Reporters Without Border     |    Jan. 15, 2022

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is asking the UN to set up an independent international commission of enquiry into the death of Baktash Abtin, an Iranian journalist and writer who died on 8 January as a result of not being treated when he caught Covid-19 in Tehran’s Evin prison.

A member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, Baktash Abtin was transferred too late to hospital by the Iranian authorities although prison officials had warned them that his condition was worsening dramatically, his lawyer told RSF.

Deprivation of medical care is deliberately used by the Iranian authorities as a way to eliminate imprisoned dissidents,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk. “We urge the UN rapporteurs on the human rights situation in Iran, on extrajudicial executions and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to shed all possible light on Baktash Abtin’s death. It is time to put a stop to this kind of criminal behaviour, which amounts to state murder.

Depriving detainees of medical attention violates the ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It violates the laws that the Iranian authorities themselves have undertaken to respect, the rules that they have decreed, as well as international norms established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran signed.

Authorities ignored warnings

Abtin’s lawyer, Naser Zarafshan, who is also a member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, warned prison officials on 27 November that Abtin’s condition was worsening, that he had a fever and was coughing and that his entire body was aching. But it wasn’t until 5 December that he was transferred to Tehran’s Taleghani hospital and another three days went by before his family was informed.

For six days, neither the family nor friends of this journalist, who was chained to his bed, knew what he really had,” Zarafshan told RSF. “The guards even refused to let his family bring him a fruit juice.” By the time of his transfer to Taleghani hospital he had developed a severe form of Covid-19 and more than 78% of his lungs were infected. “It was too late,” Zarafshan added.

Abtin’s state of health had long been a source of concern. He suffered a previous bout of Covid-19 in April 2021, when the authorities also delayed treatment. Several doctors called for his release at the time, saying his state of health was incompatible with continued detention, but their appeal went unanswered.

Concern about other imprisoned journalists

The fate of other ailing imprisoned journalists is a source of great concern. One of the world’s oldest imprisoned journalists, Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, the 73-year-old editor of the monthly Iran Farda, continues to be detained although doctors have certified that his condition is incompatible with imprisonment. And his situation could quickly worsen following the publication of a letter in which he blames the Iranian judicial authorities for Abtin’s death. He could be transferred to another prison, putting his life in danger.

Many other journalists who are members of the Iranian Writers’ Association are also in prison. They include Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Kayvan Bagen and Khosro Sadeghi Borjeni. Although it is Iran’s oldest civil society organisation, the association’s activities have been banned under both the Shah and the Islamic Revolution. Two of its representatives, the writers and journalists Mohamad Makhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, were murdered in 1998.

Died in prison

Abtin is far from being the first Iranian journalist to die in detention. Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old photographer with Iranian and Canadian dual nationality, died on 10 July 2003 after being tortured while held. The blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi died in detention in unclear circumstances six weeks after his arrest in February 2009. Iran-e-Farda editor Hoda Saber, 52, died of a heart attack in June 2011 after being detained since the previous August. The blogger Sattar Beheshti died while being held by Iran’s cyber-police, the FTA, in November 2012. None of the perpetrators and instigators of these crimes has been brought to justice.

The Islamic Republic of Iran ranks 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

https://rsf.org/en/news/rsf-asks-un-investigate-iranian-journalist-baktash-abtins-death

Remarks by Honorable Vice President Mike Pence

Washington, DC, October 28, 2021

Thank you all.
Washington, DC, Thank you for that warm welcome. And it is my great honor to address the Free Iran 2021 summit. Today, along with all of you, thousands of freedom loving people across the United States and Europe, Iran and nations around the world are joining together in pursuit of a common cause, the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny and the rebirth of a free and peaceful, and prosperous and democratic Iran.

It is very humbling for me to be here with all of you, and with the distinguished Americans that you’ll be hearing from in the balance of this program. And I know I speak for them when I say I want to thank you, I want to thank you for your courageous work, the work you’re doing to promote a free Iran. Thank you all for standing for freedom, for the Iranian people.

Now, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to speak at length about Iran since completing my term as Vice President of the United States. And while I no longer speak on behalf of the United States government, I can assure you, as others, you will hear from today my countrymen. I’m confident I speak for the views of tens of millions of Americans. And I tell you with certainty that the American people support your goal of establishing a democratic, secular, nonnuclear Iranian Republic that derives its powers from the consent of the governed.

Many American citizens trace their family roots to Iran. More than 1.5 million Americans, including many gathered here and looking on across the country, were born in Iran, which means the United States is home to more members of the Iranian diaspora than any other nation on earth. And America has been incredibly enriched by your contributions to our culture, our economy, and our society. Most Iranian Americans came to the United States following the tragic events after the revolution in 1979.

They chose to make the United States their home because they knew that America is and will always remain the land of Liberty.

But for those who were left behind, many of your family members and to those that are looking on from afar, life over those years has been full of misery and hardship.

What the Iranian people have endured since 1979 will be recorded by history as one of the great tragedies of the modern era. As a former elected leader, as an American citizen, as a man of faith who believes that all people are created in the image of God, the Iranian people have always been on my heart throughout my 20 years in public life.
In 2009, like so many other Americans, I remember watching with great hope and anticipation as hundreds of thousands of people across Iran rose up to reclaim their birthright of freedom.

In the 2009 uprising, millions of courageous young men and women filled the streets of Tehran and Tabriz in what seemed like every city and village in between. They denounced a fraudulent election, they demanded an end decades of repression. Those brave protesters looked to America, and they looked to the leader of the free world for support.

But as I saw firsthand as a member of Congress, sadly, for days, our administration remained silent. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, it was my honor to take action, recognizing that in their hour of need there could not be an abdication of American leadership. The American cause is freedom. And in that cause, we must never be silent.

So as a member of the House International Relations Committee, I went to work. I worked with a distinguished Democrat member of Congress named Howard Berman. We authored a resolution that the late Senator John McCain and Senator Joe Lieberman, who is with us here today, introduced in the United States Senate.

We expressed America’s support for the courageous young Iranian protesters, and I’m proud to say it passed almost unanimously in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. And Senator Lieberman, thank you for your strong and decisive leadership on that day. With such strong and overwhelming and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, happily, the Obama administration joined the chorus of Americans supporting the cause of a free Iran in the days that followed. Unfortunately, the Obama-Biden administration’s halfhearted support and refusal to act ultimately emboldened Iran’s tyrannical rulers to crack down on that dissent.

The 2009 uprising was ruthlessly put down. As I said at the time, cable television channels were filled with the brutality on the streets of Tehran. We were witnessing a Tiananmen in Tehran.

But the enduring hope of a free Iran, as you approve again today, can never be extinguished. And under the Trump-Pence administration, I’m proud that America did not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the Iranian people. We did not remain silent in the face of the regime’s countless atrocities. We stood with the freedom loving people in Iran.
We stood against their tyrannical regime, as perhaps no administration had done in the modern era.

We canceled the Iran nuclear deal, which had flooded the regime’s coffers with tens of billions of dollars with pallets of cash money that it used to repress its own people and support deadly terrorist attacks across the region. We imposed crippling new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. We launched a campaign of maximum pressure, punishing the regime for its belligerent behavior, its assaults on its own citizens. We enforced sanctions to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero and deny the regime its principal source of revenue.
And we called on free nations around the world to stand with us.

We encouraged world leaders to condemn Iran’s unelected dictators and defend the Iranian people and their unalienable right to chart their own future and determine their own destiny. In no uncertain terms, we told the United Kingdom and Germany and France and Russia and China that the JCPOA was a dangerous mistake for America, for the world and for the people of Iran. And we made it clear that under no circumstances would the United States ever allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

When we came into office, Iran was sowing violence all across the region. Even in the wake of international agreements and billions of dollars of international support. We confronted the regime’s malign activities and violence in the region, and our administration did not hesitate to take decisive action against the most dangerous terrorist in the world. The head of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani is gone.

On the day we left office, the Iranian regime was more isolated than ever before.
Truth be told, as many of you know, gathered at this Free Iran Summit 2021, the Iranian regime has never been weaker than it is today. Its economy is in shambles. The inflation rate has skyrocketed. Iranian currency has lost 90% of its value. Four out of five Iranians now live below the poverty line. Corruption is at an all-time high.
And by all indications, the Iranian people are ready for change.

And there’s every indication that the tyrannical regime in Iran knows their days are numbered.
The recent selection of Ebraham Raisi to service Iran’s President, I believe, is a sign of the regime’s growing desperation and vulnerability. Thirty years ago, Raisi was in charge of the Ayatollah’s death squad, and he’s now the President of that country, a brutal mass murderer responsible in 1988 for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. His selection as President is clearly intended to quash internal dissent and intimidate the people of Iran into remaining silent.

But we must never remain silent in the face of evil. Many people attending today know well just how evil Raisi is.
Many of you gathered here, and many of you looking on, lost loved ones by Raisi’s hand. You lost your homes, your livelihoods. And as I heard in a meeting just before we gathered here, some of you barely escaped his grip with your lives.

So today, with other distinguished Americans, we join you in pledging his crimes must not go unpunished.
Ebrahim Raisi must be removed from office by the people of Iran, and he must be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide.

And today, by all indications, the resistance movement in Iran has never been stronger. Resistance units in Iran are the center of hope for the Iranian people. They’re the engine of change from within during the uprisings and continued protests. Let me be clear. And I know I speak on behalf of tens of millions of Americans, of both political parties and of every political philosophy. The American people stand unequivocally on the side of the Iranian people and their Resistance.

One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold the world is that there’s no alternative to the status quo. But there is an alternative, well organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative called the MEK.

The MEK is committed to democracy, human rights and freedom for every citizen of Iran, and it’s led by an extraordinary woman. Mrs. Rajavi is an inspiration to the world.
Her ten point plan for the future of Iran will ensure freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom for every Iranian to choose their elected leaders. Our greatest hope must always be for a peaceful, cooperative and harmonious coexistence with Iran and all the sovereign nations of the region and the world. The United States will always be ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.

But peace follows strength.
And with our current administration’s embrace with the JCPOA, their hesitation to condemn rockets being fired at our cherished ally Israel, the heartbreaking and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries may be sensing weakness in the current American administration. They may be emboldened to test our resolve. And in fact, they’ve already begun to do so with reports of an Iranian drone attack on a US base in Syria.
Weakness arouses evil.

But whatever the current decisions of the present American administration, let there be no doubt the American people are strong and the American people stand for freedom.
And I know the people of our country will remain committed to defending freedom and standing with oppressed people around the world because we know in our hearts that Iran can be a great nation once again. We know the rich history of Iran, which stretches back in time and memorial. The story of a people who have made great contributions to art, music, literature, science and commerce.

And we know your story is far from over.
As President Ronald Reagan said, there is no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.

Iran will someday be free. Because here in America, we know the Iranian people. You’ve seen all that you’ve achieved in our country when you’ve been free to pursue your hopes and your dreams. All free nations of the world must continue to support the Iranian people in their calls for freedom and demand that Iran’s leaders cease their dangerous and destabilizing actions at home and abroad. We stand with the proud people of Iran because it is right, because the regime in Tehran threatens peace and security in the world, and no oppressive regime can last forever.
I believe in all of my heart that the day will come when the Ayatollah’s ironfisted grip on Iran is ended.

I believe that a new glorious day will dawn. A bright future will begin, ushering an era of peace, stability, prosperity and freedom for the good people of Iran. And so I pray with all my heart that that day will come soon. And looking at all of your shining faces and seeing the broad support so well represented by distinguished Americans here, I believe that day of a free Iran will come soon.

Thank you.
God bless the people of Iran and God bless the United States.
https://oiac.org/remarks-by-mike-pence-at-2021-free-iran-summit/

 

Sir David Amess’ Last Article Calls for Reversing a Pattern of Appeasement by Arresting Iran’s Genocidal President

On October 15, the world was shocked to hear about the assassination of Sir David Amess. Sir David was a staunch advocate of human rights. As a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, he supported the Iranian people and their Resistance for nearly four decades. Sir David was a renowned politician who prioritized dignity and human values over politics and economic interests. In his last article in TownHall on October 14, he urged world leaders to hold the Iranian regime accountable, particularly prosecute the mullahs’ president Ebrahim Raisi for the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners.

Reverse a Pattern of Appeasement by Arresting Iran’s Genocidal President

Townhall | David Amess | Oct 14, 2021

Human rights activists have recently joined with persons affected by the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses in order to issue formal requests for the arrest of Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran. Raisi assumed office in August following months of protests by Iranian citizens and expatriates alike over his role in severe human rights violations, including the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the main opposition, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) in the summer of 1988.

Public demands for his arrest intensified in the wake of the announcement that Raisi is expected to attend the COP26 climate change conference that is scheduled to take place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12. Iranian dissidents have long criticized Western policymakers for maintaining ordinary diplomatic relationships with the Iranian regime in spite of its ongoing commitment to terrorism, suppression of dissent, nuclear proliferation, and other malign activities.

It has been evident in recent years that the European Union and certain member states have remained publicly committed to preserving and restoring a nuclear agreement that provided Iran with wide-ranging relief from economic sanctions, even as the regime’s behavior grew worse in various areas. Discussions over the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have overshadowed more and more examples of that behavior as time has gone on, and the worst consequences have been borne by the Iranian people.

Raisi’s appointment to the presidency is a vivid affirmation of those consequences, as well as a “grim reminder of the impunity that reigns supreme in Iran.” This was the language used by Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard in a statement responding to that appointment. It emphasized that instead of ascending to the presidency, Raisi should have been investigated at the international level for “the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture.”

The calls for such investigation, as well as the calls for Raisi’s arrest, are naturally focused on the 1988 massacre, but those calls are made especially urgent by Raisi’s more recent history. In 2019, as an apparent stepping-stone to the presidency, he assumed leadership of Iran’s judiciary upon the order of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In that capacity, Raisi oversaw key aspects of the crackdown on the nationwide uprising of November 2019, which saw 1,500 peaceful protesters killed in a matter of days, after which thousands of arrestees were subjected to torture over a period of several months.

That crackdown naturally helped to fuel protests against Raisi’s candidacy, but his “election” was effectively orchestrated in advance by the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council, prompting the overwhelming majority of eligible Iranian voters to boycott the polls. That protest denied Raisi the legitimacy he sought at home, so it is all the more shameful that Western powers have so far refused to deny him that legitimacy on the international stage.

Although Raisi has only held office for just over two months, his invitation to COP26 is already part of a larger pattern. His August 5 inauguration featured attendance by international dignitaries including the deputy political director for the European External Action Service, and in September the United Nations General Assembly screened a pre-recorded speech by the new Iranian president. That speech sparked simultaneous protest rallies by NCRI supporters across Europe and the Americas, which reiterated the call for Raisi and other Iranian human rights abusers to be held accountable rather than legitimized by the international community.

Fortunately, the European presence at Raisi’s inauguration appears to have inspired only limited confidence in the new administration. This is to say, Raisi’s decision not to attend the UNGA in person may reflect his fear of arrest under universal jurisdiction – something the NCRI and its allies have earnestly sought to promote.
The rallies against Raisi’s speech were accompanied by a conference in Stockholm, which highlighted the fact that at least one Western nation has resolved to live up to its reputation for defending human rights. In 2019, Swedish authorities arrested the former Iranian prison official Hamid Noury after he arrived for a visit to the country. Noury is accused of helping to carry out many of the executions that comprised the 1988 massacre, and he is currently on trial in Sweden for war crimes and mass murder.

Such prosecution is made possible by the principle that allows for severe violations of human rights to be prosecuted by any legal authority, even if the crimes actually took place in another jurisdiction. If this principle applies to Noury’s case, then it certainly applies to that of Ebrahim Raisi, whose role in the 1988 massacre was much larger and whose subsequent human rights abuses have been much more shocking and escalatory.
Such a figure has no business standing among other heads of state at an international conference in the West. If he is permitted to enter the United Kingdom next month, it should only be so that the Police in Scotland may execute an arrest warrant and launch an investigation for crimes that may include attempted genocide against moderate Muslims who challenged the regime’s fundamentalist theocracy more than 33 years ago.
Sir David Amess is a Conservative Member of the British House of Commons from Southend West.

https://townhall.com/columnists/davidamess/2021/10/14/reverse-a-pattern-of-appeasement-by-arresting-irans-genocidal-president-n2597370?1412

 

NEW EUROPE | By Patrick J. Kennedy & Alejo Vidal-Quadras | 10/7/2021

Human rights seem nonexistent in today’s world. That’s because the world’s democracies are not fighting for it.
While the world’s dictatorships always seem to have each other’s backs, the world’s democracies are failing to do the same when it comes to standing up for their own core values such as human rights and the rule of law. Too often we forgo our moral, and at times legal, responsibilities for the sake of pragmatism, and sometimes out of sheer greed for petrodollars.
Take our relationship with Iran, for example.

This summer, ultra-hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi took office as President. He is listed by major human rights groups as a key perpetrator of the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
At the time, Raisi was Tehran Deputy Prosecutor, when he was tasked by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini with serving on a Death Commission that sent prisoners to the gallows after mock trials that lasted just minutes.

In a decree, Khomeini ordered the elimination of all political prisoners affiliated to the main opposition People’s Mujahedin (PMOI or MEK) who remained committed to the group, which was declared to be ‘Mohareb’, or waging war against God. Raisi and other Death Commission members were tasked with determining which prisoners were still resolute.
Survivors of the 1988 massacre put the number of victims at above 30,000. They were buried in mass graves in what amounted to crimes against humanity and, according to some legal experts, genocide.

The perpetrators have never been held accountable. To the contrary, many have been promoted to senior posts.
Before becoming President, Raisi was Iran’s Judiciary Chief. Under his reign, the judiciary and security forces launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in November 2019, killing an estimated 1500 anti-government demonstrators and dissidents and detaining and torturing thousands more with total impunity.

The international community is partly to blame for the rise of such impunity. In September 2020, seven UN Special Rapporteurs announced that the failure of UN bodies to act over the 1988 massacre had “emboldened” the Iranian authorities to commit further human rights abuses.

In an attempt to challenge this impunity, some 152 former UN officials and renowned international human rights and legal experts in May 2021 wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 massacre.

Signatories included a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former UN Deputy Secretary-General, 28 former UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights, and the chairs of previous UN Commissions of Inquiry into human rights abuses in Eritrea and North Korea. Distinguished legal professionals who signed the appeal included the former Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, a former Special Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the first President of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International in a statement on June 19 reiterated that Raisi had a key role in the 1988 massacre and should be “investigated for his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law, including by states that exercise universal jurisdiction.”

On June 29, 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, added his voice to the fray, calling for an independent inquiry into the 1988 state-ordered executions and the role played by Raisi as Tehran deputy prosecutor. Rehman said his office was ready to share gathered testimonies and evidence if the UN Human Rights Council or another body sets up an impartial investigation.

More recently, on August 4, the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in a report to the Human Rights Council called for an “international investigation” into the 1988 massacre.
The onus is now on the world’s leading democracies, including the EU and US, to challenge the impunity enjoyed by Iranian officials.

Last July, Janez Jansa, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, announced his country’s support for a UN Commission of Inquiry. Sadly though, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell quickly distanced the 27-nation bloc from that position, stating that Brussels pursues a ‘balanced’ Iran policy.

That shameful retraction was music to the mullahs’ ears. It sends a signal to Iran, and to the wider world, that for all its talk of human rights, the EU is prepared to look the other way when regimes murder their own citizens.
It’s time for Europe to end ‘business as usual’ with the regime of mass murderers running Iran.

Instead, the European External Action Service (EEAS) should use its Magnitsky Act powers to impose stringent sanctions against perpetrators of the 1988 massacre in Iran. Slovenia shouldn’t be the sole EU voice supporting the UN experts’ call for accountability. It’s time for the other 26 members of the European Union to seek a UN Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances (In Iran). The EU must finally show it’s prepared to fight for human rights.

The West needs to unite to fight for human rights

 

IRAN HRM | October 7, 2021

October 10 is World Day Against the Death Penalty. More than 140 countries have agreed to abolish the death penalty, according to Amnesty International. The Iranian regime, however, holds the world record for both executions of women and the highest per capita execution rate. The death penalty is a violation of Articles 3 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which emphasize the right to life of every human being.
It is also contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Iranian regime continues to use the death penalty as a tool to intimidate and repress dissidents; And many regime officials also defend it.

In his first news conference after the June 2021 election, the regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi, who is responsible for the massacre of political prisoners in 1988 and other crimes against humanity, defends himself over the executions and said that he should be rewarded for defending people’s rights and security.
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, the current head of the regime’s judiciary, who was appointed to the post by Khamenei on July 1, has also a dark record regarding the execution of dissidents in Iran.
According to statistics compiled by Iran Human Rights Monitor, at least 267 people were executed in Iran since the beginning of 2021.

This shows an increase over the last year, when 255 people were executed throughout 2020.
The actual number of executions is much higher. The clerical regime carries out most executions in secret and out of the public eye. No witnesses are present at the time of execution but those who carry them out.
At least 92 executions were carried out for drug-related offenses in 2021 and 130 were carried out for murder. Nine women, eight political prisoners and two child offenders are among those executed.

The high number of Iran executions in 2021 once again proved that the clerical regime uses the executions as a mean to its survival. There is irrefutable evidence that torturing defendants for making false confessions against themselves is a common practice in Iran’s prisons.

On the World Day against the Death Penalty, Iran Human Rights Monitor once again calls on the UN Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as European countries, to take immediate action to save the lives of prisoners on death row in Iran. It is time for Iran’s human rights record to be referred to the UN Security Council.

Execution of juvenile offenders in 2021

Iranian authorities have continued to execute child offenders in violation of their international obligations. Since January, at least two child offenders were executed in Iran. Dozens of juvenile offenders in prisons are also currently at risk of execution.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet in June pointed to Iran’s “widespread use of the death penalty” and said that “over 80 child offenders are on death row, with at least four at risk of imminent execution”. Responding to the criticism Majid Tafreshi a senior Iranian official said that the death penalty for crimes committed as minors does not mean it violates human rights. Tafreshi, the council’s deputy head of international affairs argued that executes convicts for crimes they committed while under-age “three to four times” a year.

Execution of women

At least nine women were executed in Iran since January 2021. The clerical regime in Iran is the world’s chief executioner of women. The regime frequently hands down the death penalty for women.
The international law recommends alternative punishments for the imprisonment of mothers who must take care of their children. In Iran, however, the regime imprisons mothers and hands down death sentences for them.
In an infamous example of the death penalty for women Zahra Esmaili, 42, who died of a heart attack while waiting to be executed was still hanged on February 17, 2021. She was sentenced to death for having claiming responsibility for the murder of her husband who was a senior official in the Ministry of Intelligence. She did so to save her teenage daughter, who had shot her father in the head. According to her lawyer, she was made to watch as 16 men were hanged in front of her while waiting her turn at Rajai Shahr Prison, west of the capital Tehran.

Execution of political prisoners

Since January 2021, at least nine political prisoners were executed in Iran.
Hassan Dehwari and Elias Ghalandarzehi, two Sunni Muslim Baluch political prisoners were executed in Sistan and Baluchistan Province on January 3, 2021, for the charge of armed attacks on police and collaborating with opposition groups. They were tortured to make confessions.

Javid Dehghan, 31, a member of Iran’s Baluchi ethnic minority, was hanged on January 30, 2021. He was sentenced to death for “enmity against God” (moharebeh) in May 2017 in connection with his alleged membership in an armed group.  In convicting and sentencing him to death, the court relied on torture-tainted “confessions” and ignored the serious due process abuses committed by Revolutionary Guards agents and prosecution authorities during the investigation process.

Ahwazi Arab prisoner Ali Motairi was on hunger strike when he was executed on 28 January 2021. He was also sentenced to death despite serious due process violations, including allegations of torture and forced “confessions”.
Hossein Silawi, Ali Khasraji, Naser Khafajian and Jassem Heidari were executed in secret in Sepidar prison on 28 February 2021.

At the time they had sewn their lips together and been on hunger strike since January 23, 2021, in Sheiban prison in Ahvaz, “in protest at their prison conditions, denial of family visits, and the ongoing threat of execution.”
Their relatives who saw their bodies after execution said that bruising was visible on all four men, raising concerns that they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and their lips had not healed from when they sowed them shut on hunger strike.

Iran executed another Arab political activist, Ali Motiri on January 28, 2021 who had been accused of killing two members of the IRGC’s Basij militia in 2018.

Executions on rape charges

At least nine prisoners were executed on rape charges since the beginning of 2021. Under international law, countries that still use the death penalty must limit its use to the most serious crimes, namely premeditated murder. With the execution of those accused of rape, the Iranian regime continues to brutally violate the right to life in violation of its international obligations.

On 29 September, despite domestic and international interventions, Iranian officials executed Farhad Salehi Jabehdar, a 30-year-old man sentenced to death for the rape of a child. He was sentenced to death by Criminal Court One of Alborz Province on 12 March 2019. The conviction and sentence were upheld by the Supreme Court.
The father of the child formally requested that the authorities not impose the death penalty on Farhad Salehi Jabehdar in November 2019. His lawyer appealed to President Ebrahim Raisi in his former capacity as head of the judiciary to stop the execution, and order a review of the case, but Ebrahim Raisi did not accept the request.

Executions on drug charges

The use of the death penalty for drug charges is prohibited under international law. However, the Iranian regime continues to execute drug offenders.
In 2021, the number of executions was much higher than the previous year.
In 2020, at least 26 people were executed in various Iranian prisons for drug offenses. This is while the figure reached 91 in the first 9 months of this year.

Executions for murder

At least 130 prisoners were executed on murder since January 2021 in Iran. Many of them were executed in an unfair trial in Iran on murder charges. On several occasions, these detainees have been reportedly denied the right to a lawyer during the trial or have been tortured for forced confessions.

Two prisoners were executed in September based on Qassameh. Qassameh, which means “sworn oath”, is described as a certain number of people swearing an oath on the Quran. It is used when the judge decides that there is not enough evidence of guilt to prove the crime but still thinks it is likely that the defender is guilty. The people who swear in Qassameh are not usually direct witnesses to the crime.
https://iran-hrm.com/2021/10/07/high-number-of-iran-executions-in-2021/

 

Thank you all so much. That’s an amazing welcome. I hope you are as happy after my remarks. I think you will.

Thank you, Amir, for that kind introduction. It is such a blessing for me to be with you all today. It is a special gathering that we can all be together to talk about an enormous threat to the world and to freedom loving people. It’s truly an honor.

Since I last spoke to you Ebrahim Raisi was formally installed as Iran’s latest so-called President.  You are rightly gathered at this conference with the theme of demanding that he be held accountable for what happened in 1988, the massacre of political prisoners inside of Iran.  And I want each of you to know today that I join with you in your cause!

I came to know Raisi when I was the CIA Director. He should be prosecuted; not tomorrow; not next week; not next year.  Prosecute him now.

And of course, I will talk more about this. But I support a free Iran! Bless you for staying in the fight.

Make no mistake, Make no mistake. Ebrahim Raisi, himself, is personally responsible for the mass execution of thousands of Iranian political prisoners, names of over 5,000 have been published. The bodies of these brave men and women were dumped in unmarked graves. And Because Iran has never, and likely under this regime will never allow an investigation into these killings, we do not know the true number of Iranians who were murdered. But it is almost certainly more than the 5,000 list of names that we have.

Your actions, our actions supporting our love of the Iranian people must begin by holding Ebrahim Raisi accountable for his crimes against humanity. Remember he wasn’t an advisor, he wasn’t a foot soldier.  He was an executioner.

I know there are those in the audience who have family that were killed in Raisi’s massacre.  Too, some of you have loved one and friends currently imprisoned, in Evin and elsewhere in Iran, and, some, who have had loved ones simply disappeared or worse.  We will never forget any of them and will pray for you and each of them.

You know this character Ebrahim Raisi is exactly who Khamenei wants as President – someone who will do his bidding.  Someone willing to brutalize and slaughter the Iranian people at his command.  This is not moving forward. It is moving backwards.

It is only those who are resisting, both inside and out, who provide the hope for Iran.  That is why this gathering and the work you do today is so important.

The contrast between a government that serves its people rather than subjugates them is incredibly stark. We can see it. That should be all of our inspiration for freedom for the Iranian people.

It’s has been almost eight months since I left office as the Secretary of State. When we left as Secretary of State, Iran was more isolated and the regime as weak than ever.  However, I must say I’ve watched the events of the past weeks and months and I worry that events in Afghanistan and the posture of the current administration are allowing the regime to get “off the mat” and re-strengthen.  I know the Iranian people do not want that. That is why we must keep pressure on our representatives to forgo renegotiating the nuclear deal and avoid paying Iran ransom to either re-enter that deal or because they believe it would be a show of “good will.” Good will is not something a terrorist regime understands.  We must also ensure that advancements in the Iranian nuclear program are strictly monitored and action taken whether that’s by the United States, other western nations or by the IAEA to ensure that they don’t just run out the clock on the path not only to a nuclear weapon but to a full nuclear program.

I must say, over the last year or so of the pandemic the Iranian regime has used the coronavirus to continue crackdown on its own citizens.  Its actions are not only ignorant but malevolent.  They have used the pandemic to extinguish uprisings and subdue the Iranian people.  This is totally unacceptable.

As Americans, we know supporting the general welfare of our citizens is the duty of the government, and to subjugate them is horrific.

And while we know that the Iranian regime does not value freedom, we should at least expect the United States to value that freedom.  You have all watched these last few weeks. Our credibility was called into question in our disgraceful exit from Afghanistan and again questioned this past week when our own Secretary of State took down a tweet of support for the people of Hong Kong who were asking for freedom in their struggle against the Chinese Communist Party.

These demonstrations of the absence of resolve and lack of support for freedom-loving people are the welcome by terrorists and those oppressing the people of Iran.

And yet we know that the more the government attempts to strengthen its hold over the people of Iran, the weaker it will become.  This is certainly the case today.  Protests spurred by water shortages erupted in over half of the country’s provinces and protests have taken place in Ahvaz, in Tabriz, in Tehran, an in Isfahan, and other cities all across Iran. These protestors, these amazing freedom-loving people have shown considerable resilience and bravery in resisting the regime. And I know that in the end the Iranian people will have a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear republic.

The actions in 1979 were of course a key turning point. To understand Iran and its rightful place in history we must unpack what happened in 1979. I think this is why Iran will never return to rule by a dictatorial Shah or theocratic regime.  This fight is the real fight and it began in those frightful first moments of the so-called revolution in 1979.

The central fight is the one in the streets, and in the mosques and in the minds of the Iranian people – it is the divide between the people and the organized opposition seeking freedom and democracy on one side, and the entirety of the regime on the other.

Look, I have been at this, but not as long as some of you. But I have been in this fight on the right side for over a decade now, my entire life of decade of public service.  Back in 2010 I spoke with many of you. I spoke of the Iranian people and their history, their kindness and their respect for reason, knowledge and respect for human life.  The Iranian people are tolerant people – They have been a homeland for Arabs and Jews, Christians and Muslims right on Iranian soil.  This is the loveliness of the Iranian people.

The Iranians want to prosper in their faith and protect their families – this is as true in Tehran as it is in any place here in the United States and don’t ever forget that.

There is a new leader, there’s a new elected, I say that word cautiously. The regime headed by the puppet Raisi and the IRGC is no less radical than the one left by the previous president.  It continues to be revolutionary in its zeal.  It is brutal.  It is theocratic.

It is also craven and fearful of the Iranian people. It’s kleptocratic. Its leaders will and have killed their own by the thousands and then choose those who committed these massive atrocities, like Raisi, to now lead their terror organization and their regime.  Its leaders can shoot down a civilian airliner killing hundreds of civilians and think nothing of denying responsibility and hiding the black box that would unpack the clues and finger prints of the regime’s leaders who caused the death of civilians. The leaders in Iran seek not only to dominate their own country and their own people, but capitals from Baghdad to Tehran and from Damascus to Beirut and to Sanaa.  All for the petty desire to maintain their grip on power.

When I last spoke to you I noted that we must dismiss the Western conceit. I hear it even in this city which we sitting today. It’s this western conceit commonly accepted in Brussels, in Paris, in Bonn and in too many places here in the United States that there are moderates inside of the regime.  I never met one, nor read of one. This is important. The lie, that there are moderates inside of this regime. There are too many countries that play footsie with this terrorist regime.  The elections of last month should provide evidence that this claim of moderation is even possible within this regime. We cannot have them fool us.  These are but tiny actors occupying roles in the same show of force.

We know the characters. The Ayatollah plays the father, keeper of the so-called revolutionary faith and is the elder statesman “protecting the revolution” from every threat – including the threats from the heathen secular inside and outside of Iran.  Soleimani played the warrior-hero-role.  Deliverer of rights against made-up grievances from the near abroad and afar.  The newly installed Foreign Minister, Hossein Amit-Abdollahian, was molded by Soleimani.  This man, despite of the fact that he is a diplomat, a Foreign Minister, make no mistake who he is. He is a staunch supporter of the “Axis of Resistance,” the array of terrorists that Iran supports throughout the entire Middle East. He is a terrorist himself who would kill his own people to save the regime just as quickly as any other of the Ayatollah’s henchmen.  Don’t let that title of diplomat fool anyone. Ebrahim Raisi, a murderer of his own people, will now take on the role as heir apparent to the faith and determined negotiator who concurs America by getting the immoral sanctions placed upon the people lifted and improving life for all.  This will be the theatre of Ebrahim Raisi. These actors – each of them, all of them – will keep this show going despite the audience wanting their run to end and they are prepared to use every power, to use the IRGC, to use the Basij and any tool to keep their grip over the Iranian people.

There is nothing new about them. They are just the next generation of the regime, perhaps even more radical than their predecessors.  Every one of them should be held accountable, all of them should be held accountable, for the tens of thousands of Iranians they have murdered.

And world leaders, I hope you are listening, should band together to reject Raisi; each of you, each of you should reject Raisi. You should refuse to engage with him, to acknowledge him as a democratically elected president by the people—since he was no such thing.  A good place to start would be by this week at the United Nations General Assembly, not too far from where we are all sitting, holding Raisi accountable for his crimes against the people of Iran. It’s possible to do.

Speaking of Raisi’s actions, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International (2018-2020), said in his remarks to the Call for Justice: “I served as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International during which time a report was brought out on this terrible tragedy and the tragedy of 1988 that we saw took place in Iran. Let us be very clear, what happened in 1988 was a totally brutal massacre of political prisoners, which is a crime against humanity.” This former leader of Amnesty closed with this: “And if you go with the definition, notwithstanding the technicalities, it amounts to genocide.” We know a bit about this. We have to keep the Iranian regime in a box.

Contrast the current administration’s posture toward the regime with the one that the Trump administration had.  Our mission was really very simple.  We laid down 12 very simple demands, twelve requirements that made clear that if the Iranian regime failed to do that we would apply every American power and indeed we would build a coalition around the world to deny the regime the power to kill its own people and to foment terror around region and indeed around the world. This seemed so straight forward to me. We formed alliances to achieve these ends and supported Israel’s efforts to enhance our pressure campaign as well.

This administration is returning to the roots of its past, It’s the Obama Policy 2.0. They are seeking to walk away from the support we had provided to the Iranian people just as they did in 2009, when the Iranian people demanded freedom and the administration walked away from them.

But here is the good news. The resistance forces in Iran, these noble Iranian patriots, are as strong as they have ever been and they provide optimism for everyone around them who supports them. You do that too.

You can actually see this. You can actually see the effects of the last years of our work in their recent elections.  Every more effort had to be made. The regime became more desperate, the fraud had to be increased and the Iranian people could see it as plain as day.  Since 1979, every election in Iran has served only to give an appearance of republicanism to a corrupt, brutal theocracy. The 2021 presidential election, however, was really different. It is vastly different from those before it, primarily because it is taking place when the theocratic regime is at its most precarious state since it took power in 1979, and the people of Iran know this. Its prospects of survival are openly questioned by regime insiders and challenged by a restive, freedom-seeking nation.  In short, you all know the math. Very few actually voted FOR Raisi.  Turnout was the lowest since 1979 marking a total rejection of the regime and its candidate.

Even the regime admitted for the first time in 40 years that the majority of Iranian people stayed away from the ballot box.  It was, in fact, a boycott of the regime – and the regime leader fear and know it.

This boycott is evidence that the Iranian people pin no hope on elections as a conduit for substantive change.

The program that we implemented also served to lay bare the regime’s economic incompetence, systemic corruption, and outright plunder of the country’s wealth that have pushed 80% of the population below the poverty line. They see the corrupt ruling theocracy as their true enemy and the first and foremost cause of the economic crises. One of the most dominant slogans in the recent uprisings has been, “Our enemy is right here; they lie when they say it is America.”  History is replete with protest movements. As with all protest movements, flags were burned, right? This is what people do, but now, the most common flag being burned was not the Israeli or the American flag, but the flag of this evil regime.

So, what is ahead?  So how do we all move forward together? What is the path that we move down to?

The regime is at its weakest point in its now 40 plus years of existence.  Iranians from every corner of the nation are seeing with their own eyes, the failure of the regime to deliver on the very promises that it made.  the epic incompetence in handling COVID-19 is on-going — vaccination in Iran is at among the lowest rates in the entire world not because the vaccine is not available, but because the regime refuses to accept vaccines from those prepared to give them to them. Indeed, they rejected it from the Trump administration. This epic incompetence and quest for nuclear power has made it pariah, has made Iran, the regime, pariah, even to its fellow Muslim countries in the region.

It’s epic incompetence in simply ruining the nation has resulted in has made food and gas and the most basic staples unaffordable and the nation’s ability to respond to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes virtually non-existent.  The Iranian people are wise. They can see that Iran is not working.  The people know it.

As for President Raisi, he is the not he President of the people of Iran.  He is the President for the Ayatollah.  His mission is clear.  Inflict pain. Frighten, continue to loot and plunder.  Protect the clerics and protect the Republican Guards.  He was chosen by the Ayatollah now because he is only 60 years old and thus could lead for the next two to three decades. I don’t believe that’s the fate of the Iranian people. These years will give him the time he needs to get his own people into place and demonstrate that the Supreme Leader wants him to have time to prepare for the next phase of the of the so-called revolution. He will use the IRGC and his Qods Force to generate conflict externally to deflect attention and to maintain the narrative of the oppressed.

The path forward calls This calls for a clear response — the United States must lead the world, starting today, on this occasion, to hold him accountable for crimes against humanity that he committed Any dealings with Raisi, would be tantamount to dealing with a mass murderer. This is not only immoral but counterproductive.  All of us should make this crystal clear to our allies in Europe and Asia as well and hold them accountable if they deal with this man that sent thousands of his country to execution in 1988.

It is worth noting that the apologists for the regime suggest that Raisi’s election and the power now in the hands of “hardliners” is a result of the American pressure on the regime.  This is nonsense.  Utter nonsense. The latter notion that of hardliners versus reformers or moderates is not remotely reflective of the total control of the Ayatollah over everything that so that nothing moves without his blessing inside of that country.  As for whether pressure drives Iran to continue it authoritarian ways, it is obvious that Iran’s leadership has been static or trending right for two decades.

The world often overstates its influence on domestic politics. It is the people of Iran who have the power.  The Ayatollah has been very intent. Raisi demonstrates that IRGC generation is replacing the Revolutionary generation. Moreover, while Raisi and others have criticized this nuclear deal, it touches none of their equities.  Thus, they get to use the deal politically and reap the benefits from the resources received to protect the Ayatollah and his henchmen.  So, he will complain about the deal, he will use it to gain more concessions from a deal-hungry U.S., but won’t, in the end, block it.

I worry, too, that the situation on the Iranian border with Afghanistan will only strengthen the Iranian regime’s hand.  The Iranians watched as the United States projected weakness and chaos as it withdrew from Afghanistan.  And we know that the Iranians thrive on weakness. We also know that it always emboldens our adversaries.

The truth is that the present administration inherited an orderly plan for a drawdown in Afghanistan based on firm conditions to keep our people safe. And the people of our allies who were fighting in Afghanistan and alongside of us as well.

The Administration ripped up that plan and turned it into a chaotic rush for exit. And thirteen brave Americans paid with their lives.

I worry that same weakness will enable a blood thirsty Iranian regime to be even more harsh on its own people who oppose the regime and the American weakness will embolden the “Axis of Resistance” to spark increased terrorism in the Middle East and, indeed, all around the world.

In fact, in the wake of our Afghanistan withdrawal, here is what Raisi said, “America’s military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security and durable peace in Afghanistan. Iran backs efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan and, as a neighboring and brother nation, Iran invites all groups in Afghanistan to reach a national agreement.”  Let me translate that for you: Iran welcomes Afghanistan as another tool in the terrorist hub of the “Axis of Resistance.”

They don’t want good things for the Afghan people any more than they want good things for their own people. They want the very power that they have so dearly clutched onto for these decades at the expense of the Iranian people. It is worth us all remembering today that this is not the first connection to external terror. The Ayatollah already hosts the most senior Al Qaeda leadership in his country.  Let me say that again:  Al Qaeda international, the headquarters for Al Qaeda’s operational leaders that builds up plots across the world is not in Afghanistan is NOT in Afghanistan, it is not in the Afghan border, it is not Pakistan – we know they are being hosted, protected and operating today from Iran.

And don’t forget this. The Ayatollah did not truly conduct a revolution; although he will claim that.  No, revolutions move their people towards modernity and reason and to light; this was not a revolution, but a devolution of the basic standards of human rights that the rich of history of Iran had promoted for decades and decades.

There is not far from here, think tanks and salons and some of the nicer parties where there is this idea that there is no solution if the regime is overthrown.  The Ayatollah – and many will tell you that you are better off with the devil you know. The Iranian people don’t believe that for a second because it is fundamentally untrue.  There are many paths forward and all of them are better for the Iranian people than the status quo.

And preparing, as we are doing, preparing the transition to a New Iran is a task for today.  We should start by securing the humanitarian well-being of the Iranian people as they make this transition.  Over the years, it has been demonstrated that the Iranian culture makes toppling governments a part of the national spirit. You should know that nearly 100% of ordinary Iranians believe the regime’s days are numbered. I believe that too.

I am also deeply heartened by the fact that the Iranian people have made it abundantly clear that they are increasingly unafraid of the regime.

Rather than punish Iran for its continued aggression against us and our partners in the Middle East, Sadly, the Biden Administration is trying to get back to the nuclear deal with a much weaker hand.

As was the case with the Trump Administration, human rights and counter terrorism should be at the forefront of our policy; not appeasing the Iranian regime.

We worked tirelessly to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon and a nuclear program. We have to apply pressure until they change, or until reforms which move Iran toward a democratic form of government take place. We cannot shower the Ayatollah with money and economic benefits in the hopes that they won’t be used to inflict terror and oppression.  We have seen this sad story before. This thinking is foolish and backwards. The program of sanctions and pressure that was employed by the Trump Administration needs to remain the model if we want to ensure the security of the American people and the freedom of the people of Iran.

I pray that the United States will not increase the resources the Ayatollah has at his disposal to do empower the theocracy.  Engagement with the regime will lengthen the time that Iran and the regime has to behave as it has for these past decades denying basic human dignity.

Remember, the Ayatollah’s power grab was not so much a revolution but a devolution. It’s important to remember that. It was a lesson for me that I learned. And I must say I am hopeful.  I am hopeful that the world has learned much about the theocracy in Iran these past few years. And it’s not that we didn’t know it before; you have all seen it before. Around the world, you can see that even in Europe the tide of tolerance for the regime is slipping. This is a good thing.

We must continue to support the Iranian people as they fight for a freer and more democratic Iran in any way that they can. There is so much good work to do and you all are doing today.

In the end the Iranian people will have a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Republic. I pray that this day will come soon.  It is a such a joy to be will you all today. I pray that these days will come soon with the Iranian people with the support of Iranians living all around the world – and those who resist from within, they are noble people, — that day will come sooner.  I am committed to this cause; I know you everyone in this room is as well.  May your mission be blessed and the Iranian people protected and provided for always.  It is a hopeful time, a deeply hopeful time, and a time to redouble our efforts.

Thank you for having me here today. God bless you, and may God bless the Iranian people.

MEDIA ADVISORY

Iranian Americans to Rally in New York to Denounce Ebrahim Raisi 

NEW YORK, NY – On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, simultaneous with the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian American community leaders will rally outside the U.N. Headquarters in New York to demand Iranian regime’s human rights dossier be referred to the U.N. Security Council and they call on the body to investigate Ebrahim Raisi for his key role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran.

In nationwide protests since 2017, the people of Iran have shouted “Death to Khamenei, Death to dictators”, demanding the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime and establishment of a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic Iran. Accordingly, the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and its president Ebrahim Raisi do not represent the Iranian people and should not be given the podium at the U.N.  Instead, they should stand trial before international tribunals for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The rally, which coincides with the time that Raisi addresses the UN, will also call on member states to impose comprehensive sanctions on the regime for flagrant human rights violations, export of terrorism, as well as nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs.

An exhibition illustrating pictures of the victims of Raisi’s mass executions will be on display, and a number of survivors and families of the victims will share their ordeal.

WHEN:      Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm

WHERE:    Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (Across from the UN)

2nd Avenue & 47th Street

SPONSORED BY: Association of Iranian Americans In New York, Iranian American Community of New Jersey, Members of the Organization of Iranian American Communities, OIAC

MEDIA RSVP: media@oiac.org

CONTACT: Majid Sadeghpour

‘I chose beatings over solitary confinement’

this is what it was like to be locked up in prison in Tehran

Yahoo News     |     Mostafa Naderi     |     10 September 2021

Last week, leaked surveillance footage showed shocking abuses of prisoners in Iran’s Evin prison. Watching the videos reminded me of my years in Evin – with one notable difference: the guards of my time seemed even more barbaric.

I want to explain why what happened 33 years ago matters today. Iran’s society has changed, but its regime has not – in fact, Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, is one of the leaders of the horrific 1988 execution of thousands of political prisoners following the supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa (religious decree).

The past could wibe a pattern for tomorrow, with horrific consequences. For example, years ago, Evin prison guards were like butchers. They used heavy cables to lash prisoners which cut into their skin. Then, if the guards thought someone was too injured by the torture for them to survive, they would simply execute the victim. For the guards, there were no consequences, nothing to worry about.

In Evin prison, we were often blindfolded while being transferred between different sections, in the interrogation room, even under torture. This cruel tactic would create intense fear and panic – when you’re blindfolded, your mind takes over. It’s true that the guards wanted to prevent anyone from witnessing their crimes or seeing their faces but keeping people fearful was very helpful when they wanted to mentally break the prisoners.

Long solitary confinements were another tactic. As political prisoners, we tried to stay connected; but the guards punished any kind of human contact. Even caring for a tortured cellmate carried harsh consequences.

I was held in solitary confinement once for three years, and again for two years. During these endless isolations, memories of everything and everyone you love start to fade, and you can feel utterly alone and empty.

Initially, those of us in solitary confinement used morse code to communicate with each other through the walls. But over time, the regime’s authorities added steel-reinforcement concrete to the walls, so no sound could get through.

In my case, when the isolation became unbearable, I would start kicking the door and making noise. The guards would come and take me out for a beating. But getting hit was a distraction; a savior if you will. The process of fighting the physical pain, going to the medic, and dealing with bandages was better than the never-ending isolation and mental anguish.

In the spring of 1988, the guards wanted me to provide information about a relative. One day in August, due to severe kidney bleeding, I lost consciousness, and a guard took me to the prison’s clinic. When I woke up, I saw bloody IV fluids around me, and my head felt achy. The guy lying next to me told me that my name had been called several times, but since I had been unconscious, I never responded to it.

After several days in the clinic, when I finally returned to my own section, all the cell doors were strangely open, and there were handbags and rucksacks lying next to empty cells. I realised these were the possessions of my friends who had been executed during the massacre. My section was almost empty. The next day, I heard someone calling the guard, saying, “Hey, you’ve forgotten to take me!” When the guard asked the man’s name, he said, “Yaqub Hassani.” The guards took him away, and he was executed the same night.

I grieved for all these people. When you have suffered alongside a group of people for a long time, you have strong feelings for them. When the guards took some people for execution, those who remained had terrible feelings of shock and sorrow.

These were chaotic days – some people didn’t know they were going to be hanged until the very last minute. The guards transferred people around and might even put you on death row only to take you back to the public section. You literally lost track of yourself. I will never know what Yaqub was thinking that day; I just heard him calling the guard.

I was around 17 when I was first interrogated, but I refused to write my friends’ names and whereabouts. I was then told that I was to be executed with a few others. The guards gave me a piece of paper and told me to write down my will. I said I had nothing to say or give to anyone. One night, five of us were handcuffed, blindfolded, put on a bus, and taken to a place inside the prison. As we exited the bus, my friends and I started to sing a popular song known as the anthem of martyrdom.

The guards roared at us to shut up and then pushed us against a wall. We heard someone like a cleric reading our verdicts: “In the name of God the merciful, you betrayers of nation and religion…” and then… fire!

The sounds of bullets piercing and exploding the bricks above our heads were terrifyingly loud. Since we had prepared ourselves for the worst, we all fell down. It was like when you dream and you’re falling down from a high plateau. I felt something like wet, warm blood on the ground, and I thought this was the end. But a few moments later, I heard the guards laughing and hysterically barking: “Is this the way you want to fight Islam?”

It was a mock execution and everyone was still alive… if you can call it that way. We were shoved back onto the bus and driven back to our sections. Due to the shock, we all suffered severe physical and mental symptoms. I couldn’t stop shaking and I later learned that one of my friends became almost blind. Another friend whispered that he could not move his arm anymore and his body was partially lame. He had had a stroke, we later learned.

Back in prison, they sent us to the interrogation room to see if we were broken and ready to surrender. I do not know what happened to the others, but I’m sure that night changed us all. I never raised my voice again.

The 1988 massacre has never ended. As the recently-leaked videos show the oppressive treatment of prisoners in Evin prison hasn’t stopped.

But if you ask me, the international condemnation of the Iranian regime’s abysmal human rights record appears to have halted over the years.

If Raisi is going to be allowed to address world leaders during the UN General Assembly in September, it’s important to remember the audiences he addressed 33 years ago– and what he has done in his career. The world must send a clear rebuke and warning to Tehran. Many lives depend on it.

My generation was called on to bring about a “free Iran”. In Europe, which endured eras of human rights abuses, nations are teaching the lessons of history so new generations can understand what the price of freedom has been and how to hold it dear. I think this is what we need to do in Iran, as well. The next generation should learn about these brutal stories so they too can cherish freedom.

Sometimes people ask me how I endured all that pain, how I survived. But I say that there was something far more important to me than survival.

There were tens of thousands of people that never expected to be seen or heard again, yet they “outlived” the torture. The dictator wanted them to submit and reject their beliefs; he wanted to break them all. Those who remained loyal and brave and said “no” have proved that the  regime might kill humans – but can’t break our humanity.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/chose-beatings-over-solitary-confinement-150803897.html

 

AP     |     By JON GAMBRELL     |     August 23, 2021

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The guard in a control room at Iran’s notorious Evin prison springs to attention as one by one, monitors in front of him suddenly blink off and display something very different from the surveillance footage he had been watching.

“Cyberattack,” the monitors flash. Other guards gather around, holding up their mobile phones and filming, or making urgent calls. ”General protest until the freedom of political prisoners” reads another line on the screens.

An online account, purportedly by an entity describing itself as a group of hackers, shared footage of the incident, as well as parts of other surveillance video it seized, with The Associated Press. The alleged hackers said the release of the footage was an effort to show the grim conditions at the prison, known for holding political prisoners and those with ties abroad who are often used as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.

Iran, which has faced criticism from the United Nations special rapporteur over its prison conditions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to its U.N. mission in New York. Iranian state media in the country have not acknowledged the incident at Evin.

However, several embarrassing hacking incidents have struck Iran amid ongoing tensions over its accelerated nuclear program and as talks with the West over reviving the atomic accord between Tehran and world powers remain on hold.

Four former prisoners at Evin, as well as an Iranian human rights activist abroad, have told the AP that the videos resemble areas from the facility in northern Tehran. Some of the scenes also matched photographs of the facility previously taken by journalists, as well as images of the prison as seen in satellite photos accessed by the AP.

The footage also shows rows of sewing machines that prisoners use, a solitary confinement cell with a squat toilet and exterior areas of the prison. There are images of the prison’s open-air exercise yard, prisoners’ bathrooms and offices within the facility.

Much of the footage bears timestamps from 2020 and this year. Several videos without the stamp show guards wearing facemasks, signaling they came amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Though there is no sound in the videos, they speak to the grim world faced by prisoners at the facility. One sequence shows what appears to be an emaciated man dumped from a car in the parking lot, then dragged through the prison. Another shows a cleric walking down the stairs and passing by the man, without stopping.

Guards in another video are seen beating a man in a prisoner’s uniform. One guard sucker-punches a prisoner in a holding cell. Guards also fight among themselves, as do the prisoners. Many are crammed into single-room cells. No one wears a facemask.

The account that shared the videos with the AP calls itself “The Justice of Ali,” a reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law who is revered by Shiites. It also mocks Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

It claimed to have “hundreds” of gigabytes of data from what it described as a hack conducted several months ago. It did not answer questions about who was involved in the leak.

The account linked the timing of its leak to the recent election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line acolyte of Khamenei involved in the execution of thousands in 1988 at the end of the Iran-Iraq War.

“The Evin prison is a stain on Raisi’s black turban and white beard,” the message on the screens in the prison control room also read.

Iran, long sanctioned by the West, faces difficulties in getting up-to-date hardware and software, often relying on Chinese-manufactured electronics or older systems. The control room system seen in the video, for instance, appeared to be running Windows 7, for which Microsoft no longer provides patches. That would make it easier for a potential hacker to target. Pirated versions of Windows and other software are common across Iran.

In recent months, Iran’s railroad system was targeted by an apparent cyberattack. Other self-described hacker groups have published details about Iranians alleging hacking on behalf of the theocracy. Meanwhile the most-famous cyberattack — the Stuxnet virus that destroyed Iranian centrifuges at the height of Western fears over Tehran’s program — is widely suspected to have been an American and Israeli creation.

Evin prison was built in 1971 under Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It housed political prisoners then and later, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution swept the shah from power.

 

While in theory under the control of Iran’s prison system, Evin also has specialized units for political prisoners and those with Western ties, run by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Khamenei. The facility is the target of both U.S. and European Union sanctions.

After Iran cracked down on protesters following the disputed 2009 re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, many of the arrested protesters ended up in Evin. Lawmakers later pushed for reforms at Evin, following reports of abuses at the prison — which led to the installation of the closed-circuit cameras.

Problems continued, however. Reports by U.N. Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman repeatedly named Evin prison as a site of abuses of prisoners. Rehman warned in January that Iran’s entire prison system faced “long-standing overcrowding and hygiene deficiencies” and “insurmountable obstacles for responding to COVID-19.”

“Prisoners of conscience and political prisoners have contracted COVID-19 or experienced symptoms, with many denied testing or treatment or suffering unnecessary delays in receiving test results and treatment,” he wrote.

https://apnews.com/article/technology-health-religion-iran-prisons-01dfade61d7a706d630bf83d30d8cb02

Nearly 3,000 miles from Tehran where mass executions were carried out in 1988, a murder trial in Sweden could produce new revelations that complicate life for Iran’s president-elect.

New York Times     |     By Farnaz Fassihi     |     July 30, 2021

He was a 28-year-old student and member of a communist group in Iran serving a 10-year prison sentence in 1988 when, according to his family, he was called before a committee and executed without a trial or defense.

Family members said they did not get the body, a will or the location of a burial site. They received a duffle bag with a wristwatch, a shirt and a certificate that did not specify execution as the cause of death.

The student, Bijan Bazargan, was among an estimated 5,000 prisoners belonging to armed opposition and leftist groups in Iran, who Amnesty International and other rights groups say were executed in the summer of 1988.

Now, a Swedish court will prosecute a former Iranian judiciary official for war crimes and murder in connection with Mr. Bazargan’s death. The case carries some notably public and damaging implications for Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, who helped decide which prisoners lived or died during those mass executions.

The defendant, Hamid Noury, 59, was indicted on Tuesday in Sweden, under what is known as the principle of universal jurisdiction, a tenet of international law that theoretically allows any national court to pass judgment on defendants in egregious crimes regardless where they have been committed.

His trial begins on Aug. 10 — less than a week after Mr. Raisi takes office nearly 3,000 miles away in Tehran. The trial, which is expected to last until next April, risks exposing new details about Mr. Raisi’s role — a period of history that he has sought to minimize or ignore.

Mr. Noury served as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison where Mr. Bazargan and hundreds of prisoners were sent to the gallows.

The mass executions represent one of the most brutal and opaque crackdowns by the Islamic Republic against its opponents. International rights groups say they amount to crimes against humanity.

“Some people tell us to forgive and forget, but we can’t,” said Laleh Bazargan, Mr. Bazargan’s sister, a 51-year-old pharmacist who migrated to Sweden and lives in Stockholm. “The truth must come out, for the sake of closure and for accountability.”

Mr. Raisi, 60, was a member of the four-person committee that interrogated prisoners and issued execution orders. Mr. Raisi has said he was acting under the direction of the founding father of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had ordered a committee be formed to facilitate the executions.

Allegations of Mr. Raisi’s work on that committee have shadowed him through his ascent in Iran’s hierarchy, where he had been the head of the judiciary before the June election that vaulted him to the presidency. Amnesty International has called for a formal investigation of Mr. Raisi’s past.

Although Mr. Raisi will enjoy diplomatic immunity if he travels abroad as the country’s president, the Sweden case could, at the very least, confront him with a vexing optics problem as he sets to engage with the world.

The United States, which placed Mr. Raisi on a sanctions list two years ago for rights abuses, is obliged to grant him a visa as host country of the United Nations should he wish to attend the General Assembly in New York this September. Even so, six Republican senators asked President Biden to deny Mr. Raisi and other top Iranian officials visas for that gathering, the world’s biggest diplomatic stage.

Iran’s Mission to the United Nations said through a spokesman that it had no comment about the trial in Sweden and that Mr. Raisi’s travel plans for the General Assembly remain unclear because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But Mr. Raisi is scheduled to speak at the event, either in person or virtually.

The case against Mr. Nouri appeared to make him the first Iranian defendant in a criminal prosecution that invokes the principle of universal jurisdiction. Iranian officials and operatives have been convicted in Germany, France and most recently Belgium for assassinations and terrorism-related plots inside those countries — but never for crimes committed inside Iran, legal experts said.

“The trial is extremely important for breaking the cycle of impunity from Iran to elsewhere for officials accused of serious human rights violations,” said Shadi Sadr, a prominent human rights lawyer in London.

In announcing the charges against Mr. Noury, Sweden’s public prosecutor, Kristina Lindhoff Carleson, said that the “extensive investigation resulting in this indictment shows that even though these acts were committed beyond Sweden’s territory and more than three decades ago, they can be subject to legal proceedings in Sweden.”

The prosecutor’s statement said the defendant was suspected of having participated in the mass executions, intentionally taking the lives of prisoners and subjecting them to torture and inhumane treatment. Such actions, Swedish authorities said, violated the Geneva Conventions.

The prisoners were mostly members of an armed opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, now widely known as the M.E.K., and leftist political groups. Human rights activists have said most of the executed prisoners had not been convicted of capital crimes and had been serving prison sentences.

Mr. Noury was arrested at Stockholm’s airport when he arrived to visit family in 2019. Activists had learned of his travel plans and had alerted the authorities, who denied him bail. They began an investigation, interviewing dozens of victims’ family members, survivors and Iranian human rights activists who had for years recorded testimonies and details of the mass executions.

Mr. Noury’s lawyer has told Swedish media that he denies the accusations and that the authorities arrested the wrong man.

The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, a Washington-based Iran rights advocacy group named after a pro-democracy Iranian lawyer assassinated in 1991, published a report in 2010 on the 1988 mass executions. The report was prepared by a British lawyer who was the head of an international tribunal on Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Roya Boroumand, a daughter of Mr. Boroumand’s who is executive director of the foundation, said its subsequent investigation showed that Mr. Noury, known by the alias Hamid Abbasi, had been the right-hand man for the deputy prosecutor of the Gohardasht prison.

She said Mr. Noury and others like him had played an active role in questioning prisoners, preparing the list of names for the so-called death committee, and then escorting listed prisoners from their cells blindfolded down a dark hallway to a room where the committee members, which included Mr. Raisi, interrogated them.

The committee asked the prisoners about their political beliefs and willingness to condemn comrades and express fealty to the Islamic Republic. The committee often made an on-the-spot decision on whether the prisoners lived, Ms. Boroumand said.

“The significance of the Sweden case is not about a person, it’s about the Islamic Republic being put on trial,” said Ms. Boroumand. “It’s coming back to haunt them and hopefully it will prevent repetition of such crimes.”

The mass executions took place in Tehran’s Evin prison and in Gohardasht prison in Karaj, about 12 miles west of Tehran. In Gohardasht, the condemned were hanged on pipes at an adjacent area known as Hosseiniyeh, which is typically used for religious ceremonies and prayers. The bodies were buried in mass graves in secret locations.

About 30 plaintiffs, including Mr. Bazargan’s sister, are expected to testify against Mr. Noury at the trial in Sweden.

Ms. Bazargan said she thinks of her brother every day. She was 13 when he was arrested at 23 and had been allowed to visit him once a year until his execution five years later.

In an interview, she recalled him as a protective and caring older brother, taking her to the movies and restaurants, giving her advice about school and friends.

For many years, Ms. Bazargan said, she had imagined what she would say if brought face-to-face with one of the people suspected of responsibility for executing him.

That day is now scheduled for Oct. 19 in a courtroom in Stockholm.

“I want to look him in the eye and say, ‘Speak,’” Ms. Bazargan said. “Speak of what you have done. Speak of what you did to him. Speak of how you killed so many people.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/world/middleeast/iran-sweden-trial-raisi.html