Death penalty sanctions expression of opinion

Press release

Following the sentencing to death of two journalists belonging to the Kurdish minority, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) express their deep concern regarding the serious violations of freedom of expression and the conditions of administration of justice in Iran.

Mr. Adnan Hassanpour and Mr. Abdoulvahed (also known as Hiwa) Boutimar, two Kurdish journalists and active members of Iranian civil society were sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal in Marivan, on 17 July 2007. The two men were convicted on grounds of espionage, attacks upon national security, the diffusion of separatist propaganda, treason and collaboration with Kurdish political opposition parties.

FIDH and LDDHI condemn these sanctions and calls for the journalists’ fair trial when appealing their sentences, and subsequent release:

- Indeed, FIDH and LDDHI have strong reasons to believe that the charges held against the two journalists are baseless but rather prove the authorities’ aim to silence any critical voice or defendant of the Kurdish minority in Iran. Over the past months, Iranian authorities have persecuted and arrested over 150 members of Iranian-Kurdistan civil society. Many of these individuals have been subjected to inordinate judicial punishment. Mr. Hassanpour is a member of the Iranian Kurdistan Journalist Association as well as a reporter for the Aso newspaper, a publication banned by Iranian authorities. Iran’s Kurdish population, numbering approximately 10 million, have previously been labeled as "enemies" of Iran and "children of Satan" by the leadership’s most senior figures.

- Moreover, since their arrest the two men would have been severely tortured. They were held incommunicado, without access to a lawyer. The trial is thus marred by arbitrariness, in violation of Iran’s international obligations.

- In this context, FIDH and LDDHI specially condemn the imposition of death penalty, sanctioning the exercise of the human right to freedom of opinion and expression. Iran violates its obligations under the international covenant for civil and political rights (ICCPR) according to which freedom of expression and opinion should not be unduly limited, and according to which countries which have not abolished death penalty should only impose the death sentence for the most serious crimes.

FIDH and LDDHI call upon the Iranian authorities to duly respect their country’s international obligations, and implement the recommendations addressed by the UN Special rapporteur on Freedom of expression as well as the UN Working group on Arbitrary Detention.

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