Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council released the following statement on the trial of Jason Rezaian, the recent arrests and prosecutions of social media activists, and ongoing human rights violations within Iran:
NIAC condemns the Iranian government’s recent violations of its international human rights obligations, including the closed trial of Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian and the recent actions against social media activists.
NIAC reiterates its serious concerns regarding the Iranian government’s detention of Jason Rezaian, as well as Iranian Americans Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedeni. NIAC calls on Iran’s government to either provide for fair trials or to release them. We are deeply troubled by the opaque nature of Rezaian’s trial, the insufficient access granted to legal counsel, and the fact that news organizations have been punished for publishing details of the proceedings. The Iranian government must at an absolute minimum afford basic human rights as related to their detention and ongoing judicial proceedings, in accordance with Iran’s domestic laws and international obligations.
NIAC condemns the arrest on June 7th of five bloggers, as well as the recent prosecution of Iranians for their presence on social media–including artist Atena Farghadani and filmmaker Mostafa Azizi. NIAC calls for their immediate release. These arrests and prosecutions were made under the auspice of tighter Internet controls as announced by the deputy interior minister and are a gravely concerning development that runs contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party. These actions show disrespect for basic freedoms of expression and dissent within Iran and must be reversed.
It is clear that the progress on multilateral negotiations between Iran and UN powers has provoked fear among hardliners within Iran’s government. These arrests are further evidence, in addition to the continued high rate of executions and other high profile detentions, that hardliners seek to commit abuses to undermine efforts to improve Iran’s external relations and intimidate political opponents and silence dissent inside of the country.
We remain hopeful that, as human rights defenders inside Iran have attested, a nuclear deal can open new opportunities to begin improving the human rights situation inside the country. We hope that those within Iran’s government who have promised a new direction, both in Iran’s foreign relations as well as in the relationship between the state and its citizens, utilize the political capital gained from a prospective nuclear deal to end these violations and secure a brighter future for the Iranian people.
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