Call on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Urge Suspension of Executions

Zeynab Jalalian

(28 June 2010) The Iranian Judiciary should immediately suspend all execution sentences of political prisoners and initiate a thorough and independent review of these cases, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

Kurdish political prisoner Zeynab Jalalian, 27, faces imminent execution, as her case has reached the final implementation stage. In addition to Jalalian, at least fifteen other Kurdish political prisoners are on the death row.

“We are appealing to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to intervene in this case, and to do all in her power to halt Zeynab’s execution,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.

“We are calling upon the Iranian authorities to bring to a halt what appears to be the systematic extermination of Kurdish political prisoners in Iran,” he said.

The office of the High Commissioner is one of the only international actors engaged with Iranian government officials over the situation of human rights. The Campaign believes that the High Commissioner’s intervention with regard to death sentences against political prisoners is essential in urging the Iranian Judiciary to halt these unfair sentences and be held accountable.

Four Kurdish political prisoners, including teacher and social worker Farzad Kamangar, were executed on 9 May along with one other man. At least 15 other Kurdish political prisoners are on death row in Iran.

Jalalian, accused of connections with Kurdish opposition groups, was sentenced to death for Moharebeh, or “enmity against God,” in January 2009.  Iran’s Supreme Court approved the sentence in November of that year.  According to information received by the Campaign, Jalalian’s prosecution did not produce  any evidence of her engaging in armed activity against the state, which is the legal basis for the charge of Moharebeh under Iranian law.

Khalil Bahramian and Mohammad Sharif, two prominent human rights lawyers, have attempted to represent Jalalian, but the authorities have prevented them from taking up the case.

Jalalian is currently held in Ward 209 of Evin prison in Tehran, which is managed by the Ministry of Intelligence. She was originally held in Kermanshah prison, in Western Iran. The Campaign has learned that in March 2010, Jalalian was removed from Kermanshah prison by unknown agents without any legal justification. The Campaign is seriously concerned that during that period she may have been subjected to sexual abuse.

“The entire case is so full of irregularities that the authorities are obligated  immediately to investigate the circumstances of her detention and trial. The life of a young women hangs in the balance;  her execution will be interpreted as another state-sanctioned murder in cold blood,” Ghaemi said.

The other 15 Kurdish political prisoners on death row are: 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.

During the past year, lawyers representing political prisoners have been threatened and intimidated not to advocate on behalf of their clients. It appears the Iranian Intelligence Ministry and Judiciary attempt to prevent any public disclosure of information about such prisoners, in order to carry out the death sentences in secret and evade any accountability.