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29 December 2009 - Situation in Iran - Statement by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

I express my deep concern over worsening repression in Iran which left several people dead. The ever increasing use of violence by the police against demonstrators, the closing down of newspapers and Internet websites, and the hindering of the work of international press correspondents are a cause of concern for the entire international community. The toll following arbitrary arrests and the violence committed against personalities of the opposition, journalists and simple demonstrators is still getting higher. Fifteen or so opposition leaders, journalists and human rights defenders have been arrested.

I pay tribute to the determination and courage of all those who, in spite of the threat from the authorities and their militias, are rallying in support of democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Iran, after proving for months that their aspirations are deeply rooted in Iranian society, particularly among the young.

I am particularly worried about Emadeddine Baghi, Chairman of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of Political Prisoners. His action was rewarded by the award of the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic by the National Consultative Commission of Human Rights in 2005.

I learned with great anxiety of the arrest of the sister of Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2003 and also winner of the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic. This arrest constitutes unacceptable pressure on this courageous civil society activist.

I call on the Iranian authorities to respect the right to democratic expression of Iranian citizens and political parties, to respect freedom of the media, and to free all unjustly detained persons.

France, loyal to its tradition of solidarity with democratic movements worldwide, reaffirms its support for all those who, in Iran, aspire to freedom and democracy. It calls on the Iranian authorities to heed the appeal of the international community which, during the session of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted on 18 December a Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, and to choose the road to a political solution founded on dialogue and respect for democratic principles, in accordance with the international commitments Iran itself has given.

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