I speak to you today as a live witness of the consequences of attempting to exercise freedom of expression in Iran. Last December, my father, Mostafa Azizi, a well-known filmmaker, TV producer and author, went back to Iran after a few years of living in Canada where he was a permanent residence. This was after the Iranian authorities had repeatedly extended an invitation to Iranian diasporas to return to their homeland. He hoped to use the opportunity of a more open environment to return to his country that he loved, take care of his ailing father and serve the country he loved. But on February the 1st, he was arrested and after spending 14 days in solitary confinement, he was taken to the general population of Evin prison in Tehran. On June 1st , his much-awaited trial took place and the result has left us all in shock: he was sentenced to no less than eight years in prison, charged with insulting the Supreme Leader and acting against national security. The only evidence provided to back these charges is the posts my father made on Facebook and other forms of social media.
Mr. President, my father isn’t the only Iranian citizen charged solely for practicing his right to freedom of expression, solely for making posts on social media. There are many other people in Iranian prisons on the same account and it is in line with this that many civil society actors, authors, writers and filmmakers in Iran would appreciate a request to visit by the Special Rapporteurs to look to the condition of freedom of expression and the grave consequences that unfortunately continues to be faced by those who choose to exercise their rights in Iran.
Thank you Mr President and Special Rapporteurs.