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Iran: Rights Expert Condemns Broadcast Of American-Iranians

Haleh Esfandiari shown on Iranian television in a promotion on July 16 (AFP) July 17, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Amnesty International's Drewery Dyke, the human-rights organization's international researcher on Iran, spoke with RFE/RL's Radio Farda correspondent Farin Assemi about the Iranian government's scheduled broadcast of a program on July 18 that includes alleged confessions by detained Iranian-Americans.

Radio Farda: What's Amnesty International's opinion about broadcasting so-called "confessions" of Iranian-American citizens Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, which Iranian TV will broadcast tomorrow?

Drewery Dyke: The reported confessions of Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, two dual nationals currently detained in Iran, flies in the face of Iran's human-rights obligations regarding fair-trial procedures, an act which is clearly not permitted under the conventions that Iran is a party to and would undermine any trial that may arise in connection with their detention. The organization unconditionally condemns this particular act and indeed the apparent basis of their detention, as they appear to be prisoners of conscience held only for their beliefs. The organization would call for their immediate and unconditional release as there appears to be no criminal charges that meet international standards for a recognizable criminal offense.

"We must hold the government accountable for overall actions of the state...Iranian authorities [are]...the ones who are really responsible for the situation, who should really put a stop to the situation."

Radio Farda: What is the basis of the pressure on Iranian political, social, and cultural activists?

Dyke: The basis of the pressure is not one particularly that organizations such as Amnesty International look at. We look at human-rights issues, human-rights violations. To the extent that we do that, we find that other patterns of violation in the country conform to a large, unabated pattern of [human-rights] violations [that] cover a range of issues, including the arrest of [human-rights] defenders, the detention of students held in connection with the so-called "18th of tir" student demonstration, and those who protest against other arrests in connection with women's rights and executions. There is a range of these issues that there are complaints about. That there are protests and, in this larger context of use of politics of fear, creating a kind of polarized situation in the country. We see a spiral of [human-rights] violation that's continuing in an unabated manner, and amongst these we see the arrest of Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh and others, one of your colleagues, for example. So we would urge this spiral to stop and for the Iranian authorities to live up to their obligations, to adhere to their obligations, stay party to the international covenant of political rights, really just start showing respect towards its own people, towards its own [human-rights] defenders, towards its own students, towards those who are under the age of 18 and sentenced to death. It's a spiral, the end of which is unclear -- certainly a spiral which needs to end now and by putting [human rights] back on the agenda, recognizing the importance of [human rights], the rule of law, the dignity of people when considering issues of administration justice.

Radio Farda: Who is in charge of detaining and getting confessions from Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh? Is it the judiciary or the government?

Dyke: Under international law, we must hold the government accountable for overall actions of the state and, in this regard, the failure of Iranian authorities to implement and live up to their own commitment regarding [human-rights] standards, they're the ones who are really responsible for the situation, who should really put a stop to the situation. Yes, there may be other forces and other factors and we do appeal to all of those and, indeed, we seek to contact all of those who have a stake in the HR situation in Iran: religious leaders, NGOs, commentators, the press. It's why we make our statements available...why we appeal directly to the governors of provinces, to the [Iranian] supreme leader, to the minister of intelligence, to the head of the judiciary: because they're all stakeholders in the implementation of [human-rights] standards. Although ultimately, the government must take responsibility and, ultimately, it would be [Iranian President Mahmud] Ahmadinejad's government which needs to ensure that the [human-rights] obligations that Iran is a state party to, the International Covenant of Political Rights, that these are implemented.

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