Urgent Action: Stop the Execution of Iranian-Kurd, Habibollah Latifi

May 17, 20110 comments

>>CLICK HERE TO SEND AN E-LETTER! E-letter updated 05/17/11

(Read updates and developments below.) Background Habibollah Latifi is a 29-year-old university student from Kurdistan who has been sentenced to death on charge of Moharebeh (enmity with God). He is currently imprisoned at the Sanandaj Prison. Several sources have reported that Latifi has suffered from various illnesses, including an intestinal infection, heart problems, and kidney failure. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has also noted that it believes the same intelligence-security forces are moving towards large scale politically motivated executions. Another young Kurdish man, Shirkoo Moarefi, also faces the risk of execution. In the past week, some 18 people have been executed. The frequency and number of executions in Iran has become increasingly of grave concern for activists. Sources have told the ICHRI that Latifi’s initial execution sentence was based solely on confessions obtained under pressure and that no substantive evidence was presented to support the verdict. He was charged with Moharebeh for allegedly attacking a police station, planning the assassination of the Sanandaj prosecutor, and setting off explosions. His family maintains that he was tortured in prison and coerced to confess to having committed crimes he absolutely denied after his trial. Mr. Latifi’s niece has further rejected the claims that he had been involved in illegal political activities, and said she believes the case had been “fabricated” by intelligence officials. Please send an e-letter pleading world authorities to work with the international community to ensure a permanent halt to his execution and fair legal proceedings. There are currently at least 16 known Kurdish prisoners on death row, with many others in detention, facing severe and unjust sentences. Detained Kurdish minorities often face the Moharabeh charge —  a politically motivated charge being used as a “catch all” to inflict severe punishments. There was a loud public outcry by both his family and the international community during the holiday season in December 2010 when reports of Latifi’s execution was ‘confirmed’ for December 25. The outcry continued through the holiday season, with the international human rights community banding to send over 70,000 e-letters to world, UN, and IRI officials on behalf of Latifi. Many lawyers, including that of Kurdish death row inmate Shirkoo Moarefi, have expressed concern over the risks of illegal executions, often carried out without informing the prisoner’s lawyer or family. One prominent Kurdish activist, Farzad Kamangar, faced similar circumstances. He was executed on Mother’s Day in May 2010 alongside four others, after being given a trial lasting only a few minutes. Iran’s Kurdish minorities continue to face increasingly systematic persecution by being denied free expression and by being accused of association with armed groups. Such unsubstantiated claims, which can lead to the severe charge of Moharebeh, continues to be increasingly used against activists as a means to silence and deter dissent.

Updates 5/17/11 – Radio Zamaneh has reported that Iran’s Supreme Court has approved the execution sentence for Habibollah Latifi. 1/4/11 – The ICHRI reported that there are no new developments pertaining to a re-review of the case. The last detained member of Habibollah Latifi’s family, several of whom were arrested at the prisoner’s father’s home only a few hours after the execution was postponed, was released yesterday. According to a source close to the family, all detained family members were forced to sign promises not to talk to the media, and at this time they are all quarantined. 12/26/10 – The ICHRI is also reporting that following the news of the postponed execution, sources from Sanandaj told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that some family members were arrested by security agents. Some close to the case also said that there is concern regarding the silencing of family members as way of preventing protests surrounding executions. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) has posted that reportedly Habibollah Latifi’s family has been arrested after the execution stay causing much concern. (P2E has translated this into English here.) 12/26/10 – A recent statement from Habibollah Latifi’s sister Elahe on the delay of his execution is circulating the internet:

Habib asked that we sincerely thank all the citizens who worked so hard on his behalf. He asked that I kiss your hands and your eyes. I want to thank every single one of my beloved country men and women who stayed up with us these past few nights, who supported us and never left our side. It was because you stayed up with us, because you felt our pain, because you contacted us and did everything in your power to help us, it was because of your pressure that Habib was not executed this morning. All our efforts are to ensure that not only Habib’s death sentenced is overturned but that more importantly the death penalty in general is abolished in Iran. These efforts are not only for Habib but for all Iranian people. We call on the Iranian people to protest and not remain silent so that together we can ensure that the death penalty is abolished in Iran. There are so many other individuals on death row. Our goal is to ensure that their sentences are also overturned. [Habib] was in great spirits. Today they allowed us to have a face to face visit at 9:00 a.m. Habib was well and asked us to thank all the citizens both in Iran and abroad who worked so hard to make sure that his death sentence did not take place this morning.

12/26/10 – The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) has also posted an update:

Sunday 4:00 pm Tehran time: The execution sentence of the Kurdish student, Habibilah Latifi, was halted today after widespread protests within Iran as well as by the international community. According to his lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, this development should provide “at least two more months” for trying to save his life.

12/26/10 – The mainstream media is now covering the postponement of the execution.

12/25/10 – Several news sources are reporting that Habibollah Latifi’s execution has been stayed (see more below)! Collectively, you all sent a total of over 60,000 messages to worldwide, UN, and IRI officials. Your voice, while echoing those of Iran’s prisoners, does have an effect, a true impact, and I hope that all of you international activists out there know that the letters, postcards, outward concern, and loud calls for media attention can help. Thanks to all of you, every single person who took time out of their holiday season to show support for the life of a young Kurdish student. ‭BBC ‮فارسی‬ – ‮ايران‬ – ‮حکم اعدام حبیب الله لطیفی اجرا نشد‬ – http://bbc.in/hDoYl9 12/25/10 – As of 1:10pm PST, you have collectively sent 48,220 messages. 12/25/10 – Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Sophie in’t Veld, has tweeted back regarding Habibollah Latifi. “We are highly aware of this horrible situation, the repeated calls and pressure from the int’l community have little influence on regime. but efforts will continue. Give support to democracy activists where ever possible.” @SophieintVeld 12/25/10 – The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that Latifi’s Lawyer is Inside Larijani’s Office requesting clemency and the postponement of Habibollah Latifi’s execution. 12/25/10 – MidEastYouth has published an extensive report regarding Habibollah Latifi

Click here to send an e-letter on behalf of Habibollah Latifi.