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Two due to be returned to prison in Iran

The two were arrested for participation in post election protests, and were previously released only on a temporary basis.

Hossein Rassam was sentenced behind closed doors to four years in prison at the end of October 2009 on charges of “acting against state security” and has lodged an appeal. He had earlier been released on bail at the end of August 2009. On 21 November 2009, former Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for “acting against state security” and “propaganda activities against the system”. Mohammad Atrianfar was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for what are believed to be similar charges. They were released soon afterwards on bail equivalent to US$700,000 and US$500,000 respectively pending their appeals against their convictions and sentences. Mohsen Aminzadehformerly Deputy Foreign Minister, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment on 7 February 2010. He was released on 10 February 2010 on a bail of about US$700,000 pending his appeal. He was convicted of “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the system by granting interviews to foreign television stations”. Another charge of “insulting the President” remains open against him. Abdollah Ramazanzadehformerly a government spokesperson, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. He had been charged with “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the system” and “possession of classified documents”. He was freed on bail on 23 December 2009. Mohsen Mirdamadi, a former member of parliament, was released on 17 March 2010 after posting bail of about US$450,000 whilst still awaiting a verdict on charges of “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the system.” Maziar Bahari was released on 17 October 2009 on bail of about US$300,000. He was allowed to leave Iran and arrived in the UK three days later, in time to be present at the birth of his first child.

Since the disputed presidential election in June 2009, over 5,000 people have been arrested, including over 1,000 during and following mass demonstrations on the religious festival of Ashoura on 27 December. Those detained include political figures and activists, students, human rights defenders and journalists. Since the beginning of March 2010, a widespread wave of arrests of human rights defenders has taken place.

Many of those arrested since June 2009 have been tried in grossly unfair trials, resulting in long prison term sentences and some sentences of flogging. At least 14 people are believed to have been sentenced to death, of whom two have been executed and three have had their sentences commuted to prison terms. Those known to be on death row include two people convicted of “moharebeh” (enmity against God) for alleged membership of the Anjoman-e Padashahi Iran, a group which advocates the restoration of a monarchy in Iran, and five unnamed individuals (two women and three men) said to have been tried and convicted in January 2010 of “moharebeh” for alleged membership of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (a banned opposition group based abroad) and organizing the Ashoura demonstrations. A 20-year-old university student, Mohammad Amin Valian, has also been sentenced to death, although his appeal has not yet been heard. He was one of five people charged with “moharebeh” during the trial of 16 people in January and February 2010. Video footage of him throwing stones during the Ashoura demonstrations was shown in court and was used as evidence to convict him of “moharebeh”. The International Campaign fro Human Rights in Iran has also reported that 42-year-old Abdolreza Ghanbari is among those sentenced to death, although there has been no official confirmation of this.

The Iranian authorities are continuing to severely restrict freedom of expression in Iran, arresting journalists (of whom scores are believed to remain in detention), imposing restrictions on the use of the internet, including social networking sites, and shutting down newspapers. In addition, the Iranian authorities are continuing to deny permission for anti-government demonstrations to take place, and have taken brutal measures to suppress such demonstrations, thereby restricting freedom of assembly. The authorities have acknowledged over 40 deaths; opposition sources put the true figure much higher, at over 80.

In February 2010, Iran accepted several recommendations to guarantee freedom of expression and press activities made by other states in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record before the UN Human Rights Council (see para 90, recommendations 52-58 at http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/A_HRC_WG-6_7_L-11_Iran.pdf) but rejected other recommendations calling for an end to measures such as harassment and arbitrary arrest of writers, journalists and bloggers. It appears that, despite such public commitments, in practice, the Iranian authorities are continuing to disregard their human rights obligations relating to freedom of expression and assembly.

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Documents, Right to Protest