Former Member of Parliament and Minister, Behzad Nabavi, was one of several notable figures arrested on 16 June 2009 following the disputed presidential elections in Iran. The EU raised concerns about these detentions on 3 August with the Iranian authorities in Tehran, and again in a declaration on 23 October. On 9 February Nabavi was sentenced to five years imprisonment for his role in the post election unrest. The Iranian authorities continue to suppress legitimate protest, restrict civil and political liberties and use the threat of violence, and even execution, to silence dissent. Despite this, many brave Iranians continue to demand their fundamental rights. We urge the Iranian authorities to heed their citizens’ calls, and to release all individuals detained for political offences.
While there are no official figures available on the numbers of opposition figures imprisoned since the June 2009 election, international estimates broadly agree that around 3,000 individuals have been arrested. Many have subsequently been released; however, others remain in detention or have stood trial. We are concerned that the whereabouts of many more remain unknown.
We cannot confirm that any opposition figures have been executed for involvement in the post-election unrest; however, we are concerned that a number of individuals have been sentenced to death in televised show-trials which fell far short of international standards guaranteeing the right to a fair trial. On 28 January Iran executed Arash Rahmanipour and Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani; both were sentenced to death for “enmity against God” following prosecution at show-trials.
It is clear that the people of Iran are leading the charge for human rights and democracy. However, they need to know that their calls for basic rights and freedoms are supported by the international community. The Iranian Government have a duty to ensure that their actions live up to the human rights standards to which they have committed. The United Kingdom was one of many UN member states to draw attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva on 15 February. The HRC is currently in session in Geneva, and we are seeking every opportunity to draw attention to the situation in Iran, both nationally and as the EU. My noble Friend Baroness Kinnock raised our concerns when addressing the Council on 2 March and we did so again in our response to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 4 March.
We raised concerns with the Iranian authorities on at least 70 occasions last year, either bilaterally or through the EU and UN. We will continue to work hard alongside partners, international non-governmental organisations and civil society to ensure that the Iranian regime is held to account over its appalling human rights record.