Iran Continues Use of Executions and Brutal Tactics to Silence Opposition

Washington
Freedom House condemns continued efforts by the Iranian government to silence its detractors, including the May 9 execution of five political prisoners and today’s slanderous comments, made by state-controlled newspaper, Raja News, against jailed human rights defender Shiva Nazar Ahari.
 
The political prisoners, executed in secret at Evin prison, had all been convicted of the crime of mohareb (rebellion against God). According to local human rights groups and media reports, the sudden and secretive nature of the executions was politically motivated to discourage renewed protests before the approaching one-year anniversary of the unrest that followed last June’s contested presidential elections. The case of one of the executed prisoners, Shirin Alam-Hooli, was still in the appeal process.
 
“The Iranian government’s use of fraudulent criminal proceedings lacking transparency and adherence to the rule of law in order to silence opposing viewpoints is reprehensible,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. She continued, “Executing its citizens without a fair trial represents one of the most egregious abuses of human rights that can be perpetrated by a state.”
 
The recent executions also raise serious concerns about the circumstances of human rights defender Shiva Nazar Ahari, who has been imprisoned continuously since December 2009.  Ahari, a human rights defender who was first arrested at the age of 17 for attending a candlelight vigil in Tehran dedicated to the memory of the victims of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, was accused today by Raja News of being connected to a terrorist group.
 
“We hope that the attack on the character of Ms. Ahari is not a precursor to an attempt by the Iranian regime to add her to the long list of Iranian activists on death row solely for their political beliefs,” said Windsor.
 
Iranian authorities plan to execute five more prisoners next week and dozens more are on death row. Additionally, hundreds of Iranian activists are currently imprisoned on allegedly fraudulent charges including more than 30 journalists, writers, and bloggers.
 
Maziar Bahari, Iran correspondent for Newsweek, was sentenced in absentia yesterday to 13 years and 6 months imprisonment plus 74 lashes. Bahari was arrested for his reporting of the June 2009 protests and was subsequently tortured for 119 days before being released and permitted to leave the country.
 
Iran is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
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