Sunday, 27 June 2010

IMHRO statement regards of International Torture day in Support of Torture Victims

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



26th June is International Torture day in Support of Torture Victims. The word 'torture' originates from the Latin torture and is ultimately derived from the past participle of torquere, meaning 'to twist'[i]

IMHRO uses this day to remind the international community of torture practice on minorities in Iran.

Ethnic minorities of Kurds, Turks, Ahwazi Arabs, Baluches, Turkmen, Lurs and religious minorities such as Bahá’í, Christians, Jews and Sunni’s are subjected to severe torture in Iran.

Iranian Security Service/Revolutionary Guards and some other security branches are responsible for the torture in Iran. This takes various forms, including white torture, sleep deprivation, mock execution, shunning, solitary confinement, public condemnation, severe permanent disfigurement, pharmacological torture, water boarding and physical punishment.

To be exact, there are reports that some victims genitals have been burnt, body parts amputated without anaesthetic, severe beatings, limbs broken, including spinal injuries. Some have been injected with poisonous drugs effecting heart, lungs and brain. Many are completely disabled and some are even murdered under torture as pain overcomes their soul’s strength to endure.

The list of torture victims in Iran is growing. The age of victims ranges between 13 to 84 years old.

IMHRO asks the international community to put pressure on the Iranian Government to fulfil its international obligation, which they are signatories to, by taking steps to:

*Cease torture immediately and releasing all political prisoners,

*Bring to justice those who ordered, or were involved in torturing victims over the past 30 years,

*Compensate victims of torture,

*Ensure that torture never again takes place.

We would like to finish our statement quoting Ms. Ginetta Sagan, “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor”.

[i] ^ Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, Mass: Merriam-Webster. 1999. p. 1246. ISBN 0877797137.

Friday, 25 June 2010

APA: Azerbaijani journalist detained in Iran

Baku - APA. Disappeared Ibrahim Rashidi in Ardabil city of Iran on June 14, phoned his home and said that he had been arrested by intelligence agencies on June 17, Committee for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran told APA.

Judge of Revolutionary court in Ardabil - Khandistani hears Rashidi’s case.

A month ago, officials of intelligence agencies went to the house of Rashidi’s father and confiscated his books and manuscripts.

Being arrested several times Azerbaijani journalist Ibrahim Rashidi was detained in Urmia jail.

Amnesty International spread information denouncing the arrest of Rashidi in May, 2006.

Editor responsible of “Ulduz” and “Bulud” journals, Ibrahim Rashidi is one of the builders of “Ustad Shahriyar” in Urmia.

Examiner: Bisexual man beaten to death in Iran, another bi man lashed for bisexuality

June 21, 9:55 PM · Mike Szymanski - Bisexuality Examiner

One bisexual man was tortured to death in prison and another was lashed 74 times and faces the death penalty in the Court of Sari in Iran, according to reports from the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees.

The report came from the brutal region of Sari (the capital of the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran) and the reports have n
ot been confirmed by CNN, but were posted on the news site.

The first case was of Hamid, a 40-year-old well-respected businessman. In early June, Hamid was arrested when his wife called policed and reported that her husband was having relationships with a 17-year-old boy.

Hamid was sentenced to 74 lashes with a whip, and still faces the death penalty, even though the 17-year-old boy was never identified.

Also, 23-year-old activist Amir Hossein, who was out as a bisexual man, was transferred to a prison in early June where he was severely tortured and died from his injuries. He was taken into custody while having dinner with his girlfriend. The Basij security force took him into custody on charges of his sexuality, which is punishable by death.

Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees has a mission to try to stop repression of GLBT Iranians. They state: "We believe that Iranian queers are entitled to live, free from persecution and the threat of death just because of who they love. The IRQR works to increase public awareness about, and provide support such as legal services and financial assistance, to refugees and immigrants leaving Iran because of persecution bases on their sexual orientation and gender identity."

BBC: Pakistan protest over Iran hanging

Demonstrations have taken place in Pakistan's port city of Karachi against the hanging of a militant leader by Iran.

Abdolmalek Rigi was head of the Jundullah militant group.

It says that it is fighting for the rights of minority Sunni Muslims in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Iranian authorities say the group is involved in dozens of deadly attacks, including one which killed 40 members of the Revolutionary Guard in 2009.

Impoverished province

Iran says the group, which operates out of Pakistan's Balochistan province, has the support of Pakistani, US and British intelligence agencies.

Jundullah militants

"Abdolmalek Rigi's only fault was that he spoke for the rights of the Baloch," Abdul Wahab Baloch, who led the demonstration, told the BBC.

Mr Baloch is a leader of the Baloch National Front, an alliance fighting for the rights of the impoverished province.

He was speaking as demonstrators holding posters of Mr Rigi stood by, chanting anti-Iranian slogans.

Mr Baloch said that Mr Rigi was a Baloch hero.

"Jundullah is a Baloch nationalist organisation - it has wrongly been labelled a sectarian group," he said.

"It is fighting for the rights of the Baloch in Iran, which is a largely Shia country.

"That is why we have been called a Sunni group."

Mr Baloch said that Iran had used large-scale repression to crush the Baloch.

"At least 700 Baloch have been hanged in Iran during the last two years," he said. "They include religious leaders, politicians and intellectuals."

He said his party was in touch with Jundullah and they planned to launch a united front in both Pakistan and Iran.

"We are fighting both Iran and Pakistan for our rights and control of our land," he added.

Nationalist groups in Pakistan have been a thorn in the side of the government for several years.

However, this is the first time they had expressed solidarity with secessionist groups in Iran.

FT: Iran hangs separatist rebel leader

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran

Published: June 20 2010 16:19 | Last updated: June 20 2010 16:19

The leader of Iran’s largest separatist rebel group was hanged on Sunday after being convicted of armed violence against civilians and government officials while collaborating with the US and Israeli intelligence services.

Abdolmalek Rigi was the commander of Jundollah, a militant nationalist group that emerged in 2003. The group, which promotes Sunni Islam in a predominantly Shia country, seeks autonomy for the ethnic Baluch minority who live in Sistan-Baluchestan province, in southeast Iran.

During his trial which took place behind closed doors, Mr Rigi was found guilty of killing tens of ordinary people and security personnel, kidnapping 15 others, drug smuggling and assisting US and Israeli intelligence agents against the Islamic regime. His appeal for “clemency” was turned down.

He was hanged in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison at dawn in the presence of some families of the group’s victims, Iran’s domestic media reported.

Mohammad-Akbar Chakerzehi, a local governor in Sistan-Baluchestan expressed the hope that “calm will be restored” to the province in the wake of the hanging.

Mr Rigi, believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s, had been arrested in February while he was flying from neighbouring Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.

Although his execution may disable his group in the short term, analysts have warned the Islamic regime that it could foment Iran’s ethnic tensions in the long run. His younger brother, a senior Jundollah commander, was executed last month.

Meanwhile, four Kurds were recently executed for using weapons against officials, prompting shopkeepers in some Kurdish cities and towns to go on a one-day strike in protest.

Persians constitute just over 50 per cent of Iran’s 73m population, while Azeris, Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis and Lurs form the rest, many of whom favour independence from the central government.

Iran suspects the western intelligence services of financing the ethnic opposition groups, particularly in Sistan-Baluchestan and the northwestern province of Kurdistan, to undermine the Islamic regime.

Guardian: As a gay asylum seeker, I was lucky

A while ago, I was granted refugee status in the UK on the basis of my homosexuality and my political activities in Iran. As a person who has shared the same stress of being a gay asylum seeker in the UK with lots of other applicants, I was happy yesterday to hear that the coalition agreement between the Tories and the Lib Dems included a promise to "stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution".

Not everybody is as lucky as I was in seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. Within a month after my asylum interview with the Home Office I had the positive decision in my hand, partly because I had a huge international support and also partly because my application was mostly based on my political activities rather than my homosexuality. This is why I was given "the refugee status" rather than "a humanitarian protection". The first one is the strongest but it's the latter that is given to gay asylum seekers in almost all of the cases.

The Home Office's attitude toward gay asylum seekers in the UK has been very controversial in recent years. It is said that the UK protects those homosexuals who have well-founded fear of persecution were they to return to their home countries but arbitrary decisions have been made, too. In regards to Iran, although its notorious record of executing homosexuals is very well documented by international human rights organisations, large numbers of gay Iranian cases have been turned down every year.

Recently, a new report on the treatment of lesbian and gay asylum claims in the UK found that the refusal rate was 90%, compared with 73% for all the claims generally. In two recent Iranian cases, one applicant, known as "J" had to go to appeals court after his claim was refused.

Most surprisingly, the asylum application for Kiana Firouz, a lesbian Iranian actress who has been courageously public about her homosexuality, was turned down. Kiana Firouz is depicted in Cul-de-Sac, a documentary about Iranian lesbians which had its debut in London yesterday. In the film, she says: "In Iran I had to hide my real self and in the UK, I have to prove to the others that I'm lesbian but how can I prove it?"

Of course, it's hard for officials to verify someone's homosexuality, and some have expressed concern that fake claims are likely to be made. But in my opinion the risks to genuine asylum seekers outweighs the potential for abuse.

Back to my case, I again had an exceptional circumstance. I had my partner with me in London and we claimed together. The Home Office interviewed both of us separately at the same time for six hours and finally they had some sort of evidence to investigate and find out whether we have been together in a long relationship or not. We were both asked about the first day we had kissed, whether we used to celebrate Valentine's Day and whether either of us used to keep pets at home. However, most of the asylum seekers in the UK are not accompanied with their partners.

In the case of Iran, overt homosexuality is illegal. Gay Iranians can be lashed, hanged or stoned to death if caught. The law includes a variety of penalties for different acts: 99 lashes if two unrelated males sleep "unnecessarily" under the same blanket – even without any sexual contact. An immature boy raped by an adult man would also be lashed 74 times according to the same law, if the court decided that he had "enjoyed" the experience. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also documented the persecution of homosexuals in Iran.

The Boroumand Foundation, a US-based Iranian human rights organisation, has also recorded 146 executions with charges related to homosexuality since 1979. In 1991, in its reply to inquiries made by a UN special representative, the Iranian government stated that "according to the Islamic Sharia, homosexuals who confess to their acts and insist on [their homosexuality] are condemned to death".

However, since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disgraceful denial of the existence of homosexuals in Iran in his 2007 Columbia University Q&A, the Iranian gay community has won some recognition underground, despite the great danger of execution. The number of gay blogs in Iran has surprisingly increased since then, internet-based gay novels and magazines have been published and recently, an Iranian radio website based in the Netherlands, has launched a special gay forum. Cul-de-Sac The premiere of Cul-de-Sac yesterday was also a remarkable move.

Britain, for a long period, has been appreciated for its tradition of granting asylum to those in danger from the governments of their home counties. It's the right time for the Home Office not only to protect those homosexuals who have well-founded fear of persecution but also to put an end to the detention of the children and families of asylum seekers. The coalition government should immediately fulfil its promises and protect those vulnerable asylum seekers who are in risk of being deported. Most importantly, we shouldn't forget that asylum is a human right.

Reuters: Iran executes brother of Sunni rebel leader Rigi

Mon, May 24 2010

By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Monday executed a brother of the detained leader of a Sunni Muslim rebel group behind the deadliest bomb attack in the Islamic Republic in years, official media reported.

Abdolhamid Rigi, a convicted member of Jundollah (God's Soldiers), was hanged in a prison in the southeastern city of Zahedan, after his execution was postponed last July and again in December in order to get more information from him.

Predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran seized his brother, Jundollah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, in February -- four months after the group claimed a bombing which killed dozens of people, including senior officers of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian officials say Jundollah has links to Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and support from Pakistan, Britain and the United States. London, Washington and Islamabad deny backing it.

Many minority Sunnis live in Sistan-Baluchestan, an impoverished area in southeast Iran, near Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there has been an increase in recent years in bombings and clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and drug traffickers.

Iranian officials say security and economic activity have improved in the region since the Jundollah leader's arrest.

Families of Jundollah victims were present at Monday's execution to help alleviate "their pain," said judiciary official Ebrahim Hamidi in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

"The judiciary decided not to carry out the sentence in public because of some security issues," he said.

State Press TV said Abdolhamid Rigi was charged with bombing operations, armed robbery and drug trafficking. It showed a picture of a bearded, young man on its website.

"Earlier confessions made by Abdolhamid confirmed reports that Washington aided and abetted the armed separatist ring in carrying out its terror activities in Iran," it said.

Jundollah, which accuses the government of discrimination against Sunnis, said it was behind the October 18 attack -- the deadliest in Iran since the 1980s -- that killed more than 40 Iranians, including 15 Guards members.

The Guards, seen as fiercely loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, handle security in border areas.

Iran hanged 13 Jundollah members in July last year and one in November in connection with various killings and attacks.

Iran, a major oil producer locked in dispute with the United States and its allies over its nuclear program, rejects allegations by Western rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.

Hamidi, the judiciary official, reiterated the authorities' offer of amnesty to Jundollah members who "repent". (Additional reporting and writing by Fredrik Dahl in Dubai; editing by Tim Pearce)

The Nation: US Hikers Were Seized in Iraq

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

IMHRO met with Foreign Office officials in London

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO representative, Reza Vashahi met with foreign office staff in London on 21st June to discuss recent human rights violations of minorities in Iran.

“The UK government continues to support the human rights of minorities in Iran and is deeply concerned by what is happening to them. In recent years the situation of minorities in Iran has greatly deteriorated and ethnic, religious and social minorities have been heavily suppressed by the Iranian government”. Reza Vashahi, IMHRO representative stated.

IMHRO is an NGO and non political organisation campaigning for rights of minorities in Iran.