Ten Ahwazi Arab rights activists are scheduled to be hanged in Iran this week, according the Iranian media.
They were found guilty – allegedly after confessions were extracted by torture rather than by any hard evidence – of bombing oil installations. Their “confessions” are due to be broadcast on Iranian TV tonight.
They will by hanged from cranes in public, using the slow strangulation method, which is deliberately designed to maximise and prolong their suffering.
Please urge the EU Foreign Minister, Javier Solana, to lobby Tehran to commute the death sentences.
Javier Solana: presse [DOT] cabinet [AT] consilium [DOT] europa [DOT] eu
Also contact the British Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, and ask her to urge the UN Secretary General to press the Iranian government to exercise clemency:
Margaret Beckett: sosfa-action [AT] fco [DOT] gov [DOT] uk
Phone your MP or Congressman/woman and request that they press Javier Solana to petition Tehran to halt the hangings.
The campaign against the executions is backed in the UK by Labour MP Chris Bryant, Tory MP Michael Gove and Green MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert.
Writing to UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, Dr Lucas said:
“These executions seem to be part of a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Ahwazi Arabs, who make up three per cent of Iran ‘s population, and the international community must intervene to stop them. ”
“All 10 men were tortured into making false confessions. None had a fair trial, according to both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”
According to UK MEP, Jean Lambert, the mens’ lawyers were not allowed to see them prior to their trial and they were given the prosecution case only hours before the start of the court proceedings, which were held in secret.
“The men must be released without charge or face new fair trials in accordance with internationally accepted standards,” insists Lambert, a view echoed by Amnesty International:
“Amnesty International recognizes that there have been acts of violence in Khuzestan province which have led to injuries and deaths among the civilian population. It also acknowledges that the Iranian government has a responsibility to bring to justice those who commit criminal offences. However, in carrying out this responsibility the Iranian authorities must abide by relevant international human rights law and standards.”
Human Rights Watch confirms that the trials and convictions were not fair and transparent:
“All the men were charged with armed activity against the state and were tried before Revolutionary Courts. Human Rights Watch spoke with one of the two defense lawyers for the men sentenced most recently, who confirmed that all trials were held behind closed doors and without any independent and impartial observers present.”
HRW too has called for a retrial.
“We always oppose the death penalty, because it is cruel and flawed. But sentencing people to death after such an inadequate trial is especially outrageous,” said HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson.
- In related news, the lawyers representing two women sentenced to death by stoning for engaging in “inappropriate relationships” with men announced that their clients will face new trials this week.