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 Whistleblowers Need Protection



Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47St at 2nd Ave)
Manhattan, New York
September 23, 2008

Let me begin my brief remarks with a question: why is President Ahmedinejad, who appears to be the antithesis of most of what the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood for (See, for example, Karen Armstrong's book, Muhammad-A Biography of the Prophet) being hosted this week in Manhattan at an interfaith dinner, reportedly with The World Council of Churches, the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonites, and the US section of the World Conference of Religions for Peace?

Who at the event will mention the thousands upon thousands of children, women and men who are murdered victims of Iran's regime since 1979?

The event, billed as a dialog, comes the same month that the U.N.'s very patient nuclear agency announced that it has reached a "dead end" with Iran due to its refusal to cooperate. The regime has long used 'pretend dialog' primarily to buy time in order to make progress in developing its nuclear weapon capability.

The Iranian government is also intensifying, although it hardly seems feasible, the persecution of its own people. Two women in Tehran are to be stoned to death on allegations of adultery. Others are also imprisoned and killed for apostasy and blasphemy, although the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) clearly said that there is to be no compulsion in matters of religion.

Bahai victims

The dinner coincides with the Iranian parliament's adoption of a mandatory death penalty for "apostasy." Among its primary targets are the 300,000-350,000-member Bahai minority. Bahais are already excluded from universities and many occupations, such as "catering" "childcare," and "real estate."

The entire Bahá'í leadership remains in Evin prison, having been held without charges or access to legal counsel since May14 in the case of six and since early March in the case of the 7th - and have only recently been moved out of solitary confinement;

the Iranian government knows full well that its claims that Bahá'ís are acting against national security and are Zionist spies are utterly baseless;

the Iranian government is pursuing its policy of extinguishing the Bahá'í community as a viable entity through a wide range of UN-documented human rights violations carried out by the state directly and, increasingly, indirectly, through non state actors;

the regime has created a climate encouraging the persecution of the Bahá'ís through the publication in government- controlled media of articles vilifying the Bahá'í Faith, its teachings and followers.

Muslim Victims

Most of those prosecuted for apostasy are Muslims. Last year, three student activists, Ehsan Mansouri, Majid Tavakoli, and Ahmad Ghassaban, were convicted of "insulting Islam." Prominent Shiite Hashem Aghajari was arrested originally for saying "Muslims are not monkeys to blindly follow the clerics." At his trial, he said his punishment was for "the sin of thinking." In 2002, due to international pressure, his death sentence for blasphemy was commuted to five years imprisonment, an option the new law forbids as Paul Marshall and Nina Shea have pointed out.

Experiences of Victim Survivors

Let me relate only parts of some personal stories related last week in Geneva by Iranians who have fled Ahmedinejad and his predecessors since 1979:

A man living in France His wife was murdered by the mullahs. Every Iranian from the diaspora in Geneva, he said, represents tens of thousands still in Iran who feel exactly the same way as they do about the regime.

A woman from Norway She told us she came to Geneva partly because her daughter was tortured so badly by the regime in 1988 that she still screams sometimes at night.

A young woman only four years fled from Iran Many youth in Iran are addicted to heroin and cocaine provided by the Revolutionary Guards, who above all want Iranian young people to be passive. Some girls are sold by the regime's agents into other countries.

A woman who spent five years in prison The judge who condemned her was a mullah who spent only two minutes disposing of her case. Her son was killed by the regime.

A father with five members of his family killed by the regime He's raising the children of one of the five. There is nothing Islamic about the behaviour of the regime, he noted. They use religion only as a convenient cover for their crimes against humanity.

A grandmother who lost eight family members One of the eight was 13 at the time of her death; she was raped, tortured and murdered.

A graduate of Evan prison who was tortured during his two years in it His was one of the most mind-numbing experiences. His relative's grandfather, a grave digger, committed suicide. Why? He told his family before doing so that the Revolutionary Guards would bring children of 14, 15 and 16 to the cemetery and murder them there. He was then forced to bury the children. He simply could not live with this pressure any longer and killed himself.


My friend and countryman, Irwin Cotler, is absolutely right: the president of Iran should not be given a dinner. He should be indicted by the International Criminal Court for his crimes against humanity to his fellow citizens of Iran.

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