Mina Ahadi and I went to several meetings yesterday at the European parliament to discussion the women’s rights situation and liberation movement in Iran, and to raise our concerns about a number of stoning and execution cases and Sharia law in Britain.

Here are the Iranian cases we focused on:

Urgent Action
Stoning and executions

Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran and the International Committee against Stoning are calling for the abolition of stoning and executions in Iran.

We are presently campaigning against the stoning sentences of at least nine women and one man in Iran. The women are Sakine Mohammadi Aschtiani held in Tabriz, Kobra N., held in Reja’i Shahr prison, Karaj; Iran A, held in Sepidar Prison, Ahvaz; Khayrieh V., also held in Sepidar Prison, Ahvaz; Ashraf Kalhori, held in Evin Prison, Tehran; Afsaneh R, held in Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz;, M.J, held Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad; H, also held in Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad; and Gilan Mohammadi, held in Esfahan Central prison. The man is Gholamali Eskandari being held in Esfahan Central Prison.

We are also campaigning against the execution order of Soheila Gozali in Tabriz. Two other women – sisters Zohreh and Azar Kabiri-niat – will be at risk of stoning if they are convicted after retrial in Tehran. Shala Jahed also contacted Mina Ahadi yesterday via telephone saying a decision will be reached on her case next week and so she is at risk of execution.

The Head of the Iranian Judiciary declared a moratorium on executions by stoning in 2002 because of international and national pressure. In August 2008 the spokesman for the judiciary, Ali Reza Jamshidi, said that stonings had been halted. However, at least four men and one woman have been stoned to death since 2002. Most recently, two men were stoned to death in Mashhad on or around 26 December 2008; a third man managed to free himself from the pit in which he was to be stoned.

In a 13 January press conference, Ali Reza Jamshidi confirmed that the December 2008 stonings had taken place. He also said that the directive on the moratorium had no legal weight and judges were free to ignore it.

In February, the Islamic regime hanged Abdullah Fareivar, a 50-year-old music teacher, sentenced to death by stoning in a prison in the northern town of Sari.

In 2007, a revised Penal Code was submitted to Iran’s parliament for approval, and is still under consideration. This new version still provides for the penalty of stoning, but also states that should the implementation of the penalty cause “harm to the system,” it can, on the proposal of the prosecutor in the case and with the approval of the Head of the Judiciary, be changed to execution by other methods or to 100 lashes, depending on the type of proof.

Urgent Action
Iran: two workers flogged for taking part in May Day

On Wednesday 18th February, two women workers were flogged, following their conviction by a court in Sanandaj for taking part in last year’s May Day celebrations. Susan Razani received a 9 months’ suspended sentence and 70 lashes and Shiva Kheir Abadi 3 years’ suspended sentence and 15 lashes.

Two other workers in the same case, namely Abdullah Khani and Seyyed Ghaleb Hosseini, have been sentenced to 91 days’ prison and 40 lashes and 6 months’ prison and 40 lashes each, respectively.

Last year the regime in Iran carried out flogging sentences on four other workers also for taking part in May Day rallies, precipitating widespread condemnations and protests in Iran and internationally. The floggings are part of an ongoing persecution of labour activists, amid worker protests over pay and conditions and the right to freely organise and strike. On Sunday 15th Feb leading unionist Taha Azadi, who is on the executive board of the Free Union of Workers in Iran, appeared before a court in Cangan on charges of ‘acts against national security’ and ‘publicity against the system’. Mr Azadi was arrested last year for taking part in a May Day rally in the industrial zone of Asalouyeh and has already spent 47 days in prison. The court has deferred announcement of its decision and sentencing to a later date.

In the mean time, five leading members of the Union of Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers by the names of Ramazan Alipour, Fereydoun Nikoufard, Ali Nejati, Jalil Ahmadi and Mohammad Heydari have been summoned to appear before a court in Dezfoul on charges of setting up the sugar cane workers’ union.

A number of other well-known worker activists are under persecution for taking part in strikes and/or other labour activities. Six leading members of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, namely, Ata Babakhani, Saeed Torabian, Abbas Najand-Kouhi, Ali Zadeh Hossein, Davoud Razavi and Yaghoub Salimi, have been sentenced to 6 to 14 months’ prison for taking part in the 2006 strike, while Mansoor Ossanlou and Ebrahim Madadi remain in prison. Teacher activist Farzad Kamangar has been sentenced to death and scores of students have been imprisoned for protesting against repression and gender-segregation.

Equal Rights Now condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the outrageous flogging of workers by the regime in Iran and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained.

Urgent Action
Stop Farzad Kamangar’s Execution

Farzad Kamangar is a 33-year-old teacher, human rights activist and journalist. He was a teacher in rural areas of Iranian Kurdistan. Prior to his arrest in August 2006, he taught in the town of Kamyaran, Kurdistan. He has been subjected to the most brutal physical and emotional tortures since his arrest. Farzad Kamangar has been accused of “endangering national security” and “belligerence against God”, prefabricated charges the Islamic regime in Iran brings wholesale against almost all rights activists. So far, sixteen members of the Kamangar’s extended family have been executed by the regime for their political activities. Farzad Kamangar was sentenced to death by hanging on 25 February 2008 after a sham trial. The following is his letter from death row to the clergyman, Qolaam-Hosyn Ezhei, Islamic regime’s Minister of Intelligence. It has been translated and distributed by International Committee Against Executions, January 5, 2009:

Farzad Kamangar
Let my heart keep beating!

I have been in prison for many months now. Prison was supposed to crush my will, my love and my humanity. It was supposed to tame me. I have been detained in a ward with walls as tall as history, continuing to eternity itself. They were supposed to separate me from my beloved people, from the children of my land. But I travelled through the tiny window of my cell to far away places everyday and felt myself amongst them and like them. They, in turn, would see the reflection of their grievances imprisoned in me; prison thus deepened our bonds. The darkness of prison was supposed to erase the very meaning of the sun and light from my mind, but I have witnessed the growth of pansies in the darkness and silence. Prison was supposed to force my mind to consign time and its value to oblivion. I have, however, relived the moments outside prison, and given birth to a new “me” in order to choose a new path.

I have also, like prisoners before me, wholeheartedly embraced every degradation, insult and cruelty that came my way, hoping to be the last person of a tormented generation who has had to endure the darkness of imprisonment in the fervent hope of seeing a new dawn.

One day, I was labelled “belligerent” for having waged war against their “God.” The noose of justice was thus woven, ready to take my life. And since that day I have been unwillingly awaiting my execution. But I have decided, with all my love for my fellow human beings, that if I am to lose my life, let all my organs go to those who may find life receiving them. And let my heart, with all the love and passion in it, be donated to a child. It makes no difference where s/he might be; on the banks of the Kaaroon, slopes of Mount Sabalaan, fringes of the Eastern Sahara; or a child that beholds the sun rise from the Zagros Mountains. All I want is that my rebellious, restive heart may keep beating in the chest of a child who would, more rebelliously than I, reveal his/her childhood wishes to the moon and the stars, and hold them witness so that s/he may not betray them later as an adult. All I want is that my heart may keep beating in the chest of one who loses patience over the children who go to bed hungry; one that would keep the memory of Haamed – my sixteen-year-old student – alive in my heart who wrote, “even my smallest wish won’t come true in this life,” and hanged himself.

Let my heart keep beating in someone’s chest, no matter what language s/he might speak. All I want is for him/her to be the child of a worker with calloused hands whose coarseness would keep the sparks of rage against inequalities alive. Let my heart keep beating in the chest of a child who may be a rural teacher in a not-so-distant future, whom the children would greet every morning with their delightful smiles, and with whom they would share all their joys and games. Then the children might not know the meaning of such words as poverty and hunger; and the terms “prison,” “torture,” “oppression” and “inequality” might be devoid of all meaning in their world. Let my heart keep beating in a tiny corner of your immense world. Only be careful with it, for it is the heart of a person full of untold stories of the people of his land, whose history abounds in pain and suffering. Let my heart keep beating in the chest of a child so that one morning I can cry at the top of my lungs and in my mother tongue [Kurdish]: I want to become a breeze carrying the message of love of all humanity to all corners of this immense world.

Farzad Kamangar
Patient in the Infectious Diseases Ward
Rajaa’i Shahr Prison, Karaj
28 December 2008

Originally written on 22 December 2008
Security Ward 209
Evin Prison

More information to follow.

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