Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Iranian Human Rights Leader Shirin Ebadi in Danger

Dear Friend,

We are writing to invite you to sign the open letter below from American peace activists in defense of Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate and defender of women's rights and human rights for all. Your support can make a difference.

We believe that peace and democratic rights are deeply intertwined, and we defend freedom of expression whether or not we agree with the views being expressed. As peace activists, however, we are particularly concerned about the persecution of Shirin Ebadi, who has on many occasions repeated her opposition to the use of or threat to use U.S. military force against Iran. For example, on February 4, 2009 Ebadi was interviewed by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now! television program. Goodman asked, "If the United States were to attack Iran, and when you look at the repression that you and others have suffered, would that help the democratic movement in Iran?" Ebadi replied firmly, [translated] "A military attack on Iran or even a threat of a military attack on Iran will deteriorate the situation of human rights and women's rights, because it gives an excuse to the government to repress them more and more often."

If Shirin Ebadi has no security inside Iran, then all peaceful civil society activists are at great risk. Indeed, the recent attacks on Ebadi take place against a background of stepped-up government repression. Trade union leaders, including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Maddadi, are currently in prison; two women labor activists, Sussan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi, were flogged on February 18, 2009 because of their participation in a May Day celebration. Women's rights defenders, including those involved in the "One Million Signatures Campaign" have been unfairly prosecuted and sentenced. Privacy and personal dignity are under siege. People who defy patriarchal codes prescribing how men and women should behave, and people who are suspected of homosexual conduct, have been routinely victimized, often violently. Students, including most recently students from Amir Kabir University in Tehran, have been persecuted and brutally attacked. Mothers for Peace protesting the war in Gaza were attacked by plain clothes security agents on January 11 of this year.

These developments strengthen warmongering voices on both sides and thus threaten to set back the peace movement opposing military action against Iran.

Initial signers include Ervand Abrahamian, Janet Afary, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Ariel Dorfman, Martin Duberman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, John Feffer, Arun Gupta, Adam Hochschild, Doug Ireland, Kathy Kelly, Assaf Kfoury, Naomi Klein, Jesse Lemisch, Kevin Martin, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Charlotte Phillips MD, Katha Pollitt, Danny Postel, Matthew Rothschild, Stephen Shalom, Alice Slater, David Swanson, and Chris Toensing. (a more complete list of initial signers is at the end of the letter.)

If you would like to add your name or make a tax-deductible donation to publicize the following statement, please go to our website -- if for any reason you have difficulty at the website, just send us an email at And please circulate the statement to your colleagues and friends.

Joanne Landy Tom Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy


Peace Activists Call on Teheran to Ensure Her Safety
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ayatollah Shahrudi, Head of the Judiciary
Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Islamic Republic of Iran

We are writing to protest in the strongest terms the threats that have been mounted against Shirin Ebadi, co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and the Organization for the Defense of Mine Victims. Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, has spoken out vigorously and repeatedly for women's rights and human rights for all in her own country. She has also been a vocal and effective advocate for peace and against military attacks on Iran in international forums.

Ebadi today is in considerable danger. On December 21, 2008, officials prevented a planned celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and forced the closure of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which Ebadi helped found. The Center provides legal defense for victims of human rights abuses in Iran. The group had invited nearly 300 human rights defenders and supporters to the private celebration. A few hours before the start of the program, members of state security forces, and plainclothes agents entered the DHRC building. They filmed the premises, made an inventory, and forced the center's members to leave before putting locks on all entrances.

On December 29 officials identifying themselves as tax inspectors arrived at Ebadi's private law office in Tehran and removed documents and computers, despite her protests that the materials contained protected lawyer-client information.

Ebadi's former secretary has been arrested, and on January 1, 2009 a mob of 150 people gathered outside her home, chanting slogans against her. They tore down the sign to her law office, which is in the same building, and marked the building with graffiti. The police, who have been quick to close down unauthorized peaceful demonstrations, did nothing to stop the vandalism.

In similar cases, Iranian authorities frequently have followed office raids and other harassment with arbitrary arrests and detention, often leading to prosecutions on dubious charges

As peace activists, we have a special concern for Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi has spoken out, as we have, against any U.S. military attack on Iran. In 2005, Ebadi wrote, "American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause." ("The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran" by Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi, The New York Times, Feb 8, 2005).

We oppose any military attack on Iran by the United States or any other nation. We reject too the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it protests repression in Iran while turning a blind eye to or actively abetting comparable or worse repression in countries with which it is allied like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Israel in the Occupied Territories. And we condemn as well Washington's double standard in criticizing Iranian repression while itself engaging in torture and undermining civil liberties at home. But that in no way deters us from protesting in the strongest terms the denial of basic democratic rights to the people of Iran. We protest because we believe in these rights, and also because we see social justice activists in Iran and all countries as our natural allies in building a peaceful, democratic world.

We call on you to cease and desist from the threats to Shirin Ebadi, to move immediately to prevent any further harassment, and to ensure Shirin Ebadi's safety and security.

Ervand Abrahamian, Janet Afary, Michael Albert, Kevin B. Anderson, Bettina Aptheker, David Barsamian, Rosalyn Baxandall, Medea Benjamin, Michael Bérubé, Norman Birnbaum, Eileen Boris, Roane Carey, Joshua Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Gail Daneker, Manuela Dobos, Ariel Dorfman, Martin Duberman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Jethro Eisenstein, Zillah Eisenstein, Daniel Ellsberg, Jodie Evans, Gertrude Ezorsky, Samuel Farber, John Feffer, Barry Finger, Joseph Gerson, Jill Godmilow, Arun Gupta, Thomas Harrison, Nader Hashemi, Adam Hochschild, Nancy Holmstrom, Doug Ireland, Melissa Jameson, Jan Kavan, Nikki Keddie, Leslie Kielson, Ian Keith, Kathy Kelly, Assaf Kfoury, Naomi Klein, Dan La Botz, Joanne Landy, Jesse Lemisch, Sue Leonard, Mohammed Mamdani, Betty Mandell, Marvin Mandell, Kevin Martin, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Ali Moazzami, Claire G. Moses, Molly Nolan, David Oakford, Bertell Ollman, Christopher Phelps, Charlotte Phillips MD, Katha Pollitt, Danny Postel, Dennis Redmond, Sonia Jaffe Robbins, Matthew Rothschild, Jason Schulman, Stephen Shalom, Adam Shatz, Alice Slater, Stephen Soldz, Stephen Steinberg, David Swanson, Chris Toensing, David Vine, Lois Weiner, Naomi Weisstein, Reginald Wilson, Kent Worcester, Stephen Zunes

* * * * * * * *
Please go to the CPD website at to add your name, donate, or see the evolving full list of signers.

THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY (CPD) advocates a new, progressive and non-militaristic U.S. foreign policy -- one that encourages democratization, justice and social change.

Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12New York, New York 10025

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Thursday, February 19, 2009


URI: Violation of the rights of the Baha’i citizens is shameful

February 19, 2009

United Republicans of Iran
Violation of the rights of the Baha’i citizens is shameful

Call for an immediate release of the leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran

Nearly 9 months after the arrest of the 7 leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran and following the “guilty verdict” on espionage issued by Security Prosecutor of Tehran and even before a court of justice could review the accusations, the Prosecutor General of Iran in a letter to the Ministry of Intelligence, declared the activities of the leadership illegal and banned. The prosecutor general also stated: ”that the activities of Baha’i organization in all aspect are illegal since their connection to Israel and opposition to Islam and Islamic nation and danger to national security is obvious. It is imperative that any further activities by any such groups be dealt with.”

Head of the Ministry of Intelligence, Mr. Dori Najaf Abadi, while pointing to the 20th and 23rd articles of the Constitution which stipulates the rights of the citizens and freedom of belief and speech, he himself violated these very same articles accusing them for their belief in another religion, and “tampering with minds of others and agitation.“

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, arrest and intimidation of the Bahai’s have always existed. But this is the first time that the government has openly and officially declared any religious activities by the followers of the Baha’i faith illegal and “equal to opposition to Islam and Islamic government” and for the benefit of the State of Israel.

The Islamic Republic of Iran in the last year has arrested numerous Bahai’s throughout the country. According to published reports by Human Rights organizations, currently there are over 30 who are in prison. Among them are the 7 leaders of the Baha’i Community, Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naemi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Ms. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm who were arrested last year. With the exception of Ms. Sabeh who was arrested in Mashhad on March 5, 2008 the rest were arrested in Tehran on 14th of May.

The new cycle of arrest, torture and trial of the Bahai’s under the pretext of espionage, indicates the escalation of intimidation against the believers of this faith.

False accusation of espionage for Israel is solely based on the ground that their religious center is located there and it’s a pretext to conjure up inhumane and discriminatory policies against them.

United Republicans of Iran, which has consistently defended the rights of the Baha’i community in Iran, once again calls for their immediate release and to end the systematic pressure and restrictions against them and reprieve the official orders of the prosecutor general and to accept their right to follow their beliefs.

The United Republicans of Iran, demand for the immediate elimination of any discrimination imposed on our compatriots based on gender, religion, ethnicity, race and creed.

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European Union expresses "deep concern" over seven Baha'i prisoners

Source: Baha'i World News Service

GENEVA — The European Union yesterday issued a statement expressing its "deep concern" over Iran's plans to bring seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders to trial for espionage and other charges soon. The Baha'i International Community has called for their immediate release, maintaining their innocence and characterizing the regime's claims as an "escalation of its systematic crackdown on the Baha'is."

The EU statement coincided with increasingly sharp anti-Baha'i rhetoric from Iranian officials, who said a trial for the seven might come within a week.

The seven Baha'i leaders have been imprisoned in Tehran for more than eight months, during which no formal evidence has been brought against them and they have not been given access to their legal counsel, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi. Another 30 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran, while 80 other prisoners have been released on collateral.

The European Union said it was concerned that, "after being held for so long without due process, the Baha'i leaders may not receive a fair trial.

"The EU therefore requests the Islamic Republic of Iran to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings and to reconsider the charges brought against these individuals."
The document was endorsed by the entire 27-nation membership of the EU, along with Turkey, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Separately, in Brazil yesterday, the president of the Human Rights Commission of the Federal Chamber of Deputies sent an open letter to Iran, asking for the release of the Baha´i prisoners.
"The peace-loving, humanistic principles and practices for which the Baha'is are known in Brazil have earned this community respect and credibility among the country's human rights supporters," said Deputy Pompeo de Mattos. "There is therefore no reason to doubt the credibility of their claims."

Other such strong statements of support have been issued over the past several days from governments and parliamentarians in a number of countries, including Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Meanwhile, an official Iranian news agency report yesterday quoted a judiciary spokesman as saying the seven Baha'is "would attend their hearing sessions within one week."

According to an Islamic Republic News Agency story, the spokesman, Ali-Reza Jamshidi, told reporters at his weekly press conference yesterday that the "seven committed criminal acts including spying for foreigners."

Mr. Jamshidi stated that the Baha'is would "definitely be allowed to use legal counsel," though they have had no access to their lawyer to date.

His statement followed a harsh report on Sunday that quoted Iran's prosecutor general as saying the government plans the "complete destruction" of Baha'i administration in Iran.
"The administration of the misguided Baha'i sect at all levels is unlawful and banned, and their ties to Israel and their opposition to Islam and the Islamic regime are clear," said Iranian Prosecutor General Ayatollah Ghorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi, according to a report in Fars News.
"The danger they pose to national security is documented and proven and therefore it is necessary that any substitute administration that acts as a replacement for the original be confronted through the law," said Ayatollah Najafabadi.

Diane Ala'i of the Baha'i International Community said the activities of the Baha'i leaders had to do with meeting the minimum spiritual and administrative needs of the 300,000-member Baha'i community of Iran. She said Ayatollah Najafabadi's attempt to portray their actions as "dangerous" was baseless and that the government is well aware that there is no truth to such allegations.

"How can the chief prosecutor equate something so harmless as a group of individuals who get together to give spiritual guidance and administer such things as marriages and burials and children's moral classes with something that threatens Iran's national security?" said Ms. Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
"After they banned Baha'i administration in Iran in 1983, the government has always been aware of and informed of the activities of these ad hoc groups.

"In the eyes of the government, the only real 'crime' of the seven currently in Evin prison – along with the some 30 other Baha'i prisoners currently held in Iran – is that they hold a religious belief that is different from the majority in Iran, and that is something that the current regime finds intolerable," she said.

Ms. Ala'i also discussed remarks made yesterday by Mr. Jamshidi in response to a question about Ayatollah Najafabadi's statements. Mr. Jamshidi was quoted as saying: "Any acts which could be taken as propaganda against Islam, Iran and its Islamic establishment is definitely considered a crime and its perpetrators would be legally encountered."

"The fact is that the Baha'i Faith is the only independent world religion other than Islam that accepts the divinity of Muhammad and reveres the Qur'an – along with the holy books of all the world's great religions. There is nothing anti-Islamic or anti-Iran about the Baha'i Faith, its teachings, or the practices of its followers. The government cannot impose its own interpretation of Islam on the Baha'i Faith and conclude that the Baha'i Faith is anti-Islam," Ms. Ala'i said.

"Indeed, the lives of the seven leaders currently in prison reflect lifelong efforts to promote the best development of Iranian society as a whole, through the promotion of education, social and economic development, and adherence to moral principle," she said.

Earlier this week, the British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell issued a statement saying the Iranian government "appears to be increasingly using vaguely worded charges to target human rights defenders and religious minorities."

"It is hard," said Minister Rammel on Monday, "not to conclude that these people are being held solely on account of their religious beliefs or their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association."

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Monday, February 16, 2009


The Iranian Revolution at 30: Elections as a Tool to a Sustain Theological Power Structure

The Iranian Revolution at 30
January 29, 2009

Elections as a Tool to a Sustain Theological Power Structure

Kazem Alamdari
California State University, Northridge

In the 30–year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), a total of 30 elections have been held. In spite of losing popular ground, and despite uninterrupted elections, the clerics in Iran still firmly hold the reins of power because elections are designed to serve the status quo rather than to change it.

Elections in the IRI’s style have aimed to: (1) legitimize the system while discriminating against the majority of the people by declaring them ineligible to run for office; (2) prevent unwanted people (outsiders) from entering the power structure; (3) determine the share of rival groups (insiders) within the ruling circle, which reduces internal tension; (4) manipulate and orchestrate religious people because their participation in elections is a means of supporting Islam, and (5) make the system seem as though it is democratically endorsed by the people.

The ruling circle in the IRI includes appointed and elected persons. Those appointed, mainly clergymen, enjoy higher power with less—or even no—responsibility because it is asserted that they have been divinely chosen for their positions through serving Islam.

The major elective offices in the IRI include the president, the legislature, and the Assembly of Experts (AE). Election of the city and town councils is less political and therefore less controlled. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, appoints crucial power holders such as the six clerical members of the Guardian Council (GC); the thirty members of the Expediency Council; the head of the judiciary branch; the commanders of the Army, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Militia (Basij); the Chief of Police; the head of the National Security Council; and the head of the radio and television broadcasting, among others.

Local and regional governors appointed by the president are publicly controlled by clergymen who are appointed to represent the Supreme Leader in cities and towns, where they perform Friday Congregational Sermons. They are not accountable, but they enjoy great local power through their social and religious status. Also, both the processes and the outcomes of elections for positions in the legislative and executive branches are restricted by non-elective clerics. Even the president cannot select his cabinet members without consulting with the Supreme Leader. In some cases, Majlis (parliament) deputies travel to the holy city of Qom to consult with religious leaders before introducing a bill in the legislature because they know that the clerical members of the GC have authority to reject their bills if they find them un-Islamic.
According to the Constitution, the political structure of the IRI is composed of two opposite poles: Sharia (Islamic law = fiqh) and the Republic (people’s will). While elections symbolize the republic, the rule of the people, Sharia represents the religious pole of the structure, which guarantees the rule of clerics and undermines the role of the people. According to Article 4 of the Constitution, “All civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria. This principle applies absolutely and generally to all articles of the Constitution as well as to all other laws and regulations, and the fuqaha' of the Guardian Council are judges in this matter.”

Clerics legally manipulate elections through two mechanisms. First, the GC is authorized to screen the candidates before allowing them into a race.[1] For example, opponents of the Velayat-e Faqih (clerical rule) are banned from elections as being unfit to hold office in the Islamic system. Second, all elected officials, including the president, are in a subordinate position to the Supreme Leader (the walayat al-'amr and the leader of the Ummah), who enjoys absolute power in the system. The Supreme Leader also can remove an unfit president from office, if he desires to do so.

The role of the six clerical members of the GC in elections and law making is extremely decisive in the IRI. According to Article 99 of the Constitution, the GC has the responsibility of supervising the elections and the direct recourse to popular opinion and referenda. However, referring to Article 98 and part 9 of Article 110, which give the right of interpreting the laws to the GC, they have been developed into an unquestionable political tool for keeping the entire electoral system under the control of the conservative clerics.

The legislative assembly is deliberately named the “Consultative Assembly” because, in the IRI, this organ “does not hold any legal status if there is no GC in existence” (Article 93), and cannot make laws without the GC’s approval. The GC can declare any law passed by the legislative branch as being unconstitutional or un-Islamic (Article 94). Therefore, the legislative branch cannot pass a law to limit the role of the GC in elections. Such an order is articulated based on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih, or Islamic Government.

Khomeini, the founder of the IRI, believed that elections should not undermine clerical rule. He wrote that the people must accept the rule of the clerics and follow their decisions as religious duties.[2] In his book, Islamic Government, Khomeini asserted that

...the ulema [clerics] were appointed by the imam for government and for judgment
among people, and their position is still preserved for them" (p. 73). ... Ulema (plural of
'alim) are the heirs to the prophets (p. 74).…If a knowledgeable and just jurisprudent
undertakes the task of forming the government, then he will run the social affairs that
the prophet used to run, and it is the duty of the people to listen to him and obey him.[3]

The third elective body of the IRI is the AE. All candidates are carefully screened, and they must be clergymen. The AE is responsible for selecting, evaluating, and dismissing the Supreme Leader. However, because the members are carefully screened by the GC, whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader, the AE members never challenge the Supreme Leader’s performance or his decisions. AE elections are mainly competitions among conservative senior clergymen. Since 1982, when it was established, the main activity of the AE has been the selection of Ali Khamenei as the Supreme Leader. They have continuously and annually praised him.

After Khatami’s surprise landslide victory as a reformist candidate in1997 with 79.93% of the eligible voters—the highest turnout in the history of the IRI—and the takeover of the 6th Majlis by reformist representatives, the GC has rigidly firmed up its control to prevent known reformists from entering political races. The GC, in addition to using its influence among religious people and masques, has hired thirty thousand new local employees to carefully watch and screen all candidates who want to run for any office. The tight control over the candidates leaves the votes with fewer choices and less motivation to participate in the elections. Therefore, conservative candidates find that they have a better chance to be elected.

Another major institution that plays a significant role in elections is the charity organization “Imam Khomeini Committee.” The Supreme Leader appoints the head of this organization, which has a several-billion-dollar budget to help poor people. In response, these people tend to support the conservative candidates in elections.

Therefore, elections under the current political, legal, and religious structure are at an impasse and move in a vicious circle under the firm control of the clerics. This process only serves the status quo, which is characterized by absolute domination by conservative clerics. In other words, elections in IRI do not have the capacity to bring about any structural change, but only to sustain the theological power structure.
[1] Guardian Council is composed of 6 clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader, and 6 lawyers proposed by the judiciary chief and approved by the Majlis. However, only the clerics have authority to judge and interpret whether a law is un-Islamic.

[2] More precisely, the notion of Velayat-e Faqih originated in the writings of several shii jurists such as Mulla Ahmad Naraqi, who used the idea to legitimize the absolute rule of Fatali Shah Qajar, and Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri, who strongly opposed constitutional rule (1906) as an anti-religious measure in Iran. Other predecessors of Khomeini include Mirza Hasan Shirazi, Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shriazi, and Kashif al-Ghita

[3] Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah, Islamic Government, translated by the Joint Publishers Reset Service, Arlington, VA, 1979, p. 37.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Amnesty International=Iran: Worsening Repression of Dissent as Election Approaches

amnesty international
Iran: Worsening Repression of Dissent as Election Approaches

February 2009

AI Index: MDE 13/012/2009

In the last three months, Amnesty International has received reports of waves of arbitrary arrests and harassment, directed particularly against members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minority communities, students, trade unionists and women’s rights activists. Amnesty International is aware of the apparent arbitrary arrest of, or other repressive measures taken against, over 220 individuals. Many, of those arrested, if not all, are at risk of torture or other ill treatment. Other individuals arrested before this period have been sentenced to death. In addition, several newspapers have been closed down, and access to internet sites has been restricted, including some relating to human rights or which are operated by international broadcasters. These measures may in part be intended to stifle debate and to silence critics of the authorities in advance of the forthcoming presidential election in June 2009. All individuals and groups should be allowed to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including in ways which dissent from state policies and practices, in the run-up to the presidential election.

Amnesty International has documented repeatedly how vaguely worded legislation is being used to silence the most active sectors of the Iranian population. Charges such as “acting against state security”, “spreading lies” “propaganda against the system”, “creating unease in the public mind”, “insulting the holy sanctities” and “defamation of state officials” are used to target members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minorities as well as human rights and other civil society activists. Such laws and practices violate Iran’s obligations under Articles 18, 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding freedom of belief, expression, assembly and association.

Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian authorities to end such repressive measures and to uphold the rights to freedom of belief, expression, assembly and association. Vaguely-worded provisions in the legislation of Iran which are being used to restrict these essential freedoms should be repealed or reviewed to bring them in line with Iran’s obligations under international human rights law.

Anyone held as a prisoner of conscience, solely on account of their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, or on account of their religious belief, should be released immediately and unconditionally. Others detained should be released unless they are to be promptly charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried fairly. All detainees and prisoners should be protected from torture or other ill-treatment.

Amnesty International has not been permitted to visit Iran for first-hand investigation of the human rights situation there since shortly after the Islamic Revolution which took place 30 years ago. While Amnesty International was not always able to speak directly to, and collect testimonies from, the people subjected to human rights violations, whose cases are mentioned in this report, the details are consistent with known patterns of human rights violations in the country.

Restrictions on Freedom of Belief

Only three religious minorities – Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians – are allowed under Article 13 of Iran’s Constitution to practise their religious faith. By contrast, adherents of unrecognized religious groups such as Baha’is, the Ahl-e Haq and Mandaeans (Sabians), are not permitted freedom to practise their beliefs and are particularly at risk of discrimination or other violations of their internationally recognized human rights. Converts from Islam and evangelical Christians who proselytize are also subject to repression.

In addition, Sunni Muslims, who are mostly members of ethnic minorities, also face repression in connection with their religious beliefs. Shi’a Muslims who do not subscribe to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih,[1] the founding principle of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or who engage in religious practices frowned upon by the authorities, are also at risk of arbitrary arrest and other human rights violations in connection with their beliefs.


At least 19 Baha’is – members of an unrecognized religion in Iran who are banned from publicly expressing their faith, have been arrested since 25 December 2008. Adil Samimi was held for one week for unknown reasons after being arrested on 25 December in the town of Sari in Mazandaran Province. Five months earlier, it is reported that the Iranian authorities pressured his landlord to force Adil Samimi to vacate his shop.

Nine people – all relatives, including a child of four, some of whom were visiting from Canada - were arrested on 28 December in a shopping mall on the southern holiday island of Kish, reportedly after a local shopkeeper asked them about their faith on discovering they were Baha’is. They were held for up to three days.

Following raids on the homes of 12 Baha’is in Tehran on 14 January 2009, six people were arrested. One was released shortly afterwards, but the other five - Payam Aghsani, Didar Raoufi, Aziz Samandari, Jinous Sobhani, and Shahrokh Taef were taken into custody. Jinous Sobhani was formerly an administrative assistant for two NGOs founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi: the Centre for Human Rights Defenders and the Organization for the Defence of Land Mine Victims, but lost her job in December when both NGOs were forcibly closed by the authorities. All five are currently held in Evin Prison in Tehran. None has been allowed visits from family members or a lawyer of their choice, although some of them are said to have been allowed to make one or more brief telephone calls to their families. Their detention was confirmed by the Judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi on 27January 2009, who said they were accused of “propaganda against the system”. Another of the 12 whose homes were searched on 14 January, Nima Haghar, was arrested following a summons on 1 February 2009 and is also being detained in Evin prison.

On 26 January 2009, the houses of seven Baha’is in Mashhad, north-eastern Iran were searched and a woman and a man – Sima Eshraghi and Jalayer Vahdat - were arrested. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

There are also continuing reports of destruction of Baha’i cemeteries, closure of other Baha’i businesses apparently in connection with the faith of the businesses’ owners, and denial of education to Baha’is either by refusing to admit Baha’i students to schools and universities, or by expelling them after admission.


Gonabadi Dervishes of the Nematollahi order[2] have faced continuing repression by the Iranian authorities over the last three years. Local Gonabadi Dervish groups meet weekly in places of worship called Hosseiniehs.

Gonabadi Dervish Hosseiniehs in several towns and cities have been forcibly closed or destroyed in recent months. At least four teachers were dismissed from their employment in 2008 on account of their participation in Sufi practices. In October 2008, seven were arrested in Esfahan, and five in Karaj, near Tehran, apparently on account of their affiliation to the order.

Most recently, at least six Sufis were arrested on the island of Kish in December 2008, following the enforced closure of the Hosseinieh on the island. Two lawyers who took up their cases - Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami - have reportedly been placed under investigation by the Kish Public Prosecutor, for allegedly “creating unease in the public mind”, after they had been summoned, reportedly on the orders of the Joint Intelligence Bureau of Hormozgan Province.

On 22 January 2009, Jamshid Lak, a Nematollahi Dervish, was flogged 74 times after being summoned to court. He had been sentenced in 2006 to six months’ imprisonment, 74 lashes and a monetary fine after conviction of “spreading lies”, “slander” and “defamation of state officials” by Branch 102 of the General Court in Doroud. The charges had been brought against him after he had written a letter to the country's senior officials in which he complained of being physically assaulted by a Ministry of Intelligence officer. The sentence was later reduced to 74 lashes by Branch 7 of Lorestan Appeal Court, which acquitted him of “spreading lies” and “defamation”, but upheld the charge of “slander”. His lawyer, Mostafa Daneshju, who had also represented Dervishes detained following the destruction of the Gonabadi Hosseinieh in Qom in February 2006, was subsequently banned from practising law for five years, and was unable to represent Jamshid Lak at his appeal.


Jamal Ghalishorani, 49, his wife Nadereh Jamali, both converts to Christianity and another man, Armenian Christian Hamik Khachikian were all reportedly arrested in Tehran on 21 January 2009. Their whereabouts are unknown. Judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi, on 27 January confirmed the arrest of one Christian Priest, believed to be Hamik Khachikian, whom he said was accused of “insulting the holy sanctities”. According to Article 513 of Iran’s Penal Code this charge carries the death penalty if it “falls under the rules concerning Cursing the Prophet”; otherwise it carries a sentence of one to five years’ imprisonment.

Al-e Yassin

Payman Fattahi, the leader of a group known as the Al-e Yassin[3] was arrested on 14 January 2009 after being summoned to an interrogation session at the Department for Dealing with Religions of the Ministry of Intelligence. Five of his followers – Nazi Hesami (f), Morteza Rasoulian, Sa’id Sourati, Hamid Sourati and Farhad Moradi - are said to have been arrested the following day. Three are known to have been taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence, but the whereabouts of Payman Fattahi, Farhad Moradi and Morteza Rasoulian remain unknown. Payman Fattahi had previously spent about five months in detention after his arrest in May, during which he was reportedly tortured and interrogated about a variety of alleged offences, including “acting against state security”, “establishing a sect”, and “promoting Christianity and atheism”[4]. The group has also been vilified in state-owned press.

Repressive measures taken against members of ethnic minorities

Iran’s ethnic minorities face widespread discrimination in law and practice. Many suffer disproportionately poor housing and living conditions, some have their land confiscated or are forcibly evicted from their houses and face restrictions in the exercise of their rights to enjoy their own cultures or to use their own languages. While most choose to express their grievances peacefully, the Iranian authorities are facing armed opposition from groups such as the Kurdish group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), and the Baluchi group, the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (formerly known as Jondollah). Amnesty International recognizes the rights and responsibilities of states to bring to justice those accused of recognizably criminal offences, but calls for political prisoners who were unfairly tried to be released if they are not retried in proceedings which meet international standards for fair trial.


Amnesty International has received the names of 37 members of the Ahwazi Arab minority (see Appendix 1), who were reportedly arrested during and in the days following demonstrations held in early January 2009, protesting against the Israeli military action in Gaza. Their place of detention is unknown. The contradiction of these arrests with the publicly stated position of the Iranian authorities over the recent events in Gaza illustrates the cynicism with which those authorities regard human rights.


Following a suicide bombing claimed by the PRMI directed against a police station in Saravan on 29 December 2008, in which at least four people, including two border police officers, are said to have been killed[5], at least 30 residents of Saravan are reported to have been arrested[6], apparently in reprisal, and taken to unknown locations where they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Five months after the destruction of a Sunni mosque and seminary in Zabol by the Iranian authorities, at least eight people (some of them Sunni clerics) - Mowlavi Abdollah Brahui, Mowlavi Zabihollah Brahui, Dr Nour Mohammad Shahbaksh and his brother Abdolrahman Shahbakhsh, Hafez Mohammadali, Mohammad Omar Baluch, Abdolqader Naroui, and Mowlavi Ali Naroui remain detained, apparently without charge or trial, by the Ministry of Intelligence, without access to family visits or lawyers of their choice.


Increasing numbers of members of the Kurdish minority are reported to have been arrested in recent months. Many are said to have been held in undisclosed locations for weeks or months and then sentenced on vaguely-worded charges related to national security or for being “at enmity with God”, which usually carries the death penalty. Most are accused of membership of Kurdish groups opposed to the Iranian government, usually PJAK, or its parent organization, the PKK, which wages armed opposition against the government in Iran. At least 14 Kurds are now reported to have been sentenced to death on such charges in the past two years, including one woman – Zaynab Jalalian – sentenced in January 2009 (for a complete list of all 14 members of the Kurdish minority arrested, see Appendix 2).

Other Kurds have reportedly been arrested recently, possibly in connection with their online writings or human rights activities. They include Ali Roorast, a 60-year-old man arrested on 26 January 2009 at his shop in Mahabad and taken to a Ministry of Intelligence facility in the town. Two days later, his son Fayeq Roorast, a 20-year-old first-year law student and blogger, who is said to be a member of the recently-created Association of Students defending Human Rights in Kurdistan, and Ali Roorast’s sister, Hajar Roorast, a teacher and local civil society activist, were also arrested. They are believed to remain in detention without access to family members or lawyers of their choice.


A member of the Azerbaijani minority in Iran, Abdullah Abbasi Javan, a professor at Tehran's Shahid Raja'i University and his nephew, Hossein Hoseini, were among nine people arrested in and around Tehran on 13 November 2008 following the annual celebration of Sattar Khan, an Azerbaijjani hero of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution in Iran. Their families had no news of them until 23 November when they were told that the two were being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison. Hossein Hosseini was released on 21 January, but Abdullah Abbasi Javan remains held without access to family members or a lawyer. He is not known to have been charged with any offence. He also spent 130 days in detention in 2007, accused of “pan-Turkism and “propaganda against the system”, during which time he was reportedly tortured.

Amnesty International has also received the names of 18 Sunni Azerbaijanis (See Appendix 3) who were among a group of more than 30 reportedly arrested on 14 January 2009 in the village of Khanegah-e Sorkh near Oroumiye, in west Azerbaijan province. They had gathered to protest at the diversion of the water supply to the village towards a sand and gravel extraction complex nearby, and were met by police who forcibly dispersed them, including with tear gas. Some of those arrested are said to have been injured during their arrest, but were only transferred to hospital several hours later. Others were reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated during their two-week long detention. All were released on bail pending trial. At least 21 of those arrested were tried on 1 February before Branch 101 of the General Court of Nazlu, West Azerbaijan Province. The charges against those convicted included “disturbing public order” and “insulting state officials” and their sentences included prison terms of up to one year, fines, flogging sentences of 74 lashes and enforced residency in the town of Minab, Hormozgan Province, south-eastern Iran.

Arrest of relatives of members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)

On 16 January 2009, security forces arrested about 18 relatives – mostly women aged between 60 and 85 - of members of the PMOI who are currently residing in Camp Ashraf[7] in Iraq. The family members were all arrested at the airport in Tehran shortly before departing for Iraq to visit their relatives and were taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, where they have not been allowed access to family members or lawyers. They include 85-year old Jamileh Mohammadzadeh, who was intending to visit her son. Reports on 29 January suggested that three from the same family – a man named Bahrami, his wife Atefeh Bahrami and their daughter – were transferred to Rejai’ Shahr (also known as Gohar Dasht) Prison in Karaj. For a partial list of those arrested, see Appendix 4.

Detention and imprisonment of women’s rights activists

Women’s rights defenders, who have been among the most active sectors in Iran’s civil society in recent years, continue to face reprisals on account of their peaceful activities.

Three women – Nafiseh Azad, Bigard Ebrahim and another who wishes to remain unidentified – were arrested on 30 January 2009 while collecting signatures in the mountains near Tehran for the Campaign for Equality, which aims to collect a million signatures of Iranians to a petition demanding an end to discrimination against women in Iranian law. They were transferred to Vozara Detention Centre and on 31 January appeared before a Revolutionary Court judge, who issued Nafiseh Azad with a temporary arrest warrant, but granted bail orders for the other two. Bigard Ebrahim was released on 31 January, and the other individual on 1 February. Nafiseh Azad’s husband, Vahid Maleki, told the Campaign for Equality that he believes his wife was remanded in custody because she had previously ignored a telephone summons calling her for interrogation, on the grounds that, according to the law, she should first be issued with a written summons. On 3 February 2009, officials from the Special Security Branch of the Office of the Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Courts raided Nafiseh Azad’s house, which she shares with two other students Elnaz Ansari and Aida Saadat. Although the warrant shown by the officials related only to the search of Nafiseh Azad’s property, during the raid, property, including phones, computers, DVDs, CDs and documents belonging to both Elnaz Ansari and Nafiseh Azad, was confiscated. The officials also beat Elnaz Ansari and Vahid Maleki, who had come to Tehran from Esfahan to follow his wife’s case. She was released on bail of 500 million rials (approximately US$50,000) on 4 February 2009. She has been charged with “acting against state security by propaganda against the system”.

On 1 February 2009, Alieh Aghdam-Doust, a member of the Campaign for Equality, was arrested and brought under guard to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences to begin a three-year prison sentence imposed after she was convicted of participation in a peaceful demonstration on 12 June 2006 protesting at legalized discrimination against women. The demonstration was forcibly broken up by police, who injured some of the demonstrators and arrested 70. Alieh Aghdam-Doust had originally been sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment and 20 lashes by branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, but this was reduced to three years imprisonment on appeal. She is a prisoner of conscience.

The appeal of four women’s rights activists against their prison sentence for writing for two websites related to women’s rights began on 27 January 2009. Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri, Maryam Hosseinkhah and Nahid Keshavarz were sentenced in September 2008 to six months in jail for their writings for the sites “Change for Equality” and “Zanestan” – which is now banned. The “Change for Equality” website was blocked by the authorities for the nineteenth time earlier this month.

At least five women’s movement activists have been banned from leaving Iran. Most recently, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was banned from travelling to Italy in December 2008 to collect a human rights award. In addition, Esha Momeni, who holds joint US-Iranian nationality, was also prevented from leaving the country after her release on bail. At the time of her arrest in October 2008, she was in Iran to visit her family and to conduct research for her Master's degree thesis on the Iranian women’s movement. As part of her research she had been conducting video interviews with members of the Campaign for Equality in Tehran.

Arrest and harassment of Students

National Student Day was commemorated on 6 December 2008 with two separate meetings at Shiraz University. The main event was organized by students and members of the paramilitary Basij, affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps; whilst independent students organized a smaller event, at which they informed participants that an open public forum for expressing views would be held on 8 December.

On 7 December 10 students were summoned by the head of the Herasat (an agency which oversees security) and threatened them with severe repercussions should the public forum go ahead. Despite the attempts to stop the event from taking place, several hundred students at Iran's Shiraz University held a demonstration against government policies on 8 December 2008

According to the website of the Graduates’ Association (Advar-e Tahkim) at least 37 students were later summoned by the Disciplinary Office of the university. At least 18 of them received orders banning them from continuing their education for various temporary periods. In addition, possibly as many as 23 students were summoned by the Intelligence Office in Shiraz in connection with participation in the gatherings. At least 12 of these students (see Appendix 5) were detained at different times for several days before being released on payment of substantial bail. All are believed to have been released by 30 January. Some of the others summoned were not arrested, and others refused to attend on the grounds that they had been summoned by telephone and not by written order as is required by law. Charges brought against those who were summoned and later appeared before the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz are believed to include "acting against state security" and “insulting state officials”. During their detention they were reportedly not afforded access to their lawyers and their family members.

Said Razavi Faghih, a former spokesman of the student body, the Office for the Consolidation of Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), was arrested on 2 February 2009 shortly after returning from France where he had been studying. His passport had been seized at the airport when he returned on 27 January and he was informed that he had been banned from travel. He was told to appear before a branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, where he was arrested, and taken to Evin Prison. He had previously been detained briefly in 2002 during protests by students against the death sentence imposed on reformist cleric Dr Seyyed Hashem Aghajari and for 78 days in 2003, following further student protests, when Amnesty International took action on his behalf[8]. On 6 February, his lawyer said that while in France, Said Razavi Faghih had been sentenced in absentia to four years in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for “acting against state security” and “propaganda activities against the system” in connection with statements he made, including to meetings of students, in protest at Dr Hashem Aghajeri’s death sentence in 2003. His lawyer said that as he had not been informed previously of the sentence, the Office for the Implementation of Sentences had confirmed that it could be appealed against and he hoped that Said Razavi Faghih would soon be released.

Measures taken against Trade Unionists

The formation of independent trade union bodies, which was banned after the Islamic Revolution, remains prohibited in Iran and those who attempt to form such bodies risk detention and prosecution.

Ebrahim Madadi, the vice-president of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) was arrested on December 27, 2008. According to his lawyer, he was detained in Evin Prison to begin serving a three and a half year prison sentence imposed by Branch 14 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran after being convicted of "acting against national security" and "propaganda against the system". However, this verdict was never delivered in writing to Ebrahim Madadi or his lawyer, as is required by law. He was therefore not able to appeal against it. The judicial authorities apparently claim that Ebrahim Madadi was informed of this sentence verbally during a previous detention.

Bijan Amiri, a car industry worker and a member of the Workers' Mountain-climbing Board, was arrested in the Iran Khodrow Company factory on 22 December 2008 by the company’s security personnel, following a disagreement. He was then handed over to Ministry of Intelligence officials and was taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison. Mohsen Hakimi, a member of the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers' Organizations and a member of the Iranian Writers' Association, was detained later that same night at Bijan Amiri’s house after he had paid a visit following Bijan Amiri’s arrest. Security forces reportedly came to search Bijan Amiri’s house, interrogated everyone who was there, and then arrested Mohsen Hakimi when they saw his identity card, despite his protests. Mohsen Hakimi has previously been detained for his trade union activities. Bijan Amiri was released on a personal guarantee on 28 January 2009, and is likely to face future legal proceedings, but Mohsen Hakimi remains held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, apparently without access to family members or a lawyer.

At least five Board members of the newly-formed, but unrecognized Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company’s (HTSCC) Workers Syndicate - Ali Nejati, Feraydoun Nikofard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ghorban Alipour and Mohammad Haydarimehr - were tried on 20 December 2008 by the Revolutionary Court in Dezful, southern Iran, on the charge of “propaganda against the system”. They had been arrested in early October 2007, during strikes by the HTSCC workers in an attempt to gain four months of back payment which was owing to them, after which they were released on bail. No verdict is known to have been issued yet.


Release all prisoners of conscience and drop charges against any who are facing trial and who would be a prisoner of conscience if imprisoned;

Release any one else who is detained unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly in accordance with international fair trial standards and without resort to the death penalty;

Lift all travel bans imposed on persons for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;

Commute all death sentences and impose an immediate and comprehensive moratorium on executions, as a first step towards ending the use of this punishment;

Review legislation with a view to repealing or amending all vaguely-worded articles which can be used to restrict freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly, or which discriminate against women or members of ethnic, religious or other minorities;

Permit all individuals and groups to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including in ways which dissent from state policies and practices, in the run-up to the presidential election.

Appendix 1

List of names of 37 members of the Ahwazi Arab minority arrested following a demonstration against the Israeli military action in Gaza

1. Reza Ahmadi2. Tehran Ahmadi3. Hamid Bawi4. Ahmad Bani-Toruf5. Naseem Bani-Toruf6. Muhammad Janadeleh7. Amin Cheldawi8. Zalan Cheldawi9. Yousef Cheldwai10. Gahier Hamudi11. Rashid Haidari12. Fouad Haidari13. Faisal Haidari14. Mahmoud Haidari15. Hamzah Khasraji16. Mansour Daghagheleh17. Jaber Sa'duni18. Ya'ghub Sa'idawi19. Mansour Sawari20. Nasrallah Sawari21. Yasser Sawari22. Mahdi Taruf23. Rahim E'badi24. Dawud Abiat25. Ali-Pour Abiat26. Muhamamdali Abiat27. Abulamir Fazeli28. Bashir Kuroshat29. Amar Kuroshat30. Hammed Kan'ani31. Aziz Kan'ani32. Rasoul Muhammadi33. Baber Mansouri34. Ali Musawi35. Nasser Mahawi36. Ghazi Naisi37. Mustafa Naisi

Appendix 2
List of 14 members of the Kurdish minority sentenced to death in the last two years

1) Farzad Kamangar, a 32 year old teacher, was arrested by officers from the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran in 2006. He was initially held incommunicado at a series of locations, including in the cities of Kermanshah, Sanandaj and Tehran, where he was tortured, including by being beaten, flogged and electrocuted. He was sentenced to death in February 2008 after conviction of “enmity against God” – a charge levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state - apparently in connection with his alleged membership of the armed group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which carries out attacks in Turkey, after traces of explosive powder and a gun were found in a house he stayed in with his two co-accused and in a car that they had used. Farzad Kamangar denies any such membership. His trial was grossly flawed. Farzad Kamangar has been prohibited, on several occasions and for prolonged periods of time, from seeing his lawyer and family members. The two other men were also sentenced to death and to 10 years’ imprisonment, apparently for forging documents. Under Iranian law, they must serve their prison sentences before being executed. On 11 July 2008 Farzad Kamangar’s death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. However, his lawyer has submitted his case to a judicial review panel in an effort to have his death sentence overturned. Under Iranian law, death sentences cannot be carried out while under review. He is currently held in Reja’i Shahr Prison, in Karaj, west of Tehran.
2) Farhad Vakili, arrested with Farzad Kamangar, and also sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for forging documents which must be served before the execution can be carried out.
3) Ali Haydarian, arrested with Farzad Kamangar, and also sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for forging documents which must be served before the execution can be carried out.
4) Abdolvahed (Hiwa) Boutimar, an environmental activist was arrested in December 2006. His initial death sentence was overturned, but was reimposed after a retrial. Journalist Adnan Hassanpour, sentenced to death in the same case, had his death sentence after conviction of enmity against God overturned in September 2008 and is awaiting retrial for espionage and working for banned opposition groups.
5) Anvar Hossein Panahi, a teacher from Dehgalan, was arrested in late 2007 or early 2008, along with Arslan Oliya’i. He was transferred to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Ghorveh, where he is said to have been tortured, which left him in need of hospital treatment. He was sentenced to death for “enmity against God” on 12 July 2008 by the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, possibly in connection with membership of or support for Komala. He appealed against his sentence, but he was informed on 5 August 2008 that it had been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
6) Arslan Oliya’i, arrested alongside Anvar Hossein Panahi, was also sentenced to death for “enmity against God” on 12 July 2008, possibly in connection with membership of or support for Komala. He appealed against his sentence, but he was informed on 5 August 2008 that it had been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
7) Sherko Moarefi, originally from Baneh and previously a refugee in Iraq, was arrested on 1 or 2 October 2008 after he returned to Iran. Held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility where he was denied any visits from family or lawyer since his arrest, he was reported to have been sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in Saqqez for “enmity against God” in connection with his membership in a Kurdish opposition group, possibly PJAK. His lawyer reportedly said that Sherko Moarefi had not carried out any attacks against Iranian forces during his membership of the group, and had returned to Iran and handed himself over to security forces voluntarily.
8) Farhad Chalesh, believed to be a Turkish citizen, is believed to have been arrested in June 2008 during an armed clash with Iranian forces between the villages of Fakhur and Mirzakhalil. According to Fars News agency, two PJAK members, one with Turkish and one with Syrian nationality, were arrested at the time. He was injured in the clash and was taken to Arefian Hospital in Oromieh. In January 2009 he is said to have been sentenced to death for “enmity against God” for membership of PJAK.
9) Ramazan Ahmad, believed to be a Syrian citizen, captured alongside Farhad Chalesh and also injured in the clash with Iranian forces, was sentenced along with Farhad Chalesh for “enmity against God” inJanuary 2009 for membership of PJAK.
10) Rostam Arkia, from Maku, was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in Maku for “enmity against God” for membership of PJAK. The sentence has reportedly been confirmed by the Supreme Court. He is held in Maku prison. The dates of his arrest and trial are unknown to Amnesty International.
11) Habibollah Latifi, a 27-year-old law student at the Azad University of Ilam who is from Sanandaj, has been in detention since October 2007. His family were unaware of his location for the first nine days after his arrest, when they found him in hospital in Sanandaj, suffering internal bleeding, believed to be the result of torture. He was returned to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility after he had received medical treatment, where he was reportedly further tortured, including by being beaten and suspended upside down for a long period. This is said to have resulted in injuries to his head and further internal bleeding. He was sentenced to death by Sanandaj Revolutionary Court in July 2008 for “enmity against God” in connection with his alleged involvement in planting bombs and for links to PJAK. His trial was not open and neither his family, nor his lawyer, were allowed to attend.
12) Fasih (Fateh) Yasmini was arrested during clashes between PJAK and Iranian security forces in the village of Hendavan, near Khoy, in or around February 2008. It is not clear whether Fasih Yasmini was involved in these clashes or not. He was reportedly among a number of villagers arrested, including five girls, his father Hossein Yasmini, and another man Fahim Reza-Zadeh, who are said to have been taken to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Khoy, where Fasih Yasmini was reportedly tortured. His family had no news of him for about two months. Hossein Yasmini was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and Fahim Reza-Zadeh to 15 years’ imprisonment to be served in exile. Fasih Yasmini’s death sentence from the Khoy Revolutionary court is believed to have been upheld on appeal by Branch 10 of the Appeal Court of West Azerbaijan Province and by the Supreme Court.
13) Zeynab Jalalian (f), aged 27 from Maku, is said to have been sentenced to death in or around January 2009 by Kermanshah Revolutionary Court after eight months in detention in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility, during which her family had no information concerning her fate. She was convicted of “enmity against God” in connection with her alleged membership of, support for and recruitment to a Kurdish opposition party, possibly PJAK. She is reported not to have been granted access to her lawyer during her trial which is said to have lasted only a few minutes.
14) Esma’il Fattahian, from Kermanshah and a resident of Sanandaj, was detained in Kamyaran at some time between April and August 2008. Reports suggest that he may have been tortured in detention facilities in Kamyaran, Kermanshah and Sanandaj. Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment, to be served in Ramhormoz Prison in the province of Khuzestan, in a trial in which he was reportedly denied access to a lawyer. Both Esma’il Fattahian and the prosecutor appealed against this verdict, and in January 2009 it was reported that Branch 4 of the Kordestan Appeal Court had overturned the initial verdict, and instead sentenced him to death fpr “enmity against God” in connection with his membership of an illegal opposition group. Under Article 4 (2) of the Law of Appeals against Court Judgments, Appeal Courts can only increase sentences if the prosecution has appealed against the initial sentence.

Appendix 3
List of names of 18 Sunni members of the Azerbaijani minority arrested following a clash over water resources on 14 January 2009
1) Barzad Nezami Afshar
2) Mighdad Nizami Afshar
3) Sa’id Ja’farpur
4) Mohammad Samadzadeh
5) Bahram Qolozadeh
6) Nadali Qolozadeh
7) Nadali Alipour
8) Meraj Alipour
9) Heydar Alipour
10) Suleiman Ebrahimzadeh
11) Nasir Qolozadeh
12) Akbar Rostami
13) Eskandar Aslani
14) Allahverdi Aslani
15) Faramaz Ja’fari
16) Mohammed Ja’fari
17) Naqi A.
18) Davoud Sh.

Appendix 4
Partial list of relatives of members of the PMOI arrested on 16 January 2009

1) Sakineh Salimian Zahed,

2) Zohra Javadi

3) Ferdows Mahboubi

4) Ezzat Nouri

5) Fatemeh Sadeghi

6) Kobra Amirkhizi

7) Mrs Poureghbal

8) Mr Poureghbal

9) Parisa Poureghbal

10) Azizah Shafi'i-nia

11) Jamileh Mohammadzadeh

12) Kobra Baderi-roudi

13) Mr Bahrami

14) Atefeh Bahrami

and several members of the Reza'i family
Appendix 5

List of names of 12 students at Shiraz University detained after 2008 National Student Day Events (all were released by 30 January 2009)

1) Aboljalil Reza’i, arrested 3 January 2009

2) Kazem Reza’i, arrested 3 January 2009

3) Mohsen Zarinkamar, arrested 3 January 2009

4) Loghman Ghadir Goltapeh, arrested 3 January 2009

5) Ahmad Kohansal, arrested 10 January 2009

6) Enayat Taghva arrested 10 January 2009

7) Abbas Rahmati, arrested 10 January 2009

8) Sa’id Khal’atbari, arrested 10 January 2009

9) Arash Roosta’i, arrested 12 January 2009

10) Hadi Alamli, arrested 12 January 2009

11) Hamdollah Namju, arrested 13 January 2009

12) Alma Ranjbar (f), arrested 14 January 2009

[1] The political concept of the absolute authority of Velayat-e Faqih (leadership of the learned man) was developed by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was enshrined as part of the Iranian Constitution adopted in 1979, which stated that overall political authority lies with the Leader, who must not only possess the requisite political capability to lead, but must also be a holy and pious man, as well as an expert in Islamic Law and a marja-ye taqlid - a religious source of emulation for his followers. A 1989 amendment to the Constitution dropped the requirement for the leader to be a marja, but greatly enhanced the political powers of the Leader.
[2] Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran consider themselves to be Shi’a Muslims. This Sufi order describes Sufism as neither a religion nor a sect, but rather a way of life by which individuals – from any religion - may find God. See, for example, This is a website belonging to the Gonabadi Dervish order in Europe, which is headed by Dr Sayed Mostafa Azmayesh. In Iran, the Head of the Order is Dr Nour Ali Tabandeh,.who was forced to leave his home in Bidokht, the main centre of the order in Iran, in May 2007 and take up residency in Tehran. Several prominent clerics in Iran have issued fatwas attacking Sufis. For example Ayatollah Lankarani said in 2006 that Sufis were “misleading Iranian youth” and that “any contact with them was forbidden”.
[3] Al-e Yassin members describe the group as “an academic organization, formed from many different groups such as The Society of Professional Thinkers and Probers, the Al-e-Yassin Association of Interpreters, Writers and Instructors and the (Iranian) Nature Front Association”. They claim to publish various publications including: The Divine Cognition, The Motivators, The Arts of living, The Science of Success, The Journal of Esoteric Science, and The Art of Divine Living, among others. They claim some of these publications have been forcibly closed, that books by the group’s leader have been banned and that websites are filtered and the members of society are called to the Ministry of Security and Intelligence of Iran, on a regular basis. From communication to Amnesty International by email. Similar information can be seen at

[4] The group has claimed that the accusations levelled against Payman Fattahi during his arrest included religious heresy, Christian orientation, Spiritual Pluralism, Striving to unify Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, Propaganda, Conspiracy against the Islamic System, Religious Degeneration, and spreading spiritual liberalism and American Islamism.
[5] The Iranian authorities stated that four people had been killed (Press TV, 29 December 2008). Pakistani sources, when commenting on the subsequent closure of the international border between Saravan and Panjgur, stated that around 45 people had been killed,\12\30\story_30-12-2008_pg7_12 including 15 to 20 foreign nationals, including Afghans and Uzbeks, who were detained nearby after having entered the country illegally The PRMI claimed that 150 people had perished in the attack (PRMI statement published on various websites).
[7] The PMOI is an Iranian opposition group which participated in the Revolution of 1979 but was subsequently attacked by the Iranian authorities. Thousands of PMOI members were arrested, tortured and executed in the following years. In 1986, during the Iran-Iraq war, the PMOI based itself in Iraq and allied itself with the government of Saddam Hussein. Following the US-led military intervention in Iraq in 2003 about 3,400 members of the PMOI were disarmed by the US-led forces at Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s northern governorate of Diyala, where its members still reside. The current Iraqi administration has pledged to remove the PMOI from its territory.
[8] Please see Urgent Actions AI Index: MDE 13/023/2003, 10 July 2003; AI Index: MDE 13/024/2003, 31 July 2003; and AI Index: MDE 13/030/2003, 15 August 2003

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Sign Petition To Support Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists, Alieh Eghdam Doust and Nafiseh Azad

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Immediately Release Imprisoned Iranian Women’s Rights Activists

International Women’s Day is being welcomed on several fronts—by women’s rights activists and by those intent on impeding the Iranian women’s movement. It seems that women’s rights defenders have to greet pressure, prison, and heavy sentences, as the delight of commemorating International Women’s Day has been darkened by the sadness of the imprisonment of women’s rights activists—by the imprisonment of our colleagues.

These peaceful warriors of justice are being imprisoned at a time when their call for justice has slowly rendered progress and has softened the hard and unyielding core of unjust laws, so that women’s lack of rights in our country can slowly be remedied. The examples of the increased backlash are plentiful. The implementation of the sentence in the case of Alieh Eghdamdoust, a lonely woman on the verge of a cold season, who has sacrificed her life in a struggle for justice, means that she now has to spend three years in prison. Further, Nafiseh Azad, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, has been arrested and is now in Vozara Detention Center for the mere act of collecting signatures and working to raise women’s awareness. These are only two of the real examples of the increased pressures placed on women’s rights activists.

Alieh Eghdamdoust is one of the women’s rights activists arrested in the June 12, 2006 protest in support of women’s rights in Hafte Tir Square in Tehran. She was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment and 20 lashings in her original trial and in appeals three years of her prison sentence was upheld. On January 31, 2009 she was transferred under guard from Fouman City in the north of Iran, to Evin prison in Tehran, in such a manner that she wasn’t even able to contact her friends, so they could accompany her to prison. Alieh Eghdamdoust is the first woman’s rights activist to have her prison sentence implemented. Does this mark the end of peaceful activism by women’s rights defenders?

Nafiseh Azad, one of the activists of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested on January 30, 2009 in the Tochal Mountains north of Tehran along with two other activists while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition. Despite the simultaneous arrest of these three activists two of them were released on a third party guarantee within a day, but Nafiseh, who was arrested because she tried to support her two colleagues by requesting that the police release them, has been detained and interrogated for several days in Vozara Detention Center since. The charges against her and the subject of her interrogations do not correspond with the reason for her arrest, and as such constitute clear violations of the law and her civil rights. Meanwhile security forces have stormed the home of Nafiseh Azad and violently searched her premises, seizing personal property.

These excessive actions against women’s rights activists occur despite the fact that their actions and activities are absolutely legal and in accordance with the constitution and in line with their civil rights.

We, the signatories of this petition, strongly demand an end to these illegal and violent actions against women’s rights activists and in particular those involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign. Additionally, we urge Iranian authorities to drop all charges against women’s rights defenders and immediately release those imprisoned. We further demand that instead of resorting to illegal actions against women’s rights defenders, Iranian officials, lawmakers, and the judiciary take positive and proactive steps to reexamine and reform discriminatory laws against women.

Sign the Online Petition

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Violent Search of Nafiseh Azad's Home and Seizure of Property

Change for Equality: February 3, 2009: Security Officials from the Special Security Branch of the Office of the Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Courts stormed the home of imprisoned Campaign member and women's rights activist Nafiseh Azad and seized her personal property as well as the property of her housemates. During this search and seizure operation officials violently beat Elnaz Ansari, another member of the Campaign and Nafiseh's housemate and beat and handcuffed Vahid Maleki (Nafiseh's husband).

Nafiseh is a graduate student and lives with Elnaz Ansari and Aida Saadat, her two housemates in Tehran. Her husband has come to Tehran from Isfahan to follow the case of his wife, who was imprisoned on Friday January 30, 2009, while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign's petition. During this violent search and seizure operation, three officials from the Revolutionary Courts confiscated Nafiseh Azad's personal property as well as the lap top of Elnaz Ansari and documents belonging to Aida Saadat.

Elnaz Ansari's objections to the security officials with respect to the search of her property and seizure of her laptop computer resulted in violence. Security officials forcefully took these items from Elnaz. Mr. Maleki, who attempted to prevent the beating of Elnaz Ansari by the security officials, was beaten as well and then handcuffed for the remainder of the time, while security agents continued with their violent search and seizure of Azad's home.

It is important to note that the court order allowing for the search of the premises and the seizure of property explicitly stated that only property belonging to Nafiseh Azad and in relation to the Campaign should be searched and seized. The property that was seized in direct violation of this court order included a large quantity of films, books, personal notebooks, and work related papers of Nafiseh's housemates, as well as Elnaz Ansari's laptop computer.

Elan Ansari explains the events as follows: "When the officials came to our house, I explained that Aida and I were housemates with Nafiseh. Because the court order allowed them to only search Nafiseh's property, Vahid, Nafiseh's husband, took the officials to Nafiseh's room and identified her property. While the search was taking place I got a phone call on my mobile phone, which I answered. One of the security officers demanded that I hang up the phone, and when I refused, he threatened me, lurched towards me and attacked me. Vahid Maleki intervened to try to prevent the security official from beating me. As a result he too was beaten and then handcuffed."

Elnaz continued by explaining that: "the security officials then confiscated my mobile phone by force and violence and then my laptop while beating me. Despite my insistence that the laptop belonged to me and despite the fact that I showed them that the documents in the laptop were in fact in my name, they still confiscated my laptop. I kept insisting that neither my name nor Aida's name had been mentioned in the court order. So, I kept asking for a court order for the search of my belonging and the seizure of my property. Nafiseh's husband had also gone to great lengths on the way over to our home to explain our living situation. In response the security officials had promised him that they would only search Nafiseh's belongings and that they would not seize any property. While confiscating my property as well as Aida's the security officials continued beating Nafiseh Azad's husband, despite the fact that he had been handcuffed."
She explains further: "the security officials ransacked our home, all the while cursing, and insulting us. They took DVDs, CDs, handwritten documents which I was typing as part of a project unrelated to the Campaign, and they took bags belonging to Nafiseh, Aida and myself. All this occurred despite the fact that the court order explicitly stated that they should only take documents related to Campaign and belonging to Nafiseh Azad."

Nafiseh Azad was arrested while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign's petition along with two other members of the Campaign, on January 30, 2009. While the other two members were released within a day on a third party guarantee, the arrest order for Nafiseh Azad was extended. She is now in detention in Vozara Detention Center and being interrogated, as the investigation into her activities in the Campaign and in defense of women's rights continues.


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