Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pen International issues Iran resolution

Payvand news: The Assembly of Delegates of International PEN, meeting at its 73rd International Congress in Dakar, Senegal, 4 – 11 July 2007

Extremely concerned about the lack of progress in identifying and prosecuting those responsible for the torture and subsequent murder of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi; and the failure to bring to justice those who ordered the serial murders in the late 1990s of Iranian writers and intellectuals;

Shocked by the conviction for spying of freelance business journalist Ali Farahbakhsh on 26 March 2007, who was sentenced to three years in prison; and the two year prison sentence handed down to Iranian Kurdish journalist Kaveh Javanmard on 17 May 2007, as well as the continued detention of the Iranian Kurdish journalists and cultural activists Adnan Hassanpour and Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand and Iranian Azerbaijani journalists and cultural activists Said Matinpour and Abbas Lissani; as well as the prison sentences of three years and two years and a half years handed down by the court of first instance to Kurdish journalists Ejlal Qavami and Said Sa'edi respectively on 9 June 2007;

Concerned that the security organisations have prevented the Iranian Writers Association from holding its General Assembly to elect its board of directors for the past five years;

Deeply concerned that the authorities have banned the publishing of hundreds of books including those that have already appeared once or several times in print, and have used this policy to pressure independent publishers; prohibited some films and shut down several cultural and artistic organisations;
Further concerned that writers, journalists and others detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression have been tortured in the presence of judges, held for weeks in solitary confinement and denied basic due process rights;
Noting that Iran imprisons the highest number of journalists in the Middle East, violating their rights to freedom of expression and to a fair trial, and often with long periods of incommunicado detention and lack of access to adequate medical care;
Dismayed that the judicial authorities have banned an increasing number of writers and journalists from visiting other countries; and have harassed and persecuted a sizable number of journalists on returning to Iran from training courses abroad;
Troubled by the state crackdown on women's activists and women writers and journalists, which has resulted in dozens being arbitrarily detained, at least eight of whom are facing charges, including prominent women writers and journalists Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Jila Baniyaghoub and Nahid Keshavarz; and the prison sentences handed down to journalists Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Sussan Tahmassebi and Fariba Davoodi Mohajer.
Noting that Iran's judiciary has shut down a number of independent newspapers, more than 30 weeklies and other periodicals, mostly in the provinces, and tens of student newsletters in the course of the past year; dozens of journalists and intellectuals have been summoned by authorities and many of them have been prosecuted under the restrictive provisions of the Press Law and Penal Code;
Worried by resolutions that the government adopted in November 2006 to facilitate control of the Internet in Iran, which have been used since that time to ban access to countless Web sites; as a result of which thousands of Web sites are censored, on-line journalists harassed and privately-owned Internet service providers (ISPs) ordered to shut down or put themselves under government control; and including the crackdown on several Iranian "bloggers" who write and post information on the Internet, amongst them prominent Internet writer Arash Sigarchi who was sentenced to 14 years in prison, reduced to three years on appeal, in February 2005;
Deploring the climate of self-censorship induced by the systematic repression of those expressing critical or opposing views against the authorized political and religious doctrines;
Noting with distress that the International Bookfair (TIBF) held in Tehran 1 – 12 March 2007 only gave access to publishers approved by the Iranian government, and that international publishers were separated from domestic publishers, thus diminishing the possibility of a real cultural dialogue between Iranian and foreign writers and publishers;
Alarmed that the Iranian ethnic groups, including Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Arabs and Baluchis, are prohibited from teaching and studying in their own languages;

Further alarmed by the systematic suppression of public and intellectual dissent in Iran;

Urges the government of Iran to:
Release and drop all charges against all political prisoners targeted for the legal exercise of their right to free expression, association and assembly, including Siamak Pourzand and Ali Farahbakhsh; as well as all prisoners detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory;
Review the Press Law, Penal Code and censorship of book publishing with the aim of the repeal all criminal provisions hindering the peaceful expression of opinion;
Require and maintain the full cooperation of judicial bodies and security forces in ensuring that trials are conducted in accordance with international standards of fairness and that torture is abolished; and to bring to justice those who ordered the murder of Zahra Kazemi and the victims of serial murders of the late 1990s;
Lift the ban on newspapers and periodicals, and to retract resolutions that allow for censorship of the Internet in its many forms and ensure the free flow of information on the Web;

Conduct a thorough investigation of its secret prisons, granting full access to international observers;

Take measures to allow writers and journalists to freely practice their right to freedom of assembly and association;

Take concrete steps to ensure the full and unhindered access to the right to freedom of expression in Iran.And here is the rest of it.

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