West Balochistan: Appeal to Halt Executions
The Hague, 5 April 2007 – The UNPO remains deeply concerned about the fate of nine Balochs who have been arrested by the Iranian authorities, and appeals to halt further executions.On 14 February 2007 a bus carrying security officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was attacked in Sistan-Balochistan Province in southern Iran, leaving at least 14 people dead. This indefensible act of violence appears however to have been followed by a campaign of extensive human rights violations, targeting members of local Baloch communities and their activists. Recent reports suggest two Balochis were executed within days of the attacks, with human rights organisations such as Amnesty International also reporting concern about nine additional Balochis presently in detention and believed to be facing imminent execution:Mr. Sa’id Qanbar Zahi (17) , Mr. Ismail Vafai (21), Mr. Asad Vafai (27), Mr. Javad Narou, Mr., Ma’soud Nosrat Zahi, Mr. Houshang Shahnavazi, Mr. Yahya Sohrab Zahi, Mr. Ali Reza Brahoui, Mr. Abdalbek Kahra ZahiAll believed to have been arrested because of family ties to individuals linked to the 14 February attacks. Media reports also indicate that five members of this group have recently appeared on Iranian state television “confessing” to a range of violent crimes that occurred in the Province in March of 2006. 17 other individuals are believed already to have been executed in connection with these events. UNPO and its members condemn all acts of violence, but fear Iranian authorities are using these events as a pretext to continue their oppression of the Baloch minority community. The above sentences of death have all followed from highly irregular trials, falling well short of internationally recognised standards of justice, and reports suggest that the televised “confessions” may, as is in other similar cases elsewhere in Iran, have been extracted through torture.UNPO has therefore appealed to Prof. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Helene Flautre MEP, Chairperson of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, Ms. Angelika Beer MEP, Chairwomen of European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iran, Mr. Romano Maria La Russa MEP, Vice-Chairman of European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iran, Ms. Christa Prets MEP, Vice-Chairwoman of European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iran, and Ms. Yanine Poc, Head of Asia Desk in Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to:- Urge Iran to end immediately its use of executions as a weapon of fear and oppression, in particular where minors are involved;- Remind Iran that serious charges of terrorism must be examined by open and transparent courts, in full accord with internationally recognised standards of justice; - Continue your efforts to visit Iran in order to evaluate and report on its use of the death penalty, in particular in cases involving activists belonging to their many minority communities; and- Raise the issue of minority rights whenever your mandate brings you into contact with Iranian officials.