Persecution of Victims of Crimes Against Human Rights and Political Activists
Jila Karamzadeh-Makvandi (f), a supporter of the “Mourning Mothers”, was arrested on 27 December 2011 at the Passport Department in capital Tehran and taken to Evin Prison to serve her two-year prison sentence.
Leila Seyfollahi (f) and Nader Ahsani (m), two other supporters of the Mourning Mothers, are also at risk of arbitrary arrest, as their prison sentences have been upheld. The three were arrested, together with several other supporters of the Mourning Mothers, in February 2010, and spent over a month in solitary detention before being released on bail. They were tried in February 2011 on charges of “assembly and collusion to commit crimes against the national security and propaganda against the state.” The court ruling accused them of involvement in establishment of “an illegal organisation against the national security, namely the Mourning Mothers” and claiming to be “human rights defenders.”
The Islamic Revolution Court initially sentenced Jila Karamzadeh-Makvandi and Leila Seyfollahi to four years in prison each and Nader Ahsani to two years imprisonment. It was reported in early November 2011 that the appeals court had sentenced Ms Karamzadeh-Makvandi and Ms Seyfollahi each to two years in prison as well as to two years suspended prison sentence, and had upheld Nader Ahsani’s two-year prison sentence.
Jila Mahdavian, and her daughter Maryam Najafi, two supporters of the Mourning Mothers, were summoned to the Islamic Revolution Court on 25 December 2011 and were notified that they had been sentenced to five years and 6 months in prison, respectively. Maryam Najafi also received an 18-month suspended prison sentence. They have 20 days to appeal their sentences.
The two had been arrested on 9 October 2010 and spent 50 days and 13 days in detention, respectively, before being released on bail. They were tried by the Islamic Revolution Court on 30 November 2011. Charges against Jila Mahdavian included “taking part in disturbances, acting against national security, membership of the Mourning Mothers, testifying in German courts against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and attempting to leave the country illegally.” Maryam Najafi was charged with “acting against the national security and attempting to leave the country illegally.” Ms. Mahdavian’s son Hessam Tarmassi was stabbed with poisonous knife after being released from 11 months of detention in 2009-2010 and is reportedly still ill.
Mansoureh Behkish, another supporter of the Mourning Mothers, stood trial at the Islamic Revolution Court on 25 December 2011 on charges of “propaganda against the system” and “assembly and collusion to undermine national security through establishment of the Mourning Mothers group.” She rejected all the charges. The court decision is pending.
Having lost six members of her family in the secret executions of the 1980s, she has been arrested several times during the past couple of decades. She was arrested on the street on 12 June 2011 and spent a month in solitary confinement before being released on bail.
Political activists prosecuted for exercise of right of association
Moderate and peaceful political parties and groups and their activists have also been increasingly targeted and many of their members are now serving prison terms.
On 27 December 2011, Ebrahim Yazdi, the 80-year-old leader of Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) and former foreign minister, was reportedly informed of an 8-year prison sentence. Ebrahim Yazdi has been detained three times since the 2009 presidential elections, including a six-month detention from October 2010 to March 2011. He appeared in court on 2 November 2011 on charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security, propaganda against the state, establishment and administration of the FMI.” He described the Islamic Revolution Court unconstitutional, rejected its jurisdiction to try him and refused to offer a defence bill.
Another senior member of the FMI and former mayor of Tehran, Mr Mohammad Tavassoli, and Dr Ali Rashidi, a leading economist, senior member of the “National Front of Iran” and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran, have been in arbitrary detention since 3 November 2011.
Mothers of Park Laleh (Mourning Mothers of Iran) are women whose children have been executed, killed, or disappeared since the early 1980s. They have been organising silent public protests in Tehran’s Laleh Park in the aftermath of the post-election violence in June 2009. They have demanded the State’s acknowledgement of the 1980s mass secret executions in the prisons, the right to know the burial places of their beloved and they stand for abolition of the death penalty, freedom of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and public trial of all those responsible for the crimes committed since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. They have been increasingly targeted with harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and imprisonment.
Freedom Movement of Iran, a nationalist group, was established in 1961 and its members faced prosecution and suppression under the former Shah’s regime. Its leaders formed the first post-revolution government but resigned later and some of them served prison terms under the present regime.
National Front of Iran is a secular nationalist organisation that was also suppressed under the Shah and later under the present regime. Its members were ministers in the first post-revolution government.
Karim Lahidji, vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and president of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), said today: “The Islamic Republic of Iran has consistently denied the right to freedom of assembly and association and violated Articles 21 and 22 of the ICCPR. Independent organisations of workers, students, teachers, journalists, human rights defenders and even moderate political groups are banned, and even groups of victims such as the Mourning Mothers that seek to make the authorities accountable for their crimes are increasingly targeted and their supporters persecuted. The authorities must urgently heed the ‘Concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee’ to ensure that the right to freedom of assembly and association is guaranteed to all individuals without discrimination and release immediately and unconditionally anyone held solely for the peaceful exercise of this right.”
For more information, see the latest joint FIDH-LDDHI report: “Iran: Suppression of freedom, prison, torture, execution… A state policy of repression”