Khamenei: Release Mousavi, Karroubi and all political prisoners

Sep 22, 20110 comments


  Khamenei, Release Mousavi, Karroubi and all political prisoners Allow UN Special Rapporteur to visit the country

As heads of state gather for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, Iranian citizens are being violently detained in large numbers across the country for peaceful civic activism. In recent weeks, scores of environmental campaigners and civic activists in Azerbaijan province have been arrested for demonstrations protesting government policies they believe are responsible for the severe ecological damage to Lake Ourumieh. Iranian intelligence and security forces have also carried out wide scale arrests of Sufi religious practitioners in Fars province, arresting some 50 dervishes, as well as lawyers seeking to represent the detained group. Six documentary filmmakers were also arrested last weekend over accusations of involvement in a BBC documentary on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. BBC has stated that no one in Iran contributed to the documentary.

United for Iran calls on Ayatollah Khamenei to halt all politically motivated arrests that aim to suppress the peaceful expression of ideas, and to unconditionally release all political prisoners, including leading opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Both have been held under solitary house arrest for seven months, with almost no contact with the outside world and no judicial process, which is in violation of international and Iranian law.

Khamenei should also invite the new UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, to immediately visit the country and ensure the Iranian government provides its full cooperation with the UN mandate. Shaheed was appointed in June after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution establishing a mandate to monitor and report to the international community on the human rights situation in the country. Despite receiving a request in August to visit the country, the Iranian government has yet to respond to Shaheed’s request.

Over 600 political prisoners are currently being held in Iranian prisons, according to data compiled by local human rights activists. Since 2009, credible local sources have documented more than 3,000 cases of politically motivated arrests leading to prosecution. A third of these recorded cases of prosecution belong to reformist politicians and political activists who have expressed support for more democratization and human rights, followed by journalists, human rights defenders, and student activists who have criticized the Iranian regime’s human rights violations. For two consecutive years, press watchdogs have ranked Iran as the world’s top jailer of journalists.

  Political Prosecutions by Activity*

*The data of prosecutions is taken from local human rights groups, including the Human Rights House of Iran and Human Rights Activists News Agency.

Since the disputed 2009 elections and subsequent wave of pro-democracy protests in the Arab world, the Iranian government has severely restricted Iranian citizens’ civil and political liberties. In recent incidents over this past summer, dozens of young people were violently confronted by security forces and arrested for engaging in water fights in city parks. Torture, medical neglect, and inhumane treatment continue to be used to persecute activists and dissidents. Last week, blogger and doctoral student, Somayeh Tohidlou, was lashed 50 times for involvement in the campaign of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in 2009. In another recent incident, Faranak Farid, an Azeri women’s and environmental rights activist was severely beaten by security forces in Tabriz and sustained significant injuries. Prominent journalist and reformist figure Issa Saharkhiz, who is serving a three-year sentence on charges that include “insulting the Supreme Leader”, has repeatedly complained of being denied access to care for serious health conditions, as well as enduring inhumane treatment in prison. United for Iran calls on Khamenei, the final arbiter on all matters related to the Iranian state, to order the unconditional release of illegally detained individuals and prisoners of conscience being deprived of their liberty for peaceful activities, and to ensure all prisoners are provided due process and proper medical attention. United for Iran also calls on the Iranian government to cease the detention, intimidation, and harassment of family members and lawyers seeking to learn and share information about detained individuals. In preparation for Iran’s parliamentary elections in March 2012, Khamenei should take key steps to restore the civil and political rights of Iranian citizens as enshrined in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, including freedom from arbitrary detention, and the right to self-determination, peaceful association, assembly, and expression. The Supreme Leader should specifically:

  1. Order the release of all political prisoners, including Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi;
  2. Abolish all electoral and legislative procedures and mechanisms, including the approbative role of the Guardian Council, that impede Iranian citizens’ rights to freely choose their representatives and directly influence the laws that govern them;
  3. Invite independent United Nations monitoring of the parliamentary elections in March 2012;
  4. Ensure freedom of association, assembly, and expression, including freedom of the media and access to news sources.

United for Iran September 2011