March 16, 2013 | Members of the Al-Hiwar Institute, a civil rights group, who are on death row in Iran were recently nominated for an international prize sponsored by the Train Foundation. According to this New York-based organisation, the annual Civil Courage Prize was founded to draw attention to “extraordinary heroes of conscience” and is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated “steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk.”
The nominees– Mohammad Ali Amourinejad, Hashem Shabani, Hadi Rashedi, Jaber Alboushoukeh and Mokhtar Alboushoukeh— along with another prisoner, Rahman Asakereh—who is sentenced to 20 years in prison– are currently on their 15thday of hunger strike in Ahwaz’s Karoun Prison. They are protesting against deplorable prison conditions. According to Kamel Alboshokeh, a cousin of the two of the condemned prisoners, the physical state of these prisoners on hunger strike, especially Hadi Rashedi and Mokhtar Alboshoke is deteriorating and they require proper care.
The trustees of the Train Foundation will announce the 2013 honouree(s) in the fall.
Iranian authorities arrested the five Al-Hiwar activists in 2011 and severely tortured them until they confessed on camera to false criminal charges. After some of the confessions were aired on Press TV, a broadcasting channel controlled by Iranian regime officials, the five activists were sentenced to death. In an unlawful move, Press TV had aired the false confessions months before the activists were tried in court. According to a report recently published by Justice for Iran (JFI), Al-Hiwar activists have been deprived of their basic civil rights and chance for a fair trial. The death sentences were upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court in January 2013.
On March 12 the European Union imposed sanctions on some Iranian regime authorities who are responsible for violating human rights. Among the individuals who have been sanctioned is Mohammad Sarafraz, the head of IRIB and Press TV, for his cooperation with Iranian regime authorities to air forced confessions of prisoners and judge Seyed Mohammad Bagher Mousavi who imposed death sentences on five Al-Hiwar members.
JFI calls on the international community to continue holding accountable perpetrators of human rights violations against prisoners of conscience in Iran and to help ensure the protection and safety of imprisoned Al-Hiwar activists.