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Iranian Human Rights Defenders Reject War

Over the past 9 years, many different cases have been made by Iran hawks in support of a military strike against the country. Much of the focus is on Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, and the possible threat that it would pose against U.S. allies in the region. But many war supporters also justify “the military option” by exploiting the worsening of human rights abuses in Iran and suggesting that the support of Iranian citizens can be gained through a war of regime change. In reality, neither group takes the voices and concerns of Iranians within Iran into consideration. These concerns include the disastrous effects war would have on the worsening human rights abuses within the Islamic Republic, and for Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition.

Last week, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran published “Raising Their Voices, Iranian Civil Society Reflections on the Military Option”. In an attempt to document the perspective of Iranians inside Iran in their report, the organization interviewed 35 of Iranian writers, human rights defenders, members of the political opposition, lawyers, student activists, cultural leaders, and journalists.

The report shows an overwhelming response rejecting a war against Iran: “military action against Iran by the United States or Israel would be futile, counterproductive and irrational. Accordingly, while achieving none of the goals used to justify such action, a strike would lead to further political regression and repression, deeper enmity between the Iranian people and the United States, and severe humanitarian problems.”

Even though many Iran hawks claim that military action is a threat to the Islamic Republic and could be helpful to the reformists or the opposition of the regime, the fact is that many extremists within the regime welcome the idea. Nationalism is and has always been a powerful factor within the Iranian society. “A war with Iran,” says the report, “would strengthen the current regime by stoking nationalism and dividing the opposition, and undercut the Iranian public’s goodwill toward the United States.”

Many Iranian citizens do want change and reform; they do not however, want a foreign imposition of such change for many reasons. “An attack would further militarize the state, exacerbate the human rights crisis in Iran, and undermine Iranian civil society and the pro-democracy movement,” says the report. War would put into the lives of political prisoners in Iran in further danger–Iranians remember well the many political prisoners who fell victim to mass executions during the Iran-Iraq war. A US military strike would also lead to more human rights violations, more extreme government crackdowns, economic, and environmental consequences.

Mohammad Seifzadeh, a leading human rights lawyer, who has served a prison sentence in Iran, has voiced his concern: “If a war were to take place right now, the atmosphere would definitely become more restricted and more limitations would be imposed upon intellectuals, human rights activist, social elites and students.”

The debates concerning a military strike against the Islamic Republic have not taken the voices of Iranian citizens, the people who will be affected the most by military action, into consideration. Iranians have essential insight to administer about the repercussions of a US military strike against Iran in regards to the future of US-Iran relations, regional and domestic stability, and protection of human rights.

  • 3 March 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 3 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

A Death Sentence for Throwing Rocks

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran confirms that twenty-year-old Mohammad Amin Valian, a student at Iran’s Damghan University, has lost his case in Iranian appeals court; Iran’s judiciary upheld Valian’s death sentence in connection with the December 27th Ashura protests. Valian is among 11 others who were charged with “moharebeh”, or waging war against God, the most serious offense one can be charged with in Iran.

These rulings continue to demonstrate the international community’s failure to bring about any real change in Iran’s human rights record. Even after the United Nation’s Human Rights Council’s examination of Iran in February, there still seems to be little progress towards holding the Iranian government accountable for its actions.

“We see a direct relationship between the failure of the international community, particularly the UN Human Rights Council, to hold Iran accountable…,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“Iran has received a clear message:  Your atrocities will neither  arouse any serious response from the Human Rights Council, nor block your bid for membership in the Human Rights Council,” he said.

Valian testified in court that he threw rocks at security forces and plainclothes militiamen, but further added that these rocks did not actually strike anyone.  Although the student was politically active, and participated in several demonstrations, he was not a political leader. The International Campaign for Human Rights further reports that more than 100 Iranian students are in detention for their political activity.

  • 6 January 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

ICHRI: Authorities Attempt to Crush Remaining Active Human Rights NGOs

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran just came out with a statement examining how the Iranian government is systematically attempting to dismantle human rights organizations in Iran:

Iran: Authorities Attempt to Crush Remaining Active Human Rights NGOs

Human Rights Community in the Iran has been decimated

(6 January 2009) Islamic Republic authorities are attempting to shut down the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, one of the few human rights organizations still active in the country, and to stop the human rights activities of the student alumni group ADVAR, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today. Some members of the groups are being arrested, and others are under intense pressure to halt their work.

“In illegally shutting down independent, domestic human rights reporting, the authorities are attempting to preserve their own impunity before Iranian and international law,” said Campaign spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi.

  • 29 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

ICHRI Calls for Release of ‘All Arbitrarily Arrested’

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for the release of Emaddedin Baghi and “All Arbitrarily Arrested” by security forces over the weekend during the Ashura protests. Baghi is a prominent Iranian human rights activist with a heart and nerve condition resulting from his previous incarcerations. The campaign also called for the release of Dr. Nooshin Ebadi, sister of human rights defender and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi. Here’s more:

“Emad Baghi’s arrest, as well as that of Dr. Ebadi, constitutes a blatant assault on the principled human rights community and a challenge to the growing civil rights movement in Iran,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

“There is no reason to arrest Dr. Ebadi other than to intimidate Shirin Ebadi; the arrest is existentially a kidnapping consistent with the tactics of criminal gangs,” he said.

Many other prominent journalists and activists have been arrested during the past two days, including: Ebrahim Yazdi, former Foreign Minister and head of the Liberation Front; Mash’allah Shamsalvaezin, spokesman for the Association in Defense of the Press; Shapour Kazemi, brother in law of Mir-Hussein Mousavi; Badralsadat Mofidi,  head of the Journalists’ Association; prominent journalists: Reza Tajik, Nasrin Vaziri, Keyvan Mehrgan, and Mohammad Javad Saberi; Mansoureh Shojaii, women’s rights activist; and political activists: Alireza Beheshti, Morteza Haji, Ghorban Behzadian-nejad, Mostafa Ezedi, Mohammad Taheri, and Heshmatollah Tabari.

Little information is available about the whereabouts and condition of the recently detained citizens who are held incommunicado. Under such conditions, the Campaign believes they may be tortured to produce false confessions confirming official claims that Ashura protests were instigated by foreign governments. Members of the ruling political elite have called for harsh penalties.

The Campaign calls upon the Islamic Republic authorities to release to their families the bodies of  those killed by militias and security forces during the demonstrations, so that they may be buried—insofar as still possible–in accordance with religious law.

Dr. Shirin Ebadi released a statement yesterday on her sister’s detainment:

I hereby declare that my sister Dr. Noushin Ebadi who is a Medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran was detained by four officers from the counter-intelligence agency of Islamic Republic of Iran.

She was arrested at 9 pm today (28/12/2009) at her home in Tehran. At present, we have no information of her whereabouts.

During the past two months, my sister had been contacted by the elements within the government and told in no uncertain terms to contact me and persuade me to cease my activities as a human rights advocate. It was strongly suggested that she should leave her apartment which is within the same block as my apartment in Tehran. She was told that her failure to cooperate with them will result in her arrest. I initially did not take this seriously, but I’m sad and upset to see that this was not an empty threat.

It is important to note that my sister is not politically active nor is she a member of any human right organisation. Her only crime seems to be that she is my sister and her arrest is nothing less than a political blackmail and attempted pressure. This is another method employed by the authorities in Iran to stop my activities.

I hereby draw the attention of the Iranian judiciary to this unlawful and wrongful arrest of a member of my family for political gain by the government of Iran and I call for immediate release of my sister.

Iran is currently in turmoil and these unlawful and illegal actions will only have negative effect. What is needed in Iran is peaceful dialogue and tolerance.

Shirin Ebadi

  • 17 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Lawyer says case against Tajbakhsh devoid of evidence

Kian TajbakhshThe International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is asserting that the case against Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh “contains no evidence to support the allegations against him,” based on conversations with Tajbakhsh’s lawyer who has studied the prosecution’s entire case against Tajbakhsh. Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “espionage”.

There is apparently no correlation between the evidence in his file and the conviction and sentencing of Tajbakhsh, while the file itself is evidence of the blatantly political and arbitrary nature of the case.  Espionage is closely defined under Iranian law, and guilt needs to be established by evidence that highly confidential documents were passed to foreign governments. There are no references to such documents in the file.The file, only recently seen by Shafie, contains video clips of public demonstrations that Tajbakhsh allegedly emailed which hardly qualify as confidential or classified government documents.  Tajbakhsh had no access to such documents in any event.

The Campaign goes on to document the numerous breaches of Tajbakhsh’s rights. (More below the fold):

Green Movement and Iranian Government Clash Flares Up

While Iranian authorities continue their campaign against the growing opposition, the Green Movement does not appear to be letting up, even as some of its leaders’ efforts were thwarted from participating. Yesterday’s National Student Day protests were preempted by arrests of student activists from universities across Iran as reported by the International Campaign for Human Rights. Nevertheless, tens of thousands protested in solidarity with the Green Movement against the current Iranian government in “the biggest anti-government rallies in months.” Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, widely regarded as the movement’s leaders, were feared to be under house arrest.

According to AP:

Plainclothes men on motorcycles — likely Basijis — also harassed the opposition’s leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, at his Tehran office on Tuesday. Up to 30 men on motorcycles, some in masks, blocked Mousavi as he tried to drive out of his office garage and chanted slogans against him, two opposition Web sites said, citing witnesses.

Mousavi got out of his car and shouted at them, ”You’re agents, you’ve been tasked with threatening me, beating me, killing me,” before his aides hustled him back inside, the Gooya News Web site reported. The men left several hours later and Mousavi was able to leave.

“When Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard arrived at Tehran University’s art faculty, where she is a professor, female Basij members tried to stop her and attacked her and her entourage with pepper spray, opposition Web sites reported, citing witnesses.

Protesters took some of the boldest actions yet in their demonstrations against the ruling clerics, breaking “the biggest taboo in Iran—burning pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and chanting slogans against him.”

The New York Times reports further symbolic breaks from the current government as protesters “carried an Iranian flag from which the signature emblem of ‘Allah’– added after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution— had been removed.” Iranian authorities stepped up their threats against demonstrators while attempting to barricade universities to contain protests. Iran’s top prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, warned on Tuesday that the judiciary will be harsher than in the past:

“So far, we have shown restraint. From today no leniency will be applied,” Ejehi said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Tehran’s police chief, Gen. Azizullah Rajabzadeh, announced that 204 protesters, including 39 women, were arrested in the capital during Monday’s demonstrations. They were detained for ”violating public order,” including setting fire to vehicles and chanting slogans, he said, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Large demonstrations are expected to occur on December 12th, the 6-month anniversary of the disputed June 12th elections. Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is spreading the word about the Global Day of Arts in Support of Iran’s Civil Rights Movement on December 12th, when activists and artists will come together under the banner of ArtsUnited4Iran. Sponsors of associated worldwide events will include Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, ARTICLE 19, and Front Line. More detailed information can be found at United4Iran:

Iran experts and activists speaking out in support of the civil rights movement in Iran include Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University Professor and CNN commentator; Hadi Ghaemi, Director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran; Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United4Iran’s International Coordinator; Omid Memarian, Iran expert for Human Rights Watch; and Reza Moini, Iran expert for Reporters without Borders (RSF).

Following the UN General Assembly’s resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran on November 20, 2009, members of the international community are calling on the Iranian government to:

  • Respect Freedom of Assembly, Expression, and Press,
  • Free all Prisoners of Conscience,
  • End Rape and Torture in Prisons,
  • Hold Those Responsible for Committing Human Rights Crimes Accountable.
    • 25 November 2009
    • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
    • 0 Comments
    • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

    Human Rights Organizations Call for Investigation into Mysterious Death of Physician in Iran

    The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today that along with Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights, it sent a letter to Iranian authorities demanding an investigation into the death of Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani, a 26-year-old physician at the Kahrizak detention center, “who reportedly witnessed grave human rights violations there.”

    Iranhumanrights.org:

    “Scores of protestors were detained and held at Kahrizak, where they were allegedly tortured and ill treated.  At least four detainees died in the facility. Iranian authorities have promised to investigate the ill treatment of detainees at Kahrizak but to date, no public announcements about the prosecution of those responsible have been made.”

    Pourandarjani had been working at Kahrizak once a week as part of his military service, treating detainees who had been tortured. Some reportedly died of their abuses in the facility. Before his death, Dr. Pourandarjani “reportedly received threats to prevent him from revealing the abuses he had witnessed at Kahrizak.” He was also said to “have been forced to certify that one detainee had died of meningitis.”  (Our readers will remember that detainee was Mohsen Roholamini, the son of an aid to the conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei. Parleman news reported in August that the coroner’s office of Tehran announced that he did not die from meningitis, leading to the conclusion that he had been killed in Kahrizak.)

    Amnesty and ICHRI describe the suspicious circumstances behind the doctor’s death:

    “Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani’s body was discovered in a room at Tehran police headquarters on 10 November. While the Chief of Police, General Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam, has said that Dr. Pourandarjani, committed suicide and that a letter found near his body suggested that he had been depressed, officials had initially said he had suffered a heart attack in his sleep and later that he had died of poisoning. Dr. Pourandarjani’s father, Reza-Qoli Pourandarjani, said he had spoken to his son the night before his death and that he did not appear to be depressed. He told the Associated Press that he had initially been informed by the authorities that his son had broken his leg in an accident and that his [the father’s] consent was needed for surgery. However after travelling to Tehran from his home in Tabriz, Reza-Qoli Pourandrarjani discovered that his son was dead.”

    “Crackdown on Students Ahead of National Student Day”

    The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran released a statement today outlining recent waves of arbitrary arrests of students as “authorities apparently seek to stifle protests expected on 7 December, National Student Day…”.

    While authorities in Iran have released little information about students being detained, the site has been able to report on many specific cases between November 16 and 23:

    The Campaign has received information of such detentions in Isfahan, Babol, Chaharmahal-o-Bakhtiari, Shiraz, Ilam, Kermanshah, Ghazvin, and in Tehran in Azad University, Tehran University, Amirkabir and Elm-o-Sanaat. […]

    According to Amirkabir News, in the past month, over 60 students were arrested, some of whom remain in jail.

    Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign, said:

    “In order to silence the student movement, a wholesale crackdown on Iranian students is underway, which not only violates their rights, but also disrupts their studies and the lives of their families.”

    Such unwarranted crackdowns are in contravention of Iran’s obligations under the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it signed in 1968.

    • 22 September 2009
    • Posted By David Elliott
    • 1 Comments
    • Human Rights in Iran

    New York Says Welcome, Mahmoud

    “The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is circulating mobile billboards protesting recent violence and extensive human rights violations in Iran. The mobile billboards are circulating in midtown Manhattan, near UN headquarters, to focus the attention of the diplomatic community on the human rights crisis in Iran.” – ICHRI press release

    • 10 August 2009
    • Posted By David Elliott
    • 0 Comments
    • Human Rights in Iran

    ICHRI: Iran Torture and Ill-Treatment Systematic

    The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran just issued a statement about efforts by some Iranian government officials to downplay reports of extensive human rights abuses:

    Iran: Torture and Ill-Treatment Systematic, Not Result of “Negligence” and “Carelessness”

    Independent investigation urgently needed to establish the truth

    (10 August 2009) While Iranian authorities have claimed that abuse of detainees arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations, or simply on the basis of their political beliefs, has been the result of “negligence” and “carelessness,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said the abuse was systematic and reflected a policy of suppressing dissent, intimidating the population, and corroborating charges by producing false confessions.

    “Instead of show trials of innocent people, there should be prosecution of those responsible for torturing them, and for the shootings, beatings, and ill-treatment that have resulted in numerous deaths on the streets and in detention, “stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

    Two Iranian officials, Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi and Police Chief General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, have acknowledged the abuse of prisoners in Kahrizak prison. The head of the facility and three guards have reportedly been dismissed.

    Documentation assembled by the Campaign and other human rights organizations, as well as credible media accounts, show that the abuse of prisoners has not been limited to the Kahrizak prison.  It has also taken place at Evin prison and in other detention facilities in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran.

    The abuse of detainees has been widespread, affecting as many as 2,500 persons who have been detained. The Campaign has reviewed reports by numerous detainees, many of which have been collected firsthand by the Campaign. Virtually all these reports include descriptions of treatment that is classified as torture and ill-treatment under international law.

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    Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

    May 14, 2012
    Larry Page
    Chief Executive Officer
    Google Inc.
    1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
    Mountain View, California 94043

    Dear Mr. Page:

    It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

    Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

    But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

    In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

    We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

    Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

    We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

    Sincerely,

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