[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Defenders of Human Rights Center

[Date:] 30 Azar 1390 [21 December 2011]

 

Mahnaz Parakand, Lawyer

The Report to Mr. Ahmad Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur

Dear Mr. Ahmad Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur,

With greetings and respect, this is to inform you that I, Mahnaz Parakand, am a lawyer, a defender of human rights and member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, who, before and after the tenth presidential elections of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has defended many of the accused political, ideological and human rights activists. Therefore, I have witnessed many cases of human rights violations of people by the security institutions and the judiciary of the Islamic Republic.  I request that you consider this report as evidence of the human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran:

  1. The scale of human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran has spread to such a degree that its flames have engulfed the lawyers and the human rights defenders. Human rights defenders who defend the political, ideological, civil rights and trade union activists in the courts of the Islamic Revolution of Iran face all kinds of harassment and repeated threats on a daily basis.  The following are some of them:

A - Disrespecting the defence by preventing the lawyers from entering and leaving freely in some courts, particularly the revolutionary courts. …

  1. Threatening or encouraging the accused to dismiss an independent lawyer and human rights defender.

In order to put more pressure on the defendants and deprive them of their right to legal services, the judges or the clerks of the court branch either threaten the defendants by saying that if they do not dismiss their lawyer, they will receive a harsher sentence, or deceive them by saying that if the lawyer is dismissed, the sentence may be suspended or reduced to a lighter punishment. …

Experience has shown that these pressures and obstacles in the absence of a lawyer in the courts are due to the fact that the judges can hold a trial without the presence of the brave lawyers who are familiar with the principles of a fair trial and the defence rights.  In this way, the judges can force the defendants to confess to the criminal acts of their choice [which the defendants did not commit].

 

  1. Preventing the lawyers from leaving the country and preventing them from attending the international forums:

… .Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, one of the lawyers, after years of being prevented from leaving the country, finally received permission to leave the country in 2009 and his travel ban was lifted. He was awarded the Nuremberg Prize for Human Rights in 2009 and had to travel to Nuremberg in Germany to receive it, but as soon as he tried to prepare to leave [Iran] to receive the prize, he was banned [again] from leaving the country within the same year and within 10 days from the day the restraint was removed. He was again barred from leaving Nuremberg and was unable to attend the ceremony for the Nuremberg Prize for Human Rights.  He was under restraint from leaving [the country] until his recent arrest.

  1. Lawyers threatened with arrest and the filing of a political case by security officials and some judges of the revolutionary courts to prevent political and ideological defendants from being represented …
  2. Issuing illegal rulings on revoking the licences of some lawyers and pressuring the Bar Associations to revoke the licences of the human rights lawyers …
  3. Another pressure that endangers the independence of the Bar Association is the approval of a regulation by the judiciary.  This means suspending the validity of the lawyers’ licences depending on the approval of the deputy of the judiciary …
  4. Summoning, arresting and issuing heavy sentences against lawyers and human rights defenders:

A- Ms. Shirin Ebadi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center of Iran. …

B- Mrs. Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on 13 Shahrivar 1389 [4 September 2010] after referring to the court located in Ward 209 of Evin Prison. … She has been in prison since that time and has two children, aged four and eleven years old, and has faced a lot of restriction for visiting her children. ...

C- Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, one of the founders of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, who was sentenced to nine years in prison by a court of first instance on charges of participating in the establishment of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, conspiracy to act against national security and propaganda activities against national security. ...

D- Mr. Mohammad Dadkhah, another founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison and deprivation of the right to practice law on charges of participating in the establishment of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, conspiracy to act against national security and propaganda activities against national security….

E- Dr. Hadi Esmailzadeh, a member of the High Supervisory Council of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, who was summoned to the court in Evin Prison and interrogated on charges of membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center, conspiracy to act against national security and propaganda activities against the regime.  He was eventually released on bail and his case is still open.

F- Ms. Nasim Ghanavi, one of the lawyers working with the Defenders of Human Rights Center and the lawyer of Mrs. Sotoudeh, was summoned to the court located in Evin Prison and interrogated on charges of membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center, conspiracy to act against the national security and propaganda activities against the regime.

G- Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, another founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was arrested by security agents on 19 Shahrivar 1390 [10 September 2011] and transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison.  His arrest came as he had gone to study the case of his clients, who were Baha’i ideological defendants, and professors at the Baha’i online university [Baha’i Institute for Higher Education]. After he had left the branch, he was arrested by the security agents.  In his absence, they went to his office, broke down the door and searched his office. The charges against Mr. Soltani are the same as those charges against Mr. Seifzadeh and Mr. Dadkhah.  Another charge has been added to Mr. Soltani’s charges, namely [winning] the Nuremberg Prize for Human Rights, which is not a crime under any domestic or international law. …

H- I, Mahnaz Parakand, have spent five years of my student life and the best years of my life between the ages of 22 and 27 in the prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and am well acquainted with the bitter, burning and deadly taste of torture. The reason for my arrest in 1360 [1981] was my student activity and participation in the protest march of 30 Khordad [1360] [20 June 1981]. … For this reason, like all other detainees and prisoners in the 1980s (known as the 1360s), I was subjected to severe torture in Evin and Ghezel Hesar prisons, to the extent that after 30 years, its effects and remnants are still not healed, and it hurts my body and soul.

 

Mr. Ahmad Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur,

In the first year of my detention, after a difficult period of interrogation combined with torture, I was tried and sentenced to death in less than a minute of the court hearing, in the presence of my torturer, without the right to defence. It should be noted that I did not receive a copy of the ruling, and consequently had no right to object to the sentence. After a few months, I was verbally informed that my death sentence had been changed to life imprisonment, and after enduring five years in prison with constant fear of torture and execution, I was finally released as a result of the humanitarian efforts of the late Ayatollah Montazeri. …

In this regard, I have represented many human rights activists, trade union and student activists, political activists and Baha’is.  Some of my clients and the subjects of their cases:

A- Seven leaders of the Baha’i Community of Iran: These seven individuals are accused of forming the perverse Baha’i sect (meaning the Baha’i community in Iran); espionage (the reason for this accusation was my submitting a report to the UN representatives about the harassment and restrictions of the Baha’is in Iran and their deprivations of education and occupation, the destruction of their homes and cemeteries, the non-issuance of passports and marriage documents to them, and so on); assembly and collusion with the intention of acting against national security—propaganda activities against the national security by propagating Baha’ism and finally by relying on a fatwa [religious decree] muharabah [1] and corruption on earth by propagating Baha’ism.

The seven leaders of the Baha’i community who have been in prison since 1387 [2008] have been subjected to unfounded political accusations solely for their belief in the Baha’i Faith.  They have been illegally interrogated and investigated in violation of all current national and international regulations and their case was tried in court in the same way, which initially led to the issuance of the sentence of 20 years in prison.  After an appeal in the Court of Appeals, the judgment rendered by the court of first instance on the charge of espionage was quashed and the charge of forming and managing the Baha’i community of Iran was upheld, which resulted in 10 years of imprisonment.  Unfortunately, while we, the lawyers, were pursuing the appeal and studying the case for retrial, and none of the branches of the Court of First Instance and the Enforcement of Judgments responded to us, it was reported that the attorney general had requested a retrial. The sentence of 10 years of imprisonment in court has been increased to 20 years of imprisonment, without any copy of the sentence being provided to the lawyers or the accused; nor were the lawyers notified of the formation of the court nor given permission to defend their clients!!!

At present, the clients are serving a 20-year sentence, with the least facilities for a prisoner, in Rajaei-Shahr prison. One of these seven people is Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, 78 years old, who has many physical problems due to his old age. There are six other members, two of whom are Mrs. Mahvash Shahriari and Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi; the males are Mr. Behrouz Azizi Tavakkoli, Saied Rezaie Tazangi, Afif Naeimi and Vahid Tizfahm. …

* After the 10th presidential election, a number of believers in the Baha’i Faith were subjected to the anger of the judiciary and the country’s security services and were faced with unfounded accusations of propaganda against the regime for teaching the Baha’i Faith.

* I was in charge of defending a number of libertarian and egalitarian students who were arrested in 1387 [2008] ….

* Mrs. Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is a lawyer and human rights activist

* Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, a lawyer, human rights activist and one of the founders of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran

* Ms. Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, human rights activist and one of the founders and president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran …

* A number of detainees in Kahrizak. …

Throughout the advocacy and defence of my clients in revolutionary courts, I was under pressure and faced insults and threats made under various pretexts by the judges of revolutionary courts, the staff of these courts, as well as the security officials related to my clients’ cases.  Below I will mention some examples of the actions of the branches of the revolutionary courts and the security officers and will leave the judgment to you.

… In one of the hearings on the charges against seven members of the Baha’i community in Iran, the judge pointed at me with his index finger in the presence of all those present in the court, and after hearing my legal objection, he said, “You, who were sentenced and condemned by me, do not speak.” In fact, by these statements he intended to intimidate me and prevent me from defending my clients.  The judge of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, known as Judge Moghiseh, under various headings, has repeatedly threatened to try me in the court by himself.

The revolutionary courts do not provide any copy of the verdicts to the lawyer of the political and ideological defendants, and only allow the lawyer to study the verdict in the records office of the court and then force the lawyer to sign the court verdict papers and confess to having been notified; while according to the code of Iranian procedure, the notification of the verdict can be achieved only by submission of a copy of it to the addressee.

In one of the cases in which I was representing the seven leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran who had been sentenced to ten years in prison, after reviewing the verdict in the Court of Appeals, I was asked to confirm notification [by signing] under the notice of the verdict. When they were confronted with my written objection to the non-notification and non-observance of the legal criteria, the judge of the Court of Appeals accused me of having the same religion as my clients and being a Zionist.  When he was confronted with my objection for stepping over neutrality, insulting and criminal, he explicitly said, “I will say it again and I will accept the consequences.”  Of course, he had the right to say this, since he knew that there were no consequences for him and he had immunity. …

 

Dear Mr. Ahmad Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur,

The following are some of the formal provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which have been systematically violated by security officials, prosecutors, detention centres and courts in political and ideological cases before revolutionary courts:

* Illegal arrest of some of the accused ...

* Failure to comply with the directives of the Judiciary …

* According to Article 23 of the Constitution, inquisition of belief is prohibited. … while in political and ideological cases many of the questions raised had the aspect of inquisition …

* Failure to disclose the charge and failure to disclose the reasons for the charge to political and ideological defendants: ...

* Keeping political and ideological defendants in solitary confinement without any legal documents….

* Sometimes in the revolutionary courts, the lawyers are prevented from sitting next to their clients and even prevented from talking to their clients. …

* Political and ideological prisoners are brought to the court with handcuffs and foot restraints; this is against the provisions of the Prisons Organization’s bylaws. …

* Failure to observe the principle of [transparency] of the proceedings in the revolutionary courts. …

Unfortunately, throughout the investigation of political and ideological defendants, the defendants are denied the right to a lawyer. 

 

Defenders of Human Rights Center

 

 

[1] [Muharabah: In Islamic law, the crime of muharabah is taking up arms against the Islamic government or Islamic laws.  An individual who commits the crime is a muharib.]