Mehdi Khalaji: Iran and the Human Rights Opening


HRANA News Agency – The West’s single-minded focus on the nuclear dossier has permitted Iranian authorities to widen their violations of human rights.

With tensions mounting over Iran’s nuclear program, the West has dealt the Tehran regime crippling blows on several fronts, including through sanctions, the targeted killing of scientists, and cyber operations such as the Stuxnet virus. Tehran is no doubt reeling but regime leaders have spotted a silver lining: The West’s single-minded focus on the nuclear dossier has permitted them to widen their violations of human rights.

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Amnesty: IRAN TV “Confessions” breach suspects’ rights

Amnesty's Urgent Action - IRAN: Gholamreza Khosravi is scheduled to be executed on 10 SeptemberHRANA News Agency –Iranian businessman Mazyar Ebrahimi and 11 others have been held incommunicado since their arrest in June 2012. On 6 August the five women and seven men appeared on Iranian state television “confessing” to the killing of five Iranian nuclear scientists and academics since 2010. Amnesty International fears they could face the death penalty.

On 12 JuneMazyar Ebrahimi, founder of a cinema and television production company in Iraqi Kurdistan, was arrested in Tehran by Ministry of Intelligence security forces for “reasons of national security”. His family have not been informed of his whereabouts since and their requests for contact have been refused. Mazyar Ebrahimi has not been allowed a lawyer of his choosing since his arrest because his case is still “under investigation”.

On 6 August, Iranian state television channel IRTV1 broadcast a 39-minute documentary called “Terror Club” showing the alleged “confessions” of Mazyar Ebrahimi and 11 other men and women also arrested in June 2012 for involvement in the killings of five Iranian nuclear scientists and academics since 2010. The group said they had received weeks of military and intelligence training in Israel before carrying out the assassinations in Iran. The documentary did not show any evidence to support these claims, nor did it state whether they have been tried.. Another man who appeared in the documentary,Majid Jamali Fashi, was executed earlier on 15 May 2012. He had also appeared in an earlier broadcast in January 2011, aired before his trial in August 2011.

The use of televised “confessions” grievously undermines defendants’ right to a fair trial, in particular the presumption of innocence and the right not to be compelled to confess guilt and are particularly disturbing in cases like this one where defendants are accused of crimes which could lead to their being sentenced to death and executed. Those accused of crimes must be treated in accordance with international human rights law and must receive trials that comply with the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial, and without recourse to the death penalty.

Please write immediately in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:

Call on the Iranian authorities to ensure that Mazyar Ebrahimi and the other 11 detainees have immediate access to their families and lawyers of their choosing and are protected from torture or other ill-treatment;

Call on them to ensure that all 12 suspects receive fair trials in accordance with international human rights law, without recourse to the death penalty, and reminding the authorities that televised “confessions” violate Articles 14 (2) and (3g) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party.


Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid

Keshvar Doust Street,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

[care of] Public Relations Office

Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Secretary General High Council for

Human Rights

Mohammed Javad Larijani

c/o Office of the Head of the Judicary

Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave

South of Serah-e Jomhouri

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: [email protected]

(Subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad


Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

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IRAN TV “Confessions” breach suspects’ rights


Majid Jamali Fashi, was executed on 15 May 2012 following a “confession” made on an earlier broadcast on Iranian state television in January 2011. He was arrested in January 2010 and charged with assassinating Tehran University professor, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, who had been killed by a bomb earlier that month.

The 11 other detainees who appear, in the documentary, to make “confessions” to the killings are: Behzad Abdoli; Firouz Yeganeh; Maryam Zargar; Ramtin Mahdavi Moshayi; Arash Kheyratgir; Maryam Izadi; Fouad Faramarzi; Nashmin Zareh; Mohsen Sedeghi-Azad; Ayoub Moslem; and Tara Bagheri. In August 2012, Iranian state television reported that 20 people have reportedly been arrested in connection with the killings but only 12 appeared to make “confessions” in the TV documentary.

Televised “confessions” have repeatedly been used by the authorities to incriminate individuals in custody. Many have later retracted these “confessions”, stating that they were coerced to make them, sometimes under torture or other ill-treatment.

Amnesty International is concerned that Mazyar Ebrahimi and the other 11 detainees have been held in incommunicado detention since June 2012, without access to their relatives or to lawyers. Incommunicado detention facilitates torture or other ill-treatment which may be used to coerce a detainee into making a “confession” which may subsequently be used as evidence in court. Prolonged incommunicado detention can itself amount to torture.

Access to a lawyer from the outset of detention is essential to ensuring a fair trial. International fair trial standards require that anyone accused of a serious crime has access to a lawyer not only during the trial itself, but also immediately on arrest and throughout all subsequent proceedings, in particular in cases of offences carrying the death penalty.

Amnesty International urges the Iranian authorities to end immediately their practice of broadcasting “confessions” and other incriminating testimonies obtained from individuals who may have yet to stand trial. Such practice constitutes a gross breach of detainees’ right to a fair trial and of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law. Article 14 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party, states that “Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law”, while Article 14 (3g) states that everyone has the right “not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt”.

In Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s TV “confession” broadcast on 11 August 2010, she appeared to implicate herself in the murder of her husband. She is facing execution by stoning for “adultery while married”.

On December 13, 2011, two members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi, were featured in a programme aired by Iran’s state-controlled television station, Press TV, in which they appeared to “confess” to having carried out “terrorist activities”. Subsequently, on 7 July 2012, both men were sentenced by Branch 2 of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court after conviction of charges including the vaguely-worded offences of “enmity against God and corruption on earth” (moharebeh va ifsad fil-arz), “gathering and colluding against state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”.

Another Ahwazi Arab man, Taha Heidarian, was shown in the same programme making a “confession” in connection with the killing of a law enforcement official in April 2011 amidst widespread protests in Khuzestan. On or around 19 June 2012, he and three other Ahwazi Arab men were executed in Karoun Prison, according to activists close to the family, after apparently being convicted by a Revolutionary Court of “enmity against God and corruption on earth” in connection with the killing.

Name: Mazyar Ebrahimi, Majid Jamali Fashi

Gender m/f: Mazyar Ebrahimi (M); Majid Jamali Fashi (M); other detainees are male and female�

UA: 258/12 Index: MDE 13/062/2012 Issue Date: 10 September 2012

Health Deterioration of Iranian Imprisoned Lawyer, Houtan Kian, Rejected for Medical Examination

HRANA News Agency –  Javid Houtan Kian Iranian lawyer, political prisoner in Tabriz Central Prison is in health deterioration due to lack of medical consideration.
According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), this imprisoned lawyer is suffering from Kidney and intestinal infections and is being rejected for medical examination.
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Amnesty International and International Commission of Jurists Condemn Persecution of Iranian Lawyers

Amnesty International and International Commission of Jurists Joint Statement

Human Rights organizations condemn continued persecution campaign against lawyers in Iran

Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today condemned the ongoing arrests and imprisonment of several prominent lawyers in Iran which they see as part of an orchestrated attempt by the Iranian authorities to repress dissent in the country.

The two organizations are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of lawyers Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mohammad Seyfzadeh, Maedeh Ghaderi, and Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, who are detained arbitrarily in violation of Iran’s obligations under international law. They are prisoners of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association, or for their work as defence lawyers.

The two organizations are also calling for the conviction of Khalil Bahramian, a lawyer sentenced for publicly expressing his views about flaws in the judicial process in the cases of some of his clients who were executed, to be overturned, as he would be a prisoner of conscience if imprisoned.

In addition, the organizations are seeking clarification of the current legal status of Javid Houtan Kiyan, a lawyer who represented Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning for “adultery while married”, including any charges brought against him and any sentences imposed. If – as appears – he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, including in connection with his work as a defence lawyer on behalf of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, he should be released immediately and unconditionally. The allegations that he has been tortured while in detention should be investigated immediately and anyone found responsible for abuses brought to justice.

The recent targeting of lawyers, notably those who defend political prisoners and prisoners facing the death penalty, is part of the Iranian government’s ongoing crackdown on civil society following the post-June 2009 election unrest in the country. By targeting defence lawyers, the Iranian authorities are limiting access to competent legal representation, a basic right and important fair trial guarantee.

The two organizations welcome the recent release on 19 April 2011 of prisoner of conscience Mohammad Oliyaeifard, a defence lawyers and a board member of the Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners in Iran, a human rights organization, after serving the complete one year prison sentence imposed for speaking out against the execution of one of his clients during interviews with international media. His client, juvenile offender Behnoud Shojaee, had been hanged for a murder he committed when he was 17 years old. Mohammad Oliyaeifard has also defended many prisoners of conscience, including independent trade unionists, as well as juvenile offenders.

However, Amnesty International and the ICJ condemn the increasing number of lawyers who face or who have been convicted of vaguely worded charges stemming from their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association and their work as lawyers.

These lawyers are:

Nasrin Sotoudeh, the defence lawyer of Mohammad Oliyaeifard, is herself currently imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison. She was arrested on 4 September 2010 after she presented herself in compliance with a court summons. A mother of two young children, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced on 9 January 2011 to 10 years on the charge of “acting against national security, including membership of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)” (a human rights organization forcibly closed by the authorities) and one year for “propaganda against the system” and has been banned from practising law and leaving the country for 20 years.

Another prominent lawyer, Mohammad Seyfzadeh, is believed to remain held by Ministry of Intelligence officials in a detention facility in Oroumieh in north-west Iran. He was arrested on new charges on 11 April 2011 for allegedly attempting to leave the country illegally, and was held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance for around two week, as he was not permitted to contact anyone until 21 April when he contacted his family. On 23 April 2011 Mohammad Seyfzadeh’s lawyer and son attempted to visit him in Oroumieh, but only his son was permitted a visit, lasting approximately two minutes. During this visit Mohammad Seyfzadeh is reported to have been limping and had lost weight. Mohammad Seyfzadeh had previously been sentenced on 30 October 2010 to nine years’ imprisonment for “forming an association… whose aim is to harm national security” and “being a member of an association whose aim is to harm national security” in relation to the Centre for Human Rights Defenders CHRD, a human rights organization he co-founded with Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and others. He was also sentenced to a 10-year ban on practising law, despite the fact that only the Disciplinary Court for Lawyers may impose such professional bans, This sentence remains under review by Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court. He was banned from leaving the country in 2009.

Maedeh Ghaderi, a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority, is a lawyer based in Mashhad, north-east Iran. She was arrested on or about 2 March 2011. Maedeh Ghaderi had been representing her husband, Ali Parandian, a member of the opposition Green Movement who was arrested in January 2011. It is not known whether Ali Parandian has had access to any other lawyer since his wife’s arrest. She went on hunger strike in mid-April 2011 to protest at her continuing detention without charge or trial, after which unconfirmed reports suggested that she and her husband are under investigation by Branch 904 of the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad on suspicion of contacts with the Party For Free Life of Kurdistan, a Kurdish armed group known by its Kurdish acronym PJAK. PJAK was formed in 2004, and carried out armed attacks against Iranian security forces, but declared a unilateral ceasefire in 2009, although it still engages in armed clashes with security forces in what it terms “self-defence”.

University professor, lawyer, and former Member of Parliament Ghasem Sholeh Saadi was arrested on 3 April 2011 at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport after a flight from Shiraz and taken to Tehran’s Evin Prison. Ghasem Sholeh Saadi had sought to run as a candidate for president during the June 2009 elections, but was not approved by the Council of Guardians, which screens candidates for popular election under discriminatory selection procedures. Ghasem Sholeh Saadi had previously been detained for 36 days at Evin Prison in Tehran in 2003 following a critical open letter he wrote to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei in 2002. Amnesty International and the ICJ understand that Ghasem Sholeh Saadi was sentenced to one-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in June 2006 on charges stemming from this letter, which was upheld on appeal, and then overturned by the Head of the Judiciary, who sent the case for retrial, although this is not known to have taken place. According to reports, Ghasem Sholeh Saadi was nevertheless told on arrest that this was the reason for his detention. After his arrest, Ghasem Sholeh Saadi was also informed that a new one-year sentence had been passed against him, along with a 10-year ban on teaching and a 10-year ban on practising law, apparently imposed for interviews he had given to foreign media.

Khalil Bahramian, who has represented many political prisoners, including some on death row – such as Sherko Moarefi, a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority who is at risk of imminent execution – was sentenced in February 2011 to 18 months in prison and banned from the practice of law for 10 years by Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda against the system” and “insulting the Head of the Judiciary”. Khalil Bahramian has been practising law in Iran for 46 years. He is currently free pending appeal against this sentence.

Javid Houtan Kiyan, a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, is a lawyer based in Tabriz, north-west Iran, who represented Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning for “adultery while married”. He was arrested on 10 October 2010 in his office along with Sajjad Qaderzadeh, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s son and two German journalists who were conducting an interview with them about her case. Sajjad Qaderzadeh was released on bail in December 2010, and the German journalists were released in February 2011 after being sentenced to a fine. In March 2011, a letter attributed to Javid Houtan Kiyan alleged that he was tortured while held in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin Prison from 11 October to 12 December 2010. Since 1 November 2010, when a prosecutor said that he was held on suspicionof having three forged or duplicate ID cards, the Iranian authorities have given no information concerning his legal situation. Other sources have since suggested that he has been sentenced to between one to 11 years in prison on various charges, and may still be facing other charges. Most – if not all – of these appear to relate to his defence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Principle 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers provides that lawyers must be allowed to carry out their work “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.” Principle 18 states that lawyers “shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions”. In addition, Principle 25 affirms the right of lawyers to freedom of expression, also provided for in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which includes “the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights”.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges has not been permitted to visit the country despite the Standing Invitation issued by Iran to all UN human rights mechanisms in 2002.