Mohammad Taher Batili is a refugee at risk of torture and possibly the death penalty. He is an Iranian national and member of Iran’s Arab minority. He and his family fled to Lebanon in May 2009 to escape reprisals from the Iranian government due to his and his father’s political activities in support of the Arab minority in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province. He is recognized as a refugee by the UN but was arrested in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on June 2, 2010 on the grounds that he entered Lebanon from Syria illegally. On June 26 he was convicted for “irregular entry” and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment and payment of a fine. One he serves his sentence he may be forcibly returned to Iran where he would be at risk of torture and possibly face the death penalty.
Mohammad Taher Batili has been interrogated twice by officials from Iran’s embassy in Lebanon regarding his father’s political activities and those of other members of Iran’s Arab minority in Syria and Lebanon. His father, Hadi Mohammad Jawad Batili, has been arrested in Iran several times because of his political activities and support of Arab minorities who had been marginalized and abused by government authorities.
Lebanon hosts a large number of refugees seeking protection from violence, war and systematic human rights abuses in their home countries. While many of them are formally recognized as refugees by the UN, they often face arrest and detention by Lebanese authorities. In 2008 the Lebanese authorities agreed to grant refugees a three-month grace period to find an employer to sponsor them and provide them with a residence permit, but it seems this agreement is not being honored. Lebanon is bound by international customary law, including the principle of non-refoulement which states countries may not forcibly return people to countries where they would face serious human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment.
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On the afternoon of June 9th, 14 men, including six armed municipal policemen and a state court official, arrived at a shelter that works to protect women and children at grave risk due to extreme violence in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, northern Mexico. They demanded entry into the shelter, claiming they were searching for a girl who had been kidnapped. They carried with them official court documents, none of which referred to the women’s shelter. The men were denied entry because the shelter’s protocol strictly prohibits men on the premises in an effort to ensure the protection and confidentiality of the women who have sought refuge.
The men repeatedly issued violent threats against the staff at the shelter. One police officer pointed his gun at the coordinator and said, “You’re going to regret this, you’ll get yourself into trouble, it’s better if you cooperate or we will push down the doors and break the locks.” Following repeated threats and fearing for their lives, the staff eventually allowed the men to enter the shelter. They ransacked the shelter, overturning furniture and searching under beds. Once they were satisfied the girl was not there, they left.
This violent breach of the rights of the women seeking protection at this shelter is especially dangerous because many of them have fled violent partners, including various municipal policemen. The forced entry of these policemen has jeopardized the women’s safety by revealing their location and exposing them to potential future reprisals.
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Authorities have arrested two leading members of a trade union in Iran that is not recognized by Iranian authorities. Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are currently detained at unknown locations, where they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. It is speculated that these two men’s arrests are connected to the June 12th anniversary of the disputed 2009 presidential election. Both men were arrested, while authorities searched their homes and confiscated their computers and cell phones.
Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are both members of the The Union (or Syndicate) of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), which was banned after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The union activities resumed in 2004, although the union itself is not legally recognized.
Despite the fact that the union is not recognized by Iranian authorities, the arrests of Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are unlawful. Iran is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political, Article 22 (1) of which states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests,” and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 8 of which guarantees the “right of everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of his choice”.
An enforced disappearance facilitates the use of torture and other ill-treatment, and Amnesty International is concerned about the conditions of these two men. Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are believed to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their peaceful trade union activities.
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This posting is part of our Urgent Action Series. For more information visit www.amnestyusa.org/uan
Officers of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have arrested six doctors and attacked protesting medical students and doctors in the last two weeks. This is worrisome for several reasons, including that the arrests are warranted by Sudan’s 2010 National Security Act.
NISS officers are arresting doctors simply for participating in the Doctors’ Strike Committee, which has been pressuring authorities to keep their promises to improve the working conditions and salaries of Sudanese doctors. The government has neglected its promises to doctors, and instead is using an unjust law to arrest, detain, and intimidate protesting doctors.
Amnesty International is calling on the Sudanese government to reform its unjust laws and to protect the rights of its citizens. The government has granted itself the power to detain without charge for up to four and a half months, and NISS agents are essentially free to violate human rights as long as they do it as part of their work. This means that the government can arrest people like Dr. Bahkit and Dr. Aldin, who, as prisoners of conscience, are simply advocating peacefully for better treatment from the government. Even worse, NISS officers can beat and torture those they arrest without a single worry of future prosecution.
Take action to get the Sudanese government to respect the rights of its citizens. It is deeply disturbing that peaceful doctors are being mistreated and detained without charge. Sudanese authorities need to grant these doctors the freedom of expression and improved working conditions.
Anna Westlund, Individuals at Risk Campaign, contributed to this blog post.
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Members of the Urgent Action Network provide an effective and rapid response by sending letters, e-mails, and faxes directly to those who have the power to stop the violations. For more information visit: www.amnestyusa.org/uan