Ashura

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Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei


Name: Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei (also spelled Aghayari)
Location: Evin Prison (presumed)
Date condemned: April 2010
Date executed: 24 January 2011
Charge: Moharebeh.
Notes:

9 January 2011 Reports suggest that Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei is due to be executed this Tuesday, January 11. He is considered in imminent danger.

15 September Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei's appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court yesterday (14 September). His lawyer, Mehdi Hojjati, said: "Unfortunately, there is nothing else we can do as judicial lawyers. A request for clemency was our last attempt and it was denied. There are no legal avenues left to explore to prevent his execution."

Persian2English has drafted a sample letter to the United Nations, urging an immediate halt to Aghaei's execution.

We also urge you to sign the petition for Mr. Aghaei's life.

3 August: Haj-Aghaie's sentence was upheld by the appeals court and he is considered at imminent risk of execution.

Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei is convicted as Moharebeh for alleged propaganda against the Iranian regime and ties to People's Mujahedin of Iran, otherwise known as MKO, PMOI, or MEK. He was arrested on 18 September and is sentenced to death under the charge of Moharebeh, meaning "warring against God." The Islamic Republic continues to issue the politically-charged Mohareb sentences in an attempt to dissuade further peaceful protests. His sentence is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 6(2) protects the right to life by stating that the death penalty may only be imposed for the most serious crimes, if at all. Condemning Ahmad for his role in a protest, especially under the guise of armed resistance, is against international law. Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said, "These sentences were originally issued in kangaroo courts, despite an utter lack of evidence justifying any punishment, let alone capital punishment. Now the appeals judges are disregarding Iran’s own laws and international obligations by rubber stamping these horrifying sentences."

Farah Vazehan

Location: Rajaei Shahr Prison
Date condemned: August 2010
Overturned: February 2011 
Charge: Moharabeh

Notes:

March 2: The death sentence has been overturned and Farah Vazehan is to face a 17-year prison sentence in exile in Rajaei Shahr prison. While her life is not in immediate danger of being taken by the state, she is still a prisoner of the political system.

September 10: Farah Vazehan suffered a heart attack and was transferred to the clinic at Evin Prison and later Modarres Hospital in Tehran.

Farah Vazehan was detained on December 29, two days after she participated in Ashura protests against the regime. She was charged with participating in street protests and sentenced to death as Moharebeh. Moharebeh is the charge commonly used by the Islamic Republic to justify death sentences for political prisoners. There is no moral or legal jusitification for these execution sentences, and Iran is a signatory to United Nations conventions that protect the rights of citizens against arbitrary detention and execution. Farah has been held in detention for seven months and is currently in Evin prison's women's ward. Although it was originally reported that she was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Human Rights House of Iran received reliable information that she was in fact condemned to die, and her family has reportedly not told her about the execution sentence. After living abroad for years, Farah returned to Iran to care for her 19-year old daughter who is receiving treatment for cancer.

Her death sentence for Moharabeh is likely related to his sister's membership in the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK, MKO, and others). Her uncle was reportedly executed in the 1980s, most likely for affiliation with the group. Other sources report that Ms. Vazehan was arrested for sending photographs of the Ashura protests to an unnamed "opposition" television station.

Although Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution allows for peaceful assembly, the Iranian authorities continue to arrest, torture, imprison, and execute post-election protesters. In addition to betraying their own laws, the Islamic Republic is refusing to hold up its obligations to international law. Article 9 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) protects citizens from arbitrary arrest. Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states: "In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes." Farah Vazehan's participation in a peaceful protest does not warrant a death sentence. Neither does her alleged association with the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, MEK, MKO), which the regime falsely accuses members of the Green movement and other political opponents of in order to levy a death sentence.

There is a petition for Farah Vazahan's life, and her case may still be appealed.


Letter for Abdolreza Ghanbari

Please write to the following Iranian authorities regarding Abdolreza Ghanbari's case and asking for his sentence to be overturned and a new, impartial trial to be held, with access to legal counsel and protection from coerced confessions. A sample letter you can use, or modify, follows.


Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani

Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com
Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827 (please keep trying)
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.


Your Excellency,

I am writing to you regarding the case of Abdolreza Ghanbari, a 42-year old teacher from Ghiamdasht, in Varamin, sentenced to death on charges of Mohareb based on his supposed crime of chanting "Death to the dictator" during the 2009 Ashura protests.

In his trial, Ghanbari was denied access to legal counsel and was unable to present a defense with the aid of an attorney. The right to a fair trial is provided under Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Abdolreza Ghanbari is guaranteed a fair and public trial, examination of witnesses against him, and is protected from having to falsely testify or confess to the charges against him. Iran is a signatory to both treaties and must fulfill its obligations under international law by granting Ghanbari a fair trial with legal representation.

Furthermore, there is evidence that Ghanbari may have been subjected to torture during his pre-trial detention in Ward 2-A of Evin. Torture is a violation of the UDHR, as stated by Article 5: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." This is also guaranteed by Article 7 of the ICCPR.

Finally, in countries that still use the death penalty as an punishment, it may only be imposed "for the most serious crimes," according to Article 6 of the ICCPR.

Given the above, I respectfully request the following for Abdolreza Ghanbari's case:

- for his death sentence to be immediately overturned, and any planned execution to be halted;
- any charges solely of participation in public protests to be dropped;
- that he be granted a new trial as regards any remaining charges, with access to legal counsel, a public hearing by an impartial tribunal and protection from torture or coerced confessions as laid out in the ICCPR and UDHR.

Yours sincerely,

Abdolreza Ghanbari

Age: 42
Location: General Ward at Evin Prison
Charge: Mohareb
Date condemned: March 2010

August 16 2011: In an interview with Rooz Online, Abdolreza Ghanbari's wife, Sakineh Jabeiee, denies the news of her husband's imminent execution and says she and her children are hopeful that his appeal will be successful. Ms. Jabeiee was able to meet with her husband on Monday, August 15 and says his case is still before the Appeals and Clemency Commission. She further goes on to ask concerned activists not to spread false rumors of his connection with the MEK and suggests the group may be exploiting Mr. Ghanbari's case for their own agenda. English translation of the interview and the original Persian-language version are available.

13 August 2011: Abdolreza Ghanbari's appeal for clemency has been rejected and the case has been forwarded to the implementation division of the Revolutionary Court. He is considered in imminent danger of execution and the sentence may be carried out at any time.

11 May 2010: Abdolreza Ghanbari's death sentence was upheld in Appeals Court on April 27, 2010. We have assembled a sample letter regarding his case and contact information for Iranian officials. A petition has also been organized to save Abdolreza Ghanbari's life.


Abdolreza Ghanbari was sentenced to death as Mohareb (a politically-motivated religious charge that means "warring against God") for his participation in the 2009 Ashura protests. Ghanbari is a teacher from Ghiamdasht, in Varamin, and participated in the Ashura protests by chanting slogans against the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. His family has little knowledge about the charges, trial, and Ghanbari's condition.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported that Ghanbari was denied access to legal counsel and was unable to present a defense with the aid of an attorney, if at all.

His arrest and arbitrary detention are a violation of Article 9 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR). In countries that still use the death penalty as an abhorrent punishment, it may only be imposed "for the most serious crimes," according to Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Islamic Republic is in serious violation of Article 10 of the UDHR and Article 14 of the ICCPR for denying Adolreza Ghanbari legal counsel.

Ghanbari is presently held in the General Ward at Evin Prison in Tehran. Prior to his sham of a trial on 30 January 2010, he was detained in an IRGC Intelligence prison, the '2-A' Security Ward. Torture and other human rights violations are commonplace in such secret and tightly-controlled detention centers. A source close to the case told the Campaign that Ghanbari was tortured in an attempt to pressure him into confessing to participation in the protests. Torture is a violation of the UDHR, as stated by Article 5: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." This is also guaranteed by Article 7 of the ICCPR. The right to a fair trial is provided under Article 10 of the UDHR. Under Article 14 of the ICCPR, Abdolreza Ghanbari is guaranteed a fair and public trial, examination of witnesses against him, and is protected from having to falsely testify or confess to the charges against him. Iran is a signatory to both the UDHR and the ICCPR.

A petition has been organized to save Abdolreza Ghanbari's life.

Letter for Mohammad-Amin Valian

Please write to the following Iranian authorities regarding Mohammad-Amin Valian's case and asking for his sentence to be overturned and a new, impartial trial to be held, with access to legal counsel and protection from coerced confessions. A sample letter you can use, or modify, follows.


Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani

Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com
Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827 (please keep trying)
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.


Your Excellency:

I am writing to you regarding the case of Mohammad-Amin Valian, a 20-year old student activist from Damaghan Science University, sentenced to death on charges of Mohareb including conspiracy to undermine national security, spreading propaganda, and insulting high government officials. This death sentence was recently upheld under appeal. His supposed crimes include chanting "Death to the dictator"; statements released by the Central Council of Islamic Association of Damghan Science University, of which he is a member; arranging debates between two marginal election candidates at the university; and throwing rocks at an Ashura (27 December 2009) protest.

Mohammad-Amin Valian was, at the mass "show trial" where he was sentenced, denied legal counsel and a "fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal", both of which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Iran is a signatory to this treaty as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which protects defendants from the coerced confessions (including torture) and false testimony which form the basis for such "show trials".

Given the above, I respectfully request the following steps be taken in Mohammad-Amin Valian's case:

- for his death sentence to be immediately overturned, and any planned execution to be halted;
- any charges solely of participation in public protests to be dropped;
- that he be granted a new trial as regards any remaining charges, with access to legal counsel, a public hearing by an impartial tribunal and protection from torture or coerced confessions as laid out in the ICCPR and UDHR.

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad-Amin Valian


Age: 20
Location: Undisclosed detention center in Tehran
Charge:Mohareb, conspiracy to undermine national security, spreading propaganda, insulting high government officials
Date condemned: February 2010

We have assembled Contact information and a Sample Letter to Iranian officials regarding Mohammad-Amin Valian's case.

Mohammad-Amin Valian is a 20-year old student activist from Damaghan Science University. He was charged with conspiracy to undermine national security, spreading propaganda, and insulting high government officials and sentenced to death as Mohareb, a religious charge (meaning "warring against God") used by the regime to execute many political and human rights activists. The charge is being used increasingly to condemn post-election protesters and members of the peaceful Green movement. Among his supposed crimes are chanting "Death to the dictator;" statements released by the Central Council of Islamic Association of Damghan Science University, of which he is a member; and arranging debates between two marginal election candidates at the university. The evidence used against him included pictures of him throwing rocks at an Ashura (27 December 2009) protest.

Mohammad-Amin Valian was denied legal counsel, a violation of Article 14(b) and (d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Instead, he was tried as part of a mass show-trial with sixteen other defendants. An account of his trial was reported on 3 February. During the trial, Valian said he watched "high ranking reformists" on trial during his time in detention. This alone is evidence of pressure or potentially brainwashing and torture in an attempt to control his statement. As of 9 February, his family was unaware of his whereabouts, being told only that Amin was detained in an "exceptional holding center," thought to be an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-run secret facility. Human Rights Activists in Iran reported on 4 March that Mohammad-Amin Valian has not had any contact with his family since the arrest.

ICCPR Article 6(2) states that the death penalty is only to be imposed for the most severe crimes, if at all. Furthermore, Article 14(5) allows for convicted persons to have their sentences reviewed by a higher court. However, the sham trials employed by the Islamic Republic violate the right to a "fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal," as granted by Article 14(1) and Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The ICCPR protects defendants from coerced confessions and false testimony, Article 14(3)(g). Torture violates Article 5 of the UDHR, as well as Article 7 and Article 10(1) of the ICCPR. These declarations set the norm for international law, and Iran is a signatory of both.

The Green Voice of Freedom blog has helpful ideas to utilize social networking to get the word out about Mohammad-Amin Valian. On March 3, United4Iran also urged people to take action, including changing userpictures on social networking sites; blogging and sharing Mohammad-Amin Valian's story online; and contacting Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and any other Islamic Regime officials.

Both Green Voice of Freedom and United4Iran are urging anyone with access to Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi to contact him and "inform him of the death sentence and how his statements are being misused by judicial authorities and to cause him to intervene in the matter, in order to prevent further disgrace and shame to the clerical rule in Iran." His website may be accessed here. Shirazi previously issued a statement calling for "all political parties believing in Islam" to condemn the Ashura protesters.

We have assembled Contact information and a Sample Letter to Iranian officials regarding Mohammad-Amin Valian's case. The Greenmail Campaign is an excellent resource and contains a form which sends email to an Iranian Embassy, Consular Office or Commission on your behalf.

Kaleme reported, on 2 March, the student who denounced Valian in Damghan University’s Student Basiji publication is now petitioning for the annulment of his execution sentence.

On March 3 the Green Voice of Freedom reported Ayatollah Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, a senior cleric and brother-in-law of Judiciary head Sadegh Larijani, is lobbying for Valian's execution to be halted. The same day, Bloggers Against the Death Penalty released a statement calling on the international community to pressure the Iranian government to reverse the unjust sentences given to Valian and other defendants linked to the post-election protests in Iran.

On March 5, the US State Department urged Iran to free Mohammed-Amin Valian in a statement reading, in part, "The United States notes with great concern reports the Iranian courts have upheld a death sentence for 20-year-old university student Mohammad Amin Valian...We find this disproportionate punishment deplorable and urge his immediate release. Furthermore, we join the international community in calling on Iranian authorities to release all political prisoners."

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