Category Archives: English

Amnesty International: Human rights in Iran: A review of 2018

Amnesty International: Human rights in Iran: A review of 2018

Dear Friends,

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Today Amnesty International issued Human rights in the Middle East and North Africa: A review of 2018, which describes how authorities across the region have unashamedly persisted with ruthless campaigns of repression in order to crush dissent, cracking down on protesters, civil society and political opponents, often with tacit support from powerful allies.

The international community’s chilling complacency towards wide-scale human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa has emboldened governments to commit appalling violations during 2018 by giving them the sense that they need never fear facing justice. Amnesty International’s report reveals that the crackdown on dissent and civil society intensified significantly in Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia during 2018. These three states are emblematic of the inadequacy of the international response to rampant government violations.

The full report is available at the following link: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde01/9433/2019/en/ and also attached to this email.  The Persian translation of the report overview is also available at the following link:https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde01/9433/2019/en/ and attached to this email.

The Iran entry of the report – in English and in Persian – is attached and available here:https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/9900/2019/en/

Thank you and best wishes,

Iran team

Human Rights in Iran

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: REVIEW OF 2018

26 February 2019 Index: MDE 13/9900/2019

IRAN Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of state: Sayed Ali Khamenei

Head of government: Hassan Rouhani

The human rights situation in Iran severely deteriorated. The authorities suppressed the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as freedom of religion and belief, and imprisoned hundreds of people who voiced dissent. Trials were systematically unfair. Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread and committed with impunity. Floggings, amputations and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments were carried out. The authorities sanctioned pervasive discrimination and violence based on gender, political opinion, religious belief, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. Executions took place, sometimes in public, and thousands remained on death row. They included people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.

MDE 13.9900.2019 – Iran Annual Report

 

2 Civil Activists Reportedly Held in Iranian Kurdistan

2 Civil Activists Reportedly Held in Iranian Kurdistan

February 15, 2019, 9:31
Mokhtar Asadi, left, a member of the Kurdistan Teachers Association, and environmentalist Sirwan Ghorbani were detained recently in Iran, rights groups report.

Mokhtar Asadi, left, a member of the Kurdistan Teachers Association, and environmentalist Sirwan Ghorbani were detained recently in Iran, rights groups report.

By: Michael Lipin

Iranian rights groups say authorities have detained two civil activists in the country’s northwestern Kurdistan province in recent days, one a teachers union member and the other an environmentalist.

Four groups quoted sources as saying Iranian security agents arrested Mokhtar Asadi, a member of the Kurdistan Teachers Association, in Sanandaj as he traveled home with his family on Thursday. They said Asadi was detained without a warrant and taken to an unknown location, hours after dozens of teachers held a peaceful protest outside the Sanandaj educational department.

The groups reporting on Asadi’s detention were Iran’s Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil PrisonersHuman Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), Kurdistan Human Rights Association and Kurdistan Human Rights Network(KHRN).

The Sanandaj rally was part of a series of teacher protests held Thursday in six Iranian cities, with activists denouncing perceived government suppression of their rights and calling for better working conditions in their poorly paid profession.

There was no word on Asadi’s case in Iranian state media. He has been arrested several times before in relation to his advocacy for teachers’ rights and had been released from his most recent detention last July after spending a year in Tehran’s Evin prison on a charge of spreading anti-government propaganda.

HRANA has said Iranian authorities have tightened their grip on labor unions in recent years and have shown a “particular vitriol” toward those representing educators.

U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch joined four Iranian rights organizations in reporting the arrest of environmentalist Sirwan Ghorbani in Kamyaran on Tuesday. They said Iranian security officers detained Ghorbani, also a central council member of the Kurdistan National Unity Party, at his home.

The Iranian rights groups quoted sources as saying the officers who raided Ghorbani’s home put a sack over his head, seized some of his personal belongings and confiscated the mobile phone of his sister Samira Ghorbani, who fainted and had to be taken to a hospital. They said the agents also ordered Samira Ghorbani to report to a local information bureau in the coming days.

Iranian state media were silent on Sirwan Ghorbani’s arrest, details of which were reported by Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil PrisonersHRANAKHRN and the Kurdistan Press Agency (KurdPA).

The rights groups said Iranian authorities detained 10 other environmental and civil activists in Kamyaran and Sanandaj in late December and in recent days extended their arrest for another month. A Jan. 7 report by Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Kurdistan provincial deputy security chief Hussein Khosheqbal as saying those detained had been engaged in “criminal activities” on behalf of environmental groups.

Iran has come under criticism from international rights activists for its recent detentions and prosecutions of other Iranian environmentalists. Eight have been on trial since last month on spying-related charges that their supporters say are bogus.

This article originated in VOA’s Persian service.

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/civil-activists-reportedly-held-in-iranian-kurdistan/4789579.html?fbclid=IwAR218spcoilnf8CAZNYl0RNiYjOB_kRxVAROilC4YQUS5Evrygv2UPRimXQ#

This article originated in VOA’s Persian service.

  • 16x9 Image

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

URGENT: LABOUR RIGHTS ACTIVISTS RISK TORTURE IN IRAN

Esmail and Sepideh were badly beaten with metal bars, restrained for long hours and intimidated with sexually abusive language.

They were first arrested in November 2018 for protesting the unpaid wages and poor working conditions of a sugar cane company in Iran. After speaking out they were rearrested and they could be facing further torture as you read this.

Peacefully protesting for workers’ rights is not a crime. Please email the president of Iran demanding their immediate release.

‘I could hardly walk for several days. I developed a fever and a cold. My face was swollen and blood clots came out of my nose. I could not move my jaw to chew food.’
Esmail Bakshi

When Esmail Bakhsi and Sepideh Gholian were first arrested they were taken to an office of security police in Khuzestan province.

Sepideh – a young student – was beaten, slammed against a wall and hit on her shoulder with the metal strap of her handbag.

‘The intelligence official slapped me in the head and insulted me constantly. He used very vulgar and violent sexual language, called me a ‘whore’, said I was having sexual relationships with Haft Tappeh workers, and threatened to get my relatives to kill me to protect the family’s honour.’
Sepideh

Esmail Bakhshi – a sugarcane industry worker – tried to stop this humiliation. He was shoved to the ground, had his hands tied behind his back, and was beaten by several men.

amnesty-internationalThe situation went from bad to worse.

Forced confessions

The pair were transferred to an undisclosed location. During the one and a half hour trip they were tortured several times.

Esmail Bakhshi said that the officials pulled his hair, hit him with their fists and batons, and strangled him multiple times. He said that the officials also pulled his legs apart and hit him in the testicles.

‘I experienced severe burning when urinating and I was in so much pain that it even hurt to sleep. After nearly two months, I still feel pain in my broken ribs, kidneys, ears and testicles.’
Esmail

When they arrived in the detention centre they were told by officials: ‘This place is the end of the world. There are no human rights here and you have no option but to confess like a dog’.

Then they were violently interrogated in long sessions which often started around 10am and lasted until the early hours of the following morning. They had no access to their lawyers during this period. All the while, they heard the screams of other victims from neighbouring cells.

On 19 January their ‘confessions’ were broadcast on state TV. They ‘confessed’ to colluding with Marxist and Communist groups outside Iran in an attempt to overthrow the Islamic Republic through organising workers’ strikes and demonstrations.

Who are they?

Esmail Bakhshi is a worker at Haft Tappeh sugar cane company who has spoken out bravely at peaceful protests over unpaid wages and poor working conditions.

Sepideh Gholian is a young university student and labour rights activist who attended the protests of Haft Tappeh workers and supported them through reporting on social media.

They are peaceful protesters who should be allowed to speak out against poor working conditions in their country.

They have been treated in the most appalling way and could be facing further torture as you read this. We must send a message to Iran that this will not stand.

Please send an instant email to the President of Iran demanding their release.

ACT NOWSEND INSTANT EMAIL

A Joint Letter to Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Imminent Execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish Political Prisoner in Iran

A Joint Letter to Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Imminent Execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish Political Prisoner in IranUNohchr_Ramin_042018

H.E. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais Wilson

52, rue de Paquis 10

1211 Geneva Switzerland

Re: The Imminent Execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish Political Prisoner in Iran

Your Excellency,

Yet another Kurdish human rights activist, Ramin Hossein Panahi is in imminent danger of execution in Iran. According to Hossein Ahmadiniaz, Mr. Panahi’s lawyer the supreme court of Iran has upheld the death sentence rather than advising the proper legal functions and procedures to be followed. Although no documented charges have been brought against Mr. Panahi, he has been kept in solitary confinement and incommunicado, leading to his ongoing hunger strike against the unbearable prison conditions.  Mr. Panahi’s father, who had recently been able to speak to his son briefly on the phone, is apprehensive and wants the whole world to know about the imminent danger that his son faces. The terrified parents of Mr. Panahi have announced a sit-in front of the prison and have threatened that if their son is executed, they will also put an end to their own lives. The plight of this family is typical of many Kurdish and other Iranian families whose members are in prison, many of whom are on death row.

The current explosion in imprisonments and criminalization of any form of dissent following recent public protests is not unprecedented; Kurds as an ethnic and religious minority are under double surveillance, scrutiny, cultural policing, militarism, economic deprivation and political oppression. Anyone, particularly with an ethnic or religious minority background with the slightest discontent and dissent, is in danger of imprisonment and unfair trials. Mr. Panahai is a political prisoner of conscience whose demand for basic human rights is being met with greater injustice and gallows in flagrant violations of human rights in a system that stifles any dissent with mass arrests and death penalty, the details of which are well documented in your latest report on the situation of human rights in Iran, issued by the late Ms. Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on Iran.

Mr. Panahi’s lawyer has appealed for a judicial review to override the death penalty decision against his client who has been falsely charged with armed insurrection against the Islamic Republic, a capital offense that is punishable by death.  Because of the horror of solitary imprisonment, Mr. Panahi has been on hunger strike since January 27 to protest the prison condition and his conviction both of which are in violation of all international laws and Islamic Republic’s membership in such entities.

If human rights organizations and the international community stand aside and do not protest, the politics of fear and death will persist with its frenzied ritual of mass arrests and executions of political prisoners.   We welcome the latest report and insistent call for the improvement of human rights in Iran and hereby urge you to take immediate action to halt the execution of Mr. Ramin Hossein Panahi. He urgently needs proper medical treatment and family visits as the solitary detention has put him in a more precarious condition. We appeal to you to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to ensure Mr. Panahi’s immediate and unconditional release from prison.

Yours sincerely,

 

 Dr.  Azad Moradian

Chair of Kurdish American Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran (KACDHI)                                                            

Dr. Amir Sharifi

Director of Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group-Los Angeles

Iran: Reveal whereabouts of four Kurdish men

amnesty-internationalReveal whereabouts of four Kurdish men 

UA: 171/17 Index: MDE 13/6734/2017 Iran        Date: 13 July 2017 

Four men from Iran’s Kurdish minority have been subjected to enforced disappearance since their arrests on 23 and 24 June. The authorities have refused to provide any information to their families about their fate or whereabouts. The men, who are all related, are at risk of extrajudicial execution, torture, and other human rights violations.

Ramin Hosseinpanahi

Ramin Hossein Panahi, a member of the Komala armed opposition group, was arrested on 23 June after taking part in armed clashes with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the city of Sanandaj, Kurdistan province, northwest Iran. Amnesty International understands that Ramin Hossein Panahi was injured during the clashes. His family has not been informed of his fate or whereabouts but they learned through a local non-official source that, following his arrest, he was initially taken to a hospital for about an hour and then moved to an undisclosed location.

His family is concerned that he will be denied critical medical care for his injuries.

The Iranian authorities often deny prisoners access to adequate medical care, sometimes as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate and punish them, or to extract forced “confessions”.  

Hours after Ramin Hossein Panahi’s arrest, the Revolutionary Guards stormed his parents’ house in the village of Qeruchay, near Sanandaj, and arrested his brother, Afshin Hossein Panahi

They raided the house again on 24 June and arrested three other members of his family: Ahmad Hossein Panahi (brother-in-law); Zobeyr Hossein Panahi(distant relative); and Anvar Hossein Panahi (cousin), who has since been released. Information received by Amnesty International suggests that none of these men had any involvement in the armed clashes.

Since their arrest, the authorities have refused to provide any information to their families about the fate or whereabouts of the three men still detained.

On 10 July, the mother of Ramin Hossein Panahi visited the Ministry of Intelligence office in Sanandaj, where officials said that the Revolutionary Guards were responsible for his case and therefore his arrest and that the Ministry of Intelligence had nothing to do with him. However, the Revolutionary Guards had previously told the family that they had transferred him to the detention of the Ministry of Intelligence so he was no longer their responsibility. The four men still in detention are victims of enforced disappearance, which is a crime under international law, and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Please write immediately in English, Persian or your own language calling on the Iranian authorities to: 


– Immediately reveal the fate and whereabouts of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Afshin Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Hossein Panahi, and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi;
– Release Afshin Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Hossein Panahi, and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi if they have been detained solely because of their family connection with Ramin Hossein Panahi;
–  Ensure that all four men are provided with any medical care they may require and are protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
– Ensure that Ramin Hossein Panahi is provided with immediate access to medical care and to an independent lawyer of his choosing and promptly brought before a judge.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 AUGUST 2017 TO: 

Justice Department of Kurdistan Province 
Imam Shafe’i Square
Shahid Shebli Boulevard
Sanandaj
PO Box: 6614786964
Kurdistan Province
Iran

Head of the Judiciary 
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, Deadend of 1 Azizi
Above Pasteur Intersection
Vali Asr Street
Tehran, Iran

And copies to


Advisor to the President for Ethnic and Religious Minorities’ Affairs 

Ali Younesi
Office of the Presidency
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Iran

Also, send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please insert local diplomatic addresses below: 


Name                        

Address 1

Address 2

Address 3

Fax: Fax number

Email: Email address

Salutation: Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

 

Additional Information

The men’s families have reported making strenuous efforts to locate them by visiting various government offices in Sanandaj and Qorveh, and the village of Dehgolan, all in Kurdistan province, but said that officials refused to disclose their fate or whereabouts. Instead, officials have directed threats and insults at them, describing their loved ones as “terrorists”.

Amnesty International understands that the arrests of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Afshin Hossein Panahi, Anvar Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Hossein Panahi, and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi were carried out in a violent manner. According to accounts from Ramin Hossein Panahi’s family, armed Revolutionary Guards wearing black masks broke down the front door of their family house on 24 June and beat the men, as well as Ramin Hossein Panahi’s sister and elderly father. They also warned them against holding gatherings or giving media interviews.

In addition to Ramin Hossein Panahi, three other men affiliated with the armed Kurdish opposition group Komala were involved in the exchange of gunfire on 23 June 2017. They included Sabah Hossein Panahi, Hamed Seyf Panahi and Behzad Nouri. Ramin Hossein Panahi was injured and subsequently arrested while the latter three were shot dead. The exchange of gunfire apparently started at a Revolutionary Guards checkpoint after the men were identified while traveling in a car and did not heed a call to stop. The authorities have refused to return the dead bodies of the three men to their families for burials and warned the families against holding memorial gatherings. Komala has claimed that six members of the Revolutionary Guards were also killed during the clashes but the Revolutionary Guards did not acknowledge any casualties in the official statement they issued on 23 June. Komala is an armed Kurdish opposition group which has been engaged in armed activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1980s.

Kurds are one of Iran’s disadvantaged ethnic minorities and face entrenched discrimination that curtails their access to employment, adequate housing and the exercise of their cultural, economic, civil and political rights. Continued economic neglect of provinces populated by Kurds, which include Kurdistan, Kermanshah and parts of West Azerbaijan, have further entrenched poverty and marginalization. Politically, Iran’s Kurdish minority have criticized the centralization of political life in Iran and the absence of any measures to introduce any form of minority self-government.

International law absolutely prohibits enforced disappearances and specifies that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as justification. Enforced disappearances are particularly cruel human rights violations. Individuals are cut off from the outside world, left knowing that their loved ones have no idea where they are or whether they are dead or alive. They are placed outside of the protection of the law and denied their right to legal representation or a fair trial. Treaty bodies, human rights courts and other human rights bodies have repeatedly found that enforced disappearances also violate the right to liberty and security of the person, the right not to be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, the right to remedy, and the right to life. An enforced disappearance is also a “continuing crime”, which takes place so long as the disappeared person remains missing and information about his or her fate or whereabouts has not been provided by the state. Enforced disappearances also have a profound effect on the family members and friends of the disappeared individuals who are sometimes forced to anxiously wait years before they find out if their loved one is alive or dead.

Name: Ramin Hossein Panahi, Afshin Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Hossein Panahi, Zobeyr Hossein Panahi
Gender m/f: All male

UA: 171/17 Index: MDE 13/6734/2017 Issue Date: 13 July 2017

The Urgent Action is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/MDE13/6734/2017/en/

Dr. Azad Moradian : Establishing a Kurdish State Will Shake the Balance in the Region

Featured Image -- 2317The Kurdistan Voice: As you know, one of the most disputed political topics in the Middle East is the independence referendum of Kurdistan, which will be held within the next three months. Until now, Iran has opposed the referendum more than Baghdad or even Ankara. Is Iran afraid of an independent Kurdistan because it is likely to become a catalyst for the Kurds of Iran?

Dr. Moradian: An independent Kurdish state, regardless of size, is a direct threat to Iranian political hegemony and the regional power of the Middle East.

Essentially, the long-term strategic goal of Iran is to create a Shiite block, or as they call it, a Shiite Crescent and claim the territorial and ideological leadership of the Shiite world.

The removal of Saddam Hussein created the space for the Iranian regime to further spread their influence in the region.

In Lebanon and in part of Yemen, Iran has already been able to establish their dominance and have widespread Shiite support. All of Iranian’s efforts in Syria are towards this same end.

While Iran has been involved in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, they became physically engaged in 2014 to preserve the power of an Alawite Shiite regime. The territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria and the preservation of the ruling powers in these countries is of paramount importance to Iran. Therefore, anything that threatens this plan is something Iran will vehemently oppose. Kurds are situated, physically and politically, in direct opposition to this plan. Kurds are also positioned to oppose Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambitions to reestablish an Ottoman Sunni Crescent (please see Question 3 for more on this topic).

Establishing a Kurdish state will shake the balance in the region, as it does not reinforce the larger geopolitical visions of Iran and/or Turkey.
Furthermore, while the situations of Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey are different, there is cross-border influence and exchange. The formation of a Kurdish state in any one of these regions can catalyze Kurds in other regions.

Iranian Kurds established the first Kurdish state (The Republic of Mahabad 1946), so the history is there for people to be moved into action by what happens in Iraqi Kurdistan. There is a great deal of movement between Kurds in Iraq and Iran; therefore, we cannot minimize the power of the independence referendum in revitalizing resistance in other regions of Kurdistan.

Anytime we discuss Middle East politics, we must touch on the economic impact of regional changes. Iran, in part because of their position in OPEC, has a key economic role. An independent Kurdistan with their rich oil reserves will become a dominant voice regarding what happens to oil exports. Iran does not want to share this power. While Iran is afraid of a future state of Kurdistan threatening internal affair, the issue is more complex than that. Iran opposes the referendum because a Kurdish state threats Iranian political, economic, and ideological dominance in all aspects.

On the ideological front, Iran does not want to have a secular democratic state at its borders. Despite all of the internal party issues in Iraqi Kurdistan, the system can still be an antidote to Iranian theocracy. This would create tension within Iran, not just in the Kurdish region of Iran, as it can inspire the Iranian democracy seeking movement.

For example, the stance that Iraqi Kurdistan has towards women, religious tolerance, political pluralism and open media can all have an impact on Iran’s civic engagement.

The Kurdish region, in the past 20 years, has shown a much more progressive stance towards human rights issues. Travel and intellectual exchange between the two countries could threaten the Iranian regime’s ability to maintain a dictatorship and subdue resistance and activism. Religious tolerance and women’s issues are especially key.

The Kurdistan Voice: The former U.S. president, George Bush had an unsuccessful Great Middle-East plan for the democratization of the region. Is it possible that the Trumps’ administration pursues a similar plan to strengthen the U.S. power and reduce Russia’s influence in the region?

Dr. Moradian: Let me begin by distinguishing between Bush’s foreign policy towards the Middle East and that of Trump.

The two are actually different, at least in terms of messaging. Both Sr. Bush and Jr. Bush had the slogan of destroying dictatorship and establishing democracy in the region as their stated reasons for getting involved in the Middle East.

This was the case in the early 90’s with Bush Sr. and was also the case with Bush Jr. Trump says: “America First” and states that he is there for reestablishing America’s dominance, politically, economically and ideologically. Establishing democracy does not appear to be part of the plan.

On the surface, we might think that Bush’s vision of destroying dictatorship and establishing western style democracy is a worthy cause. The reality is not exactly as noble. First of all, establishing democracy was never clearly defined or classified. There was also no clear plan of how this was going to happen. For example, Bush failed to help foster a clear alternative that would fill the void left behind after the toppling of dictatorship. Furthermore, power was not properly divvied up between all the stakeholders on the ground.

The project was left completely unfinished. In part, as a result of this, the region has been plagued by the horrors of ISIS. The human, economic, and cultural costs have been enormous.

Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. succeeded in toppling dictators but then the region was abandoned to deal with the cascading consequences of war and instability. Whether Trump’s foreign policy is going to work better remains to be seen. Time will tell. So far there is no clear vision in mind.

The Bush administration, as well as Obama’s, were committed to the one Iraq, one Syria policy and were not interested in supporting the Kurdish quest for self-determination. They saw the continuation of Iraq as well as Syria (as an intact country) as a priority. At the same time, they did not have a plan of how to support the type of political system that would lead to democracy. Territorial integrity was chosen over the well-being of people. The cost has been great suffering and further instability. This policy has had a devastating impact on Kurds and has been one of the biggest blows to Kurdish interests.

While America has relied on Kurds to neutralize extremism and give tactical and military support to American troops, it has in turn, refused to support Kurds in their political ambitions.

We don’t yet know if the Trump administration is going to continue this policy or move in a different direction. The Trump administration has supported Kurds in Syria militarily but there is so far no indication that things will be different politically.

When it comes to Russia, the issue is even more complex. While Russia appears to want to reestablish its former Soviet supremacy in the world, it is entangled in more pressing concerns closer its own borders, such as in Ukraine and Georgia.

Russia is a strong player militarily but economically it is on the same level as a country like Italy. It, therefore, does not have the leverage to continue taking a strong stance in the Middle East. The most it can hope for is to recreate the balance of power between east and west that the old Soviet once had.

Trump’s policy towards Russia has been to sit down with Russia and negotiate while making sure Russia does not have a leadership role in the world. In this regard, Trump’s policy is a conservative American stance and not a new one but it is a deviation from Obama.

Trump administration is interested in U.S. global dominance and not in power sharing. By helping Russia economically, it is likely that Russia will want to trade its influence in Syria and Iran for more dominance in the Eastern block and for more financial opportunities.

 

The Kurdistan Voice: It seems Turkey faces a dilemma between the United States and Russia concern to its regional policy and has been the failure to gain its strategic goals, especially in Syria as the United States has sent military equipment to the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protect Union without getting attention to the Ankara’s threats.

How is the Turkey’s policy in the region explainable?

Dr. Moradian: Before the year 2003 when AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power, Turkey’s main goals in the region were twofold:

One, it wanted to self-preserve through a strong nationalism. Its policies were geared towards fostering a secular nationalistic state. It did not expend energy and resources on expansionist policies.

Two, it wanted to become a strong economic force. It did so by being a key NATO member. It was able to do just that as it had the largest border with the East. Turkey was seen as the bridge between the East and West. It was able to gain tremendously on the economic front. For 44 years, Turkey benefited financially from the Truman Doctrine, of aid to countries that were moving away from Communism towards Democracy.

In an effort to control Communism, Turkey profited financially and politically.

The Turkish military was the guardian of this secular nationalistic state. Kurds, or anyone else, that threatened this vision were brutally repressed and slaughtered. The war against Kurds helped strengthen the Turkish state by giving the army a constant enemy. Turkey was the beneficiary of the Cold War but needed a new direction after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Understanding the recent history of Turkish foreign policy requires understanding Ahmet Davutoğlu doctrine and philosophy. He is the theoretical founder of the direction Turkey took after the fall of the Soviet Union. From 2002-2009 he had an advisory role and from 2009-2014 he was the foreign minister of Turkey and then became Prime Minister from 2014-2016.

Ahmet Davutoğlu’s philosophy was to move Turkey towards a regional power by emphasizing pan-Islamism and neo-Ottomanism. The direction of its foreign policy moved towards an expansionist one. An Islamist Pan-Turkish vision replaced secular nationalism.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced laws that challenged secularism. He also started to bring forward Islamist ideology in its internal and foreign policy. It began meddling in regional affairs. For example, it became embroidered in a conflict with Israel in support of Hamas. It took positions on Afghanistan and then even more so in Syria. It supported Chechens against Russia.

Initially, Ahmet Davutoğlu attempted to minimize conflict with its neighbors by becoming closer to Iran, Greece, Armenia, Iraq, and Syria. He believed that he could have more influence in the region by neutralizing tensions. This was positive for Turkey. During the time Iran was internationally sanctioned, Turkey was able to go around these sanctions and benefit economically.

Ahmet Davutoğlu was also interested in a peace process with the PKK in order to;

1) Bring Turkey closer to joining the European Union,

2) Minimize tensions internally

3) Reduce the role of the army, which was traditionally the guardian of secular nationalism and not pan-Islamist.

Ultimately, Ahmet Davutoğlu’s vision was a failed one. The peace process with the PKK did not move forward in part because the army and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan itself had no interest in following through.

Furthermore, by the early 2012’s it was clear that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saw himself as an Islamic leader. It drew further and further away from Europe. Joining the European Union was no longer at the forefront of Turkish national interests. The first confrontations with the west came when the U.S first invaded Iraq. Turkey initially resisted the war by not allowing the U.S military to use its bases. Furthermore, in the conflict between Gaza and Israel, it took the side of Gaza. Ahmet Davutoğl’s philosophy was clashing with the West.

Ahmet Davutoğl then supported Muslim Brotherhood and in this way wanted to penetrate in the Arab region’s internal affairs. Turkey took up a leading role in the Arab Spring. It had a proactive foreign policy at the time. It would actively pursue opportunities to expand its power.

Turkey wanted to position itself as a model for the Middle East: an Islamic country that was (at least on the surface) democratic. However, Arab Spring was too large of a conflict for Turkey to be able to control.

With the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s role also diminished. It was not able to hold on to any power in Libya or Egypt. It became further entangled in the conflict in Syria.

The Syrian uprising and civil war were another places that Turkey attempted to have great influence. In fact, Turkey’s role in the creation and expansion of ISIS is documented but needs further scrutiny. Turkey appears to have used ISIS, as well as the refugee crisis, as a way to further hurt the Kurds and expand its powers in the region. However, with the defeat of ISIS, Turkey’s role has been further questioned. Despite the evidence, the West has yet to directly hold Turkey responsible for aiding ISIS; however, the West no longer sees Turkey as a model for the region.

By 2016, as a result of Ahmet Davutoğl’s failures to establish the type of regional dominance it set out to do, he was forced out of the political arena.

Turkey today is forced into a reactive strategy, rather than proactive position. It is at odds with its neighbors and internally unstable and more polarized than ever.

 

 

————-+++++————

Dr. Azad Moradian, a Kurdish- American Politician was born in Iranian Kurdistan (Eastern Kurdistan). Dr. Moradian specializes in Kurdish and Iranian politics. His articles are regularly published in several media outlets and magazines. He gives regular political comments on radio and TV broadcasts. He also analyzed Kurdish politics and internal fratricide between political factions, and its dire consequences.

Dr. Moradian is Chair of Kurdish American Committee for Democracy and Human right in Iran, and co-founder of Voice of Kurdish-American Radio for Democracy, Peace, and Freedom.

Dr. Moradian is a former member of the board of directors of Kurdish National Congress of North America.

 

Source: https://kurdistanvoice.net/2017/07/04/dr-azad-moradian-establishing-a-kurdish-state-will-shake-the-balance-in-the-region/

Iran: Enforced disappearances of Kurdish men arrested after armed clashes and reprisals against families must end immediately 

Saba-Hosein-Panahi-and-Ramin-Hossin-Panahi

Dear friends,

Please find below and attached a Public Statement that Amnesty International issued today on five men from Iran’s Kurdish minority who have been subject to enforced disappearances since 23 and 24 June 2017.

Ramin Hossein Panahi, a 22-year-old member of the Komala armed opposition group, was arrested on 23 June 2017 after he took part in armed clashes with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the neighborhood of Shalman, in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, northwest Iran. His fate and whereabouts have been unknown since then.

Later that day, the Revolutionary Guards stormed Ramin Hossein Panahi’s parents’ house in the village of Qeruchay, near Sanandaj and arrested his brother, Afshin Hossein Panahi. The following day, Revolutionary Guards raided the house again and arrested three other members of his family – Anvar Hossein-Panahi (cousin), Ahmad Hossein-Panahi (brother-in-law) and Zobeyr Hossein-Panahi (distant relative). Information received by Amnesty International suggests that none of the men arrested had any involvement with the armed clashes and were instead arrested by Revolutionary Guards in an apparent effort to exact retribution and create a climate of fear.

The organization is urging the Iranian authorities to release Afshin Hossein Panahi, Anvar Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Hossein Panahi, and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi if they have been detained solely because of their family connection with Ramin Hossein Panahi. The authorities must ensure that Ramin Hossein Panahi is promptly brought before a judge, as well as provided with immediate access to healthcare, protected from torture and other ill-treatment, given access to an independent lawyer of his choosing, and granted a fair trial without resort to the death penalty.

The Public Statement is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/6649/2017/en/

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7ca19-amnesty-internationalAMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT

30 June 2017

Index: MDE 13/6649/2017

Iran: Enforced disappearances of Kurdish men arrested after armed clashes and reprisals against families must end immediately

The Iranian authorities must immediately reveal the fate and whereabouts of five men from Iran’s Kurdish minority who have been subject to enforced disappearances since 23 and 24 June 2017, Amnesty International said today.

Ramin Hossein Panahi, a 22-year-old member of the Komala armed opposition group, was arrested on 23 June 2017 after he took part in armed clashes with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the neighbourhood of Shalman, in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, northwest Iran. His fate and whereabouts have been unknown since then.

Later that day, the Revolutionary Guards stormed Ramin Hossein Panahi’s parents’ house in the village of Qeruchay, near Sanandaj and arrested his brother, Afshin Hossein Panahi. The following day, Revolutionary Guards raided the house again and arrested three other members of his family – Anvar Hossein Panahi (cousin), Ahmad Hossein Panahi (brother-in-law) and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi(distant relative). Information received by Amnesty International suggests that none of the men arrested had any involvement with the armed clashes and were instead arrested by Revolutionary Guards in an apparent effort to exact retribution and create a climate of fear.

Amnesty International understands that on both days, the arrests were carried out in a violent manner. According to accounts from Ramin Hossein Panahi’s family, armed Revolutionary Guards wearing black masks broke the front door of their family house and beat the men as well as Ramin Hossein Panahi’s sister and elderly father. They also warned them against holding gatherings or giving media interviews. Ramin Hossein Panahi’s family have said that their house is now surrounded by heavily armed guards who are monitoring their movements and preventing neighbours and relatives from paying visits.

Since the men were arrested last week, the authorities have refused to provide any information about their fate and whereabouts. Ramin Hossein Panahi’s family learned through a local source that he was hospitalized in Sanandaj following his arrest for approximately an hour and then moved to an undisclosed location. His family are concerned that he is at risk of extrajudicial execution and torture, including through being denied life-saving medical care for his injuries. No information is available on the other men. Their families reported making strenuous efforts to locate them by visiting various government offices in Sanandaj, Qorveh and Dehgolan, all in Kurdistan Province, but said that officials refused to acknowledge their detention or disclose their location. Instead, they directed threats and insults at them describing their loved ones as “terrorists”.

Amnesty International considers all five men to be victims of enforced disappearance and is calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately reveal their fate and whereabouts. Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law and places individuals at serious risk of extrajudicial execution, torture and other gross human rights violations.

The organization is urging the Iranian authorities to release Afshin Hossein Panahi, Anvar Hossein Panahi, Ahmad Hossein Panahi, and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi if they have been detained solely because of their family connection with Ramin Hossein Panahi. The authorities must ensure that Ramin Hossein Panahi is promptly brought before a judge, as well as provided with immediate access to healthcare, protected from torture and other ill-treatment, given access to an independent lawyer of his choosing, and granted a fair trial without resort to the death penalty.

Background

In addition to Ramin Hossein Panahi, three other men affiliated with the armed Kurdish opposition group Komala were involved in the exchange of gunfire on 23 June 2017. They included Sabah Hossein Panahi, Hamed Seyf Panahi and Behzad Nouri. Ramin Hossein Panahi was injured and subsequently arrested while the latter three were shot dead. The exchange of gunfire apparently started at a Revolutionary Guards checkpoint after the men were identified while travelling in a car and did not heed a call to stop. The authorities have refused to return the dead bodies of the three men to their families for burials and warned the families against holding memorial gatherings. Komala has claimed that six members of the Revolutionary Guards were also killed during the clashes but the Revolutionary Guards have not acknowledged any casualties in the official statement they issued on 23 June.

Komala is an armed Kurdish opposition group which has been engaged in armed activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1980s.

Kurds are one of Iran’s disadvantaged ethnic minorities who face entrenched discrimination that curtails their access to employment, adequate housing and the exercise of their cultural, economic, civil and political rights. Continued economic neglect of provinces populated by Kurds, which include Kurdistan, Kermanshah and parts of West Azerbaijan, have further entrenched poverty and marginalization. Politically, Iran’s Kurdish minority have criticized the centralization of political life and the absence of any measures to ensure minority self-government.

 

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IRAN: FURTHER INFORMATION: YOUTH ARRESTED IN HIS TEENS AT RISK OF EXECUTION: HIMAN URAMINEJAD

7ca19-amnesty-internationalURGENT ACTION: YOUTH ARRESTED IN HIS TEENS AT RISK OF EXECUTION

Himan Uraminejad has been warned by prison officials that he is at risk of execution as Iran’s Head of Judiciary has approved the implementation of his death sentence. He has been on death row since 2012 for a crime committed when he was 17 years old.

Himan Uraminejad has been warned by prison officials that he is at risk of execution as Iran’s Head of Judiciary has approved the implementation of his death sentence. He has been on death row since 2012 for a crime committed when he was 17 years old.

Amnesty International has learnt on 21 November that Himan Uraminejad, aged 22, was informed by prison officials on 6 October that the Head of Judiciary had approved the implementation of his death sentence and his family should intensify their efforts to seek a pardon from the family of the deceased because his execution could be carried out at any moment. He was sentenced to death in August 2012 after a criminal court in Kurdistan Province convicted him of murder over the fatal stabbing of a boy during a group fight. He was 17 years old at the time of the crime. In September 2014, the Supreme Court quashed his death sentence and granted him a retrial, based on new juvenile sentencing provisions in Iran’s 2013 Islamic Penal Code. In June 2015, however, he was sentenced to death again. The criminal court presiding over his retrial referred to an official medical opinion that found “no evidence of a disorder at the time of the crime that would remove criminal liability”. The court also referred to Himan Uraminejad’s statements that he had no “mental illness or history of hospitalization” and understood killing someone was “religiously forbidden” (haram). The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence in November 2015 and rejected a subsequent request for retrial.

himen-oraminejad-300x191

Himan Uraminejad was sentenced after a grossly unfair trial that relied on evidence obtained through torture. He was arrested on 22 April 2012 when he was 17 years old. He was subsequently transferred to an undisclosed detention centre where he was held for 20 days, without access to his family and lawyer. He has said that during this period, he was tortured, including by repeated beatings that left scars and bruises all over his face and body, and suspension from the ceiling by a rope tied to his feet. He has said that police also raped him with an object shaped like an egg, threatened to cut off his testicles and walked over his body with boots. Himan Uraminejad’s trial was held before an adult court, without special juvenile justice protections. The court ordered no investigation into his allegations of torture.

Please write immediately in English, Persian, Arabic, French and Spanish or your own language:

  • Urging the Iranian authorities to halt any plans to execute Himan Uraminejad, and commute his death sentence without delay;
  • Urging them to ensure that his conviction is quashed and that he is granted a fair retrial in accordance with the principles of juvenile justice, in particular ensuring that no statements obtained through torture and other ill- treatment are admitted as evidence;
  • Urging them to ensure his allegations of torture are investigated and those responsible are brought to justice;
  • Immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death

Please send your appeals to the care of Iranian embassies in your country, listed below. If there is no Iranian embassy in your country, please mail the letter to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, 622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10017, United States. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 72/16. Further information: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/3722/2016/en/

URGENT ACTION: YOUTH ARRESTED IN HIS TEENS AT RISK OF EXECUTION

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Iran is set at nine lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys. From this age, a child who is convicted of murder or crimes that fall in the category of hodud (offences that carry inalterable punishments prescribed by Shari’a law) is generally convicted and sentenced in the same way as an adult. However, since the adoption of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, judges have been given discretion not to sentence juvenile offenders to death if they determine that juvenile offenders did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or their “mental maturity” is in doubt.

The criteria for assessing “mental growth and maturity” are unclear and arbitrary. As illustrated by the case of Himan Uraminejad, judges often conflate the issue of lesser culpability of juveniles because of their lack of maturity with the diminished responsibility of people with mental illness, concluding that the juvenile offender was not “afflicted with insanity” or was “in a healthy mental state”, and therefore deserved the death penalty. Sometimes, judges focus exclusively on whether the juvenile could tell that it is wrong to kill a human being, and disregard interdisciplinary social science studies on the relationship between adolescence and crime, including neuroscientific findings on brain maturity, which have informed juvenile justice principles considering juveniles less culpable than adults due to their developmental immaturity and cognitive limitations (see Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/3112/2016/en/).

As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran is legally obliged to treat everyone under the age of 18 as a child. This is different from the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which is the age below which children are deemed not to have the capacity to break the law. This age varies between countries, but it must be no lower than 12 years, according to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. People who have broken the law who are above the minimum age of criminal responsibility, but under 18, may be considered criminally responsible, prosecuted, tried and punished. However, they should never be subjected to the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed Iran’s implementation of the CRC in January 2016. The Committee’s Concluding Observations expressed “serious concern” that the exemption of juvenile offenders from the death penalty is “under full discretion of judges who are allowed, but not mandated to seek forensic expert opinion and that several persons have been resentenced to death following such retrials”. Beside Himan Uraminejad, Amnesty International is aware of several other cases, including Salar Shadizadi, Hamid Ahmadi and Sajad Sanjari, who have been retried, found to have sufficient “mental maturity” at the time of the crime and sentenced to death again. Amnesty International is also aware of at least 15 juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to death for the first time since the adoption of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code.

Amnesty International has recorded at least 75 executions of juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2016, including two in 2016. One of them was Hassan Afshar, who was hanged in July. Iran’s lack of transparency on its use of the death penalty means that the total number of executions of juvenile offenders could be much higher. According to a UN report issued in 2014, at least 160 juvenile offenders are now on death row. Amnesty International has been able to identify the names of 78 of these juvenile offenders. Some of them have been on death row for over a decade and are either unaware of their right to seek a retrial based on the new provisions of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code or do not have the means to retain a lawyer to seek it for them.

The Head of the Judiciary must provide a type of approval known as estizan in all cases where the death penalty has been imposed under the Islamic principle of “retribution-in-kind” (qesas) before the sentence can be implemented.

Name: Himan Uraminejad Gender m/f: m

Further information on

Why Kurdish prisoners are double oppressed in Iran?

Why Kurdish prisoners are double oppressed in Iran?

Mohammad-Sadiq-Kaboudvand

Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand

Kurds rally with Armenians to commemorate genocide

Kurds rally with Armenians to commemorate genocide

kurdistan24.net
Monday, 25 April 2016
Kurds rally with Armenians to commemorate genocide

Kurds were present among the protestors, including Ezidis from Phoenix, and non-Kurd members of the Rojava Solidarity Committee Los Angeles, holding signs to declare solidarity with Armenians.

LOS ANGELES, United States (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, an estimated 60,000 protestors rallied before the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to commemorate the 100+1 anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

Kurds were present among the protestors, including Ezidis from Phoenix, holding signs to declare solidarity with Armenians.

The Ezidi Relief Fund, Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Kurdish American Education Society, Kurdish Community of Southern California, Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group, Rojava Solidarity Committee of Los Angeles and Kurdish National Congress of North America joined the Armenian Genocide Committee to support the 2016 Rally for Justice.

Armenians perceive the killing of a million and a half by Ottomans as an act of genocide. Turkey says half a million Armenians died when they rebelled against their rulers after World War I.

Kurdish political groups and NGOs have apologized for the fact that throughout the Kurdish-populated regions, some Kurds participated in the genocide of the Armenians. However, other Kurds opposed the genocide, and in some cases even helped hide or adopted Armenian refugees.

Southern California has the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia. According to US census data, over 200,000 people of Armenian descent live in Los Angeles.

Vazgen Barsegian, an Armenian activist, told Kurdistan24, “It was very emotional for me seeing my fellow Kurdish brothers and sisters sincerely joining our struggle and demanding justice. I grew up in Van with Kurdish people, so seeing my fellow Kurdish brothers and sisters marching by my side meant a lot to me.”

A Kurdish activist, Cklara Moradian, told Kurdistan24, “Building connections between our communities [Armenian & Kurdish] is crucial, not just because we share such intertwined histories of survival, but so that moving forward we can raise our voices in unison against the atrocities being committed by Turkey today.”

Moradian added that Kurds’ presence “was about showing up, visibly, to give our support. In the future, we hope to collaborate on more movement building, social and political. I deeply believe that we can more effectively fight for the recognition of each of our unique individual struggles when we rise in solidarity with each other.”

One of the organizers of the rally, Mikael Matossian, said, “The truth is clear: the Armenian Genocide is not a solely Armenian issue, but a human one. The oppression felt by our ancestors in 1915 mirrors the experiences of other ethnic minorities who also have weathered imperialism, colonialism, and genocide.”

“The repressive tactics of the Ottoman Empire have carried on into the modern Republic of Turkey, targeted toward Kurds and Armenians there. Motivated by this shared struggle against a common enemy, Kurdish and Armenian activists united today to call on the Turkish government to end its currently racist and xenophobic-motivated policies, and deliver justice to the Armenian people in the form of recognition and reparations,” he added.

Soraya Fallah, Kurdish Human rights activist, says atrocities that happened 100 years ago are continuing today. “During the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were killed, years later Kurds were killed and today in the 21st century still Kurds are killed and massacred in Erdogan’s self-declared empire,” she stated.

“If there is no recognition, establishment, and mechanism of prevention, genocide will repeat and continue; the way we still see it today,” Fallah continued.

She added that the rally was very powerful. “It is amazing to see a nation transforming their mourning to the power of a movement for justice and unity and endowing their identity to their children and new generation!” Fallah declared.

Solin Rojhilat, one of the organizers of the contingent told Kurdistan24, “I had the pleasure to simply witness a person with Greek and Armenian flags dancing to the Armenian ‘Hay Qajer;’ the Kurdish ‘Lo Berde’ of the same melody. A few Armenians took pictures with some of our friends in the Kurdish contingent.”

“We want to find each other. Whether we’re planets that orbit the same sun or we’re simply earnest people with a desire to know one another, we catch sight of one another and know that we’re here together,” Rojhilat said.

In a statement to mark Armenian Remembrance Day on April 24, President of the United States Barack Obama called the massacre the first mass atrocity of the 20th century and tragedy that must not be repeated. But he refused to use the word “genocide,” a term he used before becoming president in 2009.

 

Reporting by Ava Homa

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

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