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Iran: Alleged juvenile offender among 10 hunger strikers threatened with immediate execution - The Iranian authorities' threat to expedite the execution of 10 men on death row in retaliation for going on hunger strike is deplorable, said Amnesty International as it called for the death sentences to be commuted immediately.

One of the 10, Saman Naseem, was sentenced to death in 2013 for engaging in armed activities against the state after he allegedly participated in a gun battle while he was a child during which a member of the Iran's Revolutionary Guards was killed. The 10 men are among 24 prisoners from Iran's Kurdish minority who have been on hunger strike since 20 November 2014 in protest at the conditions of Ward 12 of Oroumieh Central Prison, West Azerbaijan Province, where political prisoners are held.
"It is truly deplorable that the Iranian authorities are playing games with the lives of these men in such a manner. Resorting to death threats and other punitive measures to quell prisoners' hunger strikes only serves to underscore how rotten Iran's criminal justice system is," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"Saman Naseem was a child at the time of his alleged offence. He says he has been tortured in detention and forced to "confess". Now, the authorities are effectively blackmailing him with the prospect of death. Executing him would be a flagrant violation of international law. His sentence must be commuted immediately."
Amnesty International is calling for Saman Naseem's case to be re-examined fairly without recourse to the death penalty or relying on torture-tainted evidence, and taking into account provisions of Iran's revised Penal Code that exclude the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders in certain situations.
Saman Naseem was arrested on 17 July 2011 when he was just 17 years old. He was held for two months at a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre in Oroumieh, West Azarbaijan Province. While there, he said he was tortured by interrogators who pulled out his fingernails and toenails, and beat him leaving bruises on his back, legs and abdomen. He also said he was forced to sign a written "confession" while blindfolded.
On 14 December, Saman Naseem was transferred to a prison clinic suffering from low blood pressure and physical weakness, but he refused to break his hunger strike. He was returned to Ward 12 the same day.
Prisoners in Ward 12 at Oroumieh Central Prison went on hunger strike to protest against a decision to transfer 40 prisoners convicted of serious crimes, such as murder and armed robbery, to their ward leading to a deterioration in their security.
In addition to execution threats, the prison authorities have also reportedly subjected those on hunger strike to beatings and other punitive practices and threatened them with transfer to remote prisons in the south of the country, so as to force them to end their hunger strike.
The prisoners, who are all members of Iran's Kurdish minority, say that they will continue their hunger strike until the authorities put an end to the abuse of prisoners. The hunger strikers who are not on death row are serving prison sentences ranging from six months to 34 years.
"The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment under any circumstances. Instead of dealing out threats of execution against these prisoners the authorities must commute their death sentences and ensure they are treated humanely," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Saman Naseem was sentenced to death on charges of "enmity against God" (moharebeh) and "corruption on earth" (ifsad fil-arz) for allegedly carrying out armed activities against Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
He was first sentenced to death in January 2012 by the Revolutionary Court of Mahabad but the sentence was overturned by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court in August that year for lack of jurisdiction by the Revolutionary Court and because Saman Naseem was under 18 at the time of the alleged offence. His case was reverted to Branch 2 of the Criminal Court of West Azerbaijan Province for re-trial.
In April 2013 he was sentenced to death again by Branch 2 of the Criminal Court of West Azerbaijan Province. The judgement made no mention of the issue that Saman Naseem was under 18 at the time of the alleged the crime. Branch 32 of the Supreme Court subsequently upheld his death sentence in December 2013. He could be executed at any time as his death sentence has been sent to the Office of the Implementation of Sentences.
Under Iran's revised Islamic Penal Code, passed into law in May 2013, the execution of offenders under the age of 18 is allowed under qesas (retribution-in-kind) and hodoud crimes under Islamic law, unless the juvenile offender is found to have not understood the nature of the crime or its consequences, or if there are doubts about their mental capacity.
In 2014, Amnesty International received reports of the execution of at least 14 individuals for crimes allegedly committed while they were under 18 years of age. The use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders is strictly prohibited under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of a Child, which Iran is a party to.
The names of the other nine prisoners on death row are, in alphabetical order: Ali Afshari, Habib Afshari, Behrouz Alkhani, Mohammad Abdollahi, Sayed Sami Hosseini, Sayed Jamal Mohammadi, Sirvan Nejavi, Ebrahim Rezapour, Ali Ahmad Soleiman.

Marzieh Rasouli Letter to Bahareh Hedayat

PayvandNews - Below are excerpts of a letter written by Journalist Marzieh Rasouli, to Bahareh Hedayat, imprisoned student and women's rights activist. Marzieh and Bahareh were in Evin prison together for a short while.

Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand receives the ICHR's prestigious human rights award

PayvandNews -Toronto, Ontario 16 December 2014- The International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) announced today that Mr. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, received the ICHR's prestigious human rights award for 2014. Although he is currently imprisoned the award recognizes his efforts to defend the right of Iranian Kurds under persecution.

After a careful review of nominations, ICHR's Award Committee selected Mr. Kaboudvand due to his significant contribution to advancing and protecting human rights for Kurdish people in Iran and neighbouring countries.

The main speakers of the night who made remarks on the condition of human rights in the Middle East included, Willowdale M.P. C.S. Leung, Human Rights Advocate Rev. Majed Al Shafie and ICHR Exective Director Ardeshir Zarezadeh.

Unfortunately Mr. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand could not attend the Award Ceremony since he is currently serving a jail sentence in Tehran. Regardless, ICHR Executive Director Ardeshir Zarezadeh, expressed his gratitude for Kaboudvand's work while Ms. Ava Homa received the Award on his behalf.

During the opening speech Executive Director Ardeshir Zarezadeh expressed his gratitude for the Canadian government's dedication in defending human rights in Iran, Iraq, Syria and neighboring countries. He also stated a firm belief that Canada chose the right method in dealing with Dictators and Terrorists in the region.

"We urge the international community to continue their work and coordinate their efforts with locals to protect the lives of Iraqi's and Syrians. The civilians fleeing from terrorist attacks who are in greatest danger include women, children, persons with disabilities, minorities from ethnic and religious groups. The international community must protect these people so ISIL and its associates are brought to justice."

The ICHR's 2013 award winners were, Mr. Alex Neve and Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani. In 2012 the organization awarded, Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam. While in 2011 Mr. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi received the first award even given out by ICHR.

Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand

The ICHR award winner, Mr. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand is an Iranian Kurdish human rights activist and journalist. He was the editor of Payam-e Mardom magazine. Also in 2005 he became the founder of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization. The award recipient has been in prison since June 2007 and is continuing to serve an eleven year sentence. For five tortuous months he was kept in Evin Prison's section 209 and 240 solitary confinement.

According to human rights groups he is being held "without adequate medical care despite reportedly suffering from serious health problems." Reports also showed that in April 2008, he suffered a stroke and was taken to a specialist for treatment. If things could not get worse, in October 2008 the Iranian court of appeal upheld Mr. Kaboudvand's eleven year prison sentence.

Mr. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudavand documented and reported on human rights violations in Iran's Kurdish areas, from April 2005, when he established the organization (HROK), until the time of his arrest.

The charges he was convicted of are "acting against national security through founding of HROK," "widespread propaganda against the state by disseminating news," "opposing Islamic penal laws by publicizing punishments such as stoning and executions," and "advocating on behalf of political prisoners."

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Minister says administration powerless to end house arrests

karroubi-rahnavard-mousavi-wifekarroubiRadiozamaneh - Iran's Justice Minister says the administration has no jurisdiction over the opposition leaders' continued house arrest, and this issue can only be decided by the National Security Council.

Ex-U.S. Marine Held In Iran To Start Hunger Strike

amir-hekmatiRFL/RE - The family of a former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran says he is going on a hunger strike.

Sarah Hekmati said in an e-mail to the Associated Press that her brother, Amir, told the family by phone on December 16 about the hunger strike.

Hekmati, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for collaborating with the U.S. government. He says he is innocent.

Sarah also said her brother had dictated a letter asking U.S. President Barack Obama not to forget him as dialogue continues between Washington and Tehran over Iran's nuclear program.

The letter called on Obama to "make it clear" that his "case is unrelated and should be resolved independent" of those talks.

The U.S. government has asked Iran to free Hekmati, whose family lives in Michigan.

Based on reporting by AP

Hunger Strike Passes 19th Day

Roozonline - As the hunger strike of 27 political prisoners in the town of Orumiyeh, west of Tabriz in north-western part of Iran, entered its 19th day, news came that the prisoners were denied telephone calls to their relatives, cutting off all communications with the outside world. Kamal Hosseini, a reporter in West Azerbaijan province told Rooz that the prisoners had told him earlier that they would continue their hunger strike until their demands are met.


Kaveh Ghoreishi

On November 29 Mansoor Arvand, a political prisoner on a hunger strike who has been sentenced to death was transferred to the prison in the town of Mahabad, the capital of the province of Wet Azerbaijan, also in north-western Iran. In recent days, Jaafar Afshari and other Kurdish political prisoners were moved to the workers ward of the prison in Orumiyeh.

Reporter Hosseini who has been following the movements of these political prisoners said that with the transfer of two of the prisoners, now only 27 of them are in hunger strike. He said relatives who had visited these prisoners earlier had spoken of the deteriorating health conditions of Alireza Rasooli. He began his hunger strike about 10 days ago in protest to not being transferred to a hospital outside the prison. Rasooli's had been reported earlier to have health problems and had in fact gone on a hunger strike once before during the month of Shahrivar (8/23 to 9/22). At that time prison officials agreed to take him to a hospital outside the prison where he received treatment. He was returned to the same ward on his return. He faces charges of cooperating with one of the armed Kurdish groups while his relatives say he was arrested along with others who had gathered in front of the education department in the town of Mahabad in support of children from the town of Shinabad.

The 27 prisoners who are on hunger strike are demanding that a separate ward be constructed in the Orumiyeh's 15-ward prison reserved for political prisoners, a common practice in other prisons. Officials have said the prison has no space for such a separate facility.

In addition to prisoners from the province, Orumiyeh prison also houses political prisoners from other jurisdictions across Iran, particularly those of Kurdish ethnicity. Prisoners in Orumiyeh have a record of hunger strikes in the past.

Detention taking ‘devastating toll’ on Post reporter locked up in Iran Share on Facebook Share on Tw

jason-rezaianWashington Post - The prison cell that has been Jason Rezaian's home for most of the past 141 days has no mattress. He has slept on blankets on the hard floor and awakened each morning with back pain, for which he has received no treatment.

Jailed activists assess government’s record on rights

Radiozamaneh - Five jailed Iranian activists issued a statement marking Human Rights Day on December 10, commenting on the state of human rights in Iran.

Abdolfattah Soltani, Saeed Madani, Mehdi Khodayi, Keyvan Samimi and Saeed Razavi issued a statement commending "the relative efforts of the Iranian administration toward improving the situation" in Iran. The expressed support for "the return of expelled professors and students to universities", "the drafting of a citizen's bill of rights", "efforts to remedy environmental problems" and "the approval of a comprehensive plan for free access to information."

They go on to add, however, that due to the power structure in the Islamic Republic and the concentration of so much power in unelected and unaccountable institutions, human rights violations continue in such a manner that one cannot take heart in the few achievements of this government.

The signatories cite violations of due and fair process, a rise in the issuance and execution of unjust sentences and the failure to adhere to certain sections of the Islamic Penal Code that would lead to the release of many prisoners (namely Article 134 of the Code) as some of the main examples of human rights violation.

The statement also refers to the actions of plainclothes morality and hijab enforcers as a sign of the intensification of systematic violence and discrimination against women, another example of human rights violations.

The five activists urge the government to make every effort to take effective steps to end the continued systematic violation of human rights in Iran.

Tags: human rights

Condemned prisoners sent to solitary in another prison

prisonRadiozamaneh - Thirty-five Iranian prisoners on death row in Qezel Hessar Prison were transferred on Sunday December 7 to solitary confinement in Rejai Shahr Prison in Karaj.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that some prisoners have said the transfer could be a step toward their execution.

Ward 2 prisoners in Qezel Hessar have been on a hunger strike since last week to protest the sudden rise in the number of executions in recent weeks. The prisoners were threatened by prison authorities with a further rise in executions if they didn’t end their strike.

There are 3,000 prisoners in Ward 2 of Qezel Hessar sentenced for drug charges and 1,000 of them are sentenced to death.

Last fall, a hunger strike by prisoners forced the authorities to halt executions for about six months.

According to Iranian penal law, the transportation or possession of a certain amount of drugs carries the death penalty.

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