Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Shiva Nazar Ahari

Charged with being a ‘moharebeh’ (one who wages war against God), Shiva Nazar Ahari is due to be sentenced on 4th September. The IRI’s favourite punishment for such a charge, if not the only punishment, is death. The IRI will want to make an example of her, for she has been the thorn of truth that digs in the treacherous side of the IRI. She has been the one who tirelessly fought against the IRI’s doctored claim that the civilian street protestors who took part in the post-12th June disputed presidential elections demonstrations belonged to ‘organized criminal organizations’, such as the ‘Mujahedin Khalq Organization’. Nothing could be further from the truth. She is a champion of human rights, and that is what she had dedicated her life to, without seeking profit. If it is one thing that the prisoners of conscience share in common is that they all have her phone number; she took all their calls and relentlessly pursued their complaints of torture and detention incommunicado at the hands of the IRI authorities. This could not be tolerated by the IRI – they could not have truth exposing their crimes against humanity.

Ms Nazar Ahari worked to serve humanity, and would never ask for payment. She would spend two days per week teaching children in conjunction with her child advocacy activities for ‘Child Labour’, an NGO. Her mother commented that she had nothing against her daughter’s chosen path to serve humanity, adding “Is defending human rights a crime? It is burdensome to hear instead that it is an act contrary to national security”.

Ms Nazar Ahari was arrested whilst making her way to dissident cleric Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral in Qom. Concerning the court case, her defence attorney, Mohammad Sharif, is highly concerned, and has good cause to be – “If they are going to sentence her using the same logic with which they charged her, her situation may be dangerous”. The fabricated charges, Sharif explains, are threefold – “One is moharebeh, based on Article 186. The second is ‘assembling and colluding to plan a crime,’ based on Article 610, and the third is ‘anti-regime propaganda,’ based on Article 500”.

Ms Nazar Ahari has been in section 209 of Evin prison – notorious for accommodating some of the most brutal forms of torture of detainees, as well as the illegal executions of thousands of dissidents during the 1980s. She has been held in solitary confinement for 40 days, which breaches international law. Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (ICCPR) complements Article 7 prohibition of torture, in that it protects:

“All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”

The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights maintained that such protection applies to all forms of detention (General Comment 21, 44th Session, 1992). In Arzuaga Gilboa v Uruguay (case 147/83), it was held that fifteen days of solitary confinement amounted to a breach of Article 10. Therefore, Ms Nazar Ahari’s detention in solitary confinement for over forty days is a blatant violation of Article 10.

Furthermore, her detention has mostly been incommunicado as, according to her mother, the authorities deny them visitation and communication rights. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Resolution 2005/39) held that prolonged incommunicado detention could facilitate the perpetration of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Commission further held that such detention in its own essence could constitute a form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This was confirmed in the case of Polay Campus v Peru (Case 577/1994), where it was held that solitary confinement and detention incommunicado amounted to breaches of Article 7.

The soft touch of humanity has been mistaken for humanity’s weakness; and now, the idle spectators that comprise citizens and governments around the world have become complicit in the destruction of the very fabric of humanity. Shiva Nazar Ahari is to be another servant of humanity to become the victim of the IRI, as we look on; or will we act to intervene? It is enough for evil to flourish when good people do nothing.

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