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UN experts condemn charges against Iranian woman seeking missing relatives

GENEVA (24 November 2016) – Iran must end the harassment of a woman trying to learn the fate of her brother and his newborn daughter, who disappeared from prison more than 30 years ago, a group of United Nations human rights experts has said.

The campaign against Raheleh Rahemipour may be a direct reprisal for her search, according to the experts*.

Ms. Rahemipour is now facing criminal charges and has undergone a lengthy interrogation at the same jail where her brother and the baby were last seen in 1984 - Evin prison in Teheran.

The UN experts are calling on Iran to drop all charges against Ms. Rahemipour and halt the campaign against her.

“Rather than investigating the alleged disappearance of Ms. Rahemipour’s relatives, the government of Iran has decided to launch a campaign of harassment and intimidation against her,” the experts stated.

“We are concerned that the judicial process against Ms. Rahemipour may be a direct reprisal for her human rights activism in the search for her relatives, as well as the exercise of her rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

“We urge the Iranian Government to immediately drop all charges against Ms. Rahemipour and to halt any acts of retaliation against relatives, witnesses and human rights defenders who report cases of enforced disappearances.”

The experts say that since concerns about the missing pair were relayed to the Iranian authorities by the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, earlier in 2016, the harassment against Ms. Rahemipour has only increased.

She is said to have faced intimidating calls and messages from the Iranian security apparatus, followed by lengthy interrogation sessions in Evin prison.

“We conveyed our concerns to the Government of Iran through an urgent communication in August 2016, yet instead of replying to our call, the State authorities have now charged Ms. Rahemipour with a number of national security offences, including ‘propaganda against the regime’, and ‘participation in unlawful assemblies’,” the experts noted.

Ms. Rahemipour has been given a court hearing date of 13 December before a judge reputed to pass extremely harsh sentences against political activists.

Her brother was last seen in Evin prison in August 1984, a year after he and his pregnant wife had been arrested over their political beliefs. Their baby daughter was born in jail in April 1984, but was taken away when she was only a few days old, and the couple was told she had died. 

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

The case of the disappearance of Ms. Rahemipour’s two relatives was recently examined by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, during its 109th session in May: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Disappearances/A-HRC-WGEID-109-1_en.pdf

(*) The experts: the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye; the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst; the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai; and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ms. Asma Jahangir.

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Iran: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 22 917 9286 / ucedrangolo@ohchr.org) or write to wgeid@ohchr.org

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