Arseh Sevom http://www.arsehsevom.net Promoting vibrant civil society Fri, 20 Mar 2015 15:13:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/03/i-love-norooz/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/03/i-love-norooz/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:39:11 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9268 Norooz (Nowruz) marks the beginning of a new year for people in Iran and the region. While the year changes at the moment of the Equinox, the holidays last for fourteen days.

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haft sin

by Tori Egherman

Norooz is a wonderful time of the year to be in Iran. The celebrations begin on the last Tuesday evening before the Spring Equinox with fireworks and fire-jumping. People leap over the fires shouting  Zardiye man az to, Sorkhieh to az man, which means throwing the darkness & ill the in fire, receiving health and joy back from the fire.

They end two weeks later with picnicking.

Norooz marks the beginning of the new year for people in Iran and other countries in the region.

There is an energy and excitement to the celebrations in Iran, a cultural expression that unifies people across class, religion, and ethnicity. Not celebrating the two-weeks of holidays in some way or another is unthinkable. When I lived in Iran, the Norooz holidays felt like a kind of welcoming. By this I mean that they allowed me to be an Iranian for two weeks a year. They allowed me room to celebrate without negating any part of myself. The holiday tradition is open and inviting. It does not demand belief or faith. The celebrations are both private and public. They are broad enough for anyone to enjoy.

Norooz itself takes place at the moment of the Equinox, usually on March 21. Since the equinox occurs at the same time all over the world, so does the changing of the year. Whether it’s 3 am in Los Angeles or 2:30 pm in Tehran, the new year begins.

There are many traditions attending the changing of the year including spring cleaning, making amends, buying new clothes, giving gifts, visiting friends and relatives…

Most families decorate their homes with the haft sin (Seven “s’s”). A table is covered with all sorts of things beginning with “s.” These items represent common new year’s themes including renewal, wisdom, health, and prosperity. You usually see sprouts, pudding, coins, eggs, and other items.

If you want to know more about the traditions of Norooz, a simple internet search will return hundreds of responses. Harvard University has a pdf guide for educators. This link provides an overview of Sizdeh Bedar: the picnic that is the official end of the two-week Norooz holidays.

So too all who celebrate: happy new year. To all who don’t: it’s not to late to start.

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Renew Mandate for Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/03/renew-mandate-for-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-in-iran/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/03/renew-mandate-for-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-in-iran/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:35:15 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9263 Arseh Sevom — A group of 36 organizations including Arseh Sevom signed a letter to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council asking for a renewal of the mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. The current Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, recently stated about the ...

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Press conference by Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Arseh Sevom — A group of 36 organizations including Arseh Sevom signed a letter to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council asking for a renewal of the mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. The current Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, recently stated about the capacity for respect for human rights, “Iran is the the country in the world with the biggest gap between practice and potential.”

Arseh Sevom - 36 orgs ask to renew mandate for special rapporteur

March 12, 2015

To: Member States of the UN Human Rights Council

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned human rights and civil society groups, write to you to urge your government to support the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (“the Council”).

The situation in Iran remains one of systemic human rights violations that are deeply rooted in laws, policies, and practices that require the sustained attention of the Council. Renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate will ensure that human rights in Iran remain a priority globally and for the Council. As a member of the Council, your government is entrusted with the responsibility to promote and protect human rights. This responsibility includes pressing the Iranian authorities to ensure that the people of Iran enjoy the human rights enshrined in the human rights treaties to which the country is party and to which they are entitled. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur provides an effective and constructive means for the Council to promote and protect these rights.

As your government is aware, the Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran has issued credible, thoroughly researched and well-sourced reports, although the Iranian government continues to deny him access to Iran. The reports include testimonies and other first-hand information gathered from sources inside Iran using modern technologies and information gathered from credible non-governmental organizations located outside the country. The Special Rapporteur has produced concrete recommendations for action by the Iranian government to meet its legal obligations and respect Iran’s international human rights commitments. On the international stage, these reports focus attention on a range of ongoing human rights challenges in Iran, including some of those enumerated in the enclosed Facts and Figures sheet.

The Special Rapporteur’s active engagement has encouraged and helped galvanize Iranian civil society inside and outside the country. His actions in pursuance of his mandate have contributed to the domestic debate on human rights in Iran. Most importantly, the Special Rapporteur has also provided crucial support for the work, safety and, in many cases, release of human rights defenders, lawyers and prisoners of conscience. In his reports and joint press statements with other Special Procedures, the Special Rapporteur has raised concerns over many individual cases, some of which have thereafter seen tangible improvements in state behavior. Renewing the Special Rapporteur’s mandate would send a strong message to people inside Iran that the international community continues to have concern for their rights.

Iran’s most recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which took place on 31 October 2014 and saw the international community largely reiterate recommendations that it had made to the Iranian government during the previous UPR in 2010, also underscored the value of the Special Rapporteur’s work and the importance of renewing his mandate.

We urge your government to actively participate in the upcoming interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to encourage the Iranian authorities to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, and to strongly support the renewal of his mandate as a means to contribute concretely to the promotion and the protection of human rights in Iran.

 

Sincerely,

 

Roya Boroumand, Executive Director

Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation

 

Robin Phillips, Executive Director

The Advocates for Human Rights

 

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Middle East North Africa Programme

Amnesty International

 

Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director

Arseh Sevom

 

Thomas Hughes, Executive Director

ARTICLE 19

 

Md. Ashrafuzzaman, Liaison Officer

Asian Legal Resource Center

 

Alirza Quluncu, Representative

The Association for Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran

 

Duman Radmehr, Executive Director

Association for Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran

 

Taimoor Aliassi, UN Representative

Association pour les Droits Humains au Kurdistan d’Iran-Genève (KMMK-G)

 

Diane Ala’i, Representative to the United Nations

Bahá’í International Community

 

Mansoor Bibak, Co-Director

Balochistan Human Rights Group

 

Renate Bloem, UN Geneva Representative

CIVICUS

 

Steering Committee

Committee of Human Rights Reporters

 

Joel Simon, Executive Director

Committee to Protect Journalists

 

Juana Kweitel, Program Director

Conectas Direitos Humanos

 

Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Founder and President

Center for Supporters of Human Rights

 

Hassan Shire, Executive Director

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

 

Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director

Ensemble Contre La Peine de Mort (ECPM)

 

Ibrahim Al Arabi, Executive Director

European Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation

 

Keyvan Rafiee, Executive Director

Human Rights Activists in Iran

 

Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division

Human Rights Watch

 

Mani Mostofi, Director

Impact Iran

 

Mohammad Nayyeri, Director

Insight Iran

 

Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

 

Jessica Stern, Executive Director

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

 

Phil Lynch, Director

International Service for Human Rights

 

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Executive Director

Iran Human Rights

 

Saghi Ghahraman, President

Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)

 

Shadi Sadr, Co-Director

Justice for Iran

 

Tara Fatehi, Spokesperson

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network

 

Mehrangiz Kar, Chairperson

Siamak Pourzand Foundation

 

Mahmood Enayat, Director

Small Media

 

Hassan Nayeb Hashem, Representative to the Human Rights Council in Geneva

Südwind: All Human Rights for All in Iran

 

Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director

United for Iran

 

Mohammad Mostafaei, Directeur

Universal Tolerance

 

Shadi Amin, Coordinator

6Rang: Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network 

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Facts About Human Rights in Iran http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/03/facts-about-human-rights-in-iran/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/03/facts-about-human-rights-in-iran/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:27:26 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9254 This fact sheet updates the current human rights situation in Iran. According the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, "Iran is the the country in the world with the biggest gap between practice and potential."

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UN-nursery-school-attendees-and-the-Universal-Declaration-of-Human-Rights--750x420

Arseh Sevom — A group of 36 organizations including Arseh Sevom sent a letter to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council asking for a renewal of the mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. As part of the letter, this fact sheet was included. It updates the current human rights situation in Iran. The current Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, recently stated about the capacity for respect for human rights, “Iran is the the country in the world with the biggest gap between practice and potential.”

Arseh Sevom - 36 orgs ask to renew mandate for special rapporteur

FACT SHEET: 2015 update on the human rights situation in Iran

Iran faces a chronic situation in which serious violations of human rights continue to be perpetrated by the authorities, particularly Iran’s security, intelligence and judiciary authorities. Below are some key indicators.

1. Death penalty

These women hold signs asking "Why Execution?"

These women hold signs asking “Why Execution?”

Iran has had the highest per capita execution rate in the world for several years in a row. It retains the death penalty for a wide range of offences, including broad and ill- defined crimes such as “sowing corruption on earth,” as well as some offences that do not constitute “most serious crimes” under international law. The number of executions in the country has reportedly increased in recent years, from at least 580 executions in 2012, to 687 executions in 2013, to 753 executions in 2014. Some executions are carried out in public.

In many cases, courts imposed death sentences after proceedings that failed to respect international fair trial standards, including by accepting as evidence “confessions” elicited under torture or other ill-treatment. Detainees on death row were frequently denied access to legal counsel during pre-trial investigations.

Scores of juvenile offenders, including some sentenced in previous years for crimes committed under the age of 18, remain on death row; others were executed. The revised Islamic Penal Code allows the execution of juvenile offenders for qesas (retribution) and hodoud (offences carrying fixed penalties prescribed by Islamic law), unless a judge determines that the offender did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or the offender’s mental capacity is in doubt. Saman Naseem, who was arrested when aged 17, was sentenced to death on charges of Moharebeh (“waging war against God”) and Ifsad Fil Arz (“corruption on earth”) for his alleged involvement in armed activities. Security authorities allegedly tortured him in detention to force a “confession.” Rights group Iran Human Rights identified at least 14 executions in 2014 of persons who may have been under the age of 18 at the time of the crimes for which they were convicted.

The revised Islamic Penal Code also retains the penalty of stoning to death for the offense of adultery. At least one stoning sentence was reported to have been issued in Ghaemshahr, Mazandaran province in July 2014. No execution by stoning has been reported since 2009.

2. Women’s rights

"Woman = Man"

“Woman = Man”

Despite minor improvements under President Rouhani’s administration, such as the lifting of many gender-based quotas in universities, women in Iran remain subject to widespread and systematic discrimination in law and practice. Official policies aimed at restricting female employment and encouraging women to stay at home and pursue “traditional” roles as wives and mothers continued. While women occupy about half of all university student places, their economic participation in Iran is only 12.8%, five times lower than men, according to government figures. Personal status laws that accord women subordinate status to men in matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance remain in force.

Two population-related draft bills that remain under parliamentary consideration threaten to reduce women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services. One draft bill proposes to prevent surgical procedures that permanently prevent pregnancies and imposes criminal punishments on health professionals who preform such procedures. The other bill seeks to reduce divorces and remove family disputes from the courts in favor of mediation.

A peaceful gathering in front of the Iranian Parliament in Tehran on October 22, 2014, during which demonstrators demanded a government response to a spate of acid attacks against girls and women across Iran, ended with the beating and arrest of some of the protesters by security agents. Authorities forcibly dispersed another gathering outside the Iranian Judiciary building in Isfahan, with plainclothes agents using batons and tear gas against the demonstrators. Authorities held women’s rights activist Mahdieh Golroo, one of the participants arrested after attending the peaceful protest outside the parliament building, for three months, only releasing her on bail on January 27, 2015.

3. Rights of minorities

Religious and ethnic minorities continue to face violations of their rights, both in law and policy. Members of the Bahá’í faith are systematically deprived of the rights to university education, state employment and business licenses, and to hold religious gatherings. In January 2015, at least 100 Bahá’í were imprisoned for their religious and community activity. Christian converts, including those involved in informal house churches, face arrest and imprisonment. At least five members of the Sufi Muslim Gonabadi Dervish community remain behind bars, for the peaceful exercise of their basic rights.

Despite constitutional guarantees of equality, members of ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azeri Turks, Baluch, Kurds, and Turkmen, continue to face a range of discriminatory laws and practices, affecting their access to basic services such as housing, clean water and sanitation, employment and education. Despite some minor opening, the Iranian authorities continue to deny ethnic minority communities the right to learn their mother language, particularly at the early stage in education. Members of minority groups, particularly those who seek greater recognition of their cultural and linguistic rights, face persecution, including arrest and imprisonment. Five members of Yeni GAMOH, an Iran-based Azerbaijani-Turkish organization, are serving nine years in prison reportedly for charges steaming from their cultural and political advocacy.

4. Freedom of expression and the media

Attacks on the freedom of expression have increased in the past year, which has seen a sharp rise in arrests for internet-related offenses, as well as continuing arrests of journalists and bloggers and the enforced closure of newspapers. With at least 30 journalists in prison at the start of 2015, Iran is the second leading state in detaining journalists globally according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post, Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian, had—as of this briefing—been detained for over six months without access to a lawyer or publicly disclosed charges. In November 2014 Iranian officials said that Jason Rezaian would “soon” be released.

Since October 2013, at least seven domestic publications—Bahar, Aseman, Ghanoon, Roozan, Ebtekar, 9 of Dey and Ya Al Sarat Al Hossein—have been temporarily or permanently shut down by authorities.

In April 2014, Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced eight young Iranians active on Facebook to a total of 127 years in prison, which an appeals court later reduced to 114 years. The courts found them guilty of “acting against national security,” “spreading propaganda against the state” and “insulting Islam and state officials.” In November 2014, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld a death sentence for Soheil Arabi “insulting the Prophet” in posts on Facebook. The Supreme Court’s ruling also, arbitrarily and unlawfully, added a new charge to Soheil Arabi’s conviction of “corruption on earth.”

5. Prisoners of conscience and political prisoners

prison-cell-1

Iran continues to hold hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience unlawfully detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly or religion, according to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These prisoners include journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, artists, bloggers, aid workers, members of the political opposition, student activists, and ethnic and religious minority activists. Many others are being held after being prosecuted and convicted by Revolutionary Courts in unfair trials that failed to meet international fair trial standards, raising serious questions regarding whether they were also targeted for exercising their basic rights. Many detainees have reported facing torture and ill treatment, including severe beatings, mock executions, and prolonged solitary confinement.

Human rights defenders currently detained in Iranian prisons include lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, and journalist Mohammad Saddigh Kaboudvand, who is also a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority, whose detentions have been found to be arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Iranian Green Movement figures and former presidential election candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s wife and a prominent academic and political figure, have been under extrajudicial house arrest with no charges or legal proceedings since February 2011.

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Human Rights Organizations–Cooperating for Change http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/02/human-rightss-cooperating-change/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/02/human-rightss-cooperating-change/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2015 13:04:26 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9246 How can human rights groups focusing on Iran learn to work together and become more professional? This article, written by Tori Egherman and originally published in Iran Human Rights Review explores possibilities for cooperation and increased professionalism among human rights organizations. A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Cooperating for Change ...

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human rights

How can human rights groups focusing on Iran learn to work together and become more professional? This article, written by Tori Egherman and originally published in Iran Human Rights Review explores possibilities for cooperation and increased professionalism among human rights organizations.

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Cooperating for Change

Cooperation among human rights activists and organisations among the diaspora focusing on Iran has increased in an uneven manner over the past few decades. There are many reasons for this, including the professionalisation of human rights over the past fifteen years. “In the eighties and nineties,” Kamran Ashtary, Director of Arseh Sevom,[1] stated, “human rights activists weren’t as professional as they are now. We realised the necessity of collaboration, but we didn’t know how to do it. We were so much into all or nothing cooperation that we were not effective.” [2]

Mr Ashtary continued by pointing out that there was always cooperation on human rights issues within parties and groups with similar ideologies, but that over the past five years there has been an increase in cooperation among groups and individuals with ideological differences. The experience gained through the appointment of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, as well as working with the appointee on reporting, has brought about a new confidence in the benefits of cooperation to achieving respect for human rights in Iran.

Despite this, activists and civil society organisations can find hundreds of reasons not to work together, from differing political views, to mistrust, to a lack of experience to the random inflated or delicate ego. “There is no one who says they don’t want collaboration,” a human rights lawyer stated in an interview.[3] “That would be taboo. After all, we are all civil society organisations trying to get along.” In many cases the habit of living in a repressive culture means trust can be difficult to build. In societies like Iran, civil society can be viewed as a threat, in conflict with authorities and the state. As a result, the muscles for cooperation and for working with allies are not exercised.

In a 2011 interview, international human rights expert, Dokhi Fassihian reported on discussions with a network of professionals from Mexican civil society organisations who were reflecting on the transition from confrontation with the state to working with it:

The issue of trust is not unique to Iran. In many societies where the way human rights activists work is primarily underground, where activists are under attack they are always in a confrontational mode. When I spoke to Mexican organizations about this in Mexico City, they discussed the fact that not being in a confrontational mode, accepting or talking to governments as an ally, as a partner seems wrong to them. Some of them still struggle with that from when they had a dictatorial government and some still function as confrontational.[4]

When trying to influence international bodies and make changes in policy, working together is absolutely necessary. What can be done in collaboration with others is much greater than what can be done by lone individuals or small groups.

Whether they represent the European Union, the governments of the ‘Global South’, or the United Nations, officials and their staff need to have confidence in the claims being made and the people and organisations making them. This is made easier when they are approached by coalitions in addition to individuals and individual organisations. A coalition can demonstrate the strength and depth needed to back up claims. Coalitions help bring attention to a cause. Influencers and decision makers have limited time. By approaching them as a group, the chances of being heard increase. In the case of the United Nations, it is important to remember that individuals represent countries: influencing them means influencing the decision makers of an entire country. This is more effectively done by groups working together than by an individual voice.

The appointment of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights on Iran is an example of what can be done when organisations and individuals concerned with the same issue from many different angles work together.[5] After the flawed 2009 presidential elections in Iran, concern about human rights abuses was at a high. Executions were proceeding at a fast pace. Mass arrests and appalling prison conditions were receiving more attention than ever before. Widespread use of social media meant that conditions in Iran were reaching a wider audience inside and outside the country. The situation demanded response. Human rights groups, defenders and civil society organisations representing many different interests worked together to get the UN Human Rights Council to act.

Statements, individual meetings, opinion pieces, letters and the lobbying of representatives and officials were all part of a strategy to sway the council to vote in favour of the appointment of a Special Rapporteur. Dokhi Fassihian, then director of the Democracy Coalition Project, was actively involved in the process of working for the appointment. She stated:

These rapporteurs, specifically country rapporteurs, don’t come easy. It takes an enormous amount of political effort, wil, and capital to appoint one of these individuals to report regularly on a situation. We don’t have that many country rapporteurs, precisely because it’s quite difficult to get them appointed.

For its success, it was critical for the coalition to convince undecided countries such as Brazil to vote in favour of the appointment. In the particular instance of Brazil, a group of 180 Iranian women’s rights activists wrote a personal letter to its president, Dilma Rouseff. She had been imprisoned herself for her opposition to dictatorship. The women wrote:

You know through experience that in order to legitimize the suppression of people, activists, and people’s movements, those in power may accuse and convict people on fabricated charges and crimes. You, who have fought for the Brazilian people’s dignity and freedom, know that idealists are constantly accused by those in power of cooperating with foreigners or similar offenses deemed worthy of punishment. Many ethnic rights activists, journalists, labor and political activists have recently been handed heavy sentences for such alleged crimes.[6]

The proposal for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran was brought to the council three times before receiving approval in March 2011.[7] Brazil was one of several swing countries to vote in favour. None of this would have been possible without the efforts of many different parties.

Three years into the maximum six-year term for the Special Rapporteur, organisations are still struggling to find ways to work together. For many, the biggest obstacle is changing course from advocating directly with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to communicating with international mechanisms such as the UN. A human rights lawyer (2014) interviewed commented:

There is a sort of lack of capacity around the UN and there’s also a lack of coordination. Organizations have somewhat different viewpoints and agendas but they’re all ultimately trying to work within the framework of international human rights law, so the range of what they’re asking for is not that wide necessarily. Out of conversations with these groups and attending conferences and workshops with a lot of Iranian human rights activists there just appeared to be a glaring lack of coordination for some joint actions, particularly targeted to the UN, as well as a lack of capacity and know-how by some organizations.

On an optimistic note, in early April in a meeting room at a Toronto hotel, Dr Ahmad Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran discussed his mandate and experiences investigating human rights abuses in Iran. The room was filled with people who had been at the receiving end of state-sponsored abuse, plus journalists, activists and others interested in the topic. At one point Dr Shaheed commented on the power of the collaborative efforts undertaken by human rights organisations focusing on Iran. The help with research and translation was invaluable to him. He reminded the group that his resources are limited to himself and a part-time administrative assistant. His work, he told us, depended on help from many others.

A couple of weeks earlier there had been a vote to extend his mandate as Special Rapporteur for another year.[8] This was achieved with the work of many organisations working together to advocate for its renewal.

In conclusion, to quote the words of a human rights activist stated in an interview, “When I used to play in bands, we believed that if our scene was successful, our band would be successful. You know the saying ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ That’s the attitude I’d like to see in the human rights community.”[9]

[1] The content of this article is based on research for Arseh Sevom’s project, Civil Society Cookbook. Some of those interviewed asked to remain anonymous.

[2] Interview with Kamran Ashtary, 2014. Changes in human rights advocacy in the Iranian community. Interviewed by Tori Egherman. Amsterdam.

[3] Interview with human rights lawyer. 2014. Collaborative work with civil society groups. Interviewed by Tori Egherman and Rumiyana Panayotava, Skype call.

[4] Interview with Dokhi Fassihian. 2011. Working with the United Nations. Interviewed by Tori Egherman. Skype call.

[5] Arseh Sevom, Human Rights Council Appoints Special Rapporteur for Iran. March 2011, http://www.arsehsevom.net/2011/03/human-rights-council-appoints-special-rapporteur-for-iran/

[6] Text of the letter can be found at the website for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. ‘180 Activists Ask of Brazil’s President: Show The World You Object to Human Rights Violations in Iran’ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2011/03/180-activists-brazil/

[7] Arseh Sevom, Human Rights Council Appoints Special Rapporteur for Iran. March 2011, http://www.arsehsevom.net/2011/03/human-rights-council-appoints-special-rapporteur-for-iran/

[8] The vote to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran was passed on March 28, 2014 with 21 votes in favor, 16 abstentions, and 9 opposed. The New York Times published a graphic image of the vote that can be seen here http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/html/world/voteiran.pdf, and wrote about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/29/world/middleeast/United-Nations-Iran.html

[9] Interview with human rights activist. 2014. Collaborative work with civil society groups. Interviewed by Tori Egherman and Rumiyana Panayotava, Skype call.

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Sandstorms Suffocate Iran http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/02/sandstorms-suffocate-iran/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2015/02/sandstorms-suffocate-iran/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2015 11:18:07 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9241 Sandstorms plague Iran. Environmental researcher Sam Khosravi discusses the origin and solution of these storms.

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#khuzestancantbreathe (1)

Arseh Sevom: In recent years, sandstorms in the western and southern provinces of Iran have become a grave environmental concern, endangering the health and welfare of millions of people in Iran and around the region.

Residents are using the hashtag #khuzestancantbreathe to call attention to the problem. Foolad FC, Ahwaz’s soccer team recently tweeted images of players practicing in the polluted air:

Heavy storms of sand and dust have obscured the sky and devoured the land in cities such as Ahwaz in southwest Iran. These storms have contributed to making Ahwaz the most polluted city in the world.

Sam Khosravi

Sam Khosravi

Arseh Sevom asked environmental researcher Sam Khosravi to comment on the origin of the sandstorms and the high levels of pollution. We asked him several questions. Is Khuzestan suffering from the result of industrial pollution, as is Tehran? Why has the frequency and severity of the storms increased in recent years?

What can you tell us about the origin of the sand and dust storms?

Basically, dust storms can be caused by a variety of sources, both industrial and natural. Current reports on what is occurring in Iran show that this sudden influx of sand storms does not have an industrial cause.

There must be a source of these sand storms. What can you tell us about it?

Three sources for this combined natural and human disaster have been identified so far. Satellite images show that Syria and Iraq have played a key role over a certain period of time. Deserts in North Africa are another source of sand and dust as well. Studies conducted at the University of Tehran show the storms are also caused by the degradation of wetlands. In order to ascertain a precise cause we need to conduct more independent research.

Sand storms are not new to the region. Why have recent ones created such a dire situation for the people and the region?

Deterioration of water resources and the disappearance of natural barriers combined with atmospheric changes have made the storms worse. Some models predict even more storms in the (near) future as well.

How can this environmental crisis be solved?

We’ve had these kinds of storms in Iran for a long time,  think of the “Nashi” wind in the southern part of the country, for example. The problem is that in comparison to the past, the intensity and frequency of these storms has increased.

There is no short-term solution. The problem was not created in one night and cannot be solved that in one night either. In the short-term, we need to think about the health of the residents of the region and provide them with tools to mitigate the effects of the storms. Working hours in the governmental organizations should be decreased, relief groups should be active in various areas of the region and ventilation equipment should be used in homes.

Long-term solutions are quite difficult. They will take time and money. In view of the current situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria, Iraq and Iran it is unlikely that anything will be done.

A serious effort needs to be made to revive dead ecosystems. It’s quite difficult but I think it’s possible.

Translated from the Persian: http://www.arsehsevom.net/fa/tofan-rizgardha-masoliat-motaghabele-dolat-melat/

 

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27 Kurdish Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/12/27-kurdish-political-prisoners-hunger-strike/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/12/27-kurdish-political-prisoners-hunger-strike/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 19:05:20 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9233 Arseh Sevom joins 20 other organizations in calling for the Iranian authorities to address the concerns of 27 Kurdish political prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Orumiyeh.

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logos-orumiyeh

Arseh Sevom joins 20 other organizations in calling for the Iranian authorities to address the concerns of 27 Kurdish political prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Orumiyeh.

Rights Groups Urge Iranian Authorities to Address Month-Long Hunger Strike of Kurdish Political Prisoners

Iranian authorities must immediately respond to the health and security concerns of 27 Kurdish political prisoners on a month-long hunger strike in Orumiyeh, said 21 human rights organizations today. These organizations also urged Iranian authorities to immediately investigate and remedy the broader set of rights violations these men have allegedly faced while in detention.

These Kurdish political prisoners, detained in Orumiyeh (Wermê) Central Prison, have been protesting the conditions of their detention since 20 November 2014. The hunger strikers object to the ongoing transfers of political prisoners to wards housing inmates convicted of violent crimes, such as murder, and the simultaneous introduction of such inmates to Ward 12 of the prison, which typically houses only political prisoners. Iranian law requires the overall humane treatment of all prisoners and specifically mandates that political detainees be separated from those convicted of serious common crime.

“The primary duty of law enforcement is to respect the law. Unfortunately, prison officials are either ignoring or misapplying prison regulations,” said Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. “By failing to separate different types of inmates, they have created an increasingly tense environment in which all prisoners, regardless of their alleged offenses, receive harsh and substandard treatment.”

Prison authorities have tried to pressure the men into ceasing their strike by allegedly resorting to threats of execution, beatings, and transfer to remote prisons in the south of the country, far from the Kurdish region in northwest Iran. The prisoners, however, have communicated to rights groups that they will continue their peaceful strike until their demands are met.

Recent reports indicate that as a result of the month-long hunger strike, several prisoners, including Reza Rasouli, Yusef Kaka Mami, Sherko Hasanpour, Sirwan Najawi, Abdullah Omumi and Mohammad Abdollahi, are in critical condition.

Article 39 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran prohibits offenses to the dignity of detained persons. Moreover, Iran’s Prisons Regulations and Regulations on the Methods of Separation and Classification of Prisoners both require the separation of inmates based on their class of crimes.

Despite the new government’s pledges, the number of ethnic minorities and activists facing imprisonment, torture, and even execution continues to rise. According to right groups Iran holds at least 900 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including roughly 400 members of the Kurdish community.

Rights groups maintain that the detentions of the 27 men on hunger strike appear to stem from their exercise of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of association, or reportedly follow unfair trials. Ten of these prisoners await death sentences for alleged national security offenses.

The situation of Kurdish political prisoners at Orumiyeh Central Prison exemplifies the alarming conditions of prisons throughout Iran. The reported physical abuse and threats to life of these prisoners constitute clear violations of Iran’s national and international commitments, including Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“These Kurdish political prisoners are trying to tell the world that they are tired of the violation of their rights,” said Taimoor Aliassi, representative of the Association of Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva. “We want them to know they are not forgotten and we demand that Iranian authorities take responsibility for the well-being of these and all political prisoners.”

In response to the ongoing hunger strike in Orumiyeh Prison, the undersigned human rights and civil society organizations urge the Iranian government to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally separate prisoners convicted of violent crimes from political prisoners in Orumiyeh Central Prison;
  2. Ensure that all prisoners receive any and all medical care they may require;
  3. Protect all prisoners from torture and other ill-treatment;
  4. Investigate the cases of the political prisoners in Orumiyeh Central Prison, overturn death sentences for offenses that do not constitute most serious crimes, and immediately and unconditionally release all individuals held in connection with their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression or association.

Names of the prisoners

The ten death row prisoners currently on hunger strike: Mr. Sami Hosseini, Mr. Jamal Mohammadi, Mr. Behruz Alakhani, Mr. Ali Ahmad Soleiman, Mr. Saman Nasim, Mr. Sirwan Najawi, Mr. Ebrahim Eis Pour, Mr. Ali Afshari, Mr. Rezgar Afshari, and Mr. Mohammad Abdullahi.

The other seventeen prisoners on hunger strike, who are serving prison sentences ranging from six months to 34 years: Mr. Masoud Shams Nejad, Mr. Sherko Hasan Pour, Mr. Abdullah Bislnun, Mr. Yusef Kaka Mami, Mr. Osman Mostafa Pour, Mr. Mostafa Ali Ahmad, Mr. Abdullah Omumi, Mr. Wali Afshari, Mr. Kayhan Darwishi, Mr. Mostafa Dawoudi, Mr. Shursh Afshari, Mr. Khezr Rasul Merwat, Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Bakht, Mr. Amir Molladust, Mr. Ahmad Tamuy, Mr. Jafar Afshari, Mr. Reza Rasouli.

 

Sincerely,

 

Roya Boroumand, Executive Director
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation

 

Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director
Arseh Sevom

 

Taimoor Aliassi, UN Representative
Association of Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)

Karen Parker, President
Association of Humanitarian Lawyers

Mansoor Bibak, Co-Director
Balochistan Human Rights Group

Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Founder and President
Center for Supporters of Human Rights

Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director
Ensemble Contre La Peine de Mort

Ibrahim Al Arabi, Executive Director
European Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation

Kamal Sido, representative
Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker Deutchland,

Keyvan Rafiee, Director
Human Rights Activists in Iran

Mani Mostofi, Director
Impact Iran

Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

 

Lydia Brazon, Executive Director
International Educational Development, Inc

 

Jessica Stern, Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Executive Director
Iran Human Rights

Rod Sanjabi, Executive Director
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

 

Shadi Sadr, Co-Director
Justice for Iran

Mahmood Enayat, Director
Small Media

Christoph Wiedmer, Director
Society for Threatened People Switzerland

Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director
United for Iran

Mohammad Mostafaei, Director
Universal Tolerance

 

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The First Day of School in Iran: You Can’t Say “That” http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/11/first-day-school-iran/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/11/first-day-school-iran/#comments Sun, 02 Nov 2014 06:48:50 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9203 At the end of September, children all over Iran begin their first day of school. It's an exciting time, filled with hope and the promise of new friends and new experiences. For many children it's also about learning how different the world of the family is from the world outside the family. Many people were interviewed for this article. Some had come of age during the darkest days after the revolution, during the war with Iraq. Some had children who had recently begun school.

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schoolgirlsIran

At the end of September, children all over Iran begin their first day of school. It’s an exciting time, filled with hope and the promise of new friends and new experiences. For many children it’s also about learning how different the world of the family is from the world outside the family. Many people were interviewed for this article. Some had come of age during the darkest days after the revolution, during the war with Iraq. Some had children who had recently begun school.

image

Screenshot from the 1989 documentary Homework by Abbas Kiarostami

My daughter begged us to move back to Iran,” a woman I met at a party in north Tehran told me. “For her life in Iran was all about cousins and family and staying up late. What could be more fun for a five year-old?” The woman had recently moved back with her husband and daughter after several years of living and studying in the United States. She had four sisters still living in Iran and two others living in North America. Like many others, she thought raising a child would be easier in Iran with family all around her than it had been in the US with one sister more than 2000 miles away and the other not much closer.Everything changed after her daughter’s first week of school. In kindergarten she was already hearing chants of “Down with America” as part of the morning school assembly. After the first week, she was coming home crying, asking her mother why her schoolmates were chanting against her. “Why do they hate me?” she wept. For most children her age, the words were meaningless. They were just words strung together like misheard lyrics. Still, this one little girl understood them and took them personally. She felt scared and hurt. A few months later, for a number of reasons, the family moved back to the U.S. The girl is now sixteen and an Iranian-American. I often find myself wondering if she experienced anti-Iranian sentiment at her school in Virginia like so many immigrant children did in years past. If she did, how did she deal with it?

First Day of School

The first of the Iranian month of Mehr, which in 2014 fell on September 23, is the first day of school in Iran. For children and their families all over the world, the first day of school is a big step. Everywhere, children learn that the world of their home and of their family is very different from that of school. They can be confused by all the new rules and norms they encounter. For many families in Iran, that normal process is exaggerated. Preparing children for school in Iran involves more than buying pencils and notebooks. Many parents are faced with the challenge of explaining complex rules of behavior to children emotionally incapable of understanding them.

During the first years of the revolution special teachers who were part of the Revolutionary Guards could come to the schools at any time to pry information from the children. This is a special kind of horror for parents and children alike. “It was quite normal for the regime,” Kevan says. “They were ready to kill their own children for the sake of the revolution. They had no shame in trying to get other’s children to inform on their own families. It may be salt on the wound to say this. But it is a wound.

You Have to Conform

Kambiz[1] (31) stated, “From the first day you have to conform.” He went on to discuss his first day of school:

I was so excited to go to school. I want to go to school. I want to go to school. I demanded. The first day I woke up early. After that first day, I wasn’t so excited to wake up and go to school. Before I went, my mother told me, ‘You have to tell people that your father is on a business trip.’ I thought, why should I tell them that when I know he is in prison?

It was three weeks before anyone asked Kambiz about his father. He responded that his father was away on business and did not return until very late. “It made me feel so bad,” he said. “It is such a paradox for a child to know you are lying. I couldn’t understand why I had to do it.

The first years of school for Kambiz corresponded with the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the death of Khomeini. “It was unusual to have a relative who was a political prisoner then,” he said. This was especially true in his neighborhood where many of his schoolmates had relatives who had gained power after the revolution. “I could not talk about it with anyone.

Politicized Religion

Maryam lived in the United States until she was nine, where she went to a predominantly African-American Sunni mosque and attended weekly Shia discussion circles. She describes her family as “religious intellectuals,” explaining that as a result they had fewer taboos than many other families.

… I learned to draw a line between the religion we had and the state religion/religious propaganda. Frankly that’s the only way that any religion can be saved in Iran if you are not brainwashed. I learned to be suspicious of whatever religious and historic education we got at school.

She was suspicious of the “ultra-Shia stuff” they were taught in school but rarely discussed this with her teachers.

Later, in college, I would sometimes argue with religious teachers and even the lady at the door telling us we were not dressed appropriately from a ‘fellow Muslim’ perspective. I tried to convince them that their lifestyle is not the only Muslim lifestyle out there. However I wouldn’t mention my unconventional-for-a-Shia beliefs. About politics, there was always a line not to cross publicly. I think I was very aware of it from 11 or 12 years, if not earlier.

Don’t Talk About the VCR

The first time Payam (31) understood that he could not talk about things that happened inside the house, outside the house was the day before his first day of school.

Before my first day of school, my father told me not to talk about our VCR. We exchanged videos in the neighborhood and had family movie nights with neighbors. Of course, this was forbidden when I was a child. My father told me that teachers might draw pictures of the VCR and ask if anyone in the class knows what it is. He warned me not to volunteer that I knew. ‘I don’t want you to lie,’ he told me. ‘Just remain silent. If they know, they will come to take away the VCR,’ my father told me. ‘And they might take me away as well.’ I had a hard time understanding why there were things we couldn’t talk about outside the house, but I didn’t want my father to be taken away.

A year later, special teachers assigned by the Revolutionary Guards did come to the school to try to get information from the students, now six and seven years old. Payam was silent, but other children in the class did volunteer information. “I was very quiet in school. Even though I participated in discussions, I did not easily make friends, and I did not talk very much outside of structured discussions.

For many of the people I spoke with for this article, especially those in their thirties, the need to hide information was tied to a sense of fear. Mostafa explains, “For me it was about danger, not lying.

The Way We Live

On Aida’s first day of pre-school in Tehran just two years ago, she lifted a glass of water to toast the health of her new friends. “Salam-a-ti,” she said happily. “To your health.” Alcohol is illegal in Iran and some could connect her toast to her family’s private actions. That afternoon, Aida’s mother was forced to explain that there were things that could be said at home that absolutely could not be repeated in public. At just three-and-a-half years of age, Aida could not understand why she had to keep some things quiet, just that she needed to. Her father laughed when he recounted the story and then added, “She was upset, but that is the way we live in Iran.

Things have changed a great deal in thirty years. Rooftops all over Iran are covered with illegal satellite dishes. The regime continues its fruitless battle to isolate the population from the outside world, currently doing battle with messaging apps and arresting people for spreading jokes or making videos.

Even with all the changes, Payam cannot imagine raising a child in Iran today. “I don’t know how I could protect my child or explain why some things are okay to talk about and why some things are not. It’s hard for me to imagine.

They say that a mark of intelligence is the ability to hold contradictory ideas without having your head explode. For many of Iran’s youth, this is the only way to stay sane and safe every single day.

 


[1] All names have been changed to protect identities

By Tori Egherman (@ETori).

This content is available in:  Farsi. Originally published on Article 19’s Azad Tribune Read her previous piece for Azad Tribune: The Speech Squeeze.

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Newsletter http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/10/newsletter/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/10/newsletter/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:45 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9213 In this newsletter, Arseh Sevom provides a quick summary of just a few of its activities over the past two months.

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newsletter oct 2014

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others
Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a human.

— Saadi, Eighth century Persian poet

Arseh Sevom — On October 31, 2014, from 9:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon, the human rights record of The Islamic Republic of Iran will be under scrutiny at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for human rights in Geneva. Four years ago, recommendations were made to Iran to improve its situation. Promises were made. Promises were broken.

This newsletter highlights some of the work Arseh Sevom has done recently.

Acid Attacks in Esfahan (fa)

Over the past few months, several young women have been attacked with acid in the Esfahan region. Arseh Sevom Persian has been following the story.

The violence against women in the Esfahan region has a terrifying precedent. In 2011, Amnesty International reported on gang rapes in the region. In one incident, fourteen men broke into a private home during a party, locked the men in one room, and raped the women. Instead of of speaking against this crime, Colonel Hossein Hosseinzadeh, the Chief of the Police Detectives Bureau in Esfahan, said: “If the women at the party had worn their hijab properly, they might not have been sexually assaulted.”[1] His comments appeared to justify and encourage violence against women.

In a 2013 statement, the UN Office for the High Commission on Human Rights called on nations to do more to protect women from violence. They noted that “extreme forms of violence” against women are present on every continent. They stated that “these manifestations of violence are culturally and socially embedded, and continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified – with impunity as the norm,” adding: “The failure of States to guarantee women’s right to a life free from violence allows for a continuum of violence which can end in their death.”[2]

The Islamic Republic of Iran should actively protect women from terror in public spaces, as it should protect all of its citizens. Acid attacks, gang rapes, and other forms of violence are directed specifically at women. They are barbaric. The Islamic Republic needs to end such brutality immediately. Hojatoleslam Mohammad Taghi Rahbar correctly said, “Such an act under any pretext is reprehensible. Even if a woman goes out into the street in the worst way, no one has the right to do such a thing.”


[1]: Amnesty International.  Iranian Women Call for Action on Gang Rapes. August, 2011. http://livewire.amnesty.org/2011/08/01/iranian-women-call-for-action-on-gang-rapes/ (accessed October 20, 2014)

[2] UN OHCHR “Commitments for women’s rights: time to turn empty promises into concrete changes for women.” http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13097&LangID=E#sthash.gZUQZOmi.dpuf (Accessed October 20, 2014)

#UPRIran

Iran faces its UPR on October 31, 2014. Many activists are calling on international support to hold Iran accountable for the promises its made at its last UPR four years ago. Read more…

The Iran Human Rights Review has issued its most recent issue on the topic of the United Nations.In her introduction to this issue, Tahirih Danesh writes:

For all the flaws of the UN system set out here and by other contributors, the UN remains the only international body that is able to exercise direct influence on human rights issues that maintains the, if sometimes grudging, participation of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore it provides an important mechanism for civil society, be it international, diasporan and, where possible, based in Iran, to hold the IRI government to account against its international commitments and domestic constitutional obligations.

You can find a piece from Arseh Sevom’s Tori Egherman in the current issue:A rising tide lifts all boats: Human rights in Iran, cooperating for change.

She also wrote a piece in Article 19’s Azad Tribune, which we have republished: The First Day of School in Iran: You Can’t Say “That”.

Mahsa Shekarloo: Women’s Rights Activist, Internet Pioneer

This past September, we said goodbye to Mahsa Shekarloo who died from an aggressive form of cancer. She is missed by all who knew her. Mahsa was thoughtful, skeptical, and insightful. In life she would not have wanted to be the center of so much attention. Her passion and work were not done to fulfill a personal ambition or to place her front and center in the public spotlight. She worked because of her great curiosity, her dedication to human rights and the women’s movement, and her belief in the possibility of change.

Work on the Civil Society Cookbook continues…

Here’s a preview:

“You want to do something about injustice, because if you think ok, I am angry, or I am disappointed, or people are bad and that is never going to change, then that anger and disappointment can translate itself into frustration and even into hypocrisy. But I try to translate my anger into positive action. I think, what can I do about it? What can I change?”

— Farah Karimi, Executive Director Oxfam-Novib,  Farah Karimi on Leadership, Change, and Compromise

Please share…

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Iran Human Rights Review: United Nations http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/10/iran-human-rights-review-united-nations/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/10/iran-human-rights-review-united-nations/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:25:29 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9209 The current issue of the Iran Human Rights Review focuses on the United Nations. The universal periodic review of Iran's efforts to address human rights abuses will occur at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights just a few hours later. It's a good time to remember that Iran not only endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but helped to shape it.

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UN Photo

Arseh Sevom — Iran faces its 4-year universal periodic review (UPR) of its efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country. On October 31, in Geneva, Iran will be reviewed. The UPR will be held from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, Central Europe Time. Human rights groups have noted that Iran has not kept the promises it made at its last review. For years now, Iran has come second only to China in the sheer number of executions. That number has only increased over the past few years. The day before the meeting, Iran Human Rights Review released its most recent issue on the UN.

In her introduction to this issue, Tahirih Danesh writes:

For all the flaws of the UN system set out here and by other contributors, the UN remains the only international body that is able to exercise direct influence on human rights issues that maintains the, if sometimes grudging, participation of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore it provides an important mechanism for civil society, be it international, diasporan and, where possible, based in Iran, to hold the IRI government to account against its international commitments and domestic constitutional obligations.

The table of contents of this issue is as follows:
The question that my interrogator asked by Hossein Rassam

Iran: Human rights and cultural wrongs by Ali Ansari

Iranian minority rights: A case study of the UN human rights machinery by Daniel Wheatley

Iran and human rights organs of the United Nations by Raha Shadan

A rising tide lifts all boats: Human rights in Iran, cooperating for change by Tori Egherman

The Iran Tribunal: Establishing an alternative history of human rights abuses by Pardis Shafafi

Equality for women means progress for all by Elahe Amani

Iran: The use of the death penalty for drug-related offences as a tool of political control by Taimoor Aliassi

Human rights in Iran and at the United Nations by Hassan Nayeb Hashem

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Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh Stages Sit-In http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/10/lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-stages-sit/ http://www.arsehsevom.net/2014/10/lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-stages-sit/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:46:37 +0000 http://www.arsehsevom.net/?p=9196 Arseh Sevom--Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is protesting her three-year suspension from practicing law with a protest in front of the Iran Bar Association. She has been joined by a number of other dissidents, including Mohammad Nourizad and Mohammad Maleki. Sotoudeh explains the reasons for her protest beginning with this point: "The Iranian government has been depriving dissidents from the right to life, education and work for many years."

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Nasrin Sotoudeh demonstrating in front of the Bar Association

Arseh Sevom–Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is protesting her three-year suspension from practicing law with a protest in front of the Iran Bar Association. She has been joined by a number of other dissidents, including Mohammad Nourizad and Mohammad Maleki.

In September 2013, Sotoudeh was released from prison after serving three years of a six year prison sentence for “spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security.”

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, reminds us that the board of Iran’s Bar Association is no longer representative of its members, but appointed by the government. In the following open letter, Sotoudeh explains the reasons for her protest beginning with this point: “The Iranian government has been depriving dissidents from the right to life, education and work for many years.”

Iran: Human Rights Lawyer Sotoudeh to Stage Sit-In Outside Bar Association

Dear Compatriots and human rights activists,

The 2nd Branch of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel of the Bar has sentenced me, Nasrin Sotoudeh, lawyer, to a three-year ban on practicing law. Thus, I shall begin a sit-in outside the Bar Association on the morning of Tuesday 21 October 2014.

Here are the reasons for my sit-in:

  1. The Iranian government has been depriving dissidents from the right to life, education and work for many years.

I object to such deprivation.

  1. The lamentable state of the Bar Association has prompted the hardliners within the government to target the entire Bar. By drafting the ‘Comprehensive Attorneyship Bill’, which has been prepared without the involvement of independent lawyers, they are planning to put an end to the Bar Association once and for all.

I object to such measures.

  1. Courts of law have deprived dissident defendants from the right to appoint lawyer of their own choice. There was a time when they advised these defendants not to appoint human rights lawyers and occasionally mentioned the names of such lawyers.

Now the breach of the rights of defendants has gone too far: an unidentified person appears from nowhere in court and the judge introduces him to the defendant as the latter’s lawyer.

Meanwhile, prominent lawyers such as Messrs Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Seifzadeh, lawyers of the Dervishes of Gonabadi Order and others have been sentenced to long-term prison terms.

I object to such procedures.

  1. The sentence imposed by the 2nd Branch of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel of the Bar to ban me from practicing law for three years has been issued under pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence and the Prosecutor’s Office.

I object to this sentence.

I shall not file an appeal with the Disciplinary Court of Judges from my home. Rather, I shall stage a sit-in outside the Capital Tehran’s Bar Association at 9 am, Tuesday, 21 October 2014 to protest the mismanagement in the Bar Association and the judges’ partiality, the deprivation of work, the disregard for the rights of dissenters to appoint lawyers of their choice, and efforts to eliminate the independence of the Bar Association.

Hoping for the independence of the Judiciary and the Bar,

Nasrin Sotoudeh

20 October 2014

Originally posted by FIDH: http://www.fidh.org/article16274

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