Wednesday, 31 December 2008

IMHRO Talked in Durham University about Minorities in Iran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO was invited by Durham University to talk about minorities in Iran on 11th December 2008.

IMHRO raised the profile of minorities in Iran and reviewed recent human right abuse against ethnic and religious minorities in Iran

In the end there was question and answer section.

BBC: Group storms UK embassy in Iran

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Demonstrators stormed the compound of the British Embassy in Iran, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

The incident happened at 1720 GMT (2050 local time) and reports claimed the occupation lasted for about an hour.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the situation had been resolved and all staff were safe and accounted for.

He could not confirm reports that the demonstrators were protesting against what they see as British support for Israel's air strikes on Gaza.
There were also unconfirmed reports that the demonstrators tore down the British flag and hoisted a Palestinian standard in its place.

One demonstrator, who gave his name only as Ali, told the Associated Press television service: "We brought down the British flag and put up the flag of Palestine so we can send our message."

He said the people of Gaza were being ignored by the world and referred to Britain as an "old sleeping fox".

He added: "We want to give them a message that we are alive and will support the people of Gaza."

No one at the embassy was available for comment.

Monday, 29 December 2008

ITWF: Unions condemn Christmas arrests in Iran

International Transport Workers' Federation

28 December 2008

Trade unionists and human rights activists are sending a strong warning signal to the international community following the detention of trade unionists by the Iranian secret police over the holiday period.

The latest arrest occurred yesterday, 27 December when the Ebrahim Madadi, Vice President of the ITF-affiliated Tehran Bus Workers Union (Vahed Syndicate), was taken into a police custody from the North Tehran Branch of the Employment Office by plain-clothes security personnel. Madadi is believed to be in a police station tonight and was due to appear before the judge this morning, 28th December. Meanwhile, two Executive Board members of the union have also been verbally summoned by the secret police.

Madadi’s arrest brought the total of trade unionists arrested over the past two weeks to three. Yesterday the ITF released and disseminated a protest statement, demanding that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately release the three trades unionists as well as bus union leader Mansour Osanloo and education worker Farzad Kamangar.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft commented: "This is not the first time that the Iranian authorities have taken unjustified actions against legitimate trade unions during the winter holiday season. In 2005, the entire leadership of Vahed Syndicate was arrested en masse during the last week of December. Undoubtedly, the Iranian government is well-aware of the persistent international pressure against their breach of the ILO Conventions on freedom of association and the right to negotiate collectively which is why they choose this time of the year to oppress the independent workers' movement".

Cockroft further warned that Osanloo has not been given adequate medical treatment during the past two months and his condition is deteriorating. Osanloo has undergone three eye operations over the past 15 months, as he is suffering from cataracts. His doctors’ view is that he needs to be released from prison to recuperate. The authorities have ignored this message.

In protesting these arrests, the British national centre, TUC, is demanding a meeting with the Iranian Ambassador to the UK to discuss the mounting number of "cases of abuse of trade unionists' human rights".

Ebrahim Madadi was previously arrested on the International Action Day, 9 August 2007, during worldwide protest actions against Osanloo's abduction. In October Madadi was given a three and a half year sentence but was released from prison two months later. In June 2008, the court ordered the Tehran Bus Company to reinstate him as an employee.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

RFE/RL: Iran's Basij Force -- The Mainstay Of Domestic Security

by Hossein Aryan

Every year, Iran's Islamic regime devotes an entire week to the glorification of the Basij Resistance Force. This year, Basij Week ended on November 27 with extensive media coverage and a raft of activities, including a high-profile review march by 15,000 Basij members in Tehran.

The Basij (Persian for mobilization) is a large and omnipresent paramilitary organization with multifaceted roles, and which acts as the eyes and ears of the Islamic regime. It is present in schools, universities, state and private institutions, factories, and even among tribes.

The Basij was formed by order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in November 1979 and was intended to function as the nucleus of what the founder of the Islamic republic called "the army of 20 million" with the aim of defending the Islamic regime against both domestic and foreign threats.

Between 700,000-800,000 Basij volunteers were sent to the front during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, when self-sacrifice was the quintessential value of the Islamic revolution. They were used as cannon fodder when the Islamic regime, deprived of access to Western technology and arms, embarked on a series of disastrous human-wave attacks against Iraqi forces during the final years of the war. The sacrifice made by the Basij in the war with Iraq ensured that the force became one of the five main components of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), together with the army, navy, air force, and Quds Force.

After the war, the Basij was reorganized and gradually developed into one of the Islamic regime's primary guarantors of domestic security. Though poorly armed and trained, the importance of the Basij to the Islamic regime has increased significantly, and in the process its numbers have multiplied exponentially.

According to a former commander of the Basij, Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi, the strength of the force in 2004 was 10.3 million. By 2007, its strength stood at 12.6 million. The current commander of the Basij, Hasan Taeb, told the semi-official Fars news agency on November 25 that the force now numbers 13.6 million, which is about 20 percent of the total population of Iran. Of this number, about 5 million are women and 4.7 million are schoolchildren.

At first glance, these figures appear impressive, given that a paramilitary force of 13.6 million is a formidable force for any country. But this figure is misleading and open to dispute. In fact the Basij may be able to mobilize no more than 1.5 million men and women of military age.

Grassroots Support

The Basij is subdivided into five units: the Pupil Basij, the Student Basij, the University Basij, the Public Service Basij, and the Tribal Basij. The diverse range of these units is indicative of the various roles of the force and the fact that the aim of the Basij is to reinforce support for the current regime through, among other things, promoting its interpretation of Islamic values.

Members of the younger Pupil Basij are aged between 12-15 and those of the elder Pupil Basij between 15-18. There are special summer camps for members of the Pupil Basij. These two sub-sections of the Pupil Basij are similar to the "young pioneers" and Komsomol in the Soviet Union. In other words, they constitute a mass youth movement that helps to encourage regime support from an early age.

The backbone of the Basij comprises 2,500 Al-Zahra (for women) and Ashura battalions, numbering 300–350 personnel each. The IRGC aims to arm 30 percent of these battalions with semi-heavy and heavy weapons. However, all members of the battalions are trained to use light arms and rifles. Since Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari assumed command of the IRGC on September 1, 2007, the Basij have received extensive organizational and logistical support by the Revolutionary Guards that has enabled it to form 30,000 new combat cells, each of them 15-20 members strong, named Karbala and Zolfaqar. These units cooperate closely with the army of the IRGC.

The mission of the Basij as a whole can be broadly defined as helping to maintain law and order; enforcing ideological and Islamic values and combating the "Western cultural onslaught"; assisting the IRGC in defending the country against foreign threats; and involvement in state-run economic projects.

In terms of maintaining law and order, Basij members act as "morality police" in towns and cities by enforcing the wearing of the hijab; arresting women for violating the dress code; prohibiting male-female fraternization; monitoring citizens' activities; confiscating satellite dishes and "obscene" material; intelligence gathering; and even harassing government critics and intellectuals. Basij volunteers also act as bailiffs for local courts.

During this year's Basij Week, one of the commanders of the IRGC, Abdollah Eraqi, stressed that after a long lapse, the Basij will again start patrolling the streets of Tehran to help police maintain the Islamic dress code and arrest hardened criminals.

Doing The Dirty Work

It is noteworthy that the organizational structure of Basij units and the training they receive varies from one province to another, according to the nature and severity of the potential threats identified by the IRGC and Basij commanders in different regions. Basij members in the border provinces of Khuzestan and Sistan va Baluchistan perform different duties to those stationed in central Iran.

In Sistan va Baluchistan and Khorasan, which border Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively, Basij members are deployed against drug traffickers, while in the province of Khuzestan, adjacent to Iraq, they carry out border-guard duties, and in the littoral provinces of Hormuzgan and Bushehr, they assist the IRGC's naval forces in combating the smuggling of banned goods from the Arabian Peninsula.

The Ashura battalions of the Basij are regularly trained in riot-control tactics and how to deal with domestic uprisings. Basij members played a central role in breaking up the widespread student riots in Tehran in 1999. They were also instrumental in quelling several outbreaks of ethnic unrest in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, which is home to the majority of Iran's ethnic-Arab population.

Since the Basij was directly subordinated to Major General Jafari last year, it has been given legal authority to engage in economic projects. Earlier this year, at the initiative of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's government, the Majlis passed a law to the effect that government construction and economic projects can be contracted to the Basij. Several members of the Majlis vehemently criticized this law, arguing that it violates Article 44 of the constitution, but to no avail.

Lacking the necessary skills to implement such projects, the Basij is likely to solicit help from the IRGC, which has extensive experience in this area. The IRGC is, after all, the third-wealthiest organization in Iran after the National Iranian Oil Company and the Imam Reza Endowment (named after the eighth Shi'ite imam).

Playing Politics

The Basij also plays a key role in preserving the political status quo. Although the constitution bans members of the IRGC and the Basij from involvement in politics, Basij support contributed to Ahmadinejad's victory in the 2005 presidential election. The Basij under the tutelage of the IRGC was also heavily involved in the March 2008 parliamentary elections, during which Basij and IRGC commanders openly backed Ahmadinejad's principalists (osulgarayan). In February 2008, Major General Jafari said that "the principalists are in control of the executive and legislative branches and, God willing, the judiciary will soon follow suit." Hasan Taeb, then deputy commander of the Basij, similarly stressed that Basij members should have a "maximum presence" in the elections.

Taeb, who is now Basij commander, said during this year's Basij Week that his organization will not interfere in next year's presidential vote. However, history suggests that both the IRGC and the Basij will ultimately follow the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior clerics, given that the commanders of both forces firmly believe that political interference is justified on revolutionary grounds. An IRGC commander told former Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi in early May: "We joined the [Revolutionary] Guards in order to interfere. During the [Iran-Iraq] War, we interfered in politics and we do so now because it is an act of revolution.

"Those plans to co-opt the Basij and the IRGC underline the primary concern of the Iranian leadership, which is deflecting and countering internal threats and preserving domestic political stability at a time when grave economic problems, including high inflation and growing poverty and unemployment, have undermined support for Ahmadinejad and triggered a series of domestic uprisings among reformers, students, and ethnic minorities.

Given the convoluted power structure of Iranian politics, Ayatollah Khamenei is increasing looking toward the former IRGC commanders, as well as the IRGC and the Basij, to help maintain his position as de facto the most powerful man in Iran, neutralize popular dissatisfaction over the deteriorating economic situation, stifle demands for political reform, and undercut pressure related to the nuclear issue.

There is no guarantee that Ahmadinejad will be reelected president next June. But even if he is not, domestic tensions are likely to persist, enhancing the role of the Basij as guarantor of political stability.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

UN General Assembly Calls on Iran to Meet Human Rights Obligations

Press Statement

Sean McCormack,
Washington, DC
U.S. State Department
December 19, 2008

The United States welcomes UN General Assembly Resolution 63/191 adopted on December 18 calling upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully respect its human rights obligations, and to abolish, in particular, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and juvenile and public executions, including stonings, carried out in disregard of due process and other safeguards.
The resolution also calls on Iran to eliminate discrimination and other human rights violations against women and girls, and religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities.

This resolution demonstrates to the Iranian regime the resolve of the international community in speaking out when the government of Iran attempts to silence its own people. The international community will not ignore Iran’s violations of the human rights and dignity of its people and its denial of their aspirations for fundamental freedoms.


Released on December 19, 2008

OMCT: Incommunicado detention of two Baha'is_Fear for safety

IRN 171208
Incommunicado detention/ Fear for safety

OMCT urgent appeals

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Iran.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a reliable source and Antenna International, member organisation of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about the arrest by security agents and incommunicado detention of two Baha’is, namely Mr. Masoud Atain and Mr. Anvar Moslemi, in the province of Mazandaran.

According to the information received, Mr. Masoud Ataian was detained in his home in Qa’emshahr by Intelligence Ministry officials on 17 November 2008, without showing warrants or giving reasons for his arrest. Led by an agent called Mr. Movahed, the officials searched his home, destroyed sacred pictures and confiscated holy texts, his computer and business documents. He is currently being detained in the Intelligence Office at Qu’amshahr. He was reportedly able to have a brief contact with his family but he has not been given access to a lawyer yet.

Mr. Anvar Moslemi was reportedly detained on 23 November 2008 in Sari. His current whereabouts could not be ascertained.
According to the information received, within the past year three other Baha’is have been taken into custody in Mazandaran. Mr. Tarazollah Allahverdi and his wife Ms. Sonya Tebyanian were detained on 17 October 2008 in Behshahr. Mr. Siamak Ebrahimi, detained and released two years ago, was again detained on 4 November 2008 in Tonekaban. He was sentenced to six months in prison and two years exile in the city of Zabol, over 1100 km away from his home.
The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concern with regard to the incommunicado detention of Mr. Masoud Atain and Mr. Anvar Moslemi. OMCT recalls that incommunicado detention facilitates torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. OMCT is further concerned about these detentions, which according to the information received, are consistent with a pattern of persecution and arbitrary arrest of members of the Baha’i minority in Iran. OMCT recalls to Iran that according to article 9 1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Iran urging them to:

i. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Masoud Atain and Mr. Anvar Moslemi;
ii. Guarantee immediate and unconditional access to legal representation, their family and any medical treatment they may require;
iii. Order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, and if such charges exist, to ensure that they are given a prompt and fair trial, in which their procedural rights are guaranteed at all times;
iv. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events, notably the allegations of torture, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
v. Guarantee that adequate reparation is awarded to Mr. Masoud Atain and Mr. Anvar Moslemi;
i. Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.


· Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: / /;
· President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail:;
· Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email:;
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email:;
· Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:;
· Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Iran in your respective country.

Geneva, 17 December 2008

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Amnesty: Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand is believed to have suffered a heart attack again in prison


AI Index: MDE 13/179/2008
19 December 2008

Further Information on UA 171/07 (MDE 13/081/2007, 4 July 2007) and follow-up (MDE 13/091/2007, 19 July 2007; MDE 13/127/2007, 1 November 2007; MDE 13/071/2008, 21 May 2008 and MDE 13/086/2008, 25 June 2008) - Fear of Torture/ Prisoner of conscience/ Medical concern

IRAN Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand (m), human rights defender, journalist
Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand is believed to have suffered a heart attack on 17 December. He was taken to the medical facility in Evin Prison, but no doctor was available as it was a national holiday in Iran. Amnesty International is concerned that he is not receiving adequate medical care.

Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand has been in poor health for some time. Earlier in December 2008, he was examined by a prison doctors who noted that he was suffering from dizziness and unstable blood pressure, and that existing problems with his kidneys and prostate were worsening. He is believed to have been seen by a heart specialist and an urologist while in prison. In May 2008, he collapsed in prison and was unconscious for about 30 minutes.

In recent months, doctors at Evin Prison had requested that Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand be granted specialist treatment. However, the prison authorities have not permitted him to receive medical care outside prison. Article 229 of the Prison Regulations stipulates that a prisoner suffering from a serious medical condition whose condition cannot be treated inside prison, or whose condition will worsen if they stay in prison, should be released by the prison authorities for one month’s medical leave, renewable, on the recommendation of a doctor and with the agreement of the Prison Director.

Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand is serving a 10-year sentence for “acting against state security by establishing an illegal group [the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK)]” which was upheld by Branch 54 of the Appeal Court in Tehran on 28 September 2008. 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 in relation to his position as chair of the HROK and his activities as a journalist.


The Kurdish minority in Iran lives mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in the province of Kurdistan and neighbouring provinces bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. The HROK was founded by Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand in April 2005 and has between 100 and 200 members. The authorities have never granted it official recognition as a non-governmental body, despite a longstanding request. The objectives of the HROK include the protection of fundamental rights such as those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international conventions; the teaching, dissemination and encouragement of respect for human rights; and the development of friendly relations between the peoples of Iran based on the principle of equality before the law.


Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:

- expressing concern that Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand is not receiving adequate medical treatment in detention;
- urging the authorities to grant him immediate access to adequate medical treatment, including outside the prison if necessary;
- calling on them to release Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud 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
Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani
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
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (there are problems with this line, please try three times)
Email: (In the subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)

Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
via website: or

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 30 January 2009.

Monday, 22 December 2008

IMHRO meets with US department in London

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO met with US department in London on 28th of Nov in continuation of our campaign for the human rights of minorities within Iran.

In the meeting recent cases of oppression of minorities were discussed.

The US government continues its support against human rights abuses in Iran.

IMHRO condemn bombing campaign in Mumbai

The High Commission of India in London
Dear Shiv Shankar Mukherjee
High Commission of India India HouseAldwych London WC2B 4NA

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO has deep sympathy with the Indian nation. We strongly condemn the bombing campaign which has been carried out in your country by extremist Islamic groups.

We hope that such terrible violence will never happen again.

We believe that terrorism will never win over peace and democracy.

Minorities in Iran have also been subjected to terrorism and suppression. IMHRO declares its solidarity with the Indian nation against these terrible attacks.

Reza Washahi
IMHRO Director

Sunday, 21 December 2008

MRGI: Fakhteh Zamani

All over the world, ordinary women, men, and children are fighting for the rights of their communities to be recognized. Fakhteh Zamani spoke to MRG about her work in support of Iran’s minorities.

A published expert in wireless communications, Canada-based Fakhteh Zamani is better known for her determination to remedy injustices suffered by Iran’s minorities. Fakhteh, an Iranian Azerbaijani, left Iran more than18 years ago but she remains passionate about her homeland and uses modern communications methods to gather and share information about minorities.

Fahkteh’s concern for the numbers of young minority members under arrest and subjected to torture led to her creating the Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners, but she condemns Tehran’s abuses against all minorities.

Iran – a nation of concealed minorities

Iran is home to considerable communities of Azerbaijainis, Baluchis, Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, who are not all Shia Muslim but also Sunnis, Christians, Bah’ais and Jews. Minorities are jointly estimated by some to make up close to half of Iran’s population, and they constitute a disproportionate element of the prison population."Minorities are jointly estimated by some to make up close to half of Iran’s population, and they constitute a disproportionate element of the prison population."

Fakhteh’s activism started when she realised hardly anyone knew about the abuses against Azerbaijainis in Iran. She later took on cases involving Baluchis when she discovered how many were being executed while the world remained unaware.

Disturbingly many were youths under 18 years of age – legally children under UN conventions. By dint of sending emails, making phone calls and asking questions, Fakhteh started receiving information from witnesses and relatives of the oppressed and condemned - and threats from opponents wanting to silence her.

Life in Iran for minorities is complex. There have been charges of voting irregularities and minorities sometimes fall foul of the authorities if they protest against provocative statements and actions. In a country where the media is well controlled, cartoons depicting Azeris as cockroaches in 2006 caused huge offence: the editor of the publication was imprisoned- albeit temporarily - but authorities moved against protestors with such force that hundreds were arrested and Azeri websites reported many deaths.

Repression and control of minorities

Minorities are concentrated in the country’s periphery and contain a wealth of oil, minerals and rich agricultural areas along Iran’s borders. Fakhteh tells how this gives Tehran the excuse for repression of minorities - ostensibly in defence of the nation. She says that in some areas aquifers have been diverted, indigenous peoples removed and Persian families moved in.

One group, the Baluchis, are particularly targeted by repressive measures - Tehran apparently fears that Baluchi unrest in neighbouring Pakistan, may spread over the border. But Fakhteh says hundreds are on death row and well over a thousand estimated to be in prison after trials - many of them young men under 17.

Few minority representatives with any status within Iran risk speak out while Tehran preaches the importance of national unity. Any reports of human rights violations of minorities coming from Washington prompt charges of destabilisation from Tehran against minorities. So Fakteh stresses that support for human rights from other nations is doubly welcome.

Champions such as Fakhteh are vital to Iran’s minorities, and as she notes her email inbox gets fuller every day. While the intricacies of bluetooth communications may no longer be her main focus, it is thanks to technology that Fakhteh is able to fight for minority rights from her base in Canada.

Friday, 19 December 2008

amnesty: Prison guards entered Farzad Kamangar’s cell in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison. It is reported that the prison guards beat him


AI Index: MDE 13/176/2008
18 December 2008

Further Information on UA 147/08 (MDE 13/075/2008, 30 May 2008) and follow-up (MDE 13/094/2008, 11 July 2008) - death penalty / torture and ill-treatment

IRAN Farzad Kamangar (alias Siamand) (m), aged 32, teacher trade unionist]
Ali Heydariyan (m) ] members of Kurdish minority
Farhad Vakili (m) ]

On 24 November, prison guards entered Farzad Kamangar’s cell in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison. It is reported that the prison guards beat Farzad Kamangar, threatened him with execution, and took him out of the cell, along with some of his personal belongings. Later that day, another prisoner reported seeing him in the prison clinic, apparently unconscious. Farzad Kamangar is now believed to have been returned to his cell. .

In Iran, the removal of a detainee from their cell often signals that the person may be executed imminently. Amnesty International is therefore concerned that despite a review of his case being underway, Farzad Kamangar remains at risk of execution.

Farzad Kamangar was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials along with two other members of the Kurdish minority, Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili, in Tehran around July 2006. The three men were sentenced to death on 25 February 2008 after being convicted of “moharebeh” (enmity towards God), a charge levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state, in connection with their alleged membership of the armed group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili also received additional sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment for forging documents. Under Iranian law, they must serve their prison sentences before being executed. The death sentences of all three men were upheld by the Supreme Court. However, Farzad Kamangar's lawyer has submitted his case to a judicial review panel in an effort to have his death sentence overturned. Under Iranian law, death sentences cannot be carried out while under review.

Prior to his trial, Farzad Kamangar was held incommunicado, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, including by being beaten, flogged, and electrocuted. He is now said to suffer from spasms in his arms and legs. He was tried in unfair proceedings, during which his access to his lawyer was restricted. Farzad Kamangar has been prohibited, on several occasions and for prolonged periods of time, from seeing his lawyer and family members.


Kurds, who are one of Iran’s minorities, live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in the province of Kordestan and neighbouring provinces bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. For many years, some Kurdish political parties such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and Komala – all of which are illegal in Iran - have taken up arms against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Another armed group, the Kurdistan Independent Life Party (PJAK), continues to carry out armed attacks against Iranian security and government. Iran has accused foreign governments of fomenting unrest among the country's ethnic minorities.

The scope of capital crimes in Iran remains extremely broad. Judges have discretionary powers to impose the death penalty for certain offences, including those relating to national security. No other person convicted of membership of the PKK has been sentenced to death.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Persian, Kurdish or your own language:
- calling for an immediate investigation into the beating of and threats against Farzad Kamangar on 24 November in Evin Prison, with the results made public and those responsible held accountable;
- welcoming the judicial review of the case of Farzad Kamangar, and urging the authorities to commute the death sentences handed down to Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili;
- calling on the authorities to ensure that all three men have regular access to their families and lawyers of their choice, and to grant them any medical care they may require;
- acknowledging that governments have a responsibility to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences in proceedings that adhere to international standards for fair trial, but stating your unconditional opposition to the death penalty, as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and violation of the right to life;

Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud 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
Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
via website: or

Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani
C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 January 2009.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Today.AZ: Five activists of movement for rights of South Azerbaijanis arrested in Iran

The officials of the special services ETTELAAT arrested five activists of the movement for rights of South Azerbaijanis in Iranian Urmia, said sources in the Committee for Protection of Rights of South Azerbaijanis.By the information, the detained are Ulduz Gasimi, Rahman Gasimi, Seid Mahmudi, Nevid Sultani, Tohid Hasanpur.

Officials of the Iranian special services held a search at their homes, confiscated the computers, CD disks and personal things, belonging to the activists. The activists are placed in the ETTELAAT isolation ward.

It should be noted that in the threshold of the 63rd anniversary of the National Movement of South Azerbaijan, the activists of the movement for right of Iraian Azerbaijanis spread ads, boards and CD disks, criticizing the regime of Iranian powers and its actions against South Azerbaijanis in all cities. /Day.Az/

Saturday, 13 December 2008

UNPO: Human Rights Situation in Iran as Grave as Ever

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

UNPO discusses the predicament of Iran's minorities at a conference in the Brussels Parliament.

On the 17th November 2008 the Brussels Parliament hosted a conference organized by Mr. Jan Beghin, First Vice-President of the Brussels Parliament, and supported by the Kurdish Institute of Brussels and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Entitled 'Human's and People's Rights in Iran', the conference gave Andrew Swan of UNPO the opportunity to address the organization's concerns regarding minorities in Iran.

Below is the speech given by UNPO:

Human and People’s Rights in Iran

17 November 2008

Thank you Dr Sadr Al Ashrafi

Before beginning, I feel I should provide some background on the organization which I represent and its relevance among the experts and representatives you see gathered here today. I then aim to discuss broadly some of the themes we see in the human rights abuses prevalent in Iran today - raising the question of what scope there is for international cooperation and campaigning on the Iranian issue - perhaps encouraging a bit of debate at the question and answer session this afternoon as well.The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization was established in 1991 when dissidents from Estonia, Tibet, and East Turkestan joined together to unite behind their respective campaigns for greater protection of their linguistic, cultural, religious, and historical rights.

Since that moment, UNPO has grown to number over fifty members, a reflection that the threats to nations and people remain as great now as they did almost two decades ago – no more so than in the Middle East - and the comments we have heard today must surely reinforce this sad conclusion. UNPO’s members are united in the belief, and it can be a demanding belief, that nonviolent political action remains the only viable and practical response to the intimidation and marginalisation they face.

Cross-cutting UNPO’s membership are also themes which have considerable resonance among Iran’s minorities, namely the need for protection of the environment, support for tolerance, right to self-determination, respect for human rights, and the furtherance of democracy.

Beginning with the environment, we see in Iran environmental degradation in the country’s oil producing regions which impacts heavily on the Ahwazi and Balochs living there. Easy comparisons can be drawn to the catastrophe we have witnessed in the Niger Delta in Nigeria.

The appropriation of land, spillage of oil and harmful chemicals into soil and groundwater, and air borne pollutants from gas flaring all negate the quality of life in these areas and destroy agricultural communities.The physical signs of the environmental damage we see being caused is only comparative to the economic and social ramifications being impacted on Ahwazi and Baloch families.

Traditional roles are being undermined and compensation, when it is awarded, is no substitute for a regular means of income. There are still families waiting for their homes to be rebuild in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War – and for those Kurds whose land was appropriated by the Pahlavi regime, redress seems a long way off.As a result the lack of respected familial role models and job opportunities for youth in the skilled and low volume hydrocarbon industry is fuelling disaffection and resentment.The sense of tolerance embodied in the United Nations Charter, and which was marked only yesterday, is not readily to be found in Iran.

A longstanding policy of ‘Persianisation’, matched by likely falsification of census records, has been used to muddy ethnic identities and disenfranchise Iran’s sizeable minorities. This has affected all of UNPO’s members in the area, from the Ahwazi to the Azeris. Similar policies in the Peoples Republic of China can also be seen being enacted in East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet.

A forthcoming UNPO conference in fact intends examining this neglected issue and will assess the debates that first took place over a decade ago. Key among these are the rights to protection of one’s cultural and linguistic heritage which Persianisation has put at great risk. Turkmen as a language, to my knowledge, is nowhere to be seen in official social services or education.

Similarly, Ahwazi Arabic is restricted to the publication of religious texts – a measure that seems certain to consign it to the lexicon of dead languages in a not too distant future if nothing is done to sustain and protect it.The impotency of the Majlis combined with the gozinesh selection process effectively removes a minority such as the Turkmen from government employment. This represents sidelining approximately 2.2 million people and is a contravention not only of Article 7 (i) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which Iran ratified in 1975, but also Article 23 of Iran’s own constitution.

A right to self-determination, as again outlined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, is a facet of tolerance that receives short-shrift in Tehran. This reflects both a weakness and a need of the Iranian state: namely to monitor and coerce its citizens., and the need to control the resources without which such a system would be infeasible. So many actors would stand to lose from the disassembly of such a system that the notion of a federal Iran is painted from many quarters as a threat to stability and security.

Aside from the vested interests alluded to here, the denial of the right to self-determination is again a clear contraventions on the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights where the rights of Ahwazi and Baloch people to “freely dispose of their natural wealth” and that despite this natural wealth, there is still massive unemployment in these regions compared with Iran as a whole.

This state of affairs is compounded by an agricultural sector that has been left underdeveloped and damaged by state-subsidized sugar cane cultivation. Widespread pollution from both this and the poorly managed hydrocarbon infrastructure means that it will take years for the region to recover – if at all.

In the meantime this miserable situation has set in motion a cycle of unemployment, disaffected youth, and state sanctioned violence which undermines traditional social structures and creates the very instability which Tehran professes, at least publicly, to avoid.Containing these sentiments falls to people such as those we see seated here, but their efforts to address and redress such grievances through peaceful means are being constantly frustrated by Tehran.

That is why I feel honored to join these speakers in what is a clear indication of the unity of purpose among those campaigning for greater freedoms in Iran – the death knell of any nonviolent movement is after all disunity. The Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran is just one such example that has successfully brought together minorities from across the political spectrum in Iran.

This has been a crucial step from which to develop.Unifying with other actors within Iran, such as Persian groups calling for women’s rights, press freedom, and such like, strengthens any campaign, discrediting state messages portraying those calling for greater regional rights as ‘separatist’ and demonstrate an outlook that is open and collegial.

It carries risks for both sides undoubtedly, but it is important to raise the situation that liberal Persians face on a daily basis. This conference is examining the rights of all Iran’s people, Persians included, and there are many common causes to be found.Amnesty International and its local partners have done a great deal in highlighting the human rights abuses that affect Iranian society as a whole - raising the profile of juvenile executions and the repeated failure to uphold the Constitution of Iran for example.I also believe that UNPO has proven its worth in helping its members to look beyond their immediate region to those with similar experiences elsewhere.

It is here that I really believe there is scope to project an openness that will capture the attention of international actors - whilst educating policy-makers and commentators in the internal politics of Iran, and at the same time helping to promote a better understanding of what is a truly remarkable multi-ethnic state.This of course also provides an opportunity to inform Iranians of their own compatriots – if not changing positions then at least raising the standard of debate and exposing Tehran’s intractability.

Such approaches can bring the questions of tolerance, human rights, and democracy to a human level - avoiding the simplistic accusations of separatism and subversion which are the mainstay of Tehran’s verbal attacks on its critics.Therefore, to conclude, I hope that this conference will demonstrate two things – that the human rights situation in Iran remains as grave as ever, but also to impress upon the international community that there is a willingness and determination among the groups represented here to cooperate amongst themselves and with others to bring the realization of a open, free, and democratic Iran closer for all the country’s citizens.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

IMHRO celebrate the 60th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



When John Humphrey
[i] started to write the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), no one knew that this new covenant between humans would have such a huge impact on everyday life. The phrase “Human Rights” was unknown until then.

He summarised 400 pages down to just 48 short articles
[ii]. His role in creation of draft of UDHR was kept secret by UN till 1988.

On 10th of December 1948 humankind opened a new era in its long history. It was a huge leap towards greater self-respect and respect of others. For the first time humans of all colours, races, backgrounds, cultures and languages were equal in the eyes of international law. This was the moment within which humanity broke with the violence of times past and walked into a new vision of peace and brotherhood.

At the centre of the story was Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
[iii] who, driven by her passion, contributed a lot to the UDHR project. President Truman called her the "First Lady of the World" in tribute to her human rights achievements[iv].

According to The
Guinness Book of Records, the UDHR is the "Most Translated Document”[v].

Although great achievements have been made through the UDHR in last 60 years, we should remember that in many areas of the world including Iran, the stipulations of the UDHR are still not respected; the articles of the UDHR not being fulfilled.

To celebrate and promote our rights we bring the UDHR here again.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations, Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, 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.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.






Times: A human right to education for Baha’i

Call for access to education for all members of the Iranian Baha'i community

Sir, Today is United Nations Human Rights Day. This year the day marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 26 of the Declaration reads: “Everyone has the right to education” and “Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”.

We express our grave concern at the policy of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to deny access to education to members of its largest non-Muslim religious minority, the Baha’i faith.

Baha’is have been denied access to university for years but it is now reported that high schools and primary schools across Iran have begun to identify and expel pupils who are of the Baha’i faith. Such expulsions are a breach of Iran’s obligations under Article 13 of the Covenant of Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. We believe that this policy is manifestly unjust. It also sits ill at ease with Iran’s history of respect for learning.

We call upon the Government of Iran to allow full and unfettered access to education for all members of the Iranian Baha’i community, and to cease the harassment of Baha’is at any and all centres of learning in Iran.

Lord Parekh of Kingston-upon-Hull
Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws
Deborah Orr
Mairead Corrigan Maguire
Nobel Peace Laureate
Professor Stephen Chan
Department of Political and International Studies, SOAS
Professor Geraldine van Bueren Queen Mary University of London
Professor Peter Finn
Principal, St Mary’s University College, Belfast
Professor Tony Gallagher
School of Education, St Mary’s University College, Belfast
Lord Gifford
Bishop Idris Jones
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
The Right Rev David Lunan
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Norman Richardson
Stranmillis College, Belfast
Pierrot Ngadi
Co-ordinator, Refugee Wales
Francis Davis
Director, International Young Leaders Network
Patrick Yu
Executive Director, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities
Professor Colin Sucking
Former Vice Principal, University of Strathclyde
The Most Rev Keith Patrick O’Brien
Cardinal and Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

IMHRO attend Foreign Policy Centre event

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO attended an event on November 25th organised by the Foreign Policy Centre in the House of Commons entitled “A Revolution without Rights?”

The event saw the launch of the FPC Human Rights Report to which IMHRO contributed. The event was followed by a panel discussion.

IMHRO consider the FPC’s recent report a step forward for the human rights of minorities in Iran.

For downloading the report please go here:

Monday, 8 December 2008

Reporters Without Borders: One journalist held incommunicado, a second stabbed

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of Bahman Totonchi, a former contributor to the weekly Karfto, on 18 November in Sanandaj, the capital of the northwestern province of Kurdistan. The organisation has also learned that a journalist was stabbed and seriously wounded in a neighbouring province after writing about gas shortages in the region.

“Totonchi’s arrest brings the number of Kurdish journalists currently detained in Iran to five,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This can only be described as persecution as they all used to work for independent media that were already closed by the authorities in charge of supervising the media. We call for Totonchi’s release especially as, more than a week after his arrest, no charges have been brought against him.”

The press freedom organisation added: “Meanwhile, the physical attack on a journalist who was covering sensitive social issues serves as a danger alert to the entire media just a few months before the start of the presidential election campaign.”

Totonchi was arrested at his Sanandaj home by intelligence agents who carried out a search and left with personal files and his satellite dish. It is not known where he is now being held. Reporters Without Borders has been told that the security forces had been harassing him ever since his newspaper was closed on 29 December 2007 on the orders of the Commission for the Authorisation and Surveillance of the Press, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

Mohammad Khaleghi, a journalist based in Takab (in the northwestern province of West Azerbaijan) who writes for the ASR Iran news website, was seriously injured when he was attacked on 24 November by two men on a motorcycle who were armed with a knife and a box cutter.

A few days before the attack, he had covered protests by Takab residents about gas distribution problems and had questioned the government’s handling of the issue, prompting Takab’s governor to demand his dismissal and accuse him of being “morally incompetent.”

The Iranian government is one of the region’s worst press freedom violators. The print media, news websites and the broadcast media are all controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance and the intelligence services.

Birch Bricker: Discrimination Of Minorities In Iran

Birch Bricker

There are at least 28 Baha’is in jail in different parts of Iran who are imprisoned because of their religion. At any given moment, there may actually be more than this number, but sometimes Baha’is are detained overnight and released, or they may be allowed out on bail after depositing with the court a sum in cash or surrendering business licenses or titles to property.

Among those in prison are all seven members of the Baha’i coordinating committee, and three young adults in Shiraz whose case was the subject of an internal investigation -- the results of which completely vindicated the prisoners.

Harassment of Baha’is is pervasive and includes many incidents of all of the following:

*Arrests and detention, with imprisonment lasting for days, months, or years. In cases where the Baha’i is released, substantial bail is often required.

*Direct intimidation and questioning by authorities, sometimes with the use of high-intensity lights and physical mistreatment.

*Searches of homes and business, usually with Baha’i books and other items confiscated.

*School expulsions and harassment of schoolchildren.

*Prohibition on Baha’is attending universities.

*Court proceedings where Baha’is are accused of promoting propaganda against the government “for the benefit of the Bahaist sect.”

*Monitoring of the bank accounts, movement, and activities of Baha’is, including official questioning of Baha’is requiring them to give information about their lives, actions, neighbors, etc.

*Denial or confiscation of business licenses.

*Denial of work opportunities in general.

*Denial of rightful inheritances to Baha’is.

*Physical assaults, and efforts to drive Baha’is out of towns and villages.

*Desecration and destruction of Baha’i cemeteries, and harassment over burial rights.

*Dissemination, including in official news media, of misinformation about Baha’is, and incitement of hatred against Baha’is.

*Evictions from places of business, including Baha’i doctors from their offices and clinics.

*Intimidation of Muslims who associate with Baha’is.

*Attempts by authorities to get Baha’is to spy on other Baha’is.

*Threatening phone calls and letters to Baha’is.

*Denial of pension benefits.

*Denial of access to publishing or copying facilities for Baha’i literature.

*Confiscation of property.

AKI: Iran: Journalist sentenced to five years in jail

Tehran, 13 Nov. (AKI) - An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian journalist of Arab ethnicity to five years in prison for allegedly inciting a 'revolt' among Arabs in southern Iran.

Yousef Azizi-Banitaraf was arrested three years ago and charged by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran with 'inciting revolt' among the Arab population in the south of Iran. In April 2005, a group of people protested in oil-rich Khuzestan over an alleged letter that was reportedly attributed to Iran's presidential desk, saying that urgent action was needed to change the ethnic demographics of the province.

Banitaraf was arrested and released a few weeks later after he criticised the repression of protesters in the south of the country at a meeting at a Tehran human rights centre.

"The objective of this sentence is to silence the critical voices, and reduce freedom of expression to a minimum," said Banitaraf's lawyer, Saleh NikbathBanitaraf, 58, has published more than 25 works on various subjects, including tribal affairs, nomadic tribes and folk storytelling among the people of Khuzestan.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Observatory: Mr. Yasser Goli, a Kurdish rights activist and Secretary General of the Kurdish Students sentenced to 15 years in prison

The Observatory
for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

pour la Protection des Défenseurs
des Droits de l’Homme
para la Protección
de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos


New information
IRN 012 / 1008 / OBS 187
Sentencing / Arbitrary detention
November 12, 2008

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in Iran.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of Mr. Yasser Goli, a Kurdish rights activist and Secretary General of the Kurdish Students’ Union of Iranian Universities, detained since October 9, 2007
[1], to 15 years in prison

According to the information received, on November 6, 2008, Mr. Yasser Goli was sentenced by the second branch of the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj, Iranian Kurdistan, to 15 years in prison and to his banishment to Kerman, in the east of the country, for having contacts with “illegal Kurdish organisations” (Article 168 of the Islamic Penal Code). His lawyer will appeal this sentence. As of issuing this urgent appeal, he remains detained in a prison in Kurdistan. No further information could be obtained as to his exact place of detention.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about Mr. Goli’s severe sentencing, which is once again evidence of the ongoing harsh repression of the Iranian authorities against human rights defenders.

Furthermore, the Observatory wishes to insist on the fact that Iran had committed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”
[2] by presenting its candidacy to the Human Rights Council 2006 election and had insisted in this regard on the fact that the country had “continuously put great efforts into safeguarding the status and inherent dignity of the human person as well as the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”[3]. In order to ensure the continuation of these efforts, the Observatory urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to conform with international human rights standards.

Background information:

After being in prison for three months, Mr. Goli was transferred to the Central Prison of Sanandaj on January 16, 2008. Until then, he was not allowed to meet with his family. Mr. Goli suffers from a heart ailment and has been admitted to the hospital numerous times for treatment.

Hi whole family has fought on his behalf to shed light on his condition and plight. His father, Mr. Saleh Goli, was arrested on October 31, 2007 in connection with his son’s case. His bail was set at 10 million tomans but he was subsequently released.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Iran urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Yasser Goli;

ii. Release Mr. Yasser Goli immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning his activities in favour of human rights;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Yasser Goli as well as against all Iranian human rights defenders;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 6.b, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Iran.


· Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: / /;
· President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail:;
· Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567 / +98 21 3 390 4986, Email: /;
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email:;
· Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran, His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani, C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827
· Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:;
· Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Iran in your respective country.

Geneva - Paris, November 12, 2008

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

International Federation for Human Rights
17, Passage de la Main d’Or
75 011 Paris, France
World Organisation Against Torture
Case postale 21 - 8 rue du Vieux-Billard
1211 Geneva 8, Switzerland

[1] See Observatory Press Release, September 4, 2008.
[2] In accordance with GA resolution A/RES/60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council.