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Iran

    July 22, 2014

    Abdolfattah Soltani, a prominent human rights lawyer and a founding member of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) is serving a 13-year imprisonment in Evin prison. The Iranian government forcibly shut down the CHRD in December 2008.

    He was arrested on 10 September 2011 on charges including “spreading propaganda against the system”, “setting up an illegal opposition group [the CHRD]”, and “gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security.” This is not the first time Abdolfattah Soltani has faced charges for his work as a human rights defender.

    Abdolfattah Soltani and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, served as a lawyer for the family of slain Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who died in Evin prison from beatings sustained after her arrest in July 2003. He also served as a lawyer for leaders of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community, trade unionists, and other political prisoners.

    July 15, 2014

    The Iranian authorities must halt the execution of a young man who was still a child at the time of his alleged crime, and reverse a disturbing rise in the execution of juvenile offenders which has resulted in at least eight individuals being put to death in the first half of 2014, for crimes allegedly committed when they were below the age of 18, Amnesty International urged today.

    Rasoul Holoumi, now 22, was sentenced to death in October 2010 for the alleged killing of a boy during a group-fight in 2009, when he was 17 years old. The execution could be carried out at any time at the request of the victim’s family, under the Islamic law principle of qesas (retribution-in-kind).

    “It is cruel and inhumane to hang any person but it is particularly reprehensible for Iran to do so when the person was a child at the time of the alleged crime, and the execution takes place after a flawed investigation process that violates fair trial standards,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    June 19, 2014
    Maran and Gloria stand up for refugee rights
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    Maran was a journalist and owned his own media company in a country riddled with conflict. Believing that the media was a tool that he could use, he wanted to tell the story of his people to the world.  Telling these stories was a way to protect his people and bring peace to his country.  He faced horrible obstacles.  His land became a place of massacre.  At a certain point, he became helpless and lost the power to speak the truth and fight for freedom.  He had few choices - die, surrender to the Government and become a journalist of propaganda, or flee.  After his family was threatened because of his work, Maran fled.

    Leaving his family, he paid a smuggler who promised to take him to a country where he would be safe. He had no choice about the country, only a small hope that he would eventually be safe.

    June 14, 2014

    Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution scheduled for tomorrow of four Sunni death row prisoners who were convicted after grossly unfair trials, Amnesty International said.

    The fourmen - Hamed Ahmadi, Jahangir Dehghani, Jamshid Dehghani and Kamal Molaee – are set to be executed on charges of “enmity against God” (moharebeh ) on 15 June.

    “The execution of these men must be stopped immediately. The Iranian authorities are executing them over charges that appear to be fabricated and after grossly unfair trials where basic safeguards, such as rights of defense, were ignored,” said Hassiba Hadj Saharoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa

    “This is just another example of the Iranian authorities using the death penalty to deal with minorities rather than guarantying the rights of all Iranians.”

    June 01, 2014

     Posted at 0001 BST 2 June 2014

    •        Student activists, reformists and academics perceived as secular hounded by authorities
    •        “Islamicization” of university curriculums to banish “Western” influences
    •        Women barred from studying certain subjects, quotas imposed to limit number of female students
    •        Access to higher education for minorities denied or curtailed

    The Iranian authorities have waged a ruthless campaign of repression over the past three decades against students and academics who are routinely harassed, detained or barred from studying or teaching because of their peaceful activism, views or beliefs, said Amnesty International in a report released today.

    Silenced, Expelled, Imprisoned: Repression of students and academics in Iran also highlights widespread discrimination, particularly against women and religious minorities, in the country’s higher education system.

    May 31, 2014

    Iranian authorities must urgently halt theexecution of Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, who was sentenced to death in an unfair trial on the charge of “enmity against God” (moharebeh), said Amnesty International amid fears that he may be executed as soon as Sunday 1 June.

    The family members of Gholamreza Khosravi were informed by prison officials on Saturday 31 May that they must go to Raja’i Shahr Prison, near Tehran, in order to meet him outside the regular visitation hours, sparking fears that his execution may be imminent. He is currently held in solitary confinement. Death row prisoners are generally transferred to solitary isolation units before their executions take place.

    “Yet again Iranian authorities are about to execute a man who did not even receive a fair trial in total disregard of both international law and the Iranian law,” said Hassiba Hadj Saharoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    May 21, 2014

    The planned execution, on 22 May, of two members of the Ahwazi Arab minority who were forced to “confess” on TV and are being held in an unknown location is an absolute mockery of justice which must be stopped immediately, Amnesty International said.

    Ali Chebieshat and Sayed Khaled Mousawi were sentenced to death on 9 September 2013 by a Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz on the charge of “enmity against God” (moharebeh). They were forced to “confess” on TV in relation to the explosion of a natural gas pipeline close to their native village.

    “The harrowing stories of Ali Chebieshat and Sayed Khaled Mousawi show how justice in Iran is seriously flawed. People are routinely forced to ‘confess’ to crimes they didn’t commit and face deeply unfair trials before being marched to the gallows,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 15, 2014

    Posted at 0001 BST 15 May 2014

    Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience at Section 350 of Iran’s Evin prison were subjected to assault, beatings and other ill-treatment, with some of those injured denied access to adequate medical care, according to a new briefing published by Amnesty International about the events of 17 April, which has become known as “Black Thursday” by local activists.

    The briefing, “Justice is an Alien Word”: Ill-treatment of political prisoners in Evin prison, tells how dozens of prisoners were met with unwarranted use of force by security officials after they demanded to be present during a monthly search of their cells. Prisoners were blindfolded and handcuffed before being shoved through a ‘tunnel’ formed of security officials carrying batons, who repeatedly struck them on their backs, heads and faces.

    April 03, 2014
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    “Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was in the bed to my right, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was in the bed to my left; Saeed Malekpour became my friend and Abdolfattah Soltani taught me about human rights.”

    With these words, human rights lawyer and former prisoner in Iran, Mohammad Olyaeifard brought to life four of the people whose pictures stood on the Amnesty International Haft Seen table.

    Nowruz is a celebration of the coming of the spring and beginning of the New Year, in the Persian calendar. At the heart of the celebration is the Haft Seen table with seven items which represent love, rebirth, affluence, medicine, beauty, sunrise and patience. The Amnesty International Haft Seen table includes seven prisoners in Iran who remind us that while this is a time of celebration there are many prisoners who remain in a dark winter.

    Over 80 people joined Amnesty International in Toronto at Beit Zatoun to stand in solidarity with these prisoners.

    March 03, 2014

    Iran’s authorities must quash the conviction of a 27-year-old student who received a seven year prison sentence because of her peaceful political activities, said Amnesty International.

    Maryam Shafi’ Pour had been a member of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s presidential campaign during the 2009 elections.

    “That a student could be jailed for seven years merely for peacefully expressing her views or supporting an opposition politician defies belief. Maryam Shafi’ Pour should be immediately and unconditionally released and allowed to continue her studies. She should not spend the next seven years languishing in Evin Prison,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    Earlier the student had been barred by the authorities from completing her university education because of her political activism at university. Many other students are still denied the right to pursue their education because of their peaceful human rights or political activism.

    February 27, 2014

    Omid Kokabee was arrested at the airport as he was leaving Iran on January 30, 2011.  He was returning to his PhD studies in physics at the University of Texas. He was held for 15 months in pre-trial detention, before his trial in May 2012 on charges of “contact with hostile countries” and "receiving illicit payments”. The payments referred to a stipend he received from the University of Texas for his studies. His televised trial, alongside 12 others, was unfair. 

    No evidence against him was presented in court and he was not allowed to speak with his lawyer beforehand. 

    Omid Kokabee was held in solitary confinement, interrogated for long periods and pressured to make “confessions”. He says he was made to write down details of people he had seen in embassies or at conferences; his interrogators then accused some of those people of being CIA operatives.

    January 16, 2014

    Iran has carried out a total of 40 executions since the beginning of 2014, with at least 33 carried out in the past week alone, said Amnesty International today.

    “The spike in the number of executions carried out so far this month in Iran is alarming. The Iranian authorities’ attempts to change their international image are meaningless if at the same time executions continue to increase”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    The death penalty is a violation of every human being’s right to life and is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

    “The Iranian authorities must urgently take steps to abolish the death penalty, which has been shown again and again not to have any special deterrent effect on crime,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said.

    Since the beginning of 2014, Amnesty International has recorded 21 executions which were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities, as well as 19 additional executions reported through reliable sources.

    October 28, 2013

    Two death row prisoners from Iran’s Kurdish minority are at imminent risk of being executed after the Iranian authorities carried out 20 death sentences over the weekend, Amnesty International warned today.

    “This surge in executions shows that behind words and promises, the Iranian authorities continue to rely on state-sponsored killing, sparking fears that Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, two Kurdish minority prisoners on death row, could be next,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “These and all other executions must be halted immediately. While the Iranian authorities have a responsibility to bring those suspected of criminal offences to justice, the death penalty should never be used, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.” 

    Iranian prisoners are routinely sentenced to death after unfair trials, and despite allegations of torture being used to extract “confessions” in pre-trial detention.

    October 16, 2013

    Iran must stop the execution of man who was found alive at a morgue a day after being hanged, Amnesty International urged today after authorities said the prisoner would be hanged for a second time once his condition improves.

    The 37-year-old, identified as “Alireza M”, was hanged in Bojnourd prison in north-east Iran last week after being convicted of drug offences.

    According to official state media, a doctor declared him dead after the 12 minute-hanging, but when the prisoner’s family went to collect his body the following day he was found to still be breathing.

    He is currently in hospital, but a judge reportedly said he would be executed again “once medical staff confirm his health condition is good enough”.

    “The horrific prospect of this man facing a second hanging, after having gone through the whole ordeal already once, merely underlines the cruelty and inhumanity of the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    October 10, 2013

    After five years in Iran’s Evin prison and with an execution order on his life, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall today returned to Canada a free man, and was greeted by his wife Antonella Mega.

    His long journey back from Tehran has been an incredible ordeal. Hamid was arrested on May 24, 2008 while visiting his elderly mother in Iran. His older brother, Alborz Ghassemi-Shall, had been arrested two weeks earlier.  Both brothers were held in solitary confinement without legal representation in Tehran’s Evin prison for 18 months. On December 29, 2008 both men were convicted of espionage and sentenced to death following an unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court. In January 2010, Alborz Ghassemi-Shall, who was suffering from stomach cancer, died in prison.

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