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Sunday, 19 February 2012

IHT: US congressman tables bill for Baloch right to independence










"It is US policy to “oppose aggression and the violation of human rights inherent in the subjugation of national groups as currently being shown in Iran and Pakistan against the aspirations of the Baloch people,” said the motion"



WASHINGTON: Nearly a week after he chaired a Congressional hearing on Balochistan, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives calling upon Pakistan to recognise the Baloch right to self determination.

The motion, which has been co-sponsored by House Representatives Louie Gohmert and Steve King, highlights Balochistan’s troubled past with the centre after the creation of Pakistan.

According to the text, ‘revolts’ in 1958, 1973 and 2005 “indicate continued popular discontent against Islamabad’s rule, and the plunder of its vast natural wealth while the province remains the poorest in the country.”

It is US policy to “oppose aggression and the violation of human rights inherent in the subjugation of national groups as currently being shown in Iran and Pakistan against the aspirations of the Baloch people,” said the motion.

In a definitive spin to the current tension, the resolution asserts that the people of Balochistan that are “currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country,” adding that they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status among the community of nations.

In a statement from his office, Rohrabacher, who is also the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, added, “The Baloch, like other nations of people, have an innate right to self-determination. The political and ethnic discrimination they suffer is tragic and made more so because America is financing and selling arms to their oppressors in Islamabad.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has strongly condemned the resolution terming it as “highly irresponsible and a blatant interference in the domestic issues of the country,” adding that it is a violation of international laws.

AP: German reporter recalls abuse in Iranian jail


BERLIN (AP) — When German reporter Marcus Hellwig was thrown into an Iranian prison on spying allegations, it struck him as odd that the chair in the interrogation cell had no backrest.
The reason soon became clear: "There was no backrest so that they could conveniently hit and kick people's backs," Hellwig told The Associated Press in his first interview with international media.

The 46-year-old reporter for Germany's mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag was arrested with his photographer after entering Iran on a tourist visa in October 2010 and interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in a case that generated international outrage.

Hellwig and photographer Jens Koch were split up and Hellwig said he was initially thrown into a plain 65 sq. foot (6 sq. meter) cell kept brightly lit 24 hours a day, but without a window or toilet. There was no furniture, only a carpet to lie on.

Hellwig said he was held in a facility run by the Pasdaran, Iran's feared Revolutionary Guard elite forces, and heard "terrifying cries" of inmates being abused every day.
"I was scared to death. Knowing that I was in a Pasdaran prison, with no lawyer or diplomatic assistance, outside of the official judicial system, they could have done anything to me," he said. "This total insecurity was the worst — physical pain heals after a couple of hours."

Hellwig's book "Inshallah. Captive in Iran" — using the Arabic for "God willing" — is being released in German on Friday. There are no plans yet for an English edition.

He said his jailers kept constant pressure on him, initially taking him several times a day to the tiny interrogation cell, asking him the same questions, alleging at times that he was a spy or a terrorist — which could carry a death sentence under Iranian law. He consistently told them that he was only a journalist, but they beat him and urged him to cooperate or endure more suffering, he said.

"They ask you nice questions and then ... all over sudden, boom, you get hit a first time, then comes the next hit — it's all about breaking you," he said.
"They don't give you options, they give you the feeling they can do whatever they want."
Every day, except the Muslim holy day of Friday, Hellwig heard the cries of other inmates being tortured even more severely.

"It started in the morning with toned-down cries, then loud, terrifying cries," he said. "Never before in my entire life had I heard men capable of such cries."

In his book, Hellwig describes being tortured with electric shocks. In one instance, a prison guard forced him to sit on a steel table before he came back with a cart loaded with batteries and cables.
"The man comes very close to me with the cart, takes a cable and pulls it up to my lips. Then I pass out," Hellwig writes.

"A powerful shock goes through my body," he describes another torture scene. "There is a thunderbolt, it races through my jaw, spreads frantically over my scalp, than back into the ears. Thundering Pain."
In the interview, Hellwig said he still found the torture too difficult to talk about. "In the book I went as far and as close as I can without inflicting too much pain on myself," he said.

Judicial officials in Tehran could not be reached for comment on Hellwig's account. Human rights group Amnesty International says "torture and other abuses of prisoners are daily routine and go unpunished" in Iran.
Hellwig and photographer Koch — who has not spoken to media since their release — were eventually found guilty of committing unspecified acts against Iran's national security. But a court then threw out the journalists' 20-month prison sentence, commuting it to a $50,000 fine.

The two journalists were finally freed last year in February after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle traveled to Tehran for a rare meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and brought the pair home on his government plane.
Iranian resistance groups cast Westerwelle's Tehran visit as a propaganda victory for the Iranian regime.
But Hellwig defended the German government, saying it made no compromises on human rights.
"Germany's foreign policy on Iran hasn't changed by an iota," Hellwig said. "Westerwelle discussed human rights violations with the Iranians during his talks."

After he got home to Berlin, Hellwig said it was difficult for him to return to his normal life after months in a 
cell in the western Iranian city of Tabriz.

"I had great difficulties coping with the speed of things and all the impressions here again," he said. "For some time, I couldn't even fall asleep without light."

For the time being, Hellwig said he has no intention of returning to Iran.
"Certainly not as long as the Mullahs rule the country," he said, referring to Iran's ruling Shia clerics. "Today I 
know what freedom really means."

Meanwhile, Ashtiani remains behind bars.

She was convicted of adultery in 2006 following the murder of her husband. In July 2010, Iran suspended plans to carry out her death sentence by stoning following the international outcry. Authorities said in December she may be hanged instead of stoned.

Daily Mail: 'Kill all Jews and annihilate Israel!' Iran's Ayatollah lays out legal and religious justification for attack Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2097252/Kill-Jews-annihilate-Israel-Irans-supreme-leader-lays-legal-religious-justification-attack.











A website with close ties to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has outlined why it would be acceptable to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel.
Conservative site Alef has published a doctrine detailing why the destruction of the nation and the slaughter of all its people would be legally and morally justified.

The doctrine, first reported by WND.com, warned that the chance to remove the 'corrupting material' of Israel must not be lost - and that it would only take nine minutes to wipe it out.

And it said it was a 'jurisprudential justification' for Iran's Islamic government to then take the helm.

The article, written by Khamenei's strategy specialist Alireza Forghani, is now being run on most state-owned conservative sites, indicating it has the regime's support.

The crux of dossier said Iran would be justified in launching a pre-emptive strike against Israel because of the threat the Jewish state's leaders are posing against its own nuclear facilities.

It said Israel would need U.S. approval and help to carry out such an attack, and that because of acurrent passive climate in America the time for Iran to strike was now.

Listing statistics that reveal 5.7million of Israel's 7.5million citizens are Jewish, the dangerous dossier breaks down the districts with the highest concentration of Jews.

It states that Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa contain more than 60 per cent of the Jewish population, which could be hit by Shahab 3 ballistic missiles to easily kill everyone.
Sejil missiles, which are almost impossible to intercept, could be used to hit key nuclear plants - including Israel's main engineering centre Rafael and the Eilun and Nebrin plants.

They could also targety the Dimona reactor, in the nuclear research centre in Neqeb, which produces 90 per cent of the enriched uranium used in Israel's nuclear weapons.
Airports, air force bases, power plants, sewage treatment facilities and energy resources would also be hit.

And, the dossier concluded, Ghadr missiles could also be used to target urban settlements until the Israelis were wiped out.

The publication of the doctrine comes after Khamenei announced on Friday that Iran would support any nation or group that attacks the 'cancerous tumour' of Israel.

womennewsnetwork:Segregation of women under health care a growing certainty in Iran



 
 



(WNN) Tehran, IRAN: As problems surround Iran in a widening international scope that includes sanctions and a possible imminent blockade of U.S. Naval ships through the Strait of Hormuz, the problems for women under inequality in the region are on the rise. Segregation of women, strictly because of their gender, is becoming more of a trend inside every aspect of Iranian society as leaders move to tighten the reach women have within the country.

Discussions on the topic have reached legislative levels, especially topics covering gender segregation in  hospitals that would be set up to cater to women only.

“Creation of single-gender hospital is necessary…,” said members of Iran’s Parliament, also known as the Majlis, in a recent discussion which included members of Iran’s Office of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

The implementation of the Same Sex Health Care  Delivery system (SSHCD), a religious based philosophy covering the separation of women from men in a medical environment, may be on its way as five plus university hospitals opt to begin the process of adopting a gender exclusion policy that will divide the sexes in health care treatment, medical environment, medical staff and treatment options. This policy encourages the use of female physicians only in the care of women.

“…it appears that five or six medical universities in the provinces have declared their readiness to establish these hospitals in big metropolitan areas,” says Dr. Shideh Rezaei a senior research analyst who also writes for Iran Rooyan, a publication that focuses on the needs and rights of women and girls inside Iran.
“While discussions about and adoption of policies on gender segregation in the public sphere date back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, efforts to actually implement physical segregation of men and women have not been successful beyond schools,” continued Dr. Rezaei. “Segregation at Universities has been proposed and has come up more systematically as a subject of interest in the past few years, but with limited resources it is difficult to implement this system. Instead the establishment of more all female Universities has been proposed and planned,” he added.

While attempts to separate women to the ‘back of the bus’ with Tehran’s transportation system, many women do not heed this as buses become crowded during the city rush hour. ‘All-women’ universities have also been part of initiatives to separate men and women at the college level.

In a country where 98 percent of the population has full access to health care and 97 births are attended by medical professionals, Iran’s future and the future of Iran’s women under a shifting health care system are now set against the backdrop of policies carved out by the region’s religious leaders.

eurasiareview: Iran: Baha’i Community Targeted With More Arrests











Written by:


Iranian security forces have arrested several members of the Baha’i community in Shiraz.
The Human Rights Reporters Committee announced on Friday that several Baha’is were arrested at their homes today in Shiraz. Details of the arrests have not yet been released, except that the arrests were carried out during sudden and simultaneous raids on the homes of the targeted people.

The crackdown on Iran’s Baha’i community has intensified in recent months. In addition to arresting Baha’i citizens, the authorities have also detained staff and faculty of the BIHE, the Baha’i online university. The BIHE has been denounced as an “illegal” organization lacking any credibility in academic terms.

The Baha’i faith is not recognized as a religion by the Islamic Republic and, therefore, its followers face widespread discrimination in the workplace and the school system.

Iranian Baha’i youth are often denied access to higher education, so the BIHE was developed allow Baha’is to continue their education despite the obstacles presented by the Islamic Republic.

BWNS: Australian MPs call upon Iran to protect human rights







In a motion supported by both government and opposition MPs in Australia's House of Representatives, parliamentarians have urged their counterparts in Iran to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of Iranian citizens.

Iranian MPs are also called upon specifically to investigate the denial of access to higher education for student activists, Baha'is and others, and to seek a judicial review of the trials of the seven former Baha'i leaders, as well as human rights defenders and lawyers.
Read the motion and transcript of the debate here.

Opening yesterday's debate, Melissa Parke – the MP for Fremantle – noted an increase in serious human rights violations in Iran since the subject was last debated in Australia's Federal Parliament on 15 November 2010.

"In 2011, Iran was cited repeatedly, including by the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the major international human rights NGOs for violating international human rights law," she said.
  • Melissa Parke – the Member of Parliament for Fremantle – who moved the motion debated by Australia's House of Representatives on 13 February 2012. Ms. Parke… »
Ms. Parke noted eight areas – reported last September by Ban Ki-moon – in which the Iranian government is committing serious, systematic violations against the human rights of its own people, including the failure to protect freedom of religion.

"But the Iranian state has perhaps been most savage in its oppression of the Baha'is...In my experience, they
are gentle and peace loving people, so it is difficult to understand the degree of hostility by the authorities in Iran towards them," said Ms. Parke.

Several of the Baha'i prisoners have family members who are Australian citizens, she added, "brother, sister, aunts, nephews and nieces – who wonder if they will ever see their loved ones again."

Welcoming the motion and debate, Australian Baha'i Community spokesperson Natalie Mobini said, "Our community has immediate relatives of some of those unjustly imprisoned and they will be heartened at this forthright motion from our nation's MPs."

During the debate, the MP for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, noted a claim by an Iranian representative at the UN that the Baha'i organisation in Iran was political rather than religious, that it was illegal and that its organisation had been 'closed.'

"This quite blood-curdling response clearly displays a contempt for the basic concepts of freedom of speech and expression, including freedom of religious expression," Mr. Thomson said.

Kelly O'Dwyer, MP for Higgins said she stood together with somebody from the opposite side of the chamber in condemning Iran's human rights abuses.

"There must be no more serious and heinous act in this world than a government turning on its own people and committing violent atrocities on its own citizenry," said Ms. O'Dwyer.

Baha'i World News Service coverage of the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran

Reuters: Iran: Arrest Sweeps Target Arab Minority

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Iranian security forces arrested more than 65 Arab residents during security sweeps in Iran's Arab-majority Khuzestan province since late 2011 according to local activists. The Iranian government should immediately charge or release those arrested. Authorities should also investigate reports by local activists that two detainees have died in Intelligence Ministry detention facilities in the past week.

(New York) - Iranian security forces arrested more than 65 Arab residents during security sweeps in Iran's Arab-majority Khuzestan province since late 2011 according to local activists, Human Rights Watch said today. The Iranian government should immediately charge or release those arrested, Human Rights Watch said. Authorities should also investigate reports by local activists that two detainees have died in Intelligence Ministry detention facilities in the past week.

Reports by local activists about security sweeps in the towns of Hamidiyeh, Shush, and Ahvaz indicate that authorities carried out at least some of the arrests in response to anti-government slogans and graffiti spray-painted on public property expressing sympathy for the Arab Spring and calling for a boycott of
Iran's parliamentary elections, scheduled for March 2, 2012. Human Rights Watch received information that Mohammad Kaabi, 34, and Nasser Alboshokeh Derafshan, 19, died in detention facilities run by local intelligence officials in Shush and Ahvaz respectively, apparently as a result of torture. The local activists say that most of those arrested are being held in incommunicado detention.

"There has been a blackout inside Iran on this latest round of arrests targeting Arab protesters and activists," said
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Authorities should immediately divulge the reasons for the arrests, give detainees access to family members and lawyers, bring all detainees promptly before a judge, and hold anyone responsible for torture to account."

Human Rights Watch expressed concern for those in custody. Based on past government actions some of those arrested could be at imminent risk of execution if they are convicted by revolutionary courts of national security crimes including terrorism or espionage, or face prosecution on such charges. Human Rights Watch is not aware of any charges that have been brought in these cases.


According to several Iranian Arab rights groups, security forces have since November 2011 arrested at least 18 Arab men in Hamidiyeh, 25 kilometers west of Ahvaz, the provincial capital. The first arrest, on November 28, was of the prominent activist Hasan Manabi, an elementary school principal, and his brother Ghabel. A close friend of Hasan Manabi told Human Rights Watch that security and intelligence forces had arrested him numerous times since 2005. He said that Manabi, who had told the friend about torture and ill-treatment at the hands of intelligence officials following earlier arrests, had decided in late 2010 to seek asylum in Turkey.


Manabi's friend told Human Rights Watch that the Intelligence Ministry summoned and detained Manabi's wife for several days to pressure him to return to Iran. Manabi returned in September 2011 and introduced himself to intelligence officials in Ahvaz, who interrogated him, then released him after several hours. But on November 28 intelligence agents raided Manabi's home and arrested him and his brother Ghabel. The authorities have since accused Hasan Manabi of spying for the United States and the United Kingdom, in addition to having ties with Arab opposition groups operating in Khuzestan province.


A local Khuzestan activist told Human Rights Watch that the latest round of arrests in Hamidiyeh began when security forces arrested nine Iranian Arabs on January 10 and four more on January 26 and 30. Most are between ages 20 and 28, and some had previously been detained for participating in demonstrations demanding more rights for Iran's ethnic Arab minority. At least one has been released on bail, the local activist said, and several others have since been arrested.


Authorities have also arrested at least 27 people in Shush, 115 kilometers northwest of Ahvaz, in recent weeks. A local activist there said that security forces, including plainclothes members of the Intelligence Ministry, initiated the arrests in response to anti-government slogans and graffiti spray-painted on public property expressing sympathy for the Arab Spring and calling for a boycott of Iran's
parliamentary elections, scheduled for March 2. The activist said that security forces set up checkpoints throughout Shush. After they arrested Jasim Kaabi, his daughter Khadijeh, and his son Mohammad in their home on January 21, he said "people became angry and poured into the streets." In response, security forces arrested at least 24 men, most of them in their 20s, on January 25 and 26. The arrests took place in Ahmadabad, Khazireh, Davar, and several villages outside of Shush.

"For about four days [from January 25] Shush was effectively under martial law, which has since been lifted," the activist said. "But the city is still under a heavy security presence."


The local activist told Human Rights Watch that Mohammad Kaabi, who was arrested in Shush on January 21, died in custody at a local Intelligence Ministry detention facility. The local activist confirmed reports from other activists that on February 2 authorities from the Shush Intelligence Ministry office contacted Kaabi's family and informed them that he had died. The official reportedly told the family that authorities had already buried Kaabi's remains and there was no need for funeral services. They warned the family not to conduct a public mourning service for their son.


Prior to news of Kaabi's death, local activists told Human Rights Watch that 19-year-old Nasser Alboshokeh Derafshan had allegedly died after being tortured on January 30 in an Intelligence Ministry detention facility in Ahvaz. A source close to Derafshan's family told Human Rights Watch that security forces arrested Derafshan on January 26 for unknown reasons.


On January 30, agents from Ahvaz's Intelligence Ministry called Derafshan's father and told them to come pick up him up, the source said. When his father arrived at the detention facility, he caught a glimpse of a body inside the ambulance parked there and asked if it was his son, but the authorities denied it. He followed the ambulance to Golestan hospital and discovered that the body in the ambulance was his son's. The source told Human Rights Watch that Derafshan's family saw signs of torture on his body, including bruises on his face, neck, waist, and ribs. The authorities claim that Derafshan died of natural causes.


The source told Human Rights Watch that authorities have so far refused to return Derafshan's body to his family.


Local activists also told Human Rights Watch that intelligence agents have arrested at least 11 Arab men in and around Ahvaz since February 3. Security forces arrested another 10 Arab men, all of whom are members of the Sunni sect, on January 17, activists said. One of them told Human Rights Watch that security forces, many of them plainclothes agents, are present throughout Ahvaz and the situation there is very tense.


Human Rights Watch has received the names of many of those arrested or killed, but has not been able to verify the circumstances of each arrest due to severe government restrictions on independent monitoring and reporting in the province. Human Rights Watch previously
called on Iranian authorities to allow independent international media and human rights organizations access to investigate allegations of serious rights violations in the province.

"Security operations in Khuzestan province since protests there last April have resulted in the largest number of deaths and injuries since the crackdown that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election," Stork said. "With the province under an information blackout and the history of secret convictions and executions, we have reason to be very worried about the people the authorities have been snatching up and carrying off there."


Background

Khuzestan province, where much of Iran's oil and gas reserves are located, has a large ethnic Arab population believed to number more than 2 million, possibly a majority of residents. Despite Khuzestan's natural resource wealth, ethnic Arabs have long complained about the lack of socioeconomic development in the region. They also allege that the Iranian government has systematically discriminated against them, particularly in employment, housing, and civil and political rights.

The arrests in Hamidiyeh, Shush, and Ahvaz are the latest in an intense government security and media campaign over several years targeting Khuzestan Arab residents and activists. The government routinely alleges that Arab rights activists and protesters engage in terrorism and espionage, or are tied to armed Arab separatist groups. On December 13, 2011, Press TV, a government English-language station, aired a documentary featuring three Arab men who confessed before the cameras that they had carried out terrorist activities. The program alleged that the men - Hadi Rashedi, Hashem Shaabani, and Taha Heidarian - were part of a group called ‘Khalq-e Arab,' supported by US and UK interests and foreign-based Iranian Arabs who fronted as human rights activists.

A source who knows both Rashedi and Shaabani told Human Rights Watch that the two men are among more than 10 others from the town of Khalafabad, located about 120 kilometers southeast of Ahvaz, who have been arrested and detained by authorities since January 2011. He said he believes the men were forced to confess to these crimes after being subjected to physical and psychological torture.


In April 2011, Human Rights Watch documented the use of live ammunition by security forces against protesters in cities throughout Khuzestan province, killing dozens and wounding many more. No Iranian official has been held to account for these killings.


Authorities also arrested several hundred demonstrators and rights activists, some of whom are still in detention, and executed at least seven Arab men and a 16-year-old boy in Ahvaz's Karun prison between May 4 and May 7, Iranian Arab rights groups reported. Local rights activists have told Human Rights Watch that at least some of those executed had been arrested only weeks before, during the April protests. Activists say that at least four others died in custody between March and May. The authorities should open independent and transparent investigations into all alleged killings, Human Rights Watch said.


The April 2011 protests were held to mark the sixth anniversary of 2005 protests in Khuzestan, in which security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrators in Ahvaz and other cities and towns,
killing at least 50 protesters and detaining hundreds. The 2005 crackdown led to a cycle of violence throughout Khuzestan province, including several bomb attacks in June and October 2005 and January 2006 that killed 12 people. In response, the government imprisoned numerous activists it claimed were Arab separatists responsible for terrorist attacks against civilians and sentenced more than a dozen people to death on terrorism-related charges. Since 2006, authorities have executed at least 19 Iranians of Arab origin.

Names of People Reported Arrested in Khuzestan Province Since November 2011 (provided by local activists)*


Shush
: Qasem Badavi, Jaajaa Chenani, Aadel Dabbat, Ahmad Dabbat, Ashur Dabbat, Faisal Dabbat, Kazem Dabbat, Ebrahim Heidari, Hamid Kaabi, Jaafar Kaabi, Jasem Kaabi, Karim Kaabi, Khadijeh Kaabi (female), Mohammad Kaabi (died in detention), Sajjad Kaabi, Ali Kenani, Abbas Khasraji, Mehdi Khasraji, Moslem Mazraavi, Morteza Mousavi, Hasan Navaseri, Mehdi Navaseri, Salar Obeidavi, Amir Sorkhi, Adnan Zoqeibi, Ahmad Zoqeibi, Osman Zoqeibi

Hamidiyeh
: Hasan Abiat, Jalil Abiat, Jamal Abiat, Aadel Cheldavi, Adnan Cheldavi, Karim Doheimi, Ali Heidari, Mohammad Adnan Helfi, Ghabel Manabi (arrested November 2011), Hadi Manabi, Hasan Manabi (arrested November 2011), Seyed Faraj Mousavi (released on bail), Heidar Obeidavi, Khaled Obeidavi, Ayoub Saedi, Emad Saedi, Abbas Samer, Eidan Shakhi

Ahvaz (and vicinity)
: Ahmad Afravi (Sunni), Nasser Alboshokeh Derafshan (died in detention), Majid Bavi (Sunni), Abdolvahid Beit Sayyah (Sunni), Valid Hamadi, Qazi Handali Farhani (Sunni), Jamal Hazbavi (Sunni), Tofiq Heidari, Hamid Khanfari Batrani (Sunni), Hossein Khazraji (Sunni), Said Khazraji (Sunni), Jasem Marvani, Taher Moaviyeh, Mohammad Naami, Seyed Ahmad Nazari (Sunni), Aadel Saedi, Hossein Savari, Ali Sayyahi, Ali Sharifi, Sadoun Silavi, Khalaf Zobeidi (Sunni)

*This list is not exhaustive and Human Rights Watch could not independently verify whether the individuals listed remain in detention. 

Baptist Press: Iran raids house church, arrests Christians








ISTANBUL (BP) -- Iranian authorities in early February arrested Christian converts from Islam while they were meeting for worship at a home in the southern city of Shiraz, according to sources.

Officials are holding the Christians at an unknown location, they told Compass Direct News.



The sources put the number of the arrested Christians, who belong to one of Iran's many underground house churches, at between six and 10. Authorities often detain, question and apply pressure on converts from Islam, viewing them as elements of Western propaganda set against the Iranian regime; as a result, the converts are forced to worship in secret.

The identity of only one of those arrested on Feb. 8, Mojtaba Hosseini, was known. Authorities arrested Hosseini in 2008 along with eight other Christian converts on charges of being Christians, according to Mohabat News.

"I guess they have been watching Hosseini since then," an Iranian Christian who requested anonymity told Compass.

Shiraz is not a particularly "religious" part of predominantly Shiite Islamic Iran, the Christian explained, but persecution against Christians in Iran stems from the government more than from local religious sentiment. The families of the victims have requested information about their whereabouts, but authorities have refused to provide it, according to Mohabat News.

In past years authorities have arrested Christians around Christmas time, and the Compass source said that the international community and media monitoring religious rights in Iran were expecting another crackdown last December. Instead, he said, the government was more cautious and arrested small groups over a wider period of time.

In December authorities arrested a group of Christian converts in the city of Ahwaz, about 540 miles southwest of Tehran in Khuzestan Province. Of those arrested, three Christians remain in prison: Pastor Farhad Sabokroh, Naser Zamen-Defzuli and Davoud Alijani. They are held in Ahwaz's Karoun Prison, according to Mohabat News.

Sources have expressed concern for Sabokroh's health. Prior to his arrest, which took place at his church's Christmas service on Dec. 23, Sabokroh underwent cataract surgery. In prison he does not have access to the medication he needs for his eyes. His wife visited him briefly on Jan. 27 and said she was concerned about his health, as he has lost a lot of weight, according to Mohabat News.

Authorities had also arrested Sabokroh's wife at the Christmas service and released her on Jan. 1 when she submitted the deed of a house as bail, according to Mohabat News. Christians are forced to put their homes up as bail in Iran, a practice that sources say is an extortion tactic to erode them of their finances and to better control them.

Authorities have not formally charged Sabokroh, Zamen-Defzuli and Alijani.

Iranian authorities continue to arrest and subject Christians to harsh treatment, but many of these cases remain unknown to the outside world. At the end of January, Mohabat News released information on the case of Leila Mohammadi, whom authorities had arrested in July last year.

She spent 74 days in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin prison. On Jan. 18 a judge sentenced her to two years of prison for "collaborating with foreign-dependent groups, broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by forming house churches, insulting sacred figures and acting against national security," according to Mohabat News.

Authorities released her on bail on Dec. 28, 2011, and her attorney has sent her case to Tehran Province's high court.

Iran applies sharia (Islamic law), which dictates that converts from Islam to other religions are "apostates" and thus punishable by death. Although judges rarely sentence Christians to death for leaving Islam, one Christian, Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, is appealing such a decision in the northeastern city of Rasht.

Nadarkhani has been in prison since October 2009. A Rasht court found him guilty of leaving Islam and handed him the death sentence in September 2010.

Asked if there was a change in persecution trends from previous years, the Compass source said, "Nothing has changed, the issue is the same," explaining that the attitude of the government toward Christians remains hostile.

Authorities have prohibited musical worship and Bible distribution at the Central Church of Tehran, the largest and most visible Assemblies of God church in the country. Last December officials enforced a policy under which only invited guests could attend a Christmas service at the church, and in December 2009 the church succumbed to intense pressure by authorities to discontinue its Friday services, which had attracted the most converts to Christianity.
--30--
This story first appeared in Compass Direct News (www.compassdirect.org). Based in Santa Ana, Calif., Compass focuses on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Used by permission.

Rudaw: Kurdish Brothers Sentenced to Death By Iranian Supreme Court













ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan -- British newspaper The Daily Telegraph has reported that the Supreme Revolutionary Court of Iran has sentenced two Iranian Kurds to death. The report said the two Kurds were members of the Kurdish rebel group Komala, a claim denied by Komala.

“Iran has sentenced two Komala members to death after they confessed to killing the son of the Mariwan Imam and two of his friends, and working for the British Secret Intelligence,” said the report.
Zaniar Muradi, 25, and Luqman Muradi, 28, were arrested in 2009 by Iranian security forces. 

According to Mehr, an Iranian news agency, after investigations the detainees, charged with “fighting against God,” were referred to the courts where the death sentence was issued. 
Hassan Rahmanipana, central committee member of the Kurdish Communist Party in Iran (Komala), denied that the men were members of his party.

“To my knowledge, these men are not members of our party or of any of our branches,” said Rahmanipana.
But Aram Mudarris, senior member of Komala, told Rudaw that the two had been members of the party in the past.

“The father of those men is a member of a party called the Socialist Democratic Party of Kurdistan,” he said. “They themselves were Komala Peshmarga for a while but they later left the party and returned to their normal lives in the Kurdistan region of Iran.”

According to Iranian Press TV, which broadcasts in English, “The two brothers admitted that they were spying for Britain after being promised money and British passports.”
Rahmanipana rejected Iranian claims that the two Kurds were responsible for the death of the son of the Imam of Mariwan in 2009.

“The two brothers were tortured a lot after they were arrested. They were forced to confess,” he said.
Rahmanipana said another militant group called Hiwa Tab, whose members are now in prison in Iran, were behind the killings.

“The leader of the Hiwa Tab group, along with his two aides Shorish Dabashi and Hamid Dabashi, all in prison now, are the ones who killed the son of the Imam and his two friends,” he said.

Rahmanipana said that Hiwa Tab and its armed wing Zarbat were initially created by the Iranian regime to fight Kurdish dissident figures. Rahmanipana added that members of Zarbat have taken on Kurdish smugglers across the Iran-Kurdistan Region border.

“Hiwa Tab has killed more than 50 people, among them a 14-year-old girl who they murdered after sexually assaulting her.”

Mudarris said the only evidence linking the Kurdish brothers to the killing is “their own confession, which might have been made under torture.”

According to Iranian opposition groups, the Imam of Mariwan has declined to attend the execution of the two sentenced men.

“I don’t think the Imam has refused to attend the hanging process, and if he did it wasn’t out of his kindness,” Rahmanipana said. “The two people are not the killers of his son and he knows this fact well. He should publicly say that they are not the killers of his son.”

At the moment, more than a dozen other Kurds have been given death sentences by the Iranian regime.
According to Iranian laws, death sentences that have passed district courts are referred to the Supreme Court for revision. The death sentences of the Muradi brothers have been confirmed by the Iranian Supreme Court, which has created fear and anguish for their relatives. 

“They are facing the threat of execution as the Supreme Court has confirmed the verdict. We have asked the people to raise their voices against the verdict,” said Rahmaniana.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

IMHRO: Three Ahwazi Arabs killed under torture

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)

IMHRO.84

05.02.2012

Sources in Ahwaz reported that that Mr. Naser Albushoka (Darafshan) 19 years old Ahwazi Arab, died under torture by the hand of Iranian security service.

He was arrested in Naderi Street in the city of Ahwaz in south west of Iran, just last week. His family saw sign of torture all over his body including deep head and neck injuries.

Mohammad Kabi was killed by security service officers in shush and Reza Maghamasi was killed by security service in Dezful. They buried them in secret.

Recent unrest followed when Arab leaders inside and outside of Iran asked Ahwazi Arab boycotting the Iranian parliament election. Many Ahwazi Arab activists - mainly student - started to write on walls with regard to boycott of election. Iranian security service is ordered to crack down and calm the situation, sources told IMHRO.

Many arrested in city of Hamidieh

At least 65 people have been arrested by Iranian security service. The names of arrested so far are:
1-jalil nazar abeiat
2-adnan saedi
3-hasan abaiat
4-rasul helfi
5-kazem obeidawi
6-ababs sammer
7-ali heydari
8-ayub saedi
9- hadi monabi
10- ahmad dabat
11-ashur dabat
12-ebrahim haudari
13-salar obeydawi
14-adel dabat
15-ali kanani
16- mohammad adana helfi
17- sara latifi
18- karm majid dahimi
19-amir sorkhi
20-seyed faraj mosavi
21-jalil nazel abeiat
22- hamid ramazan
23- Hassan saki
24- eidan shahi
25- jamil torfi
26- Mansur al jasem
27- nader hazbavi
28- morteza mosavi
30- sina asadi
31- Mehdi navaser
32- abas navaser
33-salar ebeidavi
34- Rahim salamat
35- hamid torfi
36- karim baghlani
37- sahar hemidan
38- salem ameri
39- ali kabi
40- Mehdi khasraji
41-othman zogheibi
42-jaja chanani
43- amir sorkhi
44- lefteh helalat
45- karim deris
46- rauuf mansori


Press TV confession show

In recent months pressure on Ahwazi Arabs has been increased. Iranian state backed satellite channel the Press TV published confession of few Ahwazi activist. As always all these confession were taken under extreme torture.

 The fate of these prisoners who showed by press TV is still not clear. Their list of names is:

    1-Hadi rashedi son of mir hamzeh rashedi from Ramshir ( Khalafieh)
2- hashem shabani
3- rahman Asakereh
4- Mohammad Ali Amouri
.
5- ja]ber Albu shokah
6- Mokhtar Al bu shokah

Appeal

IMHRO condemns treatment of Ahwazi Arabs by Iranian security service. Iranian government should release all the political prisoners in Ahwaz. We request from international community to stand up for the right of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran.


Background

Ahwaz has population of at least 5 million people and has huge oil and gas reserves and situated in south west of Iran and the North East side of Arabic Gulf. Reza Shah Pahlavi occupied Arabistan region in 1925 and murdered its ruler sheikh Khazal. After Reza shah sided by Hitler, allied forces replaced him with his son Mohammed Reza Shah. Shah and Islamic regime after way both continued the policy of suppression and displacement of Ahwazi Arabs.

ai: Iran must halt execution of US national in ‘spying’ case








 

Iran must not execute a US national sentenced to death after an unfair trial, Amnesty International said today amid fears he could be executed within weeks.

Amir Hekmati, an Arizona-born Iranian-American who had served as an Arabic translator in the US Marine Corps, was accused of spying for the CIA and sentenced to death for “collaboration with a hostile government”. His appeal against this conviction and sentence must be lodged within 20 days.

Hekmati was held without access to his family, a lawyer or consular assistance after his arrest in August last year, in violation of international law.

He was made to participate in a televised "confession" before his trial in December, breaching his rights to a fair trial even further. 

“Like many other detainees in Iran, Amir Hekmati did not receive a fair trial and we question the timing and political circumstances of this decision,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s interim Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“We know from past experience that the Iranian authorities sometimes rush forward with executions of political prisoners – including dual nationals – at politically sensitive times and we fear that this execution could happen within days or weeks.”

The death sentence for Hekmati comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the US, amid announcements that Iran has begun uranium enrichment and strengthened US sanctions against Iran.

The Iranian authorities have executed political prisoners in January over the past two years, in relation to the unrest following the disputed presidential election of 2009. 

These executions have widely been seen as warnings to potential opposition protesters ahead of yearly celebrations marking the 11 February anniversary of the Iranian Revolution when people are encouraged to demonstrate in large numbers in support of the state.

Zahra Bahrami, who held dual Dutch-Iranian nationality, was executed for alleged drugs offences in January 2011 while awaiting trial on political charges related to the post-election unrest.

Parliamentary elections – the first elections to be held since 2009 – are also scheduled for March 2012.

“The lives of political detainees on death row in Iran are hanging in the balance this month,” said Ann Harrison.

Others sentenced to death in Iran

Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, an alleged supporter of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) who reportedly spent more than 40 months in solitary confinement in various detention centres in Iran, is also facing execution. 

Arrested in Kerman on 24 February 2008, he was sentenced to death in late 2011 after conviction of “moharebeh” (enmity against God) in connection with his alleged financial support to the pro-PMOI TV station Simay-Azadi.

Three alleged PMOI supporters – Ali Saremi, Ja'far Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei – were executed in Iran between 26 December 2010 and 24 Janaury 2011. All men had been convicted of moharebeh (enmity against God) in relation to contacts with the PMOI.

Blogger Vahid Asghari, who had hosted websites critical of the government, was sentenced to death on Friday after conviction in an unfair trial of “corruption on earth” for allegedly organising a “pornographic” network against Islam and the state. 

Asghari had been held since May 2008.  In October 2009 he said in a letter to a judge that he had been subjected to torture, forced to make a televised “confession” and forced to make spying allegations against high profile blogger Hossein Derakhshan.

Saeed Malekpour, a 36-year-old web designer and permanent resident of Canada, is also under sentence of death following a retrial on similar charges, which may be linked to Vahid Asghari’s case. A previous death sentence was reported in June 2011 to have been overturned.

Prior to his arrest during a family visit to Iran in 2008, he had created a program enabling photos to be uploaded online which had then been used to post pornographic images without his knowledge. He is alleged to have been tortured while being held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for more than a year.

The government has officially acknowledged executing 17 people already this year, although Amnesty International has received information suggesting at least 39 people may have been put to death in the first week of 2012 alone.

In December 2011, Amnesty International highlighted a massive wave of executions in Iran throughout 2011, with over 600 people being put to death between the beginning of 2011 and November.  Most of these were for drug related offences.

The scope of the death penalty is very broad in Iran and thousands are believed to remain on death row.

Most are alleged drugs offenders, but at least 14 women and men – including Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani - are facing stoning to death after conviction of “adultery while married”.  Pastor Yousef Naderkhani also remains held pending the outcome of his retrial on the charge of “aspostasy from Islam”.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate violation of the right to life.