Sunday, January 10, 2010

 

Iran’s Change of Power Structure Destabilizes the System

January 5th, 2010 Filed Under : Domestic Relations, News Features

Kazem Alamdari

LOS ANGELES—In the past thirty years, the power structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran has moved from populism to clientelism, and now to militarism. The triangle of power that includes Supreme Leader Khamenei, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is much more fragile as opposed to the previous power structures. Why?

During the first decade’s populism, power rested in the hands of the unrivaled and charismatic leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Very few people, if any, could act against his will and his policies. After Khomeini’s death, the structure of power changed to clientelism, a system of many vertical columns of rival and autonomous groups and institutions, such as government officeholders, congregational imams, revolutionary courts, the Guardian Council, and many hidden interest groups formed in patron-client bonds, all around the leadership of Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor.

This clientelist power structure, which enabled political elites to have access to social status, political power, and economic resources, was the key to the regime’s sustainability, but it deprived the majority of people of their rights. With the onset of the recent crisis, the triangle of power—Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the IRGC—has pushed aside this power structure. In the new structure, the Supreme Leader has lost the role of mediator and has openly sided with military oppressors.

The modern, educated, young, and urban middle class, who had hoped for reforms during the 1997 election that brought former President Mohammad Khatami to power, were pushed aside with a pre-planned election on June 12 designed by the Guardian Council and the IRGC to reelect Ahmadinejad. Supporters of the valayt faqih learned that the “masses” (less educated, low income, traditional groups) were the only ones who accepted their divine rule. Therefore, in supporting Ahmadinejad’s campaign, they used slogans such as the fight against poverty, injustice, and corruption, and promises such as distributing the oil money among the masses, to bring the populist government of Ahmadinejad to power.

This move confused even some of the leftist and anti-American groups. In practice, the government of Ahmadinejad spread superstitious beliefs and distributed money among the lower classes of society in order to mobilize them against the middle class. Despite promises made during the presidential campaign, and Ahmadinejad’s populist appearance, his administration has abandoned economic equality and has turned out to be one of the most corrupt in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Oppression, intimidation, and political pacification of the middle class and the reformists on the one hand, coupled with financial support to energize the lower classes and supporters of divine rule of velayat faqih, in addition to the creation of continuous tensions with the West, have been the foundations of the Ahmadinejad doctrine. Through distribution of money and planning “provincial visits,” the triangle of power believed that Ahmadinejad was building a solid popular base and that he would win reelection with ease. Therefore, they decided to make the race more interesting in order to bring more voters out to the polls, thus showing off their legitimacy and popularity.

Much to the surprise of Ahmadinejad’s supporters, the distribution of money and populist slogans only created new dissatisfactions. Distribution of money led to inflation and increasing unemployment, which badly damaged domestic production. The nation’s economic difficulties, Ahmadinejad’s empty promises, his unbalanced personality, and his continuous efforts to fool the masses rallied the people against him and ruined his chances for reelection.

As the election date approached, the Khamenei wing realized that opening the political atmosphere for a mass turnout created a social movement, so they decided to rig the election. Electoral fraud caused the masses to react and lose their patience and pour into the streets. The triangle of power then decided to control the situation with brute force. Using such levels of brutality did not end the protests and only delegitimized the government further. Since then, the government has only managed to stay in power through daily suppression of the opposition.

As time passed, the scope of the crisis became much wider. Efforts made by the conservatives to calm the crisis have been fruitless so far. Proposals made for mediation or national unity have been ridiculed by the radicals behind the rigged presidential election.. Radicals believe that making any concessions to the opposition would endanger the regime. On the other hand, anti-Ahmadinejad conservatives believe that suppressing the opposition would not grant legitimacy to the government and would seriously threaten the survival of the regime. These two different outlooks will create further cleavages within the ruling elite.

In addition to domestic crisis, oil prices have gone down significantly. The Ahmadinejad administration became too dependent on oil revenues, and now the government is risking international sanctions that would further isolate the Islamic Republic. This tension is also going to widen the cleavages already in place within the system.

Long story short, this exceptional situation is not sustainable. Returning to the pre-election situation is also impossible. The following two scenarios could take place. The triangle of power may ignore internal and external pressures and stay firm until its own complete elimination. Or, internal divisions among conservatives may force Khamenei and the IRGC to conclude that in order to sustain the regime they must remove Ahmadinejad, which would have its own consequences.

The last word is that the collapse of society and the destruction of security are not beneficial to people and do not aid democracy. People must learn how to avoid violence and stay away from chaos. The Green Movement must warn the government of the consequences of oppressive policies and insist on the people’s right to determine their own future. This movement must now follow through with the demands made during the peaceful demonstrations. This is necessary for both the people and the government.

Kazem Alamdari is a professor at California State University.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

 

Iran's Regime 'Has Every Reason to Be Worried'

Source: Spiegel Online

The World from Berlin
Iran's Regime 'Has Every Reason to Be Worried'
Monday saw tens of thousands of regime critics marching in Iran for the funeral of a senior dissident cleric. Mourning turned to chants of "death to the dictator," and German commentators believe there is more to come.

Tens of thousands of anti-regime protestors marched through the streets of Iran's holy city of Qom on Monday. They had gathered for the funeral procession of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most senior of the regime's critics, who had died in his sleep Sunday at the age of 87.

The event reportedly turned into the largest civil protest since those that followed the contested re-election in June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which left an unknown number of protestors dead. In Monday's demonstration, protestors chanted "death to the dictator" and carried slogans voicing their support for the opposition leaders to whom Montazeri had given his support. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the head of the opposition Green Movement, and Mahdi Karroubi, a prominent protest leader, also took part in the demonstration.


Montazeri was one of the leaders of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and had been the heir apparent for a time to Ayatollah Khomeini. However, he fell out of favor with the regime in the 1980s because he thought that the clerics who later came to rule the country should have served in an advisory role to political leaders rather than holding on to the reins of power themselves. After serving five years under house arrest, he was released in 2003 and kept a low profile until he publically expressed his outrage over June's disputed elections.

Foreign media were blocked from the site, but footage posted online shows massive crowds. There are also reports of clashes between protestors and security forces as well as hundreds of arrests, but the situation doesn't appear to be as tense as it was in June. Still, the Associated Press is reported that some private news sources were shut down, prominent critics were arrested on the way to the protest, Internet service was slowed and mobile phone service was unreliable.

In Tuesday's newspapers, German commentators see the protests as a signal of a reinvigorated opposition movement. Likewise, they predict that next Sunday will tell whether the protest movement can keep its steam or will be suppressed with greater might.

Conservative Die Welt writes:

"The regime-controlled Iranian media only gave passing mention to Montazeri's death and did not even refer to him as a grand ayatollah."

"Montazeri was the spiritual father of the reform movement. He lent both inspiration and spiritual legitimacy to the 'green' opposition movement as well as a political face to Mir Hossein Mousavi. Montazeri embodied the notion of an enlightened Islam."

"But the opposition needn't die with him. In fact, as the mass protests at Montazeri's funeral have shown … the opposite could actually be the case. Shiites traditionally hold memorial ceremonies seven days after one's death. In the case of Montazeri, it will fall right on the Day of Ashura, one of the most important religious holidays for Shiites. It commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who died in the Battle of Karbala in AD 680 and is reverred as a martyr. It is a day of mourning that could change into one of rage against the hated religious dictatorship. Montazeri's death will serve as a catalyst. The regime has every reason to be worried."

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"The 'green' opposition movement in Iran won't allow itself to be intimidated by either threats or brutal violence. … The death and burial of 87-year-old Grand Ayatollah Montazeri … are bringing thousands into the streets. … And, once again, Mousavi and Karroubi, the underdog candidates in the presidential elections held six months ago, are marching with them. At that time, Montazeri had already voiced his support for them and criticized the 'falsifications' of the incumbent president. Despite the supression, the opposition has had a certain effect precisely because both this and the earlier protest were articulated within the system of the Islamic Republic. But can such actions really alter the circumstances?"

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"Montazeri clearly expressed what many other critical clerics would only hint at. He recognized the doubts that many Iranians had about the president's re-election, their longing for freedom and that the goals of the reform movement were warranted. His morally based stance made the official suspicions that the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi were foreign agents seem even more ridiculous."

"Montazeri didn't consider either himself or the Ayatollah Khomeini … to be infallible. He was willing to face up to his mistakes, which is something that the powerful in the current regime have never done. In November, when Iran was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran, Montazeri said: 'At the time, I supported it, but not today. It was a mistake.' Iranians have appreciated this kind of frankness much more than the regime's hot-air choir."

Left-wing Die Tagezeitung writes:

"In 1979, Montazeri only wanted a religious authority to make sure that the state didn't violate fundamental Islamic principles. But things turned out differently. Today, Ali Khamenei rules like a dictator. Montazeri was what we in the West hope for in a public intellectual. He constantly got into the thick of things and did not shy away from criticizing the government in harsh terms."

"In historical terms, he played the role that the Shia clergy traditionally played before it came into power in Iran. For many, he represented both restraint and a refuge. And losing his critical voice will weigh heavily on all of those in Iran who are currently mobilizing for reform."

"On the other hand, Montazeri's death could open up new opportunities for protest. Shiites traditionally commemorate their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after their deaths, so it's fairly easy to figure out when the next demonstrations against the regime will be held. On top of that, it is currently Muharram, the month of mourning for Muslims, and the seventh day after Montazeri's death will fall on Ashura, which is next Sunday. For practicing Shiites, this is the most important holiday of the year. And the regime cannot outlaw commemorative marches on this day."

-- Josh Ward


http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,druck-668596,00.html

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

 

Judicial Organisation of Armed Forces Admits to Three Deaths

December 19, 2009

Judicial Organisation of Armed Forces Admits to Three Deaths

The following is a translation summary by Mir Hossein Mousavi FB Fan Page:

After five months since the horrible events that happened in Kahrizak prison, the Judicial Organisation of Armed Forces in a statement admitted that three of the post-election protestors – Mohsen Rohol-Amini, Amir Javadifar and Mohammad Kamrani – (who were detained in Kahrizak prison), were in fact martyred under torture.
The report by forensic investigation denied the previous claims by the coup government’s propaganda machine that these detainees were killed because of complications with meningococcal disease and stated that these detainees were killed due to numerous injuries they suffered under torture. It was announced that 12 officials are charged with these crimes but no further information was given at this time.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

 

Letter to Members of the United Nations on Human Rights in Iran – November 2009

To all members of the UN General Assembly
November 11, 2009
Signatory civil society organizations,
1. Advocacy Forum (Nepal)
2. Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Malaysia)
3. Alternative Development Studies Center (Egypt)
4. The American Islamic Congress
5. Amnesty International
6. Angikar Bangladesh Foundation (Bangladesh)
7. The Arab Penal Reform Organization (Egypt)
8. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development – FORUM-ASIA
9. Asian Legal Resources Centre (Hong Kong, China)
10. Association for Human Rights Legal Aid (Egypt)
11. Association for Women’s Rights in Development
12. Bahá’í International Community (Switzerland)
13. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (India)
14. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (Egypt)
15. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (Cambodia)
16. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Cambodia)
17. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Cambodia)
18. Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (Georgia)
19. Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
20. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (Egypt)
21. Center for Human Rights and Development (Mongolia)
22. Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (Egypt)
23. Citizens’ Council for Human Rights Japan (Japan)
24. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation (South Africa)
25. Civil Initiatives Development Center (Russia)
26. Committee for the Freedom of Prisoners of Conscience in Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan)
27. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedoms, and Human Rights in Syria (Syria)
28. Community Legal Aid Institute – LBT Masyarakat (Indonesia)
29. Conectas Direitos Humanos (Brazil)
30. Corporacion Humanas (Chile)
31. Dasan Human Rights Center (Republic of Korea)
32. Democracy Coalition Project (United States)
33. Democratic Workers’ Solidarity (Republic of Korea)
34. Droits Humains Sans Frontieres (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
35. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (Uganda)
36. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (Egypt)
37. Egyptian Child’s Rights Center (Egypt)
38. Egyptian Social Democratic Center (Egypt)
39. Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (France)
40. FLARE – Freedom, Legality, and Rights in Europe (Italy)
41. Freedom House (United States)
42. GayJapanNews (Japan)
43. Global International (Mongolia)
44. Greek Helsinki Monitor (Greece)
45. Guria Swayam Sevi Sansthan (India)
46. Habi Center for Environmental Rights (Egypt)
47. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia (Serbia)
48. Hesham Mubarak Law Center (Egypt)
49. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners (Egypt)
50. Human Rights Development Centre (Bangladesh)
51. Human Rights First (United States)
52. Human Rights Watch (United States)
53. Human Rights Working Group (Indonesia)
54. Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (Indonesia)
55. Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Indonesia)
56. Information and Culture Nuri for the Disabled Korean (Republic of Korea)
57. International Alliance of Women (Belgium)
58. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
59. International Commission of Jurists (Switzerland)
60. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (Indonesia)
61. International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium)
62. Interregional Free Union of Students (Russia)
63. Interregional Human Rights Group (Russia)
64. Institute of Human Rights Education (India)
65. Italian Association for Women in Development (Italy)
66. Jagaran Media Center (Nepal)
67. Judicial System Monitoring Programme (Timor Leste)
68. Justice Foundation (Bangladesh)
69. Justice and Peace Netherlands (Netherlands)
70. Justicia y Proceso (Venezuela)
71. Korean House for International Solidarity (Republic of Korea)
72. The Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (Kyrgyzstan)
73. Land Center for Human Rights (Egypt)
74. Migrant Forum in Asia (The Philippines)
75. National Iranian American Council (United States)
76. National Organization for Human Rights in Syria (Syria)
77. NERVAZHI (India)
78. New Women Research Center (Egypt)
79. One World Foundation for Development and Civil Society (Egypt)
80. Open Alternative (Russia)
81. Palestine Peace Solidarity (Republic of Korea)
82. Palestinian Human Rights Organization (Lebanon)
83. Pax Romana (Switzerland)
84. Partnership for Justice (Nigeria)
85. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (Republic of Korea)
86. Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (India)
87. People’s Watch (India)
88. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor –EMPOWER (Malaysia)
89. Physicians for Human Rights (United States)
90. Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity ( India)
91. Quê Me: Action for Democracy (Vietnam)
92. Right to Life Foundation (Bangladesh)
93. Sasvika Sanghatan (India)
94. Shumuu Organization for Disabled Person’s Rights (Egypt)
95. South African Council of Churches (South Africa)
96. South Asia Network Against Torture & Impunity (India)
97. Suara Rakyat Malaysia – SUARAM (Malaysia)
98. Sudhanthra (India)
99. Taiwan Association for Human Rights (Taiwan)
100. Tibetan United Nations Advocacy (Switzerland)
101. Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights
102. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (the Hague)
103. United Group (Egypt)
104. West African Human Rights Defenders Network (Togo)
105. Women’s Learning Partnership (United States)
106. Working Group on Justice for Peace (Thailand)
107. Young Europe (Russia)
108. Youth Human Rights Group – Kharkiv (Ukraine)
109. Youth Human Rights Movement (Russia)

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned independent human rights and civil society organizations from diverse regions and societies around the world, respectfully urge your support for a United Nations General Assembly Resolution condemning the serious human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and advising the IRI of steps it should take to respect the rights of the Iranian people in accordance with international law.

Human rights conditions in Iran have deteriorated dramatically since the General Assembly’s 2008 Resolution, as the Secretary General has indicated in his recent report. It is incumbent upon the international community and a matter of the utmost moral urgency to emphasize to the government of Iran that common human rights standards must be upheld.

Since the disputed presidential elections in June 2009, thousands of Iranian citizens have suffered grave violations of their internationally protected human rights; many have been beaten and shot during peaceful protests, and there are credible, verified reports of torture, rape, and ill-treatment in detention. Hundreds of reform-oriented citizens and political figures have been tried in “show trials” without due process, and several have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, while others linked to the protests have been sentenced to death.

Iran has egregiously violated its citizens’ rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and used grossly disproportionate force against peaceful protesters, many of whom were intentionally killed on the streets or in detention. Thousands have been arbitrarily arrested, “disappeared,” and held in incommunicado detention, in what amounts to a massive ideological purge. In an effort to force “confessions” to attempting to destabilize the government, many have been beaten, threatened, and tortured, including sexually. Journalists, human rights defenders, students, and other groups have been targeted.

There are calls from powerful clerics and politicians to declare opposition political activities as violations of law that are punishable by death. In the meantime, Iran executed 115 persons convicted of crimes in 50 days following the 12 June disputed elections, and has also executed juvenile offenders in the face of strong international protests. The threat to the lives of detained individuals is acute, while the wave of executions is also a warning of what may await others seeking their human rights through peaceful protests.

Women continue to suffer from institutionalized discrimination across many spheres of Iranian society. Human rights defenders working peacefully to establish gender equality are under particular stress as many have been arbitrarily detained and prosecuted for their peaceful efforts to end legal discrimination against women. Moreover, as mentioned in the report of the Secretary General, the situation of ethnic and religious minorities, particularly the Bahá’í , continues to be of great concern.

The General Assembly must take a firm stand on behalf of universal human rights principles, and on behalf of the people of Iran. While the international community focuses its attention on other issues of concern with regard to Iran, it must make clear that it will not forget the Iranian people who continue to be denied their fundamental human rights. We take this opportunity to urge your support for a General Assembly resolution that will help show Iran a path toward respecting the human rights values and standards upon which the United Nations was founded.

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UN General Assembly human rights resolution on Iran

Sixty-fourth session
Third Committee
Agenda item 69 (c)
Promotion and protection of human rights:
human rights situations and reports of
special rapporteurs and representatives

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America:
draft resolution


Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The General Assembly,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights,1 the International Covenants on Human Rights2 and
other international human rights instruments,

Recalling its previous resolutions on the situation of human rights in the
Islamic Republic of Iran, the most recent of which is resolution 63/191 of
18 December 2008,

1. Takes note of the report of the Secretary General submitted pursuant to
its resolution 63/191,3 which highlights many areas of continuing concern with
respect to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of
Iran and notes with particular concern negative developments in the area of civil and
political rights since June 2008, and which discusses some positive achievements
with respect to economic and social indicators;

2. Expresses its deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights
violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran relating to, inter alia:
------
1 Resolution 217 A (III).
2 Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
3 A/64/357.
------
(a) Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
including flogging and amputations;

(b) The continuing high incidence and increase in the rate of executions
carried out in the absence of internationally recognized safeguards, including public
executions and executions of juveniles;

(c) Stoning as a method of execution and persons in prison who continue to
face sentences of execution by stoning, notwithstanding a circular from the head of
the judiciary prohibiting stoning;

(d) Arrests, violent repression and sentencing of women exercising their
right to peaceful assembly, a campaign of intimidation against women’s human
rights defenders, and continuing discrimination against women and girls in law and
in practice;

(e) Increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against
persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities, recognized or
otherwise, including, inter alia, Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, Christians, Jews,
Sufis and Sunni Muslims and their defenders, and, in particular, attacks on Baha’is
and their faith in State-sponsored media, increasing evidence of efforts by the State
to identify, monitor and arbitrarily detain Baha’is, preventing members of the Baha’i
faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically, and
the continuing detention of seven Baha’i leaders who were arrested in March and
May 2008 and faced with serious charges without adequate or timely access to legal
representation;

(f) Ongoing, systemic and serious restrictions of freedom of peaceful
assembly and association and freedom of opinion and expression, including those
imposed on the media, Internet users and trade unions, and increasing harassment,
intimidation and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders
from all sectors of Iranian society, including arrests and violent repression of labour leaders, labour members peacefully assembling and students, noting in particular the forced closure of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre and the subsequent arrest and harassment of a number of its staff;

(g) Severe limitations and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief,
including arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention and lengthy jail sentences for those
exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief;

(h) Persistent failure to uphold due process of law rights, and violation of the
rights of detainees, including defendants held without charge or held incommunicado,
the systematic and arbitrary use of prolonged solitary confinement, and lack of
timely access to legal representation;

3. Also expresses particular concern at the response of the Government of
the Islamic Republic of Iran following the Presidential election of 12 June 2009 and
the concurrent rise in human rights violations including, inter alia:

(a) Harassment, intimidation and persecution, including by arbitrary arrest,
detention or disappearance, of opposition members, journalists and other media
representatives, bloggers, lawyers, clerics, human rights defenders, academics,
students and others exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and association and
freedom of opinion and expression, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries;

(b) Use of violence and intimidation by Government-directed militias to
forcibly disperse Iranian citizens engaged in the peaceful exercise of freedom of
association, also resulting in numerous deaths and injuries;

(c) Interfering in the right to a fair trial by, inter alia, holding mass trials and
denying defendants access to adequate legal representation, resulting in death
sentences and lengthy jail sentences for some individuals;

(d) Reported use of forced confessions and abuse of prisoners including,
inter alia, rape and torture;

(e) Escalation in the rate of executions in the months following the elections;

(f) Further restrictions on freedom of expression, including severe
restrictions on media coverage of public demonstrations and the disruption of
telecommunications and Internet technology and the forcible closure of the offices
of several organizations involved in the investigation of the situation of persons
imprisoned following the election;

(g) Arbitrary arrest and detention of employees of foreign embassies in
Tehran, thereby unduly interfering with the performance of the functions of those
missions in a manner inconsistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic
Relations4 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations;5

4. Calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to address the
substantive concerns highlighted in the report of the Secretary-General and the
specific calls to action found in previous resolutions of the General Assembly, and
to respect fully its human rights obligations, in law and in practice, in particular:

(a) To eliminate, in law and in practice, amputations, flogging and other
forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(b) To abolish, in law and in practice, public executions and other executions
carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized safeguards;

(c) To abolish, pursuant to its obligations under article 37 of the Convention
on the Rights of the Child6 and article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights,2 executions of persons who at the time of their offence were under
the age of 18;

(d) To abolish the use of stoning as a method of execution;

(e) To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other
human rights violations against women and girls;

(f) To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other
human rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or
other minorities, recognized or otherwise, to refrain from monitoring individuals on
the basis of their religious beliefs, and to ensure that access of minorities to
education and employment is on par with that of all Iranians;

(g) To implement, inter alia, the 1996 report of the Special Rapporteur on
religious intolerance,7 which recommended ways in which the Islamic Republic of
-------------
4 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 500, No. 7310.
5 Ibid., vol. 596, No. 8638.
6 Ibid., vol. 1577, No. 27531.
7 See E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2.
--------------
Iran could emancipate the Baha’i community, and also to accord the seven Baha’i
leaders held since 2008 the due process of law rights they are constitutionally
guaranteed, including the right to adequate legal representation and the right to a
fair trial;

(h) To end the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political
opponents and human rights defenders, students, academics, journalists, other media
representatives, bloggers, clerics and lawyers, including by releasing persons
imprisoned arbitrarily or on the basis of their political views, including those
detained following the Presidential election of 12 June 2009;

(i) To uphold due process of law rights, to end impunity for human rights
violations, and to launch a credible, impartial and independent investigation into the allegations of post-Presidential election human rights violations;

5. Further calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to
redress its inadequate record of cooperation with international human rights
mechanisms by, inter alia, reporting pursuant to its obligations to the treaty bodies
of the instruments to which it is a party and cooperating fully with all international human rights mechanisms, and encourages the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to continue exploring cooperation on human rights and justice reform with the United Nations, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

6. Expresses deep concern that, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s
standing invitation to all thematic special procedures mandate holders, it has not
fulfilled any requests from those special mechanisms to visit the country in four
years and has not answered numerous communications from those special
mechanisms, and strongly urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to
fully cooperate with the special mechanisms, including facilitating their visits to its territory, so that credible and independent investigations of all allegations of human rights violations, particularly those arising since 12 June 2009, can be conducted;

7. Invites the thematic special procedures mandate holders to pay particular
attention to the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in particular the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of
human rights defenders, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working
Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, with a view to investigating and
reporting on the various human rights violations that have arisen since 12 June
2009;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to report to it at its sixty-fifth session on
the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution;

9. Decides to continue its examination of the situation of human rights in
the Islamic Republic of Iran at its sixty-fifth session under the item entitled
“Promotion and protection of human rights”.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

 

Amnesty International: Iranian-American Scholar Sentenced to 15 Years in a Judicial Travesty

Brief Introduction

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in the 12 June presidential elections in Iran, there were widespread protests against the contested election results. The Iranian authorities responded with violence and repression. Dozens of people were reportedly killed and many more injured in violent assaults by Basij paramilitary and riot police. The government has reported that about 4,000 people had been arrested; several hundred remain in detention. Academic and dual Iran-U.S. national Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested at his home in Tehran on 9 July. Kian Tajbakhsh, a 47-year-old social scientist who taught urban policy at the New School University in New York and who consulted for George Soros’ Open Society Institute, was arrested on the night of 9 July by agents of the Security Police. His family was not notified of the place where he was being detained. His arrest was first announced on the Iranian state-sponsored English language Press TV on 13 July when it was alleged that he was “cooperating” with Hossein Rassam, the head of the Security and Political Division of the British Embassy in Tehran in orchestrating the post-12 June election protests. He had been held in solitary confinement and subjected to prolonged interrogations for about three months.

On Saturday 1 August Kian Tajbakhsh was among the more than 100 people who were brought to trial before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran, accused of organizing the post-election protests, of having links with armed opposition groups, and of “conspiring against the ruling system.” Among those being tried were political opposition figures—including senior officials from former President Mohammad Khatami’s government—journalists and academics. Kian Tajbakhsh and Maziar Bahari, a Canadian-American journalist who worked for Newsweek magazine, were the only two dual nationals on trial. Kian Tajbakhsh spoke at the 25 August session of the trial, saying that the U.S. and European countries had a goal of trying to bring change inside Iran.

Om 20 October, Kian Tajbakhsh’s court-appointed lawyer Houshang Azhari announced that Tajbakhsh had received a prison sentence of at least twelve years. Subsequent reports indicate that he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Charges against Tajbakhsh included espionage, co-operation with an enemy government, and acting against national security. The charges against him included being a consultant for the Open Society Institute, which the indictment identifies as a CIA satellite institution devoted to fomenting “velvet revolutions” in Iran and elsewhere, according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency. He was also charged with belonging to an e-mail list Gulf/2000 run by Gary Sick, a professor at Columbia University, whom the indictment identifies as a CIA agent.

Amnesty International has consistently criticized Iran’s Revolutionary Courts for their failure to adhere to international standards for fair trials. Confessions extracted under torture or duress are routinely admitted as evidence in the proceedings in these courts. Kian Tajbakhsh and his co-defendants were at risk of torture and ill-treatment during their incommunicado detention, held without access to their families or their lawyers.

Targets

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)

Minister of the Interior
Mostafa Mohammad Najjar
Ministry of the Interior
Dr Fatemi Avenue
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 8 896 203
+98 21 8 899 547
+98 21 6 650 203
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh 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: Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/81/Default.aspx 1st starred box: your given name; 2sd starred box: your family name; 3rd: your email address

Salutation: Your Excellency


Sample Letter

Your Excellency:

I am writing to you to express my concern about the case of Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh who was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Charges against him reportedly included espionage, co-operation with an enemy government, and acting against national security.

Mr. Tajbakhsh was one of over 100 people brought to trial before a Revolutionary Court and accused of inciting the protests over the contested 12 June Iranian presidential election. Mr. Tajbakhsh had been arrested on 9 July and was held incommunicado, in solitary confinement for about three months and was reportedly subjected to lengthy interrogations.

International human rights organizations have consistently criticized Iran’s Revolutionary Courts for their failure to adhere to international standards for fair trials. Mr. Tajbakhsh and his co-defendants were not permitted the lawyers of their choice and were not allowed to adequately defend themselves against the vague charges brought against them.

Kian Tajbakhsh is a prisoner of conscience, persecuted solely because of his peaceful academic work. I strongly urge that the conviction of Kian Tajbakhsh be overturned and that he be immediately and unconditionally released from prison. I also urge that any trials held for those arrested in connection with the post-election protests conform to internationally accepted standards and that confessions extracted under torture or duress are not admitted as evidence. Thank you very much for your attention.

Background Information

Kian Tajbakhsh was one of four Iranian-Americans detained in Iran for several months in 2007 and charged with attempting to foment a “velvet revolution” against the Islamic Republic. He was arrested on 11 May 2007 and held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, where he was not granted access to his family or a lawyer. He was released on 19 September 2007 on a bail of one billion Rials (about $110,000). He was accused of “acting against national security by engaging in propaganda against the Islamic Republic by spying on behalf of foreigners.”

The other three Iranian-Americans detained were Haleh Esfandiari, the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, Parnaz Azima, a journalist with Radio Farda, the Persian language service run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, and Ali Shakeri, a peace activist from California.

In July 2007 Kian Tajbakhsh and Haleh Esfandiari appeared on an Iranian National TV program called “In the Name of Democracy” in which they made statements that were characterized as indicating their involvement in trying to incite a “velvet revolution” to overthrow the government. Kian Tajbakhsh stated that “[the role] of the Soros Center after the collapse of Communism was to focus on the Islamic world” and that “I was giving consultation to Soros about the social and political affairs of Iran,” and that he sought to “create a conflict between the government and the people.” The use of statements by Kian Tajbakhsh and Haleh Esfandiari on television was condemned by Amnesty International and other human rights groups.

Kian Tajbakhsh remained in Iran after his release in September 2007, living in Tehran with his Iranian wife and baby daughter.

The recent “show trials” before the Revolutionary Court have resulted in sentences against other individuals, although the prison sentence imposed against Kian Tajbakhsh is the lengthiest so far. Saeed Hajjarian, a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, was given a five-year suspended sentence. Shahab Tabatabai and Hedayat Aghaie, both reformist politicians, were each sentenced to five years in prison. Masoud Bastani, a journalist, received a five-year prison sentence. Three individuals were also sentenced to death in connection with the post-election protests. One of them, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani, was sentenced to death after his conviction for “Moharebeh” or “enmity against God” for his membership in a banned organization advocating the restoration of the Monarchy in Iran.

Saleh Nikbakht, a lawyer representing Mohammad Ali Abtahi and other defendants, complained that, "I have not had access to the prosecution case files at any point since the arrest of my clients. I was not aware of the trial until 11am [the day the trial opened]. And I did not get permission to enter the court room." According to article 135 of the Iranian constitution, trials held without lawyers being present are illegal. The only media organization permitted to cover the court proceedings was the Fars News Agency, linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

On 6 August Amnesty International wrote to the former Head of the Judiciary, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, asking him to allow the organization to send an observer to the trial in the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, but has received no response.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

 

Every Iranian should sign this complaint against the election fraud in Iran and send it to the UN Human Rights Council

Every Iranian should sign this complaint against the election fraud in Iran and send it to the UN Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council and Treaties Division
Complaint Procedure
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Complaints

The tenth presidential elections in Iran were not free and democratic

The Presidential Elections 2009 in the Islamic Republic of Iran clearly violates the articles of Universal Declarations of Human Rights, International covenant on civil and political rights as well as the constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran. Many political personalities and independent persons was the candidacy for the presidency refused. In addition, the executive council of interior ministry and the observing committee of Guardian council have illegally managed to widely filter out candidates in favor of a particular group within the establishment. Therefore, this election does not enjoy the merits of a free and democratic election.

Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won his second presidential term by virtue of a totally rigged election and the subsequent coup d’état organized and orchestrated by the similarly unrepresentative leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.

On June 12, millions of Iranians headed to the polls to elect their next president in an election with only four candidates, who had been handpicked by the Guardian Council. By all accounts, the alleged winner – Mr. Ahmadinejad - was not the one the people of Iran had voted for. Noticing that their vote had been hijacked, the people took to the streets to reclaim it. In response, the vigilante groups and the security forces brutally attacked the peaceful demonstrators and opened fire, killing tens of people and injuring many more. Many more were arrested and taken to prisons and other detention centers where they were subjected to barbaric torture, including rape of men and women as confirmed by other presidential candidates as well as by the internationally renowned human rights organization, Amnesty International. A number of them were forced to incriminate themselves in front of TV cameras by “confessing” to crimes they had not committed or to actions that are not crimes even under the unfair laws of the country.


We are registering our complaints based on inalienable civil and political rights and also based on:

Article 25 of International covenant of civil and political rights:

Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;
(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.
We demand that according to the complementary protocol and section 4 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, an investigation be carried out and the government of Iran as an offender of the above rights be pressured to abide by the laws and also change the discriminatory laws when necessary.

Our objections are based upon:

1. Lack of freedom of peaceful activity for political parties and associations inside
the country.

2. Inability to be nominated, to freely elect the candidates of one’s choice and hold the pertaining rights based on the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, due to lack of “Practical Commitment” to Islam and Absolute dominance of Supreme Leader.

3. Inability of religious minorities to hold office and to assume responsibilities in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government.

Since according to the article 2 of the complementary protocol and section 4 of the
Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights, the protesters must file their complain
inside Iran. Whereas Iran’s Constitution has not anticipated any organization to take care of such complaints, we submit our complaints to the head judiciary.


With respect

Name and address

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Monday, October 19, 2009

 

UN rights chief speaks out against use of death penalty in Iran

13 October 2009 –The United Nations human rights chief today called for changes to Iranian laws to end the death penalty for juvenile offenders, and also voiced serious concern about the death sentences handed down to three people for their involvement in the recent post-election protests.
Behnoud Shojaie, who was executed on Sunday, had been convicted of the murder of another boy in a street fight when both were 17 years old, according to a news release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Both High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and UN special rapporteurs had raised his case with the Iranian authorities, reminding them of their international obligation not to execute juveniles.

Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which prohibit the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

Ms. Pillay had welcomed indications that the Iranian judiciary was encouraging victims’ families to reach private settlements in such cases. The former head of the judiciary had previously agreed to suspend Shojaie’s death sentence, in order to give the victim's family a chance to pardon him under Islamic Shariah law.

“This latest execution shows there are no guarantees of clemency for juveniles until Iran changes its law and practice to end execution of juvenile offenders once and for all,” Ms. Pillay said. “It is the State’s responsibility to stop these executions, not a family’s prerogative.”

The Iranian legislature is currently considering a new draft juvenile justice law that provides “a valuable opportunity to end the execution of juvenile offenders,” said OHCHR.

The High Commissioner also voiced serious concerns about the death sentences recently handed down to three individuals involved in the protests that took place after the country’s presidential election.

“Under international law, the death penalty can only be applied when very strict conditions are met, for example only in respect of the most serious crimes and only after scrupulously fair trials,” she noted.

The UN human rights mechanisms have held the view that the imposition of the death penalty for crimes that do not result in loss of life is contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“There are also major concerns about the way the recent trials of opposition activists were conducted, and I hope these judgments will be reviewed carefully by the higher courts,” Ms. Pillay said.

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