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Letter to Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

Date: April 10, 2001

 

H.E. Mary Robinson
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva

Dear Madam,

We, the families of 16 Iranian prisoners of conscience, would like to draw your attention to the gross violations of the human rights of our loved ones in Iran which include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

- Confinement of political prisoners in solitary cells in detention centers which remain undisclosed, contrary to the laws of the land.

- Methodical and systematic use of psychological pressure on prisoners in order to extract "confessions".

- Inquisitions on the personal beliefs and private ideas of prisoners.

- The office of prosecutor and judge being vested in one and the same person.

- Prisoners not having access to lawyers before, during or after interrogations.

- Raids on the private residences of prisoners and the confiscation of their private archives, papers and even family photographs.

- Numerous threats and pressures brought on prisoners' families to remain silent and not publicly protest the unlawful acts of state security agents.

- Denial of prisoners' legal rights to have families visit them periodically and denial of access to the prisoners’ physicians in cases of illness and disease.

Prisoners of conscience Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari and Ezzatollah Sahabi were arrested last year on charges of acting against national security - their "crime" being attending a conference in Berlin on the future of reforms in Iran.

Eshkevari, a cleric suffering from severe diabetes, was charged with apostasy, and denied a lawyer of his choice, was sentenced to death in secret hearings by the Special Court for Clergy. His death sentence is under appeal.

Sahabi, arrested last year, is still being held in "temporary" detention by the Revolutionary Court. He remains in solitary confinement in an undisclosed location. He has been denied access to his lawyer.

Hoda Saber and Reza Alijani, editors of the now-banned Iran-e Farda monthly (published by Sahabi) were arrested by agents of the Revolutionary Court on January 29 and February 25 respectively. Both are in solitary confinement in an undisclosed location and both have been denied access to lawyers.

Saber has been transferred to outside hospitals on at least two occasions because of cardiac problems. Psychological pressures brought on Saber notwithstanding; his family is very concerned for his physical well being.

On March 11, the Revolutionary Court ordered the arrest of 21 intellectuals after security agents raided the residence of Mohammad Basteh-negar, where they were meeting. Nine were later released after being interrogated while12 others; mostly university professors, journalists and writers, remain in "temporary" solitary confinement in an undisclosed detention center without access to lawyers or family since then.

The persons detained on March 11 are:

Mohammad Maleki (formerly chancellor of Tehran University)
Hossein Rafiee (polymer chemist, faculty of science, Tehran University)
Reza Raiss-Tousi (political scientist, faculty of law and political science, Tehran
University)
Habibollah Peyman (dentist and formerly faculty member of Tehran University of Medical Sciences)
Alireza Rajai (post-graduate student of political science)
Mohammad Basteh-negar (writer-researcher)
Masoud Pedram (writer-researcher)
Mahmoud Omrani (writer-editor)
Taqi Rahmani (journalist)
Saeed Madani (editor)
Morteza Kazemian (journalist)
Mohammad Mohammadi Ardehali (businessman)

The prosecutor/judge of branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court known only by his pseudonym "Haddad" has told family members of the political prisoners that they are allowed to leave their cells for fresh air every day - briefly and with blindfolds, and that interrogations are long and drawn out, sometimes continuing throughout the night till dawn.

The court clerks and personnel are ill behaved towards the families of victims and have on various occasions used foul language and threats to intimidate women and children enquiring about the whereabouts or health of the detainees.

The above mentioned 16 prisoners of conscience are well-known personalities in Iran. They are members of the Religious-Nationalist current, which is a loose alliance of political and social activists who believe in political pluralism and tolerance. They are committed to peaceful reform and change within the framework of the Constitution.

In statements issued by the Revolutionary Court, the detainees have been accused of plotting to overthrow Iran's ruling political system and cooperating with exiled "terrorists" -- truly absurd claims.

We appeal to you, in the name of justice and human rights, after our appeals to the judiciary chief, the parliament and the president of Iran have been of no avail. Our only demand is that the constitutional rights and human dignity of all prisoners of conscience - our loved ones and many others languishing in jails - be respected.


The families of 16 political prisoners from the Religious-Nationalist alliance;

Mohammad Maleki, Hossein Rafiee, Reza Raiss-Tousi, Habibollah Peyman, Alireza Rajai, Mohammad Basteh-negar, Masoud Pedram, Mahmoud
Omrani, Taqi Rahmani, Saeed Madani, Morteza Kazemian, Mohammad Mohammadi Ardehali, Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari, Ezzatollah Sahabi, Hoda Saber, Reza Alijani.

cc: Mr. Maurice Copithorne, special rapporteur on human rights in Iran