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U.S. Department of State: Human right situation deteriorates in Iran

24 February 2011 [16:50] - TODAY.AZ
The United States remains deeply concerned by the persecution of Iranian citizens at the hand of their government, the official statement of the U.S. Department of State said.

“Over the past ten days, we have witnessed the bravery of thousands of Iranians who once again took to the streets to exercise their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and expression,” the statement said. “It has been made clear to the world that Iran denies its citizens the same fundamental rights it continues to applaud elsewhere in the Middle East.”

On 14 February, thousands of demonstrators came out in Tehran and other major Iranian cities - Isfahan, Shiraz, Kermanshah, and Gilan province. Organizers called a rally in solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia. However, Iranian security forces suppressed demonstrations across the country, reportedly attacking crowds with tear gas, paint bullets, sticks, electric batons and live ammunition. There were reports that some demonstrators were killed.

To undercut the demonstration effort, security forces in major cities across Iran have reportedly detained numerous activists and demonstrators. Authorities allegedly detained two student activists, Mohsen Barzegar and Hossein Zamen Zarrabi, taking them to an unknown location.

Kaleme website reported that on the evening of Feb. 14, security forces stormed the homes of Ali Bagheri of the Islamic Mujahedin Organization's Central Council, and Abdollah Nasseri, another member of the organization and former head of the Islamic Republic News Agency during the Khatami administration, and detained them.

Previously, Iranian authorities refused to issue an assembly permit for the planned demonstration applied by two opposition leaders - Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

On Monday, security forces surrounded the houses of several reformist politicians. Former President Mohammad Khatami and Abdollah Nouri, Interior Minister during Khatami’s administration, were unable to leave their homes as forces surrounded them.

Since last Thursday, security forces have had the home of former speaker of the parliament Mehdi Karroubi surrounded. Authorities have blocked the streets leading to the homes of the opposition leaders Moussavi and Karroubi with police vehicles and plainclothes forces, and disconnected their phone lines. Moussavi and Karroubi and their wives were not allowed to leave their homes to join the demonstrations.

According to the statement, Iran’s leaders also continue to persecute ethnic and religious minorities.

“We are troubled by reports that, of the dozens of prisoners executed in 2011, most are ethnic minorities,” the official statement underscored. “At the same time, Baha’is and other religious minorities continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, harsh sentences, and unsafe prison conditions. We call on Iran to free all political prisoners and persecuted minorities.”

At least 86 people have been executed since the start of 2011, according to information received by the six human rights organizations. They are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the International Federation for Human Rights, and its affiliate, the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights.

At least eight of those executed in January were political prisoners, convicted of “enmity against God” (moharebeh) for participating in demonstrations, or for their alleged links to opposition groups.

The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the international community to speak out time and again, the statement underlined.

On 23 February, the United States slapped financial and travel sanctions on two Iranian government officials, who were implicated in a crackdown on protesters in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 elections.

The US targeted Mohammed Reza Naqdi, Commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Basij militia forces, as well as the Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, who charged many protesters with crimes that carried the death penalty.

On 29 September 2010, the United States government blacklisted eight Iranian officials under the terms of Executive Order 13553, which freezes assets located in the United States of those designated, and subjects them to visa bans.

According to the statement, the world will continue to watch and will hold accountable those responsible for these actions.

“The United States joins the international community in affirming the universal rights to which all men and women - in Iran and around the world - are entitled,” the statement said.


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