Wednesday, 30 September 2009

VOA: Basic Freedoms Violated In Iran

The fifth round of the mass trial of ordinary Iranian citizens arrested after June's presidential election recently took place in Tehran. Similar to the previous public trials which began on August 1, defendants without the benefit of legal counsel admitted, under duress, to crimes against national security.

The second trial included Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajabakhsh, who has spent his career working to enhance mutual understanding between Iran and the United States.Observers -- from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Iran's Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri -- have labeled the mass judicial proceedings following the post election crackdown "show" trials.

Another group facing unjust charges are the 7 leaders of Iran's Baha'i community, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran. The 5 men and 2 women were arrested in the spring of 2008 and have been held in Evin prison with no direct access to legal counsel. They have been charged with a variety of offenses, including 2 capital crimes: "corrupting the Earth" and "espionage for Israel."

Their trial date has been set for October 18th. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom all charge that the 7 Baha'is are being targeted solely because of their religious beliefs and have called on the Iranian government to release them.In a recent speech in Washington D.C., Secretary of State Clinton said that she and President Barack Obama stand firmly on the side of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, 2 fundamental human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Iran is among the first nations to ratify the Universal Declaration. Secretary of State Clinton warned against the practice of authoritarian regimes where "discrimination by majorities toward minority faiths ... can threaten the freedom of belief." The U.S., said Secretary of State Clinton, will continue to speak out forcefully against violations of freedom of expression and of religion wherever they exist.

Mission Network News: Iran increases pressure on Christians

Iran (MNN) ― Seven Christian converts posted bail and are out of Tehran's Evin prison, reports International Christian Concern.

ICC's Jonathon Racho says the Iranian government is flexing its muscle in the latest crackdown on believers. Why? Thousands are coming to Christ. "TV channels are playing a very important role in reaching out to the Muslims. This has created a situation where many Muslims are converting, and the Iranian government is very much alarmed by this development."

Voice of the Martyrs Canada reported that Iranian authorities had arrested 25 Christians in late July in northern Tehran. Officials confiscated books, CDs, computers, cell phones and passports, and arrested all of the believers present. Eighteen were temporarily released, while the seven others were taken to Evin Prison.

For those seven who were finally released on bail, "It doesn't mean that the charges against them have been dropped. Still, these Christians who are released on bail face prosecution from Iranian officials."

However, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh's case puzzles Racho. Bail was set, he says, and "their families were able to produce the bail, around $400,000 USD. But, the Iranian officials insisted on keeping them in prison." The two have refused to recant their faith under extreme physical duress.

Please pray "for the safety of Christians who convert from Islam in Iran," pleads Racho. "That is the most important tool that we can use at this point."

Times:'Torture, murder and rape' — Iran’s way of breaking the opposition

On July 8, a young student was arrested in Tehran for protesting against President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election. The security forces clubbed Amir Javadifar, 24, so badly that he was treated in hospital before being taken to the notorious Evin prison. His father was later called and told to collect his corpse.

The security forces ordered his family to say that he had died of a pre-existing condition but medical reports show that he had been beaten, sustaining several broken bones, and had his toenails pulled out. “My son was not involved in politics. He loved his motherland — that’s all,” said Javadifar’s recently widowed father. “I alone mourn him.”

Javadifar is just one among scores of alleged cases of murder, torture and rape unearthed by opposition investigators — cases that a regime claiming to champion Islamic values is doing its utmost to suppress by denouncing the charges as lies, arresting the investigators and seizing their files. The Times has been given access to 500 pages of documents — a small fraction of the total — that include handwritten testimony by victims, medical reports and interviews.

They suggest that security forces have engaged in systematic killing and torture to try to break the opposition.

“The use of rape and torture was similar across prisons in Tehran and the provinces. It is difficult not to conclude that the highest authorities planned and ordered these actions. Local authorities would not dare take such actions without word from above,” wrote one investigator, in a coded reference to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.

Mehdi Karoubi, 72, a defeated presidential candidate, said: “These crimes are a source of shame for the Islamic republic.”

Western non-governmental organisations said the documents corroborated what they were hearing from Iran, from where foreign journalists have been banned.

“We are repeatedly receiving credible reports of harsh beatings, sleep deprivation and alleged torture to extract false confessions in Iranian jails,” said Steve Crawshaw, UN director of Human Rights Watch. “Iran has fallen off the front pages but this doesn’t mean the situation is improving. On the contrary, we very much fear it is getting worse.”

The documents suggest that at least 200 demonstrators were killed in Tehran, with 56 others still unaccounted for, and that 173 were killed in other cities. These are several times higher than the official figures. Just over half of the 200 were killed on the streets. They were beaten around the head or shot in the head or chest as part of an apparent shoot-to-kill policy — there are no reports of demonstrators being shot in the legs.

Yacob Barvaye, 27, a student, was shot by Basiji militiamen from the top of the Lolagar mosque in Tehran on June 25, according to witnesses. Friends rushed him to hospital but he died of a brain haemorrhage. His family were standing over his body when the Basiji arrived and removed it. Two days later they called the family to say where they had buried it.

Ali Reza Tavasoli, 12, became separated from his father at a demonstration in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in Tehran commemorating the murder of Neda Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped death made her an opposition icon. His family stated that he had been killed in a car accident, but two doctors and a police officer have since testified that he died from blows to the head and that Basijis removed his body from the hospital.

His aunt says his impoverished parents were given the equivalent of $2,000 (£1,215) to lie about the boy’s death.

The rest of Tehran’s 200 known victims died in custody — detainees such as Amir Hossein Tufanian, 31, who was arrested on June 20 and taken to the Kahrizak detention centre. After his death, the police allegedly demanded that his family should pay thousands of dollars for his body, which bore marks of torture and had two broken arms. When the family protested that they had no money they were told they could have his corpse free if they made no fuss.

In three quarters of the cases, the victims’ families were told nothing about their whereabouts and were denied permission to hold proper funerals. The opposition claims that dozens were buried in unmarked graves in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery.

Mahmoud Rezayan, the cemetery chief, said coroners had certified that the bodies were those of unknown people who died in car accidents or from drug overdoses. The documents contain coroners’ statements denying that.

The documents also suggest that a chain of unofficial, makeshift prisons has been set up across Iran where rape and torture are common practice. In Tehran alone, 37 young men and women claim to have been raped by their jailers. Doctors’ reports say that two males, aged 17 and 22, died as a result of severe internal bleeding after being raped.

Many of the male rape victims also spoke of beatings, being subjected to forms of sexual humiliation including riding naked colleagues, and living in their underwear and in filthy conditions. Some testified that prisoners were subjected to torture including beatings, electrocution and having their toenails torn out.

“Where is the humanity among these agents?” one investigator scribbled on a document.
Female rape victims were mostly held for days, not weeks, like the men. Some said that their jailers claimed to have “religious sanction” to violate them as they were “morally dirty”.
Almost all, male and female, testified that they were ordered to say nothing of their ordeal or they would face more of the same.

The documents detail other systematic abuses: violent raids on student dormitories, attacks on the homes of suspected opposition sympathisers and the widespread intimidation of medics. They cite instances of security forces storming hospitals and ordering doctors not to treat injured demonstrators, not to record deaths by gunshot and to suppress medical reports indicating rape or torture.

Early last week, security forces raided offices of Mr Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, the other main
opposition candidate, and seized much of their evidence.

On Saturday a three-man panel set up by the head of the judiciary to investigate Mr Karoubi’s charges claimed that they were fabricated. Regime newspapers and supporters are demanding his arrest.

Undaunted, Mr Karoubi said on Monday that the attacks “show that I have hit on something extremely damaging to a number of political figures”.

He continued: “There are no few stories about the rape of girls and boys in prison. I say to myself three decades after the revolution and two decades after the death of the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] — what place have we reached?”

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 Don't ignore Christian persecution in Iran

One ministry doesn't want Christians in Iran to be overlooked, as media attention is focused on that country's president and his address to the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N. General Assembly. Several delegates walked when he accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Several others -- the U.S., Israel, and Canada -- were already outside the hall, having boycotted the speech in protest of Ahmadinejad's persistent denial of the Holocaust.

His speech this week came as crowds of Iranians clashed with security forces. Many citizens there are frustrated, 30 years after the Islamic Revolution. Open Doors USA president Carl Moeller says the Christian minority in Iran is often over overlooked and forgotten.

It is important that the issue at the United Nations is raised -- that there is a sizable and growing Christian minority in that country, and their rights need to be respected," says Moeller.

"Just on a human level, they need to be protected and respected, and their ability to worship freely, to even evangelize needs to be affirmed." Iran was number three on the annual World Watch List of persecuted nations released by Open Doors.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Press Association: Iran issues mannequins warning

Iranian police have warned shop owners against displaying female mannequins wearing underwear or showing off their curves as part of a government campaign against Western influence.

In a letter published in the state-owned Iran daily, the authorities also stated that men should not sell women's underwear, and advised shopkeepers against showing models with neckties and bow-ties, which are considered Western and un-Islamic.
Iranian officials have issued similar warnings in the past, but have ramped up their campaign against Western influence since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.

Open Doors: Christians At Risk Inside Iran While Ahmadinejad Talks At UN

Controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly today. While he speaks, the nation's Christian minority continues to face severe persecution.

Many Iranians are disenchanted with the Islamist government's brutal policies – illustrated on Friday when security forces clashed with supporters of opposition leader Mihrossein Mousavi. Many citizens feel frustrated by Islam 30 years after the Islamic Revolution.

They are searching for spiritual truth and some are finding it in Jesus. More than 100,000 are secret Christian believers from a Muslim background who often meet together in rapidly growing house churches.

Such believers are actively targeted by authorities. In 2008, at least 50 Christians, mostly Muslim converts, were arrested, interrogated, tortured, intimidated and some even killed. It marked the toughest year regarding Christian persecution since the Islamic Revolution.

At the same time, the number of official Christians has halved from 250,000 Armenian and Assyrian Christians before the Islamic revolution of 1979 to around 125,000 now. Many have left Iran as a result of discrimination and persecution. Since the election of President Ahmadinedjad in 2005, Christian persecution has increased with security forces rigidly enforcing anti-Christian legislation.

Rostam, a Muslim Background Believer who is receiving discipleship training in Iran, says: "My wife panicked the last time the police came to our home as they threatened to rape our 9-year-old daughter. I have been arrested several times. The secret police want to know who is in the house churches, where we meet and all about us. I have told them nothing."

Fox News: Missing Former FBI Agent's Wife Seeks Answers From Ahmadinejad

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A former FBI agent travels to Iran and now he is missing. His wife is in New York tonight and she wants a face-to-face meeting with the Iranian president.

This is a case we have followed closely here at "On the Record." Here is what weigh know. Robert Levinson vanished in March of '07 during a trip to the Iranian island of Kish. Since then there has been no sign of him. Levinson is simply gone.
Is he being held prisoner in Iran? The missing man's wife Christine Levinson wants answers. Christine joins us live. Good evening, Christine, and I take it there is no information update since the last time you and I spoke, right?
CHRISTINE LEVINSON, WIFE OF MISSING BOB LEVINSON: No, there isn't. Thank you for having me on tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: Christine, I know you want to talk to the president of Iran. Has there been any indication that he is willing to do that since he is now in the United States? I know you have traveled as well to Iran, but is there any indication that he will talk to you within the next 48 hours?

LEVINSON: I have no information that he will talk to me. I am hoping that that will happen. This is the third year in a row that I have come here to New York in hopes of meeting with him.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. He is on American soil, but, of course, he is there as part of the U.N., so he is protected by that fact. But has the United States government said to you, Christine, your husband is an American. He is a former FBI agent as well. We really want to help you out. As long as he is in New York, we are going to ask him -- we are going to try to help you out getting to this president to help you get answers.

LEVINSON: I hope so. I have not received any information that a meeting will take place. But I'm hopeful that at any given time anyone who can will bring up my husband's case.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you feel -- and I suspect this just from watching from afar, that basically you just got the giant runaround.

LEVINSON: A runaround -- I don't know. Right now I just don't have any information about whether this meeting is going to happen. I'm still hopeful, and I have been promised that if it will happen they will let me know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you believe that someone in authority in Iran knows where your husband is or what's happened to him?

LEVINSON: I believe someone in Iran knows what happened to him. Who that is, I don't know. I don't know anything about where he is today. I know no more than I did when he disappeared on March 9, 2007. And I'm hoping that someone hearing this story tonight will be able to help me find him and bring him home.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it all you want is information about your husband. You don't want to cause any problems. You don't want any trouble between the countries. You just want to know where your husband is, right?

LEVINSON: Right. Bob and I have been married 35 years. I'm just a housewife looking for my husband so that he can come home and bounce his grandchildren on his knee.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you would be delighted if anyone just sort of slipped you some information, you know, and you go quietly off in pursuit of the information to see whether he is still living or whether he might be in trouble, in jeopardy, or something might have happened to him?

LEVINSON: Yes, anything. I would just like information about my husband. And anyone who needs to can get in touch with me on our Web site.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the Web site?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. When were you last in Iran?

LEVINSON: I was in Iran in December 2007. And at that time they promised that they would give me a report on what they had found when they investigated the case. And I have not heard anything.

I hired an Iranian lawyer while I was over there, Mr. Agazi (ph), and he has tried through the legal system to try to get information and has not.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is deeply distressing, Christine, because we have followed this story and others have as well, because, you know, to the rest of us, you know, sort of watching from the side, all it is a family who just wants information about a loved one.

And why you can't have it -- I don't know if you are caught up in the two countries or whatever it is, but it is deeply disturbing. I hope this time Christine something good happens for you. Good luck.

LEVINSON: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

AP: US criticizes rights abuses in Iran, Russia, China

GENEVA — The United States has sharply criticized Iran for its crackdown on opposition groups while gently chiding Russia and China for failing to protect human rights activists and minorities.

The U.S. says Iran's crackdown after presidential elections in June "harshly repressed its people's right to freedom of assembly and expression."

U.S. diplomat Douglas M. Griffiths says Washington wants a "full, transparent and independent investigation" by Russia of the killing of Chechen rights activist Natalya Estemirova.
Griffiths told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday that the U.S. also hopes China will "find a solution to legitimate grievances" of its Uighur minority, which caused riots in Xinjiang province in July.

BBC: Anger at Iranian Holocaust denial

The Iranian president's latest denial of the Nazi Holocaust has drawn strong condemnation from Western powers.

Speaking in the capital, Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust was "a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim".
Germany said the comments were a "disgrace to his country" while the US said they would "isolate Iran further".

Mr Ahmadinejad made the remarks at an annual rally where opposition supporters clashed with police.

Reformists, who have been banned from holding demonstrations since disputed presidential elections in June, defied warnings not to use the pro-Palestinian Quds (Jerusalem) Day marches to stage protests.
'Unacceptable and shocking'

As part of the Quds Day events, President Ahmadinejad delivered a speech in which he repeated previous assertions that the Holocaust was a lie.

“ Promoting those vicious lies serves only to isolate Iran further from the world ” Robert Gibbs White House press secretary

"The pretext [the Holocaust] for the creation of the Zionist regime [Israel] is false," he told worshippers at Tehran university.
"It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim."

In reaction, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited President Barack Obama's assertion in a speech to the Muslim world that "denying the Holocaust is baseless, ignorant and hateful". "Promoting those vicious lies serves only to isolate Iran further from the world," Mr Gibbs said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "This sheer anti-Semitism demands our collective condemnation. "We will continue to confront it decisively in the future."

A French foreign ministry spokesman called the remarks "unacceptable and shocking", while British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the denial was "abhorrent as well as ignorant".

"It is very important that the world community stands up against this tide of abuse," Mr Miliband said.
Reformists attacked

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tehran that it also risked further isolation and economic pressure if it did not provide answers soon about its nuclear ambitions.

Western powers suspect Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons, though Iran insists its programme is purely to generate power for civilian uses.

UN Security Council powers and Germany are due to hold talks on the programme at the UN General Assembly next week.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas reports from Washington that despite Mr Ahmadinejad's Holocaust comments and Iran's disputed election, the US offer to engage diplomatically with Iran is still on the table.

Even so, the US ambassador to the UN said there would be no meeting between Mr Obama and Mr Ahmadinejad at the UN.
At the rally in Tehran, thousands of opposition supporters turned out, shouting slogans in support of defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Reports say there were clashes between police and protesters as the march progressed, with some arrests. Stones were thrown, and police used tear gas.

Iranian state-run channel Press TV showed footage of an opposition rally, with many supporters wearing green, the colour adopted by supporters of Mr Mousavi.
Mr Mousavi was forced to leave the rally after his car was attacked, the official Irna news agency reported, while former President Mohammad Khatami - also a reformist - was reportedly pushed to the ground and had his turban knocked off, before police intervened.

Friday, 18 September 2009 Minorities Disillusioned by Iran's Democracy Movement

Iran's large Azerbaijani minority feels disappointed and ignored by the pro-democracy movement, which has been widely praised internationally for opposing the Iranian government's attempt to rig the June 12 election.

The sense of disillusionment among Iranian Azerbaijanis, who make up almost a quarter of the country's population, has emerged from coverage of the post-election crisis by the Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP), an advocacy group that works from Canada. ADAPP is a new partner of the Advocacy Project (AP).

Farzin, an AP Peace Fellow volunteering with ADAPP, said Azerbaijanis and other minorities have been savagely treated by Iranian authorities during the crisis - first for supporting the opposition and second for demanding the right to enjoy their own culture and language.

But this has not been acknowledged by the followers of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition candidate, because they are mostly Persians and share the government's concern that minority rights would threaten Persian hegemony in Iran, he said.

This bias extends to the Persian media, and the alternative media, which has been celebrated internationally for escaping the heavy hand of Iranian censors. ADAPP's press releases have been ignored by the Voice of America's Persian service, which is normally receptive to criticism of the Iranian government, as well as the BBC and Radio Farda. Major online media outlets, like the Huffington Post, have also been silent about the plight of Iran's minorities.

"There has been absolutely no reporting on Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Baluchis, Semitic Peoples, Afghanis, Turcomens, Qashqai and Ahwazi Arabs," reports Farzin, who was himself born in the Azerbaijani town of Urmia.

Farzin's blog has offered a dramatic, and highly personal, alternative perspective on the election crisis. They began on an optimistic note before June 12, as the two main candidates competed for the large Azerbaijani vote. Mr Mousavi, who is himself an Azerbaijani Turk, toured the Azerbaijani towns of Tabriz and Urmia and addressed enthusiastic crowds (shown above) in Azerbaijani. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also visited Tabriz and claimed to speak Azerbaijani.

But even as the President was speaking, police were rounding up dozens of known Azerbaijani activists. The government response to protests (shown below) after the election was also swift and brutal. Two pro-democracy protesters died in Urmia and 300 were arrested, including two activists, Behnam Sheykhi and Mahmud Ojaghli, who worked for Mr Mousavi's campaign. Three protesters were beaten to death in Tabriz.

This was just the latest in a long campaign to suppress minority rights, but it prompted no statement of regret from Mr Mousavi, his followers, or the Persian media. As a result, areas with a high percentage of minorities - including Kurdistan, Baluchistan and Khuzestan - have seen no major protests since the election.

"People in these regions - especially in Azerbaijan - believe that no matter who comes to power, their rights will not be supported. So they are not taking an active role," said Fakhteh Zamani, Founder and President of ADAPP.

Yashar Hakkakpour, a spokesperson for the ADAPP, said that Mr Mousavi isn't trusted by Azerbaijanis because he failed to support minority rights during his term as Prime Minister. Mr Mousavi also remained silent in 2006, when thousands of Azerbaijanis took to the streets to protest a political cartoon that pictured Azerbaijanis as cockroaches. Scores were detained, beaten and even killed. Hundreds were arrested.

In his blog, Farzin observes that Iran will not enjoy true democracy or peace until the "racism" in Iranian society is eradicated and Persians embrace linguistic and cultural rights for Azerbaijanis and other minorities.

"In this current movement, minorities must finally be guaranteed these rights," he wrote. "Otherwise, why would they risk their lives for the status quo? What's in it for them?"

Washington Post: Woman's case reflects prisoners' treatment in Iran

By SCHEHEREZADE FARAMARZIThe Associated PressSunday, September 6, 2009 12:36 AM

BEIRUT -- The interrogator politely apologized for grilling the prisoner about her role in the mass protests over Iran's disputed presidential election.
Then the prisoner was made to sit facing a wall in the courtyard of Iran's Evin Prison, blindfolded, handcuffed and covered in an all-enveloping chador for four and a half hours under the blazing sun.

"America is our enemy," the interrogator told her. "Why are you so naive and can't see this? It's exploiting the situation here and wants to ransack the country. They don't have your interest at heart.

The ordeal of Nazy, a 29-year-old university student who worked with the campaign of defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, gives a rare glimpse of what is happening to detained protesters. Nazy spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from Tehran after her release on the condition that only her first name be used, to protect herself and her family.

Thousands have been arrested since incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner, despite cries of fraud. The opposition claims detainees were savagely raped by their jailers and at least 69 people were killed, including some from beatings in prison.

The account from Nazy, who is known in reformist circles, could not be independently backed up. But former prisoners and human rights groups have noted that such treatment of prisoners - a mix of intimidation and persuasion known as white torture - is widespread, and that ordinary people along with well-known opposition politicians have been subjected to it.
"This case is one of thousands that take place in Iran," said Mohammad Javad Akbarein, an analyst who was himself jailed in 2001. "The majority of prisoners experience white torture. But it's worrisome when people become complacent when prisoners are not subjected to black torture and forget that their rights, dignity and honor are trampled on."
June 20 was a tense Saturday, the day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the presidential vote would stand and warned opposition leaders to end street protests or be responsible for bloodshed.
"We knew that from that day on anyone who comes into the street may have to pay a high price for it," said Nazy.

Nazy was on her way to buy a book in Tehran's downtown Enqelab Street and planned to attend a demonstration that afternoon at 4. Before leaving home, she stuffed a bunch of white wristbands that said "change" into her backpack along with a folded poster she had prepared for the afternoon demonstration. White is the color of Karroubi's supporters.
At noon, Nazy had just climbed out of the car in front of the bookshop when a man in a white vest, blue shirt and white sneakers twisted her arm and slapped handcuffs on her. He pushed her forward and ordered her to walk a few yards in front of him in the busy street.
No sooner had she started walking that two clean-shaven young men in tight blue jeans and wearing green wristbands- the color of the other defeated reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi - caught up with her. "Don't make any noise; when you reach the narrow street we will help you escape," one of them told her.
But when she reached the street that led to the "Protective Police," the men pushed her inside the gate. They had duped her.
She walked into a huge courtyard packed with disciplinary police officers and with vans and jeeps. Nazy saw five or six men beaten as they were led into the detention center.
Nazy herself was hit a couple of times on her back, led into a basement and interrogated.
A female guard pulled out a poster from Nazy's bag. "Ha, instead of saying 'In the Name of God,' she's written 'In the Name of Democracy' on the poster," the guard mocked Nazy. "I'll show you what democracy really is."
Another guard came in and challenged Nazy for being a member of the 'One Million Signature' campaign - a group pressing for changes in Iran's laws on women. "Why don't you live your life quietly?" she said. "Do you really consider yourself a woman? We are women who work to bring bread to the table, just like normal people. You ought to do the same and work. You call collecting signatures work?"

She said Nazy's family was looking all over town for her and added, "Why don't you use your brain a little?"
Nazy said she was working for the woman's rights.
"Can't you find a better way to fight for our rights?" the officer asked her.
By 4 p.m. the number of detainees - mostly men picked up at the protest sites - had swelled to more than 100.
Nazy and two other women waited for several hours in a van while more female
demonstrators were brought in. It was dark by the time the van, which seated 12, was filled with 19 women plus two female and one male officers. They sat three to a seat, blindfolded, their hands tied to the chairs.
Every time they said a word, they were smacked in the head. At one point, the male officer threw six heavy bottles full of water on their heads.
Nazy slightly lifted her blindfold and watched guards hit around 60 men - mostly young - in the head with batons. Blood streamed down their faces and soaked their shirts.
The women were driven to the Vozara Monkerat (Moral Police), a temporary jailhouse for prostitutes and drug addicts.
The officers dumped them inside the green metal gates of the building and left. No one at the Monkerat knew why the 19 women were there, who had brought them, what their offenses were. They shoved every five of them into a 3 by 2 meter (10 by 6 feet) carpeted room where they couldn't even stretch their legs. The rooms were dark, with no windows.
By the time dawn broke, the women were screaming. A young mother was wailing. She had left her three-year-old child in the house alone to shop at the corner store when she was arrested.
After 15 hours, they were allowed to use the toilet, and only once.
Just before midnight, the women were escorted up the stairs into a room with a big library. They were given forms to fill: reason for their detention.

The middle-aged interrogator - in a short-sleeved white shirt and white pants and a golden chain around his neck - did not look like a typical officer of the regime. Nor did his assistant, a young man also clean-shaven and wearing chains.
A few minutes later, a young, thin man wearing a suit walked in.
"Do you realize your crime is much heavier than others?" the new man asked Nazy. "Because you are with the ("One Million Signature') campaign."
"I don't even know why I have been arrested," she replied.

He wrote at the bottom of the paper: "to be released on billion rial (about $100,000) bail." He told her to sign the paper so she could go home that night.
Her charge was: disruption of law and order, action against national security, destruction of public property, participation in illegal gathering.
She said did not accept any of the charges.
"Then you will stay right here," he said. "Put on her handcuffs and blindfold and take her downstairs," he told the guard.

Nazy was terrified. She didn't want to stay there alone, and was worried about her family.

"If I sign it means I accept the charges?" she asked the man.
He said the charges would remain whether she signed or not. She was afraid that if she accepted the charges, they would slap a prison sentence on her.
"Don't sign. Stay here until you die," the man threatened her.
The young assistant tried to persuade her to sign.
"Will I then go home tonight?" she asked him.
"Yes. Don't you see you are signing bail?" he assured her.
The moment she signed, the interrogator said: "Put on her handcuffs and blindfold and take her to Evin."
"But you said I will be going home tonight!" Nazy said.
"Who do you think you are that I have to answer to you? Take her to Evin!" the man snapped.
It was after 2 a.m. when she and 6 other prisoners arrived at Evin. No one was expecting them. Guards said they had no vacant rooms, the prison was overcrowded.

Meanwhile, six busloads of men tied to the windows arrived from the criminal detention center of Shahpour, one of the most notorious centers known for torturing inmates.

Finally, at 2.30 a.m. the new arrivals were allowed into the Women's Section 2. They were searched and fingerprinted. Every six of them were put in a cell with a carpet, a toilet, a shower and a washbasin.

The inmates included a 30-year-old woman with breast cancer who was sexually molested while she was driven from Shahpour to Evin. The woman, who had undergone surgery a few months earlier, was bleeding when she arrived.
Among the others were a 15-year-old arrested with her mother and aunt; two 16-year-old girls riding bicycles near the protest site and, ironically, four supporters of Ahmadinejad, including a 40-year-old seamstress whose brother was a senior Revolutionary Guard official.

Most of the food was camphorated and numbed their lips. Water was undrinkable. Many prisoners felt nausea.
In the morning, Nazy wore a chador, was handcuffed and blindfolded and walked with a guard to an interrogation center known as the Evin School - so called perhaps because of the school desks used there.

The interrogator stood behind her asking questions and told her to write the answers at the bottom of the paper from underneath her blindfold. "He used foul language," said Nazy.

For every question, he took the paper from Nazy, wrote it down and returned it to her to write the answer. He asked the same questions over and over again.
Why did you vote for Mehdi Karroubi? Why did you choose Karroubi over Mousavi? How much money did you get?
Where did your meetings take place? Did you wear the veil at the campaign headquarters? How did you know how many votes you got? Who said so?
Who was the decision-maker in your campaign? Who wrote the slogans? Before the elections, did you plan if the results were not in favor of your candidate that you would cause disturbances?

He grilled her for nearly three and a half hours.
Nazy's last interrogation took 4 1/2 hours under the sun. All the female prisoners were brought to the courtyard and made to sit facing the wall. Interrogators sat behind them.
Some were very aggressive and even kicked and slapped the prisoners. But Nazy's interrogator was polite.
"This is what happens when there's a mass sweep. Some are innocent," he told Nazy. "Why did you have to come into the street that day when you knew the situation was tense?"
Then he gave her a lecture about U.S. designs against the Islamic Republic and the attempts of opportunists to destabilize the country.
"You've done nothing here, but if we don't find those responsible we will have to blame you, charge you for it. Why? Because you brought about a situation where they could exploit it," he said.
Nazy was released on bail at 11.30 the following night, one week after being arrested.
She awaits a summons from court.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Pro-Ahmadinejad cleric killed in west Iran-report

TEHRAN, Sept 13 (Reuters) - A Sunni cleric who backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran's disputed June election has been killed in a Kurdish-populated region, a semi-official news agency reported on Sunday.

Fars News Agency said Borhan Aali, a Friday prayers leader in the city of Sanandaj in western Kurdistan province, was killed by unknown assailants late on Saturday at his home. State radio said he was shot several times. "He was a prominent cleric in Kurdistan province who worked for Ahmadinejad in the course of the election. He was accepted and respected by all of the people of Sanandaj," Fars said.

Governor Mohammad-Taqi Heydari of Sanandaj, the provincial capital, said he believed the attack was linked to hardline Sunni groups seeking to stir discord.
"This incident has been in line with the enemy's plots to make it appear that the city in unsafe," he said. "They want to create discord in the region by carrying out such plots."

Kurdistan province, bordering Iraq, is the scene of frequent clashes between Kurdish guerrillas and Iranian security forces.
Like neighbouring Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in the country's northwest and west. Iran is a mainly Shi'ite Muslim country, but most Kurds are Sunni Muslims.

The reformist opposition says the June presidential poll, which was followed by opposition protests in Tehran and other cities, was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities deny the charge. (Reporting by Hashem Kalantari and Reza Derakhshi; Writing by Fredrik Dahl)

Friday, 11 September 2009

IMHRO condemns the rape of prisoners in Iran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



Since the revolution in 1979 there have been numerous reports of rape of prisoners in Iran. In Iran, prisons are places of terror, where the human spirit is destroyed with object of extracting false confessions.

IMHRO is aware of several allegations of Iranian security service officers raping male and female prisoners. Some ex-prisoners have talked about the on-going physical injuries which they have suffered as a result of the assaults.

Lila G, a Kurdish lady told IMHRO that in prison in 2005 she was gang raped by security service officers: “They did not let me sleep, even my judge raped me”.

The mother of Samira L, an Ahwazi girl, told IMHRO that her daughter committed suicide after she was released: “She was depressed and screaming, she told us that she was raped many times during integration. They killed my daughter”.

K. K, a Baluchi man, told IMHRO that they raped him when he was in prison in 2000: “They used a Pepsi bottle to rape me”.

Minorities’ researcher Reza Washahi told IMHRO that “The Iranian security service uses these inhuman practices to put pressure on political and cultural activists. They know that there is a culture of shame in Iran and they spread hatred of lesbian, gay, Bisexual and transsexual people by spreading rumours about the sexual orientation of activists. For example, one Women’s’ Rights activist was charged with being a lesbian”.

IMHRO condemns the use of torture, forced confession and rape of prisoners by the Iranian security service.

Please write to one of the following and express your concern about the treatment of prisoners in Iran. Ask the Iranian authorities to investigate bad treatment of prisoners including rape and torture and bring those who are responsible to justice.

Secretary General United Nations
The Honourable Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Headquarters,
Room S-3800,
New York,
NY 10017,

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

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10,

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

European Parliament Human Rights Committee
Euroopan parlamentti
Rue Wiertz
ASP 08G301
B-1047 Bryssel

Head of the Judiciary

Sadigh Ardeshir 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

Monday, 7 September 2009

IMHRO met with US Department

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO met with US department’s staff on 4th of September in London.

Meeting was very successful and in the meeting Human Right situation of minorities and recent suppressions in Iran discussed.

In the meeting Reza Washahi from IMHRO attended.

IMHRO established as volunteer base NGO in 2008 with aim to lobby and publicising situation of minorities in Iran.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

amnesty: Journalist held without charge in Iran

Hengameh Shahidi, a female journalist arrested on 30 June, is being held without charge in Evin prison, in Iran's capital, Tehran, where she is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. She is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and association.

Hengameh Shahidi, aged about 34, is a member of the National Trust Party, an opposition political party headed by reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi. Amnesty International believes that her arrest is connected to Iran's disputed presidential election, which took place on 12 June. However, it is not clear if she is detained because of her work as a journalist, or because of her political activities.

Hengameh Shahidi suffers from a heart condition, for which she requires regular medication. It is not clear whether she is receiving adequate medication in custody. She has not been granted access to her lawyer, and has only been allowed to meet her family once since her arrest. When she was first detained, she was held for around 50 days in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. According to a report sent to Amnesty International, she phoned her family on 22 August and told them that she had been transferred to a cell holding another woman, but that she was still being interrogated.
According to news reports, on 25 August Hengameh Shahidi went on hunger strike to protest against the conduct of her interrogators. She is said to be facing pressure to admit to “immoral relations” with men.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, Arabic, English, French, or your own language:
n Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Hengameh Shahidi, as she is detained solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and association;
n Calling for her to be protected from torture and other ill-treatment while in detention;
n Calling for her to be granted immediate access to her lawyer, family, and to any medical attention she may require.


Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh 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
Email: via website: (put given name in first starred box, family name in second starred box, and email address in third. Paste appeal in large box)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of Special Parliamentary Committee to review post-election arrests
Parviz Sorouri
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami
Baharestan Square,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 9821 33440 309
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Secretary-General of National Trust Party
Mehdi Karroubi
Email: via website
(put name in first box, subject in fifth box and text in large box)

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

Aditional Information
In the days following the 13 June 2009 announcement that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the presidential election, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took part in mass and generally peaceful demonstrations throughout the country, disputing the election results. The authorities quickly imposed sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly and telecommunication and internet systems were severely disrupted. Iranian publications were banned from publishing information about the nationwide unrest and foreign journalists were banned from the streets, their visas not renewed and others arrested or expelled from the country.

In response to the mass protests, security forces, notably the paramilitary Basij, were widely deployed. At least 4,000 were arrested in the three to four weeks following the 12 June 2009 election, including prominent political figures close to either presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, or former President Khatami, who supported Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign. Some human rights defenders and journalists were also detained. They have been denied access to legal representation, but have generally been able to meet family members.

Security forces used excessive and lethal force against demonstrators, killing dozens of protestors and injuring hundreds more. Some died later of their injuries. Others have been killed and injured as a result of being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

Mass trial sessions of hundreds starting on 4 August 2009 were grossly unfair, including one held on 25 August. Detainees “confessed” to vaguely worded charges, which are often not recognizably criminal offences. These “confessions”, apparently obtained under duress, were accepted by the court. Some of those on trial were filmed making similar “confessions”, which were aired on TV before their trials took place. Some of those on trial could face the death penalty.

Iranian officials have confirmed that at least some of those detained after the post-election protests have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and that abuses took place in at least one detention centre, Kahrizak, a centre outside of Tehran. On 29 July, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered its closure and the head of a detention facility and three guards, thought to have worked at the Kahrizak detention centre, were reportedly dismissed and possibly detained. On 15 August, Parviz Sorouri, the Head of the Special Parliamentary Committee to review post-election arrests, told the Islamic Labour News Agency that 12 police officials and a judge who had been involved in transferring detainees to Kahrizak would be arrested and tried for their role, “as the detention centre was intended for drug dealers”.

Amnesty International has received reports consistent with a statement made by Mehdi Karroubi that both women and male detainees have been subjected to torture, including rape, by security officials. His allegations were initially denied by Farhad Tajari, a member of the Special Parliamentary Committee, but, on 26 August 2009, another of the Committee’s members told the website Parleman News on condition of anonymity, "It has definitely become evident to us that some of the post-election detainees have been raped with batons and bottles."

UA: 231/09 Index: MDE 13/093/2009 Issue Date: 2 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

BBC: Iran protester 'killed in prison'

An Iranian news agency says a young man arrested during post-election protests died after being beaten, and not from meningitis as police had first claimed.
Semi-official Mehr quoted an "informed" source citing a coroner's report.
If confirmed, it would be the first official sign that jailed protesters faced severe abuse, as alleged by some leaders of the opposition movement.
The man, Mohsen Ruholamini, 25, was the son of a campaign adviser to defeated conservative candidate Mohsen Rezaie.
Correspondents say the conservative supporting Mehr news agency has previously been used by critics of the re-elected President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to leak information.
It is owned by the Islamic Propagation Organisation, which although an independent legal entity, in practice works in parallel with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Mehr says that last month a state forensic doctor ruled out meningitis as the cause of Ruhalamini's death in a report handed to judicial authorities.
In fact, he died of "physical stress, the effects of being held in bad conditions, multiple blows and severe injuries to the body", the doctor is quoted as saying.
On Sunday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised Abdolhossein Ruholamini, the young man's father, that justice would be done in the case.
'Lives lost'
The recently appointed judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani - brother of Mr Ahmadinejad's main conservative rival - has set up a three-member panel to look into post-election unrest, including the alleged abuse of detained protesters.
Police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam had originally said some protesters had died from a viral disease at Kahrizak jail - where Ruholamini was held - which has since been closed down.
Reformist leader and defeated candidate Mehdi Karroubi has claimed detained protesters had been subjected to beatings, torture and rape in jail.
"Some youngsters who were chanting slogans were beaten in such a way that they lost their lives," he alleged.
Mr Ahmadinejad's re-election was followed by massive street protests over alleged vote-rigging, in which at least 30 protesters were killed in clashes and thousands were arrested.
Most of those detained have been released, but about 200 remain behind bars and some 110 have been put on trial.
On Friday Mr Ahmadinejad called for decisive action to deal with leaders of the protests which he said were organised, provoked and implemented on behalf of "the enemy".