Friday, October 23, 2009

 

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

Brief Introduction

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

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

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

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

Targets

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

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

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/81/Default.aspx 1st starred box: your given name; 2sd starred box: your family name; 3rd: your email address

Salutation: Your Excellency


Sample Letter

Your Excellency:

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

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

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

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

Background Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

 

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

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

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

Complaints

The tenth presidential elections in Iran were not free and democratic

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

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

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


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

Article 25 of International covenant of civil and political rights:

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

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

Our objections are based upon:

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

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

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

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


With respect

Name and address

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Monday, October 19, 2009

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, October 16, 2009

 

A Policy Suggestion When Iran Talks with the West: Invite the Green Movement

September 23rd, 2009

Kazem Alamdari

LOS ANGELES–The United States and its allies correctly have pledged to engage with Iran. That is good news; there is no viable alternative. However, considering that the results of the June 12 in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner are widely disputed, any talks should include a leader of the opposition movement. Who can say with certainty that Ahmadinejad, not Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leader of the Green Movement, is truly Iran’s president?

Since the election, the Islamic Republic is experiencing the most serious, unprecedented challenge in its thirty-year history, from within and without. The system faces a crisis of legitimacy, which is the outcome of a gap between the ruled and the rulers and a rigged election. Hatred against the ruling power is so obvious that in the mass rally on “Quds Day,” September 18, Iranians in the opposition responded with new chants to the slogans from pro-government demonstrators. While the pro-government demonstrators chanted, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” opposition supporters responded with chants of “Death to Russia” and “Death to China.” These slogans refer to Iran’s two key allies, both of which supply Iran with technological and diplomatic strength.

It is apparent from the proposal Iran submitted earlier this month to the 5+1, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, that the ruling powers in Iran are unwilling to negotiate over the nuclear issue. Their proposal was primarily an instructive document for peace, justice, and progress in the world. The five-page proposal called for “joint efforts and interactions to help the people of Palestine to draw a comprehensive, democratic and equitable plan.” It also sought reforms within the United Nations “on the basis of principles of democracy and justice.”

One reason Iran is not interested in negotiating over the nuclear issue might be surprising to many Americans: having a nuclear capability plays well with Iranians at home. Iranians generally believe their country has a right to a nuclear program, if not a nuclear weapon, so this is one issue upon which Iran’s rulers and its citizens agree.

During talks with Iran, the United States should raise issues that place Iran in a weak position at home and abroad. These include the brutal repression of protesters, reports of torture and rape inside Iranian prisons, and the forced confessions from defendants who have participated in demonstrations and now face charges, including espionage and attempts to overthrow the state.

The gross human rights violations committed by the regime since the June demonstrations have produced perhaps the greatest damage to Iran’s leaders. Even some of the conservatives’ long-standing, prominent supporters have turned against them. For example, Mohammad Nourizad, a filmmaker and long-time believer in Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, issued a condemnation of the ruling establishment. According to the Associated Press, he wrote: “As commander in chief of the armed forces, you didn’t treat people well after the election. Your agents opened fire, killed the people, beat them and destroyed and burned their property. Your role in this can’t be ignored. Your apology can cool down the wrath of the people.”

In a meeting organized by Khamenei’s office for artists and movie directors, Majid Majidi, a leading movie director and Oscar nominee, spoke of atrocities and violence in the country and complained to the leader, while weeping, “I am not well, . . . many other film makers are also not well and refused to come to this session. . . . Sir! Where are we heading? We are shredding everything into pieces. . . . It looks like we’re now in a real war . . . where there is hatred and violence. . . . We are losing everything.”

The survival of Iran’s leaders requires a major change—either profound reform or more repressive action. Thus far, the ruling power has chosen the latter option. Under such political circumstances, negotiations by Western powers with Iran will legitimize an illegitimate government and hurt the movement for reform. This could be mitigated to some degree if the West demands the presence of reformist leaders in talks with Iran.

Kazem Alamdari is a professor at California State University

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

 

Human Rights Council and Treaties Division=Complaint Procedure

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

Complaint

The 10th presidential elections in Iran were not free and democratic

The Presidential Election 2009 in the Islamic Republic of Iran has clearly violated the principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Guardian Council illegally filtered the 471 candidates who had registered to stand for election, sanctioning only four candidates who were considered to be a part of the establishment. Therefore, this election did not enjoy the merits of a free and democratic election.

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

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


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

Article 25 of International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights:

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

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

Our objections are based upon:

1. Lack of freedom for peaceful activities of political parties and associations in the country.

2. Denial of the rights to be nominated and to freely elect the candidates of one’s choice, and to enjoy the pertaining rights based on the provisions of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR, on the pretext of lacking “Practical Commitment” to Islam and absolute dominance of the Supreme Leader.

3. Prohibition of the religious minorities from holding office and assuming responsibility at the higher levels of executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government.

As stipulated by Article 2 of the complementary protocol and section 4 of the ICCPR, complainants must file their complaint within Iran. Whereas the IRI Constitution has not anticipated any organizations to investigate such complaints, we submit our complaint
possibly to the head of the IRI Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani.


With respect


Name and address

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