Free Imprisoned Iranian Earthquake Relief Workers
- Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament
The Kaleme website reported that 20 relief workers were sentenced in Tabriz Revolutionary Court. Their prison sentences range from six months to two years.
A deadly earthquake in northwest Iran in August left hundreds dead and thosands homeless prompting volunteer relieft efforts by activists and ordinary citizens around the country.
The detained relief workers were arrested at an independent relief camp in Sarand when government security insisted on taking control of all relief efforts.
The detainees, who included many prominent civil activists, wrote an open letter to the head of the judiciary, condemning the security forces' misrepresentation of their humanitarian efforts.
The court has found the relief workers guilty of "collaboration in assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security."
The judiciary had accused the relief workers of "trying to distribute expired food", but the relief workers have stressed there is no evidence that any expired food had been in the camp and they have denied all the charges brought against them.
UPDATE, JANUARY 16, 2013: Tabriz judicial authorities today also accused the group that was sentenced to a total of 19 years in prison, of drinking homemade alcohol, use of illegal satellite equipment, and non-religious mix of the opposite sexes.
NOTE: PLEASE ALSO SIGN THE SISTER PETITION FOR THE RELEASE OF THE TWO MOST PROMINENT HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IMPRISONED FOR THE "CRIME" OF VOLUNTEER EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI AND NAVID KHANJANI:
WHEREAS: These Iranian volunteers are "guilty" of nothing more than providing timely humanitarian relief to earthquake victims, in sharp contrast to the Islamic Republic government's slow response to the disaster;
AND WHEREAS: Charges of distributing "expired food" are entirely without foundation, and the other charges (which imply a conspiracy "against national security") offer irrefutable proof that these humanitarian volunteers have been imprisoned solely for political purposes;
AND WHEREAS: The prison sentences imposed upon these humanitarian volunteers are therefore flagrantly illegal under both international law and the Iranian constitution. And worse, they are a morally obscene example of the Islamic Republic regime's dirty war against Iran's nascent civil society
THEREFORE: We, the undersigned, demand that the international community bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to rescind all prison sentences meted out to these earthquake relief volunteers, drop all charges against them, and free them immediately and unconditionally.
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The Free Imprisoned Iranian Earthquake Relief Workers petition to Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.