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Iran's shameful abuse of human rights continues

Foreign Secretary William Hague has condemned Iran's widespread abuse of its citizens' human rights as a "disgrace" and a "shameful indictment of Iran's leaders".

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These include:

  • The hanging of four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority in secret in June for ‘enmity against God’. The fate of a further two men remains unclear. The six men, Abd al-Rahman Heidari, Taha Heidari, Jamshid Heidari, Mansour Heidari, Ali Sharifi and Amir Muawi were held for over a year and reports suggest they were denied access to lawyers and interpreters.
  • Just a few weeks later in July, a further five members of the Ahwazi Arab minority were sentenced to death, with a sixth man facing a 20 year prison sentence. Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri, Hadi Rashidi and Rahman Asakereh have reportedly been denied a fair trial and information on their convictions, and reports suggest they have been tortured in detention. Two of the men were forced to confess on Iranian state television and Iranian international broadcaster Press TV.
  • The hanging on 12 July of Safieh Ghafouri on a murder charge. She confessed under duress and her conviction is considered unsafe. She is reported to have been raped by multiple men in prison and led to the gallows under the pretence of being taken to the prison visitors room.
  • Continued persecution of other religious minorities, such as Christian Pastor Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for apostasy, and more recently Farah Hesami, a member of the Baha’I faith, arrested without being notified of her conviction by the Revision Court as required by Iranian law.
  • Denial of medical treatment to seriously ill prisoners (many serving excessive sentences on spurious charges), such as Pastor Behnam Irani and Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand.

The UK Government remains concerned about a large number of ongoing cases, such as Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, originally sentenced to death by stoning. Her fate remains unknown and her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, has reportedly been tortured in prison.

The UK continues to press Iran to address its human rights record and fully supports the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Human Rights, Dr Ahmed Shaheed. The recent FCO Annual Human Rights and Democracy report made clear the UK Government’s ongoing concerns about Iran’s record. With EU and international partners, the UK continues to raise cases of particular concern with the Iranian authorities and we work closely with NGOs and human rights defenders to gather information on individual cases.

Commenting on the recent cases, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I am deeply disturbed by the human rights abuses perpetrated by Iran in recent months. The torture and sentencing to death of Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi, from the Ahwazi Arab minority comes less than a month after the secret execution in June of four other members of this minority group. This sets a very worrying trend. The shocking mistreatment in prison of Safieh Ghafouri and her sudden execution is yet a further example of Iran’s utter disregard for the most fundamental human rights.

“Sadly, these are not isolated incidents and many other Iranians are currently suffering at the hands of their Government. Iran’s continued, widespread persecution of ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and political prisoners is a disgrace and stands as a shameful indictment of Iran’s leaders. The Iranian Government should know that its systematic attempt to curtail the freedom of its citizens will not go unchallenged by the international community and only adds to its isolation. I call on Iran immediately to commute these death sentences, to stop torturing its citizens and to end the systematic persecution of its ethnic minorities.”

Published 24 August 2012