Thursday, 26 April 2012

IMHRO met with FCO

Iranian Minorities Human Rights Organisation


IMHRO representative met with the officials from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in  London on 23rd of April. IMHRO raise the issues of human rights of minorities with the Foreign office.

The UK government is committed with defend of human rights and would continue to rise the concerning human rights of minorities with Iranian authorities.

In recent years number of reports of human rights abuse in Iran increased. Ethnic and religious minorities are widely supressed. Media is banned and foreign journalists are not allowed to freely visit minorities are in Iran.

IMHRO attended Riḍván Baha’i festival in the UK parliament

Iranian Minorities Human Rights Organisation


IMHRO representative attended the Baha’i Riḍván festival reception in the UK parliament on 23rd of April. The meeting was in friendly atmosphere accompanied by Baha’i musician singing from sacred Baha’i books.

Baha’i minorities are the most heavily persecuted religious minorities in Iran. They have been persecuted for many years. However since 1979 revolution in Iran, pressure on Baha’i has increased. Many of the Baha’i follower’s torture murdered or forced to live in exile.

The deeper cause of persecution of Baha’i is based on the facts that Iranian government officially inciting hatred against the Baha’i community in Iran, encouraging mobs to attack them and do not persecute those who attack Baha’i in Iran, and also Iranian intellectuals in opposition for many years has kept silence toward persecution cases of Baha’i in Iran.

IMHRO supports the freedom of religions in Iran and demand freedom and equality for Baha’i population in Iran to be granted.

Monday, 9 April 2012

BBC: Iran 'blocks' official London 2012 Olympics website

Iran appears to have blocked the official website for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Users in Iran have tweeted that they are unable to connect to and are instead redirected to - a site offering stories from Iran's official news agencies. intermittently suggests Iran-based users are unlikely to be able to see the Olympics pages.

Iran's ministry of foreign affairs did not reply to a request for comment.

Nima Akbarpour, the presenter of the BBC's Click Farsi programme, said such website bans 
are not uncommon, but it is hard to know exactly who is responsible.

"The blocking process in Iran is not related to a single specific organisation," he said.
"It happens every day - even affecting pro-government sites and blogs. The Iranian government's Internet Filtering Committee is in charge of the process, but individual judges can also order a web filter to be imposed."
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently ordered officials to set up a new body to co-ordinate decisions regarding the net.

Citizens have also been told they would need to show IDs and give their full name when visiting an internet cafe.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also discussed plans to create a "clean web" within Iran with its own search engine and messaging service.

Iran had previously signalled it might boycott the Olympics over claims that the official logo spells the word "Zion" - a Hebrew word used to refer to Israel or Jerusalem.

In February 2011 the Iranian authorities called for the logo to be withdrawn and the designers "confronted".
However, a follow-up letter later made clear its athletes would still "participate and play gloriously".

The Iranian weightlifting superheavyweight, Behdad Salimikordasiab, is expected to be among those taking part. 

He previously won gold in the Asian Games in 2010 despite being affected by swine flu.

UN: Iran executes anti-Islam citizens

BERLIN – Iran executed 670 people in 2011, including more than 20 for offenses against Islam, a UN investigator said in Geneva on Monday.

The vast majority of people Iran executed in 2011 were convicted of drug offenses that do not merit capital punishment under international law, former Maldives foreign minister and current UN investigator Ahmed Shaheed said.

He also reported a wide range of violations by Iran of UN human rights accords, from abuse of minorities to persecution of homosexuals and labor unions.
Shaheed was delivering his first report to the UN’s 47- nation Human Rights Council on the rights situation in the country since being appointed last year. Tehran dismissed it as a “compilation of baseless allegations.”

“It is with great concern that I report the significant increase in the rate of executions in Iran from 200 in mid-September 2011 to over 600 executions by the end of the year,” Shaheed told the council.
By December 31, 421 executions had been announced and 249 secret ones had been reported to him by sources inside and outside the country.

Iran’s persecution of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death for creating a home-based church and questioning compulsory Islamic education for his children, surfaced in Shaheed’s statements.
In a report on the website of the Washington-based American Center for Law & Justice, Tiffany Barrans, the group’s international legal director, who is in Geneva, wrote while Shaheed did not mention the pastor’s case in his new report, he had urged Iran’s authorities to consider the release of “Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who has been sentenced to death for apostasy....”

Ben Cohen, who has written about Nadarkhani’s case in the US media, wrote in an email to The Jerusalem Post, “It’s certainly encouraging that there’s a growing international awareness of Pastor Nadarkhani’s case, as well as a growing consensus among democratic nations that his immediate release is essential.”

Cohen, who jump-started a media project on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, wrote, “The Iranian regime wants to prove that it can be responsive to outside concerns, they should heed these calls. Sadly, Tehran’s record up to now is hardly cause for confidence.”

Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist and expert on Christians in the Muslim world, wrote the Post by email, “After North Korea, Iran is the global leader in Christians’ persecution. Iran is committing a cultural genocide, a tabula rasa of anything is non-Islamic. But more shameful is the silence of the Western democracies, the NGOs and the institutionalized churches about the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East.”

Meotti, who is a journalist with Il Foglio and is working on a book on Israel and the Vatican, said, “The West should organize a campaign of political pressure with all the means it has. But I fear that Eastern Christians, along with the State of Israel, have been chosen as the sacrificial lamb of Western greed.”

The UN Human Rights Council established Shaheed’s office and mandate last year, in a narrow vote, when Western and Latin American countries, with some African support, cooperated to create a special investigation on Iran. Cuba, Russia, China and others opposed the resolution.

Iran has refused to allow him into the country. In the council on Monday it described him as “incompetent.”

Shaheed, a veteran diplomat and founder of a human rights institute in the Maldives, said he had received videotaped testimony from witnesses to torture by Iranian security police and from relatives of young people who had been held in jail.

He told a news conference that were strong indications that many Iranians officially executed for drug offenses had originally been arrested for resisting the regime or similar offenses and had the narcotics charges added later.

A table in his report showed executions, a sentence that can also be handed down in Iran for homosexual relationships, had soared steadily to near 700 from just under 100 in 2003. In 2010, there were around 550 executions. Iran’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community has been decimated by the regime.

Shaheed told journalists he hoped the council would vote to extend his mandate, originally set for one year, next week at the end of its month-long session. Diplomats say the outcome of a vote is likely to be close.

“One of the most important aspects of this mandate is its capacity to give voice to those that believe themselves to be silenced by fear and lack of recourse,” he said.

Kenneth Sikorski, a Helsinki-based writer who has written about the repression of Christians in Muslim-majority countries on his website Tundra Tabloids, wrote the Post, "In light of the Finnish newspaper, the Helsingin Sanomat's main article on Sunday, promoting the Tehran regime's propaganda that religious minorities in Iran live in relative peace, I would call on the EU and the US to submit a joint motion before the UNGA/UNSC for a vote for sanctions against Tehran, with the sole intention of bringing to the international media's attention of this man's plight."

HRW: Iran: Arrest Sweeps Target Arab Minority

(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.”


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)*

: 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

: 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. 

AFP: Iran execution surge lifts world toll: Amnesty

LONDON — But although the number of executions was rising, fewer countries were using the ultimate penalty last year, the London-based rights group said in its annual review of death sentences and executions worldwide.

While China continues to execute more people than the rest of the world put together, Amnesty said it had reduced the number of offences facing the death penalty, abolishing its use for 13 mainly white collar crimes.

Amnesty called on Beijing to publish data on those executed or sentenced to death.
Globally, those executed in 2011 were killed by a number of methods: beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

Figures on the death penalty remained classified in Belarus, China, Mongolia and Vietnam, Amnesty noted, with little or no official data from Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea and Singapore.

Amnesty highlighted a significant increase in judicial killings in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia last year.

Iran had executed at least 360 people, three-quarters of them for drugs offences, the report said, up from at least 252 in 2010. Saudi Arabia had executed at least 82, compared with 27 the year before.

The increase in these two countries alone more than accounted for the 149 net increase in known executions across the world.

Iraq had executed at least 68, the United States 43 and Yemen at least 41, it added.
But Amnesty said it had credible reports of at least a further 274 unconfirmed or even "secret" executions in Iran. And at least three people killed by Tehran were under 18 when they committed their crimes.

It also cited reports of four further juvenile offender executions in Iran, and one in Saudi Arabia.
While the Arab uprisings had changed the political landscape in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, hopes that this would lead to changes to the death penalty "have yet to be realised", Amnesty said.

And although the total number of death sentences in the region fell by a third compared to 2010, actual executions increased by almost half, because of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty remained optimistic however.
"Even among the small group of countries that executed in 2011, we can see gradual progress," Shetty said.

"These are small steps but such incremental measures have been shown ultimately to lead to the end of the death penalty.

"It is not going to happen overnight but we are determined that we will see the day when the death penalty is consigned to history."

The offences for which people had been executed or sentenced to death included adultery, sodomy, apostasy and "enmity against God" in Iran, blasphemy in Pakistan, sorcery in Saudi Arabia and the trafficking of human bones in the Republic of Congo, said Amnesty.

Some 18,750 people were under a death sentence at the end of 2011, compared to 17,833 in 2010.

But only 20 countries used capital punishment last year, down from 23 in 2010 and 31 a decade ago.

"The vast majority of countries have moved away from using the death penalty," Shetty said.
"Our message to the leaders of the isolated minority of countries that continue to execute is clear: you are out of step with the rest of the world on this issue and it is time you took steps to end this most cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."

Amnesty said 96 countries had so far abolished the death penalty.

Nine have abolished it for ordinary crimes, 35 can be considered abolitionist in practice, having conducted no executions in the last 10 years, and 58 have retained it for ordinary crimes.

VOA: No New Day For Iran's Baha'i Leaders

 April 1, 2012 marked the 10,000th day the two women and five men have collectively spent behind bars.

 The spring festival of Nowruz, celebrating rebirth and new beginnings, is now over. But there was no “new day” for the seven Baha’i leaders who languish in prison in Iran. Instead, April 1, 2012 marked the 10,000th day the two women and five men have collectively spent behind bars.

Arrested in 2008, the seven Bahai’s who saw to the spiritual and social needs of their religious community, were falsely convicted of espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic in August 2010, after summary judicial proceedings.  They are currently serving a prison sentence of twenty years.

Although all religious minorities are subject to persecution in Iran, Baha’is  are regarded as heretics by the Iranian regime, and are particularly targeted and repressed. The most recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom notes that since 1979, Iranian authorities have killed more than 200 Baha’i leaders and dismissed more than 10,000 from government and university jobs.

Baha’is are banned from higher education and the community faces severe economic pressure.  The Commission reports that in recent years, Baha’is have faced increasingly harsh treatment, including a surge in the numbers of arrests and detentions and violent attacks on private homes and personal property.

At a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland noted and deplored the now over 10,000 combined days of incarceration the Iranian regime has visited on the seven Baha’i leaders because of their religious beliefs:

“We condemn Iran’s ongoing persecution and arrests of Baha’i community members, and we continue to be deeply concerned by the harassment and intimidation of all religious minorities in Iran, including its significant Sunni and Sufi populations, Christians, like Pastor Yousef Nardakhani [sentenced to death for apostasy],  the Zoroastrians and others.”