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The latest news on kurds

1. Letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to interfere on behalf of Kurdish Hunger strikers in prisons of Iran
2. Day 28 and Counting – An “Unlimited” Hunger Strike by over 100 Kurdish Prisoners of Conscience
3. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL- Iran: Prisoners of conscience and death row prisoners on hunger strike
4. KHRP: Kurdish prisoners in Iran mount hunger strike
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1.
Letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to interfere on behalf of Kurdish Hunger strikers in prisons of Iran

September 24, 2008

Honorable Secretary General of the United Nations Ban-KI-moon
The United Nations
1st Ave & E 44th St
New York, NY 10017

Dear General Secretary Ban Ki-moon:

We are the undersigned organizations, urge you to take immediate action to help save the lives of Kurdish Prisoners on hunger strike in Iran and to ask the Iranian authorities to comply with the hunger strikers demands for humane and decent treatment, in accordance with internationally recognized standards of human rights and international law.

The lives of many Kurdish prisoners of conscience in Iran are in danger. For 29 days already, more than 200 Kurdish prisoners of conscience launched an “unlimited” hunger strike on the 25th of August, 2008, to protest the Iranian authorities ill-treatment of prisoners, torture, death sentences given to Kurdish activists, summary execution, human rights violations, continues oppressive and discrimination policies against women, Kurds and other ethnic and religious minorities.

The Kurdish political prisoners of conscience in Iranian prisons are civilians, journalists, human rights and women activists, teachers, students and democratic intellectuals. They have been subjected to severe torture, arbitrary arrest, and denied the right to an attorney. Many have signed forced confessions under torture, and are ill treated in prison, where their dignity and civil rights are being violated on a regular basis. It is the legitimate, natural and legal right of all prisoners of conscience to express their discontent and demand democratic changes to this inhuman unacceptable situation and to reform the Iranian courts, prisons and legal system.

Due to its ideological-totalitarian system and since President Ahmadinejad came to power, the Iranian authorities have started new aggressive policies of arbitrary arrests and summary executions. They torture those who have different sets of beliefs, hold different opinions or religion, conduct different functions or write in a different manner. They have tracked down and persecuted all political and civil activists along with liberal and democratic intellectuals to create an atmosphere of extreme fear and terror among the people.

We call for the release of all Kurdish and Iranian political prisoners of conscience, to reform the Iranian court and legal system according to international standard, to put an end to execution, torture, ill treatment, human rights violations and discrimination against minorities.

We call upon the international community, United Nations, human rights organizations and the democratic countries all over the world to standup with the Kurdish and Iranian people in their march for freedom, democracy and peace.

Sincerely yours,

Leadership Human Rights Council, Washington D.C.- USA
Foundation For Democracy in Iran (FDI) – USA
American Kurdish Association, New Jersey-USA
New England Kurdish Association, Boston – USA
Kurdish American Educational Society- To improve human rights in Iran
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, Lorton, Virginia- USA
Assisting the Nations Foundation, Tennessee – USA
Society For Human Rights in Iran, Los Angeles, California – USA
Ahwaz Education & Human Rights Foundation, Clifton, Virginia – USA
Willing Heart Missionary, Jacksonville, Florida – USA
Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) – Iran
Balochistan People’s Party – Iran
American Friends of Baluchistan, Washington D.C. – USA
Kurdish Community of Southern California – USA
Kurdistan National Congress – USA Office

Contact:
Saif Badarakhan
4701 Kenmore Ave. # 303, Alexandria, VA 22304
sbadrakhan@aol.com Phone: 703-861-9419 Fax: 703-461-0244

Kathryn Cameron Porter President Leadership Council for Human Rights 444 N. Capitol Street, NW Suite 841 Washington, DC 20001 www.leadership-council.org Phone: 202-638-0066 Cell: 703-901-9919

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2.
Day 28 and Counting – An “Unlimited” Hunger Strike by over 100 Kurdish Prisoners of Conscience


September 23, 2008

Press Release: Kurdish National Congress of North America


Day 28 and Counting – An “Unlimited” Hunger Strike by over 100 Kurdish Prisoners of Conscience


On August 25, 2008 Kurdish prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s prisons of Evin Tehran, Gohardasht Karadj, Urumiyeh, Sanandaj, Saqez, Marivan, Bukan, and Mahabad began an “unlimited” hunger strike to demand the Iranian authorities grant the following rights:


• The end to arbitrary arrests and reform within the Iranian legal system

• The right to have a representative attorney present, and the nullification of the crimes they have been accused of in their absence and without a just trial

• The nullification of execution sentences for prisoners of conscience, and the freedom of those detained for years without a reason or trial

• International and National organizations granted the right to inspect Iranian prisons and report news about the conditions of the prisoners

• Iranian authorities’ compliance with the International Human Rights Protocols which they are signatory to

• The end to discriminatory treatment due to their Kurdish heritage and minority religion

• The end to all torture and maltreatment of prisoners, and the separation of political prisoners from criminal prisoners, and family visitation rights


Although the exact number of those on hunger strike is not known, this ensemble of brave men and women make up more than a hundred of the Kurdish prisoners in Iran. The group is made up of human rights activists, women’s right activists, civil rights activists, journalists, writers, intellectuals and professionals – all seeking democratic justice through peaceful and non-violent means.


Within this group, eight have already been sentenced to death without a just trial. All eight have been subject to harsh treatment, torture, accusation without evidence, and are currently awaiting execution without a set date.


The following are those awaiting execution: Mr. Farzad Kamangar , Mr. Arsalan Aoliaei, Mr. Anwar Hossainpanahi, Mr. Habib Latifi, Mr. Farhad Vakili, Mr. Adnan Hassanpoor (An Appeal has been opened on his case), Mr. Mehdi Ghasemzadeh, and Mr. Abdolvahid (Hiwa) Butimar.


Another group of the hunger strikers have been sentenced to long prison terms for supporting human rights and/or being women’s right activists. The following is a short list of names of prisoners and their sentences, ranging from life in prison to several months under severe conditions: Mr. Jahangir Badozadeh (life in prison), Mr. Raeof Ebrahimi, Mr. Sasan Babaei, Mr. Yasser Parvizi, Ms. Hana Abdi, Ms. Fatemeh Goftari, Mr. Fardin Mohammadi, Mr. Jahandar Mohammadi, Ms. Sarwat Azarnoosh, Mr. Adel Ashia’ni, Mr. Bakhtiar Ashrafi Kia, Mr. Abdolrahman Changali, Mr. Ali Rashidi, Mr. Ramazan Saa’idi, Mr. Hamid Shaban, Mr. Khalil Mustafarajab, Mr. Aref Abdola Zadeh, Mr. Abdolah Hosaini, Mr. Hedaiet Ghazali, Mr. Sabah Nasri, Mr. Mohamad Saa’dat, Mr. Solaiman Amoei, Mr. Toufiq Naojavan, Mr. Javad Hajilu, Mr. Gholamhosain Khanabdi, Ms. Zainab Baizidi, Mr. Mohamad Sedigh Kaboudvand, Mr. Massoud Kordpour, Mr. Abdola Ghasemzadeh, Mr. Sahand Alimohamadi, Mr. Bakhsh Alimohamadi, Mr. Younes Aqakhan , and Mr. Khezer Rasoumrout.


There is yet another group of hunger strikers who have been in prison for many months, and have neither been tried nor given a reason for their imprisonment. Many were originally arrested on minor violations and arbitrary reasons. These include Mr. Ali Shakeri, Mr. Farid Abdi, Mr. Yaser Goli and Ms. Ronak Safarzadeh. Also detained are Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamyar Alaei, both well known international physicians and leading experts in the fields of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. They have been detained since June 2008 without an internationally recognized crime, a just trial, or information about a release date.


Twenty-eight harrowing days have passed since the hunger strike began and there is no end in sight. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s authorities have neither listened to the prisoners’ demands nor paid the slightest attention to the international communities’ plea for the lives.


Instead they have moved most of the prisoners to solitary cells, continued torture and forced confessions, separated prisoners on hunger strike, banned routine visits from the prisoners’ families, and blocked news broadcasts about the hunger strike. The regime threatens families of the prisoners and their attorneys with imprisonment, threatens to impose the death penalty sooner than previously planned, and refuses medical treatment to those prisoners who have fallen severely ill from torture and/or the complications of the hunger strike.


The Kurdish National Congress of North America is severely concerned about the lives that are at stake in the prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We fear that if the international community, the governments of the world, Human Right organizations, and supporters of human rights do not act promptly and effectively, a great tragedy is inevitable. The authorities of Iran have a horrifying history of massacre, and we do not want history to repeat itself.


We condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for the flagrant violations of human rights, for imprisoning and torturing civilians, and for not allowing access to information about these prisoners of conscience. The government of Iran is responsible for the well being of all the prisoners, including those on hunger strike, and we demand that first and foremost they ensure the prisoners are taken to medical facilities without any further delay, and gain visitation rights with their families, attorneys, and the media.


We ask Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, President George W. Bush, Navi Pillay, United Nations Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, The European Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and all Human Rights Supporters to take this situation very seriously. We ask you all to demand an end to the violations of Human Rights taking place in the prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


We ask that the International community put pressure on this government to release these Kurdish prisoners, that they hold Mr. Ahmadinejad, President of The Islamic Republic of Iran, personally responsible for the atrocities taking place in the prisons of this country, and that they insist he promptly comply with International Human Right standards that Iran has agreed upon.


September 23, 2008

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3. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT
11 September 2008
MDE 13/136/2008
Iran: Prisoners of conscience and death row prisoners on hunger strike


Amnesty International is concerned about more than 50 imprisoned members of Iran’s Kurdish minority who are currently on hunger strike in prison in protest against continuing torture, executions and other gross abuses of human rights. There are growing concerns for their safety as a result of their hunger strike.
The hunger strike was launched by a number of prisoners on 25 August 2008. Reliable sources indicate that those protesting now include 15 prisoners who are being held in Sanandaj, 33 at Oroumiye, three at Saqqez and four who are being held in Tehran. The hunger strikers include three women’s rights activists – Zeynab Beyezidi, Hana Abdi and Ronak Saffarzadeh, all prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally – and at least eight prisoners who were sentenced to
death after unfair trials.
The hunger strikers are calling for an end to the use of torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners and for an immediate end to executions and the use of the death penalty. They are also calling for better prison conditions and independent inspection of Iranian prisons by national and international human rights bodies, for an end to the use of internal exile as a method of punishing dissent and for an end to official discrimination against the Kurdish minority, including prisoners.
There is little to indicate that the Iranian authorities will accede to the hunger strikers’ demands even though the prisoners have termed their hunger strike ‘unlimited’. To date, the authorities have not expressed any reaction to the demands or to the hunger strikers themselves.
The prisoners’ demands reflect longstanding problems in Iran which affect the Kurdish minority and many others who oppose or criticise the authorities (see, for example, Amnesty International’s report, Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority,
published July 2008,
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/088/2008/en/d140767b-5e45-11dda592-c739f9b70de8/mde130882008eng.pdf
Amnesty International continues to call for an end to torture, executions and other human rights violations in Iran, including discrimination against Kurds and members of other ethnic and religious minorities. The organisation also continues to call for the immediate, unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including the three women’s rights activists who are among the hunger-striking prisoners, and for the suspension of all death sentences, including those against hunger strikers Arslan Oliya’i, Anvar Hossein Panahi, Habib Latifi, Farhad Kamangar, Farhad Vakili and Ali Haydariyan.

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4. KHRP: Kurdish prisoners in Iran mount hunger strike


10 September 2008


From the Kurdish Human Rights Project:

Some 200 Kurdish prisoners of conscience in Iran are undertaking a hunger strike to protest against use of the death penalty and the prevalence of torture in detention centres throughout the country.
The individuals involved are spread across a number of locations including jails in Kermanshah, Saghez, Mahabad and Uromieh, as well as Rajai Shahr prison and Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Kurdish citizens are frequently detained in Iran for the expression of non-violent opinions. The past three months alone have seen the reported arrests of at least three Kurdish journalists – Saman Rasoulpour, Massoud Kurdpour and Anvar Sa’idi Muchashi – as well as more than 80 people who were apparently rounded up in Bokan in connection with a general strike in July.
Torture and other forms of ill-treatment in detention are prevalent and fair trial rights are systematically violated, including in cases where the accused face possible execution. In October 2007, for instance, the Supreme Court overturned a death sentence against the Kurdish journalist Hiwa Butimar, who is believed to have been tortured in detention, on the grounds of procedural irregularities. It returned the case to the same court in Marivan that had convicted him in the first place and which, in April this year, duly sentenced him to death again.
“Iran has a very long way to go in order to live up to international human rights standards,” said KHRP Executive Director, Kerim Yildiz. “Rather than suppressing the voices of Kurdish journalists and human rights defenders, the authorities should be encouraging their participation in open, peaceful dialogue in order that they may play a key role in the process of working towards protection of the human rights of all Iran’s citizens.”
Michael Farquhar/Kerim Yildiz

Kurdish Human Rights Project