Archive for the ‘Iranian prisons’ category

Iranian Political Prisoners in Dire Need of the Support of the International Community

January 11, 2017

Iranian Political Prisoners in Dire Need of  the Support of the International Community, Iran News Update, January 11, 2017

(Perhaps if we referred to them as “Palestinians” the international community might notice their plight. — DM)

iranian-political-prisoners-750

Silence of the global community sends a message to the Iranian regime that it can get away with these crimes, and that is a message not to be condoned with silence.

**************************

An article in The Hill by Ali Safavi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and president of the Near East Policy Research, discusses the alarming reports which from came from Gohardasht Prison, that activist and political prisoner Ali Moezzi, had disappeared on January 4, 2016.

Moezzi spent years in prison in the 1980’s for his affiliation with the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK).  Beginning in 2008, he served two more years, for having visited his two daughters residing in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Arrested again in 2011, seven months after his latest release, for attending the funeral of a fellow political prisoner, he’s been imprisoned ever since. He has faced much pressure, including the extension of his current prison term beyond its specified four years.He’s also be subjected to numerous explicit death threats.

Reportedly, he’s undergone routine beatings and torture and the absence of medical care for his pre-existing health problems. Moezzi’s arrest came shortly after he had been released from a hospital after undergoing surgery following a cancer diagnosis.

The regime has repeatedly been charged with disregard for the health and well-being of prisoners, especially those detained for political or religious offenses.  A recent example is Arash Sadeghi, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for his peaceful human rights activism. Sadeghi began a hunger strike shortly after his wife was arrested. Sadeghi finally ended his hunger strike after judicial authorities granted his wife temporary release from her pre-trial detention. His hunger strike lasted more than 70 days befor the regime agreed to even that, and it was not the likelihood of Sadeghi’s imminent death that prompted them to act, but the massive support that his protest had garnered within Iran and abroad. Hundreds of Iranians gathered outside of Evin Prison, to protest his treatment. His cause was promoted on the internet and via banned social media networks by several thousands of supporters.

Salve writes, “It may not be a coincidence that Moezzi disappeared from Gohardasht Prison just one day after it was announced that Sadeghi had been hospitalized and brought back from the brink of death.”  He adds, “Both incidents demonstrated that the Iranian regime has no qualms about endangering the lives of its political adversaries, but the ruling mullahs can only take such a situation to its drastic conclusion if relatively free from public scrutiny.”

He says that it may be easier for the regime simply allow political prisoners to die, if those deaths occur in secret locations, so that they can claim “plausible” deniability.

Iran’s domestic activists or the international community may still be able to save Moezzi in much the same way they saved Sadeghi, but it is impossible to know Moezzi’s current condition, much less to follow its deterioration in real time.  This is a challenge as it is difficult to rally around a cause that they cannot see.  However, these atrocities must not be allowed to continue in the shadows.

This is the challenge that requires serious commitment, and a campaign that includes the international community and media. “World powers must take an interest in this case, and in the overall plight of Iranian prisoners of conscience,” writes Salvi.

Which is actually underscored by the recent success of the Sadeghi case.  Silence of the global community sends a message to the Iranian regime that it can get away with these crimes, and that is a message not to be condoned with silence.

 

During My Five-Year Imprisonment I Witnessed Numerous Crimes of Iran Regime

December 9, 2016

During My Five-Year Imprisonment I Witnessed Numerous Crimes of Iran Regime, Iran Focus, December 9, 2016

shabnam-madadzadeh

“They pushed me and they hit me a lot…They grabbed my hair and pushed my head and wanted me to say what they wanted to hear. They tortured my brother, even more in front of my eyes. They increased the pressure and even more in the interrogation they said they would kill me and threatened to execute me. Nobody knew where I was, I was alone and I heard the sounds of other prisoners being tortured. They would cry out and it was the most horrible sound.”

****************************

London, 9 Dec – During My Five-Year Imprisonment I Witnessed Numerous Crimes of Iran Regime

A former Iranian political prisoner has told The Express about the barbaric way she was treated and why the West must support the democratic alternative to the Iranian Regime.

Shabnam Madadzadeh, 29, was imprisoned for seven years for her support of the political opposition group, the People’s Mojaheidn Organisation of Iran (MEK).

She was beaten and tortured, forced to listen as guards raped other female prisoners and forced to watch as intelligence agents beat her brother, Farzad.

Madadzadeh, a computer science student at Tarbiat Moalem University in Tehran, was arrested with her brother in 2009 for speaking out against the Iranian Regime’s human rights abuses.

She said: “I arrived and spent three months in solitary confinement and there was torture, both mental and physical. My cell was just 2x3m and I was alone with no connection to the world. My family was not allowed to contact me and they could not find out anything about me or what it was like for me in jail.”

When she was released from solitary confinement, Madadzadeh bravely smuggled letters out of prison to raise awareness of the brutality that she and other political prisoners were subjected to.

She refused to answer interrogators, to which they responded with violent interrogations of up to 10 hours each day.

She said: “They pushed me and they hit me a lot…They grabbed my hair and pushed my head and wanted me to say what they wanted to hear. They tortured my brother, even more in front of my eyes. They increased the pressure and even more in the interrogation they said they would kill me and threatened to execute me. Nobody knew where I was, I was alone and I heard the sounds of other prisoners being tortured. They would cry out and it was the most horrible sound.”

She revealed that prisoners were often electrocuted or tortured via the medieval method of stretching on a rack before being beaten.

After her release, Madadzadeh fled the country in fear for her life. She urges Western governments to stand up to the Iranian Regime and President Hassan Rouhani.

She said: “The West cannot negotiate with the regime. It’s the most criminal in the world. The face of the regime is not the smiling faces and shaking of hands. My message to European leaders is stop negotiating with the regime.”

She recommended that Western leaders side with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a democratic group which acts as a government-in-exile and works alongside the MEK.

Earlier this week, Madadzadeh spoke to the European Parliament about the horrors of the Regime.

She said: “During my five-year imprisonment I witnessed numerous crimes of this regime particularly against Iran’s innocent women and girls and today I am here to be the voice of the voiceless, the voice of those being crushed in the clutches of this misogynist regime in face of the world’s silence and inaction.”

She continued: “The message of the Iranian people to western governments, and my message today is that you must adhere to the three decades of struggle by the Iranian people to break free from the clutches of this regime and accept the true freedom fighters, the National Council of Resistance of Iran as the true representative of the Iranian people, and refrain from any type of negotiations or deals with this notorious regime, because the true price of your deals is human lives, gallows in the streets of Iran.”

This references the numerous executions in Iran, which has the highest per capita execution rate in the world. In 2015 alone, the Regime ordered the deaths of around 1,000 people for mostly low-level, non-violent crimes.

Madadzadeh said: “The Iranian people have the will power to overthrow this regime, and with the tireless efforts of the Iranian resistance they will overthrow this regime.”

Iran: Latest on a Female Political Prisoner

November 4, 2016

Iran: Latest on a Female Political Prisoner, Iran Focus, November 4, 2016

golrokh-ebrahimi

London, 4 November – A political prisoner in Iran had a visit from her mother for the first time since her imprisonment on October 24.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was imprisoned for writing an unpublished story about the brutal act of stoning in Iran.

The Intelligence Revolutionary Guards were dressed in plain clothes when they came to arrest her; they kicked and punched the door in order to intimidate her, refuses to give their identities or produce ID or a court order.

Iraee was prevented from taking her asthma medication and according to her mother, the IRGC taunted Iraee, asking what use the medicine would be as she wouldn’t live very long anyway.
They handcuffed and blindfolded her in front of her neighbours and took her to Evin Court.

When in court Iraee explained the mistreatment she had suffered and she was finally allowed her medication before being transferred to prison.

Her mother, who is recovering from one surgery and on the waiting list for another, gave an interview to a Persian newspaper.

She said: “Golrokh is very much concerned about Arash’s (her imprisoned husband) hunger strike because he takes medicine and he is injured in [the] shoulder area while he was being detained by the Revolutionary Guards forces.”

Iraee requested that the person in charge of Evin Prison (where she is being held) call the person in charge of Hajiloo prison (where Arash is being held) to ask him to stop his hunger strike, as he will be unable to visit his wife unless he stops.

Iraee’s mother was told that this would be the only time she could visit and is unsure whether the Regime will change their minds.

Arash Sadeghi is a political prisoner who went on hunger strike to protest his wife’s imprisonment.

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State

January 16, 2016

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, January 15, 2016

(The “Islamic state” in the article is the Islamic Republic of Iran, our wonderful partner for peace — DM)

la-fg-iran-dress-code-protest-20140507-003

When it comes to executions, girls are systematically more vulnerable due to the Islamist penal code of Sharia law.

Let’s take a look at the Islamist state of Iran, which creates its laws from the legal codes of Sharia and Quran. The first type of discrimination is related to age: girls are held criminally accountable at the maturity age of 9 Lunar years. (This will automatically put girls at a higher risk of execution by the court.)

Iranian ruling politicians hold the highest record when it comes to the most executions per capita in the world. Intriguingly, in the last two years that the so-called moderate, Hassan Rouhani, has been in office, there have been more than 2000 executions conducted in Iran. That is nearly 3-4 executions a day.

More importantly, Iranian leaders are also the largest executioner of women and female juveniles. Some of these executions were carried out on the mullahs’ charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity with Allah), or waging war against Allah, ifsad-i Fil Arz (Sowing Corruption on Earth), or Sab-i Nabi (Insulting the Prophet).

There are three methods of execution for women and female juveniles: 1. Stoning  2. Public hanging 3. Shooting. Some women are also beaten so severely in the prison that they die before reaching the execution. Shooting, which is the fastest method of the three for execution, has not been used since 2008. Instead, the most common method to execute women is public hanging or stoning. Some of these women are flogged right before they are hanged. Public hanging not only imposes fears in the society but also aims at dehumanizing and controlling women as second-class citizens. According to the Islamist penal code of Iran, women offenses are classified as: Hadd, Diyyih, Ta`zir, and Qisas.

Some of these women are stoned for adultery. But even in stoning, the Islamists and Sharia law differentiate between men and women. Women are buried to the neck while men are buried to the waist. This allows some men to be capable of running away from the stoning, while women do not have a chance for survival, at all. If women are still alive after hours of stoning, a large block normally is smashed over their head.

Women from ethnic and religious minorities, as well as political dissidents, have also been targets of these executions. Based on the latest report, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s special “rapporteur” on human rights in Iran, pointed out that executing individuals from religious and ethnic minority groups are carried out because those victims were “exercising their protected rights, including freedom of expression and association…..When the Iranian government refuses to even acknowledge the full extent of executions which have occurred, it shows a callous disregard for both human dignity and international human rights law.”

In the latest report, Amnesty International announced: “Execution of two juvenile offenders in just a few days makes a mockery of Iran’s juvenile justice system.” And the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Iran and warned about the rise of executions in Iran which “reflect a worrying trend in Iran….Over 700 executions are reported to have taken place so far this year, including at least 40 public, marking the highest total recorded in the past 12 years.”

In many of these cases related to women and female juveniles, it is clear that they were executed for either self-defense against forced marriage or a rapist, or for charges such as freedom of expression. They often are forced to marry at a very young age to an older person, or someone they do not like, such as in the case of the child bride, Farzaneh (Razieh) Moradi – who was forced to marry at the age of 15 and was executed in the city of Esfahan. These women were beaten and raped, repeatedly, by their spouses or relatives until they could not take it anymore and defended themselves. Some of these girls are being imprisoned and executed based on the fabricated charges of possessing opium. For example, in the case of the 16-year-old Sogand, the police found opium in her father’s house, but because there was no one at home except her, they arrested her. She is still in prison as none of her family members have come forward to save her life.

Some of these executions are based on the issue of “honor.” For example, some of these girls follow their hearts and fall in love with someone they choose themselves. But since their brothers and fathers disagree with this, the females get punished. For example, in the case of Mahsa, a seventeen-year-old, her brothers are the ones seeking her execution. In addition, if an Iranian Muslim woman has sex with a Christian or Jewish person, she will be executed (but a Muslim man is allowed to have sex with non-Muslim women).

Some of these girls are raped, repeatedly, in the process of investigation and forced into “Sighah”- the Shiite Islamist law of temporary marriage – with a cleric, or a member of Etela’at (intelligence), or Revolutionary Guard Corps before they are executed. Amnesty International previously pointed out that there are a “considerable” number of reports regarding this issue.

While the West is looking to lift sanctions against Iranian leaders in a few days and normalize ties with Iran, it is critical to look at the egregious human rights violations that this country is allowing. Is being silent and turning a blind eye to these human rights abuses appropriate? Doesn’t normalizing ties with the Iranian leaders and releasing billions of dollars to them, facilitate their efforts of executing more people, including women and child girls?

______________________

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf Project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.

Iran Executes Three Iranians Every Day; The West Rewards It.

December 30, 2015

Iran Executes Three Iranians Every Day; The West Rewards It. Gatestone InstituteJudith Bergman, December 30, 2015

♦ “Death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality. They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or for acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation” — From a July 2015 Amnesty International report.

♦ How ironic that Europeans have no problem stuffing themselves with syrupy Iranian dates exported by this regime, knowing full well that there are thousands of prisoners are being tortured in Iran while awaiting their executions.

♦ Amnesty International reports that in the fall of 2015, cartoonist Atena Farghadani was forced to undergo a “virginity and pregnancy test” prior to her trial. The charge? “Illegitimate sexual relations,” for having shaken hands with her lawyer.

♦ Iran nevertheless won a top seat on the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women in April 2014. Not a single UN member, not even the US, objected.

On the UN’s Human Rights Day, observed December 10, an Iranian woman was sentenced to death by stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran is believed to have imposed death by stoning on at least 150 people, according to the International Committees against Execution and Stoning.

“Stoning,” Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi said, “is an act of torture. There are 15 countries in which stoning is either practiced and authorized by law or tolerated. One of those 15 countries is Iran. The last known execution by stoning was in 2009. In Iran under the Islamic law, stonings, hangings, and executions are legal torture.

“In Islam under Sharia law, the stoning (Rajm) is commonly used as a form of capital punishment, called Hudud,” Assadollahi explained.

“Under the Islamic Law, it is the ordained penalty in cases of adultery committed by a married man or married woman with others who are not her/his legal partner. Stoning is carried out by a crowd of Muslims who follow the Sharia law by throwing stones (small and large) at a convicted person until she or he is killed. The international community must pressure Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, and other countries where stoning is legally carried or tolerated. Why cannot the public loudly cry out and advocate for women oppressed by those regimes?”

Instead of cries of outrage, the West, in the wake of the nuclear “deal” Iran has not even signed, has been scrambling to ingratiate itself with the Iranian regime. Countries such as France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have barely been able to contain themselves at the prospect of doing business with them. It has been years since the Europeans could legally engage in trade with the murderous regime of the mullahs, who still cry, “Death to Israel, Death to America” — the “Little Satan” and the “Great Satan’ — and they have not been wasting time.

In fact, the P5+1 negotiators (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) had just finished signing the “deal” with themselves, when Germany’s Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, hurried himself and a group of representatives from German companies and industry groups onto a plane for a visit to Iran.

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who usually knows better, likewise, found it “… completely normal that after this historic deal was signed, France and Iran should restart normal relations.”

1407French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that it is “completely normal that after this historic [nuclear] deal was signed, France and Iran should restart normal relations.” Left, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hugs Fabius at the close of nuclear talks in Geneva, Nov. 23, 2014. Right: A public execution in Iran.

Before the sanctions took effect in 2011, French companies such as Renault and Peugeot were making billions of euros from their involvement with Iran’s auto industry. Similarly, the French company Total was heavily involved in the oil sector. France was evidently not going to miss a beat in bringing this lucrative trade back to la République.

How ironic that the country of “liberté, egalité and fraternité” finds it “completely normal” to have normal diplomatic and trade relations with a country that treats its own citizens, especially women, worse than the mud under the mullah’s feet; that executes whoever disagrees with the regime, and that hangs homosexuals from cranes. How ironic that Europeans have no problem stuffing themselves with syrupy Iranian dates exported by this smiling regime, knowing full well that there are thousands of Iranian prisoners being tortured in Iranian prisons while awaiting their execution day.

Iranian authorities are believed to have executed 694 people between January 1 and July 15, 2015 — an average of three executions a day. Since the election of the “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, the number of executions has markedly gone up. According to a July 2015 Amnesty International report:

“Death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality. They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or for acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation.”

The report goes on to state that the majority of those put to death in 2015 were people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who were convicted on drug charges. “This is in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the ‘most serious crimes’ – those involving intentional killing. Drug-related offences do not meet this threshold.”

Among those executed in Iran this year are members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth.” These include Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims. On August 26, 2015, Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority, was executed despite awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal.

Iran is the second most prolific executioner in the world after China, according to Amnesty International’s latest global death penalty report.

Iran also tops the global list statistically for executioners of juvenile offenders, even though it is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which prohibit the imposition of the death penalty against persons who were below 18 years of age at the time of the crime, without exception. (Of course Iran was also a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it also violated repeatedly.) Iran continues to impose the death penalty against juvenile offenders, frequently deferring the execution until after they pass the age of 18. In 2015, at least four juvenile offenders are believed to have been executed: Javad Saberi, Vazir Amroddin, Samad Zahabi and Fatemeh Salbehi.

Iran is scheduled to be reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on January 11-12, 2016. The Committee has already expressed deep concerns about the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders and asked Iran to provide information on the progress and outcome of the cases of juvenile offenders undergoing re-trial.

Despite all the atrocities that Iran commits towards its citizens, women hold a special place of denigration and humiliation in Iranian society. Young women are reported brutally arrested by the thousand every week for not wearing a “proper hijab.” A woman in Iran is de facto first her father’s property, then after marriage, her husband’s property. According to the UN Secretary General’s February 2015 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, child marriage is prevalent. The legal age of marriage for girls is 13; some as young as 9 may be married by permission of the court. In 2011, about 48,580 girls between the age of 10 and 14 were married; in 2012, there were at least 1,537 girls under the age of 10 who were reportedly married. Pedophilia is thereby widespread and legal.

Married women may not work, attend sporting events or leave the country without their husband’s permission. When arrested, they suffer unspeakable torture in prison. Rape is commonly used as torture in prison against both women and men.

Forced “virginity testing” is also commonly used in prison, a serious violation of international law. It violates women’s and girls’ human rights to physical integrity, dignity, privacy and right to be free from torture and cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment. According to Amnesty International, satirical cartoonist Atena Farghadani, held in prison since January 2015, was sentenced in June 2015 to twelve years and nine months in prison for her peaceful activism, including meeting with families of political prisoners, and for drawing a satirical cartoon depicting legislators as monkeys, cows, and other animals. The cartoon was to protest a bill that sought to criminalize voluntary sterilization and restrict access to contraception and family planning services.

In December 2014, when Farghadani was out on bail, she released a video message on YouTube, detailing how female prison guards at Evin prison had beaten her, verbally abused her and forced her to strip naked for body searches. She was rearrested in January 2015, and in the fall of 2015 she was forced to undergo a “virginity and pregnancy test” prior to her trial. The charge? “Illegitimate sexual relations” for having shaken hands with her lawyer.

Iran nevertheless won a top seat on the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women in April 2014. Not a single UN member, not even the US, objected, to that election.

An exhaustive account of the atrocities that the Iranian regime continues to commit against its own people would require volumes. Nevertheless, the West, seems to remain unfazed in furthering its lucrative relations with the murderous regime.

Those politicians and executives scrambling to do business with the mullahs should realize that Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missiles can tomorrow be aimed at them. Those who comfort themselves with the thought that Iran only wants to annihilate Israel might do well to think again. Iran has tested a two-stage solid-fuel missile, the Sejjil-2, with a range of more than 2,000 km, allowing it to target southeastern Europe. In addition, Iran recently unveiled the Soumar cruise missile, reportedly a reverse-engineered version of the Russia’s Raduga Kh-55 — which was designed as a nuclear delivery system. It has a claimed range of 2,500-3,000 km.

Nevertheless, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has acceded to Iran’s demands toclose its 12-year investigation into whether Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program. The IAEA produced a report earlier this month that strongly suggested Iran did have a nuclear weapons program for the years up until 2003.

The West clearly not only fails to care about the plight of the Iranians — it does not even care about its own populations being within Iranian missile range.

Street Posters to Advertise Iran as ‘America’s Newest Ally’ at Trump, Cruz Rally

September 9, 2015

Street Posters to Advertise Iran as ‘America’s Newest Ally’ at Trump, Cruz Rally, Washington Free Beacon, September 9, 2015

unnamed (1)

“For the last decade, Iran was isolated, as everyone agreed that its rhetoric and behavior was dangerous, and beyond the pale for civilized nations. Obama’s deal unravels the conscience of the world,” IranTruth director David Reaboi explained. “For this series, we wanted to remind Americans of what they’re getting with a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that strengthens the theocratic regime in Tehran.”

************************

Posters advertising Iran as “America’s newest ally” will be showcased in Washington, D.C., beginning Wednesday at a rally against the nuclear deal on Capitol Hill that Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are expected to attend.

IranTruth, a project of the Center for Security Policy that is devoted to raising awareness about the dangers of the nuclear deal, is behind the posters.

The advertisements, which emulate vintage mid-20th century travel posters and invite Americans to “visit Iran,” spotlight the country’s crimes against women, homosexuals, and political prisoners. “Participate in a public stoning in beautiful Tehran,” one ad reads over a cartoon of an Iranian woman being stoned to death.

gays hanging out

“For the last decade, Iran was isolated, as everyone agreed that its rhetoric and behavior was dangerous, and beyond the pale for civilized nations. Obama’s deal unravels the conscience of the world,” IranTruth director David Reaboi explained. “For this series, we wanted to remind Americans of what they’re getting with a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that strengthens the theocratic regime in Tehran.”

The posters will adorn a large billboard truck in the nation’s capital for several days beginning Wednesday at the anti-deal rally which will be co-hosted by the Center for Security Policy. Sen. Cruz (R., Texas) helped organize the event with the help of Tea Party activists and reportedly invited Trump to attend.

On the same day, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will speak in support of the deal.

unnamed-21

The poster campaign comes days before lawmakers make their final decisions on the Iran deal. Congress is expected to vote on the agreement sometime before Sept. 17. President Obama recently garnered enough support for the deal among Senate Democrats to avoid having to veto a resolution rejecting the agreement.

Nevertheless, several prominent Senate Democrats, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) have voiced disapproval of the deal.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) on Tuesday declared his opposition to the deal, saying that the agreement would endanger American security and help fund terrorism.

Republican lawmakers widely oppose the deal, particularly voicing concerns regarding the inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities that are governed by secret side deals between Tehran and the United Nations agency tasked with completing them, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

While the Obama administration has couched the deal as the only alternative to military conflict, a council of retired military leaders recently warned that the nuclear deal will increase the likelihood of war.

A majority of American adults want Congress to reject the agreement, recent CNN/ORC polling found.

unnamed3

 

Iran’s Prison Archipelago

July 23, 2015

Iran’s Prison Archipelago, The Gatestone InstituteLawrence A. Franklin, July 23, 2015

  • Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 powers are narrowly defined to include only the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. However, Tehran’s abysmal record on human rights should reveal to the world what to expect by way of compliance on any nuclear deal.
  • In facilities under their control, both the IRGC and the MOIS are permitted to execute prisoners without trial or effectively any judicial proceeding.
  • Iran will also have permission to import or develop Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) with the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to other continents, including to the United States.

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights record is among the earth’s worst. Iran’s horrific treatment of its own citizens, however, has long been obscured by headlines of the ongoing nuclear negotiations, from which human right issues have been excluded.

Lost in the daily detailed reporting about nuclear talks is the regime’s increased rate of executions of its own citizens during the negotiations. Iran now has overtaken China as having the highest per capita rate for inflicting capital punishment.

While the Islamic Republic dons a reasonable and sophisticated face to the world as it negotiates with P5+1 powers in Switzerland, the authoritarian theocracy’s intelligence services continue to arrest journalists, Bahai and Sunni religious minorities as well as ethnic minorities like Kurds from Kordestan Province and Arabs from Khuzestan Province.[1]

The regime runs such a vast network of prisons and detention centers, many of them still secret, that it has taken on the dimension of a state within a state.[2] This “Prison Archipelago,” similar in relative size and brutality as the network once run by the Soviet KGB, is the primary instrument of terror that keeps the Iranian ruling class in power.

To grasp the magnitude of this domestic terror apparatus, one has only to consult the semi-annual reports on the human rights record of Iran published by United Nations Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed.[3] While Westerners are treated to the smiling countenance of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and the sophisticated, reasonable, Westernized image of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s citizens must contend with the visage of the real Iran: the face of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) storm-trooper.

The IRGC and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) run their own network of prisons, detention centers and separate wards within certain jails. Ward 209, for instance, of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison in Tehran, is run by the MOIS.[4] Prison 59, also known as Detention Center #59, in Tehran, is run by the IRGC.

In facilities under their control, both the IRGC and the MOIS are permitted to execute prisoners without trial or effectively any judicial proceeding. Hundreds of extra-judicial executions have been carried out by the regime at Mashhad’s Vakilabad Prison.[5] Although many of those executed at Vakilabad are reported to be drug offenders and smugglers, some are ethnic Baluch irredentists and Sunni Muslims living in Sistan-Baluchistan Province, in Iran’s Far East.[6]Moreover, occasionally, regular prison guards initiate raids in which prisoners are beaten and sometimes killed — especially those inmates who have managed to embarrass the regime by secretly passing information to the Western media concerning human rights violations. [7]

In contrast to the media’s “soft image” portrayal of Hassan Rouhani since his election to Iran’s presidency in June 2013, the rate of executions in Iran has increased dramatically.[8] Moreover, among those executed last year were human rights campaigners, political activists, and religious and ethnic minorities.[9]

Eyewitness accounts, many of them testimonies by former “citizens” of the prison archipelago state, have attested to the use of widespread torture in Iran’s prisons. One type of torture noted by a former victim of the technique is called “the chicken” (jujeh kabob): an individual’s arms are bent back and tied to his ankles while being suspended in mid-air. Karaj’s Gohardasht Prison has a suite of cells called Section 1, referred to by veterans of Iran’s Prison Archipelago as “Khane Sag” or the “Dog House,” where prisoners are usually subjected to constant torture, sometimes resulting in death. [10]

1166Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, Iran. (Image source: Ensie & Matthias/Flickr

Rape of female prisoners increased after the arrests young people who protested the results of the 2009 presidential elections, which returned former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office for a second term.[11] Rape in Iranian prisons is also visited upon young males, a practice referred to as “under-bedding.” Homosexual males in Iranian prisons are referred to as “vach” a slang word that connotes sexual slavery.[12]

In the archipelago, the prisons are overcrowded, with many inmates forced to sleep on the floors of hallways outside the filthy cells. Detention centers, meant only to hold people for a few days while they are processed to prisons, often have only a couple of toilets for hundreds of detainees. Moreover, access to medical care is usually denied, leading to many unnecessary deaths of prisoners whose offenses may have only been minor.[13] Conditions were so bad in Ghezel Hasr Prison in Karaj — with cells holding four times their capacity — that inmates staged a revolt in March 2011, resulting in as many as 50 deaths.[14]

Iran’s Prison Archipelago reflects the core of the true nature of the Islamic Republic — not the Javad Zarif tableau that Kerry & Co. and the compliant media would evidently have us imagine,

If Congress wants to insert itself more effectively in defining what U.S. policy should be toward the Islamic Republic, it might borrow a page from the era that produced the Jackson-Vanik legislative initiative of 1975, which promised economic trade benefits to the USSR that were linked to the Soviets allowing their captive citizens to leave the country. This legislation helped liberation of hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews.

Iranian-Americans possess the potential to mobilize to achieve the same result for thousands of political prisoners in Iran, while educating American citizens about the real nature of the Islamic Republic.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic of Iran — until it completely changes its behavior, should not be permitted to pursue nuclear research that could lead to the development of a nuclear weapon or the capability to deliver one. The deal made with Iran will give it permission to import or develop Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) with the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to other continents, including to the United States.

Such an outcome would leave in tatters any worthy legacy of the current U.S. administration and of the politicians who support the deal.

_____________________________

[1] Iran Human Rights 6 March 2014, “Arab-Iranian Sunni Converts arrested.” Human Rights Watch: Summary and Recommendations 1997; “Sunni Persecutions in Iran,” by Neda Shakiba 30 Nov 2010.

[2]Rights Disregarded: Prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” 18 March 2015 Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.p.1.

[3] March 2015 Report on the Situation on Human Rights in Iran by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ahmad Rasheed. See Rasheed’s exhaustively detailed reports on Human Rights in Iran published every six months as commissioned by the UN Secretary General.

[4] Ward 209, Former Inmate Report that it is run by VEVAK-the MOIS. See also report of journalists and bloggers Faribah Pajoh and Nafiseh Zareh Kohan, both of whom were arrested in August 2009 and who have been subsequently released.

[5] The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reporting on Executions in Vakilabad Prison. See testimony of former inmates, such as that of Ahmad Ghabel. Executions carried out in Vakilabad Prison have been primarily for drug-related crimes.

[6] Sistan-Baluchistan Province is where Sunni Religious and Baluch ethnic minorities are most concentrated in Iran. But it is also the center of drug smuggling routes into Iran from Afghanistan’s vast expanse of opium poppy fields.

[7]Letters from Iran’s Hellish Prisons” by Jason Shams, 19 September 2010. On 17 April 2014, guards at Evin Prison in an event described as “Black Thursday,” Evin Prison guards attacked prisoners in Ward 350.

[8] See Amnesty International Statistics for 2013 and 2014.

[9] Report of Secretary-General on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Human Rights Council 11 March 2014.

[10] New List of Political and “Security Risk” Prisoners in Gohardasht (Rajaishahr) Prison in Iranby Sayeh Hassan.

[11] PBS/News Hour 10 June 2012 “Center for Investigative Journalism.”

[12] Surviving Rape in Iranian Prisons, Paper published by Iran’s Human Rights Violation Documentation Center. http://www.iranhrde.org/english/pulications/reports/3401-surviving-rape-in-iran-s-prisons.html#.U59ifZRdV8E.

[13] Advance Unedited Version of the 11 March 2014 Report of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. P.6. Rights Disregarded: Prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

[14] Rahana Human Rights News Agency 17 March 2011. Report on Massacre of Inmates in Zaidan-e-Ghezel Hesar.