Thursday, July 9, 2009

Risk of execution looms for dissidents in Iran

Desperate to regain control over a country that has been rocked by recent uprisings and mass protests, the Iranian government has made it clear that they will stop at nothing to restore order.

Urge Iran's leaders not to seek the death penalty for political activists who stood in support of dissident voices during post-election protests.

Dear fellow citizens,

Four prominent politicians are being held in the notorious section 209 of Evin prison, where incommunicado detention and torture are routine and deaths in custody have occurred. The men face indefinite detention all because they publicly supported either Mir Hossein Mousavi – who according to the Guardian Council lost the disputed election – or the other "reformist" presidential candidate, Mehdi Karroubi.

Powerful Iranian government officials want to make an example out of well-known opposition leaders by charging them with serious offenses, where if found guilty, they could be sentenced to death.

These four opposition leaders are at risk of facing this senseless and brutal punishment unless we show Iran's leaders that even the harshest of sentences will not silence the Iranian people's calls for justice and human rights.

Remind the Iranian government that the world is still watching. Demand the release of opposition leaders from Tehran's infamous Evin prison.
Iranian girl holds a Where is my vote sign

We have strong reasons to fear that these four men – Ali Abtahi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Mohsen Aminzadeh and Abdollah Ramazanzadeh – are already experiencing Evin prison's infamous practices of severe torture first-hand.

For over three weeks now, these four men have been locked away without any official charges. Since being taken from their homes, they have had no contact with family members or lawyers. If the Iranian government thinks that it can coerce genuine confessions from these men using these disdainful tactics, then they are sorely mistaken.

But there are signs that Iran's wall is penetrable. Just last week, Mohammed Mostafaei, a lawyer mostly known for his work in defending juvenile defenders in death penalty cases, was released from Evin prison. While he must still face charges in court, he is at least free from the immediate threat of torture.

Call on Iranian authorities to release opposition leaders from Evin prison immediately.

Almost one month has passed since a flood of activism was unleashed on the streets of Iran. Over 2,200 people were arrested in the post-election unrest. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad most recently gave a speech on state television1 insisting that the meddling of Western nations was the cause of the violence. But as the fight shifts from off the streets and into the courtroom, it is imperative that all eyes stay fixed on those who stood up in opposition.

Since the post-election violence broke out, nearly 30,000 Amnesty activists have put the pressure on Iranian authorities by sending a firestorm of emails and letters to their offices. We've got to keep up this intensity if we want to get through to them that the responsibility for protecting human rights cannot be deflected, nor will it be forgotten.

This is an opportunity for the leaders in Iran to prove to the world that they are ready to embrace change. Until they do, we cannot lose sight of what continues to be the driving force for so many in Iran – an unrelenting need to protect human rights.

In Solidarity --

Elise, Zahir, Christoph and the rest of the Iran crisis response team
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