Paris, March 6, 2012

Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 6 March 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.

Yemen – Attacks against two military bases in Abyan province

France condemns the attack perpetrated this weekend against two military bases in Abyan province, which killed almost 200 Yemeni soldiers and injured dozens more. It expresses its solidarity with the bereaved as well as with the Yemeni authorities and people.

In this context, France reaffirms its full support for the new Yemeni authorities in their fight against all forms of terrorism and in their efforts to ensure stability and security in the country, in the interest of all Yemeni people.

Belorus : homophobic remarks by Lukashenko

France condemns these profoundly shocking remarks as a matter of principle ; however, they are all the more unacceptable, sickening and dishonorable when they are made by a Head of State.

Libya

A few thousand Libyans in Benghazi have just announced a new autonomous region despite the opposition of the National Council in Tripoli. What is France’s response ?

I haven’t seen this information yet.

It just arrived.

You’ve caught me a little unawares.

Our worry, our concern, is – just as we’ve always said – to support Libya on the path toward democracy. What is the path toward democracy ? It’s the opportunity, finally, for the Libyans to be able to build their own democratic model. It’s not easy but it’s their primary responsibility, it’s entirely - and, I would say, exclusively - their responsibility. It’s not easy because this is the first time that the Libyan people have had this opportunity to invent their own democracy. It’s the first time in 42 years, and Qaddafi’s 42-year legacy weighs heavily because there were no democratic institutions, there was no political life, no civil society. Building a democratic model is hard. Building it from nothing is even harder, and that’s the real challenge facing the Libyans, and in particular the TNC, today.

On this basis, what are we doing ? We’ve already done a great deal. What will we continue to do ? Firstly, we support the efforts of all Libyan authorities in this process, in this course of action, whether with respect to ensuring compliance with the electoral timetable, or with respect to developing and adopting a Constitution. Obviously, we’re attached, as we are everywhere, to the unity of Libya and we believe that this time of freedom that the Libyans have been discovering since the fall of Qaddafi truly provides them with an opportunity to achieve this unity in a democratic way.

Dernière modification : 06/03/2012

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