Published by on December 1, 2016

mansoureh-behkishIranian human rights defender Mansoureh Behkish is facing trumped-up national security charges for peacefully defending the right to truth and justice concerning the mass killings of political prisoners, including her siblings and brother-in-law, during the 1980s in Iran. If imprisoned, she would be a prisoner of conscience.

Iranian human rights defender Mansoureh Behkish was informed on 29 October that she had been charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. She is active with a group known as the Mothers and Families of Khavaran, which is comprised of mothers and other family members of political prisoners summarily executed during the 1980s in Iran.

She was charged after being interrogated twice – on 22 and 24 October – by Ministry of Intelligence officials about her peaceful truth and justice seeking activities, including: holding commemorative gatherings at her home for political prisoners summarily executed or forcibly disappeared during the 1980s, including her sister, four brothers and brother-in-law; paying visits to the families of victims; taking flowers to Khavaran, a deserted grave-site in south Tehran where some of the thousands of political prisoners who were extra-judicially executed in the summer of 1988, including two of her brothers, are buried in unmarked mass graves; and posting her writings about Iran’s human rights violations on Facebook and other online platforms. She was denied her right to be accompanied by a lawyer during the interrogation sessions. She has since been informed that the Office of the Prosecutor has banned her two lawyers from accessing her case file.

Mansoureh Behkish has a previous suspended sentence, which she received following a 2011 conviction of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, also related to her human rights work with the Mothers and Families of Khavaran, as well as with another group called the Mothers of Laleh Park, which is largely comprised of women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in Iran’s post-election violence since June 2009. If convicted of the fresh charges levelled against her, the suspended sentence may also be activated.

Source: Amnesty International

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Dear Secretary General of United Nations,

The number of executions is rising in Iran, journalists are being detained for doing their job and activists face cruel and degrading punishments, long prison terms and even execution. According to the most recent reports by Amnesty International and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Iran’s judiciary continues to sentence child offenders to death, and carry out their execution by hanging”. Also, on August 9th, 2016 the son of late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s designated successor in 1988, published a shocking audio tape of his father’s meeting with the “Death Commission” which summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini.

We, the undersigned, hereby urge you to take up this issue and raise it in the General Assembly in order to;

1. Put pressure on Iran to immediately halt the executions and abolish death penalty in Iran.
2. Call on all Western governments to make any improvement in economic relations with Iran contingent on its human rights record.
3. Demand in its resolution on human rights violations in Iran, to bring the perpetrators of 1988 massacre (one of the worst atrocities the post-war world has ever seen – Geoffrey Robertson-QC) to justice before an international tribunal.

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