Gross human rights abuses continue to take place in Iran.
It's been two months since prominent human rights activist Kouhyar Goudarzi was arrested by Iranian authorities, who refuse to say where he is or what has happened to him. His roommate Behnam Ganji was arrested at the same time, held for several days in Evin prison, and released.
Acquaintances in Iran report Mr. Ganji was put under intense pressure in prison to incriminate Mr. Goudarzi. Three weeks after his release, Mr. Ganji committed suicide. In a tragic spiral, on September 28th a mutual friend, blogger Nahal Sahabi, also committed suicide. Mr. Goudarzi's mother, Parvin Mokhtareh, who had previously highlighted the regime's persecution of her son, was jailed in the city of Kerman, accused of insulting the Supreme Leader.
The plight of Mr. Goudarzi, the tragic deaths of his friends, and the detention of his mother are deeply disturbing.
In a recent statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that "despite statements from Iran's Supreme Leader and president claiming support for the rights and freedoms of Iranian citizens and people in the region, the government continues its crackdown on all forms of dissent, belief and assembly." She cited the case of Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been facing execution on the charge of apostasy for refusing to recant his faith. Now, after an international outcry, there are reports the Iranian government has changed the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani to spurious accusations of rape, extortion, and security-related crimes -– death penalty offenses as well.
Secretary Clinton also deplored the Iranian government's continuing campaign against independent filmmakers and journalists. Last month, authorities arrested several documentary makers on vague and unsupported charges of collaborating with the BBC. Reporters without Borders says that seven journalists were arrested during the months of August and September, none of whom has been charged with a crime or given access to a lawyer.
Secretary of State Clinton said, "The United States stands with the international community and all Iranians against the Iranian government's hypocritical statements and actions, and we continue to call for a government that respects the human rights and freedom of all those living in Iran."