Five Hanged in Secret, Twenty Seven others Facing Hangman’s Noose

(9 May 2010) The sudden execution of five Iranian political prisoners today appears to signal a government policy of relying on politically-motivated executions to strengthen its position vis-à-vis its opposition through terror and intimidation, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said.

The Campaign condemned the execution of five political prisoners, including Farzad Kamangar, a 34-year-old teacher and social worker, who was charged with Moharebeh (taking up arms against God), convicted and sentenced to death in February 2008, after a seven-minute long trial in which “zero evidence” was presented. Four others also executed included Shirin Alam Holi, Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili and Mehdi Eslamian.

“Kamangar was arbitrarily arrested and set up to be killed in a staged trial, with no opportunity to present a defense,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

“These secret executions are, in reality, nothing more than state-sanctioned murders, and provide more evidence of the Islamic Republic’s brazen contempt for international human rights standards,” he said.

Kamangar’s lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, told the Campaign that he was in shock because judicial authorities had reassured him and Kamanger that the charges against his client have been found to be baseless and he was no longer in danger of execution. Expressing his bewilderment at the contradiction between the authorities’ assurances that Kamangar is found innocent and his sudden execution, Bahramian said “I don’t know what forces are behind these executions that can demonstrate complete disregard for the Judiciary’s own rules and regulations.”

“I keep thinking this is a bad nightmare and I am going to wake up from it and Farzad is alive. It just doesn’t make sense,” he said. Kamangar’s family have also told the media that they had received similar assurances and no one had informed them of the execution, either before or after it had taken place.

Shirin Alam Holi, a 28- year- old Kurdish women was also executed today. In several letters recently written from Evin prison she denied charges of terrorism against her and said she had been tortured to make such false confessions in front of television cameras, which she had refused.

Bahramian who also represented Alam Holi said he had sent a letter to Ayatollah Khamanei urging a review of her case by independent judges.

At least sixteen Kurdish political prisoners and eleven post-election protestors are in danger of similar unannounced and sudden executions.

The Campaign and other human rights, teachers and labor rights organizations have fought strenuously for Kamangar’s life. In a letter of 31 July 2008, the Campaign appealed to the then Head of Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, to commute his sentence and investigate a series of major legal irregularities, breaches of due process and grave human rights violations, which occurred in the course of his arrest, incarceration, and trial.

Kamangar was held incommunicado for seven months after his arrest in July 2006. There is strong evidence that Kamangar was tortured.

His lawyer has stated that no evidence could be found in his interrogation records, file, or in presentations by prosecutors or the judge’s decision to support the charge of Mohareb.

Kamagar’s trial lasted no more than seven (7) minutes, three (3) of which were consumed by reading the indictment against him. Neither Kamangar nor his lawyer was permitted to speak at the trial.

The sixteen other Kurdish prisoners in danger of execution are: Zeinab Jalilian, Habibollah Latifi, Shirkoo Moarefi, Hussein Khazri, Rostam Arkia, Mostafa Salimi, Anvar Rostami, Rashid Akhkandi, Mohammad Amin Agooshi, Ahmad Pooladkhani, Seyed Sami Husseini, Seyed Jamal Mohammadi, Hasan Talei, Iraj Mohammadi, Mohammad Amin Abdollahi and Ghader Mohammadzadeh.

The nine post-election protestors facing execution include: Mohammad-Amin Valian, Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Ali Aghaee, Abdolreza Ghanberi, Motahareh Bahrami, Mohsen Daneshpour, Ahmad Daneshpour, Rayhaneh Haj Ebrahim, Hadi Ghaemi (not related to the Campaign’s director of the same name).

To raise awareness regarding political executions in Iran, the Campaign has released this short video that can be viewed at: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/end-executions/ .