Despite warnings that attending the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran would legitimize the regime’s abusive behavior at home and abroad, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has decided to go. He seeks to meet with Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Responding to criticisms of Ban’s plans, his spokesman argued that to skip the summit “would be a missed opportunity.”
It will be Ban’s first visit to Iran. On Friday, Iran’s top tourism official, H.M. Ajabi, told local press (IRNA) that the NAM summit offers a great opportunity for “boosting Iran’s tourism industry” and the Tehran Times reports that Ban has been invited to attend a meeting of the Human Rights Committee of the Iranian parliament. Below are key sightseeing opportunities in Iran that the secretary-general should not miss if he is to be ready for this encounter:
Evin Prison: This is Iran’s best-known site of cruel and prolonged torture, particularly of political prisoners, and secret executions. Among the prisoners there were Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet, two of the seven imprisoned leaders of the Baha’i faith, Iran’s largest religious minority. American journalist Roxana Saberi met them while also detained in the notorious jail; she can help Ban identify them, should he seek their long-overdue release.
University of Tehran: On June 14, 2009, after widespread protests against the announced results of Iran’s presidential election, security forces broke open the gates of Tehran University and stormed campus dorms, indiscriminately arresting, beating and shooting students with pellet guns. Five students were reportedly killed and others seriously injured. Authorities reportedly buried the dead within hours, without notifying their family members. Student leaders currently imprisoned include Bahareh Hedayat, who called for holding security forces accountable. Ban might ask for her to be released to offer a guided tour.