29 September 2006
IRAN : Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi and at least 40 people, aged 23 - 60
Arbitrary arrest/fear for safety/possible prisoners of conscience
29 September 2006
At least 41 followers of Shia cleric Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi were reportedly arrested in the courtyard of his house in Tehran during the morning of 28 September. They are thought to have been taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. One was reportedly later released. There are fears that the Ayatollah may be at risk of imminent arrest.
On 30 June 2006 the Ayatollah conducted a large religious ceremony at the Shahid Keshvari stadium in Tehran. On 30 July, the security forces reportedly arrested several of his family and followers at their homes. The security forces also reportedly tried to arrest the Ayatollah himself, but were prevented from doing so by his followers.
Those arrested were taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison where they were held for about three weeks. Some may have been tortured, including Nader Khodadad, who is said to have suffered a heart attack possibly as a result and was transferred to the Taleqani hospital in Tehran. One of those detained told Amnesty International, "I was arrested at home by armed men who broke down my door. I was taken to Section 209, where I was held in solitary confinement for 22 days. I was not even allowed to telephone my family to let them know where I was. I was threatened although I was not physically harmed. I was not even allowed to have any reading glasses, so I could not read. I was accused of being a spy for European countries. I was eventually released after being taken to the Special Court for the Clergy. I did not have a lawyer, it was just a judge, the Etelaat (Ministry of Intelligence) and me. They summoned someone to come for me, and after paying a large bail sum, I was released".
On 3 August, the security forces reportedly tried to arrest the Ayatollah but were again repelled by his followers. They reportedly took up positions outside the house, where they have remained since. On 7 September, representatives of the Special Court for the Clergy visited the Ayatollah in his house and told him to appear before the Prosecutor for the Special Court for the Clergy, which he refused to do. Between 18 and 21 September, the Ayatollah sent appeals to Council of Europe Secretary General Javier Solana (which can be read in Persian at http://www.irancpi.net/pdf/kazemeiniBroujerdi-naderzahedi.pdf), the Pope and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In his letter to Javier Solana, the Ayatollah described his history of persecution and the recent events and said he feared he would be killed if he went to the Special Court for the Clergy as instructed. Around the same time, another of his followers, Ms Nourbaksh, was reportedly arrested and taken to an unknown place of detention, possibly Section 209 of Evin Prison.
Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi reportedly advocates the separation of religion from the political basis of the state. Since 1994 he says he has been summoned repeatedly before the Special Court for the Clergy and has been detained in Towhid and Evin Prisons. He has reportedly developed heart and kidney problems as a result of torture. His father was a prominent cleric who refused to accept the principle of velayat-e faqih (rule of the [Islamic] jurisconsult, or of those who know Islamic law), on which the Islamic Republic of Iran is based. He died in 2002 and his grave in the Masjed-e Nour mosque in Tehran has reportedly been desecrated and the mosque taken over by the state.
The Special Court for the Clergy, which operates outside the framework of the judiciary, was established in 1987 by Ayatollah Khomeini to try members of the Shia religious establishment in Iran. Its procedures fall short of international standards for fair trial : among other things, defendants can only be represented by clergymen nominated by the court, who are not required to be legally qualified, and defendants may not have a full right of appeal. The court can hand down sentences including flogging and the death penalty.
22 February 2006
IRAN : At least 173 members of the Nematollahi Sufi community
Incommunicado detention/ fear of torture
22 February 2006
At least 173 members of the Nematollahi Sufi Muslim community are detained incommunicado, reportedly at Fajr prison in the city of Qom, where it is feared that they are being tortured, possibly in order to extract confessions.
The Nematollahi Sufi are Shia Muslims. Those detained were among 1,200 Nematollahi Sufis arrested on 13 February, when an apparently peaceful demonstration against an order by the security forces to evacuate the communitys place of worship- known as a Hosseiniye- by 11 February was violently suppressed by security forces and members of the Hojatieh and Fatemiyon groups (organized pro-government groups).
According to reports, those detained are being interrogated at Fajr prison in Qom, and are allegedly being tortured in order to force them to sign pre-prepared false confessions claiming that the protest held by the Sufi group had political motivations and links to anti-government groups. It is alleged that they will read these false confessions on national television. Families of those detained have reportedly been unable to obtain official information about their whereabouts, legal status or health, and they have not had access to lawyers. Lawyer Bahman Nazari, himself a Sufi Muslim, had reportedly travelled from the city of Tabriz in northwest Iran to Qom in order to try and represent the detainees. He was arrested as soon as he approached officials and presented his practice licence.
The protest began on 9 February, with some members of the Nematollahi Sufi community inside their place of worship, and others stationed outside. The number of protesters swelled as hundreds of Nematollahi Sufis, including many women and children, travelled from other parts of the country to attend. Security forces, including anti-riot police, took up positions around the Hosseiniye. At around 3pm on 13 February they set a deadline for the Sufis to evacuate it. Members of the Fatemiyon and Hojatieh groups also reportedly surrounded the place of worship, shouting slogans such as "Death to Sufis" and "Sufi-ism is a British plot", and distributed leaflets alleging that Sufis are enemies of Islam. In response, some of the Sufis held up photographs of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Irans Islamic Republic, and photographs of relatives who were killed fighting for their country in the Iran-Iraq war, to show that they were not opposing the government and to emphasise that they are an integral part of Iranian society.
The security forces then moved in at around 4pm, supported by the Hojatieh and Fatemiyon groups. They attacked the protesters outside the Hosseiniye and stormed the building, using tear gas and explosives. They allegedly beat many protesters, and, according to some reports, set light to the centre. The next day the Hosseiniye and neighbouring houses were demolished using bulldozers. Around 1,200 protesters were arrested and taken away on buses to unknown locations. Some, including people with serious injuries, were reported to have been transported to a sports stadium for interrogation. The detainees were interrogated, and many were allegedly tortured or ill-treated. Most of the Nematollahi Sufis have now been released, but 173 are still being held. Those released are said to have been required to sign papers as a condition of their release agreeing that that they will not attend any Sufi gatherings in Qom and that they will present themselves to the Intelligence Office in their home towns. Some have reportedly been required to sign documents renouncing Sufism.
Arrest warrants have reportedly been issued for the principal Sufi preacher of Qom, Seyed Ahmadi Shariati, and the four lawyers who had previously been acting on behalf of the group- Amir Eslami, Omid Behrouzi, Gholamreza Harsimi and Farshid Yadollahi.