Human Rights First Issues Urgent Action On Amir Yaghoub-Ali

Monday 11 August 2008

Human Rights First has issued an urgent action in support of Amir Yaghoub-Ali, a member of the Campaign who was arrested while collecting signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition in July 2007. He was recently charged with endangering national security through the spreading of propaganda and sentenced to one year mandatory prison term. The statement issued by Human Rights First appears below. To take action in support of Amir, go to the Website.

Demand an End to the Repression of Human Rights Activists in Iran

"It is a mistake to think that striving for women’s rights is fighting for the rights of only half of society." - Amir Yaghoub-Ali

Amir Yaghoub-Ali, a 21-year-old student and gender equality activist, will serve a one-year prison sentence unless his conviction is overturned.

Yaghoub-Ali is the first man to have been arrested in connection with the One Million Signatures Campaign, which calls for an end to gender discrimination in Iranian laws. To date, at least 44 members of the Signatures Campaign have faced harassment and prosecution at the hands of the authorities.

The crackdown on gender equality activists comes during a heightened climate of oppression against activists and human rights defenders of all kinds. Recent incidents include:

* statements in the government media disparaging Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi, who heads the Association of Human Rights Defenders, has issued statements criticizing the recent rise in executions in Iran;

* the August 4 execution of Yaghoub Mehrnehad, a social activist from the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan, who had been critical of local government;

* the ongoing detention of a number of activists including leaders from the Baha’i community, women’s rights activists, student activists, and physicians working on HIV/AIDS.

Please call on the Iranian government to overturn the conviction of Yaghoub-Ali for his nonviolent activities in support of women’s rights, and to take immediate steps to halt the repression against other human rights defenders.

Click here for a press statement about other activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign.

Tell Me More

Amir Yaghoub-Ali, a 21-year-old student from Tehran, is a member of the Men’s Committee of the One Million Signatures Campaign. While collecting signatures on behalf of the campaign in Andisheh Park in Tehran on July 11, 2007, he was arrested. On July 15, he was transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison, where he was held in solitary confinement until he was released on bail on August 8, 2007.

On May 25, 2008, the Revolutionary Court convicted Yaghoub-Ali of "endangering national security" through the spreading of "propaganda against the state," and sentenced him to one year in prison. It is this sentence that is now under review by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court.

In an interview published online shortly after his conviction, Yaghoub-Ali stated that one of the first questions put to him by the judge was why a man would involve himself in women’s rights. During his incarceration in Evin Prison, he was interrogated eight times while blindfolded and facing a wall. Yaghoub-Ali was not allowed to contact his family, and was repeatedly mocked by the guards and interrogators for his involvement in women’s rights issues, including insinuations about his sexuality. When asked if he regrets his involvement in the movement, in light of his sentence, Yaghoub-Ali emphatically replied that he does not for "when we achieve equality between men and women, all social relations become more just and society becomes more humane."

For a timeline of significant events and dates relating to the One Million Signatures Campaign, click here.

Sample Letter
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran


His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Mohammad Khazaee
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my concern about the continued persecution of human rights activists in Iran.

I am specifically writing about the case of Mr. Amir Yaghoub-Ali, who was convicted on May 25 of "endangering national security," for doing nothing more than peacefully collecting signatures for a petition to reform discriminatory laws. I understand his one-year sentence is now under review by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court.

I would like to convey my deep concern about the case and to urge that Mr. Yaghoub-Ali’s conviction be overturned and that all remaining charges against him and other peaceful activists striving to promote gender equality be dropped.

I am also disturbed by the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, and particularly the defamation of human rights defenders such as Shirin Ebadi in government media. Statements in the August 2 and August 4 issues of Kayhan News disparaged Ebadi for her criticism of the rise in executions in Iran, or the bringing of "national security" charges against civil society actors. When government-backed media sources openly disparage well-known defenders like Ebadi, they promote a climate of hostility and persecution of all human rights defenders and activists.

The rights to peaceful assembly and free expression are enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was endorsed by all U.N. member states, as well as the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory and which is binding on the Iranian government.

I ask that the government of Iran comply with its obligations to protect citizens exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. I urge that Mr. Yaghoub-Ali’s conviction be overturned and that charges against other peaceful activists be dropped.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


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