Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Homa Hoodfar, Iranian-Canadian Professor, Freed In Iran

OTTAWA — Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar has been released from an Iranian prison where she had been languishing since June.
Hoodfar, a retired sociology and anthropology professor from Montreal's Concordia University, was charged with "dabbling in feminism" and sent to Tehran's notorious Evin prison. A court found Hoodfar guilty, imposed a sentence of several years, and ordered her to be deported, a source told The Huffington Post Canada.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said Hoodfar, 65, had been released on "humanitarian reasons, including illness."
Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar speaks to the media in Muscat airport, Oman on Sept. 26, 2016. (Photo: Oman News Agency via AP)
She landed on Monday in Oman, a country that had helped secure her release. She was to be greeted by Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia and undergo a medical exam before boarding another flight to London where she is expected to meet family members.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians are relieved that Hoodfar was released from jail and would soon be reunited with her family, friends and colleagues. 
"The Government of Canada has been actively and constructively engaged at the highest levels in Dr. Hoodfar's case — since her ordeal began — working for her release and return to Canada," he said. 
"In the absence of diplomatic representation of its own in Iran, Canada worked closely with others who were instrumental in helping secure Dr. Hoodfar's release — most notably Oman, Italy and Switzerland. I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation for their support.

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Private meeting at UN between Trudeau team and Omani officials led to Hoodfar's release by Iran

Trudeau's pattern of directly investing himself in consular cases appears to bear fruit for 2nd time

Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar arrives in Muscat airport, Oman, after being released by Iranian authorities on Monday. (Oman News Agency/Associated Press)

A quiet meeting just off the main floor of the United Nations General Assembly a week ago may have been the turning point in Canada's attempts to secure the release of Iranian-Canadian Homa Hoodfar from a prison in Iran.
It happened in the corner of a large meeting room just after U.S. President Barack Obama finished his final speech to the UN. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his top political staff and foreign policy advisers held a private "pull aside" meeting with the foreign minister of Oman and a small delegation of Omani officials.
The prime minister had reached out to Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah 11 days earlier on Sept. 9 by phone to ask for Oman's help in securing Hoodfar's release from Iran. But this was their first face-to-face meeting, and it appears to have played a critical role in securing the Concordia professor's release.

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Judge Salavati Sentenced Narges Mohammadi The Vice President Of The Association Of Human Rights Defenders in Iran To 16 Years Imprisonment

According to news coming from Iran , the appeal court division 36 in Tehran approved the 16 years imprisonment for Ms. Narges Mohammadi the vice president of the Association of Human Rights Defenders in Iran. Barges Mohammadi is a mother of two beautiful children and is suffering from illness.

She was sentenced in preliminary court headed by judge Salavati to a total of 16 years imprisonment : On 3 counts of charges - 5 years for gathering and collaborating to commit offences against the national security , One year for the charges of propagating against the regime and lastly,  5 years for the charges of establishing and managing the " Legam " Association....

The lawyers of Ms Mohammadi have protested against the court and judges decision.

IRAN WATCH CANADA: Usually in appeal court another judge must preside , but it seems the decision by the judiciary judge Salavati was pre-arranged.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dear Friends:
As you know, on June 5, 2013, The House of Commons of Canada passed a unanimous Motion, proclaiming the mass murder of political prisoners of Iran during the summer of 1988 as crimes against humanity. The Motion honoured the memory of the victims buried in the mass graves at Khavaran Cemetery and other locations in Iran by establishing September 1st as a Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Iran.
On September 18, 2016, I attended the 28th Anniversary of the Mass Murder of Political Prisoners of Iran during the summer of 1988. The event was organized by the “Justice 88 Campaign”, and held at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.   Please click on the following link to read a story published in Shahrvand about this event:
I also wrote to the Commissioner of Human Rights at the United Nations on the violation of the fundamental rights of the Bahai’s in Iran.  You may also read this at Shahrvand on the following link:
Reza Moridi, MPP

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Bahram Ghasemi The Spokesperson For The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Announced That Homa Hoodfar Is Released From Prison .....

According to news from ISNA todays evening Iranian time, Bahram Ghasemi the spokesperson from the Iran ministry of Foreign affairs announced that , Homa Hoodfar is released from prison on humanitarian ground.

Mr. Ghasemi said: Ms. Homa Hoodfar the retired professor of the Canadian universities who was accused of some charges is released based on humanitarian ground including sickness.


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47 Bahai Students Are Deprived From Taking University Entrance Examination And To Continued Education ...

According to report , 47 Bahai students who are at the stage of entering to the university to continue their education this year , were disqualified by the regime authorities . The names of these students are released .

Regime carries a biased and discriminatory policy towards Bahai faith students and their families  .
Regime not only carries discrimination policy towards Bahai's but also prosecute them. As a result of this apartheid policies , thousands of Iranian Bahai left the country and many have been killed and their spiritual leaders are in prison and .......

The Bahi students not only deprived from continuing their education but also deprived or jobs in Governmental institutions.

The Campaign known as " not hurting and imprisoning the Bahai's " have prepared the list of 47 students who were disqualified by regime cultural revolutionary council  .


IRAN WATCH CANADA:  The Government of Hassan Rohani and his minister do agree of course with this policies ,otherwise would have interfered ...........

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To Know About The Biggest Women Prison In Iran - " The Gharechak Women Prison - In Shahr Ray " ......

According to report by HRANA , the biggest women prison in Iran yet to known as " Gharechak women prison" or in other name as " Women Kahrizak " .

Kahrizak prison became known after the 2009 green movement uprising in Iran ,where no one knows exactly how many young protester were killed . Earlier report said , Said Mortazavi the infamous judge was in charge of the prison.

This prison is located about 17 km - between Tehran and the city of Varmin high way in a place known as Gharechak . The place has salty water and low hygiene and dangerous disease .

According to this report , this prison facility accommodate  about 2000 women and their children.

Gharechak prison has 6 ward and every ward accommodate about 200 to 300 women prisoners and the prisoners aren't divided based on the crime they have committed.

This prison facility lack all kinds of healthy environment from populated facility to water, food , showers and proper medical facilities that the women are more vulnerable to disease including their children.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mansoureh Behkish The Sister Of Six Political Prisoners Who Were Killed In A Mass Murder In Iran Is Banned Again From Leaving The Country ......

According to news coming from Iran, Mansoureh Bahkish sister of six political prisoners who were all killed in a mass killing by Islamic regime in 1988 was leaving Iran on Sept. 17 , 2016 to visit her daughter in Ireland when the agents at the gate told her she is banned to leave Iran and they took her passport and told her to follow the case through prosecutors office at  Evin Prison .

Ms. Mansoureh explained the situation as follows :

" On Friday September 17 i was traveling to Ireland .  A journey which supposed to bring me joy and peace , particularly after the death of my dear mother, i have had difficult period and still not normal due to her absence. I wanted to be away from all the tensions and pressures of Iran and have three months quiet time with my daughter in Dublin . of course she is a professor and we couldn't be together during the day time , but i had plan to walk in parks and see the sceneries and to make connection with people , to strengthen my English and to have peace of mind . I also had plan to attend at the library of the universities and to become familiar with their cultural environment , and at the evening when my daughter's work is finished, we will have happy and joyful time together and to strengthen energy. But unfortunately they did not let this to happen and therefore deprived us from our basic human rights ,the right to meet /meet each other. "

" The security agents of the regime at the airport , like the year 2009 when i was traveling to Italy to visit my other daughter , at first put the exit stamp in my passport to make me quiet, but later banned me from leaving Iran to Italy and forced me to return home from the airport. But in both two instances my name was paged for several times and echoed in the airport. the agents then found me at the flight gate and took my passport and asked me to go with them to an office and at the office, they gave me a letter and told me to follow up the passport from the prosecutors office at Evin prison. i asked them , why , on what basis / reason ??!! they replied : we are just an agents and don't know nothing????!!!! And then i screamed and let them and people at the airport know about all the cruelty the regime have done on us...Passengers at the airport who were listening and looking at me, approached me and showed solidarity with me , and when the agents saw the situation , in order to make me quiet, the played a national song of " Ey Iran " from the loudspeakers .

" As simple as this , they destroyed my traveling plan , and by taking my passport and giving me a letter for follow up at Evin prosecutors office .

She added :"  I will send The gifts that i have bought for my daughter by post ......I have my suitcase ready at my home if they take me to Evin prison ......They can't make us the " family's for Justice " quiet . Regime must know that the patience of the people is limited and one day the wave of the protest and call for justice will flow again , and that time it will be too late for the regime. "

Excerpts from Mansoureh Behkish's letter.......





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Monday, September 19, 2016

Iranian Journalist Sadra Mohaghegh Is Arrested ......

News coming from Iran indicate that, Sadra Mohaghegh the Iranian journalist is arrested today Monday at his home .

According to Iran Wire website, his arrest after Yashar Soltani another Iranian journalist who is arrested last week is about their report on land / property transfer and selling  by Tehran City hall .
Sadra Mohaghegh is a well known journalist who's reports covers the social issues including destruction of historical buildings and illegal constructions in the city of Tehran. He has written extensive critical articles about these issues.

Sadra Mohaghegh is the chief editor of the social service section in Shargh newspaper. According to report by Mehr newspaper,  " S - M  " was  acting as an informant for counter revolutionary newspaper and is arrested by security agents in an intelligence undercover operation.

According to report by Mehr newspaper , Sadra Mohaghegh was preparing information for counter revolutionary newspaper.

Since last year regime's security agents mostly Sepah intelligence has started arresting Iranian journalists under the false accusation of " acting as informant for counter revolutionary newspaper outside of Iran" . The journalists arrested on this new round of allegations are : Eisa Saharkheiz , Ehsan Mazanderani, Afarin Cheitsaz, Saman Safarzaei and dawned Asadi.


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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Human Rights And Islamic Regime's Officials ........

Mohammad Javad Zarif the foreign minister of the Hassan Rohani's Government..on April 2015 speaking with PBS -Charlie Rose programme : " We don't jail anyone for their belief...."

IRAN WATCH CANADA: This is a big lie .....everyone knows there are hundreds of political prisoners in Iran among them human rights advocates and vice president of the Association of Human Rights Defenders in Iran likes Narges Mohammadi ........

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Opening Statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council 
13 September 2016 
Mr President,
Colleagues and Friends,
I am honoured to address this first session of the Council's second decade. 
After two years as High Commissioner, I believe it is important for me to share with you in this oral update our concern over an emerging pattern: the growing refusal on the part of an increasing number of Member States to grant OHCHR, or the human rights mechanisms, access – either to countries generally, or to specific regions, when that access is requested explicitly, or in other instances to engage with us. 
Why and for what reason, do those who deny access place their shield before us? I intend to devote this statement mainly to this single issue. Before I do, I wish to first draw on some general observations of our present circumstances.
In my statement before the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council, I questioned the extent to which we did indeed have an international community. It is easy to take for granted we are committed to working together, because we have no choice. The organization we belong to was not created by humanity for trivial reasons, but was exhaled by a world broken and devastated by two immense wars. The entire human rights framework was likewise the product of catastrophe – enlightened yes, but given the scale of wartime savagery, it was created out of the sharpest and most profound necessity. Indeed, even today, the climate change and SDG agenda are anchored, layers deep, in that most strongly-held belief: only by working together can we solve our common problems. There is no alternative. No other choice offering any hope. We must remain committed to collective action.
Yet for some in power today, and others labouring to attain it, it would seem there are alternatives, and they claim to know better. Only dreamers, fools, they seemingly believe, think in terms of ‘we the people’, or in we ‘nations united together’, or in we as individuals who all hold equal rights. What is this United Nations? Outdated, laughable nonsense – bureaucrats and gilded elites! And those who believe this, think little of dividing humans into categories, and frightening or abusing the vulnerable; battering the truth; attacking regional or even international organizations – threatening to withdraw from them, abandon them, and jettisoning international law. And some are on the cusp of attaining political power. Others are already exercising it.
In the next several months, the centrifugal forces tearing away at us will remain strong: terrorism and its main exponent Da’esh, hateful and despicable as it is, will likely continue to mark its presence on us; while the alienation and frustration of many throughout the world who feel short-changed by poor governance and corruption will fuel the work of the deceivers. A number of elections will be held in well-established democracies, with dangerous xenophobes and bigots running for office, and what falls to us then could begin to determine, as never before, the future course of “we the peoples” of this earth. I will address this further next week in New York, at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants.
Mr President,
Ten years ago, when the Human Rights Council was created, it was designed to be more relevant than its predecessor; more credible; more impartial; and more focused on the rights and voices of victims. 
On each of those points, the Council has achieved important successes. And yet I am concerned about a growing polarisation within this body, as well as by increasing and clear attempts by States to block or evade human rights scrutiny –as I stated at the outset of this update.
I am told repeatedly by members of Government and Permanent Missions that human rights are being misused as a pretext for interference in the affairs of sovereign nations. It is suggested the struggle against discrimination violates cultural values. Officials have protested that human rights officers observing a public street demonstration are "interfering" in the State's internal affairs. Statements by my Office regarding credible allegations of violations – including excessively broad and violent security sweeps; prosecutions that appear politically motivated; and the massive use of capital punishment for crimes not consistent with the norms laid out by the ICCPR – are deemed "biased", "irresponsible", "misleading" or based on "false" premises. Monitoring activities, and advocacy intended to help better protect the people of your countries, are refuted as somehow violating the principle of State sovereignty – or even the UN Charter. 
Mr President, 
It may be useful to recall the many attempts made by the apartheid régime of South Africa to claim that the General Assembly’s resolutions opposing apartheid constituted a prohibited "intervention" in its domestic jurisdiction. These efforts to shield serious human rights violations from outside scrutiny were conclusively and repeatedly rejected by the General Assembly. 
Under international law, wrongful "intervention" – as prohibited in Article 2(7) of the UN Charter – is by nature coercive. And it should be obvious that my Office has no coercive power. No activity that we undertake can possibly be considered constitutive of a prohibited "intervention". We seek to strengthen national protection systems, not violate them. We do not threaten invasion, nor do we finance or organize sedition; we request access, in order to establish a neutral clarity about the facts on the ground. And access only becomes possible when the State extends an invitation to us; it cannot be forced open by OHCHR.
We request access so we can better work to help bring your laws and practices in line with international agreements which you, the States drafted and ratified – and to assist you to comply with recommendations which you have publicly, and often fulsomely, accepted.
Are human rights exclusively a national issue? Governments have the responsibility to uphold their human rights obligations and to respect the standards. But the human rights of all people, in all countries, also require – unquestionably ­– our collective attention. The Vienna Declaration, adopted unanimously 23 years ago, confirmed this: "the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community." This language was also echoed by GA Resolution 48/141, which calls on the High Commissioner to "play an active role in removing current obstacles... to the full realization of all human rights and in preventing the continuation of human rights violations throughout the world".
Mr President, 
Human rights violations will not disappear if a government blocks access to international observers and then invests in a public relations campaign to offset any unwanted publicity. On the contrary, efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: what, precisely, are you hiding from us?
I classify as refusals of access all unreasonable delays, elaborately ritualised and unreasonably prolonged negotiations, and responses to specific requests which seem to seek to fob us off with inadequate alternatives to real, fact-based assessment. Access delayed is access denied: two weeks is surely amply sufficient to secure a decision from all relevant officials. Claims that insecure conditions make it impossible to give my staff access are also less than acceptable. My staff work with great courage in some of the world's most severely threatened communities, and will continue to do so when called upon – or at least, we could be the judge of that.
States may shut my Office out – but they will not shut us up; neither will they blind us. If access is refused, we will assume the worst, and yet do our utmost to nonetheless report as accurately as we can on serious allegations. Our remote monitoring is likely to involve witness testimony, credible third-party reports and use of satellite imagery, among other techniques. Certainly, remote monitoring is a poor substitute for in-person observation by expert analysts. It makes it more difficult to verify and confirm the competing allegations of any party – including the Government. I regret that imprecision, and encourage all States to assist us to correct it, by permitting my teams unhindered access to events on the ground when requested. 

I want to emphasise that some States do continue to cooperate fully. This was recently the case of the Republic of Congo, despite the severity of the violations alleged. The report of that mission is being finalised, and the prompt access granted by the authorities is appreciated. 

In contrast, Syria, despite repeated requests, has granted no access to OHCHR or to the Commission of Inquiry since the crisis began in 2011. This is a State led by a medical doctor and yet is believed to have gassed its own people; has attacked hospitals and bombed civilian neighbourhoods with indiscriminate explosive weapons; and maintains tens of thousands of detainees in inhuman conditions. Words cannot convey how profoundly I condemn this situation. The Government, which is responsible for some of the gravest violations on record in the history of this Council, has regularly sent notes verbales to my Office reporting abuses by armed groups. But it offers no possibility whatsoever for independent scrutiny.
For the past two and a half years, Venezuela has refused even to issue a visa to my Regional Representative. Its comprehensive denial of access to my staff is particularly shocking in the light of our acute concerns regarding allegations of repression of opposition voices and civil society groups; arbitrary arrests; excessive use of force against peaceful protests; the erosion of independence of rule of law institutions; and a dramatic decline in enjoyment of economic and social rights, with increasingly widespread hunger and sharply deteriorating health-care. My Office will continue to follow the situation in the country very closely, and we will state our concerns for the human rights of Venezuela's people at every opportunity. Respect for international human rights norms can create a narrow path upon which the Government and the opposition can both tread, to address and resolve peacefully the country’s current challenges – particularly through meaningful dialogue, respecting the rule of the law and the Constitution. My Office stands ready to assist in addressing the current human rights challenges, and I thank the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States for recommending that Venezuela work with my Office on a Truth Commission, which could indeed offer the people an important voice. 
My concerns regarding the rights of people living in south-east Turkey remain acute. We have received repeated and serious allegations of on-going violations of international law as well as human rights concerns, including civilian deaths, extrajudicial killings and massive displacement. We continue to receive reports of destruction and demolition of towns and villages in the south-east. Due consideration must be given to the humanitarian and protection needs of thousands of displaced and otherwise affected people. I have requested access to this area for a comprehensive independent assessment by my staff. But despite our on-going cooperation with the Turkish authorities across a number of other topics, that access has not been granted. We have therefore set up a temporary monitoring capacity based in Geneva, and we will continue to inform this Council of our concerns. While I thank the Government of Turkey for its personal invitation for me to visit the country, this does not replace our request for effective and unfettered access to the south-east by a team from OHCHR, which is so urgently needed.
While Ethiopia has made impressive gains in terms of economic development, we are deeply concerned about repeated allegations of excessive and lethal use of force against protestors, enforced disappearances, and mass detentions, including of children, as well as by worrying restrictions on civil society, the media and opposition. I have requested my Office be given access in order for it to conduct a human rights assessment, particularly to the Oromia and Amhara regions. In response, the Government has claimed the recent violence was inspired by outlaw and terrorist groups, and argued it will conduct its own national investigation into the killings of protestors. I welcome a national effort, but believe the Government should also consider the need for an independent, impartial and international effort to affirm or revise the allegations.
May I add that given our privileged relationship with Ethiopia, which hosts one of our regional offices, and our promising draft agreement with Turkey to set up a regional office there, I find it mystifying we are not being given access to areas where the expertise of my Office can so clearly be of immediate and sustained assistance. 
Mr President, 
Two months ago, I requested the agreement of the Governments of India and Pakistan to invite teams from my Office to visit both sides of the line of control: in other words the India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. We had previously received reports, and still continue to do so, claiming the Indian authorities had used force excessively against the civilian population under its administration. We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded. I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides. I received last Friday a letter from the Government of Pakistan formally inviting an OHCHR team to the Pakistani side of the line of control, butin tandem with a mission tothe Indian side. I have yet to receive a formal letter from the Government of India. I therefore request here and publicly, from the two Governments, access that is unconditional to both sides of the line of control. 
In July I also requested from the government of Mozambique access for an assessment mission to the country, and was hoping for a swift response. Continued armed confrontation between RENAMO and the national army, beginning almost a year ago, has heightened the levels of violence, and we have received reports of mass graves, summary executions, destruction of property, displacement and attacks against civilians. Tensions are exacerbated by economic deterioration across the country, and an increasingly severe humanitarian situation resulting from drought. I trust the Government's response will be received soon.
Similarly, in the Gambia the UN has requested clearance to field a joint mission and we await a positive response. As I outlined at the June session of this Council, we have been alarmed by instances of inflammatory speech, as well as alleged violence against protestors in the context of the electoral campaign, and more recently, death in detention, and reported torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Given the potentially serious repercussions of any further decline in the situation, I believe it is urgent to assist the authorities to maintain respect for all human rights.
In Crimea1, the de facto authorities have not granted my Office’s request to open a sub-office of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine on the same conditions as the five other HRMMU sub-offices. We will therefore continue to monitor the situation in Crimea remotely, and we will continue to issue impartial, independent and trenchant information, as is evident from the 14 quarterly reports already distributed, and the 15th which will be presented at this session.
Mr President, 
Human rights protection is crucial in the context of protracted conflicts and legally unrecognized or disputed territories, where millions of people live in profound uncertainty. I am deeply concerned over the repeated refusals to permit access for my staff to both Abkhazia and South Ossetia by those in effective control – despite the Secretary-General's emphasis on the importance of that access in the context of the Geneva International Discussions2. We continue to receive allegations of violations, including killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment and restricted freedom of movement. Other serious concerns include unresolved queries regarding missing persons and persistent difficulties regarding access to livelihood, education, property rights and administrative documentation, as well as the need to ensure the space for civil society and independent media. 

My Office has had no access to the conflict situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, including since the events of April 2016. Consequently, conflicting claims of human rights violations cannot be verified, and the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and refugees has not received the kind of human rights scrutiny that it deserves, for the past decades – either from my Office or from the international community. 
Mr President, 
Discussions with China over the past 11 years regarding an official mission by successive High Commissioners have so far failed to produce an actual commitment to move ahead with a visit. Since 2011, our proposals for joint projects and workshops have also not led to action – despite our strong impression we could bring useful support, including on development, environmental and business topics related to human rights. The highly relevant observations made by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, who recently visited the country, provide a good example of the specific and useful recommendations which my staff could further build on. I welcome the recent passage of a national law against domestic violence and some progress regarding the country's high number of executions, and I hope my Office can assist China in this effort. I remain deeply concerned, however, over reports of continued harassment of human rights lawyers, human rights defenders and their family members, as well as allegations of discrimination, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and deaths in custody of members of ethnic and religious communities. First-hand access would allow my Office to better assess the situation, and to see the remarkable achievements of China, particularly in terms of poverty alleviation. I would like to embark on a genuine working relationship with China in a constructive and committed manner.

In 2011, the Government of Nepal chose to close OHCHR's field offices throughout the country, and since then we have encountered great difficulty in engaging on human rights. The Government has explained it has sufficient domestic human rights capacity, and requires no outside assistance. Yet the country continues to face serious and chronic human rights challenges. A decade after the civil war, accountability for gross human rights violations is still not pursued. Nepal remains amongst the poorest of the world’s nations and corruption is high. Despite a huge influx of aid following the earthquake last year, many victims have yet to receive adequate support. There are also severe and long-standing issues of discrimination based on gender, caste, religion and ethnicity, which as the past has demonstrated, could swiftly lead to violence.
Uzbekistan has refused to recognize my regional office for Central Asia in Bishkek for the past ten years, and has given none of its staff access to the country. Despite lack of access, we continue to document very severe human rights violations in Uzbekistan that deserve far greater attention. I hope we will soon be able to overcome these long-standing difficulties, and begin engaging with the authorities in line with their legal human rights obligations and the commitments made by the Government in the UPR. 

I also regret also that Armenia has so far not accorded full access to our presence in Tbilisi, which supports countries in the South Caucasus. We have therefore been unable to cooperate and engage fully with the Government, its state entities and civil society organizations. 
Mr President,
I regret theDominican Republic's failure to respond to my offer of support and monitoring capacity in regard to forcible movements of people to Haiti. Among them is a sizeable population of people descended from Haitian immigrants who were stripped of Dominican citizenship following the passage of legislation in 2013. My Office remains concerned about the deportations, which officially commenced a year ago, and is keen to ensure that any movements of people fully comply with international legal norms. I am aware the Government has worked closely with concerned UN agencies in the country, including the Human Rights Advisor, and I commend the establishment of mechanisms to redress wrongful or unlawful deportations. However, I must reiterate my request for unhindered access to border crossing points for a specialised team from OHCHR, and I look forward to closer cooperation on this with the authorities. 

Regarding Burundi, while I note the continued cooperation of the authorities with my Office, I am very concerned at the failure of the Burundi delegation to appear or present replies during the Special Session of the Committee against Torture in July – an unprecedented course of action by any State. Deplorably, a number of civil society groups, media and lawyers who cooperated with CAT continue to face the threat of official reprisals. I am also disturbed by the Government’s refusal to comply with the Security Council’s request for a police component to monitor the security situation. You will receive a more detailed briefing on Burundi in the course of this session. 
Turning to the United States, I have repeatedly expressed my dismay at the failure of the Government to accept the Special Rapporteur on Torture's request to enter the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and conduct confidential interviews, as is the agreed practice for all the Council’s experts. Guantanamo has long been a space of reported serious violations. The evasive tactics of the US authorities with respect to requests by international human rights mandates are deeply regrettable. 
On this and other failures by States to permit appropriate access to Special Procedures mandate-holders, I will report at greater length at a future session of this Council. 
Mr President,

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea extended an invitation to me to visit the country, yet has refused to engage on the modalities of the trip or to engage with our Seoul presence. This approach deprives my Office of further understanding the point of view of the DPRK authorities. Our remote monitoring indicates that grave human rights concerns persist throughout the country, including pervasive restrictions on all public freedoms, a vast and brutal prison system, torture, and violations of the right to food and other economic and social rights.

Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran, my Office has been given no access since 2013 – despite several years of good technical cooperation prior to that date.Our offers to begin a technical dialogue on the death penalty have been systematically overlooked, as have all other proposals of engagement. This is particularly regrettable given the reports we continue to receive of fundamental problems with the administration of criminal justice; continued execution of large numbers of people,including juveniles; allegations ofdiscrimination and prosecution of religious and ethnic minorities; harsh restrictions on human rights defenders,lawyersand journalists; anddiscrimination against women both in law and practice. 

I seize this occasion to share with you some broader thoughts regarding States' cooperation – or non-cooperation – with country-specific mandates, including Commissions of Inquiry, Council-mandated fact-finding missions and the specific country mandates of the Special Procedures. Currently, BelarusEritrea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, theIslamic Republic of Iran and Syria refuse to cooperate in any way with these mechanisms. Israel has had a long record of refusing to cooperate with most of them, in terms of allowing access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
A number of States have argued that unless the Human Rights Council can secure the approval of the concerned State, it should avoid looking into situations in which governments are alleged to be massively violating their people's human rights. I am wholly unpersuaded by this argument, a position buttressed by the fact that States espousing it use it inconsistently. Country-specific mandates ensure an expert, impartial and intensive monitoring process that keeps information flowing to this Council and to the world. This Council’s clear and universal mandate to address human rights violations is not conditional on the approval of specific governments. 
Mr President,
The plural and sometimes overlapping voices of the Council, its mechanisms and my Office are frequently raised in support of each others' work. Where country-specific mandates are not forthcoming or when the Council is unable to express itself, for whatever reason, it is all the more important that the High Commissioner exercise his or her independent mandate to shine a spotlight on human rights violations. 

In Bahrain, I am concerned by harrassment and arrests of human rights defenders and political activists, and legislation which enables revocation of citizenship without due process. I urge greater attention to this situation. The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly and with punishing clarity exactly how disastrous the outcomes can be when a Government attempts to smash the voices of its people, instead of serving them.he authorities of Bahrain would be well advised to comply with the recommendations of the human rights mechanisms and UPR, and engage more productively with my Office, as well as with this Council's Special Procedures. 
The President of the Philippines's statements of scorn for international human rights law display a striking lack of understanding of our human rights institutions and the principles which keep societies safe. Fair and impartial rule of law is the foundation of public confidence and security. Empowering police forces to shoot to kill any individual whom they claim to suspect of drug crimes, with or without evidence, undermines justice. The people of the Philippines have a right to judicial institutions that are impartial, and operate under due process guarantees; and they have a right to a police force that serves justice. I strongly encourage the Philippines to extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. My Office is ready to assist, including with respect to rule of law institutions and the prevention and treatment of drug use in accordance with international norms.
My Office continues to enjoy broad access in Yemen. But as my recent report has highlighted, the national investigation effort has not been able to provide the impartial and wide-ranging inquiry that is required by serious allegations of violations and abuse. I recommend a comprehensive inquiry by an international independent body. There will be further discussion of this situation later in this session. 
Mr President, 
Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent; if States pick and choose which rights they will uphold, the entire structure is undermined. Yet I am frequently surprised by assertions my Office is insufficiently concerned with economic and social rights. This is a statement often made by representatives of States which have few or no national accountability mechanisms to ensure that economic and social rights are effectively protected – and have adopted no legislative framework to give domestic legal effect to the CESCR. 
I am convinced civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to development, can only be effective when they are viewed as mutually supportive. And although there is no one correct model, applying human rights in practice requires that they be addressed as rights – not as neutral commodities or optional policy outcomes. I urge all Member States of this Council to move swiftly to establish the legal frameworks which can ensure implementation and accountability for economic and social rights. 
Mr President, 
I hope I have made clear this morning that even where the powerful might seek to deflect our work and evade our scrutiny, we and other human rights actors will always continue to seek the truth and stand up for the rights of all people. At a coming session of the Council, I will continue and expand this focus on countries which maintain minimal engagement with the human rights mechanisms, as well as my Office. 
Mr President, 
This Council is the torchbearer for the consistent and equitable protection of human rights around the world. It stands for principles which endorse the freedom of people – everywhere. Our human rights norms empower people to demand governments which serve them, instead of exploiting them; economic systems that enable them to live in dignity; the right to participate in every decision that impacts their lives. These are the essential steps which will lead to greater mutual respect and more sustainable development and justice, within a world of greater safety. 
I am confident that in the coming decade, the Council will maintain its credibility, and further develop its reputation for consistent action, by clearly upholding the equal value of all human rights, and their equal validity across all geographies, all political systems, and all societies.
Thank you. 

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Iran: 5-Year Sentence for Dual National on Dubious Charges
Internal Politics Behind Intensified Crackdown 

(Beirut, September 13, 2016) – An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian-British dual national to five years in prison on national security charges, Human Rights Watch said today. The family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told Human Rights Watch that Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced her on September 6, 2016. She is one of a half-dozen Iranian dual nationals who have been arrested and prosecuted on vaguely defined national security charges in the past two years.

Ratcliffe works for the media development team at the Thomson Reuters Charity Foundation and lives with her husband and daughter in West Hampstead, United Kingdom. Iranian authorities arrested her on April 3, at the Tehran airport, when she arrived to visit family for the Iranian New Year, and detained her in Evin Prison. Authorities also confiscated her 22-month-old daughter Gabriella’s passport, effectively barring her from returning to the UK. Ratcliffe’s trial took place on August 14. She had access to a lawyer only three days before her trial, nearly three months after the Kerman Revolutionary Guard completed their interrogation.

“Ratcliffe’s conviction and sentencing on unclear charges without any semblance of a fair trial is what amounts to ‘justice’ in Iran’s notorious revolutionary courts,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately release Ratcliffe and other detained dual-nationals who have not been charged with a credible offense.”

On August 7Mizan, the Iranian judiciary’s news agency, alleged that Ratcliffe was an “agent” for the Thomson Reuters Foundation – whose charitable work, Mizan said, was a cover for “spying and intelligence operations for Western governments,” and part of “an infiltration project,” a term hard-liners in the government regularly level against dual nationals who have been detained or imprisoned. Thomson Reuters Foundation rejected these allegations, calling them a “blatant attempt to seek to justify the imprisonment of British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”

In the past two years, intelligence authorities, especially the Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence unit, have arrested several dual nationals in Iran. In October 2015, Iranian authorities convicted the Washington Post correspondent in Iran, Jason Rezaian, and sentenced him to a prison term that was not revealed even to him and his lawyer. He was released in January 2016 as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States after spending 18 months in a section of Evin Prison controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

In the latest case, on July 11, Revolutionary Guard authorities in the city of Gorgan, in northern Iran, arrested and detained Robin Shahini, a dual Iranian-American citizen who had traveled to Iran to visit his family. On August 16, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported that Shahini was formally charged with “acting against national security,” “participating in protest gatherings in 2009,” “collaborating with Voice of America (VOA) television,” and “insulting ‘the sacred’ on Facebook,” but that his lawyer had not been allowed to see the evidence against him.

On June 6, following three months of interrogations, authorities in Tehran arrested Homa Hoodfar, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. In early March, Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents raided Professor Hoodfar’s home shortly before she was to leave the country, confiscating personal belongings, including her passports, research documents, and computer. The Hoodfar family said in a press release that Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court tried to dismiss the lawyer Hoodfar had chosen. On August 30, the family announced that Hoodfar had been hospitalized due to her rapidly declining health.

On October 15, 2015, Iranian authorities arrested Siamak Namazi, a dual Iranian-American citizen and the head of strategic planning at the Dubai-based Crescent Petroleum, while he was visiting his family in Tehran. On February 22, authorities arrested his father, 80-year-old Bagher Namazi, a former UNICEF representative in several countries. Both remain in detention on unclear charges.

In 2011, authorities arrested Kamal Foroughi, a British-Iranian businessman, and sentenced him to eight years in prison on charges of espionage and alcohol possession. His son Kamran Foroughi told Human Rights Watch that his 77-year-old father has just been diagnosed with cataracts and desperately needs an operation to avoid going blind. He was eligible for early release two years ago and has not seen his wife and family for more than five years.

Hard-liner factions in Iran have repeatedly warned about what they believe is a project led by the West to “infiltrate” the country and its core values. In the past two years, authorities have arrested several Iranian dual nationals accusing them of facilitating the “infiltration project.” Authorities have also prosecuted several journalists, accusing them of being part of an “infiltration network” but have yet to offer any evidence supporting these allegations.

“The jump in prosecutions of Iranian dual nationals appears to reflect efforts by government hard-liners to keep Iran isolated from the global community,” Whitson said. “Individuals should not have to suffer unjust prison terms because of a country’s internal politics.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Tara Sepehri Far (English, Farsi): +1-617-893-0375; or Twitter: @sepherifar
In Washington, DC, Ahmed Benchemsi (English, French, Arabic): +1-929-343-7973 (mobile); or Twitter: @AhmedBenchemsi


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Sunday, September 11, 2016

A mother jailed on "secret charges" while on holiday in Iran is "distraught" after being sentenced for five years, her husband has told Sky News.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, branded the sentence "a punishment without a crime", and said she was struggling most with being separated from their two-year-old daughter Gabriella.
The 37-year-old charity worker from Hampstead, north London, has already been detained for more than 150 days after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime.
A five-year sentence was handed down by the Revolutionary Court on Tuesday - the day after the UK and Iran resumed closer diplomatic ties.
Mr Ratcliffe said his wife had begged him to do "whatever you can" to secure her release from Evin prison, and revealed that she had suffered hair and weight loss as a result of the ordeal.
She was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport on 3 April as she attempted to return to the UK following a holiday with her daughter.
The couple's phone call on Friday, when she told him of the jail term, was only their third conversation since her detention, Mr Ratcliffe said.
He told Sky News his wife had spoken of her sadness at being separated from her daughter for over a fifth of her child's life, describing her treatment as "so hard and harsh".
Gabriella turned two in June without her mother or father, and is being cared for by her grandparents in Tehran after having had her passport confiscated. 
Mrs Zaghari-Ratclfife had asked: "Why am I still here?" during their conversation, her husband said.
Her husband said the timing of her sentencing was "no coincidence", suggesting that  it was an attempt to prevent an improvement in relations between Iran and the UK.
Mr Ratcliffe's in-laws had urged him not to make news of the sentencing public, out of a "great sincerity and fear" of making her situation worse, he said.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has demanded that the government take more urgent action, saying her case "beggars belief".
She said: "it is grotesque that a young mother should be removed from her baby to serve as a pawn in prisoner swaps.
"The Iranian government needs to drop this case and return Nazanin to her family here in Britain, and her own government needs to demand that action now."
Mr Ratcliffe has said it can only help that the Government has put political pressure on the Iranian government.
The Foreign Office said it was deeply concerned by the reports and that the case would be raised by Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson with their counterparts in Iran.

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