Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Unknown

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam

Case

Date of Execution: April, 2011
Location: Khuzestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial killing
Charges: Unknown charge

Human rights violations in this case

Extrajudicial killings


Since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, national and international human rights organizations have blamed the Islamic Republic authorities for the extrajudicial killing of their opponents, both within and outside of Iran's borders. Although over two hundred cases have been reported, the exact number of victims remains unknown.

Extrajudicial executions carried out in Iran are rarely investigated; the few cases that have been investigated have indicated that the Iranian state security apparatus has been involved. Agents of the Islamic Republic have also targeted dissidents outside the country, assassinating opposition members in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and in the United States,.

In many assassination cases outside Iran, local authorities have made no arrests. However, investigations, when they have taken place and been made public, have led to the single hypothesis of State ordered crimes. The organization and execution of these crimes constitute a pattern that Swiss prosecutor Roland Chatelain describes as “common parameters” following a “meticulous preparation.” Similarities between different cases in different countries have created a coherent set of presumptions designating the Islamic Republic as the instigator of these assassinations.

 

In cases involving prominent Iranians assassinated in France, Germany, and Switzerland, local prosecutors have provided evidence linking Iranian authorities to the crimes in question.

 

In France, for example, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 1991 murder of two dissidents. In Germany, agents of Iran's secret services and Lebanese Hezbollah have been convicted for the 1992 murder of four dissidents in Berlin. Currently, the Islamic Republic's Minister of Information and Security at the time of this murder is under an International arrest Warrant launched by German judicial authorities for his involvement.

 

The German court in Berlin found that Iran's political leadership ordered the murder through a "Committee for Special Operations," whose members reportedly include the Leader of the Islamic Republic, the President, the Minister of Information and Security, and other security officials.



The Islamic Republic’s officials have claimed responsibility for some of these assassinations while denying involvement in others. In the 1980s, Iranian authorities justified extrajudicial executions of dissidents and members of the former regime and actively worked for the release of Iranians and non-Iranian agents who were detained or convicted in the West for their involvement in those killings. During the 1990s, they systematically denied any involvement in extrajudicial killings and often credited the killings to infighting amongst the opposition.

 

Still, the rationale supporting these killings was articulated as early as in the spring of 1979 when the First Revolutionary religious judge publicly announced the regime's intention to carry out extrajudicial executions. He said:

 

“no state has the right to try as a terrorist the person who kills [exiles] in foreign lands, for this person is implementing the verdict issued by the Islamic Revolutionary tribunal.”

 

More than a decade later, in August, 1992, the Minister of Intelligence and Security publicly boasted about the success of Iran's security forces, alluding to the elimination of dissidents:

 

"We have been able to deal blows to many of the mini-groups outside the country and on the borders...."

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, some or all of the following human rights may have been violated in this case:

 

·         The right not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.

 

UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.

 

·         The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

 

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2;

 

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1  and Article 6.

 

In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

 

·         The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

 

UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.

 

·         The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade union for the protection of one’s interests.

 

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

 

·         The right, as a member of a religious or ethnic minority, to enjoy one’s own culture or to profess and practice one’s own religion.

 

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 27.

 

The right to due process

 

·         The right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with law.

 

UDHR, Article 11.1; ICCPR, Article 14.1 and Article 14.2.

Pre-trial detention rights

 

·         The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence

 

ICCPR, Article 14.3.d;

 

Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1 , Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.

 

·         The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.

 

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8

 

 

·         The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

 

UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1, and Article 2.

 

Trial rights

 

·         The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.

 

ICCPR, Article 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

 

·         The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.

 

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e

 

·         The right to have the decision rendered in public.

 

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

 

Judgment rights

 

·         The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

 

ICCPR, Article 14.5.

 

·         The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

 

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

 

Capital punishment

 

·         The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.

 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.

 

·         The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

 

ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.

About this Case

The news of an unknown person who was killed along with 11 other Arab residents of Khuzestan during the protests of 15 April 2011, quoted from Ms. Shirin Ebadi's letter to Ms. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was published on several websites including Radio Farda (18 April 2011) and BBC (18 April 2011). On the week leading up to the anniversary of the 2005 protests - according to Human Rights Watch - police and Basij forces had set up a series of checkpoints in different cities of Khuzestan, where they intended to arrest several of the Arab activists.

Additional information was collected from several sources including: an announcement from Amnesty international (4/19/2011); an announcement from Human Rights Watch (4/29/2011); the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization; Fars News (04/16/2011) and HRANA (04/16/2011).

The Officials’ Reaction

Iranian judicial and state authorities did not provide a clear explanation about the number or names of those killed during the protests of April 2011 in different areas of the province. Fars news quoted the commander of the Shadegan Police station that one person was killed, and the head of the police station of the Abudi area of Shadegan was injured during clashes with "armed insurgents.” In another response, the temporary leader of Ahvaz Friday prayers, Ayatollah Al-e Kasiri, said that people in Khuzestan are separated from limited anti-revolutionary groups, affiliated with the west (Fars News 04/16/2011). According to the information in Ms. Ebadi’s letter to UN Human Rights Commissioner, security forces used threats to silence the families of those killed and arrested several family members who were interviewed by Arab media.

The Family’s Remarks

No information regarding remarks or reactions by family is available.

A Summary of the Khuzestan Protests

Subsequent to the publication of a letter dated July 24, 1998, ascribed to then-President Khatami’s Chief of Staff, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, demonstrations protesting the letter broke out on Friday, April 15, 2005, first in [the city of] Ahvaz, and then in other cities, such as Mahshahr and Hamidideh, and continued for several days. The letter emphasized the modification of Khuzestan Province’s ethnic Arab population through promotion and encouragement of the migration of non-native populations to the province, [thus] reducing Khuzestan’s Arab population to one third of the total population of the province. Although the government’s spokesperson officially denied [the existence of] this letter on Saturday, April 16, the demonstrations that had been called for by the “Coordination Committee for Popular Protests in Ahvaz”* continued extensively in the coming days. In calling for demonstrations, [the organizers] highlighted various factors, including the central government’s policies in expropriating Arab farmers’ lands for various projects such as sugar cane development, and marginalization of, as well as profound discontent among, Khuzestan’s Arab [population], as a result of the regime’s efforts to obliterate Arab identity.

The demonstrations that had started in Kui-e Alavi (Shelangabad/Da’ereh),, one of [the city of] Ahvaz’s poor neighborhoods, quickly spread to the center of Ahvaz and to the cities of Mahshahr and Hamidieh. Citing Ahvaz News (a regional news organization) and eyewitnesses at the scene, the Ahvaz Human Rights Organization’s bulletin, dated April 15, 2005, stated, “Around three thousand Arab people of Ahvaz have gathered together and started extensive but peaceful demonstrations in Kordovani Street and Square, along with thousands of others in neighborhoods such as Shelangabad, Malashieh, Ameri, and Kut Abdollah, among others. Security forces are attacking the demonstrators, first with tear gas, and are subsequently firing on them in Da’ereh and Malashieh neighborhoods.” The degree of violence resorted to by security and police forces in quashing the demonstrations was such that it led to the death of a number of protestors. Dozens more were injured. Subsequent to these deaths, the intensity and magnitude of the protests increased. In a number of towns, demonstrators proceeded to cut off roads and to occupy government buildings and police posts. These protests continued for ten days in many Arab regions of Khuzestan. Protestors demanded a government apology to the region’s Arabs. Official government sources, quoting the Islamic Republic’s Defense Minister, announced the death toll as standing at three or four. (ISNA, April 19, 2005) Civil society activists, however, declared the number of people killed during these events to be between 50 and 60. Amnesty International stated the number as 29; Human Rights Watch, 50; and the Ahvaz Human Rights Organization, 160. Dozens of others were injured. The Ahvaz General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office announced the arrest and arraignment of 447 individuals. (IRNA, April 25, 2005) Local sources, however, announced the number as being greater than 1200. A number of intellectuals and ethnic leaders were among those arrested. Although the demonstrations subsided after ten days, widespread arrests, multiple bombings, successive executions, and popular protests continued on various occasions, including the anniversary of the events.

Related Protests in the Following Years

In the years since the violent incidents of April 15, 2005, the regime’s forces have continued to violently suppress the peaceful protests of the Arab citizens of Khuzestan Province, whenever they occur, including on the anniversary of the protests. Every year, as April 15th nears, a wave of arrests takes over the entire region. Internet access is cut off, and other means of communication, such as telephones, are tapped and strictly controlled by the security apparatus. Certain cases of death in suspicious circumstances have even been reported by local sources.

On November 4, 2005, after the Eid al-Fitr prayers, Arab citizens of [the city of] Ahvaz started a peaceful march. On the route to Lashgarabad, every time they would reach the homes of those who had perished in the April 15th protests, they would chant local and Arabic slogans as part of the new Eid ceremonies. On their way back, while on the Fifth Bridge of the Karun River, a large number of the protestors were surrounded on both sides of the bridge by Revolutionary Guards, Bassij, and police forces. The attempt by these forces to arrest and severely punish the demonstrators who had been trapped on the bridge led to the escalation of the protests. A large number of the demonstrators were arrested, and some jumped into the Karun River for fear of arrest.

Further, on October 13, 2007, after the Eid al-Fitr prayers, thousands of Arab citizens started peaceful protests in [the town of] Hamidieh, chanting Arabic and epic slogans and songs. (Ahwaz Human Rights Organization) Dozens were beaten and arrested when security and police forces violently intervened in the protests. There are no reports of protestors having been killed on the day of Eid al-Fitr. Somewhat later, after the demonstrations, however, the bodies of 4 citizens were found in the Karun River. According to activists, their hands were tied with plastic handcuffs, and signs of torture were visible on their bodies. (Ahwaz News Agency)

On April 15, 2011, the sixth anniversary of the 2005 protests and shortly after the rise of the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, demonstrations of “A Day of Anger” were organized (in solidarity with the “Day of Anger” demonstrations in other Arab countries of the region) in the regions of Khuzestan Province’s with predominantly Arab residents. In Hamidieh and Ahvaz, demonstrations were more widespread and were, therefore, violently quashed by security and police forces, resulting in at least twelve dead and more than twenty injured. (Human Rights Defenders) Additionally, hundreds of other Arab citizens were arrested. International human rights organizations condemned the suppression of demonstrations and the ban on news coverage by Iranian authorities, and asked the Islamic Republic authorities to allow journalists and human rights organizations to independently investigate and freely send reports in order to identify the victims of the demonstrations in Ahvaz and other cities of Khuzestan with predominantly Arab residents. (Reporters Without Borders, April 23, 2011, Human Rights Watch, April 29, 2011)

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* The “Committee for Organizing Popular Protests in Ahvaz” was a committee consisting of different political groups, including the “Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement In Ahwaz” and the “Wefaq Party,” and civil and cultural institutions such as the “Amjad Institute” and “Al-Shorouq,” as well as Arab civil activists.  The first critical statement by the “Arab National Democratic Movement of Ahvaz” was issued on April 9, 2005.

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