The government of Iran continues its assault on the rights of the Iranian people.
An Iranian court has upheld prison sentences of up to thirty months for three Amir Kabir University students. Majid Tavakkoli, Ahmad Ghassaban and Ehsan Mansouri were convicted of what they say are trumped-up charges of publishing material insulting to Islam. The three have been confined to Evin prison since their arrest in the spring of 2007. Their families claim they have been subject to severe physical and psychological torture.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently called for an investigation into allegations of torture involving three other imprisoned Iranian students. Behrouz Karimizadeh, Peyman Piran, and Ali Kantouri were arrested and detained in December 2007. Mr. Piran and Mr. Karimizadeh are believed to be in solitary confinement in Evin prison. Mr. Kantouri, who is being held in Ghezel Hesar prison in the city of Karaj, reportedly had his ribs broken under interrogation when he refused to be filmed admitting to false charges.
Women’s rights activists are also suffering at the hands of government authorities. Parvin Ardalan, who was recently awarded Sweden’s Olof Palme prize for her work in support of women’s equality, has been charged with spreading propaganda against the government.
Two Kurdish Iranian women’s rights activists, Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi remain in prison after five months, and were recently accused of endangering national security. Three other women – Marzieh Mortazi, Nasrin Afzali, and Nahid Jafari have been given suspended lashing and jail sentences after taking part in a peaceful equal rights rally. The sentences will be carried out if they are found guilty of another crime within two years.
U.S. President George Bush was recently asked why he refused to meet without preconditions with the leaders of Iran. His answer speaks to the plight of Iranians who suffer to promote human rights:
“What’s lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What’s lost is it will send the wrong message. It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.”
Iran’s leaders are keeping the Iranian people from “realizing their true rights,” says President Bush. The U.S. strongly supports the aspirations of Iran’s citizens to live in freedom.