Yesterday U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express disappointment in his attendance at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran, Iran. The Senators argued that the Secretary-General's attendance further legitimizes the Iranian regime, while Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism, pursue an illicit nuclear program, threaten Israel's existence, and deny basic rights and freedoms to its own citizens.
The Senators urged the Secretary-General to directly confront the Iranian authorities regarding their systematic persecution of human rights defenders, religious minorities, and pro-democracy leaders in the country and demand that the regime immediately release all political prisoners.
"The human rights situation in Iran has deteriorated significantly since the fraudulent 2009 elections," the Senators wrote. "We urge you to raise Iran's atrocious human rights record directly with its leadership and publicly pressure Tehran's leaders to uphold their international obligations and release all political prisoners."
Senators Kirk and Gillibrand have consistently led the call for the Iranian regime to end the gross violations of its citizens' human rights. In March 2011, the Senators introduced the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Act, which would impose sanctions against those engaged in human rights abuses against the Iranian people. In July 2012, the Senate passed the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, which incorporated key provisions of the Kirk-Gillibrand legislation.
The full text of the letter can be found below. A PDF of the letter can be found here.
Dear Mr. Secretary-General:
We write to convey our disappointment with your decision to attend this week's Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran. We believe your attendance at the summit will only serve to legitimize a regime that is the world's greatest state sponsor of terrorism and that is pursuing an illicit nuclear weapons program in contravention of numerous UN Security Council resolutions, and whose leader just this month has called for the annihilation of the State of Israel, the latest in a series of similar statements.
As you know, the Iranian regime also continually denies the Iranian people their basic rights and freedoms. The human rights situation in Iran has deteriorated significantly since the fraudulent 2009 elections. In February 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/175, which highlighted the regime's continuing and systematic targeting of human rights defenders, gender inequality and violence against women, as well as "[i]ncreased persecution and human rights violations against persons belonging to unrecognized religious minorities, particularly members of the Baha'i faith."
During your visit, we urge you to raise Iran's atrocious human rights record directly with its leadership and publicly pressure Tehran's leaders to uphold their international obligations and release all political prisoners, as called for in Resolution 66/175. We also urge you to meet with prominent members of the Green Movement and the families of imprisoned human rights defenders, including those of the seven Baha'i leaders ("the Yaran").
We ask that you communicate to Iran's leaders that the international community will not allow the people of Iran to be harassed, detained, and tortured by their government.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.