Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic ofIran : Iran (Islamic Republic of). 15/10/97. A/52/472. ()
15 October 1997
Agenda item 112 (c)
HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS: HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS AND REPORTS
OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS AND REPRESENTATIVES
Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Note by the Secretary-General
The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the members ofthe General Assembly the interim report prepared by Mr. Maurice Danby Copithorne,Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situationof human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with Assemblyresolution 51/107 of 12 December 1996 and Economic and Social Council decision1997/264 of 22 July 1997.
INTERIM REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE ISLAMIC
REPUBLIC OF IRAN, PREPARED BY THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF
THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH GENERAL
ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 51/107 AND ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
|Presidential elections were held in May 1997. Only fourcandidates were approved to run in the election, but a lively campaignensued. It was generally considered that the voters had a choice, and thatthey opted for change. This resulted in a broadly if not uniformly heldview that change would now occur and that significant improvement in thehuman rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran would follow. Thenew Government has made a number of policy statements that reflect a clearintention that this should happen.|
I. INTRODUCTION ......................................... 1 - 7
II. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE'S ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES .. 8 - 10
III. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ................................ 11 - 14
IV. LEGAL SUBJECTS ....................................... 15 - 34
A. Executions ....................................... 15 - 21
B. Apostasy and conversion .......................... 22 - 30
C. Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment .................................... 31 - 34
V. THE STATUS OF WOMEN .................................. 35 - 38
VI. THE FATWA AGAINST SALMAN RUSHDIE ..................... 39 - 42
VII. THE SITUATION OF THE BAHA'IS ......................... 43 - 47
VIII. OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS .............................. 48 - 64
A. The Islamic Human Rights Commission .............. 48 - 53
B. Violence outside the Islamic Republic of Iran .... 54 - 60
C. The situation of certain religious minorities .... 61 - 63
D. Democracy ........................................ 64
IX. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC
REPUBLIC OF IRAN ..................................... 65 - 66
X. CONCLUSION ........................................... 67 - 68
I. Correspondence between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the
Special Representative ........................................... 20
II. A selection of recent reports illustrating constraints against
freedom of expression in the Islamic Republic of Iran ............ 23
III. The situation of the Baha'is .....................................25
IV. Letters received from the Permanent Representative of the
Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva .. 27
1. This interim report is the second substantive report the Special Representativehas submitted to the General Assembly. During the interim the Islamic Republicof Iran has gone through turbulent times, which have had an impact on thehuman rights situation in the country. There has been some progress andsome backsliding, but in most areas the pace of change for the better hasbeen imperceptible, or at least so modest as to represent little substantiveimprovement.
2. In the present report, the Special Representative has highlighted developmentsin a number of sectors that he considers worthy of note. Some representrecent activity in sectors of long-standing concern. Others are being broughtforward for the first time. There are certainly many areas in which changeis required in order to meet existing international norms and, the SpecialRepresentative would argue, to respect the freedom and dignity of the Iranianpeople. He has highlighted freedom of expression and certain legal subjects,as well as several of the subjects he reports on regularly.
3. A major event in the Islamic Republic of Iran during the period underreview was the presidential election, which is reported on in greater detailbelow. Here, the Special Representative wants to draw attention to thepotential implications of the election results for human rights in theIslamic Republic of Iran. Turning first to the 4 August inauguration speechof President Khatami, it is noteworthy from a human rights perspectivethat he devoted considerable attention to opening up to the people thediscourse about government policy:
"The Government must promote the culture and capacity for participation,evaluation, critique and reform. It must itself be the model for toleranceand take the lead in empowerment for the people."
4. The President also referred to the need to prevent any violation ofthe integrity, dignity and constitutional rights and freedom of individuals.
5. In subsequent statements, particularly, those entitled "politicaldevelopment policies" of the executive branches, emphasis was againplaced on respecting human dignity and integrity; ensuring civil rightsand freedom; defending public trials and the right to a lawyer; fosteringan independent mass media; and fostering the principles of pluralism anddiversity. The major ministries issued "objectives, policies and programmes"papers. Those of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Cultureand Islamic Guidance and the Ministry of Information (Intelligence) reiteratedthe spirit of the President's statements in greater detail as applicableto those ministries. The Minister of Culture was quoted by a foreign journalistas saying, "I disagree with almost all the present practices in theCulture Ministry. We have to provide an atmosphere of creativity, tranquillityand freedom."
6. It is not the Special Representative's role to critique government policystatements. Nevertheless, in these particular circumstances, he believesit important to highlight the declaration of the intentions of the newGovernment in most if not all the areas captured in the concept of humanrights. He will watch with great interest to see how those policy statementsare implemented, with particular reference to their positive impact onthe status of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
7. Finally, the Special Representative wishes to refer to the questionof another visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran on his part. He has beenin touch with the Iranian authorities about such a visit for some time.In late August he was informed that, owing to the change of Government,there had not yet been an opportunity to consider extending an invitationto him. The Special Representative is hopeful that he will be accordedfull cooperation in that regard.
II. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE'S ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES
8. On 9 April 1997 the Special Representative personally introduced hissecond report to the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1997/63). He returnedto Geneva from 20 to 22 May and from 25 to 29 August 1997 in order to conducta number of consultations, to participate in the fourth meeting of specialrapporteurs, special representatives, experts and chairmen of working groupsof the Commission on Human Rights, which took place from 21 to 23 May 1997,and to draft the present interim report to the General Assembly. En routefrom Geneva, the Special Representative made a stopover visit to London,a city with a major Iranian constituency, from 23 to 25 May 1997. Whilein Geneva, the Special Representative held consultations with representativesof the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, officials of the Officeof the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for HumanRights, officials of the Office of the United Nations High Commissionerfor Refugees and representatives of several non-governmental organizations.He also received representations from interested persons concerning allegedhuman rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
9. In seeking to fulfil his mandate, the Special Representative has lookedto many sources for information, including the Government of the IslamicRepublic of Iran, other Governments, individuals, non-governmental organizationsand the Iranian and international media. In Geneva, the Special Representativeheld interviews with representatives of several non-governmental organizations,among them Amnesty International, the Baha'i International Community, theDemocratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the National Council of Resistanceof Iran and the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence.
10. During the period mentioned above, the Special Representative alsoreceived written communications from the following non-governmental organizations:About Iran; Amnesty International; Article 19, International Centre againstCensorship; Association of Iranian Political Prisoners in Exile; Associationpour la défense des prisonniers politiques et d'opinion en Iran;Baha'i International Community; Comité iranien contre la répressionet le terrorisme d'état; Committee for Defence of Liberty in Iran;Constitutionalist Movement of Iran; Cross-Connections International; Defendersof Islam in Iran; Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; Democratic Unionof Iranian Workers; Dra. Homa Darabi Foundation; Foundation for Democracyin Iran; Human Rights Watch/Middle East; International PEN Writers in PrisonCommittee; Iranian People Fedaii Guerrillas; Ligue iranienne des droitsde l'homme en exil; National Council of Resistance of Iran; Organisationfor Defending Victims of Violence; Organization of Iranian People's Fedaian(Majority); Rainbow Anti-racist Organization; Supporters of the IranianMuslim Nation; and World Organization against Torture.
III. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
11. A healthy society is one in which there exists freedom of opinion andexpression and a tolerance of open discussion and dissent. This freedomis articulated in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsas well as in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights. In effect, the vitality of the society and of the State is promotedthrough a right vested in individuals to dissent from government policyor popular opinion and to express that dissent openly.
12. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the Special Representative hasnoted before, there are "islands of liberty", one of which tolerateslively debate about many public issues, including the freedom of expressionitself. Most recently, according to a foreign news service, there has beena lively debate on the role of the clergy in Government and the limitationson the authority of the President. There are, however, boundaries to freeexpression, sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit. In the view of theSpecial Representative, it can be fairly said that the rights of the pressand the media in general, the film industry, authors, publishers and bookstoresappear in practice to be significantly circumscribed. Various means ofofficial and unofficial control exist. Among them are the press tribunal,restricted access to newsprint, need for approval of book and film manuscripts,various licensing systems and unofficial strong-arm enforcers of theirown view of religion and morality.
13. It was less than two years ago that the United Nations Special Rapporteuron the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion andexpression, Abid Hussain, visited the Islamic Republic of Iran and prepareda report for the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/39/Add.2). TheSpecial Representative has decided to revisit the subject at this timebecause of recent developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The reportof Mr. Hussain is the starting point for this discussion, and the SpecialRepresentative would particularly call attention to section II, Concludingobservations, and section III, Recommendations, of that report. The lattercontains a significant list of changes that need to be made by the Governmentof the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to meet international norms and,in particular, nourish a culture of free expression. The Special Representativewould also draw attention to the sections of his own earlier reports onfreedom of expression, namely, section VI, Freedom of the media, in E/CN.4/1996/59,and section IV, Freedom of expression, in E/CN.4/1997/63. In appendix IIto the present report, the Special Representative notes some of what heviews to be indicative recent incidents in the Islamic Republic of Iranthat make it clear that the need for change remains urgent.
14. Finally, the Special Representative would take particular note of thecase of Faraj Sarkouhi, the chief editor of the monthly magazine Adineh.The early stages of this matter were noted in the report of the SpecialRepresentative to the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1997/63, para.45). In June, Mr. Sarkouhi was reportedly charged with spying for a foreigncountry and attempting to leave the country illegally. The Special Representativerequested information and made representation to the Government of theIslamic Republic of Iran on two occasions (see appendix I). There wereinternational calls that the trial be held in public, and a question aroseas to his freedom to have counsel of his choice. In mid-September, it wasreported that Mr. Sarkouhi had been tried and convicted in camera of carryingout propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The propaganda wasapparently the widely published letter dated 3 January 1997, in which hedescribed his initial arrest and his mistreatment while in detention. Hewas sentenced to one year in prison less time already spent in detention.His family's lawyer stated to a foreign wire service that she had neverbeen permitted to meet with him in jail nor was she allowed to attend theclosed trial.
IV. LEGAL SUBJECTS
15. The Special Representative had occasion to report to the Commissionon Human Rights earlier this year that the number of executions in theIslamic Republic of Iran in 1996 had reportedly at least doubled over thatof 1995 (E/CN.4/1997/63, para. 27). The Special Representative pointedout that his request for official statistics in that regard had gone unanswered.
16. The Special Representative has now been presented with external reportsindicating that the number of publicly announced executions for the periodfrom January to September 1997 reached 137, a rate of increase that ifcontinued to the end of the year would likely constitute a further doubling.In addition, there continue to be troubling reports of disappearances anddeaths under suspicious circumstances.
17. In August 1997 there was a report on Iranian radio stating that a newlaw would "increase the seriousness of [drug] trafficking tenfold"and give judicial authorities "a free hand" to deal with drugtraffickers. Public hanging also appears to be on the increase.
18. The Special Representative wishes to draw attention to resolution 1997/12adopted by the Commission on Human Rights on 3 April 1997. In the resolution,the Commission, inter alia:
- Urged all States maintaining the death penalty to comply fully with theirobligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,notably not to impose it for any but the most serious crimes;
- Called upon all States that still maintained the death penalty to observesafeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing thedeath penalty set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution1984/50 of 25 May 1984;
- Called upon all States that had not yet abolished the death penalty progressivelyto restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty might beimposed;
- Called upon States that retained the death penalty to make availableto the public information with regard to its imposition.
19. The Special Representative recalls the concerns about the use of thedeath penalty in the Islamic Republic of Iran that he recorded in his reportto the Commission on Human Rights in February 1997 (E/CN.4/1997/63, paras.28 and 29). Noting the apparent continuing sharp growth in the use of thedeath penalty, the Special Representative recommends that the Government,as a matter of urgency, undertake a programme to reverse this trend and,specifically, to comply with the four provisions of the resolution citedabove.
20. Without in any way diminishing the worth of any person executed recentlyin the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Special Representative is compelledto single out the case of Mohammad Assadi for particular mention. Mr. Assadi,aged 68, was a lawyer in Tehran who had been in prison since 1993. He isreported to have been convicted of participating in a coup d'étatplot in 1990 and having been a freemason and a member of the Lions ClubsInternational. He was condemned to death for those acts and executed on9 August 1997.
21. The Special Representative made urgent representations about the Assadicase on 9 April 1997 seeking information, and on 20 May 1997 renewed arequest for clemency (see appendix I). No answer was received to eitherrepresentation. The Special Representative deplores the failure of theGovernment of the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to his request forfull details of the charges brought against Mr. Assadi and the convictionentered against him, and its refusal to grant clemency in a case that,according to the information available to the Special Representative, mayhave involved no serious criminal activity.
B. Apostasy and conversion
22. Apostasy seems to be a term not in wide currency in the world today.Its definition in one English-language dictionary is "renunciationof a belief or faith, especially religious". It is unclear to theSpecial Representative how many countries regard apostasy as an offence.In the Islamic Republic of Iran it appears to be used currently in twosituations, one to describe the conduct of the British writer Salman Rushdieand the other as an offence of which adherents of the Baha'i faith andsometimes Christian Protestants are from time to time charged and sometimesconvicted. To the Special Representative's knowledge, there are currentlythree persons - all Baha'is - standing convicted of apostasy.
23. There would appear to be no provision in codified Iranian law makingapostasy a crime. The Special Rapporteur on the question of religious intolerancewas told in December 1995 that "under the Civil Code, conversion wasnot a crime and that no one had been punished for converting" (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2,para. 21).
24. That, however, is not the end of the matter. Article 167 of the IranianConstitution authorizes judges, in the absence of applicable law, to apply"authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwa". The headof the Judiciary, Ayatollah Yazdi, has said this includes a treatise declaringthat "a national apostate will be caused to repent and in case ofrefusing to repent will be executed". A "national apostate"has reportedly been defined as an infidel who embraces Islam as an adultand later returns to infidelity. It is thus clear that a convert to Islamwho subsequently reconverts exposes himself to prosecution and death, eventhough apostasy is not a codified offence in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
25. In the case of Zabihullah Mahrami, the January 1996 judgement in hisfirst trial by the Revolutionary Court in Yazd found that he was a Baha'iat the age of maturity, later accepted Islam for a period of seven yearsand subsequently returned to the Baha'i faith. The text of this judgementis available. On that basis he was found to be an apostate and was sentencedto death. On appeal, it was held that the Revolutionary Court lacked jurisdiction,and the matter was sent back to be retried. He was apparently convictedagain and sentenced to death, although the conviction judgement is notavailable.
26. Another Baha'i, Musa Talibi, after several trials and appeals was sentencedin Isfahan, on 18 August 1996, to death for apostasy. It was reported inJanuary 1997 that the Supreme Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran hadconfirmed both the Talibi and Mahrami death sentences. In February 1997,an external wire service reported from Tehran a statement by the head ofthe Revolutionary Court for the province of Tehran that the two men hadbeen convicted of espionage and that he had denounced as false and fallaciousreports that the men were convicted because of their religion. The SpecialRepresentative made urgent representations on behalf of both individualson 3 February 1997 (see appendix I).
27. A third Baha'i, Ramazan-Ali Zulfaqari, had earlier been condemned todeath for apostasy. He was reportedly later released from prison, but theapostasy charge may not have been resolved.
28. The Special Representative considers that the right to change one'sreligion is a clearly established international human rights norm, as articulatedin the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 18), the InternationalCovenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 18, para. 2), the Declarationon the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Basedon Religion or Belief (article 1, para. 2) and in the general commentson this subject by the Human Rights Committee (General Comment 22 (forty-eighthsession), para. 5, of 20 July 1993 (HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1)). In his 1996 reporton the Islamic Republic of Iran (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2/para. 116), the SpecialRapporteur on the question of religious intolerance concluded:
"Likewise, with regard to proselytism, conversion and apostasy, theSpecial Rapporteur reaffirms the need to respect internationally recognizedstandards in the field of human rights, including freedom to change one'sreligion and freedom to manifest one's religion or belief, either individuallyor in community with others and in public or private, barring necessaryrestrictions provided for by law."
29. The Special Representative notes that in the past, senior officialsof the Islamic Republic of Iran have attempted to distinguish between theact of private worship, which is permitted, and more public acts such asteaching, forming assemblies and working with the administration of theBaha'i community, which were forbidden on the grounds that those were hostileand conspiratorial acts that were criminal in nature. More recently, asthe Special Representative has recorded, senior officials from time totime declare that no one is convicted in the Islamic Republic of Iran onthe grounds of religion, and that Baha'ism is not a religion but "aweb of espionage activities". In the view of the Special Representative,the publicly known facts in the Mahrami and Talibi cases do not bear outthose assertions.
30. The Special Representative urges the Government of the Islamic Republicof Iran, in recognition of the international human rights norm referredto above, to recognize fully the rights of the individual as set out inarticles 19, 20, 22 and 23 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republicof Iran, to set aside the convictions described above and to take appropriatesteps to prevent future prosecutions for acts of religious conversion,whether or not they be categorized as apostasy.
C. Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
31. The Special Representative is deeply concerned at the continuingreports of the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishmentin the Islamic Republic of Iran, conduct banned by the Universal Declarationof Human Rights (article 5), the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights (article 7), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (article 16). This is an areathat requires urgent reform in terms of both law and practice in orderto meet international human rights norms. In the present report the SpecialRepresentative will address perhaps the most abhorrent of such practices,that of stoning.
32. The Special Representative notes that article 82 (b) of the IslamicCriminal Code provides that adultery by a married woman shall be punishedby stoning to death. Information reaching the Special Representative suggeststhat stoning has been occurring from time to time since 1979. Four casesof such punishment in the past 18 months have come to the attention ofthe Special Representative:
- An Iranian magazine reported in its July 1996 edition that Shasin Soltan-Moradiand Mohammad-Ali Hemmati were stoned to death in June 1996 in Orumiyeh;
- An Iranian daily reported on 13 July 1997 that Changiz Rahimi, son ofJaafar, was sentenced to stoning for several offences, including adultery;
- An external media source reported on 20 April 1997 that a young womanin Sanandaj, Shahgol Zamani, had been stoned to death that week;
- An external wire service story from Tehran of 12 August 1997 recounteda story appearing in a Tehran newspaper about a 20-year-old woman in Boukanwho had been sentenced to stoning for adultery. The sentence had been carriedout, but the woman had apparently survived the ordeal.
33. It may be replied that stoning happens very rarely in the Islamic Republicof Iran and certainly not in the major cities. The Special Representativebelieves that for it to happen at all is unsustainable both legally andmorally. The fact that it is provided for in the Islamic Criminal Codedoes not make it a "lawful sanction" but, in the view of theSpecial Representative, serves only to encourage recourse to such punishment.The Special Representative would note the most recent condemnation of cruel,inhuman or degrading punishment of the Commission on Human Rights, whichis resolution 1997/38, adopted on 11 April 1997.
34. In the view of the Special Representative, there is no doubt that stoningis a cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, as discussed in the internationalinstruments mentioned above. The Special Representative urges the Governmentof the Islamic Republic of Iran to remove article 82 (b) from the IslamicCriminal Code and to undertake a policy of actively suppressing recourseto such conduct throughout the country.
V. THE STATUS OF WOMEN
35. The Special Representative has noted in the past, as indeed has hispredecessor, that the system of governance in place in the Islamic Republicof Iran, including both its laws and its policies, does not recognize theequality at law of men and women, and that it frequently tolerates discriminationagainst women by private groups. Moreover, some senior members of the governingcircles continue to incite violence in support of discriminatory conductagainst women.
36. The Special Representative has also noted that in 1997 there is evidenceof a lively discourse under way in the Islamic Republic of Iran about therole of women in that society. He has also noted what he has chosen tocharacterize as "straws in the wind", which may suggest the prospectof change. While he continues to be optimistic in this regard, little hascome to his attention since his report to the Human Rights Commission earlierthis year (E/CN.4/1997/63) that would support the proposition that sustainedprogress is now under way. He notes, for example:
- The reports in the Iranian media in January 1997 that hospitals wereto be segregated on the basis of gender;
- The long statement by the Head of Branch 43 of the Martyr Ghoddousi JudicialAffairs Centre, entitled "Citizens combat against offensive of theWest from the viewpoint of the law", which appeared in the Iraniandaily Re'salat in three parts in February and March 1997, and which,among other things, provided for imprisonment of up to 12 months, finesand flogging up to 74 lashes for some offences relating to the dress code;
- The announcement carried in a Tehran daily on 28 August 1997 of a newprogramme entitled, "Extension of the culture of chastity", whichwould impose stricter veiling requirements.
37. On the other hand, the new President of the Islamic Republic of Iranhas appointed a woman as one of eight Vice-Presidents. Several others werereported to have been candidates for ministerial appointments. The SpecialRapporteur has also noted that the discourse about the role of women continues.For example, a report was carried in a Tehran daily on 25 August 1997 ofan interview with three women holding prominent positions who spoke ofwomen being precluded from decision-making in areas affecting them, suchas education and medicine, of women's condition as being deprived and oppressedand of the many obstacles and barriers blocking the advancement of womenaccording to their competence. An article in a Tehran daily on 5 August1997 reported the complaints of a number of married women concerning theunfair treatment they had received from judicial authorities in the contextof matrimonial disputes.
38. The Special Representative urges the Government of the Islamic Republicof Iran to attach high priority to reforming the status of women, not onlyto bring itself into compliance with international human rights norms,but also out of respect for the dignity of the individual.
VI. THE FATWA AGAINST SALMAN RUSHDIE
39. As provided in his mandate, the Special Representative has referredto the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in each of his previous reports tothe General Assembly and to the Commission on Human Rights.
40. The Special Representative notes that in February 1997 an Iranian charitablefoundation increased its reward to $2.5 million for the death of Mr. Rushdie.Further, the head of the foundation, who has personal links with the Government,was quoted in the Iranian press as saying that the reward was now availableto non-Muslims. The Special Representative would also note that the effortsby certain Governments over recent years to reach an accommodation withthe Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on this matter have beenunsuccessful.
41. The Special Representative would once again record his own condemnationof the threat upon the life of Mr. Rushdie and state that he shares theview of those who judge the offered reward to be an incitement to murder.The Special Representative does not accept the view that in circumstancessuch as these, the Government can disassociate itself from the decisionsof an organization such as the foundation concerned on the grounds thatit is, formally at least, a non-governmental entity.
42. The Special Representative urges the Government of the Islamic Republicof Iran to attach a high priority to this issue and to approach its settlementin a fresh and positive manner.
VII. THE SITUATION OF THE BAHA'IS
43. The Special Representative has continued to receive reports of casesin which the human rights of Baha'is have been breached and of situationsof discrimination and even of persecution against the members of this religiouscommunity, including extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, refusalof entry to universities, confiscation of property and dismissal from employment.
44. According to the information received by the Special Representative(see appendix III), two Baha'is were killed in July 1997, and those responsiblefor the deaths were enjoying impunity. Twelve Baha'is continue to be heldin Iranian prisons. In January 1997 the Supreme Court confirmed the deathsentences imposed for apostasy against two Baha'is, Mr. Talibi and Mr.Mahrami, and another Baha'i has been charged with the same offence (seeparas. 25-27 above). Being active in the Baha'i community and gatheringfor Baha'i meetings are in practice considered offences. Short-term detentionof Baha'is, disregard of their private ownership of property, evictionfrom and confiscation of their houses and destruction of their holy placescontinue to be reported.
45. In his previous reports the Special Representative has made referenceto the complaints received regarding the denial of employment, pensionsand other benefits, access to higher education and civil rights and liberties.The Special Representative reiterates his opinion that the implementationof the recommendations contained in the report submitted to the Commissionon Human Rights at its fifty-second session by the Special Rapporteur onthe question of religious intolerance on his visit to the Islamic Republicof Iran (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2) would constitute an important first stepin the improvement of the situation of Iranian Baha'is.
46. Specifically, the recommendations concerned:
(a) The urgent revision of the death sentences passed on Baha'is and thepromulgation of amnesties or other appropriate measures to prevent theenforcement of the penalties imposed;
(b) The lifting of the ban on the Baha'i organization to enable it to organizeitself freely through its administrative institutions;
(c) The end to discrimination in access to higher education or to employmentin the Administration;
(d) The return of confiscated personal and community property;
(e) The reconstruction of the places of worship destroyed, or at least,the establishment of compensatory measures in favour of the Baha'i community;
(f) The lifting of restrictions regarding the burial and honouring of thedead;
(g) The elimination from passport application forms of the question onreligion in order to guarantee the freedom of movement.
47. The Special Representative recommends that the Government of the IslamicRepublic of Iran, as a matter of priority, proceed to implement the recommendationsof the Special Rapporteur summarized above.
VIII. OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS
A. The Islamic Human Rights Commission
48. The Special Representative has reported on the establishment ofthe Islamic Human Rights Commission by the Government of the Islamic Republicof Iran and has referred to its reports about its activities. The SpecialRepresentative had a meeting in Geneva in April 1997 with a group of seniorIranian personages, including several who were members of the Commission.He followed up this meeting with a letter to the Executive Secretary ofthe Commission. In subsequent communications to the Permanent Mission ofthe Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva, theSpecial Representative requested more specific information about the workof the Commission and particularly its achievements in terms of successfulinterventions in response to allegations of human rights violations. TheSpecial Representative has not received direct replies to those requests,but has received copies of several recent publications of the Islamic HumanRights Commission.
49. One of the publications, Appeals (No. 21, February 1997) setsout in some 20 pages a selection of seven allegations of violations incountries around the world other than the Islamic Republic of Iran thathave been brought to the attention of the Commission. Another publication,A Brief on the One-Year Operation of the Islamic Human Rights Commission,January 1996-January 1997, contains a section on the Commission's humanrights activities in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition to notingcertain structural changes within the Commission, the report set out certainstatistics, including the following:
- Complaints received : 1,300
- Complaints found to have no probative value: 7 per cent
- Complaints found after investigation to have no merit : 14 per cent
- Complaints that "required legal advice and necessary guidance":42 per cent
50. The Report goes on to say:
"In order to persuade the courts to have due cooperation with theCommission and to send reports requested, several meetings have been heldwith the respective judicial authorities ... It may be noted that in mostcases the Commission received good cooperation of the courts ..."
51. The Report further notes that the Commission:
"has had periodic and regular visits to prisons, judicial centres,executive centres and the police, and has effectively conducted investigationswhenever required into an individual complaint".
52. The Special Representative would note that the President and severalmembers of the Islamic Human Rights Commission itself and its subcommitteesare current or former senior figures or officials in the Government. Whetherthe Commission has significant freedom of action remains to be seen. Inthat regard, the Special Representative recommends that the Commissionmove quickly to begin publishing a detailed description of the types ofcomplaints it is receiving, of the interventions it is making and of thesuccess it is having in reversing the conduct that gives rise to the complaints.
53. The Special Representative notes the recent statement of the CommissionSecretary that the Commission will act as a bridge between the people andthe Government to realize the objectives of the new President of the IslamicRepublic of Iran. The Special Representative will follow with great interestthe progress being made in that regard.
B. Violence outside the Islamic Republic of Iran
54. In his interim report to the General Assembly at its fifty-firstsession (A/51/479 and Add.1) and in his report to the Commission on HumanRights at its fifty-third session (E/CN.4/1997/63), the Special Representativenoted a number of incidents of extraterritorial violence against Iranians.Although the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran frequently deniedinvolvement in any of those incidents, in some of the resulting legal proceedingsin foreign courts a strong connection to that Government was asserted.
55. According to Press Release No. 38/97 issued by the Department of Justiceof the State of Berlin on 10 April 1997, a Berlin court found four personsguilty of the assassination on 17 September 1992 of a group of four leadersof the Democratic Party of Kurdistan-Iran, headed by Sadegh Sharafkandi,in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant. The two main suspects in the case, KazemDarabi, a 38-year- old who claimed to be an Iranian agent and a formermember of the Pasdaran, and Abbas Rhayel, a Lebanese member of Hezbollah,were sentenced to life imprisonment. Another two Lebanese nationals receivedsentences for complicity of 11 years and of 5 years and 3 months, respectively.A fifth suspect was cleared. According to the press release, the court'soral findings also included the following statement: "The evidencehas revealed the decision- making procedures within the Iranian leadershipwhich in the final analysis have led to the liquidation of opposition politiciansabroad". According to German wire reports, an arrest warrant was issuedfor Ali Fallahian, the former Information (Intelligence) Minister, forhaving played a supervisory role in the attack.
56. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran rejected the rulingas unjust, biased and influenced by a propaganda campaign against the country.It stated that the killings were the result of in-fighting within the Kurdishopposition.
57. The Special Representative was provided with a copy of the verdictissued on 24 January 1997 by the seventh Criminal Court of Istanbul, Turkey,headed by Judge Iyhan Onal, condemning Reza Barzegar Massoumi, an Iraniancitizen born in Orumiyeh, to 32 years and 6 months of imprisonment withhard labour for his participation in the premeditated murder of Zahra Rajabi(also known as Maryam Javedan Jokar) and Ali Panah Moradi, two membersof the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran. Mr. Massoumi was foundguilty of using his acquaintance with the victims to open the door of theirapartment to the murderers. According to the verdict, the accused statedin his confession that he had acted under instruction of the Iranian intelligenceservice, specifically of the agents Sa'eed Choobtrash (Asghar), Rahim Afshar(Rassoul), Haj Ghassem (Zargar-Panah) and Jalal (Mohsen Kargar-Azad), whoplanned and committed the murders carried out on 20 February 1996 in theFateh suburb of Istanbul.
58. The Special Representative was also informed of several attacks againstIranian Kurdish refugees in the Iraqi province of Suleimania, particularlyagainst members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, allegedlycommitted by persons working for the Iranian Government. Such attacks reportedlytook place in early April 1997, 24 June 1997 and 14 and 19 August 1997and resulted in 85 victims, including both dead and wounded. On 14 August1997, Qaleb Alizadeh and Anjad Mowlaii, two members of the Democratic Partyof Iranian Kurdistan, were murdered in the centre of Suleimania. A residentof the city was also killed in the attack, and four other residents werewounded. On 19 August 1997, Saeed Moradi, Ali Zokaleh and Isma'il Namakiwere killed during the armed attack against the bus in which they weretravelling towards Suleimania. Nine other members of the Democratic Partyof Iranian Kurdistan were wounded. Agents of the Islamic Republic of Iranwere alleged to be responsible for both attacks.
59. According to foreign wire reports, a Bangkok criminal court had convictedHossein Dastgiri, an Iranian citizen, of murder and of conspiring to setoff a bomb at the Israeli embassy in Bangkok in 1994, and had sentencedhim to life imprisonment. The Special Representative was informed thatthe Islamic Human Rights Commission was seeking to improve his conditionsof detention.
60. To the Special Representative's knowledge, the Berlin verdict is thefirst occasion in which a foreign court has clearly attributed responsibilityfor the assassination of Iranian opposition figures abroad. The SpecialRepresentative cannot ignore the finding that persons in the employ ofthe Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including in one case verysenior members of the Government, were directly or indirectly involvedand were found to be responsible for those acts. While noting the denialsof the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Special Representativeis bound to view the court decision as a finding of substantial credibility.He condemns such acts and calls upon the Government to denounce such violenceand to forswear direct or indirect involvement in it.
C. The situation of certain religious minorities
61. In previous reports, the Special Representative has referred tothe condition of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran.In the present report, the Special Representative wishes to refer specificallyto the Sunnis, of which there are an estimated 12 to 15 million in theIslamic Republic of Iran. Many of the ethnic minority groups in the IslamicRepublic of Iran are in whole or in part Sunni Muslims. The great majorityof Iranian Kurds, Baluchis and Turkmens are Sunnis. In general, the Sunnisinhabit the areas closer to the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,although there are reportedly close to 1 million Sunnis in Tehran.
62. Sunni activists state that they, along with other religious minorities,are denied by law or practice access to such government positions as cabinetminister, ambassador, provincial governor, mayor and the like. They allegethe destruction of Sunni schools and mosques and the imprisonment, executionand assassination of Sunni leaders. There are, in addition, other specificallegations.
63. While some of this information may be difficult to corroborate, theSpecial Representative is left with the clear impression that the rightof freedom of religion is not being respected with regard to the Sunniminority. In the coming months, the Special Representative will be pursuingenquiries with the Government about the allegations and looks forward toits cooperation in that regard.
64. Presidential elections were held in the Islamic Republic of Iranon 23 May 1997. A total of 238 individuals had applied for permission torun in the election, including 9 women; 4 were ultimately approved by theGuardian Council. Iranian and foreign press reports seem to have uniformlycharacterized the debate in the final weeks as open and lively. Many describedthe election as offering a real choice. The winner, Mohammad Khatami, wasreported to have received some 21 million of the 31 million votes cast.There were apparently no significant complaints of election irregularities,nor was there any annulment of election results as there had been afterthe 1995 Majiles elections.
IX. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
65. The correspondence between the Special Representative and the PermanentRepresentative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Officeat Geneva during the period from February to August 1997 is set out inappendix I to the present report. It consists in part of requests for informationon individual cases. Also during the period, the Special Representativesent to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran either in his ownname or jointly with special rapporteurs, a number of urgent communicationsreferring to individual cases. The Special Representative appealed to theIranian Government to ensure that those affected benefited fully from allthe internationally recognized safeguards, particularly those providedfor in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In somecases other international instruments were involved, including the safeguardsguaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty,adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1984/50 of25 May 1984, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by theGeneral Assembly in its resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989, and the UnitedNations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice(the Beijing Rules), adopted by the Assembly in its resolution 40/33 of29 November 1985.
66. The Special Representative is concerned at the low rate of responseby the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and in some cases atthe unhelpful answers. He plans to discuss the problem with the Iranianauthorities in the context of improving cooperation.
67. In the present and previous reports to the General Assembly and tothe Commission on Human Rights, the Special Representative has attemptedto identify at least some of the areas in which improvement was being madeor at least to note the existence of "straws in the wind" suggestingthat improvement could be on the way. He has also attempted to identifysome of the areas in which any sign of improvement was hard to discern;indeed, backsliding seemed to be an accurate description. He has in thepresent report noted a number of the areas falling into the latter category,in each of which he has made recommendations.
68. Perhaps the most significant development of the period under reviewwas the election of the new President and the very real prospect that theIslamic Republic of Iran is now in a position to move forward in mattersconcerning the freedom and dignity of its citizens. The areas highlightedin the report would be an excellent agenda for change - change which islong overdue. The Special Representative is all too aware, however, thatthe constraints of power often temper if not defeat the promises of anelection. In the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the people do notdeserve to wait any longer. The Special Representative will watch developmentswith great interest.
Correspondence between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iranand the Special Representative
1. On 24 January 1997 the Special Representative and the Special Rapporteuron torture transmitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the IslamicRepublic of Iran a joint urgent appeal requesting that the right to physicaland mental integrity of Hojjatoleslam val Muslimin Sheikh Mohammad AminGhafoori, his wife and Hojjatoleslam val Muslimin Sayed Hossein Fali beprotected. Both men were said to be followers of the Grand Ayatollah Shiraziand were arrested on 14 January 1997 in Qom. There has been no reply.
2. On 3 February 1997 the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summaryor arbitrary executions and the Special Representative sent to the Ministerfor Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran a joint urgent appealon behalf of Zabihullah Mahrami and Musa Talibi, who were sentenced todeath reportedly on the basis of their religious beliefs, particularlybecause of their adherence to the Baha'i faith. There has been no reply.In late January 1997 reports were received that the Supreme Court of theIslamic Republic of Iran had confirmed their death sentences on chargesof apostasy.
3. The Special Representative sent to the Permanent Representative of theIslamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva, on 11February 1997, a letter requesting information on the situation of FarajSarkouhi, editor of Adineh, a literary magazine, and his brotherIsmail, who were arrested on 27 January 1997 in Tehran. It was allegedthat their arrests were in connection with a letter from Faraj Sarkouhidated 3 January 1997 denouncing his mistreatment during an earlier detentionand with their signatures on an open letter of 1994 addressed to the Presidentof the Republic calling for greater freedom of expression. On 7 March 1997,the Permanent Representative replied to the letter of the Special Representativegiving information provided by the relevant authorities in Tehran (thetext of the letter is provided in appendix IV). On 2 July 1997 the SpecialRapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on the promotionand protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and onthe independence of judges and lawyers, along with the Special Representative,sent a joint urgent appeal to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the IslamicRepublic of Iran requesting a clarification of the circumstances of thearrest and detention of Mr. Sarkouhi and for an assurance that his rightswould be guaranteed. On 16 July 1997 the Government replied with informationthat Mr. Sarkouhi had been arrested on 2 February 1997 on charges of espionageand attempting to leave the country illegally, that he had neither beentried nor convicted and that he enjoyed and will enjoy all legal rightsin conformity with due process of law, including the right to a fair trialand to a defence lawyer (the text of the letter is provided in appendixIV).
4. On 20 February 1997 the Special Representative sent to the PermanentRepresentative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Officeat Geneva a letter requesting information on the arrest in March and April1996 of 32 women in the eastern and western provinces of Azerbaijan whowere said to remain in detention without being charged or tried. Therehas been no reply.
5. On 25 February 1997 the Special Representative sent a new letter tothe Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UnitedNations Office at Geneva appealing to the Government to ensure that theright to physical and mental integrity of 13 persons arrested in mid-November1996 in eastern and western Azerbaijan would be protected. Those arrestedwere said to be sympathetic to the Azeri nationalist cause. There has beenno reply.
6. The Special Representative sent to the Permanent Representative of theIslamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva a letterdated 12 March 1997 requesting information on the situation of Abbas Nava'i-Roshandel,the place of his detention and the basis for his arrest. By a letter dated20 June 1997, the Permanent Representative advised that the Iranian policehad not found any record of his arrest or detention (the text of the letteris provided in appendix IV).
7. On 9 April 1997 the Special Representative sent a letter to the PermanentRepresentative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Officeat Geneva appealing to the Government to consider, in the event that alllegal remedies had been fully exhausted, granting clemency to MohammadAssadi, a lawyer at the Tehran bar, aged 68, sentenced to death on chargesthat appeared to be political. The Special Representative also requestedinformation as to the wording of and the exact charges brought againstMr. Assadi and the conviction entered against him. By a letter dated 20May 1997, the Special Representative reiterated his appeal to the IranianGovernment to consider urgently granting clemency to this person and toinvestigate allegations that Mr. Assadi had not received any medical treatmentduring his detention and that his trial had been unfair. No response wasreceived.
8. On 9 April 1997 the Special Representative requested to be informedof the results of the investigation into the death of Ebrahim Zalzadeh,a writer and journalist, aged 49, whose corpse was found on 29 March 1997with multiple stab wounds to the chest. Mr. Zalzadeh was the editor ofthe monthly magazine Me'yar and the director of the publishing houseEbtekar. By a letter dated 14 August 1997, the Permanent Representativeof the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Genevainformed the Special Representative that the case was under investigationby the police and the judiciary, and that Mr. Zalzadeh's death had beencaused by a sharp-pointed object pierced into his heart (the text of theletter is provided in appendix IV).
9. The Special Representative sent a letter to the Permanent Representativeof the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Genevaon 16 April 1997 requesting information regarding an incident of poisoningof 60 Iranian Kurdish refugees in the Bazian camp in Iraq, allegedly committedby Iranian agents. By a letter dated 5 June 1997, the Permanent Representativeof the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Genevastated that his Government categorically rejected such allegations, addingthat since the alleged incident had occurred in the territory of Iraq,it was impossible to acquire any information (the text of the letter isprovided in appendix IV).
10. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executionsand the Special Representative sent, on 14 July 1997, a joint urgent appealto the Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs requesting the Government toensure the right to life and physical integrity of Hossein Dowlatkhah,a 58-year-old businessman sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court inTehran on charges of swindling investors, corruption and embezzlement,and to flogging for organizing "lavish parties" with drugs. Hisappeal to the Supreme Court had been rejected. There has been no reply.
A selection of recent reports illustrating constraints against
freedom of expression in the Islamic Republic of Iran
1. In January 1996 Abbas Maroufi, the editor of the magazine Gardoon,was sentenced to 35 lashes and 6 months' imprisonment after being convictedof publishing lies, of insulting the leader of the Islamic Republic ofIran and of publishing poems deemed immoral. Mr. Maroufi subsequently leftthe Islamic Republic of Iran, apparently without the sentence being implemented.
2. In March 1996 the newspaper Salam was reported by the IslamicRepublic News Agency to have been banned for two days because of a storyit had published about a member of the leader's office having taken partin the Guardian Council's session on evaluating eligibility of the candidates.
3. In May 1996 a Farsi-language newspaper in London published an interviewwith the screenwriter Bahram Beizaie in which he talked of the difficultyin getting approval for his scripts. While in the past scripts had beenrejected or approved, the response now was more often no response, or requestsfor "small changes", such as changing a leading role from a femaleto a male part. Mr. Beizaie said that in some cases he had been obligedto deny that a script was his work so that a film could be made and otherscould be employed. Mr. Beizaie suggested that for every 60 films made inthe Islamic Republic of Iran each year, there were at least 60 preventedfrom being made.
4. In June 1996 a novelist, Houshang Gholshiri, said in an interview witha German newspaper that "we writers today live in fear and terror".He referred to the attack on the Morgh-e-Amin bookstore in August 1995and the suspicious death of Ahmad Miralaiee.
5. In August 1996 the editor Abbas Maroufi described in a foreign publicationthe pressure that writers and editors were placed under. He described hisown experience with a press jury. He noted that no private claimant hadaccused him of a private crime but he found himself facing private complaintsof his having committed public crimes. He noted that of the some 600 journalsprinted in the Islamic Republic of Iran, fewer than 10 could be consideredto provide independent coverage of cultural, social and political issues.
6. In November 1996 Salam reported that screening permits had beencancelled for two films by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Gabbeh and Breadand Flower Pots (the latter released in English under the title Momentof Innocence). The films were said to have previously received allnecessary licenses but then to have become "captive to factional dogmas".
7. In November 1996 a Farsi-language newspaper in London reported thatAli Larijani, head of the radio and television authority, had defendedthe television programme "Hoviyat", which had been heavily criticizedfor its harsh attacks on Iranian intellectuals. Mr. Larijani was quotedas saying, "should we in the Islamic Republic sit quietly for youto write whatever you want to? Are these so-called science, wisdom andfreedom and scientific discussion? These are insults to the whole system.Therefore the main argument is ... on destruction, destruction of the IslamicRepublic and the Islamic State".
8. In December 1996 an exiled writers' association announced the arrestof Mehdi Parham, a well-known writer and translator, and the disappearanceof Mohammed Hossein Tahmasbpour, a well-known Azeri-language poet.
9. In January 1997 a foreign media source reported that the Associationof Iranian Writers in Exile had announced the arrest in December 1996 inMashad of the writer and researcher Kalimallah Tavahhadi, who was workingon a series of volumes on the Kurds.
10. In March 1997 a foreign radio source reported that a cultural quarterly,Zendeh Roud, was suspended without explanation.
11. In April 1997 a foreign wire service reported from Tehran that thebody had been found of Abraham Zal Zadeli, the editor of the literary monthlyMe'yar, who had been arrested by security agents the previous month.
12. In April 1997 Salam reported that magazine editor Mohammad SadeqJavadi Hessar had been banned from all journalistic work for 10 years afterbeing convicted of causing public confusion and provoking antagonism betweenuniversities and seminaries. The conviction was to be appealed.
13. In May 1997 the Kayhan daily reported that Aftabgardan,a children's magazine, had been fined and banned under articles 22 and514 of the Islamic Criminal Code for an article critical of televisioncoverage of the presidential election campaign.
14. In June 1997 a foreign news service published an account by HoushangGholshiri of the humiliating conditions under which the signatories ofthe 1994 petition of 134 writers had been interrogated by Iranian securityofficials.
15. In July 1997 the Iran daily reported that the press court hadfound the publisher of the monthly Sobh guilty of insulting theMinister of Posts and Telegraphs and had imposed a fine and a one-monthsuspension.
16. In August 1997 a foreign wire service in Tehran reported new rulespromulgated by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance requiring thatIranian producers intending to sell international screening rights to foreigndistributors submit their contracts for ministerial approval.
17. In August 1997 a foreign radio service reported that Mr. Gholshirihad been prevented from leaving for Germany to meet with his publishersand translators.
18. In August 1997 the Tehran offices of the monthly Iran-e Fardawere reported to have been attacked by unidentified individuals. The deputyMinister for Culture and Islamic Guidance condemned the attack.
Information on the situation of the Baha'is
1. The Special Representative was informed that two Baha'is were killedin July 1997. Masha'llah Enayait, a 63-year-old Iranian Baha'i, died on4 July 1997 after being severely beaten while in custody in prison in Isfahan.He was arrested under circumstances that are not clear during a visit tohis native village of Ardistan to attend a Baha'i meeting. It was reportedthat on his death certificate, under the item "cause of death",the doctor had entered "will be known later". Another Baha'i,Shahram Reza'i, a conscript in the army, was shot in the head on 6 July1997 by his superior officer on a military base close to Rasht. The officerconcerned, who reportedly was responsible for weapons training, maintainedthat the bullets were fired in error and was released after a few days.It was said that because the dead soldier was a Baha'i, the court excusedthe officer from paying the blood money normally required in such cases.
2. The Special Representative was informed that 12 Baha'is continued tobe held in Iranian prisons allegedly because of their beliefs, among themBihnam Mithaqi and Kayvan Khalajabadi, who were visited by the SpecialRepresentative in Evin prison in February 1996. The Special Representativewas informed that after his visit the Supreme Court confirmed the deathsentences against them. They are reported to have written to the publicprosecutor asking for the verdict to be rescinded.
3. The death sentences imposed for apostasy against Musa Talibi and ZabihullahMahrami were also confirmed by the Supreme Court in January 1997, accordingto the information conveyed orally to their relatives during prison visits.The Special Representative, together with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial,summary or arbitrary executions, has sent a joint urgent appeal to theGovernment of the Islamic Republic of Iran concerning those cases.
4. Arman Damishqi and Kurush Dhabihi, arrested for misconduct in early1996, were reportedly told that they must recant their faith in order tobe freed. They refused to recant and were sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.It was further stated that Muslims who were arrested along with them forthe same offence were later released.
5. The Special Representative was informed that two Baha'is who were servinga three-year sentence, Mansur Haddadam and Kamyar Ruhi, had been convictedof being active in the Baha'i community, of gathering for Baha'i meetingsin a private house and of working against the security of the country byorganizing a Baha'i children's art exhibition.
6. Other Baha'is who are being held in Iranian prisons are Jamal Hajipurand Mansur Mihrabkhani, arrested on 19 May 1997 in Bujnurd, Nasir Iqani,arrested in August 1997 in Simnan, and Hushang Mazlumian, arrested in August1997 in Aliabad Gorgan.
7. The practices of arresting Baha'is and detaining them for short periodsand of summoning Baha'is to Ministry of Intelligence agencies on variouspretexts were also denounced. It was said that during the past three years,nearly 200 Baha'is were arrested and detained for periods ranging fromtwo days to six months.
8. The Special Representative was informed that a Baha'i holy place inOrumiyeh was demolished in December 1996 in order to construct a new building.This property belonged to a Baha'i organization, all of whose propertieshad been confiscated. It was in the possession of the Revolutionary Guards.
9. The Special Representative was also informed that the private ownershipof property by Baha'is continued to be generally disregarded. It denouncedthe recent attack on two houses owned by Baha'is, who were evicted andhad their furniture and belongings put out on the street. Actions to confiscatethe property of 10 other families were also reported. In addition, it wasalleged that the majority of Baha'is in the city of Yazd were prohibitedfrom conducting any business transactions.
Letters received from the Permanent Representative of the Islamic
Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva
1. Pursuant to several requests for information from the Special Representativeconcerning individual cases, the Permanent Representative of the IslamicRepublic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva sent the followingletters to the Special Representative.
2. On 27 February 1997, the Permanent Representative sent a letter to theSpecial Representative that read as follows:
"The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei,on the occasion of the Eid Al-Fitr and the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution,pardoned 782 prisoners, sentenced by the public, revolutionary and militarycourts ..."
3. In response to a letter from the Special Representative dated 11 February1997 concerning the arrest of Faraj Sarkouhi, the Permanent Representative,by a letter dated 7 March 1997, informed the Special Representative ofthe following:
"Mr. Faraj Sarkouhi, accompanied by his brother Ismail, was arrestedon 2 February 1997 while attempting to leave the country illegally.
"Mr. Ismail Sarkouhi was released immediately.
"Mr. Faraj Sarkouhi had been encouraged by foreign agents to writethe letter which he sent abroad. The letter's contents are groundless.
"At present, the investigation is going on and he is in a detentionhouse with all convenient means of life at his disposal.
"In detention, he has called his wife and children who live in Germanyand his other relatives in Shiraz.
"Soon, a court will examine publicly his charges."
4. By a letter dated 16 July 1997, the Permanent Representative repliedto a joint urgent appeal of the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summaryor arbitrary executions, on the promotion and protection of the right tofreedom of opinion and expression and on the independence of judges andlawyers and of the Special Representative, dated 2 July 1997, concerningMr. Sarkouhi, as follows:
"With reference to your joint appeal dated 2 July 1997, I would liketo draw your attention to the following information received from the authoritiesin Tehran:
(a) As he had stated in an interview, Mr. Faraj Sarkouhi left Tehran forGermany in November 1996. Therefore, any allegations about his detentionin this period is baseless;
(b) He had been arrested on 2 February 1997 on charges of espionage andattempting to leave the country illegally;
(c) He has been neither tried nor convicted. Therefore, any allegationin this respect is categorically denied;
(d) He enjoys and will enjoy all legal rights in conformity with the dueprocess of law, including the right to a fair trial and the right to adefence lawyer."
5. On 5 June 1997, the Permanent Representative replied to a letter fromthe Special Representative dated 16 April 1997 concerning the alleged poisoningwith thallium of 60 Iranian Kurdish refugees in the Bazian camp in Iraq,reportedly carried out by Iranian agents. The letter read as follows:
"With reference to your letter dated 16 April 1997, I would like toprovide you with the following communication received from the relevantauthorities in Tehran:
'The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran categorically rejects suchallegations. Since the alleged incident has occurred in the territory ofIraq, it was impossible to acquire any information.'"
6. The Permanent Representative, by means of a letter dated 20 June 1997,replied to a letter from the Special Representative dated 12 March 1997concerning the unrecognized arrest of Abbas Nava'i-Roshandel. The letterread as follows:
"Referring to your letter dated 12 March 1997, I would like to provideyou with the following information received from the relevant authoritiesfrom Tehran:
'The Police in their investigations have not found any record on the arrestor detention of Abbas Nava'i-Roshandel. However, provision of further informationsuch as his father's name and date and place of detention would facilitatethe investigation.'"
7. In response to a letter from the Special Representative dated 9 April1997 concerning the death under suspicious circumstances of Ebrahim Zalzadeh,the Permanent Representative, by a letter dated 14 August 1997, informedthe Special Representative of the following:
"With reference to your letter dated 9 April 1997, I would like todraw your attention to the following information received from the relevantauthorities:
'Death Certificate No. 10/5/1262, dated 14/02/79 (4 May 1997) issued bythe Forensic Department states that a sharp-pointed object has piercedMr. Ebrahim Zalzadeh's heart and has caused his death. The case is underinvestigation by the Police and the Judiciary.'"
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