UN rights monitors urge Iran to stay Arab activists’ execution
Four UN human rights monitors on Wednesday called on Iran to stay the looming execution of two activists from the Islamic republic's Arab minority, saying their trial was fundamentally flawed.
“First and foremost, the Iranian authorities must stop the executions and the accused should be permitted a new, fair trial,” the quartet of rights experts said in a joint statement.
Ali Chebeishat and Sayed Khaled Mousavi, who are farmers and Arab cultural rights campaigners, are scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
They were arrested in November 2012 and sentenced to death a year later on charges of “enmity against God”.
Both men have reportedly been subjected to severe mistreatment and beatings, possibly amounting to torture, the UN monitors said.
They have been held incommunicado for over two months, neither their lawyer nor family members able to obtain official information regarding their current whereabouts or the status of their cases.
They appeared to have been denied due process, with their trial breaching standards set down in both Iranian and international law, the monitors said.
“The accused were convicted either primarily or solely on the basis of a televised ‘confession’ which appeared on Iranian State TV in June 2013,” they said.
“The timing of the video release, as well as its content, beg serious questions about its legitimacy as evidence in the conviction and sentencing of these men to the most serious and irreversible fate possible,” they added.
The men were also denied legal representation of their own choosing and were even refused regular access to their court-appointed lawyer, and their families have faced retribution for appealing for support from the UN.
The two men’s case follows the widely-criticised execution in January of two other Arab minority activists, Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Shabani Amouri, whose trial the UN said did not meet international standards.
The UN has warned of an escalation of the use of capital punishment in Iran, where convicts are generally hanged.
According to the UN, at least 500 people are known to have been executed in 2013 –including 57 in public.
The four UN experts who made Wednesday’s appeal were the world body’s Iran monitor Ahmed Shaheed, its executions watchdog Christof Heyns, minority rights monitor Rita Izsak, and Gabriela Knaul, who assesses the independence of judges and lawyers.