Dissidents Issue Call for Internet Freedom

Fiance of Slain Iranian Icon Neda Urges UN: “Electing Iran to Rights Council will legitimize its crimes”

GENEVA, Mar. 9, 2010 – A group of prominent dissidents and human rights organizations from Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Burma, Vietnam and Sudan, concluded a 2-day Geneva summit with the adoption of a declaration for Internet freedom (click here for text), while the fiance of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha-Soltan implored the UN to deny Iran a seat on its Human Rights Council.

The statement by former political prisoners and activists expressed “alarm” that “the situation of Internet freedom in many regions of the world is increasingly perilous and under assault.” The declaration condemned authoritarian states such as Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, who “censor the internet by blocking websites and filtering search results, and intimidate internet users through cyber police.”

The assembly declared that “Everyone has the right to equal access to the Internet, regardless of race, religion, ethnic or geographical origin,” and “the right to the free flow of information and freedom of expression without fear of discrimination.” The declaration urged the UN Human Rights Council and other international organizations and rights groups to adopt similar declarations and resolutions.

Some 500 human rights defenders and activists, from 67 different countries, gathered for the past two days at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, to share personal experiences of human rights abuse and plan advocacy strategies.

“If the Iranian regime became a member [of the UN Human Rights Council], then that would legitimize the regime and its inhuman and cruel acts,” said Caspian Makan, the fiance of Neda. “Giving it legitimacy would encourage it to go further still.” Click here for the full transcript and video.

Internet giant Google was represented at the conference by Bob Boorstin, a senior spokesman from Washington. He defended the company in regard to recent controversies in China and Italy. Click here.

UN Watch

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