Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tehran Slammed for Rights Violations

Gulf Times:
The European Union severely criticised Iran’s human rights record yesterday, saying its performance on the death penalty, freedom of expression and religious liberty had deteriorated.

British Europe Minister Douglas Alexander told the European Parliament that Britain had already intervened with Tehran several times during its three-month-old EU presidency because of serious and persistent violations of human rights.

Civil liberties had improved haltingly during the early years of former president Mohamed Khatami, but “regrettably Iran has lost ground in these areas over the last few years”, he said in a special debate on Iran. READ MORE

Alexander singled out the sentencing of children aged less than 18 to death and “in some horrendous cases” the execution of minors, as well as the treatment of journalists, human rights activists and webloggers.

He appealed to Iran to release Akbar Ganji, whom he called an “inspirational investigative journalist, human rights defender and now prisoner of conscience”.

Ganji was jailed in 2000 after writing a series of articles linking senior officials to the murder of political dissidents. He went on hunger strike for more than 60 days this year to try to persuade authorities to release him, falling gravely ill.

Iran’s judiciary said on Tuesday it was preventing Ganji from receiving visitors, arguing they could lead him astray or harm him.

Alexander and European Commissioner Jan Figel both urged Iran to agree to resume a human rights dialogue with the European Union. Tehran has not responded to repeated requests to set a date for the next round of talks on the issue.