03/11/2019

Urgent Action: Tortured Conservationists Face Death Penalty (Iran: UA 33.19)


Eight detained conservationists could face the death penalty or long prison sentences, following a grossly unfair trial in which they were accused of trumped-up spying charges. Their charges stem solely from their conservation activities including carrying out research into Iran’s endangered wildlife. They have said they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.

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Head of the Judiciary Ebrahim Raisi
C/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN
Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28
1209 Geneva, Switzerland
Twitter handle: @UN_Iran
H.E. Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Iran_UN
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr Ebrahim Raisi,

Eight conservationists who have been detained in Tehran’s Evin prison since their arrests in late January 2018 are awaiting a court verdict following a grossly unfair trial.

Niloufar Bayani, Houman Jowkar, Morad Tahbaz and Taher Ghadirian have been charged with “corruption on earth” (efsad f’il arz) and could be sentenced to death. Amirhossein Khaleghi, Sepideh Kashani and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh have been charged with espionage and could face up to 10 years in prison. Sam Rajabi has been charged with offences including “co-operating with hostile states against the Islamic Republic” and could face up to 11 years in prison.

Following their arrests, they were held incommunicado in Section 2-A of Evin prison without access to a lawyer and limited family contact. According to reliable sources, during one family prison visit, some of them displayed signs of physical torture, with broken teeth and bruising on their bodies. The unfair trial, held before Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, relied almost entirely on “confessions” allegedly made under torture and later retracted, as the main evidence against them. Niloufar Bayani told the court that she only made a “confession” after she was “broken” through physical and psychological torture and that she later retracted her “confession”. She said interrogators threatened to beat her, inject her with hallucinogenic drugs, pull out her fingernails and arrest her parents; they also showed her a piece of paper saying that it was her death sentence. During one of the trial sessions, the judge told her to leave the courtroom for being “too disruptive” after she repeatedly objected to her retracted forced “confession” being used against her and the other conservationists. Consequently, she was not allowed to appear in court for the final three trial sessions. All eight conservationists have been denied access to a lawyer of their choosing throughout their entire detention and trial.

I urge you to release all eight conservationists immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including through their work protecting Iran’s endangered wildlife. Please ensure that, pending their release, they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and are given regular access to their families and lawyers of their own choosing.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES