United for Iran’s Statement on the Execution of Ruhollah Zam

Dec 15, 20200 comments

Dissident Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam was executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) on 12 December 2020. United for Iran emphatically condemns Zam’s execution and denounces the IRI’s blatant violations of  freedom of expression and due process in this case. 

The IRI arrested Zam for creating and administering a popular Telegram channel that expressed dissenting views, exposed economic corruption in Iran, and countered digital censorship by informing the Iranian public about political affairs.

Every stage of Zam’s case, from arrest to sentencing, was enshrouded in systematic violations of internationally recognized human rights, including breaches of both domestic and international law. Most notably, the IRI violated Zam’s right to free expression under article 19 of the ICCPR and his right to a fair and public hearing under article 14 of the ICCPR.

United for Iran’s Iran Prison Atlas followed Zam’s case from the moment he was detained in Iraq and forcibly returned to Iran under suspicious circumstances. Since then, IPA researchers documented numerous due process violations, including the IRI’s denial of access to a lawyer of Zam’s choice, denial of access to his family, and denial of a fair, open, and public hearing. According to Zam’s family, he was not even informed that his death sentence was confirmed by an appeals court until the night before his execution.

Moreover, Zam was sentenced to death by Judge Abolqasem Salavati, a known perpetrator of human rights abuses who has been sanctioned by both the European Union and the United States Treasury Department , for his role in suppressing freedom of expression and assembly in Iran.  

“Zam’s execution was more of a political assassination cloaked in a thin veil of judicial process than it was an actual criminal sentence. In the years that I have followed human rights in Iran, I have seen few cases that went from arrest to execution in less time,” said Mani Mostofi, a human rights advisor to United for Iran. 

Ruhollah Zam is the eighth person to die in a series of political executions in Iran in 2020. His death comes less than three months after the execution of Iranian protester Navid Afkari, whose sentence was described by senior UN officials as “extrajudicial and arbitrary” and meant “to intimidate people in times of social unrest.”

“Instead of repressing political dissents and resorting to political executions, we call on the IRI to end its unnecessary warfare with dissidents, protesters, and all citizens who have a right to enjoy civil and political freedom,” said Amin Riahi, United for Iran’s Human Rights Program Manager. 

United for Iran adds its voice to numerous other human rights NGOs by calling on the IRI to end its use of executions as a tool for repression, and instead foster a safe space for political participation, restore  the independence of its judiciary, and respect the fundamental freedoms and rights enshrined in the ICCPR.  

To learn more about Ruhollah Zam, visit his Iran Prison Atlas profile, which contains all the details of his case.