PRESS RELEASE

Source: Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy (http://www.genevasummit.org)
Date: 9 March 2011

GENEVA – The Iranian lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 43 year old mother of two who was sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery, will join other prominent human rights defenders at the third annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, on March 15, 2011. Mohammad Mostafaei is credited with saving the lives of over 50 clients.

mostafeiOrganized by an international coalition of 20 NGOs, including UN Watch, Freedom House and Ibuka, the Geneva Summit will provide a voice for the voiceless and advocate action on urgent human rights situations. The conference will feature victim testimonies from renowned human rights defenders, dissidents and experts, and produce draft resolutions for the UN Human Rights Council to adopt. For more on the conference, speakers and program, click here.

Human rights groups say Iran imposes harsh sentences, including in some cases the execution of minors, homosexuals, political dissidents and protesters, and women accused of sexual misconduct.

Mostafaei a leading Iranian human rights lawyer, specializing in the defense of those facing the death penalty, specifically juveniles. He played a vital role in exposing Iran’s draconian judicial system to the world. As a result, he was harassed for years by the Iranian government and arrested several times. His brave work for Sakineh forced him eventually to flee Iran.

After Mostafaei launched a campaign to bring international attention to Sakineh’s case, resulting in a global outcry against her sentence, Iranian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of conspiring against state security. Fearing for his safety, Mostafaei fled to Turkey, prompting Iranian security forces to arrest his wife and brother-in-law, holding them as hostages to force his return. Under intense international pressure, they were released. Mostafaei has since been granted asylum along with his wife and daughter in Norway.

“The rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran are the worst human rights offenders,” said Mr. Mostafei. Stoning to death, mass and political executions and amputations, even of juveniles, are taking place in Iran, he said, adding that human rights defenders, political activists, professors, lawyers and everyone who is against the government’s policies could be arbitrarily arrested.

Mostafaei continues his human rights work from exile. At the Geneva Summit he will offer his perspective on the failings of Iran’s legal system and the need for fundamental reforms to protect human rights.

Also at the summit:

  • Guang-il Jung, a North Korean dissident who was tortured and escaped from a labor camp
  • Farid Tukhbatullin, a Turkmen human rights activist and former prisoner under death threat from his government
  • Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, a Cuban dissident who received a 28-year sentence for his work with the Varela project, a civic initiative calling for democratic reforms in Cuba.

Mostafaei’s testimony will be especially timely in light of the U.S.-led initiative during the current session of the UN Human Rights Council to introduce a resolution establishing an investigator on Iranian abuses.

Admission to the March 15 Geneva conference is free, and the public and media are invited to attend. For accreditation, program and schedule information, please visit http://www.genevasummit.org.

Media Contact
To arrange interviews or for more information, contact: Arielle Herzog Hadida, Coordinator
Tel: +41.78.683.0268 (Geneva, Switzerland)
Email: secretariat@genevasummit.org

Global Civil Society Coalition
Collectif Urgence Darfour
Darfur Peace and Development Center
Directorio Democratico Cubano
Freedom House
Freedom Now
Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l
IBUKA
Ingénieurs du monde
Initiatives for China
Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)
Ligue International Contre le Racisme
LINK
Respect Institut
Stop Child Executions
Tibetan Women’s Association
Ticino Tibet
Uighur American Congress
UN Watch
Viet Tan

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