Jailed Iranian Women Stop Hunger Strike #prisons #Vaw


Jailed lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (in an undated photo) began her hunger strike on October 31.
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By RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

November 06, 2012

Sources in Tehran say that eight female inmates in Evin prisonhave stopped their hunger strike and plan to pursue legal action against prisonguards whom they accuse of mistreating them.Nine women started the hunger strike last week to protest beatings and insults by the guards.

One of the women ended her hunger strike earlier after she was hospitalized due to her deteriorating health.

Earlier, the international media-rights group Reporters Without Borders urged the women to begin eating, fearing they could die.

Three of the women are journalists and online activists.

Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh continues her hunger strike in the same prison.

She stopped eating on October 31 after prison authorities banned her relatives from visiting.

Last month, Sotoudeh was awarded the European Parliament‘s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for 2012.

Jailed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi also won the prize.

 

Iran ‘detaining’ relatives of journalists: BBC


 The Iranian government has arrested relatives of Persian-language journalists working abroad for the BBC in a bid to silence them.

LONDON: The Iranian government has arrested relatives of Persian-language journalists working abroad for the BBC in a bid to silence them, the British Broadcasting Corporation said Friday.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said the sister of a BBC Persian journalist was arrested last week and held in solitary confinement on unspecified charges at Evin Prison in Tehran, before being released on bail.

“Her treatment was utterly deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” Thompson wrote in a blog, adding that it was only the latest incident “in a campaign of bullying and harassment by the Iranian authorities”.

Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about the arrest. Its Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson warned it was “part of a wider campaign to harass Iranian journalists by putting pressure on them and their families”.

Tehran was sending a clear message “that the government’s long arm of repression can extend well beyond borders,” she said.

Foreign Office Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said he utterly condemned Iran’s “deplorable” tactics.

While it is not the first time the BBC has complained about Iranian harassment of its journalists, Thompson said the past few months had seen “increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics.

“In recent months a number of relatives of members of BBC Persian staff have been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to ‘cooperate’ with Iranian intelligence officials,” he said.

Relatives’ passports had been confiscated, preventing them leaving Iran, while BBC staff had been accused in the Iranian media of offences such as sexual assault, drug trafficking and converting from Islam to Christianity.

Thompson called on Tehran to repudiate the actions of its officials and urged governments and international bodies to help stop “this campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power”.

BBC Persian, based in London, is a multimedia news and information service for Persian speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and around the world.

Iran has frequently accused the BBC of fuelling the unrest that broke out following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

An unnamed BBC staff member who spoke to Human Rights Watch said he and his colleagues had been exposed “to almost daily insults and personal attacks on various pro-government websites and blogs inside Iran”.

But the targeting of relatives “is really a red line for us, and we can’t stay silent”, the BBC worker said.

Foreign Office minister Burt said the Iranian authorities had a “shameful track record” of using family members to put pressure on Iranian lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.

“Such deplorable tactics illustrate again the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, and the desperation of the Iranian regime to silence any independent voices,” he said.

“The international community has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to cease harassment and intimidation of journalists and to prevent illegal jamming of broadcasts. We will continue to do so.”   Published: February 4, 2012 AFP

Iran’s nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered


Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the Iranian nuclear scientist killed in Tehran on January 11, with his son, Alireza. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the Iranian nuclear scientist killed in Tehran on January 11, with his son, Alireza. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Killing our enemies abroad is just state-sponsored terror – whatever euphemism western leaders like to use.

Mehdi Hasan, Jan 18,2012

On the morning of 11 January Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the deputy head of Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, was in his car on his way to work when he was blown up by a magnetic bomb attached to his car door. He was 32 and married with a young son. He wasn’t armed, or anywhere near a battlefield.

Since 2010, three other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in similar circumstances, including Darioush Rezaeinejad, a 35-year-old electronics expert shot dead outside his daughter’s nursery in Tehran last July. But instead of outrage or condemnation, we have been treated to expressions of undisguised glee.

“On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear programme in Iran turn up dead,” bragged the Republican nomination candidate Rick Santorum in October. “I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.” On the day of Roshan’s death, Israel’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, announced on Facebook: “I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear” – a sentiment echoed by the historian Michael Burleigh in the Daily Telegraph: “I shall not shed any tears whenever one of these scientists encounters the unforgiving men on motorbikes.”

These “men on motorbikes” have been described as “assassins”. But assassination is just a more polite word for murder. Indeed, our politicians and their securocrats cloak the premeditated, lawless killing of scientists in Tehran, of civilians in Waziristan, of politicians in Gaza, in an array of euphemisms: not just assassinations but terminations, targeted killings, drone strikes.

Their purpose is to inure us to such state-sponsored violence against foreigners. In his acclaimed book On Killing, the retired US army officer Dave Grossman examines mechanisms that enable us not just to ignore but even cheer such killings: cultural distance (“such as racial and ethnic differences that permit the killer to dehumanise the victim”); moral distance (“the kind of intense belief in moral superiority”); and mechanical distance (“the sterile, Nintendo-game unreality of killing through a TV screen, a thermal sight, a sniper sight or some other kind of mechanical buffer that permits the killer to deny the humanity of his victim”).

Thus western liberals who fall over one another to condemn the death penalty for murderers – who have, incidentally, had the benefit of lawyers, trials and appeals – as state-sponsored murder fall quiet as their states kill, with impunity, nuclear scientists, terror suspects and alleged militants in faraway lands. Yet a “targeted killing”, human-rights lawyer and anti-drone activist Clive Stafford Smith tells me, “is just the death penalty without due process”.

Cognitive dissonance abounds. To torture a terror suspect, for example, is always morally wrong; to kill him, video game style, with a missile fired from a remote-controlled drone, is morally justified. Crippled by fear and insecurity, we have sleepwalked into a situation where governments have arrogated to themselves the right to murder their enemies abroad.

Nor are we only talking about foreigners here. Take Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamist preacher, al-Qaida supporter – and US citizen. On 30 September 2011, a CIA drone killed Awlaki and another US citizen, Samir Khan. Two weeks later, another CIA-led drone attack killed Awlaki’s 21-year-old son, Abdul-Rahman. Neither father nor son were ever indicted, let alone tried or convicted, for committing a crime. Both US citizens were assassinated by the US government in violation of the Fifth Amendment (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”).

An investigation by Reuters last October noted how, under the Obama administration, US citizens accused of involvement in terrorism can now be “placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions … There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel … Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.”

Should “secret panels” and “kill lists” be tolerated in a liberal democracy, governed by the rule of law? Did the founders of the United States intend for its president to be judge, jury and executioner? Whatever happened to checks and balances? Or due process?

Imagine the response of our politicians and pundits to a campaign of assassinations against western scientists conducted by, say, Iran or North Korea. When it comes to state-sponsored killings, the double standard is brazen. “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them,” George Orwell observed, “and there is almost no kind of outrage … which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side”.

But how many more of our values will we shred in the name of security? Once we have allowed our governments to order the killing of fellow citizens, fellow human beings, in secret, without oversight or accountability, what other powers will we dare deny them?

This isn’t complicated; there are no shades of grey here. Do we disapprove of car bombings and drive-by shootings, or not? Do we consistently condemn state-sponsored, extrajudicial killings as acts of pure terror, no matter where in the world, or on whose orders, they occur? Or do we shrug our shoulders, turn a blind eye and continue our descent into lawless barbarism?

Free Nasrin Sotoudeh- Human Rights Defender Iran


Nasrin Sotoudeh is a lawyer, human rights campaigner and women’s rights activist.

Nasrin has defended the rights of many activists who have been arrested, tried unfairly and jailed, including Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Nasrin has spoken publicly about the shortcomings of the Iranian legal system and is famous for defending young offenders on death row. Her activities made her a target, and she was arrested in September 2010.

In January 2011, Nasrin was sentenced to 11 years in prison. In mid-September 2011, the Appeals Court reduced her prison sentence to 6 years and a ban against practising law from 20 years to 10. The charges against her include “acts against national security”, “anti-regime propaganda” and belonging to the Centre for Human Rights Defenders.

For most of the past year, Nasrin Sotoudeh has been in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Three hunger strikes have weakened her health. She took that drastic action to protest her imprisonment, lack of trial and her conditions of detention.

Her detention affects many others. By repressing lawyers like Nasrin and by marginalizing the Iranian Bar Association, the government denies other critics of the government the right to access competent legal representation. One of her own lawyers is currently in detention, too. Nasrin’s husband, Reza Khandan, was pressured with threats and brief imprisonment to make his wife stop her activities. He remains at risk of further harassment and faces a possible trial and imprisonment. They have two children.

Do sign the Online petition

Nasrin received the 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. She belongs to several organizations including the One Million Signatures Campaign to Change Discriminatory Laws Against Women, and the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child.

Amnesty International considers Nasrin Sotoudeh to be a prisoner of conscience because she is in custody only for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression and association. This includes her professional work as a lawyer.

In the words of Nasrin’s husband, Reza Khandan:

“If any government can block the power of a human rights attorney, its hands are free to treat its critics and opponents in any manner it desires. Unfortunately the international community allowed the government to break this barrier.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh, as you will know, was sentenced on Sunday, 9th January 2011, to 11 years imprisonment.
Reportedly, this includes 5 years for ‘violating the Islamic dress code (Hejab)’ in a filmed acceptance speech, in which she was accepting a Human Rights Prize by the International Committee on Human Rights, in 2008. She was not permitted to leave the country, at the time, to travel to Italy to accept the award.

A further 5 years of the sentence is for ‘acting against the national security of the country’ and 1 year is for ‘propaganda against the regime’.

She has also been banned from practising law and leaving the country for 20 years. It is possible that an appeal against the sentence can be requested within 20 days.

Nasrin’s husband, Reza, was summoned to the Revolutionary Court. In a statement, he said:

“I have been asked to appear at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court. In the written summons, the word ‘defendant’ was used when referring to me. Of course I was also summoned once about ten to twelve days before my wife was arrested and at the time I was warned about the interviews I had given.”

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says the ‘UN Human Rights Council Should Act to Address the Crisis.’ The ICHRI also says that Nasrin has ‘reportedly been tortured in prison in order to force her to confess to crimes’.

I would like to draw your attention to important legal points raised recently by renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Mehrangiz Kar, when discussing Ms Sotoudeh’s case:

“Under the concept of a fair trial, the key thing is to have access to lawyers and this is not being practiced. It is routinely being violated.
Article 168 of the Iranian constitution states:
‘All political prisoners are afforded right to a jury trial and must be public’.

When there is not a jury during the trial, that trial is not legal even under the Islamic Republic’s structure. This has been routinely violated since the 2009 elections.”

On  December 10, 2011  Nasrin Sotoudeh the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran launched the “Free Sotoudeh Project,” a campaign aimed at building international support for the release of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and highlighting the tragic situation of Iranian prisoners of conscience.