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Archive for February, 2011

The International Campaign for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Iran On February 11th around 55 human rights activists and concerned citizens gathered in Ottawa, Canada to protest against the illegal imprisonment and execution sentence issued to Permanent Canadian Resident Saeed Malekpour.

The event was organized by the United Student Front in Canada and supported by organizations like Amnesty International and the International Center for Human Rights. David Kilgour, a retired member of Parliament and Alex Neve, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada were also present.

Saeed Malekpour’s wife Dr. Fatemeh Eftekhari and eleven others from Toronto travelled five hours by car to attend the 1:30pm scheduled event outside the Parliament of Canada. When they arrived, protesters from Ottawa, Waterloo, and Montreal were already gathered in the Canadian cold and chanting the official slogan of the day, “Harper, Harper, bring Saeed home.” Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada has not yet spoken out in defense or support of Saeed Malekpour.

While outside the Parliament of Canada, Fatemeh Eftekhari read through a loudspeaker a letter she had written to the Prime Minister, asking from him to speak out against the illegal actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran toward her husband.

An excerpt of the letter reads:

“Mr. Harper, do you believe my husband is innocent? If so, why have you not spoken out for him?…If you are uncertain of Saeed’s innocence, do you believe that internet-related offenses deserve the death penalty, especially when no such law exists? I feel that the silence of the Canadian government means that it is believed my husband is at fault for being imprisoned and sentenced to death.”

Around 2:45pm, protesters walked from the Parliament of Canada to the Iranian embassy. The protesters held banners and posters in support of Saeed Malekpour and against the recent wave of executions in Iran. One man on a loudspeaker led the chants as they walked down the street and the others echoed his words. Passersby watched in curiosity and stopped to observe and read the signs. It was evident that Canadians were concerned about the atrocites against humanity taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some cars that drove by honked their horns in support and even gave a thumbs up or a peace sign.

Outside the Iranian embassy, retired Parliament member David Kilgour delivered a speech. He said, “Let’s bring Saeed back home to his Fatima, who just spoke to us, so they may resume their already established life in Canada. The Canadian government has made efforts to address Iran’s gross and systematic civil rights abuses. Canada is among the major sponsors of the United Nations resolution on Iran’s human rights violations.”

Next, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada also spoke to the crowd. “An average of two people every day are executed in that country…and of course Fatemeh lives in fear and terror that Saeed could be next. And that’s why we have come together with her today to stand in solidarity to make it very clear to the Iranian governemnt that we won’t stand for the ongiong injustices in Saeed Malekpour’s case,” said Alex Neve.

Additionally, on February 9th, Alex Neve had written a personalized letter addressed to Stephen Harper, urging him to call on the Iranian government to immediately commute the death sentence, review the case urgently, conduct an impartial investigation, and not consider confessions extracted under torture.

The International Campaign for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Iran is highly concerned for Saeed Malekpour’s life. On January 29, 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran illegally executed Iranian-Dutch citizen Zahra Bahrami. The Dutch government has been heavily criticized by human rights activists and the media for staying relatively silent during Zahra Bahrami’s imprisonment. Recently, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has admitted that he made mistakes when dealing with Zahra Bahrami’s case and that he was “misled by the authorities” to think there was still time for clemency.

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Saeed Malekpour and his wife, scientist Fatima Eftekhari, in this  undated photo from his family. Malekpour is on death row in Iran,  charged with operating “obscene” websites by Iran’s cyber police/ Saeed Malekpour and his wife, scientist Fatima Eftekhari, in this undated photo from his family. Malekpour is on death row in Iran, charged with operating “obscene” websites by Iran’s cyber police
By Olivia Ward Foreign Affairs Reporter

As Saeed Malekpour sits in a solitary death row cell in Iran awaiting execution by hanging, advocates in Canada are making a last-ditch effort to save his life.

A group of Liberal MPs say it’s time for the Harper government to take a stand for the 35-year-old Canadian permanent resident.

A freelance website developer in Canada, Malekpour was charged with operating “obscene” websites by Iran’s cyber police soon after he arrived in Tehran to bid farewell to his fatally ill father.

“We cannot have a passive response,” said former justice minister Irwin Cotler, “Malekpour’s execution could come at any time.”

In Parliament Wednesday the MPs, including Cotler, Bryon Wilfert, Dan McTeague and Martha Hall Findlay, tabled petitions signed by dozens of constituents, urging Ottawa to intervene in Malekpour’s case and appeal to the government of Iran.

“The (Harper) government talks about human rights in Iran but not about Malekpour,” Wilfert said. “If the Iranians think that nobody cares, they will do what they like.”

Cotler, an international lawyer, called for sanctions on members of the Iranian regime — including the powerful Revolutionary Guard — who are responsible for executions and violations of human rights.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says it has “limited scope for intervention” in Malekpour’s case because he is still awaiting Canadian citizenship. Nor does Iran recognize dual nationality.

In Toronto on Wednesday, author and former Iranian prisoner Marina Nemat, and Christians for the Abolition of Torture held an event at Massey College for Malekpour and Canadian Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, also facing a death sentence in Iran.

On Thursday, human rights activists are staging a Parliament Hill rally.

In a letter written from prison, Malekpour said he was brutally tortured to obtain a videotaped forced confession: “while I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons and fists struck and punched me.”

He said the torture included electric shocks, and kicks in the face that broke his teeth and jaw.

Malekpour was sentenced to death, and two months ago was put in solitary confinement awaiting execution.

Meanwhile Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, a Toronto shoe salesman, is also under a death sentence on espionage charges, after his arrest during a visit to his ailing mother.

Mehdi Khalaji, an Iranian-born expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says there is little doubt that the men’s situation is critical.

“Since December the rate of execution in Iran has increased in an unprecedented way,” he said.

In addition to the announced executions of more than 118 people since December, there are reports that the clerical regime has killed at least 200 in a prison in northeast Iran.

“Whenever they feel they should be (softer) on human rights because of Western pressure they don’t implement sentences,” said Khalaji. “Otherwise they go for it.”

Executions have increased dramatically in Iran since 2005, when hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office.

Many are killed as part of a campaign to rid Iran of drug traffickers, but since the protests that followed Ahmadinejad’s 2009 election, hundreds of people have been rounded up, and reprisals against suspected dissidents have escalated.

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Saeed Malekpour sentenced to death after allegedly confessing under torture

Saeed Malekpour Saeed Malekpour, 35, who is facing imminent execution in Iran on charges of developing porn websites.  

A 35-year-old Iranian web programmer is facing imminent execution in connection with developing and promoting porn websites, charges that his family insist are trumped up.

Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada who was arrested in October 2008 after his arrival in Tehran, is convicted of designing and moderating adult content websites, acting against the national security, insulting and desecrating the principles of Islam, and agitating the public mind.

Speaking from Toronto, Malekpour’s wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari, said her husband has been informed of the verdict and has been transferred to solitary confinement for the sentence to be administered if the supreme court sanctions it. She says her husband was a web programmer who had written photo uploading software that was used in a porn website without his knowledge.

Human rights groups have expressed alarm over a sharp increase in the use of capital punishment in Iran. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), 121 people have been hanged between 20 December 2010 and 31 January this year. An ICHRI report published in mid-January said that Iran has hanged an average of one person every eight hours since the beginning of the new year.

Last week prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told reporters in Tehran that two people had been sentenced to death for running porn websites, without naming the convicts.

“Two administrators of porn sites have been sentenced to death in two different court branches and the verdicts have been sent to the supreme court for confirmation,” Dolatabadi was quoted by IRNA state news agency as saying.

Malekpour, who has been kept in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for the past two years, was arrested by plainclothes officers and was initially kept in solitary confinement for almost a year without access to legal representation.

“For a long period we even didn’t know that he was arrested,” Eftekhari said. According to Eftekhari, Malekpour’s arrest was in the face of a new crackdown by Iranian government on “indecent” websites in 2008 to fight what they had described as “the campaign launched by western governments to corrupt Iranian youth”.

A year after his arrest Malekpour was put on state television to confess. He later retracted the confessions in a letter sent from inside prison in which he said they were taken under duress.

“A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated,” he writes in the letter.

“Once in October 2008 the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water.” He went on to say: “While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck. Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios.”

Eftekhari said: “Even if my husband’s charges were true, which they are not, it’s hard to imagine why he should be sentenced to death. I think Iran is trying to intimidate the opposition or any sign of protest by sentencing an unprecedented numbers of prisoners to death.”

Malekpour’s sentence has prompted reactions from human rights activists and organisations who have launched a campaign to save his life. Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian foreign affairs minister, has also expressed concerns over his sentence.

Gloria Nafziger of Amnesty International in Canada, an organisation which has sought for Malekpour’s sentence to be commuted said: “Amnesty International is very concerned that Saeed Malekpour is facing a death sentence in Iran after an unfair trial and reports that he was tortured in order to confess to his crimes.”

Last month Iran executed Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian woman convicted of drug smuggling, which resulted in a freeze of the Dutch diplomatic contacts with Iran.

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FoxNews: Iran has sentenced Saeed Malekpour, a 35-year-old web programmer to death for charges of developing and promoting porn websites, according to The Guardian.

Saeed Malekpour — a permanent Canadian resident — was arrested in October 2008 after his arrival to Tehran and convicted of designing porn websites.

Malekpour’s wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari, tells the paper her husband has been moved to solitary confinement to wait out his sentencing. She says he wrote photo uploading software that was used by a porn website without his knowledge.

“Even if my husband’s charges were true, which they are not, it’s hard to imagine why he should be sentenced to death. I think Iran is trying to intimidate the opposition or any sign of protest by sentencing an unprecedented numbers of prisoners to death,” Eftekhari told The Guardian.

A year after his arrest, Malekpour was forced to confess on Iran’s state TV. He later retracted the confession, saying it was under duress, according to the paper.

Amnesty International in Canada is calling for Malekpour to be commuted.

“Amnesty International is very concerned that Saeed Malekpour is facing a death sentence in Iran after an unfair trial and reports that he was tortured in order to confess to his crimes,” spokeswoman Gloria Nafziger told the paper.

Last month, Iran executed a Dutch-Iranian woman for drug smuggling.

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Saeed Malekpour

“SILENCE IS THE FUEL FOR VIOLENCE, WE ARE THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS!”

JOIN US IN OTTAWA: “STEPHEN HARPER, BRING SAEED HOME!”

Human rights activists and concerned citizens will gather in Ottawa on Thursday, February 10th at 1:30pm to protest against executions in Iran. They will begin their rally outside the Parliament of Canada in an effort to send a message to government officials on taking a firmer and more serious stance against the illegal prison and execution sentence issued by the Iranian Judiciary to Permanent Canadian Resident Saeed Malekpour. He is another victim of the inhumane crimes committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran for the purpose of spreading psychological terror at home and abroad. Saeed Malekpour is currently held in a solitary confinement cell in the IRGC-controlled ward of Evin prison.

The main message of the event is targeted at Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bring Saeed back home to his wife, so they may resume their already established life in Canada and once again enjoy activities like hiking, fishing, and rock climbing. Supporters will declare, “Stephen Harper, bring Saeed home” and “Canada, raise your voice louder against executions in Iran!”

The Canadian government has made some efforts to address Iran’s continued and systematic human & civil rights abuses. Additionally, Canada is among the co-sponsors of the United Nations resolution on Iran’s human rights violations.

The next stop in the afternoon will be outside the Islamic Republic of Iran embassy where supporters will protest against the recent wave of arbitrary, illegal, and inhumane executions carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Supporters will also lend their voice to the voiceless prisoners awaiting to face the gallows.

From December 20, 2010 to January 30, 2011 alone, the Islamic Republic of Iran has executed over 118 individuals while many more sit on death row. In recent years, Iran has had the highest rate of executions per capita in the world.

ORGANIZER: United Student Front in Canada
Contact Email: freesaeednow@gmail.com
Phone: 1 647 860 8485

JOIN US IN OTTAWA!

–> Toronto residents: We will head out on Thursday at approximately 8:00am. The time is not yet confirmed. More details will be available soon.

–> Montreal residents: More information will be available soon.

–> Ottawa residents: Meet us at the Parliament of Canada at 1:30pm!

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Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR)– According to most recent updates on Saeed Malekpour’s case, Mr. Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran prosecutor general, during a press conference announced that Mr. Malekpour has been notified of his death sentence and the case is sent to the Supreme Court for “the confirmation” of the death sentence.

According to Malekpour’s wife, he was notified of his sentence while in prison.

In this regard Fatemeh Eftekahri, Saeed Malekpour’s wife, in an interview with the “Committee of the Human Rights Reporters” expressed surprise at Mr. Dolatabadi’s public statements and denounced it for being biased. She said, “Two weeks ago Mr. Tabatabaee, Saeed’s defense attorney, submitted our appeal to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Mr. Dolatabadi, Tehran general and revolutionary courts prosecutor announced that two separate judiciary branches have issued death sentence in the case of two managers of pornographic sites and this sentence has been sent to the Supreme Court for confirmation. But whenever the Supreme Court is involved it is because of an appeal case and not in response to a confirmation request. So Dolatabadi’s statement that the death sentence is pending the Supreme Court’s confirmation and not its appeal runs contrary to the principle of independence of the judiciary and reveals the existing pressures for a predetermined verdict.”

On the other hand, the issuance of death sentence for Saeed Malekpour has raised strong reactions among human rights activists and the Canadian government has officially expressed its concern over Malekpour’s sentence. Melissa Lantsman, spokesperson for Foreign Minister, in an interview with AFP said, “Canada remains deeply concerned by the continued flagrant disregard of the Iranian authorities for the rights of both Iranian and dual-national citizens”.

Fatemeh Eftekhari updated CHRR of her latest legal efforts, “At this state the case has been transferred to the Supreme Court and a legal appeal has been filed so we have to wait for the verdict now. But last week, they took him to the court for yet another accusation.”

Malekpour’s wife also added that in addition to her husband, a criminal investigation and arraignment is under way regarding her role in distributing Saeed’s public letter. According to her, “In this new criminal investigation, Saeed has been accused of national security crime and I’ve been accused of acting as his accomplice against the national security. They have even shows my arrest warrant to Saeed. These accusations are about the public letter in which Saeed revealed the tortures he was subjected to in prison. He wrote in that letter all his confessions were obtained under torture. The content of the letter was a plea for justice with the goal of informing the officials in the judiciary of his dire situation. Since all the accusations against him were based on his confessions, Saeed wanted to let the public know about the conditions under which he was forced to state those confessions”.

Eftekhari also added, “Before releasing this letter to the public I went to the Judiciary Head office, to Mr.Avaei and to anyone else who might have been able to help but because no one paid attention to my letter I released it to the public so that at least human rights activists, people, and those who watched Saeed’s confessions on television be informed of what has made him to say such nonsense against himself. Following this story, a new criminal case was opened for Saeed as the writer of the letter and for me as its distributor”.

Expressing concern about the transfer of her husband to the solitary prison of Sepah (IRGC) since two months ago, Fatemeh Eftekhari said, “Last time we talked to him on the phone, he sounded very tired and upset”. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran also released a statement on Feb 3rd reacted to Malekpour’s verdict. “

The issue is not whether crimes occur in Iran, but whether death sentences are based on real trials, with real evidence, and real cases presented by lawyers,” said Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

Saeed Malekpour, a graduate of Metallurgy from Sharif University, has been in prison since October 2008. Despite the letter in which he explained in detail the torturers used to coerce him into false confessions, in the preliminary stage he received death sentence. He is now awaiting his final verdict from the Supreme Court.

 

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STEPHEN HARPER, BRING SAEED HOME!”

“CANADA, RAISE YOUR VOICE LOUDER AGAINST EXECUTIONS IN IRAN!“

Time: Thursday, February 10 · 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Location: Parliament of Canada, 1 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON

More Info:

On Thursday, February 10th, human rights activists and concerned citizens will head to the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa and raise their voices loud against executions in Iran, focusing on the illegal imprisonment and execution sentence of Permanent Canadian Resident Saeed Malekpour

JOIN US IN OTTAWA! For Toronto residents, we will head out on Thursday at approximately 8:00am. The time is not yet confirmed. More details will be available soon

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