IranAir's captain Houshang Shahbazi speech at geneva human rights convention
Ladies and Gentlemen, honored guests;
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to those who have offered me the opportunity to share my views with you.
Of course, the goal of such gatherings is to increase mutual understanding between countries and to attempt to establish world peace, security and to respect human rights.
I am Houshang Shahbazi a holder of a Bachelor of Science degree in aircraft engineering and maintenance. I have been working as a professional airline pilot in Iran's National carrier (Homa) and aviation for over 35 years and have flown many passenger flights similar to the ones which all of you, I am sure, have had the experience of enjoying at least a couple of times ( in your lifetimes ).
Your Excellencies, I am very grateful for having been allowed to take some of your precious time to discuss one of the crucial problems that peace-loving Iranian people have been challenged with for the past 33years. I am going to talk about an important issue that if ignored, would not only endanger and confront the people of my country but also others from all around the world due to the political issues between some nations.
Please stay with me to grasp a small part of this problem.
Imagine thousands of passengers including men, women, children, the young and old board a plane hoping to arrive at their destinations safely; they trust their captain and this places a huge responsibility on the his shoulders.
I, as a pilot, treat my passengers like members of my own family and from the moment of take off through to landing feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to use all my experience, abilities and knowledge to pilot the plane home safely despite all the dangers that come from bad weather, air traffic and possible technical malfunctions.
My concerns and deep feelings toward my people and my country from one side and their trust in me from the other, have brought me to Geneva to speak to you responsible and honorable attendees who surely have traveled by plane at least once in your lifetime to reach your destinations and families, and hence have trusted your pilot. So we share the same view and problems, as Iranians say “Our hearts are connected”, and because people share the same problems and dreams all over the world I trust you would understand me well enough.
At this time, I would like to screen a one-minute clip of flight 742 landing with me at the helm; the flight was from Moscow to Tehran on October 18, 2011 with about 80 Russian passengers and 40 Iranian on board. This clip contains a message.
(Showing the video of captain’s landing the plane without front landing gear)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Had the plane left the runway and one of its wings clipped the ground or there had been a fuel spill, an inevitable explosion would have occurred and I perhaps wouldn’t be here to talk to you at this meeting.
Other pilots as well as I strongly agree on one thing: that the biggest aviation threat and concern in my country is to fly civilian airliners which have 60 years old technology and are technically worn out. These old airplanes prevent me and the other pilots from doing our jobs correctly and fulfilling our responsibility in response to our passengers’ trust in us.
Unfortunately sanctions imposed by the Western countries on civilian airlines in Iran have caused a considerable number of plane crashes and led to the deaths of hundreds of
passengers, which according to the aviation statistics is above the average death toll from such unfortunate accidents in the in world. The sanctions also have resulted in technical failures over the last decade due to the dilapidated parts in the aircraft.
Civil aviation and people's lives have nothing to do with military issues. The principle of using equal air transportation facilities and services all around the world is undoubtedly a right. It is not fair for ordinary people to become victims of political tensions between governments and lose their lives to such issues.
As an Iranian citizen, I believe politics and policy-making should be in harmony with the interests of all people around the world to provide stable peace and security for them. Depriving a nation from secure flights by withholding spare parts which are crucial to its safety, could not be further from the slogans of human rights and world security and certainly does not follow the principles of democracy.
It is not acceptable to endanger some people so as to promise peace to others, or use people's well-being as leverage to impose pressure on their governments to reach certain political goals.
Unfortunately, international human rights organizations have chosen to remain silent against such unjust acts toward Iranians; many of whom are on a plane and may lose their lives right now because of a plane crash caused by technical problems while I am giving this speech.
I believe the end must not justify the means in making a political decision.
The United States and European Community have threatened Iranian and foreign passengers’ lives by ignoring the rules and regulations mentioned in the UN human Rights Charter. And in order to put pressure on Tehran have imposed strict sanctions on aircraft spare parts from abroad.
According to Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or different beliefs, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
Other articles in this declaration and other political and civil international agreements also clearly emphasize respecting the rights of life and security for all people and indicate that no one has the right to take the life of another person. Iranians have followed such notion and emphasized this principle for thousands of years.
Cyrus the Great, the main founder of the first Declaration of Human Rights believed that: "Every person is responsible for his or her own acts and no one should be blamed or punished for anyone else’s mistakes or sins.”
I would like to draw your learned attention and that of all human rights organizations, Red Cross and faithful politicians : to judge whether it is acceptable or justifiable to threaten civilian passengers’ lives in order to impose political reforms on a government.
I am sorry to say that it is not only the human rights organizations that have chosen to remain silent on such cruel sanctions' regime imposed on Iranian civilians but International airspace organizations also follow in their footsteps and this bitter conduct has caused numerous tragedies involving the loss of thousands of innocent lives.
And Now, I would like to show you a short film and shocking photos of tragedies that took place in two other cities inside Iran.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The reason for establishing organizations such as ICAO, YATA, SAFA, and agreements like the Chicago Convention, which has 96 articles, with the United States of America and other western countries as its primary founders and signatories, were to prevent such unjust and unfair treatment of some countries. After all security and safety of air travel and airspace development of countries, and helping or supporting underdeveloped countries were mentioned in the charters of all these organizations. The sanctions against Iran's civil aviation run counter to article 44 of the Chicago Convention.
These organizations should abide by the rules and regulations and act responsibly toward the safety of passengers and the airspace safety of countries. YATA is a trade union of Airline companies which is non-political, non-governmental and its duty is to provide services to airline agencies.
One might ask whether this negligence or silence is not considered as acceptance of this inhumane sanction which runs counter to their own agreements and human rights declaration. It obviously violates international rules as well as putting the credibility, independence and existence of these international organizations at risk and threatens airline passengers.
Is there any guarantee that these sanctions are not used in possible disputes among countries other than Iran, as a tool for some politicians to deprive millions of people around the world of safe air travel?
Isn't it wise to draw a line between conflicts and problems between governments' and safety of nations and to separate political disputes from harming peaceful civilians? Isn't this attitude closer to peace and friendship among countries and world security?
To impose a specific political view, sanctions should not be placed on technology and airspace industry of a country to threaten the life of civilians. Even in World War first and 2nd” , depriving civilians of medicine, food and life was considered inhuman. It has nothing to do with sanctions. Double standards and contradictions are not acceptable and are of no value.
Respectable leaders of ICAO, SAFA and human right organizations and fair politicians: dead people do not need help, support civilians while they are still alive in order to fulfill your obligations.
Red Cross officials! Are you waiting for something to happen? Isn't prevention better than cure?
I would like to ask the UN Human Rights High Commission to demand the primary and basic rights of my fellow countrymen and passengers and lift these sanctions which threaten the lives of my people. This is an important and urgent message.
I would like to ask human rights activists outside of politics to defend Iranian passengers' lives and their basic rights to live and not to allow innocent persons' lives treated as tools to obtain political goals.
I personally condemn violating innocent and defenseless people's rights who have nothing to do with the political disputes between governments in any part of the world, under any pretext or by any authority or country.
I, as a captain, like many of my colleagues around the world, take my most important responsibility to be saving passengers' lives that trust us and I worry about potential victims who stand to lose their lives because of these sanctions while travelling with Iranian airlines.
Let this speech reach all human rights activists and people so they listen to Iranian people’s cries that these sanctions indirectly amount to death sentences.
Today because of my campaign and worldwide support of my website at www.capt-Shahbazi.com
, I have the honor of participating in this meeting to convey the message of our peaceful and humble people. A nation with an ancient history and whose renowned poet, Saadi says:
Human beings are of one essence in creation,
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
I ask of you who are the main decision makers and lawmakers of the world to reconsider this type of sanction placed on Iran. And let’s not forget that people in a universal community are bound together and problems or sorrows of one group of people or country will ultimately affect the other groups or countries sooner or later.
And now a word with the American decision makers and law makers:
President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama, and Secretary of State, Ms. Hilary Clinton, The US Congress and all American leaders!
Politics is about wisdom on world interests and goals. And finally politics is honesty.
You who talk about democracy, security and freedom in your speeches, you who talk about a new world, who approve a huge budget to cure AIDS, who worry about the Ozone layer depletion and who seem prepared to travel merely to save one life; let's stop this double standards and contradictory words.
Mr. Obama! How am I supposed to believe your sincerity when you send your message of fraternity and friendship to Iranian people during the Persian New Year, Nowrouz, yet the next day move to endanger the lives of my countrymen by extending the sanctions on selling civilian airplane spare parts?
Mr. Obama! I hope this year you act upon your famous motto: CHANGE and politics aside, consider human rights standards and lift the sanctions on the sales of civilian airliners and spare parts, to save the lives of the people. Perhaps then the Iranians will believe your message of fraternity.
Many thanks, ladies and gentlemen for this opportunity and your time