IRAN WATCH CANADA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

For Immediate Release



Iran: Dozens Unlawfully Held in City’s Prisons
Others Imprisoned on Suspect Charges, Trials

(Beirut, August 19, 2014) – Several dozen prisoners in a northern city are serving prison terms for exercising their basic rights, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iranian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, Human Rights Watch said.

The 59-page report, “Locked Up in Karaj: Spotlight on Political Prisoners in One Iranian City,” is based on a review of 189 cases in three prisons in the city of Karaj, near the capital, Tehran, including the charges they faced, details of their trials before revolutionary courts, and information from lawyers, prisoners’ families, and others. Human Rights Watch concluded that in 63 of these cases, authorities had arrested the prisoners, and revolutionary courts had convicted and sentenced them, solely because they exercised fundamental rights such as free speech and rights to peaceful assembly or association. In dozens of other cases, including 35 prisoners sentenced to death on death row for terrorism-related offences, Human Rights Watch suspects egregious due process violations that may have tainted the judicial process.

“The election of a new, avowedly moderate president a year ago raised hopes that many of Iran’s political prisoners would soon walk free, but many remain behind bars,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The lion’s share of responsibility for releasing these prisoners rests with the judiciary, but President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet should be doing more to press for their release.”

The political prisoners include members of the political opposition, bloggers and journalists, a lawyer, and labor and religious minority rights activists. They are serving prison sentences on vague and sweeping charges for acts that Iran’s judiciary claims threaten the country’s national security, and are among several hundred political prisoners detained in prisons throughout Iran, according to reports released by UN rights experts.

Human Rights Watch asked the head of the Iranian judiciary in May for information on the cases of 175 prisoners, most of whom are covered in this report, including details of the charges and any evidence against them. The judiciary has not responded.

Most of the political prisoners are in one ward of Rajai Shahr prison, also known as Gohardasht prison, including 33 members of the beleaguered Baha’i community, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority. They include five Baha’i leaders serving sentences of up to 20 years on charges that included spying, “insulting religious sanctities,” and “spreading corruption on earth,” all arising from their peaceful activities as Baha’i leaders.

At least 11 other Baha’is held in the same prison ward are faculty members and administrators affiliated with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, an alternative university created in 1987 for Baha’is that the government had excluded from state university education. The Baha’i International Community says that as of May 2014, 136 Baha’is were in Iranian prisons solely on religious grounds.

Karaj prison authorities are also holding two Christian pastors and two Christian converts. One of the pastors, Saeed Abedini, is serving an eight-year sentence for “intent to endanger the national security” by establishing and running home churches, his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, told Human Rights Watch.

Masoud Bastani, one of nine journalists and bloggers unlawfully imprisoned in Karaj, worked for the Jomhuriyat news website before his arrest in July 2009. Mahsa Amrabadi, his wife, also a journalist, said her husband was sentenced to six years in prison for “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against the national security.”

Human Rights Watch identified seven rights defenders and a veteran human rights lawyer among those in Rajai Shahr prison. The human rights lawyer, Mohammad Seifzadeh, 67, cofounded the Defenders of Human Rights Center with Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace laureate, and other lawyers. An initial sentence of nine years was reduced to two, but six more years were added after he wrote letters and signed statements critical of the government while in prison, Ebadi told Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch also identified 126 prisoners convicted of more serious crimes, some on death row for terrorism-related offenses, whom the authorities may have targeted for their peaceful activities. While Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain sufficient information to refute the authorities’ accusations in many cases, it documented egregious due process violations in some of their cases, calling into question the legitimacy of the convictions.

One of them, Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, is serving 17 years for supporting the outlawed Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), an opposition group that the Iranian government considers a terrorist organization, his daughter, Masoumeh Mansouri, said. She told Human Rights Watch that a revolutionary court convicted her father of moharebeh, “enmity against God,” which can incur the death sentence, and “insulting the Supreme Leader” after two short court sessions.” The court referred to Mansouri’s visit to Camp Ashraf in Iraq, where members of the group lived in exile for years, to visit his wife and sisters, and his attending a 2007 speech at a ceremony at Khavaran cemetery in Tehran commemorating the 1988 execution of thousands of prisoners, many of them MEK members, as evidence of his guilt, she said.

Many others among the 126 describe themselves as Sunni activists or “missionaries” who support a strict, literalist interpretation of Sunni Islam. Most are from Iran’s Kurdish or Baluch minorities but others are foreign nationals, according to a source familiar with their cases. The authorities say that some participated in armed activities, including assassination attempts and murders, and that others assisted armed groups or threatened Iran’s security by other means.

Thirty-five of the 126 prisoners are on death row and at imminent risk of execution, Human Rights Watch said. Many are believed to have been held for weeks or months at Intelligence Ministry detention facilities, and tortured or otherwise ill-treated, several sources familiar with some of the cases told Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch has closely reviewed the cases of several of these men, including Zaniar and Loghman Moradi, Hamed Ahmadi, Jahangir Dehghani, Jamshid Dehghani, and Kamal Molaei, who are all accused of terrorism-related activities on behalf of opposition groups, but deny the charges and allege, in vivid detail, that security and intelligence forces subjected them to months of incommunicado detention and torture to secure coerced confessions from them.

On June 12, Human Rights Watch and 17 other rights organizations asked the Iranian government to halt the executions of the listed prisoners in Karaj prisons, and impose an immediate moratorium on all executions.

At least one of the prisoners on death row, Barzan Nasrollazadeh, is believed to have been under18 at the time of his alleged crime. International law, including under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a party, prohibits the execution of offenders who were under 18 at the time of their alleged crime.

“President Rouhani should speak out clearly for an immediate moratorium on executions given the serious doubts about the fairness of revolutionary courts trials,” Stork said. “And Iran needs to release anyone being held for exercising their legal rights.”

“Locked Up in Karaj: Spotlight on Political Prisoners in One Iranian City” is available at:
http://hrw.org/node/126098

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/iran

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Sunday at least 10 prisoners were Killed in Ghazal-Hesar Prison !


According to a report by Herana ( Human Rights Activist Group in Iran) on Sunday August 17 , at least 10 prisoners were killed in Ghazal-Hesar prison. This happened when judiciary and prison officials decided to transfer 14 prisoners from the Ward one and two of the prison for execution,when the guards were transferring the prisoners for execution , clashes began between prisoners and guards and the guards used weapon and as a result 10 prisoners were killed and few wounded.
There are no news about the exact number of those killed in this new round of unrest in prison.
Other Prisoners inside the prison and their family's outside the prison staged protest against these barbaric act against prisoners.
Link:
http://persiannewsnetwork.com/content/



Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Islamic Regime in Iran Arrested Several Iranian Arab from the City of Ahwaz !


According to news several Iranian Arab Ahwazi are arrested and detained by regime security forces after "Aid Feter " an Islamic holly festivities.
On Aid Feter Iranian Arab from the city of Ahwaz every year as a festivities make a visit to the families of those political prisoners and those who have been killed or martyred. During this ceremonies they sing and chant slogan .  News indicates 13 days after the Aid Feter the security agents of the regime have arrested several Arab Ahwazi youth activist from the district of Malashi, Kout Abdella , Alavi district and other areas in the city of Ahwaz.
Those arrested are:
Mohammad Betrani ( his two brother ,one a poet were killed during uprising in 2005 )
Abbas Sawary
Mohammad Siyahi ( He was arrested in the past as well)
Asad Salehi a petroleum engineer
Others identity is not yet known.
Link:
http://www.akhbar-rooz.com/news.jsp?essayId=61724


   

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Monday, August 11, 2014

Two Palestinian journalists killed during Israeli attack on Gaza


Journalists Sameh Al-Aryan (left) and Ramu Rayan, who were killed in the Israeli shelling of Shojayah market. Photo release by IFJ
Two Palestinian journalists were killed in Gaza yesterday, taking the journalistic toll to eight since the Israeli bombardment began a month ago.
According to an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS), the two journalists were killed in the artillery shelling of Shojayah market. A third journalist was seriously injured.
The two who died were Sameh Al-Aryan, 26, of Al-Aqsa TV, and photojournalist Rami Rayan, 25, who worked for the Palestinian Media Network. Photojournalist Hamed Shobaky, of Manara Media, was severely wounded in the same incident.
Ahed Zaqout, 49, a presenter on Palestine TV sport programmes, was killed in his apartment during an attack on the Italian tower in Gaza City.
Jim Boumelha, the IFJ president, said: "We express our anger and condemnation at the killing of these journalists, the latest victims in this ongoing cycle of intimidation, violence and murder against media workers in Palestine.
"We send our heartfelt sympathies to their family and friends and we offer our continued support and solidarity to our colleagues in the PJS and all media workers in Gaza as they continue to suffer through this appalling Israeli barrage.
"Enough is enough: the killing must end now and Israeli must be held accountable for these atrocities."
The IFJ is writing to Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations' secretary-general, to remind the organisation of its international obligation to protect journalists.
Source: IFJ
Link:
http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/jul/31/gaza-palestinian-territories

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Friday, August 08, 2014

Palestinian media death toll reaches 13



Published on Tuesday 5 August 2014. 


As Israel announces the withdrawal of its troops from the Gaza Strip, Reporters Without Borders reports that 12 Palestinian journalists and one media worker have been killed since the start of Operation Protective Edge on 8 July, seven of them in connection with their work. This is the highest toll since Israel withdrew in 2005.

More than 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 Israelis (including three civilians) have so far been killed in this operation, to which a political solution seems more distant by the day.
Whether these journalists and media workers were killed in indiscriminate air raids or were deliberately targeted, their deaths should be independently investigated and those responsible should be identified,” said Reporters Without Borders assistant research director Virginie Dangles.
Journalists should not be targeted by belligerents, who must respect the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 1738, adopted in 2006.”
The latest media victim is Hamada Khaled Makat, the head of the Saja News Agency, who was killed by an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza City. The Palestinian Journalists’ Union told Reporters Without Borders that Makat was killed outside his home at dawn after going out to cover the air strikes.
Two Palestinian journalists died on 2 August as a result of Israeli air strikes.
One was Mohamed Noureddin Al-Dairi, 26, a photographer with the Palestinian Network for Journalism and Media, who died from the injuries he received while covering an air raid on Shuja’iya market on 30 July. He was not pulled from the rubble until two days after the raid. The overall death toll from the raid on the Shuja’iya neighbourhood was 17 civilians, including three journalists.
The other media fatality on 2 August was freelance journalist Shadi Hamdi Ayad, 24, who was killed in his home by an Israeli air strike on Al-Zaytoun, a neighbourhood in southeastern Gaza City. His father was also killed.
Abdullah Nasr Fahjan, 21, a sports journalist with Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV, was killed on 1 August during an Israeli bombardment of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
His brother, Ahmed Fahjan, told the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), an NGO, that a drone targeted him while he was doing a report on Palestinians fleeing their homes in western Rafah after Israel announced that it was going to bomb them.
He was initially taken with severe head injuries to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital, and from there to the European hospital in Khan Yunis, where he died a few hours later.
Employees of Turkey’s Anatolia news agency came under stun grenade fire from tanks in the Al-Zana region east of Khan Yunis on 1 August while covering Palestinians returning home two hours after the start of ceasefire.
Cars belonging to China’s Xinhua News Agency were damaged by Israeli bombardments.
West Bank
Reuters photographer Musa Al-Qawasm, 31, was injured while covering clashes in the Bab Al-Zawiya district of the West Bank city of Hebron on 2 August in which 50 people were reportedly injured.
Qawasm told the Wattan news agency that Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted him although he was wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet marked “Press.” He was taken to the state hospital in Hebron for treatment.
The Israeli authorities meanwhile continue to detain several Palestinian journalists in the West Bank, including reporter and activist Bushra Al-Tawil and Al-Aqsa TV cameraman Ahmed Al-Khatib, who have been held since early July.
The Israeli authorities have just decided to hold Mohamed Muna, the Quds Press news agency’s Nablus correspondent, for another six months without trial. Arrested on 7 August 2013, he was placed in “administrative” detention by an Israeli military court.
And meanwhile abroad...
Hamutal Rogel Fuchs, the spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Spain, posted a Facebook entry on 1 August referring to Yolanda Álvarez, Spanish public TV broadcaster TVE’s Jerusalem correspondent, who is currently reporting from Gaza, as a pro-Hamas “activist.”
Calling her a “transmission belt for Hamas messages, figures, images and information,” Fuchs said: “Yolanda Álvarez’s dramatic reports, including abuse of adjectives, casting and staging, and a selection of scenes serving Hamas’ interests, are nothing less than the product of an activist.”

In a statement on 2 August, Macu de la Cruz, the vice-president of Reporters Without Borders Spain, said: “As well as being false, the embassy’s accusations against TVE’s correspondent are particularly grave because they put her in danger.” TVE’s editorial committee described her reporting as “extraordinary.”

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Iran: UN rights experts condemn the recent wave of arrest and sentencing of civil society actors


GENEVA (8 August 2014) – United Nations human rights experts* today expressed grave concern over the recent escalating trend of arrest and sentencing of individuals exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, peaceful assembly and association.

Since 22 May 2014, at least 36 individuals that include journalists, bloggers, filmmakers and authors, many of whom are also human rights activists, have been arrested summoned or sentenced in connection with their journalistic activities or for simply expressing their opinion on social media websites. Some of them have also been charged for ‘gathering and colluding against national security’ following their participation in peaceful assemblies.
“Convicting individuals for expressing their opinion is absolutely unacceptable,” the experts stressed. “Freedom of expression and opinion is necessary for the realization of all human rights, and it is a right reserved for all individuals, even if that individual expresses an opinion with which the Government disagrees.”
A number of these cases include situations where persons are held in solitary confinement or unknown locations and for unknown charges. Many of the trials were allegedly riddled with procedural irregularities, including deprivation of legal representation and exclusion from attending one’s own sentencing.
These individuals have been sentenced from six-month to over twenty-year prison terms. Furthermore, at least one individual who was sentenced to 50 lashings and another sentenced to death.
“The imposition of sentences in conjunction with unfair trial and lack of due process, on charges that do not warrant death or lengthy prison terms, constitutes a dismal violation of international human rights law,” the independent experts noted.

Iranian author Mr. Arzhang Davoodi was recently sentenced to death on the charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity against God), in connection with his alleged membership and support to an Iranian dissident group, an allegation based on a comment he made about the group. Neither he, nor his attorney was reportedly present during the trial.
“It is completely unacceptable that an individual be sentenced to death on charge of Moharebeh for merely speaking one’s opinion,” the UN human rights experts said.
“Not only is this a blatant violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it also breaches the country’s own Islamic Penal Code, which reserves the death penalty only for those who have actively taken up arms.”
The human rights experts stressed that “such extreme convictions are simply intolerable and must be overturned.”
On 22 July 2014, Jason Rezaian, a reporter with the Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates newspaper The National, were arrested, along with an unidentified American-Iranian photo journalist and her husband. Mr. Rezaian and Ms. Salehi are reportedly held in unknown locations.

“These cases exemplify the alarming negative trend taking place in Iran. Individuals and journalists exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion must be protected, not arrested and prosecuted,” they noted.
“This behavior strengthens our belief that the motive behind these cases is to solely suppress the freedoms protected by national and international law,” they said, stressing that it also goes against the pledges and commitments made by senior Government officials to decrease restrictions on freedom of expression as well as increase the security of the press.
The experts reminded the authorities of their obligations under international human rights law, which guarantees the rights to hold opinions, assemble peacefully and associate freely, without interference.
“We urge the Iranian Government to “immediately and unconditionally release all individuals held in connection with their exercise of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and those charged for carrying out their legitimate activities as journalists,” they concluded.
(*) The experts: The Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.
ENDS
The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as ‘Special Procedures’, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights System. ‘Special Procedures’ is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 38 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 73 mandate holders.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)
UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights
Twitter: http://twitter.com/UNrightswire
Google+ gplus.to/unitednationshumanrights
YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR
Storify: http://storify.com/UNrightswire
Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Two Weeks have past since the Arrest of Jason Rezaeian the Reporters of Washington newspapers and his wife the reporter for UAE National !

Jason Rezaeian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi both reporter were arrested in Iran two weeks ago and yet there are no news about their situation .  

Mohseni Ejeei the spokesperson for Judiciary on Monday said , the case is under investigation  but " Vatan Emrooz " a newspaper close to the security forces has spoke about testimonies and documents which explains the arrest . The Iranian security officials are calling this case as a security and espionage case. The case is still under investigation in interrogation chamber .
The article written in Vatan Emrooz wrote: "To whose music jason was dancing." The article also  calls  Jason Rezaeian as the director of the video clip known as " Happy " group in Iran. This is while the case is not yet before the court .
Link:
http://www.iran-emrooz.net/index.php/news1/51930/


Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

11 Prisoners have lost their lives in a Fire in "Shahre Kord " city prison in Iran and 15 others were transferred to Hospital !

The fire in Shahre Kord prison in Iran killed 11 prisoners and sent 15 others to hospital.

According to news on last Monday a fire in Shahre Kord city prison killed 11 prisoners and sent 15 others to hospital. One of these prisoners is in critical condition and is in coma. Report indicate that through video the officials have identified the person who made the fire and a team from Tehran is investigating the cause of the fire. The news also says , a small fire started from a ward and prisoners tried to control the fire by throwing a blanket on the fire but the fire escalated .

This isn't the first time of fire in a prison in Iran - in 2010 another fire in Ghazal Hesar prison in Tehran killed 10 prisoners.

Link to this news:
http://www.etemaad.ir/Released/93-05-15/97.htm

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Seyed Jamal Hoseini a Founder of HRA ( Herana) - Human Rights Activist group in Iran is Murdered in Turkey !

Who Has Killed Seyed Jamal Hoseini ? The Police in Turkey must Release Their Investigation !

Seyed Jamal Hoseini was only 34 years old and was one of the founder of HRA ( Herana) - Herana was actively involved and monitored Human rights in Iran . On Tuesday August 5 his lifeless body was found by police at his home office in Turkey . There were blood on his face and inside the home - police has started an investigation. Seyed Jamal Hoseini was the voice of the voiceless - the masses and the political prisoners in Iran .
Link to this news:
http://www.akhbar-rooz.com/article.jsp?essayId=61615




Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Monday, August 04, 2014

Human Rights Watch to Regime in Iran : Free or Charge Journalists

For Immediate Release

Iran: Free or Charge Journalists
Renewed Crackdown with Four New Arrests

(Beirut, July 29, 2014) – Iranian authorities should immediately ensure the release of three journalists and a fourth person arrested in recent days, including the Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post, unless they plan to bring recognizable criminal charges against them and guarantee them fair trials, Human Rights Watch said. The arrests are the latest in a series of actions that Iran’s security and intelligence forces, supported by elements within the judiciary, have taken against at least 10 journalists in recent months.

The Washington Post correspondent, Jason Rezaian, has dual Iranian and American nationality. The Washington Post reported his arrest together with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist, and two unnamed people, a photojournalist and her spouse, in a statement on July 24, 2014. Gholamhossein Esmaeili, the head of Tehran’s judiciary, confirmed Rezaian’s arrest on July 25, saying he had “been detained for some questions,” but gave no other explanation. He said the judiciary would issue further details after completing its investigation. Salehi is a correspondent for The National, an English-language news outlet based in the United Arab Emirates. The photojournalist and her spouse reportedly also have dual Iranian and American citizenship.

“Iran’s abysmal record on press freedom and this spate of arrests raises a red flag,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The burden now is on Iran’s judiciary to quickly investigate and order their release unless there is hard evidence that they have committed substantive crimes, not merely exercised their right to free speech.”

Mary Breme Rezaian, Jason’s mother, told Human Rights Watch that unidentified agents arrested the four people at her son’s home on the night of July 22. Iranian authorities have not said where they are holding the four or disclosed the legal basis for their arrest and detention. Nor have they allowed the journalists access to legal counsel or permitted Swiss consular officials, who represent US interests in Iran, to visit them in detention and ascertain their safety. Rezaian’s mother also noted that unless her son is being provided with his blood medication, his health is being compromised.

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which is responsible for accrediting journalists, reports to President Hassan Rouhani. But he appears to have little control over the country’s powerful security and intelligence agencies, including elements of the Interior and Intelligence ministries, the Revolutionary Guards, and revolutionary courts, which have mounted a sustained crackdown on media and other critics since the popular protests that followed the disputed presidential election of 2009.

Iranian security officials have also summoned for questioning or arrested at least seven other journalists in the past two months, Human Rights Watch said.

They arrested Serajeddin Mirdamadi on May 10. On July 27, BBC Persian reported that Branch 15 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced Mirdamadi to six years in prison for “collusion and gathering against the national security” and “propaganda against the state” for his journalistic activities.

Authorities summoned Sajedeh Arabsorkhi, a local journalist, to Evin prison on July 14 to begin serving a one-year sentence imposed in 2011 by a Tehran revolutionary court for “propaganda against the state,” reportedly for criticizing the arrest of her father, Faizollah Arabsorkhi, following the disputed 2009 presidential election. Faizollah Arabsorkhi was a high-ranking member of a reformist opposition party.

Saba Azarpeik, a local journalist with Etemad daily and Tejarat-e Farda, a weekly journal, was arrested on May 28 and reportedly faces trial on vague charges of “propaganda against the state” and “dissemination of falsehoods” charges Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented as being used against journalists and activists. She is thought to be held in Ward 2-A of Evin Prison. On July 25, her mother posted a message onFacebook addressed to Azarpeik’s interrogators, asking them to show mercy because her daughter is suffering from severe back pain.

On June 7, authorities summoned Mahnaz Mohammadi, a documentary filmmaker, lawyer, and women’s rights activist, to Evin prison to serve her five-year prison sentence on national security-related charges for allegedly cooperating and sending material to the BBC. The sentence was issued by a Tehran revolutionary court in 2012. Maryam Kianersi, Mohammadi’s lawyer, denied the charges and told Human Rights Watch that her client was convicted by the judiciary even though she never sent any of the films to the BBC, and the BBC never broadcast them. She also said that the judge did not allow her permission to be present with her client during the investigation and interrogation phase of the trial, noting that under Iranian law providing such access in national security cases is a discretionary matter.  

Authorities summoned Reyhaneh Tabatabaei, a local journalist formerly working with the Shargh daily, to Evin Prison on June 21 to begin serving a six-month sentence that a Tehran revolutionary court imposed on her in 2012 for “propaganda against the state” for critical articles she had written in connection with the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Marzieh Rasouli, a local journalist, used Twitter to announce on July 7 that authorities had summoned her to Evin Prison on July 8 to begin serving a two-year prison term although an appeals court had yet to confirm the sentence. A Tehran revolutionary court convicted her of “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public order by participating in gatherings.” Authorities previously detained Rasouli for 40 days in late 2011 in Section 2-A of Evin Prison which is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, a veteran journalist who headed the Iran Journalists Association before the government banned it, posted a message on his Facebook page on June 29 saying that the judiciary has charged him with “propaganda against the state” for speeches he made at recent international conferences discussing the state of journalism in Iran, and barred him from leaving Iran. He had told Human Rights Watch earlier in the month that the judiciary had summoned him for questioning, and that he expected them to open a new case against him, which could result in his imprisonment. He said that authorities had arrested him seven times in the previous 15 years solely for his journalistic activities.

Iranian authorities are currently detaining “65 journalists and netizens in prison – five of them foreign nationals,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on July 25.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, forbids prolonged pretrial detention without charge. It also requires authorities to provide detainees with “adequate time and facilities for the preparation of [their] defense” and to allow them “to communicate with counsel of [their] own choosing.”

Article 128 of Iran’s Code of Criminal Procedure runs directly counter to this international treaty obligation. It empowers the detaining authorities to hold a suspect for up to a month during the investigation phase of a case or indefinitely if sanctioned by a judge, during which the detainee can be denied access to counsel “in cases where the issue has a secretive aspect or the judge believes that the presence of anyone other than the accused may lead to corruption.” Article 133 also allows judicial authorities to renew a detainee’s pretrial detention indefinitely.

“These latest arrests, coming hard on the heels of other cases of arrest and imprisonment of journalists, suggests that little has changed with respect to freedom of expression almost a year after President Hassan Rouhani swept to power on a promise of reform,” Goldstein said. “Rouhani may have little control over all-powerful security, intelligence, and judicial apparatus, but silence in the face of such repression is deafening.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/iran

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin

Six judges accused of leading role in Iranian crackdown on free speech Human rights groups say judges, under influence of intelligence apparatus, spearheading crackdown on journalists and activists


theguardian.com Thursday 31 July 2014

An unidentified defendant speaks during a trial of suspected opposition supporters at an Iranian court presided over by judge Abolghassem Salavati in 2009. Photograph: Hassan Ghaedi/AFP/Getty Images
Iran's crackdown on journalists and political activists is being spearheaded by a small group of judges under the influence of the country's intelligence and security apparatus, according to human rights organisations.
Four judges with Iran's revolutionary court and two appeal judges have led numerous court sessions that activists say did not conform to fair trial principles according to Iran's constitution, and are in breach of international treaties to which Tehran is a signatory.
The six judges are accused of losing their judicial impartiality and overseeing miscarriages of justice in trials in which scores of journalists, lawyers, political activists and members of Iran's ethnic and religious minorities have been condemned to lengthy prison terms, lashes and even execution.
Those accused are judges Abolghassem Salavati and Mohammad Moghiseh, former justices Yahya Pirabbasi and Hassan Zareh Dehnavi (known as judge Haddad), and appeal judges Hassan Babaee and Ahmad Zargar.

According to several former prisoners who spoke to the Guardian, and testimonies received by human rights groups, common violations by the judges include holding trials behind closed doors, lasting only a few minutes and without essential legal procedures, intimidating defendants, breaching judicial independence by acting as prosecutors themselves and depriving prisoners of access to lawyers.
"This group is among the most notorious judges in Iran," said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, an Iranian human rights activist in Norway. "They are known for their politicised verdicts, unfair trials [and] sentencing prisoners based on confessions made under duress."
Gissou Nia, of the US-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre (IHRDC), said: "It seems that in the courtrooms of Salavati, Moghiseh and Pirabbasi, there is [something] counter-intuitive at play – that is, the shorter the hearing, the longer the sentence."
She added: "Those cases that have made their way before this trio of revolutionary court judges, and have resulted in long terms of imprisonment or, even worse, death, read like a who's who of the most high-profile miscarriages of justice in the Iranian legal system."
Islamic revolutionary courts were set up following the 1979 Iranian revolution to deal with cases of national security, and still exist three decades on despite disputes over their constitutional footing. Iran's judiciary, which is at odds with President Hassan Rouhani's government, has stepped up its crackdown on journalists in recent months.
The Washington Post's correspondent in Tehran, Jason Rezaian, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, are the latest victims of the crackdown. It is not clear whether any of the six judges are presiding over Rezaian's case.
In their testimonies, many prisoners have accused the six judges of acting on the instructions of top security officials and prison interrogators, and collaborating with the country's intelligence ministry or the elite Revolutionary Guards.
Several prisoners said the sort of sentences they were threatened with in interrogation sessions were later handed down in their trials, which they say points to close collaboration between judges and the intelligence apparatus.
"While it is true that all the judges in the Iranian system are filtered and selected, it would be true to say that specific judges of revolutionary courts are more trusted with sensitive cases," said the Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Nayyeri. "Their 100% loyalty is proven beyond any doubt and higher judicial authorities carefully select them on the basis of absolute loyalty and obedience. They work hand in hand with the intelligence service officers and to a great extent follow the instructions from them."
According to Amiry-Moghaddam, judge Salavati has handed down at least half a dozen death sentences since 2009. In that year, Salavati led an infamous televised group court at which political activists were tried.
Amiry-Moghaddam said Babaei presided over the trial of the Kurdish political prisoner Habibollah Latifi, who was hanged in 2010 after a trial that lasted a few minutes. Moghiseh led a court case against seven leaders of the Baha'i faith, who were kept for more than two years in solitary confinement without access to lawyers and later sentenced to 20 years each in jail.
Moghiseh also sentenced the prominent student activist Bahareh Hedayat to nine years in jail, and is currently presiding over the case of imprisoned journalist Saba Azarpeik. Former prisoners told IHRDC that Moghiseh was "notorious for creating an atmosphere of rage and tension" in court.
Pirabbasi has a notorious track record in condemning human rights lawyers, student activists, journalists, Christians and Baha'is. Under Pirabbasi, the celebrated human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani was sentenced to 18 years, the student activist Zia Nabavi to 15 years and 74 lashes, Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki to 15 years and the award-winning lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh to six years. Gholamreza Khosravi, who was put to death for allegedly having links with the opposition group MKO, was sentenced by Pirabbasi.
The six judges could not be reached for comment.
Karim Lahidji, president of the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran, said the abuses were reminiscent of similar unfair trials held before 1979 under the late shah and his Pahlavi dynasty. "Under the shah, such trials were held in military courts, now they're held in revolutionary courts," he told the Guardian.
According to Lahidji, under Iranian law convicts should serve only the longest sentence they have been given and not the total of their sentences for various charges, as is the current routine in Iran.
Bahareh Davis, an Iran researcher with Amnesty, said the Iranian revolutionary courts often defied not only international but also domestic standards on the independence and impartiality required for a just judicial system.
"Security bodies are frequently reported to interfere in judicial cases," Davis said. "The revolutionary courts generally dismiss allegations of torture made by detainees who, in many instances, are held incommunicado for days, weeks or even months, and sometimes convict individuals in hearings that are only a few minutes long."
Faraz Sanei of Human Rights Watch said Iran's judiciary and its revolutionary courts had been among the main perpetrators of rights violations in Iran. "Instead of acting as an independent check on the abusive actions of security and intelligence forces, they have frequently either looked the other way or aided and abetted these forces in perpetrating egregious rights violations," he said.
"The list of abuses is extensive. It includes long periods of solitary confinement, preventing detainees from meeting with their lawyers and family members or mounting a proper defence, torture and ill-treatment, televising coerced confessions, and issuing long and harsh prison sentences for peaceful activism."
Human rights activists have also pointed fingers at other judiciary officials in Iran in recent years, accusing them of rights violations, including the appeal judge Movahed, the Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi and his predecessor Saeed Mortazavi.
Link:
 

Send Me A Message | | | | Balatarin