Day Before Ahmadinejad to Address UN Racism Conference, Iranian Ex-Prisoner Ahmed Batebi to Appear at NGO Human Rights Summit

PRESS RELEASE

Geneva Human Rights Summit on April 19th

Geneva, Switzerland – The day before Iran’s President Ahmadinejad addresses the UN Durban Review Conference on discrimination, a well-known ex-prisoner of the regime will address a historic NGO human rights gathering to call attention to the human rights victims and political prisoners in Iran.

economistFormer prisoner of conscience Ahmed Batebi was made famous when his picture appeared on the cover of The Economist, holding the bloodied t-shirt of a fellow student demonstrator.

As the final preparations are arranged for the historic Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, Iran and other countries whose violations will be highlighted at the Summit are voicing concern at the prospect of their most famous dissidents telling their personal accounts to a global audience.

Speaking on April 6th at a “Durban II” working group, the Iranian envoy in Geneva — apparently concerned about potential scrutiny of Iran’s treatment of women, ethnic and religious minorities, and gays — protested in a UN session that the Geneva Summit will be taking place in the best venue in the city, the international convention center directly facing the UN.

Batebi spent many years as a thorn in the side of the Iranian government. He became famous when a picture of him holding the bloodied shirt of a fellow student demonstrator appeared on the front page of The Economist. The photo was called “an icon for Iran’s student reform movement.” Shortly after the photograph hit newsstands, Batebi was arrested and sentenced to death, a sentence that was reduced to 15 years in prison after international outcry.

Batebi was regularly tortured during his time in prison, and managed to escape to Iraq, later Austria, and eventually the United States while he was temporarily hospitalized for medical care after two strokes and numerous seizures.

“I never intended to be a famous dissident,” says Batebi. “Now that I have been granted asylum and am safe, it is my responsibility to tell my story and speak out for all those in Iran who still can not. I take this responsibility very seriously.”

Ahmed Batebi is one of many famous dissidents speaking at this historic summit. They will gather to share their stories and call on the United Nations to address some of the most grave human rights situations throughout the world.

What: The Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy

Who: Bo Kyi of Burma, Saad Ibrahim of Egypt, Ahmed Batebi, Floyd Abrams…

Where: International Conference Center Geneva (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, Geneva

When: April 19, 2009, from 8:30 to 18:30



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NGO COALITION:
ASSISTANCE ASSOCIATION FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS-BURMA (AAPP), AVEGA-AGAHOZO-ASSOCIATION DES VEUVES DU GENOCIDE, CENTRO PARA LA APERTURA Y EL DESARROLLO DE AMÉRICA LATINA (CADAL), COUNCIL FOR A DEMOCRATIC IRAN, DARFUR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER, DIRECTORIO DEMOCRATICO CUBANO, FONDATION GÉNÉREUSE DÉVELOPPEMENT, FREEDOM HOUSE, FREEDOM NOW, GENOCIDE WATCH, GENOCIDE PREVENTION MONTH, GLOBAL ZIMBABWE FORUM, GROUPE DES ANCIENS MEMBRES DE L’ASSOCIATION DES ETUDIANTS RESCAPES DU GENOCIDE (GAERG), HUMAN RIGHTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS INT’L, IBUKA, INGÉNIEURS DU MONDE, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF LIBERAL YOUTH (IFLRY), INTER-AFRICAN COMMITTEE, INTERNATIONAL LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, QUEER YOUTH AND STUDENT ORGANIZATION (IGLYO), THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO END GENOCIDE, THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GENOCIDE SCHOLARS, LIGUE INTERNATIONALE CONTRE LE RACISME ET L’ANTISÉMITISME (LICRA), SOS RACISME, STOP CHILD EXECUTIONS, THE BECKET FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, THE EAST AND HORN OF AFRICA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, UN WATCH, URGENCE DARFOUR.

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