From Animal Cartoons to Opposition to the Death Penalty: Just About Anything Can Land You in Prison in Iran

Artist Atena Farghadani

Artist Atena Farghadani

It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.

Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How Can Anyone Say Torture Can Lead to Justice? Just Look at Iran

Loghman and Zaniar Moradi

Loghman and Zaniar Moradi

If anyone doubts that torture is plain wrong and indefensible, I invite them to examine the cases of seven men in Iran who were severely tortured to force them to make “confessions” of their involvement in national security offenses. All have been sentenced to death by hanging and are at risk of imminent execution—that is, at any time.

Much has been written about the controversial depiction of torture in the film Zero Dark Thirty, and about the efficacy of the U.S. government’s shameful brutalizing of detainees in the so-called “war on terror”—including by my colleague, Zeke Johnson. While the debate is focused on the practices of the U.S., other governments around the world routinely use torture and also justify it on the grounds of “protecting national security,” yet these claims are always specious.


In Solidarity with the People of Iran

naz250The first charter on human rights was authored by Cyrus the Great over 2500 years ago. As Iranians we are heirs to a proud tradition of human rights and tolerance. Sadly, the Iranian authorities have not lived up to this legacy, as can be seen by the mock trials, false imprisonments, torture, child executions, and lack of equality for women in Iran today.

For the past 30 years the Iranian government has barred Amnesty International from entering the country, affording us no transparency in regards to its human rights record. However, advances in technology and the internet are allowing brave Iranian activists to share direct eyewitness accounts of what is happening on ground zero in the post-election crackdown: brutal attacks on and murder of peaceful protestors, wrongful imprisonment without access to an attorney or fair trial, forced confessions obtained under torture and duress, rape used as a weapon of torture in prisons, and the lack of freedom of assembly as seen in the case of the ‘Mourning Mothers’ whose only “crime” was gathering for an hour each Saturday in a peaceful vigil near the place and time of the killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan.

Despite the dangers posed to protesters, Iranians continue to take to the streets in hundreds of thousands to demand their universally recognized rights. The movement has grown beyond simply contesting the results of the presidential election. It has morphed into a Civil Rights movement of the magnitude seen in the United States in the 50’s and 60’s, uniting Iranians across a broad spectrum of political ideologies, bridging our differences for the first time in 30 years, with a single goal in mind: Freedom.

Today, I stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in demanding a fair and democratic society where the 30 articles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights are fully realized. Together we can ensure that their pleas for freedom are not going unheard by the international community, that their struggle is not in vain, and that they will prevail.

– Nazanin Boniadi

Unite for Human Rights in Iran on February 11th

Unite 4 human rights in Iran

Help share the message of February 11th by adding this solidarity image to your blog, website or social networking profile.

Iranian authorities have committed horrific abuses in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections last June. Several months later, human rights in Iran remain under attack and the level of repression reaches a breaking point.

Several important events in the Iranian political calendar from the end of January through late March make this threat imminent, most notably the “Victory of the Revolution” day on February 11, 2010, marking the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Iranian monarchy and the return of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France in 1979.

Given the importance of February 11th for Iranians, we are calling on our members and the public to unite in the blogosphere to show support and solidarity for those suppressed voices in Iran. During our “Unite for Human Rights in Iran” bloggers day, we are encouraging everyone to publicize the ongoing dire human rights situation in Iran and call for the protection of those arrested or detained from torture or other ill-treatment. Moreover, we urge you to highlight the need to release prisoners of conscience and those convicted after unfair trials.

Opposition leaders are calling for supporters to peacefully demonstrate on February 11th. The Iranian authorities attempt to thwart protests has already led to the expedited executions of Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, convicted of moharebeh or “enmity against God” and for being members of a banned anti-revolutionary political group last week.   It is also expected that nine other protesters sentenced to death for their participation in the post-presidential election protests will be swiftly executed prior to February 11th day in order to further intimidate and silence the opposition.

The executions are clearly a sign of the government’s frustration to end the protests. There are fears that the government might engage in the kind of cleansing that it did between 1980 and 1988, when it executed more than 3,000 political prisoners.

Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

AI activists protest against the post-election violence in Iran. July 25, 2009 ©Amnesty International

AI activists protest against the post-election violence in Iran. July 25, 2009 ©Amnesty International

We are calling for strong international condemnation of human rights violations in Iran. As the United Nation’s prepares for its Universal Periodic Review in mid-February, focusing attention on the need for a strong report condemning human rights abuses in Iran by the Human Rights Council is also critical.

Help us raise the voices of those calling for freedom and justice inside Iran. Stand with the people of Iran on February 11th!

Stand with us to ensure that Victory of the Revolution Day signifies an end to these abuses!

Iranian human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani released!

Abdolfattah Soltani, an Iranian human rights defender, was one of hundreds of people who were rounded up and imprisoned in the crackdown that followed Iran’s presidential elections.  Plain clothes Iranian security officials arrested the leading human rights activist in June along with countless others — students, opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists — and threw them in prison.

Soltani has for years stood by victims of Iran’s repression. And by putting himself in the line of fire, he too has become a target of the Iranian government crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Amnesty members took action in response to news of his arrest. And last week, Soltani was released. While we continue to have a number of concerns about human rights in Iran, we have found Soltani’s release, along with last month’s release of human rights defender Shadi Sadr, profoundly encouraging.

Amnesty members helped counter the climate of fear instilled by Iranian authorities with a spirit of hope. They sent a vital message of solidarity to Soltani and other human rights defenders like him in their hour of darkness, reminding them that they were not alone.

We sincerely thank everyone who took action on Soltani’s behalf.