Thursday, 27 August 2009

Inspire Magazine: Iran: ‘Apostates’ sent back to jail

A judge has sent two young Christian women back to jail to consider their options after they refused to deny Christ in court.Maryam Rostampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, who is 30, were asked if they would renounce their new faith and return to Islam – but they refused. When asked if they had any regrets over becoming Christians, they said they had none. The judge reportedly sent them back to their cells at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran to 'think about it'.

The women have been held without charge since their arrest on 5 March, although some reports say they have been threatened with apostasy charges, reports Release International.The women have reportedly been unwell and lost a great deal of weight in custody. Marzieh is said to need medical attention for pain in her spine, an infected tooth and intense headaches, but she has received no medical care to date.

The court case is being played out against the backdrop of a violent crackdown on President Ahmadinejad's political opponents – and on Christians. More than 30 Christians were arrested within a fortnight near Tehran and in the northern city of Rasht.On 31 July police raided a special meeting for Christians with a Muslim background, making 24 arrests at a private address in Amameh, just north of Tehran. Most of these Christians were released later that day, but seven remain in detention.

Then, on 7 August, police rearrested some of the same group for more questioning. Police also arrested eight Christians in Rasht in two raids on 29 and 30 July. One of the eight, a man, remains in prison.(Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Compass Direct, The Voice of the Martyrs Australia)

Examiner: Baha'is in Iran: steadfast in spite of persecution

The small community room at the Arcade Library in Carmichael, California was filled with people, including some standing against the wall in the back of the room and others sitting cross-legged on the lineoleum-tiled floor.

It wasn't a typically sweltering-hot evening in July, in fact, there was a gentle, southwesterly breeze wafting through the open door. But the people squeezed into the room weren't gathered to discuss the pleasant weather. They were there to honor the hundreds of Baha'is who have been imprisoned, tortured, and in more than a few instances, executed for their beliefs.

The program began in an appropriately somber tone with prayers, two in English and one chanted in Farsi. The crowd, while largely Baha'is, were a mix of Iranians and Americans, Baha'is and those who were either friends of Baha'is or interested in the current political turmoil in Iran.

The first speaker was Marjan Aziza-Elahi, a resident of the Granite Bay Baha'i community who was joined at the speaker's podium by her six year old daughter, Raha. During the widespread increase of government-sanctioned persecution of Baha'is following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Ms. Aziza-Elahi lost three of her uncles to execution. She did not, however, dwell on the horrific memories of that tragedy, but instead, remained focused on how Baha'is survived during the fiercely hostile early years of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Baha'is, along with concerned non-Baha'i family members and friends, helped each other with food, clothing, shelter and other necessities for survival, she explained.

They had to be careful, however, because gathering in a group would lead to arrest. The Islamic -ran government had outlawed the worship and teaching activities of the Baha'i Faith, and a group of Baha'is coming together for any reason was considered to be in defiance of the law.

She described how an 85 year old grandmother was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards because she refused to recant the Baha'i Faith. The elderly woman remained steadfast in her resolution that she would rather remain incarcerated than disavow her faith. Eventually, she was released.
These circumstances still exist for Baha'is in Iran today.

Next, a slide show presentation offered the Baha'is the opportunity to remember and honor those who had "disappeared", died during imprisonment or had been executed. Among those who were kidnapped and never seen again are the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran. They were rounded up on August 21, 1980 and. it is assumed they are dead. Other slides revealed Baha'is in professional photographs, such as a Baha'i officer in the Iranian army before the Islamic Revolution, or snapshots of Baha'is taken by friends or family members. It was difficult to comprehend why the Iranian government would consider the smiling people in those photographs such a threat that they had to be beaten, tortured, and inevitably, hung or shot by a firing squad.

Farhad Sabetan, the final speaker for the evening and a former United Nations representative for the Baha'i International Community (Baha'is have a seat in the UN as a non-governmental organization), reminded the audience that although followers of the Ba'b and Baha'u'llah have suffered incalculable tragedies over the past 150 years, the years between 1979 and 1991 were the worst in terms harrassment, false imprisonment, discrimination and other human rights violations.

Referring to the current unrest in Iran surrounding the re-election Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, Sabetan reiterated that no Baha'i is responsible for the protests, nor do they participate in any of the demonstrations. This position of neutrality has sometimes drawn sharp criticism from fellow Iranian citizen who are unhappy with the overwhelming political/economic status of their country and wish to have Baha'i participation. Baha'is are not only forbidden to participate in partisan politics, demonstrations, strikes or any activity against their government of residence, but they must also abide by the laws of their country. There is, however, one exception to that edict--they are must never recant their faith, even if faced with a myraid of injustices, including death.

"The Iranian people are now experiencing what the Baha'is have experienced for the past 30 years," Mr. Sabetan told the audience. Although Iranian Baha'is feel the same anguish and sorrow as their countrymen concerning the turmoil in their homeland, they have been instructed to move on with their daily duties instead of participating in the political upheaval. As a result, they perform whatever tasks they can to financially and spiritually support their families and neighbors, whether they are Baha'i or not.

Providing for their families and communities is not, however, a simple matter. As Mr. Sabetan explained, Baha'is are forbidden to have jobs in the government or private sector. They cannot own any property, whether it be a home or some land. Their children are often harrassed at school, and when they grow up, they are barred from attendance in the universities. As a result, Iranian Baha'is have become quite industrious by taking up a trade or opening a service-related business such house painting, auto repair, or janitorial work.

In some cases, university trained professionals such as doctors, teachers, attorneys and engineers have happily sold produce in the street markets for a living.
The purpose of the memorial service that day, Mr. Sabetan reminded those gathered, that was to not only honor those martryred, but to raise awareness of the false imprisonment and criminal charges that have filed against the seven members of ad-hoc committee of Baha'is that came together (with the full knowledge of the Iranian government) for the purpose of helping Baha'is remain steadfast in the matters of daily life during this fearful time. Unfortunately, the seven Baha'is were arrested in March and May of 2008, and they have been held in Tehran's Evin prison, the same facility where numerous protestors are now held. The Baha'i 7, or Yaran (Friends) who are awaiting trial are Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet. Their court date has been postponed until October 18, 2009.

The evening ended a brief question and answer session with Mr. Sabetan, prayers and refreshments provided by the Carmichael community of Baha'is

Telegraph: Iranian man to be stoned to death despite moratorium

An Iranian man convicted of adultery is to be stoned to death despite a moratorium being agreed by the judiciary last year

Naghi Ahmadi was sentenced to death by stoning in June last year in the northern city of Sari, after he visited a married woman's home in the night while her husband was away working in another city, the Sarmayeh newspaper reported.
According to Ahmadi's lawyer, the verdict was declared after the woman and his client confessed to their adultery. The report did not explain why the woman was not convicted.

A year ago the judiciary said it would scrap the punishment in Iran's new Islamic penal code.
The outlines of the moratorium have been adopted by the Tehran parliament but are yet to be debated by its members.

In a similar case in February, Abdollah Farivar was hanged in Sari after being sentenced to death by stoning following his conviction for having illicit relations with a teenage girl.

Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, repeated sodomy, adultery, prostitution, treason and espionage.

Under Iran's existing law, adultery is still punishable by stoning, which involves the hurling of stones in public at a partially buried convict. A man is buried up to his waist and a woman up to her shoulders.

Convicts are spared if they can free themselves.

Stoning has drawn international condemnation, with the United Nations and the European Union calling on Iran to abolish the sentence. Iranian human rights campaigners have also urged the Islamic republic to stop the punishment.

IMHRO condemns the execution of 13 Baluchi men

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



The Iranian government executed 13 Baluchi men. These men were accused of being members of Jund Allah and were charged with terrorism because of suspected involvement in an attack on a mosque in Zahedan in June 2009.

IMHRO opposes the use of terrorism and the use of the death penalty. IMHRO believes that everyone has the right to a fair trial and condemns the convictions and executions of these men. IMHRO believes the trials of these 13 men were unfair and did not adhere to the standard procedure as the men were allegedly kept in solitary confinement and had been reportedly tortured by the Iranian security services to obtain false confessions.

A Baluchistan relation of one of the executed men, told IMHRO: “They buried them at night. Members of the Security service were present at the funeral. They told us not to hold the funeral service and we should keep silent and not talk about them. I saw signs of torture on the body of my relative, there was signs of burning all over his body.”

“Like always we do not know the details of the cases, Baluchi sources are saying these men were ordinary people or that some of them were political and cultural activists. As usual, the Iranian government did not allow any international observers to attend the hearings. The men did not have a lawyer present and they did not have right to appeal against the court decision. The Iranian government has executed many people in relation to terrorist activities in the past, and then too late, it has been discovered that the suspects were innocent.” IMHRO researcher Reza Washahi said.

IMHRO appeals to international community in regards to the plight of Baluchi people in Iran. This inhuman treatment of Baluchi people has to be stopped. Baluchi people deserve better treatment and the right to a fair trial.

AFP: Iran Revolutionary Guards 'kill 26 Kurdish rebels'

TEHRAN — Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have killed 26 Kurdish rebels in northwestern Iran, a commander of the guards was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Fars news agency.

"In an operation to clean up the West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces of counter-revolutionary and terrorist groups, 26 of the agents were killed," said Mohammad Pakpoor, who was described by Fars as commander of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces.

He said the operation had delivered a "massive blow" to the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) and other Kurdish rebel groups.

He gave no indication of the period in which the killings took place but said that no guards forces were killed in the operation.

The commander vowed a further "crackdown on any instigators of insecurity directed by foreign or internal counter-revolutionaries" in the region.

Western Iran, which has a sizeable Kurdish population, has seen deadly fighting in recent years between Iranian security forces and PJAK rebels operating from rear-bases in neighbouring Iraq.

The group is closely allied with the Turkish Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community.

Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey all have significant ethnic Kurdish minorities.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

IMHRO: Iranian security service arrested 80 years old Arab Ahwazi man

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



80 years old Ahwazi Arab man Saied Jasim Alboshoka alongside his nephew Nasser Alboshoka 57 years old was arrested in city of Ramshir (Khalafia) by security service in south west of Iran in Al-Ahwaz.

This is not a first time Iranian government arresting elderly Ahwazi Arabs.

They released after 15 days on bill. They were arrested in 2005 during intifada demonstration in Ahwaz. They also killed Saied Sultan Alboshoka- grandson of Saied Jasim Alboshoka in 2006.

They threat them that rest of your family in Europe should return back to Iran.

This is unacceptable treatment of elderly people. Iranian security service uses the relatives of activist for putting pressure on them to stop their activities.


Al Ahwaz situated in south west of Iran, in North West of Arabic Gulf, with population of at least 5 million people. Oil and gas rich of Al Ahwaz occupied by Iranian Government in 1925. Since then cultural ban imposed on people and government used various tools for this aim including displacement and changing names.

Ahwazi Arab people are not benefited from natural fortune. Unemployment rate is high, and government do not invest in health and education.

In recent years Iranian government set up various training camps under supervision of elite part of Islamic Revolutionary Guards -Quds Force- for training terrorists and sending them into Iraq and Lebanon.

Iranian government exercise ultra tight censoring News from Ahwaz and journalist banned for many years from visiting area. Ahwazi Arabs also suffer from censorship of their News by Persian managed media in the West.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

amnesty: Urgent action: Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi is at risk of execution by stoning in Tabriz Prison

Demand judiciary halts stoning

Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi is at risk of execution by stoning in Tabriz Prison, western Iran. She was convicted in 2006 or 2007 of “adultery while being married”. She was previously flogged for “having an illicit relationship”.

Sakineh Mohammadi was convicted on 15 May 2006 of having had an “illicit relationship” with two men. She received flogging of 99 lashes as her sentence.

She was subsequently accused of “adultery while being married" in September 2006 during the trial of a man accused of murdering her husband. In this trial, Sakineh Mohammadi retracted a “confession” that she had made during her pre-trial interrogation, alleging that she had been forced to make it under duress, and denied the charge of adultery. Two of the five judges found her not guilty, noting that she had already been flogged and adding that they did not find the necessary proof of adultery in the case against her. However, the three other judges, including the presiding judge, found her guilty on the basis of “the knowledge of the judge”, a provision in Iranian law that allows judges to make their own subjective and possibly arbitrary determination whether an accused person is guilty even in the absence of clear or conclusive evidence. Having been convicted by a majority of the five judges, Sakineh Mohammadi was sentenced to death by stoning.

Her death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 27 May 2007. Her case has been sent to the Amnesty and Clemency Commission twice, but her request for clemency was rejected on both occasions.

Sakineh Mohammadi’s lawyer again asked the Amnesty and Clemency Commission to review her case three months ago. It is not known how long this will take, but if rejected she would be at immediate risk of execution by stoning.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:
n Urging the authorities not to execute Sakineh Mohammadi;
n calling on the authorities to order an immediate and effective moratorium on executions by stoning and the use of other forms of execution and cruel and inhuman punishments, including flogging.

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

Head of the Judiciary in East Azerbaijan Province
Hojjatoleslam Malek-Ashtar Sharifi
Office of the Head of the Judiciary in Tabriz
East Azerbaijan
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via website: (English) (Persian)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
Demand judiciary halts stoning

ADditional Information
In Iran stoning to death is prescribed as the mode of execution for those convicted of committing the offence of "adultery while being married”. In 2002, the Head of the Judiciary instructed judges to impose a moratorium on stonings. Despite this, at least five men and one woman have been stoned to death since 2002. In January 2009, the Spokesperson for the Judiciary, Ali Reza Jamshidi, confirmed that two executions by stoning had been carried out in December 2008 and said that the directive on the moratorium had no legal weight and that judges could therefore ignore it.

At least eight other women and three men are currently believed to be at risk of stoning to death in Iran (see UA 50/09, MDE 13/015/2009, 24 February 2009, UA 10/09, MDE 13/005/2009, 16 January 2009 and UA 117/09, MDE 13/041/2009, 05 May 2009.

In June, the Legal and Judicial affairs committee of Iran’s parliament (Majles) recommended the removal of a clause permitting stoning from a new version of the Penal Code currently under discussion in the parliament. The law has yet to be passed by the whole Majles, after which it will be passed to the Council of Guardians for approval. The clause allowing the use of stoning could be reinstated at either stage.

AFP: UN rights experts warn Iran over torture

GENEVA — Iran's Revolutionary Court must reject confessions of political opponents extracted under torture or harsh interrogation, three UN human rights experts warned Iran on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the experts said they were continuing to receive reports of deaths in custody and of torture of opponents arrested during the wave of protests in Iran.

"No judicial system can consider as valid a confession obtained as a result of harsh interrogations or under torture," said the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak.

"These confessions for alleged crimes such as threats against national security
and treason must not, under any circumstances, be admitted as evidence by the Revolutionary Court," added El Hadji Malick Sow, vice-chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Both experts, together with Margaret Sekaggya, special rapporteur on human rights defenders, expressed alarm at "consistent allegations of severe practices of torture to obtain confessions."

Those allegedly targetted included opposition figures, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.

The UN human rights office said reports of people dying in custody continue to be received, and their families were given "false or contradictory" information on the cause of deaths.
Many detainees were held without being charged and denied family visits, legal assistance or medical treatment, the statement added.
Iran is in the grip of a bitter political crisis triggered by the June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which the opposition claims was rigged.
Iran's powerful conservative camp rejected on Wednesday claims that election protesters were raped in custody and issued a stern warning to opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi for raising the allegations.
About 4,000 opposition supporters, including reformists and journalists, were arrested during recent protests, officials said.
Most have been released, but around 200 remain behind bars and some 110 have been put on trial.
Another Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi dismissed them as a "show trials"

Monday, 17 August 2009

IMHRO Condemns TV Show Trial of British Embassy Woker in Tehran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



The Iranian government staged a show trial in the style of the Stalin era. Hundreds of people, including British and French embassy workers, were shown on Iranian State TV, confessing that they had worked for the West. They were accused of contacting ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.

The faces of many of those shown on State TV were pale. There was deep worry and uncertainty in their eyes. They were denied a lawyer, and brought straight from security service detention to the court. They were reportedly tortured, kept awake for many nights and days in solitary confinement, and subjected to various drugs and the procedure known as “white torture”.

“This is a show court. This shows what is happening inside Iran. This is a small window to what has been happening in minority areas for many years, and we need to see the bigger picture. This is wake up call for the International Community”, Reza Washahi, a researcher on minorities told IMHRO.

IMHRO is very concern about such show trials and condemns them. We call for this to stop and for the release all the prisoners. We ask the international community to take a stand for these Human Rights abuses in Iran.


Show trials and confessions on state TV are not new in Iran. Since 1979, many political and cultural activists, as well as ordinary people like butchers, tailors, or shoe makers, have appeared on TV state and made to confess to working as spies for foreigners or being members of the opposition. Many were later executed or simply disappeared after few years, without any trace of them.

Some, who managed to escape, later told their horrifying account of how they were forced by Iranian Security Service and Revolutionary guards, under pressure and torture, to accuse people they had never met, sign papers, and name their innocent friends and families.

Torture by Iranian Security Service includes water boarding, burning of the body by using iron and torch, flogging the feet, hanging upside down, raping men and women, and leaving their prison doors open for murder criminals in the prison to “sort them out”.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Comic Campaign 2

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



When we achieved full Islamic society in Iran, is there being an Islamic Revolutionary Guard any more?

No, by then people will have learned to arrest themselves.

In IMHRO we decided to produce and reproduce some of the finest jokes regard of situation in Iran, and revealing what is going on, we do believe those jokes will help to spread around awareness more than e-mails!! Plus give you a smile!!

Please share them with your colleagues and your friends and show solidarity regard of Human Right of minorities in Iran.

CNN: British, French embassy workers on trial over Iran protests

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- The European Union, France and Britain denounced Iran's ongoing mass trial after two embassy employees and a French citizen appeared in court Saturday on charges related to post-presidential election violence.
The French and British embassy employees and a French scholar were among 100 defendants who appeared in Tehran's Revolutionary Court as a mass trial of Iranians and others resumed Saturday.

The EU presidency, currently held by Sweden, said Iran will be held responsible.
"The presidency reiterates that actions against one EU country -- citizen or embassy staff -- is considered an action against all of EU, and will be treated accordingly," the European Union said in a statement. "The EU will closely follow the trial and demand that the persons will be released promptly."
Britain's Foreign Office also denounced the proceedings, calling them an "outrage."

Among those named in court Saturday were Clotilde Reiss, a French academic working in Iran, and Nazak Afshar, an employee of the French embassy in Tehran.
France called for the release of both women, saying the charges against them are unfounded.
"France also stands against the conditions of that [court] appearance," the French foreign ministry said. "The embassy was not informed in advance nor permitted to attend the hearing, in accordance with international rules of consular protection. We regret that Ms. Clotilde Reiss and Ms. Afshar are not being assisted by a lawyer."
The semiofficial Fars News Agency said Reiss admitted to her crimes in court Saturday and asked for clemency.

"I shouldn't have participated in the illegal demonstration and shouldn't have sent the pictures, I am regretful," Fars quoted her as saying. "I apologize to the Iranian people and court and I hope the people and the court forgive me."
Human rights groups and
Iran's opposition leaders have accused the government of coercing such confessions.

An analyst for the British embassy in Iran also was put on trial Saturday, the British Foreign Office said. Hossein Rassam was one of several British Embassy employees who were arrested.

"This is completely unacceptable and directly contradicts assurances we have repeatedly been given by Iranian officials," a British Foreign Office spokesman said.

Fars reported that Saturday's trial was for a second group of people accused of involvement in the unrest. The first trial was August 1.
Defendants face a variety of charges related to the massive demonstrations held after President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to a second term. The government said he won by a landslide, but opponents accused officials of rigging the results.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest, calling the election results fraudulent, leading to the arrests of more than 1,000 people.
Opposition leaders
Mir Hossein Moussavi and former President Mohammad Khatami have blasted the mass trial, contending the detainees were forced into confessions through the use of torture.
Britain made a similar accusation Saturday.

"We deplore these trials and the so-called confessions of prisoners who have been denied their basic human rights," the British Foreign Office spokesman said.
This week, human rights activists and Iranian intellectuals penned a letter to Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The letter describes human rights abuses in Iran and asks the Security Council to label them "crimes against humanity" and refer the issue to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

"This is a regime that in an organized manner arrests its opponents and critics and tortures them in solitary cells," says the letter, signed by 380 people.

Human rights organizations have decried the mass trial, calling it a farce and a way to intimidate Iranians who speak against the government. Last week, top Iranian clerics and seminary students in the holy city of Qom also voiced their opposition to the trial, calling it "illegal" and "immoral."

Iran's clerical establishment defended the trial, saying those arrested are enemies of the Islamic republic.

In the weekly Friday sermon, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani said opposition efforts would prove futile.

"Their [the enemies'] plots, conspiracies and moves against the Islamic Republic have all proved futile since the very first day [the Islamic ruling system was established], and they will remain so due to the vigilance of our nation which knows its enemies," Kashani said in his address at Tehran University, according to Fars.

Among the charges the detainees face are:
Attacking military facilities using firearms, cold weapons and fire bombs
Attacking government facilities and setting fire to them
Destruction of public property
Creating panic in public
Beating up members of the security forces
Among the defendants are Seyyed Mohammad Abtahi, a former Iranian vice president, and Maziar Bahari, a reporter for Newsweek magazine.
Abtahi's wife, Fahimeh Mousavinejad, told Human Rights Watch she learned about her husband's trial through media reports. She said that she had been able to visit her husband once, on July 30.
"We sat together in a room where a video camera filmed us, and if we deviated slightly from personal affairs, we were reprimanded," she told Human Rights Watch. Abtahi "was weak and unhealthy, his body was shaking. He had lost more than 36 pounds. I was surprised to see him taken into court in that condition."
The trial was to have resumed Thursday, but was postponed until Saturday because of a request by defense lawyers, state-run Press TV said.

Reuters:Iran hangs two members of Sunni rebel group -agency

Iran hanged two members of a Sunni rebel group in prison on Saturday for killings and attacks in a volatile southeastern area, the official IRNA news agency reported.The hanging of the two members of Jundollah (God's soldiers), followed the execution of 13 members of the group on July 14 in the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, Zahedan, where a bomb attack on a Shi'ite mosque killed 25 people in May.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television had reported that Jundollah claimed the attack."Ayoub Rigi and Masoud Gomshadzehi were convicted as 'mohareb' (one who wages war against God) and also as 'corrupt on the earth'," an unnamed local judiciary official told IRNA.Under Iran's Islamic Sharia law, murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.Predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran says Jundollah is part of the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network and backed by the United States, Tehran's arch foe.

Jundollah says it fights for the rights of the Islamic Republic's minority Sunnis."They were hanged early Saturday morning inside the Zahedan prison after their sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court," the official said.On May 30, three people were hanged in public for involvement in the Zahedan mosque blast, Iranian media reported. A brother of the group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, will be executed soon, Iran's ISNA student news agency said.Iranian authorities said his execution was postponed for a few days in order to get more information from him.Sectarian violence is relatively rare in Iran, whose leaders reject allegations by Western rights groups that the country discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.

IRNA also said a convicted drug smuggler was hanged in Zahedan on Saturday.Human rights group Amnesty International had called on Iran not to go ahead with the executions, saying the accused did not receive a fair trial.Amnesty has listed Iran as the world's second most prolific executioner in 2008 after China, and says the Islamic state executed at least 346 people last year. Iran rejects allegations of human rights violations. (Reporting by Hashem Kalantari, writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

AFP: Kurdish murder in Vienna still in mystery 20 years on

VIENNA (AFP) – The murder of a Kurdish opposition leader in Vienna, in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's name has been dragged, is still shrouded in mystery two decades on.

Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan -- an Iranian opposition party outlawed by Tehran -- was killed in the Austrian capital on July 13, 1989 by commandos who were never apprehended.

A number of witnesses have even linked Ahmadinejad to Ghassemlou's murder and those of two others but Tehran has persistently denied involvement.
German authorities have said Ghassemlou's murder, as well as the assassination of his successor Sadegh Charafkandi in Berlin in 1992, had been ordered by top Iranian officials.

Austria remains stubbornly tight-lipped on the case. And 20 years on, a former investigator on the case remains under pressure from the interior ministry not to give any interviews.

A former ministry official was similarly taciturn when contacted by AFP.

Ghassemlou and the two other men had come to Vienna to participate in secret peace negotiations with Iran, the third set of talks since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, in which the Iranian Kurds had taken Baghdad's side.

Following his murder and after initial interrogations, investigators became suspicious of two members of the Iranian delegation, but in what Austrian authorities have described as administrative errors, the suspects escaped.
Between instructions that were never given out, delayed arrest warrants, mistaken reporting and competition between the different police departments, the errors multiplied.

One suspect, Amir Mansour Borzorgian, claimed to be a bodyguard for the Iranian delegation and sought refuge in the Iranian embassy in Vienna. He was discreetly allowed to leave the country months later.

Another, an Iranian "emissary" Mohamad Sahraroudi was wounded in the attack and therefore seen as a victim. He was given police protection until he left for Tehran on July 22, 1989.

The arrest warrants for both men were only issued much later.
"Austria ceded to pressure to safeguard its economic interests," claims Green party deputy Peter Pilz, who has written a book on the affair, where he accused high-ranking Austrian officials of ceding to Iran's demands.

Last month, Pilz presented to the media a testimony by a German arms dealer who claimed to have delivered weapons to Ahmadinejad in July 1989, shortly before Ghassemlou's assassination.

In a statement to Italian anti-mafia authorities in April 2006 while he was serving a sentence for arms trafficking in Trieste, Italy, the German said he delivered half a dozen light weapons during a meeting in the Iranian embassy in Vienna.

At this meeting were three Iranians, including "a certain Mohamed, who later became president of the Republic of Iran," he said, according to a copy of the translated testimony presented by Pilz.

A key question is why the Kurdish delegation took such little safety precautions.
A first meeting had taken place the evening before the murder in the same Vienna apartment, where there were no police or Kurdish bodyguards.

"I believe Ghassemlou thought that (the then-Iranian President Akbar Hashemi) Rafsanjani was in a weaker position and needed to negotiate with him," suggests Chris Kutschera, a writer and a Kurdistan expert.
Ghassemlou's widow, Helene, regrets that potential witnesses were cowed into silence.

"We have to find documents in Iran with signatures" proving that the killings were carried on the regime's orders, she said.

CNN: Iran has held other Americans in recent years

The U.S. government is looking into the cases of three American hikers believed to have been seized inside Iran, along the Iraqi border.

The three University of California-Berkeley graduates were arrested Friday after apparently crossing from Iraq into Iran during a hike.

Washington has also expressed deep concern over Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, who was recently re-arrested and charged in connection with violent post-election rallies in Tehran.

Human Rights Watch noted that neither Tajbakhsh nor any of the other more

than 100 defendants were charged with specific violations of Iranian law.
It is not the first time Iran has detained American nationals for unspecified reasons. Here is a breakdown of Americans who have been detained or gone missing in recent years in Iran:

Parnaz Azima

Azima, who is an Iranian and American national, had her passport confiscated in January 2007 and faces arrest if she returns to Iran. Azima, who works for Persian-language broadcaster Radio Farda -- funded by Radio Free Europe and Voice of America -- was allowed to leave Iran in September 2007.

In March 2008, she was convicted of "spreading anti-state propaganda" and given a one-year prison sentence.

She is appealing the verdict but may have to choose between returning to Iran to serve the sentence or forfeiting the deed to her 95-year-old mother's Tehran home, which was turned over to authorities in lieu of her bail, which was set at over $500,000.

Haleh Esfandiari

Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East Program at Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, was detained in December 2007 on her way to Tehran's airport as she was returning from visiting her ailing mother in Iran.
Iranian authorities later charged her with harming national security and held her for more than 100 days in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. She was released August 21, 2007, after her mother posted $330,000 bail, and left Iran on September 2, 2007.

Robert Levinson
American Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent, has been missing in Iran for over two years. Levinson had been working as a private investigator in Dubai. He was last heard from on March 8, 2007, when he checked into a Kish Island hotel and then checked out to return to the United States the following day.
Iranian authorities have said repeatedly that they do not know what might have happened to him. The State Department has consistently denied Levinson was working for the U.S. government and has unsuccessfully pressed Tehran for information about his whereabouts.
In December 2007, Levinson's wife and other relatives traveled to Iran and met with officials. Christine Levinson has said the Iranian government was polite and guaranteed her family's security on their trip but provided no details regarding her husband's whereabouts.
Esha Momeni
Momeni -- an Iranian-American student, artist, and women's rights activist -- was held in Evin Prison for 28 days in late 2008, most of that time in solitary confinement. She was released from prison after posting $200,000 bail with the deed to her parent's house, according to her blog,
Iranian authorities have confiscated her passport, preventing her from leaving the country and resuming her studies at California State University-Northridge.
Momeni says on the blog that she endured some 19 interrogation sessions "sometimes starting from morning till night during which I was constantly trying to convince the interrogators of the truth, that I am a student working on my thesis and not part of a project to overthrow the government."
At the time of her detention in October 2008, she was visiting Iran to work on her master's thesis project.

Roxana Saberi

Saberi, a freelance journalist from North Dakota, spent four months in jail earlier this year. Saberi had been living in Iran since 2003. She was detained in January 2009 on espionage charges. Officials initially said Saberi was held for buying a bottle of wine. The foreign ministry later said she was detained for reporting without proper accreditation. She was released in May 2009 and has since returned to the United States.

Ali Shakeri

Shakeri, an Iranian-American businessman and peace activist from California, was held by Iranian authorities for four months. He was picked up in May 2007 while attempting to return to the United States after visiting his ailing mother, who died while he was in custody. He was released from Evin Prison in September 2007.
Kian Tajbakhsh
Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American academic, is currently in Iranian custody. He has been charged along with more than 100 others for their alleged roles in protests that followed the disputed presidential election in June. It is his second arrest in two years.

Iranian security forces seized Tajbakhsh from his Tehran home on July 9, 2009, confiscated his computer, and ransacked the house where he lives with his wife and year-old child, according to sources close to his family.
The reason for his arrest was not immediately known, and there has been no comment from the Iranian government. The sources said his family doesn't know where he is.

This week, the U.S. government expressed its deep concern about Tajbakhsh's situation, noting that he has been denied access to an attorney.
"He has played absolutely no role in the election and poses no threat to the Iranian government or its national security," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Tuesday, reading a prepared statement. He called for Tajbakhsh's immediate release.
Human Rights Watch has also expressed concern for Tajbakhsh, saying he and the more than 100 others are being put on a "show trial" that is politically motivated.

In May 2007, Iranian security forces detained Tajbakhsh and his wife, who was pregnant at the time. She was released a day later. He was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for more than three months, along with another Iranian-American, Haleh Esfandiari, who also was accused of endangering national security.

Esfandiari was freed weeks before Tajbakhsh was.
At the time, Tajbakhsh was an independent consultant and urban planner working for George Soros' Open Society Institute. Tajbakhsh, who holds a doctorate in urban planning from Columbia University, has taught at universities in both America and Iran.

Examiner: Iranian Woman Forced into Prostitution to Support Husband's Heroine Addiction to be Stoned to Death

International human rights organizations have recently expressed concerned about Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Iranian women’s rights activists working on her case fear that Kobra now faces imminent execution because she has reportedly exhausted all domestic legal remedies, and her case files were recently returned back to the Tabriz court from the capitol. Kobra is detained in Tabriz prison in northwestern Iran.

Kobra Najjar is a 45-year-old Iranian woman who was forced into prostitution by her abusive husband in order to support his heroine addiction. He was murdered by one of Kobra’s “clients” who sympathized with her plight. Kobra has already served 8 years in prison as an accessory to her husband’s murder. The man who murdered her husband also served 8 years in prison and is now free after paying blood money and undergoing 100 lashes, while Kobra faces imminent stoning to death for adultery - the prostitution her husband forced upon her.

Equality Now is also concerned about seven other women and one man, all sentenced to death by stoning, whose executions are also reported to be possible at any time. In Iran, adultery is the only crime punishable by stoning.

The head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, passed a moratorium on stoning in 2002. In March 2008, a woman named Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, whose partner Jaffar Kiani had been stoned to death in 2007, was released from prison and her stoning sentence was reversed by Iranian authorities. Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director of Equality Now says, “Mokarrameh’s release from prison must not be an isolated case. The example has already been set. We urge Ayatollah Shahroudi to extend the progress made through Mokarrameh’s case by irrevocably reversing all current sentences of death by stoning for so-called “immoral acts.” What is immoral is the act of stoning, and all other forms of violent and inhumane punishment.”

Telegraph: Iran executes 24 in one of largest mass executions in three decades

Iran has conducted one of the largest mass executions in its post-revolution history when 24 convicted drug traffickers were hanged in a prison west of Tehran.

The death sentences, which were carried out at the infamous Karaj prison, are the latest in a growing spate of executions that have seen Iran impose the death penalty more than any state apart from China.

At least 219 people have been executed in the Islamic republic so far this year, nearly as many as the 246 who faced the death penalty in 2008. China executed some 5,000 people last year, according to some estimates, more than the rest of the world combined

The deputy prosecutor in Tehran, Mahmoud Salarkia, said that the drug traffickers were executed at the Karaj prison on Jul 30.

"Their execution was approved by the supreme court," Mr Salarkia said, without disclosing the identities of the prisoners.
The Iranian authorities hanged 20 other drug smugglers at the same prison earlier in July.

Iran's method of execution has drawn particular criticism from movements opposed to the death penalty.

The Islamic republic's method of hanging involves slow strangulation so as to prolong the convict's suffering.

Many of the hangman's victims are sentenced after summary trials behind closed
doors. Convicts are usually denied a defence lawyers and are often subjected to torture to secure a confession, campaigners say.
Many of those sent to the gallows are political prisoners, according to human rights groups.

Nineteen members of the Baluch ethnic minority have been hanged since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed victory in a controversial election in June.

Tehran says the death penalty is a necessary tool for maintaining public security and is only applied after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drugs trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in Iran.

IFEX: Two journalists released, four others arrested

(RSF/IFEX) - Abdolreza Tajik, reporter for the newspaper "Farhikhtegani," who was arrested on 14 June 2009, was released on bail on 29 July. Franco-Iranian journalist Said Movahedi, who was arrested on 11 July, was freed on 28 July. Said Shariti, a journalist working for several publications close to the reformist Participation Party, was arrested on 29 July on the orders of State Prosecutor Said Mortazavi. Shariti had already been arrested and held for 24 hours on 14 June.

Documentary filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi was arrested on 29 July along with director Jafar Panahi in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in the south of the capital, Tehran, where a demonstration was being held in memory of the protesters who have been killed in recent weeks. Reporters Without Borders has also learned of the arrest on 30 June of journalist Abolfazl Abedini Nasr in the city of Ahvaz, in the south of Iran. Nasr has only been able to contact his family once since his arrest.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Daily Times: Sound bomb’ explodes in Iran

TEHRAN: A "sound bomb" exploded in the restive southern Iran city of Ahvaz before dawn on Sunday but did not cause any casualties, the official IRNA news agency said."This bomb exploded at 2:45 am (2215 GMT Saturday) near a bridge located close to Ali-ebn Mahziar Ahvazi," a Shiite shrine, deputy governor of Ahvaz Reza Nejati said. Nejati said there were no casualties or damage caused by what he described as a "sound bomb" but the Mehr news agency said it damaged one of the pillars of the bridge which carries a railway track.

Ahvaz, which has a sizeable Arab minority, has been hit by deadly bombings in recent years. The city - the capital of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province, which borders Iraq and the Gulf - was also rocked by ethnic violence in April 2005. Iran in the past has blamed US and British agents in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan for launching attacks on its border provinces with significant ethnic minority populations. afp