Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Comment from KHRP

Dear Participants

The Kurdish Human Rights Project would like to commend the Italian human rights group Information, Safety & Freedom for conferring this year’s Freedom of the Press award to Adnan Hassanpour and Hiwa Butimar.

The Kurdish Human Rights Project is an independent, non-political human rights organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the human rights of all persons living in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

The presentation of this award comes at a critical time, as both Adnan and Hiwa’s life are threatened by the Iranian authorities. One week ago the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Adnan, and prolonged the imprisonment for Hiwa.

Despite ongoing international pressure, the Iranian government continues to restrict freedom of expression, exercises the death penalty on a mass scale, as well as torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and detention without trial. In addition, religious and ethnic minorities continue to face systematic discrimination by the state.

The right to freedom of expression in particular remains a key issue in the relationship between Iran and the international community.

KHRP has repeatedly stressed the importance of freedom of expression, calling for Iran to remove restrictions on the freedom of the media, and allow journalists, writers, human rights defenders, students, and women groups to speak freely.

Iran has constantly been under pressure by international human rights organisations with regard to its violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party.

It is important to note that since the Iranian revolution, and particularly since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, further restrictions have been imposed on freedom of expression.

Despite internal and external pressure on the Iranian government, the Iranian constitution contains several articles which directly impact the exercising of free opinion and expression in the country. Article 12 of Iranian constitution, requires the press Supervisory Board to ban publications that violate Islamic code. The same article bans publications of articles ‘which might damage the foundation of Islamic Republic’, national security, insulting Islam or defending leader and religious authorities.

Under these legal provisions the Islamic Republic of Iran has imprisoned, tortured, harassed and even sentenced to death intellectuals, journalists, students, lawyers, political opponents and human rights defenders. The death sentence against Hiwa and Adnan is a recent example of this abuse of human rights in Iran.

The other issue which needs direct attention is the treatment of ethnic minorities in Iran. KHRP has continually highlighted the occurrence of Kurdish oppression in Iran to the international community. Kurds in Iran have been discriminated against throughout Iran’s history. Since the formation of Iranian state in 1924, Iranian government has placed restrictions and boundaries on Kurdish culture and language.

The arrest and subsequent death sentences against Hiwa and Adnan reaffirms this problem. Hiwa and Adnan have been subjected to such harsh treatment by the Iranian authorities due to their journalistic work, and their participation in the human rights movement in Iranian Kurdistan

The death penalty is another issue which needs to be addressed by the international community. Iran has for a long time exercised the death penalty on a mass scale. Within the Kurdish community in particular, death sentences have been widely carried out, to a large scale.

The KHRP urges participants here today to exert influence over Iran to address these and many other issues, and in particular to call for the removal of these unjust sentences for Adnan and Hiwa, as well the numerous other victims of such oppression.

The KHRP urges international human rights organisations to exert influence over Iran to guarantee the right to free speech and the independence of the media, to eliminate discrimination against the Kurds, and to eradicate the death penalty.

The KHRP has monitored and observed several cases related to freedom of expression, including those of Hiwa and Adnan. The evidence from these observations suggests that there remain major difficulties related to free expression in Iran. Therefore we urge international organisations to closely examine the application of the principles of freedom of expression in Iran, and strongly condemn Iran’s actions towards those who do speak out, including their unjustifiable use of torture and the death penalty.

Thank you

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