EU takes Iranian group off EU terror blacklist
Associated Press reported on Jan. 26 that the European Union decided Monday to remove an Iranian opposition group from the EU’s terror list and lift the restrictions on its funds, a move likely to further damage relations strained over Tehran’s nuclear program.The decision by the 27-nation bloc’s foreign ministers means that as of Tuesday, the assets of the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, or PMOI, will be unfrozen. It is the first time an organization has been 'de-listed' by the EU.Shahin Ghobadi, a spokesman for the group said $9 million (euro7 million) had been frozen in France alone, with 'tens of millions of dollars' worth of assets also locked away in other EU countries.The group had been blacklisted as a terror organization by the EU since 2002, but waged a long legal battle in the EU’s court of justice to reverse that decision. Several EU court decisions went in the group’s favour, concluding the EU had failed to properly explain why it froze the assets of the Paris-based group.'What we are doing today is abiding by the decision of the court, there is nothing we can do about the decision,' said Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief.The People’s Mujahedeen, also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, is the military wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is based in Paris. The council said it is dedicated to a democratic, secular government in Iran.It was founded in Iran in the 1960s and helped followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrow U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979.But the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq fell out with Khomeini, and thousands of its followers were killed, imprisoned or forced into exile. The group said however, it has renounced violence in 2001 and hasn’t kept any arms since 2003.Maryam Rajavi, who heads the Paris-based National Council of Resistance, the political wing of the PMOI, said Monday’s decision was 'a crushing defeat to Europe’s policy of appeasement' with Iran.'The blacklisting of the Iranian Resistance contributed to the prolongation of the rule of religious fascism in Iran,' she said in a statement. 'The Iranian regime did not refrain from using all political and diplomatic pressures to maintain the PMOI on the list.'Rajavi said her group would now focus its attention on getting the United States to drop the PMOI from its terror list.
Three hanged in Shiraz and Kazeron
A 29-year-old prisoner identified by only his first name as Heshmat was hanged by mullahs’ judiciary in the southern city of Kazeron, reported the state-run daily Iran on Saturday. Two other prisoners were hanged without being identified in the provincial capital of Shiraz, reported the state-run daily Etemaad on January 31. On January 31, 2008, the mullahs’ judiciary chief, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered death penalty should be carried out behind closed doors.
Six more executed in Iran
According to Associated France Press on January 28, Iranian regime has hanged 6 prisoners in the prisons of the north eastern city of Mashhad and the central city of Isfahan.The latest hangings bring to at least 38 the number of executions in Iran so far this year. Iran executed at least 246 people last year, according to an AFP count.Since last year, the Islamic republic has stepped up its use of the death penalty in what it says is a bid to improve security in the society.
The human rights organization, Amnesty International called on the “Iranian authorities to immediately stop the destruction of hundreds of individual and mass, unmarked graves in Khavaran, south Tehran, to ensure that the site is preserved and to initiate a forensic investigation at the site as part of a long-overdue thorough, independent and impartial investigation into mass executions which began in 1988, often referred to in Iran as the ‘prison massacres’.’Amnesty International said in its statement on Jan. 20th: The organization fears that these actions of the Iranian authorities are aimed at destroying evidence of human rights violations and depriving the families of the victims of the 1988 killings of their right to truth, justice and reparation.Reports indicate that between 9 -16th of January 2009, the numerous ad hoc grave markings made by the families of some of those executed in previous years were destroyed by bulldozer. The site was at least partially covered by soil and trees were planted.Amnesty International additionally calls on the Iranian government to act on its standing invitation to UN mechanisms and to facilitate the visit to the country of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. In his visit he should be allowed to have an unhindered access to the Khavaran site with a view to indicating how best to conduct an investigation into the events of 1988, including in relation to the unmarked graves at Khavaran.The Iranian authorities have the obligation to conduct an impartial investigation into the events and bring to justice those responsible for the “prison massacres” in fair proceedings and without recourse to the death penalty. Destruction of the site would impede any such future investigation and would violate the right of victims, including the families, to an effective remedy.The Iranian authorities also have a responsibility to ensure that the body of anyone secretly buried who was not the victim of a crime is returned to his or her relatives. Destruction of the grave site would prevent this from happening and inflict further suffering on the families of the victims of the “prison massacres” who have been yearly commemorating the killing of their loved ones by gathering in Khavaran.BackgroundBetween August 1988 and February 1989, the Iranian authorities carried out a massive wave of executions of political prisoners - the largest since those carried out in the first and second year after the Iranian revolution in 1979. In all, between 4,500 and 10,000 prisoners are believed to have been killed.Amnesty International has repeatedly called for those responsible for the “prison massacre” to be brought to justice in a fair trial without the death penalty.For further information, see Iran: The 20th anniversary of 1988 ’Prison Massacre’, AI Index: MDE13/118/2008, 19 August 2008, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/118/2008/en andAmnesty International’s report, Iran: Violations of human rights 1987-1990 (AI Index MDE 13/21/90).