New death sentences for political activists

Press release

FIDH and LDDHI express their utmost concern at the recent condemnation to death of three Kurdish activists by an Iranian revolutionary tribunal.

Farzad Kamangar, teacher and member of the Kamyaran teacher’s association (in the Kurdish province in North West of Iran), was also an active member of a local human rights organization banned by the government. Farhad Vakili was an employee in the Ministry of Agriculture in Sanandaj and Ali Heydarian was a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Farzad Kamangar was arrested in July 2006 in Tehran. Farzad Kamangar was held in a secret place, where he has reportedly been violently tortured; he was notably beaten - in particular on the sensitive parts -, insulted and subjected to electric chocks of which he still has after-effects today. He was then transferred to the Evin prison, in the infamous section 209, reserved to political prisoners, and then to the Sanandaj prison. He was held incommunicado for nearly eight months, without access to a lawyer, without any contact with his relatives, even by phone.

He has reportedly been subjected on several occasions to acts of torture during this period. He was then transferred to the Evin prison again and appeared before a revolutionary tribunal in May 2007. Since November 2007, he is held in Rajay Shahr high security prison, where dangerous criminals condemned for ordinary crimes are also being held.

The three men’s trial took place on January 31, 2008 behind closed doors; the defendants were assisted by lawyers. Accused of having collaborated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), they were sentenced to death. The sentence was notified to them on February 25. Their lawyers will appeal this sentence.

FIDH and LDDHI recall that the political activists belonging to ethnic minorities, notably Kurdish, are regularly accused of terrorism in Iran. They are condemned to heavy sentences after blatantly unfair trials.

FIDH and LDDHI call upon the Iranian authorities to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry into the allegations of torture against Farzad Kamangar, and to prosecute those responsible for such acts. They also call upon the Iranian courts to reject any confession obtained under torture, in accordance with international law, and in particular with Article 15 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Finally, they call upon the government to stop persecuting political activists under the guise of the fight against terrorism. The fight against terrorism can under no circumstance justify exceptions to the universally recognized principle of the absolute prohibition of torture.

FIDH and LDDHI ask the European Union, based on the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture on the one hand, and on the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on the death penalty on the other, to recall to the Islamic Republic of Iran its international obligations in these fields.

FIDH finally recalls that the UN Special Rapporteur against torture asked to visit Iran in 2005, request on which the Iranian authorities are yet to take action.

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