AN OPEN LETTER TO SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: DENOUNCE ELECTION OF IRAN TO U.N. WOMEN’S RIGHTS COMMISSION

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

May 5, 2010

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We write as women leaders from across America and from organizations concerned with women’s human rights representing oppressed women and minorities.

We call on you, Secretary Clinton, to denounce Iran’s election, in the last week of April 2010, to a four-year seat on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as an appointment that shocks the conscience of civilized societies.

We also wish to express our utter astonishment that Iran was “elected by acclamation,” which means that none of the United Nations’ member states – including the United States of America – requested or required an open vote on Iran’s election to the Commission.  Why did the United States fail to request an open vote?

In 1995, to an audience of the Fourth World Conference on Women, you declared: “It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” You added: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/06/world/hillary-clinton-in-china-details-abuse-of-women.html?pagewanted=1

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney of New York said she “believed that you spoke from personal conviction.”

Therefore, we are puzzled and deeply troubled that, as Secretary, you have remained silent regarding human rights abuses under the brutal Islamic Republic of Iran regime.

The government of Iran is the perpetrator of well-known, well-documented and shocking human rights abuses against women.  There are sickening and horrific videos, websites, documented reports of gang rapes, stonings, mutilations, hangings, beatings, burnings and other barbaric acts of violence, intimidation, and humiliation against the women of Iran. Political dissidents, gays, non-Muslim minorities, apostates, and infidels are also targeted in widespread human rights violations and gruesome attacks — all these atrocities are egregious violations of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Two hundred and fourteen Iranian activists recently wrote to U.N. member states to oppose Iran’s election to the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women. Their letter states:  “Iran’s discriminatory laws demonstrate that the Islamic Republic does not believe in gender equality…Women lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, no right to child custody, have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces, are restricted by quotas for women’s admission at universities, and are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws.”

Click here for more on Iran’s human rights record.

The U.S. Department of State’s 2009 report on Iran’s human rights clearly states the egregious violations of Iran in this area:

The government’s poor human rights record degenerated during the year [2009], particularly after the disputed June presidential elections. The government severely limited citizens’ right to peacefully change their government through free and fair elections. The government executed numerous persons for criminal convictions as juveniles and after unfair trials. Security forces were implicated in custodial deaths and the killings of election protesters and committed other acts of politically motivated violence, including torture, beatings, and rape. The government administered severe officially sanctioned punishments, including death by stoning, amputation, and flogging. Vigilante groups with ties to the government committed acts of violence. Prison conditions remained poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, often holding them incommunicado. Authorities held political prisoners and intensified a crackdown against women’s rights reformers, ethnic minority rights activists, student activists, and religious minorities. There was a lack of judicial independence and of fair public trials. The government severely restricted the right to privacy and civil liberties, including freedoms of speech and the press, assembly, association, and movement; it placed severe restrictions on freedom of religion. Official corruption and a lack of government transparency persisted. Violence and legal and societal discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; trafficking in persons; and incitement to anti-Semitism remained problems. The government severely restricted workers’ rights, including the right to organize and bargain collectively, and arrested numerous union organizers. Child labor remained a serious problem. On November 20, for the seventh consecutive year, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on Iran expressing concern about the country’s “serious, ongoing, and recurring human rights violations.” (emphasis added)

Source: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136068.htm

The Commission’s mandate is to review and report on women’s human rights and monitor progress toward improving women’s human rights.  Clearly, the election of Iran to such a Commission is an appalling example of hypocrisy. We await your public and clear condemnation of this outrageously sexist and insensitive decision by the U.N.

Signatories (partial list):

Dr. Shahla Abghari, Professor, University of Atlanta

Nazanin Afshin-Jam, International Human Rights Activist, President and Co-Founder of Stop Child Executions

Irene Alter, President, Center for Policy Research in American Education

Anne Applebaum, columnist

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Resident Scholar, AEI and Founder of the AHA Foundation

Shayan Arya

Danielle Avel, Columnist

Lori Averick, Women United: Code Red, Northeast USA Coordinator

Victoria Azad, Member of Amnesty International, Women’s rights & political activist

Claudia Barlow

Niloofar Beyzaie, (playwright and theater director), Germany

Dr. Toby F. Block, Senior Academic Professional (retired) Georgia Institute of Technology

Gretchen S. Bolton, Treasurer, AHA Foundation, Inc.

Banafshe Zand-Bonazzi, Planet Iran

Nancy Bonus, Ph.D. – chapter leader, San Fernando Valley Act! For America

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director for Security Policy, JINSA

Joy Brighton, Stop Shariah Now

Bernadette Brady, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

Christine Brim, Center for Security Policy

Debra Burlingame, Co-Founder, 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America

Mona Charen, Syndicated Columnist, Creators Syndicate

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, the Phyllis Chesler Organization

Nonie Darwish, President FormerMuslimsUnited.org

Korrine Diggs, Stop Modern Slavery, Founder and Director, Philadelphia Chapter

Mehran Divanbaigyzand

Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness

Barbara Donno, Nassau/Queens 9/12 Group

Becky Norton Dunlop, former Deputy Assistant to President Ronald Reagan

Michelle Easton, President, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute

Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director, American Center for Democracy

Manda Zand Ervin, Founder and President, Alliance of Iranian Women

Soraya Fallah, Chair, Kurdish Women’s Rights

Clarice Feldman, columnist, Washington, DC

Ann Deborah Fishman, Esq., Founder of Liberty Legal Project International

Barbara Fix, Women United: Code Red

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Employment Policy, Hudson Institute

Danielle Frum, author and journalist

Brigitte Gabriel, ACT for America.org

Georgette Gelbard, Cyber Counter Terrorism Center of the Middle East Forum

Beth Gilinsky, Founder, Action Alliance and Women United: Code Red

Catherine Gossman, College of Social Work, The Ohio State University

Debra Guckenheimer, Ph.D., Northeastern Advance Postdoctoral Research Associate, Northeastern University

Meghan Gurdon, author and journalist

Carol A. Haave, former Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, DHS

Mary Habeck, Former Special Advisor, National Security Council

Ferne Hassan, political activist

Aggie R. Hoffman, Attorney at Law, Los Angeles, CA

Donna M. Hughes, Professor & Carlson Endowed Chair, Women’s Studies Program, University of Rhode Island

Laura Ingraham, Laura Ingraham Show

Margo Itskowitch, Women United, Los Angeles, CA

Erica Saghar Kasraie, Spokesperson, Confederation of Iranian Students

Joyce Kaufman, Radio Host, 850 WFTL

Narges Kermanshahi, Voice of Women Radio, 102.7

Karen Khan, attorney, Women’s Freedom Movement of Pakistan

Judith Apter Klinghoffer, History News Network

Lucina Kathmann, (writer) International Vice-President, International PEN

Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition

Barbara Ledeen, Women United: Code Red

Janet Levy, Women Against Shariah

Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers

Jody Lisberger, Ph.D., M.F.A., Director of Women’s Studies, The University of   Rhode Island

Mary Beth Long, former Assistant Secretary of Defense of International Security Affairs

May Long, Christians and Jews United for Israel

Sheryl Longin, Pajamas Media

Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Founder and President, Z Street

Hillary Markowitz, Mothers Against Terrorism

Faith McDonnell, Director, Religious Liberty Programs, Institute on Religion and  Democracy

Ruth Messinger

Myra Miller, The Winston Group

Shokooh Mirzadegi, author and journalist

Cleta Mitchell, Esq., Chairman, American Conservative Union Foundation

Shokoofeh Montazeri, journalist

Doris Wise Montrose, President, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors

Azad Moradian, Psychologist

Ayme Mower, Rahab Ministries Thailand, U.S. event coordinator

Penny Nance, CEO, Concerned Women for America

Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh and Cyrus Nowrasteh, The Stoning of Soraya M

Kate O’Beirne, President, National Review Institute

Eileen J. O’Connor,  Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of  Justice, 2001 – 2007

Daphne Patai, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Kathleen Parker, Washington Post syndicated columnist

Joan Peters, Author-Historian: National Committee on American Foreign Policy

Lisa Piraneo, Director of Government Relations, ACT! for America

Dianne Post, International Human Rights lawyer

Dr. Allis Radosh, author and historian

Racquel Reinstein, attorney

Susan Rosenbluth, Editor and Publisher, Jewish Voice and Opinion

Nina Rosenwald, Hudson Institute

Mary Rose Rybak, Managing Editor, First Things

Nicole Sadighi, Fellow, Researcher at the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy for Iran

Shera Samson, singer and songwriter

Ellen Sauerbery, first representative of Bush Administration to the the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women;  former U.S. State Department Under Secretary

Ramesh Sepehrrad, Iranian women’s rights leader

Melanie Shapiro, Citizens Against Trafficking, Co-founder

Nina Shea, Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom;  Commissioner, US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Christina Hoff Sommers, American Enterprise Institute

Dr. Clare Spark, Independent Scholar, Los Angeles

Sarah N. Stern, Founder and President, Endowment for Middle East Truth

Linda Stulberg, Women United: Code Red, Michigan

Dr. Wafa Sultan

Joan Swirsky, journalist and author

Carol A. Taber, President, FamilySecurityMatters.org

Fatemeh Tadjdini, Nurse , Germany, Women’s rights activist

Allyson Rowen Taylor, Women United: Code Red, California

Giti Thadani

Virginia Thomas, President/CEO, Liberty Central

Jeri Thompson

Victoria Toensing, Former Chief Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

Roya Toloui , Ph.D, University of Oklahoma, Health Science Center

Diana West, Washington Examiner syndicated columnist and author

Shab Zand, Seattle, Washington



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