UNESCO chief backs G8 call on Iran to respect human rights

3 July 2009
Iranian police on motorbikes patrol a street in Tehran

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with upholding freedom of expression and press freedom today voiced his strong support for the recent call issued by the foreign ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) nations on Iran to respect fundamental human rights.

Protesters have taken to the streets following the 12 June presidential poll, which opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has said was fixed in favour of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has been concerned over infringements of press freedom in the country in recent weeks.

According to a press release issued by the agency, restrictions have been imposed on both domestic and foreign journalists, while some reporters are said to have been arrested and access to the Internet limited, with some sites being shut down.

“Everywhere in the world, and in all circumstances, freedom of expression and press freedom are basic rights. There can be no justification to slighting them,” Mr. Matsuura said.

Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for an immediate end to the arrests, threats and use of force taking place in Iran amid the deadly post-election violence.

Mr. Ban “is dismayed by the post-election violence, particularly the use of force against civilians, which has led to the loss of life and injuries,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

“He urges an immediate stop to the arrests, threats and use of force,” it added, noting that Mr. Ban has called on the authorities to respect fundamental civil and political rights, especially the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of information.


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