Press Release: Fiancé of Neda, Iran's Slain ‘Angel of Freedom,’ Heading to Geneva Rights Summit
GENEVA-- One day after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the UN in Geneva that President Ahmadinejad's June election was "an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom," Caspian Makan, the fiancé of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha Soltan, announced today that he will join other world-famous dissidents as a speaker at next Monday's Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, co-organized by UN Watch, Freedom House, Ibuka and more than 20 other human rights NGOs.
Images of Neda's bloody killing in June at the hand of the Basij paramilitary force turned an international spotlight on the brutality of the Iranian government crackdown against peaceful protesters.
The Tehran regime banned prayers for Neda in the country's mosques, arresting anyone who held a vigil for her. Mr. Makan was then arrested and detained at Evin Prison in Tehran. He was beaten and pressured to sign a false confession.
Since his release, Mr. Makan has been an outspoken dissident for freedom in Iran, spreading Neda's story and message around the world.
The Geneva conference is organized by a global civil society coalition of 25 human rights groups, including Burmese, Tibetan and Zimbabwean organizations (see list below), with support from the Canton of Geneva.
The two-day schedule features more than 20 action-oriented presentations and skills-building workshops, with the objective of advancing internet freedom, the struggle of dissidents against state repression, and reform of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council.
Speakers will include former political prisoners from around the world, including Rebiya Kadeer, champion of China's Uighur minority and Nobel Peace Prize nominee; Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, Cuban dissident; Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident, winner of the 2008 Human Rights Watch Award; Donghyuk Shin, survivor of North Korean prison camps; and Phuntsok Nyidron, the Buddhist nun from Tibet who served 15 years in jail for recording songs of freedom.
The Geneva Summit will also feature eminent governmental and intergovernmental advocates for human rights, including Massouda Jalal, the former Afghan Minister of Women Affairs and first female presidential candidate; MP Irwin Cotler, Canadian human rights hero and former counsel to Nelson Mandela; Italian MP Matteo Mecacci, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur for democracy and human rights; and Jan Pronk, former Special Representative in Sudan of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Last year's summit, covered by CNN, AP, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal, brought together former political prisoners Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt, Ahmad Batebi of Iran, José Gabriel Ramón Castillo of Cuba and Soe Aung of Burma, along with many other well-known rights activists and scholars.
Admission to the March 8-9, 2010 conference is free, and the public and media are invited to attend. For accreditation, program and schedule information, please visit http://genevasummit.org/.
Visit the site during the conference to follow the live webcast, blog and Twitter feed.
Global Civil Society Coalition
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma
Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL)
Darfur Peace and Development Center
Directorio Democratico Cubano
Fondation Genereuse Development
Global Zimbabwe Forum
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l
Ingénieurs du monde
Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)
International Campaign to End Genocide
International Association of Genocide Scholars
Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme
Stop Child Executions
Tibetan Women's Association
Zimbabwe Advocacy Office