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Sehaty Foreign Exchange

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    Call for Signatures to Protest Human Rights Violations in Iran

    Another grave violation of civil rights and due process of law has occurred in Iran. Seven well-known and outspoken supporters of the Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, attended a Berlin conference on Iran After the Elections and were arrested shortly after their return.

    Those arrested included Akbar Ganji, a journalist instrumental in investigating the serial murders of Iranian intellectuals; Mehrangiz Kar, a prominent civil rights lawyer and women's rights activist; Shahla Lahiji, a distinguished publisher and outspoken advocate of women's rights; Ezzatollah Sahabi, a reformist journalist; Hamid-Reza Jalai-Pur, a senior member of the editorial board of the leading reformist daily, Asr-e Azadegan ; Jamileh Kadivar, the recently elected member of the Sixth Parliament; and Ali-Reza Afshari, a leader in the student movement for civil rights.

    They were accused of acting against the national security of the Islamic Republic and of "desecrating Islamic sanctities" by taking part in the conference. The Revolutionary Court issued a statement declaring that during the conference "the sacred Islamic regime of Iran and its principles were insulted." The trumped-up bases for these charges were staged scenes at the conference shown on Iranian State Television, in which those charged were seen at the seminar watching the sexually provocative behavior of a few people intent upon disrupting and defaming the conference.

    While four of those arrested have been released on bail, the othersAkbar Ganji, Mehrangiz Kar, and Shahla Lahijiremain in prison. Their fate has been made more perilous by the ordered, indefinite suspension of most of the pro-reformist press, which virtually eliminates access to information. The situation is particularly urgent in the cases of Akbar Ganji and Shahla Lahiji because one suffers from a severe case of asthma and the other from acute angina. The arrest and incarceration of these individuals are egregious violations of their civil rights and the due process of law.

    We call upon President Khatami, the highest democratically elected officer of the government, to demand their immediate, unconditional release. If there are formal charges against them, those charges must be delivered through proper legal channels. The accused must be afforded full legal representation and tried publicly, in full view of the national and international press. We also call upon Hojjat al-Islam Mohmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, Head of the Judiciary, responsible for safeguarding the civil rights of citizens, to immediately end these blatant violations of the most basic principles of juridical procedures.


    Hamid Dabashi
    Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures,
    Columbia University

    Arien Mack
    Editor, Social Research Marrow Professor of Psychology,
    Graduate Faculty,
    New School University


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