Thursday, March 26, 2009


Campaign for One Million Signatures Honored with an Award for Global Women's Rights by Feminist Majority Foundation


Source: Feminist School, Tehran

Each year the feminist majority foundation awards prominent women rights activists. Campaign for one million signatures is one of the winners of this year (2009) award. The award is for the demands and activities to end discriminatory laws against women in Iran.

The One Million Signatures Campaign launched by Iranian women's rights activists on August 27, 2006, aims to collect one million signatures in support of a petition addressed to the Iranian Parliament asking for the revision of current laws which discriminate against women. Which should bring about a provision for education on legal issues to the public and especially to women, raise public awareness, promote collaboration between groups demanding equality between men and women.

Some of the winners from previous years are Dr. Sima Samar from Afghanistan ,Yanar Mohammad from Iraq.

Four of the Nobel peace Prize Laureates: Shirin Ebadi (2003) of Iran, Jody Williams (1997) of the United States, Betty Williams (1997) of Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992) of Guatemala won the prize together in 2006.

last year the prestigious award was given to Mr .Dr. Solomon Orero from Kenya and María Luisa Sánchez Fuentes from Mexico and Dr. Nafis Sadik from Pakistan .

The award inspired in Eleanor Roosevelt's memory for human rights and peace work, which signifies international solidarity and recognition and it does not include a monetary prize.

The Feminist Majority foundation was founded in 1987 by prominent women's rights activist Eleanor Smeal , the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) is the nation's largest feminist research and action organization dedicated to women's equality, right for abortion, and against violence. Among the activities of the Feminist Majority Foundation are its advocacy for election of women to public offices and campaigns for pro women's rights legislation. Among legislation that this foundation has successfully helped pass are the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and a ruling on purchasing of Guns by those who have committed domestic violence. The Feminist Majority Foundation also continues to advocate for ratification of CEDAW and the International Criminal Court.

The Feminist Majority Foundation was one of the five principle organizers of the historical march on April 25 2007 (called "March for Women's Lives"). On this day more than a million men and women marched in Washington DC in support of reproductive rights and criticized some of George Bush's anti-woman policies.

The Feminist Majority Foundation was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for its campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno, to bring the world's attention to the Taliban regime's crimes against women and girls.

Members of the Feminist Majority Foundation have stood in solidarity with the Iranian women's rights activists several times in the past, for example in 2007, when 33 women's rights activists were arrested in front of Tehran Revolutionary Court in Iran, Feminist Majority Foundation held a virtual march in their support where many added their names to the online website demanding the release of the activists.

About "One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws"
Iranian women's rights activists are initiating a wide campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign, "One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws," which aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women, is a follow-up effort to the peaceful protest of the same aim, which took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. Preparation activities in support of this campaign commenced in June of 2006 and the campaign will be officially launched on August 27, during a seminar entitled: "The Impact of Laws on Women's Lives."

Background Information

Campaign Description: Iranian law considers women to be second class citizens and promotes discrimination against them. It is noteworthy that legal discrimination of this type is being enforced in a society where women comprise over 60% of those being admitted to university. It is generally believed that laws should promote social moderation by being one step ahead of cultural norms. But in Iran the law lags behind cultural norms and women's social position and status.

Without a doubt, women of lower socio-economic status or women from religious and ethic minority groups suffer disproportionately from legal discrimination. These unjust laws have promoted unhealthy and unbalanced relationships between men and women and as a result have had negative consequences on the lives of men too. On the other hand, the Iranian government is a signatory to several international human rights conventions, and accordingly is required to bring its legal code in line with international standards. The most important international human rights standard calls for elimination of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Campaign believes the best way to achieve its aims is to provide training and information to people; hence information in terms of publications on the laws and its negative effect in our lives have been provided. The campaign started with a few volunteers and in a very short time the numbers of volunteers grew, and now we have volunteers in 30 different cities in Iran and something in the region of 10 different countries . more than 40 workshops have been organised in Tehran and more than 30 in different cities The more people's support increases the more the government's repression increases too, 3 month after campaign launch the first arrestee was in Tehran metro during collection of signatures by a young Girl activist, and since then 63 of campaign activists have been arrested and on average 3 times each activist arrested and interrogated. The government uses every opportunity to arrest or threat the activists, their phones are tapped and under the guise of national security campaign members are stopped from gathering together so much so that the activists are not allowed to have a meeting if they are more than 5 to 6 people, the web sites are constantly filtered and have no right to any of the media in the country or to be mentioned by name.

But with all the hardship and limitation caused by the government the campaign continues its struggle and is hopeful in changing the discriminatory laws. Even though in the short time the resolution for equal inheritance has gone to parliament for ratification and also the equality in blood money for murder for women and men. all the campaigners believe that we should move forward with peaceful means and one day we will see equality in all humanity even though it will take a long time.

Read more about the campaign:

The Simone de Beauvoir Prize(2009) is Awarded to the Campaign for One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws

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Shirin Ebadi shares Roland Berger Human Dignity Award with Reporters Without Borders


Reporters Without Borders and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel peace laureate,have been chosen as the winners of this year's Roland Berger Human Dignity Award.

This prize is awarded by the Munich-based Roland Berger Foundation (Roland Berger Stiftung), which was founded in 2008 by Roland Berger, emeritus professor of business administration and management consulting also founder and chairman of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.
This is the second year the Foundation has awarded this prize, which includes a grant of 1 million euros and which aims to promote "peaceful cooperation in the world" and to encourage individuals and institutions working to promote human dignity and human rights.

This year, the Roland Berger Foundation has decided to award 900,000 euros to Reporters Without Borders to honour its continuing struggle on behalf of press freedom, and 100,000 euros to Shirin Ebadi, who is currently the target of renewed strong pressure aimed at crushing her activities in defence of human rights.

"It is an enormous honour for us to receive this prestigious prize," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard said. "It rewards the work of an organisation which, since its creation by Robert Menard nearly 25 years ago, has been defending press freedom wherever it is threatened. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Berger for expressing his confidence in us in this manner. I am also very grateful to all those who work for Reporters Without Borders in France and throughout the world including Germany, where the Roland Berger Foundation is based." Julliard added: "The money that accompanies this award is the most important grant Reporters Without Borders has ever received and will enable us to reinforce our direct support for persecuted journalists and their families and to extend the assistance we offer to independent media struggling to survive in repressive countries."

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Monday, March 23, 2009


URI: We welcome Obama’s Nowruz Message

March 23, 2009

United Republicans of Iran:
We welcome Obama’s Nowruz Message

President Barak Obama’s Nowruz message is a welcoming start toward restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and the United States. In his message, he emphasized the importance of dialogue based on honesty and mutual respect.

The United Republicans of Iran is well aware of the difficulties accumulated over the years due to lack of relationship, but we believe both sides must show their willingness to talk based on mutual interests.

As expected, Iran’s’ supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei’s responded by demanding action and not words. His response was in no way indicative of their willingness to talk to resolve their differences.

We believe that President Obama’s message is an important step to de-escalate tension and towards re-establishment of ties. We urge the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran to set aside the old rhetoric of the United States’ hidden agenda and to give a clear positive response to its readiness to sit and talk with the United States of America.

It is in Iran’s national interest to have a normal relation with all the members of the United Nations, to end hostilities with the United States and to have a respected position in the communities of nations.

We therefore welcome the president’s message as a right step to end the difficulties of the two countries.

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Friday, March 20, 2009


Iran: Investigate Death of Political Prisoner

Iran: Investigate Death of Political Prisoner

Evidence Points to Medical Neglect, Possible Beatings by Guards

March 19, 2009

(New York) - Iranian authorities should promptly investigate the death of Amir Hossein Heshmat Saran, a 49-year-old prisoner at Gohardasht prison, and provide full disclosure about his medical care while in custody, Human Rights Watch said today. Saran died at the Rajayi Shahr public hospital in Karaj on March 6, 2009, after five years in detention. His is the third known death of a political prisoner at Gohardasht in the last three years.

"The government of Iran needs to conduct an impartial investigation into the suspicious death of Amir Hossein Heshmat Saran," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division. "It should include his relatives in the process, make the results public, and hold accountable anyone found responsible for any mistreatment or medical negligence."

Saran's wife, Elaheh, told Human Rights Watch that on the morning of March 5, one of Saran's four cellmates in Section 2, cell 5 of Gohardasht prison called her, using a prison calling-card telephone, to say that Saran had taken ill the previous night and was taken to the prison health center. When she contacted the prison health center, she was told he had been transferred to nearby Rajayi Shahr Hospital's intensive care unit (ICU). She was able to visit him at the ICU for about 15 minutes. She said that he appeared to be in a coma "with just one eye open," his hands and feet shackled to the ICU bed. The whiteboard above his bed indicated that he was being hospitalized for "neurological illness."

The next morning, March 6, Elaheh Saran again went to the ICU to visit her husband. When she arrived, hospital personnel informed her that he had died. "The medical specialist who treated him told me he had brain hemorrhaging, and a lung infection which had spread throughout his body, that he should have been brought in sooner" she told Human Rights Watch. "They took him there when he was practically dead."

During a visit 10 days prior to his death, his wife said, his body appeared to be swollen, which he again attributed to lack of physical activity. He had fallen into a brief coma previously on February 26. After the first coma, the prison doctor took the unusual step of requiring a signature from Saran himself in order to administer an unidentified medicine in powder form.

Saran's lawyer, Mohammad Reza Faghihi, told Human Rights Watch that he and Saran's family immediately filed an official complaint with Branch 21 of the Karaj Appellate Court calling for an investigation into the suspicious nature of his death.

Authorities arrested Saran in 2004, and the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 16 years in prison for his political activities, including participation in Iran Students' Day demonstrations, and for setting up a group called the National United Front (jebhe-yeh etehaad-e melli) which advocated for a more democratic Iran.

At the beginning of his detention, Saran wrote extensively about the prison conditions and, with the help of members of the National United Front, distributed this information to Iranian satellite channels in the United States as well as to websites.

Saran's wife said that he and his cellmates, Afshin Baymani, Behrooz Javidtehrani, and Karami Kheyrabadi, who were also political prisoners, had been attacked in prison, once by other prisoners and then "many times" later by prison guards, and had announced on the day before he was taken to the hospital that they would go on a hunger strike to protest bad prison conditions - including sanitary and health issues, lack of physical activity, and lack of proper lighting. "I heard from his friends that they were attacked by 30 prison guards that night in order to prevent them from going on hunger strike," she told Human Rights Watch.

Elaheh Saran told Human Rights Watch that throughout her husband's detention, she had been able to visit him every 15 days for 20 minutes and he never seemed ill until two months ago, when he complained that he had pain in his leg from a lack of physical activity. According to his lawyer, he did have a history of heart problems, though, which, coupled with information his family had received about the assaults he had suffered in prison, had led them to make repeated requests for medical leave for him over the years. Prison officials denied the requests.

Following Saran's death, his family received permission to take possession of his body for burial. They intended to bury him at a cemetery in their home town of Shahriar. At 6:30 a.m. on March 8, an ambulance driver from the mortuary where Saran's body was being held came to the Saran family home and said that the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran had ordered that the body be moved to another mortuary some distance away.

"Three men from the Ministry of Intelligence later came to our home and told us that they would not give us his body because we made Saran's death too public on the internet and other places," Elaheh Saran told Human Rights Watch. "They said they could either bury him on their own anywhere or we could bury him ourselves, but we must tell all his political friends who have been visiting us not to come to the funeral." Eventually, the Saran family held a private funeral with immediate family members only and buried him in the Sakineh cemetery, where the body had been moved, a 40-minute drive from their hometown.

During Saran's five-year detention, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security repeatedly refused his family's requests for outside medical care, with the exception of a 15-day medical leave in September 2006. During Saran's absence, another political prisoner, Valiollah Faiz-Mahdavi, a former member of the Mojaheddin-e Khalgh organization (MKO) and Saran's cellmate, died after a nine-day hunger strike without medical attention ( ). In October 2008, Abdolreza Rajabi, another political prisoner and former member of the MKO at Gohardasht, died unexpectedly, one day after being transferred from Tehran's Evin prison.

"There is clearly an alarming pattern of political prisoners dying in detention at Gohardasht prison," Stork said. "The Iranian government has an obligation to investigate these deaths and take measures to ensure that prisoners are not mistreated or denied medical attention."

A blogger being held in Evin prison, Omid Reza Mirsayafi, died on March 18 after lack of proper medical treatment, raising additional concerns about the treatment and medical access of political prisoners in Iran.

Under the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, prisoners who require outside medical treatment should be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009


Iran: Illegal Detention of Iranian-American Journalist

Iran: Illegal Detention of Iranian-American Journalist

Despite Assurances of Prompt Release, Roxana Saberi Remains in Detention Without Charge

March 13, 2009

(New York) - Iranian officials are unlawfully detaining the Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi by holding her without charge, Human Rights Watch said today. Saberi has been in detention without charge since January 30, 2009, in the political prisoners' section of Tehran's Evin prison. Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian authorities to immediately release the journalist they promised to free, or immediately bring her before a judge to review her detention in a public hearing, with the power to order her release.

Saberi, a 31-year-old journalist whose work was broadcast for networks including NPR, BBC, and FOX, was the Tehran bureau chief for Feature Story News (FSN) when she was detained in January. Her father, Reza Saberi, says that authorities alleged that she had purchased wine, against the law in Iran, a year ago. However, after six weeks of detention, she has not been charged with any crime.
"The constitution of Iran guarantees free speech, yet the government continues to detain journalists without charge for doing their jobs," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "In fact, Iran continues to be one of the biggest jailers of journalists worldwide."
Saberi, a dual Iranian-American citizen whose father is Iranian and mother is Japanese, has lived in Iran for the past six years. Her family said she was also pursuing a master's degree at the University of Public Relations (daneshkadehyeh ravabeteh omoomi), an English-language university in Tehran. She is the latest in a series of people with dual American and Iranian citizenship detained while visiting or working in Iran.
Iran is violating its own laws and international laws to which it is a signatory by detaining Saberi without charge, and - until the case received international attention - without access to a lawyer or her family, Human Rights Watch said.
Saberi was in daily contact with her family in Fargo, North Dakota, until an email and phone call on January 31 went unanswered. On February 10, her father said, Saberi called her parents at about 3 a.m. Fargo time, speaking "under stress and tense" for less than two minutes. She told him, in English, that Iranian authorities had detained her for purchasing alcohol, then abruptly hung up. She then called back two minutes later and pleaded with her parents not to take any action because prison officials had told her they would release her in a few days.
"Then we waited to see if we would hear anything, and we didn't," her father told Human Rights Watch. "At the end of February, we decided that we had waited enough, so we talked to NPR and from then it became public."
On March 3, Ali Reza Jamshidi, a spokesperson for Iran's Judiciary, confirmed Saberi's detention, stating that, "The arrest took place on a writ issued by the Revolutionary Court." Jamshidi further stated that authorities had detained Saberi because of her unspecified "illegal activities" and would release her within a few days, but she remains in detention. The Saberi family then contacted a lawyer, Samad Khorramshahi, who agreed to represent her.
Khorramshahi had his first opportunity to meet Saberi on March 8, over six weeks after her arrest, at a visit arranged at a courthouse in Tehran. Reza Saberi said the lawyer reported that his daughter "appeared depressed" but was heartened to discover that her family was making efforts toward her release and that her situation had received international attention. On March 10, another visit was arranged for Khorramshahi, this time at Evin prison itself. Her father said that was the first time that the lawyer had concrete confirmation that they were indeed holding Saberi in Section 209, the political prisoners' section. It appeared to the lawyer that she was being held in a cell with several other female political prisoners.
In the early hours of March 9, prison officials allowed Saberi her second brief supervised call to her family in North Dakota. Saberi stated that her situation was "psychologically challenging" but that physically she was fine, Reza Saberi told Human Rights Watch.
On March 10, representatives from the BBC, FOX, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and FSN wrote a letter on Saberi's behalf, urging that Iran provide access to Saberi.
The Iranian code of criminal procedure requires the government to inform individuals of the charges against them within 24 hours of their arrest and to provide access to a lawyer. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran ratified in 1975, says that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention. It goes on to require that anyone arrested shall be informed "promptly" of any charges against them, and shall be brought promptly before a judge. Anyone unlawfully arrested or detained should have an enforceable right to compensation.
Saberi's case is one of several over the past few years involving Iranian-American dual nationals. In 2007, security forces detained three scholars with dual citizenship for months before freeing them. The detentions are part of a broad crackdown against journalists, writers, scholars and activists by Iranian intelligence officials based in the country's Information Ministry. The government also has increasingly brought security charges based merely on an individual's connections to foreign institutions, persons, or sources of funding, alleging that they undermine national security.
Human Rights Watch has documented extensive patterns of forced confessions, arbitrary detentions, and prison torture against opposition journalists, political activists, and anyone perceived as a critic
( ).

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Friday, March 13, 2009


Union movement urges intervention over escalating repression in Iran

12 March 2009

The global trade union movement is pressing the International Labour Organization (ILO) for action in response to a growing tide of oppression against trade unionists in Iran.

Representatives of the ITF, Education International, the International Union of Food Workers and the International Trade Union Confederation made the appeal in a letter to the ILO’s director-general, Juan Somavia, on 9 March. In it they expressed concern over “an escalating pattern of arrests and intimidation of trade unionists in Iran”. They had “reason to fear for the physical and the psychological wellbeing and even the lives of the latest victims of state repression.” That was why they believed the ILO’s intervention was necessary.

The group referred to the latest wave of repression against the Haft Tapeh union, which represents some 5000 sugar cane plantation workers. Five of the union’s elected members had been charged with acting against national security following a strike over unpaid wages and were awaiting a verdict. Three others including the union’s president, Ali Nejati, had also been arrested. All except Nejati had been released.

The unionists also highlighted how teacher, Farzad Kamangar, currently in Evin Prison had received the death penalty and expressed alarm over reports that two executive board members of the Tehran bus workers’ union, the Vahed Syndicate, had last month been summoned by the secret police. They reminded Somavia that the union’s president, Mansour Osanloo and vice-president Ebrahim Madadi were both still in prison.

New incidences of harassment of other labour and human rights activists were regularly being reported, they said.

They urged the ILO to intervene to secure the release of Ali Nejati, Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi and others. They also asked the organization to impress on the Iranian authorities that Kamangar’s case should be revisited and that any plans for an execution should be called off. It should, in addition, demand that charges against the Haft Tapeh workers be dropped and full legal guarantees ensured.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Verdict of the International Criminal Court must be respected

March 10, 2009

United Republicans of Iran

Verdict of the International Criminal Court must be respected.

Arrest Warrant of Al Bashir is a step to end genocide in Darfur

Following the arrest warrant issued by the international Criminal Court against the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, charging him for crime against humanity and genocide of the people of Darfur, Islamic Republic of Iran was among those nations objecting this verdict and dispatched the speaker of Majlis to Sudan to convey in person its opposition.

International Criminal Court, an independent international court was formed to bring to justice those committing mass killings and war hence violating international legal laws. Omar Al Bashir, the President of Sudan, is charged with ordering the mass killing of innocent people of Darfur and its government not only has not arrested or prosecuted those committing these crimes, but rather they have been appointed to different ministerial positions.

According to reports by various credible human rights organizations, violation of human rights in Darfur is beyond denial. So far, hundreds of thousands of residents of this region have been brutally murdered by armed groups supported by the government and millions more have become homeless and living in difficult conditions in various refugee camps. All attempts by international community to end the suffrage of these people have been blocked by the government of Sudan aided by china and dictator governments that are members of African Union.

The arrest warrant of Al Bashir is an attempt to end and to bring to public attention this tragedy. The Islamic Republic of Iran, by openly declaring its opposition to such verdict has disregarded its own signature to the documents that formed the International court at the Hague. The question is why the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran support the genocide in Darfur? For what reason they openly support and back someone accused of war crime? What interest lies behind this move?

The United Republicans of Iran support the decision by the International Criminal Court to issue the arrest warrant of Mr. Al Bashir and believes such crimes against humanity by anyone in any capacity and position in any country must be condemned and anyone committing such crimes must be brought to justice in a court of law.

Members of the United Nations must adhere to the international organizations and assist in enforcing its orders.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009


Call for release of the US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi

4 March 2009

Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the detention of Roxana Saberi, a journalist with American and Iranian dual citizenship. The date of her arrest and exactly where she is being held are not yet known.

“Saberi’s arrest is a violation of both Iranian law and international legal standards,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Her lawyers must be told the reasons for her detention and must be allowed to visit her. We urge the Iranian authorities to say what charges have been brought against her and to release her pending an investigation, as laid down in the law.”

Saberi’s arrest was revealed by National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States on 1 March as a result of a call it received from her father on 10 February. The day after the NPR report, the Iranian authorities confirmed she was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison but did not say what she was charged with, although foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said she had been working “illegally” in Iran.

Judicial authority spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said at a press conference yesterday that she had been “arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is now in detention in Evin prison,” adding that he did not know in which section of the prison she was located.
Born and brought up in the United States, Saberi has lived for the past six years in Iran, where worked as a stringer for NPR from 2002 to 2006. She also worked for the BBC and Fox News.
Her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders that she has not worked for the media since 2006. She did not have access to news and information as she did not have press accreditation. “Her writings were just personal notes and comments about cultural and literary subjects with a view to writing a book about Iran,” he said, adding that “she had been concentrating since 2006 on studying Farsi and Iranian culture at a Tehran university.”

It is very common in Iran for journalists and bloggers to be arrested arbitrarily and held in unknown locations. Blogger Hossein Derakhshan, for example, has been held in an unknown location since 1 November. His arrest was confirmed by Jamshidi, the judicial authority spokesman on 30 December, after it had already been reported in the media. At his press conference yesterday, Jamshidi said he had “no precise information on the subject of Hossein Derakhshan.”

Several Iranian journalists working for international news media have been interrogated by intelligence ministry agents since December and held in unknown locations. They have been accused of spying and working illegally despite having accreditation. Several of them reported being physically mistreated during interrogation. They and their families are constantly harassed.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Amnesty International new Nowruz Action

Dear Friends:

This year, for the first time, Amnesty International USA is doing a Nowruz Action. We are encouraging people to send Nowruz greetings to two prisoners of conscience in Iran, Mansour Ossanlu and Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand. Both are in poor health and both are serving prison sentences for their peaceful human rights activism. The action is attached and is also on the Iran page of the AIUSA web site. Please also see the posting on the persecution of women activists in Iran--including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi--on the Amnesty International USA blog. Please leave your comments and suggestions if you wish. The site is at: Thank you.

Best wishes,
Elise Auerbach
Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist
Nowruz Action
کارزار نوروز

The Persian holiday Nowruz نوروز (“new day”) is an ancient holiday celebrated on the first day of spring to welcome in the new year. On this Nowruz we want to remember two courageous prisoners of conscience in Iran with Nowruz greetings. We ask you to send cards with simple Nowruz greetings such as “Nowruz mobarak” نوروز مبارک

You can say “thinking of you at Nowruz time” or “hoping you are well.” You may send a greeting in either English or Farsi (Persian) but please do not mention Amnesty International or specifics of the recipient’s case. Please also refrain from mentioning the political situation, human rights or U.S.-Iran relations. We suggest sending cards with pictures of landscapes, spring flowers or the like, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday and the message of hope and renewal. Please do not choose cards that have pictures of people unless they are very conservatively dressed, and please do not use cards that depict bottles of wine or other alcoholic beverages.

These two prisoners of conscience have been identified by Amnesty International as “individuals at risk” and are therefore targeted for intensified campaigning. Both have been sentenced to long prison terms for their peaceful activism and both are in poor health.

Mansour Ossanlu is the leader of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Syndica Sherkat-e Vahed). He is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for “acts against national security.” The charges stem from his peaceful work to obtain better conditions for workers in Iran and to end discriminatory laws and practices that curtail workers’ rights in Iran. He had been arrested and detained several times and severely beaten in custody.

He had originally been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison but in August 2008 he was transferred to Rajaei prison in the city of Karaj which houses criminals convicted of violent crimes. Rajaei prison is far from his wife and family who have not been able to visit him very often.

He has suffered from serious medical problems, including retinal damage resulting from beatings he received during a previous detention. Although he was permitted to undergo emergency eye surgery in October 2007, his health condition is still a concern. He has not been allowed to receive the medical care he needs. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience who is being detained on vaguely worded charges in order to halt his efforts to build strong trades unions capable of defending the human rights of workers.

You can send a greeting for Mansour Ossanlu to his wife Parvaneh at:

Iran, Tehran
Golbarg-e Gharbi
(Janbazan-e Gharbi)
Taqate’ Maseyl-e Bakhtar
Sar-e Koucheh Shahid Ali Akbar Amiri
Plak 343, Tabaqe avval
Khaneye Ossanlu

Mansour Ossanlu
First floor, Number 343
Shahid Ali Akbar Amiri Alley
Western Water Barrier Crossroads (or: Maseyl-e Bakhtar Crossroads)
(Janbazan West)
Golbarg West, Tehran, Iran

In Persian:
گلبرگ غربی(جانبازان غربی)تقاطع مسیل باخترسر کوچه شهید علی اکبر امیریپلاک 343طبقه اول


Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, an Iranian Kurdish journalist and founder and Chair of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), has been detained in Section 209 of Evin Prison since his arrest on 1 July 2007. In May 2008 he was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. He was accused of “acting against state security,” “propaganda against the system,” and “cooperating with groups opposed to the system.” Amnesty International is concerned that he is being held solely for the peaceful expression of his ideas.

Until 2004, he was the editor of a weekly newspaper Payam-e Mardom-e Kordestan, which carried articles promoting the cultural, social and political rights of Iran's Kurdish minority. Payam-e Mardom-e Kordestan was issued with a three-year ban by Iran’s judiciary on 27 June 2004 for “disseminating separatist ideas and publishing false reports” and has not re-opened since. He was arrested on the day the publication ban on his newspaper expired.

Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand has suffered from poor health and medical neglect since his detention. He apparently suffered a heart attack on 17 December 2008 and was not provided with adequate treatment. In May 2008, he collapsed in prison and was unconscious for about 30 minutes.

You can send a greeting to Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand at:

Khanume Parnaz Hassani
Tehran- Khiyaban e Roudaki, Koocheh Khajou
Fariee Naiem, Pelak e 42,
Tabaghe dovom, Tehran 1346754485

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Sunday, March 01, 2009


Iran's New Internet Attacks on Dissenters

A committee drawn from the Ministry of Intelligence, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the High Council of Cultural Revolution, and the ministries of Communication, and Islamic Guidance and Culture are responsible for the filtering and banning activity.

Reportedly, more than 5 million sites have been banned in Iran, including political, entertainment, scientific, adult, photography, sharing, and social networking venues.
The filtering has also affected some religious Shiite sites, based on some Fatwa content featuring Islamic guidance on sex and marriage. The committee's software is able to seek these words out, send the sites to a blacklist, and filter/ban them. Ironically, and on a slightly humorous note, the very same filtering system also banned content from some highly respected Ayatollahs who then cried, "Why have you filtered my Web site?"

However, since last month something has definitely changed. Some of the most popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Youtube, among others, are now slightly accessible, but not without severe repercussions for their use.

At the same time, a new and virulent wave of Internet attacks against many journalists and activists inside and outside of Iran has begun to emerge.

Last week, by chance, I noticed there is another Omid Habibinia on Facebook who has not only added my close friends and colleagues, but also my little sister. Strangely, the fake ID holder added a Swiss girl who I have spoken with and has contacted her several times to know if she can play in a docudrama about a Swiss girl who has an online friend from Iran.

I am also aware that fake ID holders have contacted other friends and asked some "strange questions."

Facebook makes an ideal platform for intelligence agents in Iran to infiltrate social networks, where they can hack information, locate events, addresses and monitor their subjects.

I have learned that my Gmail account has previously been accessed without my permission, and the persons responsible knew every contact, place and idea that I shared with others, including the re-launch of a well-known Web site that was put online about five years ago called Freedom of Expression (Azadi e Bayan). It was the first site to support Ahamad Batebi, who was kidnapped during his leave from jail after his meeting in Tehran with Ambeyi Ligabo, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' special rapporteur on freedom of expression in November 2003. The site also supported all journalists, artists, intellectuals and bloggers who were facing danger within the Islamic Republic.

Another kind of attack was recently perpetrated by "special hackers" against Balatarin, the Persian version of

The hackers stole the owners' IDs of this popular site, including a well-known news source in Iran. The information gleaned was used to try and hack into their bank accounts. At the same time, Balatarin was ordered to reformat their servers, making it more difficult to discover the identities of the hackers. This Web site draws more than 250,000 pageviews per day and is used as a source for following news, even among journalists.

During recent weeks, many Iranian journalists and prominent bloggers have claimed that their IDs were closed by Facebook, due to being reported for insulting or even pornographic content.
The same trick has also been used on other bloggers. Some, who use providers outside of Iran, are reported on by agents and requests are made to the blog providers for closure or to have a warning sign placed before a visitor can access the content. The complaint is that these blogs are an insult to religion or pornographically offensive. I know some bloggers who only post their usual poems on their blogs, which most of the time are neither blasphemies or erotic, but have still incurred an online warning message.

The same thing is happening on Youtube. Many demonstrations and protests in Iran are captured by mobile phones and shared on the video-sharing site. However, some of the videos have been removed because of the pressure placed on Youtube through the report of supposed insults. Some gaffs by Iranian leaders or by TV presenters are also sometimes removed by Youtube. It is clear when in a two-day period, 200 reports are received asking for the removal of certain videos, that site administrators might follow suit.

However, it seems obvious that most of these e-mails and reports came from a specific place in Tehran.

Non-conformist Iranian bloggers are now facing a new form tyranny from information and intelligence insiders on the Internet. It is hard to know who is who. I am not sure if Shirin is the Shirin who was a former colleague on TV, or if she is a fake. The strange thing is when I message her on Facebook I get the wrong answer or no answer. I always ask some personal questions about a given person's past to ascertain their true identity, but who knows if the hackers have access to background details and can correctly answer the questions?

In less than six months there is going to be another round of elections in Iran and it seems that this coordinated attack on journalists, bloggers and activists is being facilitated through Internet communication. It appears that the ultimate goals are to silence, threaten and send signals of monitoring and stolen information to infiltrate networks. Those in question have learned that they can use Facebook and Youtube for their propaganda as well.

While many concerned individuals with Facebook accounts are sifting through their newly-added friends list to find suspicious ones, the hidden war of censorship and anti-censorship continues inside Iran.

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# posted by @ 9:35 AM  0 comments


Iran: Release Students Detained for Peaceful Protests

Source: Human Rights Watch

Renewed Crackdown on Campus Activism(New York, February 28, 2009) – Iranian authorities should promptly free 10 students arrested in February 2009 in connection with peaceful campus demonstrations and detained without charge in Tehran's Evin prison, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have denied the students access to lawyers and family.

Two of those still being held were among 70 students detained on February 23 during a sit-in at Tehran's Amir Kabir University. Four other students from the university who were not at the demonstration were taken from their homes the next morning, February 24, and remain in custody. Four others who participated in a memorial ceremony for the Islamic Republic's first prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan, on February 5 also were detained. Both campus events were peaceful, although on February 23 an assault by plainclothes pro-government militia led to clashes.

"Peaceful protest is not a criminal offense," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Iranian authorities should release these students without delay."

The February 23 sit-in was protesting an initiative by two pro-government militias, Ansar-e Hezbollah and the Basij, to re-bury the remains of five "unknown [gomnam] martyrs" on campus grounds; 3,000 students had signed a petition protesting the burials. Students contend that the militias are promoting the on-campus burials of soldiers and others who died in the 1980-1988 war with Iraq to justify their increased presence on campuses nationwide. Members of the militia make regular visits to such burial sites to pay homage.

The student detentions are the latest escalation in a three-year battle against campus burials nationwide. The crackdowns come amid heightened government interest in quelling activism ahead of the next presidential elections in June.

At the February 23 event, using nunchucks (sticks connected by chain), knives, pepper spray, and batons, plainclothes Ansar and Basij forces assaulted approximately 600 students sitting in at the proposed burial site to prevent the burials from taking place, according to the Amir Kabir University student news website. It said 60 students were wounded, 20 of whom were hospitalized. The government, which routinely denies university unrest, has not issued any statements regarding the incident. A student leader told Human Rights Watch that two students remain in the hospital in critical condition.

According to students with whom Human Rights Watch spoke and the Amir Kabir student website, militia forces accompanied some of the wounded students to the hospital and interrogated them as they were being treated. Other students were detained on campus and taken to the nearby Police Station #107 at Palestine Square. Authorities eventually transferred 21 of the students to Evin prison section 240, a section reserved for political prisoners. Two remain in detention, but their names have not been released.

At 7 a.m. on February 24, security forces claiming to be officials from the Tehran mayor's office raided the homes of Nariman Mostafavi, Abbas Hakimzadeh, Mehdi Mashayekhi, and Ahmad Ghasaban, all Amir Kabir students. All four belong to the Islamic Student Organization (Anjoman-e Islami-yeh Daneshjooyan) or its umbrella group, the National Organization for Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), the groups that organized the sit-in.

"My clients and the other defendants have not had access to their lawyers even though this is the law of our land, that a defendant has this right," their lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, told Human Rights Watch. "We still don't even know the charges against these young people, even though we should within 24 hours of arrest."

Security forces had arrested students from both of these student organizations at the public ceremony in Tehran commemorating Bazargan. The Amir Kabir news site and students who spoke with Human Rights Watch said that the arrest of these four student leaders, Hossein Torkashvand, Majid Tavakoli, Korosh Daneshyar, and Esmail Salmanpour, was meant as a warning following increased tensions between government forces and students who had become aware of the February 23 burial plans. Government postings on campus warned students not to protest the burials.

Although the students who remain in detention have not been charged or allowed to see their families, friends and Dadkhah, the lawyer for some of the students, told Human Rights Watch that they believe that all of them are in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin prison. Human Rights Watch has previously documented the harsh interrogation in this wing of Evin prison.

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# posted by @ 9:30 AM  0 comments

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