A group of veteran agitators for Iranian human rights have sent an open letter to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on sanctions, urging her to meet with independent groups as well as government figures during her ongoing visit to Iran.
The signatories were Giti Pourfazel, a retired lawyer, the activist Ahmad Reza Haeri, jailed press freedom defender Keyvan Samimi, film director Sadra Abdollahi, and Jafar Azimzadeh, secretary of the Board of Free Trade Unions of Iran.
UN envoy Alena Douhan arrived in Iran on Saturday to investigate the impact of “unilateral coercive measures” – sanctions – on the human rights landscape in Iran. She is due to meet with government bodies, as-yet unnamed NGOs and the state’s own supposed human rights tsars.
Douhan is widely expected to produce a report that will be sympathetic to the Islamic Republic’s stance on sanctions, as she did in Venezuela last year. By contrast her counterpart Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the wider situation of human rights in Iran, has not once been allowed to set foot in the country in four years.
“It would have been possible to establish the positions of officials of the Islamic Republic without this trip,” the co-signatories wrote. Describing state institutions as “undemocratic” and “not representative”, they added: “These organizations can not inform you of the real situation of Iranian society and the people.”
Instead, they urged Douhan to speak to genuinely independent activists, writers, labor unions and civil society bodies. Their position, they said, was that Douhan should not ignore "the undemocratic structure, systemic corruption and inefficiency of the government” in her assessment of the issues facing Iranian society today.
At the close, they warned that if Douhan "follows the pre-arranged plans in this trip to only meet with agents of the Islamic Republic”, her credibility and that of UN would be damaged and "this vague approach will be recorded in the historical memory of the Iranian people and civil activists".