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Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign and European Spokesperson (Paris, March 6, 2012)

Published on March 7, 2012

Iran – Sentencing of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani to 18 years in prison and arrest of Ms. Tahmineh Monzavi

France condemns the 18-year prison sentence handed down in Iran to Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, a leading human rights lawyer, who had received the French Republic’s Human Rights prize in 2003.

Mr. Soltani, who has been imprisoned several times, and has been deprived of his documents and his right to practice his profession, courageously fights to defend human rights in Iran. Over the last few years France has, on several occasions, brought this case to the attention of the Iranian authorities.

France also condemns the arrest of the Iranian photographer and filmmaker, Ms. Tahmineh Monzavi.

These decisions are part of the unacceptable policy of repression that the Iranian people have continued to suffer since the elections in 2009. France condemns the increase in arbitrary arrests of lawyers, human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and artists.

The continuation of this policy is contrary to Iran’s international commitments, notably the right to freedom of expression, as recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran freely subscribed.

Missions to Syria by Ms. Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Mr. Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis

For several months now, France has been demanding, together with the international community, that Syria take steps toward a peaceful solution and that it comply with its international obligations. We were especially shocked by the fact that, after having agreed to an ICRC mission to Homs, the Syrian authorities prevented any humanitarian access to the population in the Baba Amr neighborhood.

Given that the request to authorize Ms. Amos’s visit to Syria was initially denied, on March 1, the Security Council called upon the Syrian authorities to fully cooperate with the United Nations in order to guarantee free and unhindered access by the humanitarian organizations.

Ms. Amos’s visit to Syria, which is expected to take place from March 7 to 9, is a step forward. But we now expect the Syrian authorities to take concrete and immediate actions. It is up to them to ensure, without any further delay, free and unhindered access by the humanitarian organizations to their entire territory, in particular to the populations affected by violence and the areas under threat, including in Homs and the other cities under attack. Without access, the humanitarian organizations cannot properly assess requirements or provide humanitarian assistance to the populations in need.

Beyond the humanitarian emergency, it is up to the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the violence in order to clear the way for a peaceful and credible political solution based on the Arab League initiative. That’s the whole purpose of the mission of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, Mr. Annan, which must be supported by all international actors and which France fully supports.

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