found no better way than fleeing their homeland in fear of being arrested and persecuted. Iran Human Rights Documentation Center published a 60-page report “Why They Left – Stories of Iranian Activists in Exile” [en], explaining the full background of the issue. ..The situation seems to be better after Rouhani’s victory in recent elections. The new government began its term with open arms for the said group. Rouhani said in a New York hotel in September: “This is the right of every Iranian, to visit their homeland.” [en] Now, for the first time after 2009 presidential elections, a number of exiled activists have decided to return to their country, “feeling” that things have been improved. One of them, Seraj Mirdamadi, said over the phone to Reuters: I entered Iran on the night of Rouhani’s inauguration and since then I’ve seen signs that have only confirmed my original feeling. Some others also intend to return. Most of them did not leave their homeland willingly. After all, a journalist or activist needs his/her country’s context to write or to act in. What can a writer do without hearing the mother tongue? What can an activist do without being a part of the situation he/she wants to improve? Ebrahim Nabavi, the famous Iranian satirist, explains the issue in his sincere words for The Guardian [en]. He wishes to return to Iran, for the same reason he left it: to produce, to act, to bring change, to improve.Now I feel that I need to return to my own country. I certainly don’t yearn for prison walls, and not even delectable Persian cooking is what I miss. What I long for is the Persian vocabulary; I long for the language in which I have written 70 books.More recently, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said Iran is planning to establish a committee to bring political activists back to the country, Shargh Daily [fa] reported. Qashqavi said that Iran puts no limitation on consular services to Iranian exiled activists. He also added there is no reason for the activists to be afraid of returning to Iran. If so, Iran can expect an experienced and talented potential to be utilized in the near future. The exiled activists know their job and, more importantly, they have the right to return to their country and work in a peaceful environment to make homeland a better place.


While there is optimism, there is also a deepening human rights crisis. Executions continue unchecked with ethnic minority activists in particular danger. More than 25 civil society and human rights organizations, including Arseh Sevom, signed a letter asking UN representatives to vote for resolution A/C.3/68/L.57 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. A campaign was launched to bring awareness to the issue via social media. United for Iran has created a number of images to be shared and is calling on people to use the hashtag #iranvote.

#Iran — Can Activists Return Safely?.


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