New Zealand comes out in support of freedom of speech
At a meeting held in Wellington on Monday 1 February, New Zealanders expressed concern at the repression of free speech
The meeting, called by PEN NZ and the Mohsen Hachtroubi Foundation of Paris, discussed the imprisonment, torture, rape and execution of writers and others who have exercised their right
to free speech.
PEN representative Nelson Wattie stressed that these violent and repressive acts affect human beings everywhere, and
that New Zealand people must show solidarity by raising their voices to join the worldwide protest against the
mistreatment of people who have committed no crime. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which
Iran and New Zealand are signatories, guarantees freedom of expression to all people.
Investigative journalist Nicky Hager outlined the history of these abuses, which have been going on for thirty years,
and pointed out that the United States and its allies, including New Zealand, share responsibility for their support of
the regime that commits the abuses.
Fariba Hachtroudi, representing the Foundation she heads, spoke in more detail of the intolerable circumstances under
which free-thinking and dissident Iranians have to live. Just a few days ago two young men were hanged because of their
expressed views. Hachtroudi called for a minute’s silence to remember those two men and all the other sufferers under
the repressions taking place.
In an open floor debate, several of the ninety people who attended the meeting had specific points to make, including a
representative of the Baha’i faith, whose adherents are subject to severe treatment and even the death penalty in Iran.
The meeting concluded with “Music for Iran” by John Rae, the current composer in residence at the Douglas Lilburn House.
A petition to the government of Iran was initiated at the meeting and those attending were enjoined to take part in the
protest in front of the Iranian Embassy on 11 February, the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.