Mehdi Khanbaba-Tehrani – Europe & Iran

Linked to IRANIAN PERSONALITIES ON THE ATOMIC CRISIS.

He co-signed an appeal to Iranian authorities on
July 2005 to release immediately Akbar Ganji. See also Akbar Ganji – Iran.

Excerpt: … This conference featured the participation of Ms. Leili Pourzand (Lawyer Women’s Issues researcher), Soudabeh Arghavan (Political Prisoner), Professor Sa’id Mahmoudi, Dr. Ne’mat Ahmadi (Lawyer), Dr. Khosro Shakeri and Mehdi Khanbaba Tehrani, and me. We each gave our views for twenty minutes to the members of the parliament, followed by a question and answer period … read more on Payvand’s Iran News.

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sorry, no picture available of Mehdi Khanbaba-Tehrani – Europe & Iran

See also Democracy Digest.

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Human Rights Watch writes about Iran: Legal Constraints on Free Expression: The right to free expression is enshrined in the Iranian constitution and in international human rights treaties ratified by Iran. Article 23 of the Iranian constitution holds that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”177

Article 24 safeguards press freedoms.178

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran ratified in 1975, states, “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference,” and that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”179

Iran’s leaders have rhetorically upheld these commitments. Then President Mohammad Khatami, speaking to reporters in December 2003, said Iran was “not censoring criticism. Criticism is OK. Even political Web sites that are openly opposed to the Iranian Government…are available to the Iranian people.”180

Iran’s former minister of information technology, Ahmad Motamedi, added that there was “no punishment defined” for publishing material the government did not agree with.181

In practice, vaguely worded Iranian laws and regulations restrict the exercise of the rights to free expression and to access information. Article 500 of the country’s Penal Code states that “anyone who undertakes any form of propaganda against the state…will be sentenced to between three months and one year in prison,” and leaves “propaganda” undefined.182

Iran’s Press Law of 1986 forbids censorship while at the same time it establishes a broad basis for the harsh punishment of content deemed inappropriate. Article 4 declares that “no government or non-government official should resort to coercive measures against the press…or attempt to censure and control the press.”183

But Article 6 forbids, among other things, publishing material promoting subjects which might damage the foundation of the Islamic Republic…encouraging and instigating individuals and groups to act against the security, dignity and interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran within or outside the country…or offending the Leader of the Revolution and recognized religious authorities (senior Islamic jurisprudents)…or quoting articles from the deviant press, parties and groups which oppose Islam (inside and outside the country) in such a manner as to propagate such ideas.184

Article 25 of the Press Law further holds writers who “instigate and encourage people to commit crimes against the domestic security or foreign policies of the state” responsible as accomplices to those crimes, “should those actions bear adverse consequences,” and adds, “If no evidence is found of such consequences, [writers] shall be subject to a decision of the religious judge according to Islamic penal code.”185

What comprises a “crime against the domestic security or foreign policies of the state” is left open to interpretation. Likewise, Article 26 continues, “Whoever insults Islam and its sanctities through the press and his/her guilt amounts to apostasy, shall be sentenced as an apostate, and should his/her offense fall short of apostasy he/she shall be subject to the Islamic penal code.”186

Article 27 continues, “Should a publication insult the Leader or Council of Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran or senior religious authorities (top Islamic jurisprudents), the license of the publication shall be revoked and its managing director and the writer of the insulting article shall be referred to competent courts for punishment.”187

Under Article 513 of the Penal Code, offences deemed to be an “insult to religion” can be punished by death or imprisonment for up to five years, but “insult” is not defined. Article 698 provides sentences of up to two years in prison or up to seventy-four lashes for those convicted of intentionally creating “anxiety and unease in the public’s mind,” spreading “false rumors,” or writing about “acts which are not true.” Article 609 criminalizes criticism of state officials in connection with carrying out their work, and calls for a punishment of a fine, seventy-four lashes, or between three and six months of imprisonment for such “insults.”188

Such sweeping language violates international free-expression norms. According to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, “When a State party imposes certain restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression, these may not put in jeopardy the right itself.”189

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in January 2000 urged all Governments to ensure that press offences are no longer punishable by terms of imprisonment, except in cases involving racist or discriminatory comments or calls to violence. In the case of offences such as “libeling,” “insulting” or “defaming” the head of State and publishing or broadcasting “false” or “alarmist” information, prison terms are both reprehensible and out of proportion to the harm suffered by the victim. In all such cases, imprisonment as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion constitutes a serious violation of human rights.190

177] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, article 23, op. cit.

[178] “Publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The details of this exception will be specified by law,” Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, article 24.

[179] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976, article 19, http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_ccpr.htm, accessed September 3, 2005.

[180] Aaron Scullion, “Iran’s President Defends Web Control.”

[181] Ibid.

[182]Amnesty International, Iran: A Legal System That Fails to Protect Freedom of Expression and Association, December 21, 2001, http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engMDE130452001?Open, accessed September 21, 2005.

[183] Iranian Press Law, ratified March 19, 1986, article 4. English translation available at http://www.netiran.com/?fn=law14, accessed September 21, 2005. For a fuller discussion of the Press Law, see Human Rights Watch, As Fragile as a Crystal Glass: Press Freedom in Iran, October 12, 1999, http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/iran/; Middle East Watch (Now Human Rights Watch/Middle East and North Africa), Guardians of Thought, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993), pp. 24-26.

[184] Press Law, article 6.

[185] Press Law of 1986, article 25.

[186] Press Law of 1986, article 26.

[187] Press Law of 1986, article 27.

[188] Quoted in Amnesty International, Iran: A Legal System.

[189] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, CCPR General Comment 10: Freedom of Expression (Art. 19): June 29, 1983, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/2bb2f14bf558182ac12563ed0048df17?Opendocument, accessed September 21, 2005.

[190] Annual Report to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2000/63, para. 205.

And further, Human Rights Watch writes about Censorship: Over the course of September 2005, researchers from Human Rights Watch and the Open Net Initiative (ONI), assisted by Iranian bloggers, tested 3,146 Web sites from Iran. Using the methodology described in the introduction to this report and in ONI’s other reports on Internet censorship around the world, researchers tested four categories of sites:

- 1) A list of “high impact” sites reported to be blocked or likely to be blocked in Iran because to their content;
- 2) A “global,” or control list of sites reflecting a range of Internet content, (including, for example, major news sites and sites about “hacking”);
- 3) A list of Iranian blogs;
- 4) Previous tests indicated that Web site filtering in Iran was likely accomplished by software called SmartFilter, produced by the U.S.-based Secure Computing. Secure Computing did not dispute these results at the time, but denied having sold the software to Iran.232 A fourth list, comprised of sites known to be blocked by this software, was included in this round of testing in order to test whether the government was still using SmartFilter to block Web sites.
In Iran, attempts to navigate to a blocked Web site immediately return a page saying that access to the site is “forbidden” or “denied.” The page varies depending on the ISP used. A few samples, sent to Human Rights Watch by Iranian Internet users, follow: (see on HRW’s site).
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The Iranian authorities marked International Women’s Day by attacking hundreds of people who had peacefully assembled to honor women’s rights. Once again, Iran’s government has signaled that it is ready to use violence to suppress peaceful public assembly of any sort. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (Read more on this link).

For more texts from Mehdi Khanbaba-Tehrani, see his own website, and many more of his own writings, in Iranian language, by putting his name into Google.

links about Iranian affairs:

Iranian opinion leaders;

radio Persian Farsi;

The Iranian Times;

Iranian Books;

Resistance-affairs;

Economy of Iran by wikipedia;

Iran’s Economy by Iran Online;

an Iran brief;

a link in swedish;

and a link in russian.

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