French-Iranian Academic Arrested in Iran

Fariba Adelkhah, a French-Iranian Anthropologist, was reportedly detained in June on a visit to Iran. Dr. Adelkhah is a researcher at Sciences Po, an elite French research institute focused on Social Sciences and Political Studies.

French authorities have asked for consular access and more information on Adelkhah’s current status, which Iranian authorities have yet to provide. The arrest of a prominent academic such as Adelkhah is a continued pattern of Iranian authorities that wrongfully detain dual nationals on charges of espionage.

Dr. Adelkhah is known for her fieldwork in Iran and research on post-revolutionary Iranian society. In her most celebrated work, Being Modern in Iran, Adelkhah asserts, “to be modern in Iran is to set oneself up as a moral being in a relatively precise context.” Unfortunately, her immoral detention reflects a growing crackdown inside Iran.

 

International Campaign to Free Nasrin Sotoudeh

Over one million people across the world have added their names calling on Iranian authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh, the well-known human rights attorney who has twice been imprisoned and is currently serving a 38-year sentence in Iran for her work as an advocate of women’s rights. Read more about her case in a previous NIAC statement. 

Sotoudeh’s circumstance has grabbed the attention of a wide range of figures, from celebrities to Nobel laureates. Notably, when a group of prominent women’s rights activists gathered in France earlier this year to discuss the movement for gender equality, a seat was left empty in honor of Sotoudeh

While Sotoudeh has garnered the admiration and support of human rights activists around the globe, her case is emblematic of a larger crackdown on Iranian human rights lawyers, such as Amirsalar Davoudi, who was also recently given a cruel prison sentence of 30 years. Click here to add your name to Amnesty International’s growing petition, demanding Sotoudeh’s release. 

NIAC Applauds Open Letter Signed by Over 100 Iranian Human Rights Defenders Expressing Concern over U.S.-Iran Tensions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 27, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC –  The San Francisco-based human rights group, United For Iran, published a letter signed by over 100 Iranian human rights advocates expressing concern against further U.S. escalation with Iran. The letter expresses “grave concerns over the rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms.” 

It further urges both countries to exercise restraint and emphasizes that war will only devastate Iran’s human rights defenders. The letter also underscores that “Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.” 

The full text of the letter and list of signatories can be found here.

In response to the letter, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“With conflict looming between Iran and the United States, Iranian human rights activists are emphatically joining the chorus of voices demanding that the U.S. refrain from abandoning diplomacy in favor of military action.

“Nothing can destroy Iranians’ quest to advance human rights in the country faster than war. Ultimately war is the biggest human rights violation. If the Trump administration is truly intent on supporting the Iranian people, it would do well to listen to those, both in and outside of Iran, who have dedicated their livelihoods to promoting an open society. The administration needs to adopt a pro-diplomacy approach to Iran, lest it continue to use human rights as a platform to push forth Trump’s dangerous maximum pressure campaign.

“The Iran nuclear deal was a platform that not only restricted Iran’s nuclear program. It was a platform for engagement that opened the door to progress within Iran and the easing of social restrictions. The decision by the Trump administration to violate the deal stifled this development and promoted confrontation. 

“That the Iranian government violates the rights of its citizens is without question. However, as these activists make clear, current U.S. policy on Iran can only exacerbate the devastating human rights situation in Iran. To choose human rights is to choose diplomacy–and any path forward with Iran must adopt engagement, including the lifting of sanctions and a return to the Iran nuclear deal, as its cornerstone.

“Rather than helping to advance the cause for human rights, war will destroy the lives of Iranians and create unforeseeable devastation that is far removed from the ideals of liberty or justice. As the prime defenders of human rights in Iran, it is incumbent upon us to heed their words.”

Arrest of Masoud Kazemi

On May 22 the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that prominent Iranian reformist journalist, Masoud Kazemi, was arrested for the second time in 6 months. Kazemi, the editor of Iran’s political magazine, Sedaye Parsi (Persian Voice), was first arrested in November 2018 after drawing the ire of officials with claims of corruption against Iran’s Ministry of Industry. 

Though he was initially released on bail in November, Kazemi was rearrested on May 22, 2019 on charges of anti-government propaganda and additional charges of conspiring against national security. 
 
As observers have noted, the judge in the case did not refrain from insulting Kazemi and showing his contempt for journalists. Not only were new charges added for Kazemi, his bail was set at $70,000, which his fiancée Shima Tadrisi noted will be impossible for them to pay. 
 
Other Iranian journalists have also been detained within the last month, including Keyvan Samimi of Iran Farda and Marzie Amiri of Shargh newspapers. These arrests, along with the denigrating language of Kazemi’s judge are indicative of a growing crackdown on journalists in Iran. 

NIAC Statement on Politically Motivated Sentencing of Prominent Human Rights Lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh

NIAC is deeply concerned by reports that prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh reportedly faces up to a 38-year prison sentence and 148 lashes on fabricated, politically motivated charges. NIAC unequivocally condemns the Iranian government for its arbitrary and politically motivated detentions in contravention of Iran’s human rights obligations, and reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Sotoudeh, along with all prisoners of conscience.

Sotoudeh has for years defended those who have suffered rights abuses at the hands of the Iranian government. From her defense of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement protestors to her support for the anti-compulsory hijab activists of last spring, Sotoudeh remains one of Iran’s staunchest human rights advocates. Sotoudeh was released in September 2013—in what was widely seen as a good will gesture ahead of President Hassan Rouhani’s first trip to the UN General Assembly—after more than two years of imprisonment on politically motivated charges following her work highlighting juvenile executions in Iran and her defense of human and civil rights protestors.

News of Sotoudeh’s sentencing comes only days ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th—and serves as a stark reminder of the restrictions and costs Iranian women continue to pay in their fight against compulsory hijab and systemic gender inequality. Since her arrest last June for representing three activists protesting compulsory hijab, Sotoudeh has endured two hunger strikes and refused to participate in her trial after being prevented from selecting her own lawyer. Her husband, fellow imprisoned human rights activist Reza Khandan, noted that she is being prosecuted on seven charges, most of which relate to her opposition to Iran’s compulsory hijab laws.

While the fault for Sotoudeh’s incarceration lies squarely with Iranian authorities, U.S. policymakers must carefully weigh the impact of pressure policies on empowering Tehran’s most reactionary forces and reducing our ability to hold Iran accountable to its human rights obligations. The Trump administration’s abrogation of the nuclear deal, imposition of inhumane sanctions, and ratcheting up of tensions with Iran has further emboldened Iran’s hardline forces that are not accountable to elected institutions. As hardliners seek to match Trump’s bellicosity and undermine moderates and the will of the Iranian people, human rights proponents like Sotoudeh often become the first victims.

Yashar Soltani Sentenced

Today, investigative journalist Yashar Soltani was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Two years ago, Soltani had released a report documenting corruption in the Tehran municipality having to do with giving away government property for political purposes.

According to his lawyer, his charges include “collecting and publishing classified information related to the Judiciary’s General Inspection Office and publishing false information with the aim of disturbing public sentiment.”

Soltani has 20 days to appeal his sentence.

http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-46982106

Update in Esmail Bakshi Case

In the aftermath of the rearrests over the weekend of activist Sepideh Gholian & labor leader Esmail Bakhshi, 21 Iranian judiciary lawyers have signed a letter saying that Bakhshi can’t get a fair trial in Shush.

The lawyers say that to try him in Shush would have no “legal justification” given Bakhshi’s allegation of torture while in the custody of Shush judicial authorities.

http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-46963549

Esmail Bakshi Rearrested

Labor leader Esmail Bakhshi was rearrested last night in Iran.

He was first held for a month over his role in the Hafte Tapeh worker protests in the city of Shush. Upon release, he alleged he was tortured, leading to public outcry and investigations by various government institutions.

Officials eventually stated that Bakhshi was not tortured and state television aired a film of Bakhshi’s “confession” on Saturday.

Another former detainee alleging torture, activist Sepideh Gholian, was also arrested again over the weekend. She has since called for a public trial.

http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-46941685

Arrest of Amir Amir-Goli

Today, BBC Persian reported Amir Amir-Goli, a member of the editorial board of the leftist Gam magazine, was reportedly arrested. Previously, on January 9th, the magazine’s editor-in-chief Amir Hossein Mohammadi-Far and Sanaz Allah-Yari, another member of its editorial board, were arrested.

The magazine supported and wrote reports on the recent labour protests by workers of the Hafte Tapeh factory and Ahvaz Steel companies.

http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-46908375

NIAC Statement on Recent Demonstrations in Iran

Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement on ongoing protests in Iran:

“Like many, we are monitoring the demonstrations reported in parts of Iran. We are particularly disturbed by reports of clashes between protestors and police forces in Isfahan and a heavily securitized atmosphere in Shiraz. We reiterate our call to the Iranian government to uphold its international human rights obligations, including to allow the right to free expression, to respect the dignity and safety of every Iranian and to refrain from violence.

“We stand in solidarity with Iranians who seek a government that prioritizes the economic prosperity of Iranians, respects their human rights, and democratically represents them.

“Ultimately, like any other country, it is up to Iranians living in Iran to decide their country’s destiny. Outside countries or interests who seek to exploit the legitimate grievances of Iranians in order advance their own ulterior agendas only undermine the will of the Iranian people. As outside observers, we will continue our efforts to defend universal human rights and hold the Iranian government accountable to its international human rights obligations.”

NIAC Welcomes Appointment of New Iran Human Rights Rapporteur

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, Vice President for Policy of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement welcoming the appointment of Dr. Javaid Rehman as the next UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran:

“The appointment of Dr. Rehman to serve as the next Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran will ensure the continuation of important and neutral work aimed at holding Iran’s government accountable to its international human rights obligations. The recent arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer who had previously been unjustly imprisoned in Iran, underscores the continuing failure of Iran to live up to its international obligations and the need for Dr. Rehman to pick up on the important work of his predecessors. The Special Rapporteur position had been vacant following the tragic passing of the last Special Rapporteur, Asma Jahangir, in February.

“NIAC was a key supporter of the reestablishment of the Special Rapporteur mandate in 2011 and has supported its subsequent extension in recent years. The reports produced by the Special Rapporteurs have helped document human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, discriminatory treatment of women and religious minorities, and deeply concerning executions. These balanced reports provide an important opportunity for the Rapporteur, backed by the UN and broader international community, to press Iran to abide by the recommendations of the report and move toward compliance with its human rights obligations.

“It is ironic that the appointment of Dr. Rehman follows the withdrawal of the U.S. from the UN Human Rights Council just last month. Rather than work through multilateral mechanisms that have proven successful at pressuring and engaging Iran, the Trump administration has chosen to isolate itself and reduce its leverage. Fortunately, the work of the Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran will continue in spite of this administration’s preference for unilateral demands over patient and good-faith multilateral diplomacy.

“We urge Iran to comply with the requests of Dr. Rehman, including any requests for meetings with Iranian officials and visits to the country. Moreover, we urge Iran to fully implement the recommendations of Dr. Rehman and past reports.”

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NIAC Condemns Spate of Executions in Iran

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) released the following statement after the Iranian government carried out a spate of approximately twenty executions:

“NIAC condemns the Iranian government’s recent spate of executions and reiterates its call for Iran to uphold its international human rights obligations. The execution of a teenager who was arrested as a juvenile, Hassan Afshar, was in gross violation of international law. His execution violates protections against capital punishment for minors. The execution of as many as twenty people that went forward despite grave concerns over the use of torture, solitary confinement and forced confessions raises further major concerns that Iran violated its international human rights commitments as well as domestic laws. NIAC condemns these executions and urges Iran to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, in his latest report.”

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