Kylie Moore-Gilbert says it is her “duty” to speak out for “forgotten” political prisoners

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Dr Moore-Gilbert was held in an Iranian prison for more than two years after she was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards when she checked in on her flight home to Australia in 2018.

Sentenced to espionage and sentenced to ten years for espionage, she spent 804 days behind bars, including seven months in solitary confinement. She has always denied these allegations.

In an interview with Sky News earlier this year, Dr Moore-Gilbert recalled that he was beaten by guards, injected with a sedative and said she refused several requests to be recruited as a spy provided she was released immediately.

British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert is seen on Iranian state television.

Source: Iranian state television

When asked by SBS News about her fearlessness in speaking out about human rights violations, she replied: “I do not see myself as brave or courageous.”

“It is my duty to speak out in support of my friends who are still imprisoned in Iran, and to highlight some of the many injustices I saw during my time there.”

Iran has imprisoned a growing number of foreign nationals and Iranian dual nationals in recent years, and human rights groups have accused them of using cases to try to obtain concessions from other countries.

Dr Moore-Gilbert said she was in “regular contact” with the families of several of her friends who remain in prison and some political prisoners who have since been released.

“Some people struggle because they feel abandoned and forgotten,” she said.

“Continuing to put pressure on the Iranian government and calling for their release is important, not only because it can lead to their actual release, but also because it increases a prisoner’s resilience when she knows someone outside cares. her fate. ”

Dr Moore-Gilbert – who was reportedly released as part of a complicated prisoner swap deal involving four countries – said the phenomenon of state hostage-taking is becoming a growing problem for Western nations.

A number of Australians remain in foreign prisons, despite little evidence of any wrongdoing.

Australian engineer Robert Pether has been imprisoned in Iraq without charge since April after he and his Egyptian counterpart, Khalid Zaghloul, were arrested in Baghdad while working for the engineering firm CME Consulting.

Dr. Yang Hengjun.

Source: Facebook

Australian author Dr Yang Hengjun has spent two years in a Chinese prison accused of espionage, despite telling a secret trial in Beijing that he is “100 percent innocent”.

Van Kham Chau was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2019 for being a member of the political party Viet Tan. He is not allowed to speak directly to his family in Australia and all letters he writes to them are read by the Vietnamese authorities, according to Amnesty International.

“The sad reality is that there are many Australians imprisoned abroad, and right now there is little or no cooperation between allies on this global issue, each country is basically reinventing the wheel and doing it alone,” said Dr Moore-Gilbert.

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Dr Moore-Gilbert said that while she was still grateful to the government for its efforts to secure her release, its initial tactics of silent diplomacy were flawed.

Her case came to light after two other Australians, Mark Firkin and Jolie King, were arrested “for flying a drone near the capital Tehran”, almost a year after her arrest. Both were released in 2019 after three months in prison.

“In the end, the Australian government carried out very impressive diplomatic acrobatics to free me, and for that I will always be grateful,” Dr Moore-Gilbert told SBS News.

“I have long argued that it was a mistake to keep my situation hidden for so long, and that the media and a public campaign played an important role in securing my release.”

Asked to respond to Dr Moore-Gilbert’s comments at the time, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “very pleased that Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert returned to Australia in November last year after more than two years in Iran” ”.

“Each consular case is inherently complex and is treated individually, with a strategy developed on a case-by-case basis. We will not comment on the circumstances surrounding her release.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also commented on Dr Moore-Gilbert’s case in March this year, telling reporters “I know she is deeply grateful for all the work done by the government and officials”.

“Now, Kylie Moore-Gilbert obviously can not be aware of all the things that the government has been involved in to secure her release over a long period of time and the many other cases that were going on during that period,” Morrison said.

“There will be opinions on this issue, but what I do know is that all the time… our consular issue as a top priority was to get Kylie home.”

Dr. Moore-Gilbert is now part of an international effort to get Magnitsky laws implemented.

The Senate enacted Magnitsky-like laws on Wednesday that, if enacted, would allow governments to sanction individuals in foreign countries who commit human rights abuses.

“I have an interest in an Australian Magnitsky act because it would, of course, enable me to apply for some of the individuals involved in my illegal detention and human rights violations while in prison to be sanctioned. of my own country, “she said.

“The prospect of using Magnitsky laws to prosecute human rights violators in a number of countries, including Iran and others who arbitrarily imprison Australians, is promising and I hope Parliament will adopt an Australian Magnitsky law before the next election.”

Dr Moore-Gilbert said the Canadian-led declaration against arbitrary detention earlier this year, signed by Australia, was “a symbolic first step.”

“But there is a clear need for a more robust mechanism, whether codified by international law or in the form of an alliance between like-minded nations, to punish and discourage state hostage-taking,” she said.

“More can certainly be done, and it would make sense for Australia, as an intermediary, to unite with other Western nations to merge its influence and address this problem as a collective.”

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