To The UN Special Rapporteur: Number Of Iranians Killed Is A Tragedy, Not A Mere Statistic


CNN -The United Nations Human Rights Council has recently designated  former Maldives foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed as the Special Rapporteur  to investigate the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of  Iran. Renowned Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad  (photo) has written him an open  letter.

Original Farsi-langauge appeal:

To Dr. Ahmed Shaheed

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran

Allow me to begin with my best wishes for a great success in your new mission.

Twenty six months have passed since the 2009 Presidential elections in Iran  and the waves of mass protests that followed. Peaceful protests were met  with the large-scale shutdown of free communication, censorship of  independent press, dismantling of opposition parties and a bloody  crackdown on protesting citizens, leading to the arrest and  incarceration of tens of thousands of political activists, party  leaders, members of s– particularly those of journalists,  students, teachers–and workers across the country.

The government claimed that only three people were killed as a result of  torture in prison, but based on credible local media outlets who had  interviewed at least forty seven families with dead family members, the real number  is in excess of official figures. Many Iranian reporters believe that  the number of people killed in the aftermath of the elections was  significantly higher– this notwithstanding that the raping and murdering of  prisoners and government critics began long before the 2009 elections.

Iran is a part of the global community, and hence it is obligated to respect  and to uphold certain ethical and internationally recognized values.  Based on Section 7 of  the International Criminal Laws, organized military  action against unarmed citizens of a country constitutes crimes against  humanity.

Many families of the slain protesters in Iran are given renewed hope  that, with your appointment as a special Rapporteur of the United Nations  for human rights issues in Iran, their voices will be heard and the global  silence and dismissive outlook will be broken. I recognize that this  issue is not unique to Iran. The blood baths running through Syria do  not seem to have raised as much global outrage as they should have. The global silence about these cries for justice, more than ever,  cultivates the notion that the “death of one man is a tragedy, but the  death of millions, a statistic.”

Throughout the course of the two years since the 2009 elections,  despite mounting pressures and intimidations, the families of the  victims have broken their silence and repeatedly reported their painful  cases.

Formal requests by a number of families to meet with the UN  special Rapporteur have been published in the Persian-language media. At  least three families have expressed to me personally their desire to  attend a meeting with a UN representative in order to report and request  an investigation into the murder of their loved ones. I will refer to  these in the final paragraphs of my letter.

The real reporters of violence and carnage that has taken place in  these countries, including Iran, are in fact these families who keep  ignoring the enormous pressures and threats and continue to report and  disseminate the information and details of the deaths of these Iranian  citizens.

In the early days of the protests, many families reported  these deaths to the investigative committee set up for such cases. The  committee in turn published more than seventy names of the slain protesters,  the fact or fallacy of which required investigation and a response from  intelligence and judiciary officials. Instead, on 7 September 2009,  security forces raided the office of the committee and confiscated every  document and piece of property and arrested all the members of the committee. The  authorities issued a statement denying the death of several people named  on the list.

State-backed media reported that the number of protesters killed  totaled thirty six. On the 2nd anniversary of the disputed elections, Sepaah  (Revolutionary Guards) commander Saeed Ghaemi announced that over thirty  people had been killed during the protests, all of whom members of the  Basij [paramilitary militia].

The trend of intimidations has, with some degree of success, forced  many such families into a gradual retreat from legally pursuing their  cases–an all too familiar silence of the victims.

The phenomenon of  Internet and virtual networks has enabled families to voice their  grievance and prevent the prolonged silence. As they find the courage to break their silence after two years, more  families come forward and add to the “killing list”.

I personally  interviewed a father of young student who was shot in front of a mosque  on 20th June 2009, who said: “I had lost my child, I had lost every hope  in my life. The mental and emotional pain was unbearable and  unspeakable. I thought, what good would talking about his death do? It  will not return my child to me.”

The question of “Will an interview or legal pursuit bring my child  back to me?” was asked by many of the families who were so dismayed and  disappointed with the non-responsive authorities that they had simply  given up all hope.

The mother of Ramin Aghazadeh Ghahremani, who had  died under brutal beatings and torture at Kahrizak Prison,  told SORKHSABZ (a  website dedicated to information about the election victims): “What  weighs heavily on my conscience is that I personally delivered my son to  the authorities after he was summoned. This has driven me to the brink  of madness in the last two years. I delivered my son to them; they  delivered his corpse to me. Where was I supposed to go after that? And  to what end? None of us in my family were into politics. Besides, I had  other young children to worry about.”

This mother had once before spoken in this regard, with Shargh  newspaper– but once again, her fear for her other children had prevented her  from consenting to the publishing of the interview. Many families of the  victims had reported that their other children had been threatened and  forced into silence.

Fear was clear and present in the voice of family members of Hossein  Akhtar Zand, the young man who was thrown from the top a medical clinic in  Isfahan, on 15 June. Thus, the family briefly told JARAS: “All our  pursuits proved to be futile. In order to stay alive – in a small town –  there are not too many options except to maintain our silence!”

Most of these families also look at the efforts of the others with  similar experiences, who had been vocal in the media and had actively  pursued the cases of their children through daily trips to the  courthouses, to no avail. Their remarks such as “They have ordered us to  stay silent”– without disclosing “who” has ordered them– are in themselves incredible.

For example, Hamid Hossein Baik Araghi, another young man killed  during the rallies on 20 June, was introduced as a Basiji by two of the  most prominent state-backed newspapers,  Kayhan and Fars. His family  immediately told JARAS that such information was completely false. Other  slain protesters tainted as Basij members are:  Davoud Sadri; Saneh  Zhaaleh; Kaveh Sabz-Alipour and Maysam Ebadi, all of whose families had  denied any affiliation with the Basiji or the government. Many of the  families had never been politically active or affiliated with any groups  or parties. They had only participated in the protests against the  election results. Others had been mere pedestrians or in the traffic and  shuffled into the crowd.

The family of Lotfali Yousefian, the 50-year-old man who died of  respiratory complications due to inhalation of tear gas on the second  anniversary of the protests, was told by doctors in Ebn-Sina hospital: “We will declare ‘heart attack’ as the cause of death, because if  the real cause is reported, then the authorities may not release his  body to you.” Yet other families had been forced to sign non-disclosure  forms in order to be able to obtain the dead bodies of their loved ones, and were thus forced into silence.

It is not too late for many other families to still come forward and  unravel the painful truth. The question is, what will be the heavier  burden: the torment of their silence, or the consequence of telling the  truth?

The Islamic Republic’s blatant refusal to investigate and take  responsibility for these cases comes at a time when there is an obvious  and undeniable footprint left all over these cases by regime elements  (both official or indirect). It also comes despite the death certificates issued by  the coroner which indicate that the deaths were due to gun shots. They go  further by arresting a prominent lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is jailed  and banned from practicing law, for the crime of defending prisoners and  acting on behalf of the families of the dead.

Sir, as the UN’s Special Rapporteur to Iran, you are now responsible  and have been commissioned to investigate such injustices– and you hold the  key to the window of hope for many families of the victims of 2009  presidential elections.

Among the families of the slain are those such  as Sohrab A’raabi, Ali Hasanpour, Mostafa Karim Baigi and others, who  despite the threats against them, have quite vocally and actively  demanded from international organizations that they  send representatives to  meet with them in Iran.

I will now return to the three families who have requested a meeting  by giving you a short background on each, as well as a list of those who  have spoken out.

*Sohrab A’raab, 19, was shot during the protests on 15 June. For twenty six  days, his mother Parvin Fahimi had no idea as to Sohrab’s whereabouts.  For twenty six days, she thought her son was alive and in prison, like thousands of  others, until one day they delivered his dead body to her. In a  personal interview with me, Parvin Fahimi has emphasized, as she has  done many times in the past, her pleas with every individual or  organization or entity to review and investigate her son’s case.

*Ali Hasanpour, 48, father of two, was killed on 15 June 2009. His wife  Ladan Mostafaie has asked numerous times in interviews: “Are bullets the  way to respond to protests? My husband was killed for asking for his  vote! And no one in this judicial system of ours can tell me who killed  him.”

For one hundred and five  days, she thought her husband was alive and in prison. She  was even told by the authorities that it was possible her husband might  have fled the country. But she too was given the dead body of her  husband. Also, in a recent interview with me, she said that Iran is a  member of the UN Human Rights Council. She has asked me to convey her  desire and request from the Special Rapporteur to hear her case and help  find those responsible.

*Mostafa Karim Baigi, 27, like thousand of others, had participated in  the rallies of 28 December, 2009 (Ashura Day). He was shot in the head, then  thrown from an overpass bridge. His family was not permitted to hold a  funeral or a proper burial, so they were forced to bury him in the  middle of the night in the presence of security forces. His mother  Shahnaz Akmali has repeatedly demanded the attention of all human rights  organizations and the United Nations to her son’s case.

These are the names of 47 of post-election slain protesters whose families  have given interviews to various media:

1- Amir Javadifar 2- Mohammad Kamrani 3- Mohsen Rouholamini 4- Ramin  Pour Andarzjani 5– Ramin Aghazadeh Ghahremani 6–Ali Hasanpur 7- Sohrab  Arabi 8–Ahmad Naimabadi 9- Moharram Chegini 10- Ramin Ramezani 11-  Davood Sadri 12- Sorour Boroumand 13– Fatemeh Rajabpour 14– Hesam  Hanifeh 15– Kianoosh Asaa 16– Mohammad Raisi najafi 17– Mostafa Ghanian  18– Ali Fathalian 19– Lotfali Yousefian 20– Bahman Jenabi 21— Naser Amir  Nejad 22– Hossein Akhtar Zand 23– Maysam Ebadi 24– Ahmad Nejati Kargar  25– Ashkan Sohrabi 26– Neda Agha Soltan 27– Masoud Khosravi Doust 28–  Kaveh(Sajad) Sabz Alipour 29– Masoud Hashemzadeh 30– Abbas Disnad 31–  Mohammad Barvayefh 32– Behzad Mohajer 33– Mohammad Javad Parandakh 34–  Mostafa Kiarostami 45– Fatmeh Semsarpour 36– Hamid Hossein Araghi 37–  Mohammad Hossein Fayz 38– Hossein Gholam Kabiri 39– Seyed Ali Mousavi  40– Mostafa Karim Baigi 41– Shabnam Sohrabi 42– Shahram Farajzadeh 43–  Mehdi Farhadi 44– Saaneh Zhaleh 45– Mohammad Mokhtari 46– Behnood  Ramezani 47- Alireza Eftekhari



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