Senator Mark Kirk (US), Hon. Irwin Cotler (CA), Co-Chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, today released the following statement on Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
"Nowruz carries a message of peace and offers people around the world hope for a better future. Yet, for many in Iran - religious and ethnic minorities, women, journalists, artists, activists and human rights defenders - the opportunity for renewal and hope is denied due to the widespread and systematic assault on the fundamental rights of the Iranian people -- constitutive of crimes against humanity - at the hands of Ahmadinejad's repressive regime.
"Iranian officials silence those who seek to exercise their freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion through persecution, torture and imprisonment. While religious minorities are particularly targeted by repressive tactics, members of the Baha'i faith are routinely the subjects of persecution and prosecution -- its leaders and educators imprisoned and demonized.
"Iranian political prisoners such as women's rights leader Nasrin Sotoudeh, American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini, Canadian-Iranian web programmer Saeed Malekpour, and political opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi remind us of the Iranian regime's repression. No matter how hard the regime tries to silence these voices, it cannot succeed so long as freedom-loving people around the world plead their case and cause.
"We stand in solidarity with all those courageous Iranians who have stood up to the regime to demand basic freedoms. In the New Year, we extend our warmest wishes to all those celebrating, and we call on the Government of Iran to uphold its international obligations, cease and desist from its massive domestic repression, and immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners."