Iran threatens revolutionary court trials for "incitement"
Televised Confessions Raise Concerns
New York, August 3, 1999 (Human Rights Watch) -- The head of Tehran's
Revolutionary Court stated on August 2 that his office was investigating
some of the students arrested following demonstrations and peaceful protests
earlier this month. Hojatoleslam Rahbarpour said that the Revolutionary
Court would move in particular against persons whose statements "incited"
or "fomented" recent "events," referring to street
demonstrations protesting a violent pre-dawn raid on a Tehran University
dormitory, that left at least one dead and many injured and detained.
"When governments launch campaigns against 'incitement,' freedom
of expression is often the first casualty," said Hanny Megally, executive
director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division.
"The Iranian judiciary has been in the forefront of the campaign to
stamp out dissent and Iran's Revolutionary Courts are notorious for their
disregard of basic fair trial standards." Revolutionary Court head
Hojatoleslam Rahbarpour also confirmed that approximately 1,500 students
had been detained in the aftermath of the dormitory raid and the large
street demonstrations in Tehran and other cities protesting that assault.
He said that most had been "provisionally" released.
Student leaders in Tehran believe that between 200 and 600 students
remain in detention. On July 30, Human Rights Watch made public a list
of seventy-seven detained or missing persons, mostly students. The July
crackdown has also targeted non-violent political activists outside of
the universities. Four members of the Iran Nation Party-Bahram Namazi,
Khosro Seif, Farzin Mokhber, and Mehran Abdolbaghi -- were picked up from
their homes on July 13. They and Rozbeh Farahanipour, a founder of the
Marze Por Gohar Party, remain in detention without charge. Their colleagues
have told Human Rights Watch that they were picked up after they had been
seen distributing leaflets at Tehran University.
Among others also listed as detained in a Ministry of Information statement
are Saeed Rasoulian, Hajir Palaschi, Mohamed Eghbal Kazerouni, and Elahé
Amir Entezam. They were arrested separately between July 13 and July 15.
The ministry statement did not specify any charges against them. In addition,
four detained members of the National Association of Iranian Students-Manouchehr
Mohamedi, Gholam Reza Mohajeri-Nejad, Rahim Reza'i, and Malous Radnia-have
been accused in the official media of counter-revolutionary activities
and ties with the United States and Israel. The four have been kept in
incommunicado detention and allowed no access to legal counsel.
On July 19, authorities broadcast a tape showing Mohamedi, Mohajeri-Nejad,
and Reza'i appearing to "confess" on television to these charges,
and government television reported that Malous had confessed as well.
Iranian television broadcast a "new confession" by Mohamedi on
July 27 in which he implicated others among those in detention. He also
claimed that "we have received financial assistance from America on
three or four occasions to organize student movements."
Activists in the political reform movement in Iran have told Human Rights
Watch that they fear the government will force others to make similar public
"confessions." "This recourse to televised confessions
is deeply troubling and suggests that these individuals may have given
these statements under duress," said Megally. "A government
that presents public confessions by persons held without access to families
or lawyers is advertizing itself as a gross violator of the most fundamental