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Graphic depictions of the most egregious forms of human rights abuses against women in Iran took center stage at a special seminar in New York City on March 3rd. Sponsored by “Iran180,” an organization dedicated to spotlighting the litany of human rights abuses that take place on a daily basis in Iran, the seminar was entitled, “Securing Gender Equality: Iran and the CSW.” Held at 777 UN Plaza, a building directly across the street from the United Nations, the objectives of the gathering included raising awareness of Iran’s violations of women’s rights and the staging of symbolic protests against the welcoming of the Islamic Republic of Iran as the newest member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women at its 56th session.
Among the speakers were the Honorable David Kilgour, J.D., co-chair of the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran – Shabnam Assadollaki, host and producer of Hamseda Persian Radio in Canada – Fakhteh Luna Zamani, CEO and co-founder of the Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran – Renee Redman of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center – Reza Khalil, former Iranian Revolutionary Guard member and author of “A Time To Betray”, winner of the 2010 National Best Books Award – Fariba Davoodi, a formerly imprisoned Iranian women’s rights activist, and Mertash Rastegar, an Iranian blogger and international law expert.
Quoting the findings of exiled Iranian lawyer, Zohreh Arshadi, Mr. David Kilgour, co-chair of the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran intoned, “the Iranian penal system is a principal means of sustaining inequality of genders. Its ludicrous premise is that women are deficient in abilities.” He added that Arshadi stresses that Iranian women, “have managed to achieve equality in one field only: equal right to imprisonment, exile, torture, being killed and now being slaughtered…”
Speaking of the many Iranian women who are unjustly imprisoned, tortured and often sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit, Mr. Kilgour relayed the narrative of Sakineh Ashtiani, a mother of Turkic descent (a minority known to be targeted for human rights abuses, especially in Teheran) who did not speak Farsi or understand her charge of alleged adultery. “She was incarcerated and beaten, then humiliated in front of her family by a public lashing. Her plight and narrow escape from death by stoning became a successful test case for the global community’s response to the regime’s misogyny,” he said.
Mr. Kilgour also spoke of Irwin Cotler, a Canadian member of parliament and chair of the Inernational Responsibility to Protect Coalition who recently warned that Iran is on an “execution binge,” while engaging in a “wholesale assault on the rights of its own people.” He added that, “in 2011 alone, the Iranian regime has already executed at least 120 people. It now leads the world in per capita executions, many of which are in secret, taking place after arrests, detentions, beatings, torture, kidnappings, disappearances, and brief trials in which no evidence is presented.”
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