Iran: Incommunicado Detention/Fear of Torture
January 26, 2007 Amnesty International Urgent Action
Sherko Jihani (m), journalist and human rights defender. New concern: Unfair trial Journalist and human rights defender Sherko Jihani has been transferred to Mahabad Central Prison in northwestern Iran. He had previously been held incommunicado at an unknown location, believed to be a detention facility belonging to the Ministry of Intelligence. He is believed to have been tortured, including by being beaten severely, and he is said to be in poor health. He may have been detained for his peaceful activities in defence of the rights of Iran’s Kurdish minority, in which case Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience. A report published on 31 December 2006 on the website of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), (see http://basharnews.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_basharnews_archive.html) stated that Sherko Jihani had been moved back to Mahabad Central Prison. On 25 January 2007, the HROK reported that Sherko Jihani had appeared before Branch 1 of the General Court of Mahabad on 22 January, charged with "spreading lies". He appeared in a separate case on 24 January 2007 before Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Mahabad charged with "propaganda against the system" and "acting against state security" (http://basharnews.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_basharnews_archive.html). Both trial sessions were said to have been closed and to taken place without the presence of a defence lawyer. Sherko Jihani's family were able to visit him in Mahabad Central Prison on 8 January 2007, and again shortly before his first trial hearing. They have not been permitted to visit him since then. Sherko Jihani, the correspondent of the Turkish news agency Euphrat in Mahabad and a member of the HROK, was detained on 27 November 2006. During his interrogation, he was reportedly accused of involvement in organizing protests against the kidnapping on 8 January 2006 of a woman human rights activist, Sarveh Komkar (Kamkar), and for giving interviews to foreign stations about the killing by Iranian security forces of a Kurdish activist, Showan (Shivan) Qaderi, in July 2005. Sherko Jihani reportedly refused to pay bail of 50 million Rials (about US,500) and on 30 November began a hunger strike in protest at his arrest and detention. On 4 December, he began refusing to speak. On 6 December 2006, Sherko Jihani was removed from Mahabad Prison and was held incommunicado at an unknown location until 13 December when he was allowed to phone his family briefly. Sherko Jihani has reportedly been arrested nine times since 1999 and is said to have been tortured during previous periods of detention.
January 24, 2007 Amnesty International Public Statement
Amnesty International deplores the executions earlier today of four Iranian Arab men and fears for the lives of other prisoners who are reported to have been sentenced to death recently following unfair trials. Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian authorities to halt executions and to ensure that all persons in detention are protected from torture or other ill-treatment. Executions in Iran continue at an alarming rate. Amnesty International recorded at least 177 executions in 2006 but fears that the true figure may have been much higher. At least four of those executed were under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offences, including one who was still under 18 at the time of his execution. In 2006, Iran and Pakistan were the only countries in the world to continue to execute child offenders (although Pakistan enacted in 2000 the Juvenile Justice System Law which abolished the death penalty for people under 18 at the time of the crime in most parts of the country). To date in 2007, Amnesty International has recorded 19 further executions in Iran, including the four today. Those executed today are believed to be Khalaf Derhab Khudayrawi, Alireza Asakreh, Mohammad Jaab Pour and Abdulamir Farjallah Jaab. They were among 10 men, all members of Iran's Arab minority, who were reportedly convicted of being mohareb (at enmity with God) on account of their alleged involvement in bomb attacks in October 2005 which caused the deaths of at least six people and wounded more than a hundred others, in Ahvaz city, Khuzestan province. According to reports, the four men were denied access to their lawyers in the two weeks prior to their execution. On 9 November 2006, the head of the Khuzestan Prosecutor’s Office, Abbas Ja’afari Dowlat Abadi, reportedly announced that the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentences against 10 of some 19 people allegedly responsible for bomb explosions in Khuzestan and that they would be publicly hanged. On 13 November 2006, an Iranian local television station, Khuzestan TV, broadcast a documentary film which included the “confessions” of nine of these men, In the programme, the 10 people, said to be members of a group named Al-e Naser, (a little-known Iranian Arab militant group that is not known to have been active since the time of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s) "confessed" to their involvement in the bomb explosions. On 19 December 2006 three of them, Abdullah Suleymani (initially named as Alireza Asakreh), Malek Banitamim and Ali Matouri Zadeh were reportedly executed in prison in Khuzestan province. The bodies of the executed men were reportedly not handed to their families for burial, and there were fears that they would be buried in an unmarked, mass grave site called La’natabad (Place of the damned). The security forces reportedly prevented people from visiting the families to offer condolences. According to information received by Amnesty International, on or around 2 March 2006 and prior to his arrest, Khalaf Derhab Khudayrawi was reportedly shot by the security forces before being taken away. His family believed he had died in the shooting, but a few days later received a phone call from the authorities informing them that he had been transferred to the Sepidar detention centre. His wife, Soghra Khudayrawi, and four-year-old son Zeidan were detained in Ahvaz on 7 March 2006 and both remain in detention. (See UA 65/06, MDE 13/028/2006, 23 March 2006) and Iran: Appeal Case: Four Ahwazi Arab women and two children: Prisoners of conscience, AI Index: MDE 13/059/2006, 17 May 2006, http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130592006?open&of=ENG-IRN). Mohammad Jaab Pour and Abdulamir Farjallah Jaab were also reportedly arrested on 7 March 2006. At the beginning of June 2006, seven lawyers who appeared before Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court representing the defendants, including some of the 10 who were sentenced to death, reportedly wrote formally to the court’s president complaining about irregularities in the trial. They said they were notified of their clients’ trial date only one to two days in advance, instead of the minimum of five days stipulated in Article 64 of the Civil Procedure Code, and could not study their clients’ files fully; that they were not allowed to meet in private with their clients although they had requested this and despite the head of the judiciary’s stated assurance on 20 May 2006 that “nobody has the right to issue an order in contravention of the law and to deprive the accused of the right of visits by their family and lawyer. They must know quite clearly that they may request private meetings with their lawyers.” The lawyers also complained that trial sessions have been held without other defendants or their lawyers being present. Following this letter, in October 2006 at least five of the lawyers were summoned to appear before Branch 7 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz for allegedly endangering national security by complaining about the legal proceedings and publishing their protest on Ahwazi websites abroad. They were reportedly released upon payment of bail. On 10 January 2007, three leading UN human rights experts - Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Leandro Despouy, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on torture – jointly called on the government of Iran to “stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing.” The seven individuals concerned were reported to be Abdulreza Sanawati Zergani, Qasem Salamat, Mohammad Jaab Pour, Abdulamir Farjallah Jaab, Alireza Asakreh, Majed Alboghubaish Khalaf and Derhab Khudayrawi. These UN experts stated: “We are fully aware that these men are accused of serious crimes… However, this cannot justify their conviction and execution after trials that made a mockery of due process requirements.” BACKGROUND INFORMATION Much of Iran’s Arab community lives in the province of Khuzestan, which borders Iraq. The province is strategically important because it is the site of much of Iran’s oil reserves, but the Arab population does not feel it has benefited as much from the oil revenue as the Persian population. Historically, the Arab community has been marginalised and discriminated against. In April 2005, Iranian Arabs took part in mass demonstrations in Ahvaz city, after it was alleged that the government planned to disperse the country's Arab population or to force them to relinquish their Arab identity. Hundreds were arrested and some were reportedly tortured. Following bomb explosions in Ahvaz city in June and October 2005, which killed at least 14 people, and explosions at oil installations in September and October, the cycle of violence intensified, with hundreds people reportedly arrested. Further bombings on 24 January 2006, in which at least six people were killed, were followed by further mass arrests. Two men, Mehdi Nawaseri and Ali Awdeh Afrawi, were executed in public on 2 March 2006 after they were convicted of involvement in the October bombings. Their executions followed unfair trials before a Revolutionary Court during which they are believed to have been denied access to lawyers, and their "confessions", along with those of seven other men, were broadcast on television. Amnesty International condemns bomb explosions and other attacks against civilians and fully recognizes the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but in doing so governments must comply with their obligations under international human rights law, including the right of fair trial. Amnesty International is unconditionally opposed to the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of cruel and inhuman punishment. Please see Iran: Death Sentences appeal case – 11 Iranian Arab men facing death sentences, AI Index MDE 13/051/2006, May 2006, http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130512006?open&of=ENG-IRN). Iran has a history of airing video-taped "confessions" on television. In previous cases, people who have made such "confessions" have later stated that such confessions were made after they had been tortured or ill-treated. Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which includes the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess guilt (Article 14.3.g). Principle 21 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that it should be prohibited to take undue advantage of the situation of a detainee for the purpose of compelling him to confess or incriminate himself.
Before I post this I want to make it perfectly clear that I am in no way a supporter or a fan of Mr. Gangi, but I do have some questions for him which I would like answered and that is my only motivation for attending. If there is anyone else in Toronto who would like to attend below is the details. This information was forwarded to me by Amnesty International.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
MEDIA ADVISORY - For Immediate Release
Renowned Iranian Journalist and Dissident
Akbar Ganji Speaks in Toronto
TORONTO, January 23, 2006 - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the University of Toronto Departments of Historical Studies-UTM & Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations & the Toronto Initiative for Iranian Studies welcome Iran's most renowned journalist and dissident, Akbar Ganji in one of his first public appearances in North America since being released after six years of imprisonment in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran. Mr. Ganji will also accept the prestigious International Press Freedom award from CJFE awarded to him in 2000.
Thursday, January 25, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
The Koffler Institute, 569 Spadina Avenue , University of Toronto , Room 108 Admission is free. All are welcome, but come early as space is limited.
Akbar Ganji, Iranian journalist
Arnold Amber, President, CJFE
Carol Off, Host of CBC Radio One 99.1’s "As It Happens"
Discussion of state of Press Freedom in Iran
Presentation of the 2000 International Press Freedom Award
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.
- 30 -
For more information contact:
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
416.515.9622 x 226 or visit www.cjfe.org
I just came across this article and found it very interesting. It shows the kind of real and significant impact sanctions could have on the IRI and their downfall. I have always been a strong supporter of sanctions even though there are always so many arguments against it. But to see how afraid the IRI is of such actions makes me believe that they might just work.
Iranian Report Shows Fear of Sanctions - Le Monde
January 21, 2007 Reuters in.today.reuters.com
PARIS -- A confidential Iranian government report has highlighted the damaging effects of wide-ranging sanctions against the country if Iran continues its nuclear programme, French newspaper Le Monde reported on its website. Le Monde said it had obtained a copy of the report, which is more than 100 pages long and was spearheaded by Iran's foreign affairs and defence ministry. Le Monde said the report recommended "making as much political effort as possible to avoid receiving sanctions, while maintaining the country's national interests and honour." It said the report had been given to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but the government wanted to keep it low profile. Iran has been pushing ahead with its nuclear development programme saying it is designed to meet the country's electricity needs. Western powers led by the United States fear Iran may be secretly developing nuclear weapons. On Dec. 23, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution against Iran, calling for the country to halt uranium enrichment within 60 days. The resolution bans the transfer of sensitive nuclear materials and know-how to Iran and freezes the financial assets of those associated with Tehran's nuclear programme. The Security Council could impose harsher sanctions if Iran fails to comply. Le Monde said the Iranian government report showed that sanctions could cost the oil-rich state between $1.5-$2 billion in lost revenues a year. The report also stressed the importance of sending an optimistic message to the Iranian people about Iran's ability to withstand sanctions, but highlighted how tough sanctions could destabilise the entire country. "Iran would be forced to change its national priorities, and to use most of its resources to prevent any major social unrest, which could lead to a deterioration in the living conditions of a major part of the population," it said, according to Le Monde.
With all this talk and speculation going on about a possible attack on Iran before April I can't help but to feel discouraged, and dissapointed. I have always had a very strong faith in the Iranian people and a strong belief that we can and will over throw this regime. But now with a possible attack on Iran being a reality I no longer feel optimistic. Are we really going to sit back and watch our country be destroyed by foreign powers? This attack would be on Iran, not the Islamic Regime. In fact I really believe that any military attack on Iran would greatly benefit IRI rather then hurt them. I just hope something will give and something will happen before anything like that would happen. Looks like we do not have much time left.
If you are interested in helping this couple please send me a private email and we can discuss some possibilities together.
Freedom for Azita & Her Husband
Two Iranian Student Activists
Imprisoned In Turkey.
She and her husband deserve all the help we can bring.
An exclusive report by:Ardeshir Arian January, 2007
Azita Shafaghat and her husband, Ahmad-Reza Shafaghat are being held in a Turkish prison in Edirneh, where they are awaiting a UN decision on their appeal for asylum based on their political activities in Iran that resulted in their arrest and imprisonment following a 1999 student uprising in Tehran.
IRI agents tortured them repeatedly for five months. She never saw their faces but remembers their irritating voices and the sound of their boots and sandals in the notorious Rajayi-Shahr prison west of Tehran. They were released conditionally [under an agreement that stipulated xxxx?].
The couple converted to Christianity about 10 years ago in Tehran at a secret baptism ceremony in a friend’s house that had a swimming pool. At the time of their capture by IRI agents, Azita wore a cross necklace and her husband had a small bible in his pocket. (Although they never admitted that they had converted, under Islamic law conversion from Islam is punishable by death without trial). Under the terms of the agreement they signed they had to promise they would never again demonstrate against the regime or proselytize. If there were to do so, they would be executed immediately.
After nearly being captured in an anti-IRI demonstration in Tehran, they went underground for the next six years, until leaving Iran on foot (in May 2006) via Iranian Kurdistan, into Iraq, and from there to Turkey, where they found shelter in a private home awaiting the final leg of their weeks’ long and terrifying journey to Europe.
Finally they left for Greece, where Azita’s father lives as a temporary refugee.
Passing through the no man’s land of Turkey in the dark, and then crossing a river by inflatable boats before sunset, they finally found themselves in the birthplace of western Democracy.
As they waited for nightfall and safe passage, their dream was shattered when Greek border patrol arrested them, beat them and locked them up in a silo for about 48 Hours, without food, drink or any type of medical attention.
The Greeks also refused to process their request for asylum or investigate their reasons for escaping Iran.
What the Greek Border Patrol did definitely was a breach of international law but has gone unnoticed and unreported until now. Instead of questioning Azita, her husband and seven other refugees (not counting the trafficker), anytime these helpless people tried to explain as why they are in this situation uniformed and plain clothes Greek authorities assaulted them.
In one incident when Azita’s husband, Ahmad-Reza, objected to the beating of his wife by the Greeks and threatened to inform INTERPOL, one of the Greek interrogators grabbed Ahmad-Reza’s long hair, pulling out some of it, and handed it to Ahmad-Reza and told him to show the hair to INTERPOL too.
The Greeks then took the refugees back to the same river they had earlier crossed, put them in small motorized boats and with the engines off, took them back to the Turkish side of the river where they ran in several directions before Azita and Ahmad-Reza were finally arrested by the Turkish authorities.
After being transferred to the infamous Edirneh prison, they applied for refugee status through the UNHCR, where a zealot Muslim case officer named Murad, denied their request. Azita says that he asked them repeatedly why they have converted from Islam.
Recently they were taken for a second interview as required by law and they faced a woman instead.
Although a favorable result is expected but the question remains:
Why have the UN, UNHCR and related agencies with responsibility should leave such life and death decisions makings to biased officials with religious or political agendas?
This is the main reason these refugees are still refugees. Shouldn’t the UN be working on the side of the victims instead of the persecutors?
The “civilized” European Union, European Court of Human Rights, the Greek government, and all human rights organizations in Europe that pride themselves for being democratic and humane, should be implored to take a close look at this matter.
Why is an original member of the EU smuggling refugees back into another country without due process of the law? If this is allowed, can we truly say there is any difference between civilized societies and the ones we call evil?
Azita, a 28-year-old Iranian student activist, has tasted jail, torture, humiliation and life on the run at the age of 21 with a dislocated knee cap and endured physical and psychological abuse at the hands of supposedly civilized governments, as well as the undemocratic government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She tells us she took the actions she did because she dared to think freely. She and her husband deserve all the help we can bring.
Amnesty International: Quashing of child offender's death sentence highlights need for urgent legal reform0 comments - published on Wednesday, January 17, 2007
AI Index: MDE 13/002/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 008
15 January 2007
Iran: Quashing of child offender’s death sentence highlights need for urgent legal reform
The outcome of the retrial of 19 year old Mahabad Fatehi, known as Nazanin, as a result of which she no longer faces execution, highlights the urgent need for legal reform in Iran to prevent those accused of crimes committed before they are 18 being sentenced to death.
On 14 January 2006, judges in a Tehran criminal court cleared Nazanin Fatehi of pre-meditated murder following a trial session held on 10 January, but ordered her to pay diyeh (blood money) to the family of the man she killed in self-defence in March 2005. She had been sentenced to death for murder in January 2006, but following international protests, including by a Canadian-Iranian beauty queen Nazanin Afshin-Jam, her death sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court in May 2006 and her case sent for retrial.
In another case, musician Sina Paymard, who was convicted of murdering another youth when he was 16 and sentenced to death, has reportedly had a stay of execution ordered by the Head of the Judiciary. In September 2006, a few days after his 18th birthday, Sina Paymard was scheduled to be executed, but was granted a last minute reprieve at the gallows by the family of the victim, who were moved by his playing of the ney (a Middle Eastern flute), his last request. His execution was postponed for two months while it was referred to conciliation but the victim’s family demanded diyeh of 150 million toumans (over $US160,000) which Sina Paymard’s family was unable to pay and Sina Paymard remained at risk of execution. His lawyer also asked for a review of his case in November 2006, after submitting new evidence that the court had not properly considered evidence that Sina Paymard suffered from a mental disorder.
At least 23 other child offenders reportedly remain on death row in Iran. Their names, and ages (where known) at the times of their alleged crimes are as follows:
1- Beniamin Rasouli, 17
2- Hossein Toranj, 17
3- Hossein Haghi, 17
4- Morteza Feizi, 16
5- Sa’eed Jazee, 17
6- Ali Mahin Torabi, 16
7- Milad Bakhtiari, 16
8- Farshad Sa’eedi, 17
9- Mostafa, 16
10- Mahmoud, 17
12- Hamid, 17
13- Sajjad, 17
14- Farzad, 15
15- Hossein Gharabaghloo, 16
16- Asghar, 16
17- Iman, 17
18- Ne’mat, 15
19- Mohammad Mousavi,
20- Delara Darabi, 17
21- Hamzeh S, 17
22- Shahram Pourmansouri, 17
23- Hedayat Niroumand, 15
As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under the age of 18. Nevertheless, Amnesty International has recorded 21 executions of child offenders in Iran since 1990. In 2006, Iran and Pakistan were the only countries in the world to continue to execute child offenders (although Pakistan enacted in 2000 the Juvenile Justice System Law which abolished the death penalty for people under 18 at the time of the crime in most parts of the country). The Kurdistan Human Rights Organization has reported that in late December 2006, 22-year-old Naser Batmani was hanged in Sanandaj Prison for a murder committed when he was under 18. It appears that the authorities are keeping child offenders sentenced to death in prison until they pass their 18th birthday before executing them.
The Iranian authorities have been considering passing legislation to ban the use of the death penalty for offences committed under the age of 18 for several years. A bill establishing special courts for children and adolescents was reportedly passed by the Majles in the summer of 2006 but has not yet been approved by the Council of Guardians, which vets Iran’s legislation for conformity with Islamic principles.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors states’ compliance with the CRC, in January 2005 urged Iran immediately to stay all executions of people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18, and to abolish the use of the death penalty in such cases.
On 9 December 2005, Philip Alston, the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said “At a time when virtually every other country in the world has firmly and clearly renounced the execution of people for crimes they committed as children, the Iranian approach is particularly unacceptable... It is all the more surprising because the obligation to refrain from such executions is not only clear and incontrovertible, but the Government of Iran has itself stated that it will cease this practice.”
Amnesty International welcomes the news of the lifting of the death sentence against Nazanin Fathehi and the stay of execution order in Sina Paymard’s case, but is calling on the Iranian authorities to take immediate steps to prevent all executions of child offenders, and to take urgent measures to abolish the death penalty for all child offenders in accordance with Iran’s obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Nazanin Fatehi a 19 year old girl who was charged with murder and sentenced to death for stabbing a man who tried to rape her and her cousin is being retried today. If the original verdict is upheld it will need to be approved by the IRI Supreme Court.
The retrial was brought about to a great extent due to the massive international pressure brought against the IRI. Many individuals and human rights organizations have been campaigning to try to save the life of Ms. Fatehi. At this point the best thing we can all do is to keep her case in the public eye by posting enteries on our blogs, contacting news agencies and different human rights organizations.
Canada in perticular has been giving a lot of exposure to Ms. Fatehis case which is a very welcomed development. I also found this link which has a lot of helpful suggestions on what we can do to help her. http://save.nazanin.googlepages.com/home#help
Please help spread the word.
A bit of good news, the four individuals have not been deported yet. They have been granted another 2 week stay and it looks like they may be granted refugee status. A big thank you to everyone who acted on this matter, and please keep on sending your appeals, since their safety and acceptance as refugees is not certain yet. I contacted the Turkish Embassy in Canada and they let me know that they have recieved numerous emails and faxes and I am sure this had a major effect in their decision. Please keep up the good work and keep sending appeals on behalf of these individuals.
I will keep you updated
I made some changes to the letter based on the feed back that I received. (Thank you Ali). I tried sending the email last night but it returned, I did call the embassy this morning and confirmed their email address, so if you are not successful the first time just try again. The Fax seems to work best however.
Please do let me know of any action that you take. I will keep you all updated.
I just recieved news that four activists who have fled to the city of Van in Turkey are being deported tomorow (January 5th, 2007, at 5:30 pm). These individuals are :
- Alireza Ranjbar
- Abolfazl Ajorlu
- Seyid Ali Alemzadeh
- Mostaba(Mojtaba) Vatanpour Naderani
Please do what you can to bring awareness to this situation and help stop the deportation of these freedom fighters.
Turkish Embassy in Canada
Email of Ambassador: firstname.lastname@example.org, his name is Aydemir Erdan
Fax: :(613) 789-3442
Tel: (613) 789-4044
Sample Letter: Please do introduce yourself in a line or two before getting to the rest to personalize the message.
I recently received news from the Van City in Turkey that 4 Iranian student activists:
Seyid Ali Alemzadeh
Mostaba(Mojtaba) Vatanpour Naderani
are in danger of being deported back to Iran where they will most certainly face torture and death. I am extremely concerned about this news and very disapointed that such an event could take place in a country which is known for its democratic principles. It is so very dissapointing so see that today people are being sent to their death and being punished for fighting against dictatorship, the very principles which Turkey stands for.
I urge you to please take action in this case and stop the deportation of these four individuals who have done nothing but to fight for human rights and democracy in Iran.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter and look forward to your reply