Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Discrimination against Kurdish Iranians unchecked and on the rise

Amnesty International:
30 July 2008

Iran’s government is failing in its duty to prevent discrimination and human rights abuses against its Kurdish citizens, according to a new Amnesty International report.

The organization fears that the repression of Kurdish Iranians, particularly human rights defenders, is intensifying, according to the report Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority.

The report also says that women face a double challenge to their human rights, both as members of a marginalised ethnic minority and as women in a predominantly patriarchal society.

Around 12 million Kurds live in Iran making up 15 percent of the population. Expression of Kurdish culture, such as dress and music, is generally respected and the Kurdish language is used in some broadcasts and publications.

However the Kurdish minority continues to suffer deep-rooted discrimination. Kurds in Iran have their social, political and cultural rights repressed along with their economic aspirations.

Parents are banned from registering their babies with certain Kurdish names and religious minorities that are mainly or partially Kurdish are targeted by measures designed to stigmatize and isolate them.

Discriminated against in their access to employment and adequate housing, the economic neglect of Kurdish regions has resulted in an entrenched poverty which has further marginalized Kurds.

Kurdish human rights defenders, including community activists and journalists, face arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and prosecution when they protest against the government’s failure to observe international human rights standards.

When they link their human rights work to their Kurdish identity they risk further violations of their rights. Some, including women’s rights activists, become prisoners of conscience. Others suffer torture, grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts and the death penalty.

Ethnic Kurds Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili were sentenced to death in February 2008 after conviction of “moharebeh” (enmity against God), following a grossly flawed process that fell far short of international standards for a fair trial.

This is a charge levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state, apparently in connection with their alleged membership of the armed group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which carries out attacks in Turkey. Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili were also sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, apparently for forging documents. Under Iranian law, they must serve their prison sentences before being executed.

In May this year Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The sentence apparently comprises 10 years’ imprisonment for “acting against state security by establishing the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK)” and one year’s imprisonment for “propaganda against the system”.

The verdict followed a closed trial session. Amnesty International considers Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association during his work as chair of the HROK and his activities as a journalist. Such rights are expressly recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party.

“Iran’s constitution provides for equality of all Iranians before the law. But, as our report shows, this is not the reality for Kurds in Iran,” said Malcolm Smart, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme of Amnesty International.

“The Iranian government has not taken sufficient steps to eliminate discrimination, or to end the cycle of violence against women and punish those responsible.”

Although women and girls form the backbone of economic activity in the Kurdish areas, strict social codes are used to deny their human rights.

Such codes make it difficult for government officials to investigate inequalities in girls’ education, early and forced marriages, and domestic violence against Kurdish girls and women - and the severe consequences of some of these abuses, including “honour killings” and suicide. “Kurdish women are victims of violence on a daily basis and face discrimination from state officials, groups or individuals, including family members.” Malcolm Smart said.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Return to prison for writing a slogan on the walls

Mehrdad Lahrasbi, former student activist who Participated in the 1999 student protest, and released after undergoing 9 years of prison term, has again been sent to prison.

Mr.Lahrasbi was taken from Evin prison to the revolution court, to be informed of his "charges', he was later transferred to solitary confinement of 240 ward of Evin Prison.

His "charges "include; writing anti government slogans on the wall.

In 1999, Mr.Lahrasbi and five other student activists who had participated in the student protest had been sentenced to death. His sentence had been reduced to 15 years. During the period of his detention, he had been tortured and under went much psychological pressure:

The coroner at the Prosecutors' office had acknowledged his physical loss. In return, prison officials had transferred him to the public ward with ordinary prisons, to increase pressure and enforce confessions.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bherooz Javid Tehrani charged once again!

Political prisoner, Behrooz Javid Tehrani, a former student activist who has been facing prison for 7 years in various sequences since 1999 has again been sentenced to an additional 3 years .

He is charged with having contact with opposition groups outside of Iran.

This so called "court order" was sentenced to Mr. Tehrani on 19 July 2008, while undergoing other sentences in the Rajaii-shahr prison of Karaj (west of Tehran).

The (so called) judiciary process of Mr.Tehrani has been devoid of any rights: he was sentenced without having a lawyer and his trial was confidential.

In May 2005, he was arrested at home by Intelligence agents and subjected to violent physical and mental torture. According to his later revelations, the coroner of the public prosecutor had identified and testified to obvious marks of torture on his body.

In 2005 Mr.Tehrani was sentenced to four years imprisonment for being a member of the Iran Democratic Front.

His activities go back to 18 Tir (July 1999) during the famous student demonstration in Tehran for which he had received an 8 eight year sentence, but was released after undergoing 4 four years of detention in Rajaii-Shahr prison.

Family of Human right activist writes to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mohammad Sedigh Kaboodvand's family has written a letter, to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other humanitarian Organizations, in a desperate attempt to save his life from the a medically deteriorating situation in his detention centre.

In this letter it is reiterated that Mr. Kaboodvand has been arrested for at least seven months. He has been kept in solitary confinement and undergone inhuman interrogations and physical harassment while in custody, which has lead to his health deteriorating. so far he has experienced problematic heart failure, kidney and blood problems.

It is quoted as saying that Mr.Kaboodvands wife and child have been threatened to be arrested by the Intelligence Ministry of Iran.

Part of this letter reads: "The revolution court has recently charged Mr. Kaboodvand for his activities defending Human Rights in the Islamic Republic and has sentenced him to 11 years imprisonment. This (so called) court order had been passed on to Mr.Kaboodvand by his interrogator prior to the Courts' official order release. Kaboodvand is the editor in chief of the "People's Message" weekly and for this also he has received another 6 months prison sentence along with a 5 year prohibition of work as journalist and Editor of People's Message weekly. Parallel to this, there has been another file opened in his case which relates to a book on women's rights and is (currently) under investigation."

Another other part of this letter reads; "Kaboodvand is a noble journalist, with immense humanitarian beliefs and obligations and a conscience mind.

Mr.Kaboodvand , began his activities 15 years ago during the realm of raising Human Rights awareness and individual conscience on Democratic rights within peaceful frameworks.

He was arrested on 30 June 2007 and charged with "founding the offices of Defending Human Rights in Kurdistan" and engaging in acts of threat against the Islamic Republic.

A copy of this letter has been sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights , Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mohammad Hashemi and Bahare Hedayat in 209 of Evin prison

Both Bahare Hedayat and Mohammad Hashemi are student activists of Office for Student Solidarity (daftare tahkim vahdat) , who were arrested by the Intelligence Ministry agents on 13 July 2008 and are now in 209 section of the notorious Evin prison.

According to reports from their families the two victims have been informed of their so called charges as "endangering National security", by the first branch prosecutor, judge Matin Rasekh , on 14 July.

The state news agency "IRNA", quoting judiciary officials, claimed that Bahare Hedayat and Mihammad Hashemi , had been alleged to have affiliations with opposition groups abroad. The Office for Student Solidarity, in defense of its two members has categorically denied charges made by government controlled media as an attempt to take revenge on the student movement.

In the current moth at least 20 students have been illegally arrested. In Mashad a group of students who had improvised a committee to examine arbitrary arrests of students, have themselves been victim to illegal arrests and were arrested. Five of the detainees have been released so far.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Execution of three Human Right activists ordered

The Iranian High Court announced the death penalty of a teacher and Human right activist , Farhad Kamangar , and two political activists- Farhad Vakili and Ali Heidarian- who are of Kurdish origins.

Apparently the Head of the Judiciary, Shahroodi has personally released the order.

The three human right activists had been arrested during a trip to Tehran in August of 2006.

The 36th so called revolutionary court, had previously sentenced Mr.Kamangar , after 19 months detention, to death for being a member of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party).

Alireza Jamshidi spokesman of the Judiciary had announced on 27 May 2007, that Mr.Kamangar had been charged for membership in a terrorist organization, and with holding explosives.

After his sentence was delivered, Mr. Kamangar in a letter smuggled out, revealed that he had been tortured physically and mentally in the Intelligence Ministry detention centre. He had been tied to a bed and tortured and threatened to be raped.

Human right activists have already announced that Mr. Kamangar had been transferred twice to the prison clinic because of severe conditions resulting from torture.

Prior to this, Khalil Bahramian, and Mr. Kamangars' attorney had announced that they believe Mr.Kamangars' case is only a result of prejudice on Kurdish nationalists. He had rejected all accusations against his client.

Mr. Khalil Bahramian had also declared that his client had no knowledge whatsoever of explosives mentioned to have been found in his car. He had asserted that the aforementioned explosives had been implanted in his car in Tehran.

Teachers of Kamyaran province had collected a petition in support of the release of their colleague Farzad Kamangar. In their petition they had born witness to the fact that Mr.Kamangar had always been a law abiding citizen, and demanded the death sentence be annulled.

Farzad Kamangar has been a teacher in the Kamyaran province art college in Kurdistan. He was a member of the teachers' association, the environmentalists of Asak (meaning deer) . He was also a known writer in the monthly "Royan" of the Ministry of Education

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mahboobeh Karami on Hunger strike

Mahboobeh Karami , a member of the 1 million petition project, which denounced sexual apartheid under the current regime in Iran, n a telephone call to her family, announced that she and 9 other women inmates have begun a hunger strike.

The reasons for their hunger strike was explained to be : deprivation of food, incommunicado and reluctance to be allowed any contact to protest their deteriorating conditions in their prison cells, and also the fact that no legal reason for their detention had been provided.

The ten women age between 17 to 70 years, have not been allowed a meeting with the prosecutor to enquire the reasons of their detention.

According to the Iranian Women's Movement site, Mr. Babaii, attorney to Ms.Karami approached the so called revolutionary court on July 6, to obtain given legal reasons for her detention, but in vain.

Mrs. Sedighe Masaebi, Mahboobeh Karamis' mother, 63 years old, has suffered deteriorating strokes because of her daughters' detention. In every approach for clarifications from the so called officials of the courts, she has been humiliated and has not been directed as to the reasons for her daughters' detention.

Ms. Karami , was harassed , beaten and arrested on 13 June , as she was travelling in a public bus, by "plain clothed agents" of the government.(A term used for trained special forces recruited by the Intelligence Ministry).

This bus was apparently passing along the gathered protest against deteriorating economic situation and poverty, in which around a 1000 people had participated. Practically all the passengers of the bus were beaten up. It is reported that at least 200 participants had been arrested that day by the security agents.