Sunday, 31 August 2008

RWB: Journalist from the Arab minority sentenced to five years in prison

27 August 2008
Reporters Without Borders today called for the case to be dropped against journalist Yosef Azizi Banitruf, sentenced to five years in jail after he exposed excessive use of force against demonstrators from the Arab community who clashed with security forces in Khuzestan in south-west Iran.

The trial of Azizi Banitrouf, a member of Iran’s Arab minority, was held over almost two years. The Tehran revolutionary court handed down its verdict against him on 20 August for “acting against national security”, “incitement to rebellion” and “relations with foreign officials”. He is free while awaiting an appeal.
The freelance journalist was arrested on 25 April 2005. His home was searched and working papers seized. He was released on bail to await trial on 28 June 2005.

“President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is systematically exploiting the judicial system to crack down on journalists from the minority communities, for whom they often act as spokesperson,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“Six of the seven journalists currently in prison in the country are of Kurdish or Arab origin. This outrageous gagging policy should be condemned by all those committed to free expression for Iranians,” it added.

Interviews given by Aziz Banitruf to foreign media and interviews he carried out himself with officials in the Arab world were produced in court as evidence against him.

He worked for 12 years for the daily Hamshari, owned by the mayor of Tehran, but was sacked when Ahmadinejad was elected the capital’s mayor in 2003 and conservatives were put in charge of the paper. He now works for several national publications and continues to contribute to foreign media. He is also a member of the board of the Iranian Writers’ Association.

The Tehran revolutionary court in June 2008 imposed an 11-year jail sentence on Iranian journalist of Kurdish origin, Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, for “acting against national security” after he founded an organisation to defend human rights in Kurdistan. He was arrested in July 2007 and has since been imprisoned in Evin jail, Tehran.

Said Matinpour of the weekly Yarpagh, one of the leading Azeri community newspapers, was in June 2008 given an eight-year suspended sentence, also by a revolutionary court in the capital, for “having dealings with foreigners” and for “publicity against the regime”.

In yet another case, a journalist working for the official news agency ISNA, Mahboubeh Karami, was released on 26 August 2008 after paying bail of one hundred million toumens (80,000 euros) following her arrest on 13 June this year after criticising police brutality against demonstrators on a bus in Tehran. She is facing charges of “damaging national security” and “publicity against the regime”.

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

IMHRO: Five Year Prison Sentence for Ahwazi Arab Writer and Journalist is condemned

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



The Iranian government has sentenced Ahwazi writer and journalist Mr Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi to 5 years in prison. They have also banned his daughter Hanan from higher education.

In an interview with IMHRO, Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi, who is the author of several books, said that he had lost his job with the Hamshahri newspaper in September 2006 as result of his activities.

“They also banned my daughter Hanan, from postgraduate study in Tehran University, just because of my activities as a writer. She was never active in any political or cultural matters. She received her BA degree with a very good result. We complained about it to the Higher Education ministry, to MP’s in Iran and to anyone we could, but to no effect.”

“In March 2006 they also arrested my son Afnan in Syria and they kept him in detention for 42 days. Again all this happened to him just because of my activities.”

Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi, who lives in Tehran, was always a moderate voice in raising the profile of ethnic diversity in Iran, especially of Ahwazi Arabs and always acted in peaceful ways.

“I introduced Arabic literature to the Persian culture and also introduced Persian literature to the Arabic culture. I helped to introduce Ahwazi Arabs to the rest of Iran. Now as result of my activities I am banned from being employed in any job as a journalist. Is this my reward?”

As inflation in Iran is high it will make this very hard time for his family.

“After my last arrest, they released me on the bill, based on my house value and price; now I cannot sell it or rent it. Many news agencies in Iran like IRNA invited me to work with them, but when they found out that I’m banned from being employed by order of the government, they showed no further interest.”

Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi, who is a founder member of the Iranian Pen association, is now banned from working as a journalist and writer.

“They wanted me to be silent and to be a writer who will write whatever they order, but I’m not that sort of writer. All the problems that I face are just because I am an independent writer. I just reflect the facts, I’m not politician in terms of day to day activity, and I am just a researcher and writer.”

Reza Washahi a researcher on minorities in Iran told IMHRO, “This is typical of the restrictions and discrimination against those who write about minorities in Iran. Restrictions such as social bans always include members of the family as well, including more distant relatives. These are the pressure tools which the Iranian government use to keep everyone silent. Everyone knows Yusef Azizi is a peaceful activist, but even so, they do not tolerate him.”

“The Iranian government always accuses Ahwazi groups of violent activities and they ban them merely on the basis of such allegations, but by not tolerating people like Yusef Azizi they show this is only propaganda and that they are against any kind of activity. They just want to silence everyone.”

“The fact that they even stopped his daughter from going to higher education, just because her father’s peaceful activities, is appalling. This is against any basic human rights. Every person has a right to study.”

Condemnation and appeal

IMHRO condemns the court sentence of 5 years imprisonment for Mr Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi and we are appealing to the international community and human rights organisations to raise their voices in support of his case and asking the Iranian government to cancel the 5 year prison sentence imposed on him and also lift the social bans, restrictions and discriminations against him and his family.

Please send your appeal to one of the addresses and express your concern over the 5 year sentence of Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Turfi and ask the Iranian authorities to lift the social restrictions from him and his family.

Secretary General United Nations
The Honourable Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Headquarters,
Room S-3800,
New York,
NY 10017,

Supreme Leader of Iran
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail via web site

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,

Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail via web site

European Parliament Human Rights Committee
Ms. Hélène FLAUTRE
Bureau d'Hélène Flautre au Parlement Européen,

8G130, rue Wierz,
B-1049, Bruxelles,

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Iran is using the death penalty against several journalists and activists for their work, say rights groups. On 4 August 2008, Yaghoub Mehrnehad, a social activist and journalist for the "Mardomsalari" ("Democracy") newspaper in Baluchistan, was executed, report the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). He was also executive director of Voice of Justice Youth Association, a local NGO registered with the authorities since 2002, and an advocate for the Baluchi minority.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), Mehrnehad was accused of membership in Jundallah (Soldiers of Allah), an armed Baluchi group. FIDH called the December 2007 trial "blatantly unfair" as it was behind closed doors and his family was not informed.

Human Rights Watch said the trials of Mehrnehad and social activist Farzad Kamangar, both sentenced to death in February, failed to meet international standards of fairness. ICHRI said no evidence was produced that Mehrnehad was in contact with Jundallah. Local sources said he had been tortured and forced to make false confessions.

In April 2007, Mehrnehad posted an article on his blog that criticised local officials and called for their resignation or removal from office. At a youth conference in the Baluchistan capital of Zahedan a few weeks later, Mehrnehad and other Voice of Justice Youth Association members confronted local officials. Intelligence agents later detained all six, but only Mehrnehad was held more than a few days.

"Authorities do not seem to make any distinction between peaceful advocacy for the right of minorities and terrorist attacks by armed groups," said OMCT. FIDH and OMCT demanded that authorities immediately release Yaghoub?s 16-year-old brother, Ebrahim Mehrnehad, detained since February for having publicised the death sentence. In March, Amnesty International expressed fears that Ebrahim and three other Baluchi civil society activists were at risk of torture.‏

Iran has executed about 200 people in 2008. On 27 July, 29 men were put to death, but only 10 of their names were published.

On the same day, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Kurdish freelance journalist Saman Rasoulpour was arrested at home in Mahabad, in Iran's predominantly Kurdish northwest. Two days earlier, some 200 Kurds staged a peaceful demonstration in Mahabad to demand the overturning of death sentences against journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar, and Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

HT: Iran sentences writer to 5 years prison

The Associated Press
Sunday, August 10, 2008

TEHRAN, Iran: The lawyer for an Iranian novelist says his client has been sentenced to five years in prison for supporting anti-government demonstrations.
Yusef Azizi is a member of Iran's ethnic Arab minority and has written novels as well as non-fiction books.

His lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, says an Iranian court found Azizi guilty Sunday of "supporting unrest" during two days of protests in 2005. The rallies took place in oil-rich Khuzestan province, where most of Iran's minority Arabs live.

Azizi remains free on bail, pending an appeal. Arabs make up about 3 percent of Iran's 70 million people.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

IMHRO: Iranian Government Executed Baluchi Human Right Activist

Iranian Minorities’ Human Right Organisation (IMHRO)



The Iranian government has executed Mr Yaghub Mehrnahad, a 28 year old Baluchi journalist, human rights and cultural activist, who criticised the Iranian government’s treatment of Baluchi people. He executed along side another Baluchi man named Abdul Nasser .T

A number of organisations, including Amnesty International, had called on the Iranian government to halt execution proceedings. IMHRO appealed on Yaghub Mehrnahad’s behalf on the 11 February 2008.

Yaghub Mehrnahad was the founder of Anjoman Sedayeh edalat (the Voice of Justice Association), which was recognised and registered by the Iranian government. The Voice of Justice Association is an NGO that organises events such as music concerts and educational courses for young Baluchi.

In May 2007 Yaghub Mehrnahad and five other members of the Voice of Justice Association were kidnapped and detained by Iranian security forces. This style of arrest is commonly employed by Iranian security forces.

The other five detainees were released but Yaghub Mehrnahad remained in detention. He was subjected to torture for several months before being executed in early August 2008.

IMHRO condemns the execution of Yaghub Mehrnahad, and considers it to be an act of oppression against the Baluchi people and all minorities in Iran. We call upon the Iranian government to secure the immediate release of all Baluchi activists and to permit international NGOs such as Amnesty International to visit prisons in Baluchistan.

“The execution of Yaghub Mehrnahad is not the execution of only one person; it is an attempt to execute a nation. By executing Mehrnahad the Iranian Government showed that it is against any civil and peaceful movement. They just want to push and encourage Baluchi into armed conflict, the things which Baluchi should avoid it.” IMHRO researcher Reza Washahi said.

According to amnesty report, in a meeting with his family Yaghub Mehrnahad said, "I am not guilty and this has happened unjustly and if I am executed, people will know that I have been executed without [having committed] a crime."

Appeal for immediate release of Ebrahim Mehrnahad

Ebrahim Mehrnahad, 16 years old, is the brother of Yaghub Mehrnahad. He was arrested in May 2007, and kept in solitary confinement for 72 days. They arrested him again in 2008.

He remains in detention. We call upon the world community to put pressure on the Iranian government to secure his immediate release.

Execution of Sunni Baluchi Clergy

In recent months the oppression of Sunni Baluchi has worsened. Some Sunni clergy have been executed without being give a fair trial or hearing.

Abdul Gurus Mula Zehi and Mohammad Yusuf Sohrabi were executed in Zahedan in April 2008. Both had made confessions whilst under torture. Shortly before the executions these forced confessions were broadcast on State TV. Broadcasting forced confessions is a common method of propaganda employed by Iranian intelligence services.


There are at least six million Baluchi indigenous people living in southeast Iran. Like other minorities in Iran, they are subjected to abuses of their social, economic and political rights, and suffer from various forms of discrimination.

They are often banned from speaking in their mother tongue. As result of a lack of state investment, the unemployment rate is high. Many villages do not have any access to clean drinking water. Hospital conditions are poor as a result of lack of investment. Baluchi civil leaders are often arrested on false charges such as drug smuggling.

As Baluchi people are mainly Sunni, they also suffer from discrimination in job opportunities and education. The ideology of the theocratic government of Iran holds that all non-Shia are infidels.

Please write, expressing your condemnation of the execution of 28 year old human rights activist Yaghub Mehrnahad, and requesting the immediate and unconditional release of 16 year old Ebrahim Mehrnahad, to:

Secretary General United Nations

The Honourable Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Headquarters,
Room S-3800,
New York, NY 10017,

Supreme Leader of Iran
Sayyed Ali Khamenei
E-mail via web site

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Navanethem (Navi) Pillay,
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Iranian President

Mahmud Ahmadinejad
E-mail via web site

European Parliament Human Rights Committee
Bureau d'Hélène Flautre au Parlement Européen,

8G130,rue Wierz,
B-1049, Bruxelles,


[2] AI Index: MDE 13/110/2008

Friday, 8 August 2008

IMHRO Raised the Issue of Minorities in Iran with Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London

Iranian Minorities’ Human Right Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO met with foreign office and commonwealth officials in London on 7th of august to discuss the issue of minorities in Iran.

Meeting was very successful and gave us opportunity to talk about minorities’ human right in Iran.

From IMHRO, Reza Washahi a researcher on minorities in Iran attended the meeting.

“There was very good understanding and common ground in the meeting”, he said.

Reza Washahi and FCO official

IMHRO is committed to Lobby states and NGO’s regard of minorities’ human right in Iran, both ethnic and religious one.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

CNN: Iran: Religious minority reports arson attacks

Iran's Baha'i community -- a religious minority that has faced persecution in the Islamic republic -- is reporting a string of arson attacks targeting homes and vehicles.

A house "went up in flames" in Kerman on July 18 only weeks after the residents' car had been torched, said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations. Those incidents followed a series of threatening phone calls, Dugal said.

"As would be expected in the light of the mistreatment Baha'is in Iran are routinely receiving, the officials who investigated the fire either ignored or dismissed obvious signs of suspicious activity, including a muffled explosion, simply saying that it was the result of an electrical problem," she said.

The group also listed several incidents since February, and Dugal said there had been at least a dozen cases of arson targeting the Baha'is in the last 15 months.

Mohammad Mohammadi, press attache for the Iranian delegation at the United Nations in New York, said the Baha'is are just repeating claims they have made before.

"They are full of claims, not verified by anybody," he said.

The attacks, reported on Monday by the Baha'i movement, come on the heels of the arrests of seven members of Iran's national Baha'i coordinating group in March and May. The Baha'is say the seven have been jailed in Evin Prison in Tehran without charge.

"These latest attacks follow the authorities' attempts to deprive the Iranian Baha'i community of its leadership," Dugal said.

"As Baha'is worldwide watch with alarm this escalation in violence ... their fears that a sinister plan of persecution is unfolding become increasingly confirmed. Their only hope is that enough voices of protests are raised around the world to compel the government in Iran to put an end to this violence."

Sarah Leah Whitson, the Human Rights Watch Middle East director, said "there's been an uptick" in the repression of the Bahai community in Iran.

"Such arson attacks would be a natural outcome of the government's most recent campaign to vilify and attack the Baha'i community, disparaging them and their beliefs in the press with a spate of anti-Baha'i articles in the government-run press and arresting several of the community's leaders on still-unspecified charges," Human Rights Watch's Whitson said.

"When the top religious authorities insist on characterizing Baha'is as apostates and encourage a climate of hate against the Baha'i community, one would well expect these sorts of violent outbursts to be directed against them."

The government has said that the seven people recently detained were held for "security issues" and that the Baha'is are members of a group working "against national interest," a claim denounced by the Baha'is.

The Baha'is say the latest arrests are part of a pattern of religious persecution that began in

1979. That's when the monarchy of the Shah of Iran was toppled and an Islamic republic was created.

The Baha'is say members of its community have been killed, jailed and "otherwise oppressed" because of their religion.

Dugal has said the government's philosophies were based largely on the idea that there could be "no prophet following Mohammed" and that the faith "poses a theological challenge to this belief."

The Baha'is regard their founder Baha'u'llah as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Mohammed.

The Baha'is-- regarded as the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran -- say they have 5 million members across the globe, and about 300,000 in Iran.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

amnesty: Iran: End discrimination against the Kurdish minority

Iran’s government is failing in its duty to prevent discrimination and human rights abuses against its Kurdish citizens, particularly women, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

The organization expressed fears that the repression of Kurdish Iranians, particularly human rights defenders, is intensifying. The report cites examples of religious and cultural discrimination against the estimated 12 million Kurds who live in Iran and form around 15 per cent of the population.

It focuses on issues related to housing, education and employment. Human rights defenders and media workers are also being targeted for speaking out. “Iran’s constitution provides for equality of all Iranians before the law. But, as our report shows, this is not the reality for Kurds in Iran. The Iranian government has not taken sufficient steps to eliminate discrimination, or to end the cycle of violence against women and punish those responsible,” said Amnesty International.

The report says that Kurdish women face a double challenge to have their rights recognized -- as members of a marginalised ethnic minority, and as women in a predominantly patriarchal society. Although women and girls form the backbone of economic activity in the Kurdish areas, strict social codes are used to justify denial of their human rights. Such codes mean that it can be very difficult for government officials to investigate inequalities in girls’ education, early and forced marriages, and domestic violence against Kurdish girls and women -- and the severe consequences of some of these abuses, including “honour killings” and suicide. “Kurdish women are victims of violence on a daily basis and face discrimination from state officials, groups or individuals, including family members.

Iranian authorities are obliged to exercise due diligence in eradicating violence against women in the home and in the community but this just isn’t happening,” Amnesty International said.

The report Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority recognizes that while expression of Kurdish culture, such as dress and music, is generally respected and that the Kurdish language is used in some broadcasts and publications, the Kurdish minority continues to suffer deep-rooted discrimination. Recent cases have highlighted particular human rights violations involving Kurds:

* Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili, all ethnic Kurds, were sentenced to death in February 2008 after conviction of “moharebeh”, (enmity against God), following a grossly flawed process that fell far short of international standards for a fair trial. This is a charge levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state, apparently in connection with their alleged membership of the armed group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which carries out attacks in Turkey.

Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili were also sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, apparently for forging documents. Under Iranian law, they must serve their prison sentences before being executed. Human Rights Activists in Iran reported that when prison authorities at Raja'i Shahr prison in Tehran province told Farzad Kamangar, a 32 year old teacher, of the Supreme Court's decision, they asked him to write a letter seeking clemency. He refused to do this, as it would have been an acknowledgement of guilt, and he has always denied committing any crime. On 11 July his death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court and could be carried out at any time.

* In May this year Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The sentence apparently comprises 10 years’ imprisonment for “acting against state security by establishing the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK)” and one year’s imprisonment for “propaganda against the system”.

The verdict followed a closed trial session. Amnesty International considers Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of his peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association during his work as chair of the HROK and his activities as a journalist. Such rights are expressly recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party.

* Psychology student Hana Abdi was arrested on 4 November 2007 at her grandfather’s home in Sanandaj. She was held incommunicado for three months. In June this year she was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, to be served in exile in West Azerbaijan province, in the small town of Germi, on the border with the Republic of Azerbaijan. According to her lawyer, Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj convicted her of "gathering and colluding to commit a crime against national security." She is a member of the Campaign for Equality, an Iranian women’s rights initiative that is seeking an end to legalized discrimination against women in Iran.

Amnesty International considers Hana Abdi to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and association, and that the charge brought against her is politically motivated. “We urge the Iranian authorities to take concrete measures to end any discrimination and associated human rights violations that Kurds, indeed all minorities in Iran, face,” said Amnesty International.

“Kurds and all other members of minority communities in Iran, men, women and children, are entitled to enjoy their full range of human rights.

The Iranian authorities should promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists, and abide by their obligations under international human rights law.” Background The 57 page report Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority (AI Index: MDE 13/088/2008) is the latest in a series of Amnesty International reports on human rights abuses against ethnic and cultural minorities in Iran .

Previous reports have described abuses against Ahwazi Arabs and the Baluchi minority. Amnesty International has previously raised many of the concerns and cases in this report with the Iranian authorities but without adequate response. They rarely respond to the organization and have not permitted Amnesty International access to Iran to investigate human rights for more than 28 years.

Notes from IMHRO: For having a copy of amnesty reports please go to or send us e-mail that we can send you copy of it.