Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Halt the Execution of Zeynab Jalalian

Unfortunately, it is time to call for a halt to another execution in Iran. Members of Iran's Kurdish minority are being targeted for harsh sentences. Many are receiving execution sentences after 3-minute trials. Is there anyone anywhere who believes that this is remotely fair? I urge all of the readers of this blog to send a letter calling for a halt to Zeynab Jalalian's execution. United4Iran has made it easy to do. You can click here to send the letter to 30 different embassies and individuals.

Zeinab Jalalian is a 27-year-old Kurdish woman who is facing execution. Her lawyers have been prevented from engaging in any defense. Her trial lasted just a few minutes and resulted in a sentence of execution.

People close to her state that there is absolutely no evidence that she ever took up arms against the state. In fact, her activities took place at a time when many Kurdish groups operated freely and openly within Iran.

Two prominent human rights lawyers have attempted to represent Zeinab, but the authorities have prevented them from taking up her case. The IRI’s Intelligence Ministry and Judiciary have continued to use intimidation tactics to prevent public disclosure of prisoners’ information in order to carry out the death sentences in secret and evade any accountability.

Zeinab’s treatment, along with the treatment of other minorities in Iran's prisons, breaks Iran's own laws and makes a mockery of the nation's judiciary system.

We urge you to do what is right: to call a halt to her execution and an end to her mistreatment and that of others in the IRI’s prisons. We call on you to restore faith in the judicial system by allowing lawyers to defend their clients and by allowing fair trials.

Most importantly, we call on you to halt the sentences of execution handed out to so many representatives of Iran's Kurdish minority, including Zeinab Jalalian.

We call on you to show the world that the Islamic Republic of Iran has not turned its back on its own laws and constitution. Using every mechanism at your disposal to save the life Zeinab and others like her who are in prison because of their beliefs rather than their actions, would be a courageous and immensely welcome gesture.

Please help us make sure that all prisoners of conscience are released safely and guaranteed fair treatment. With your help, Iran can become the nation its people deserve.

Thank you for addressing these concerns, ensuring that international human rights standards are adhered to, and for urging the IRI authorities to immediately halt the execution of Zeinab Jalalian and of all the IRI’s prisoners of conscience

Your Sincerely,

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Just because we have not been blogging much, does not mean that we have not been writing and thinking and immersed in issues related to Iran. A report that Kamran and I have been working on with Sohrab Razzaghi on the attack on civil society in Iran is now available for download at It is the result of a lot of hard work and research. Here is the press release:


Report from Arseh Sevom [Third Sphere]

Available online at

In mid-June 2009, millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest a deeply flawed election. In the days and weeks that followed, reports of suppression, deaths in prison, torture, and rape, shocked people all over the world. According to a report by Arseh Sevom, these crackdowns were predictable given the anti-democratic nature of the Ahmadinejad administration.

“Despite the increasingly liberal and pragmatic character of Iranian society, this current administration is highly ideological and hostile to democracy,” Tori Egherman, one of the authors of the report states.

Arseh Sevom's [Third Sphere] report, The Attack on Civil Society in Iran, shows how the post-election crackdowns fit into a larger pattern of restricting the development of civil society. While the abuses happen to individuals, they are designed to undermine the democratic development of Iran as a nation. Dr. Sohrab Razzaghi, another author of the report states, “They have chosen to read Iran's ambiguous constitution as fundamentally undemocratic.”

From worker's rights to women's rights, the Ahmadinejad administration has sought to undermine them all. Reporters, activists, students, and others are systematically harassed as a warning to others who would take their places.

Arseh Sevom (Third Sphere, which refers to the role of civil society) is a non-governmental organization established/registered in 2010 in Amsterdam, (by Sohrab Razzaghi, Kamran Ashtary, Tori Egherman), aiming to promote peace, democracy, and human rights. The organization’s objective is to help build the capacity of organizations in Persian-speaking communities and encourage the development of a vigorous third sphere of civil activities. Arseh Sevom is non-partisan and independent and focuses on peace, democracy, and human rights.


Authors: Tori Egherman lived and worked in Iran from 2003-2007 and has published a number of articles on Iran and other topics.

Sohrab Razzaghi, PhD is the former executived director of the Iran Civil Society Organization Training and Research Center, which was shut down by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2007.

Kamran Ashtary is the former Director of Communications at Radio Zamaneh and co-author of the book Iran: View from Here. He has lectured on media in closed societies.