March 15, 2010

NIAC Condemns Iran Death Sentences

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s issuance of six death sentences by Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi for individuals accused of involvement in Ashura protests.  NIAC reiterates its call for the Iranian government to immediately end its campaign of politically motivated executions, to promptly release all political prisoners, and to abide by international human rights standards by providing the right to fair trials for all detainees.

NIAC calls on the United States and the international community to utilize all international human rights mechanisms, including the current session of the UN Human Rights Council, to publicly condemn the human rights abuses of the Iranian government and to ensure accountability for these abuses.

“It’s time for the international community to address Iran’s human rights violations with the same seriousness as the nuclear issue,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi.

The six individuals sentenced today were charged with “mohareb,” enmity against God.  The “mohareb” charge has been leveled against numerous individuals for their participation in demonstrations that have followed the disputed June 2009 Iranian elections; the charge is punishable by death. 

The sentences were handed down just two days before Chaharshanbe Souri, a festival dating back to the earliest traditions of Iran that is central to the identity of the Iranian nation.  Iranian authorities are utilizing intimidation tactics similar to those seen prior to 22 Bahman, Revolution Day, to deter Iranians from celebrating the tradition, which is not sanctioned by the government.

According to Dowlatabadi, the sentences issued today are now before an appeals court.  On March 4, an appeals court upheld a death sentence that was issued for Mohammad Amin Valian on the basis of a photograph showing the 20-year old throwing rocks during a demonstration.

Prior to today’s announcement, thousands of Iranians have been arrested for their alleged involvement in anti-government demonstrations and at least thirteen individuals have been sentenced to execution.  Two of those individuals, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmani Pour, were executed on January 29, 2010.  Both were denied access to their lawyers and to a fair trial, and their families were only informed of their fate after the two had been executed.  Mr. Rahmani Pour was only 19.




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