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Iranian Activists Face Execution as 'Enemies of God'


Human rights groups and the families of a number of Iranian opposition activists condemned to death as "enemies of God" are warning that their loved ones may soon be hanged after their sentences were recently confirmed by Iran's supreme court.

The Iranian government has come under scrutiny once again for its human rights record, as political prisoners condemned for being so-called "enemies of God," or mohareb, appear to be nearing the gallows.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the death sentences Tuesday, urging the Iranian government to halt their apparently imminent executions. Iran, she insisted, should "live up to its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Behrouz Kazemi's father, Jafar Kazemi, is now on death row in Tehran's Evin prison.

"Since he was arrested, he was under torture. About three weeks ago, Iranian regime stopped any family visit or any contact with him by anyone," he said. "I am very worried about him."

The younger Kazemi, who lives in exile in neighboring Iraq, insists that his father's only crime was to have visited him.

"I left the country about two years ago and came to Camp Ashraf in Iraq since my life was in danger in Iran," he said. "Iranian regime has arrested my father just because of visiting me in Ashraf."

In addition to Jafar Kazemi, six others condemned as "mohareb" are now awaiting execution, say human rights groups. They include Ali Saremi, Abdolreza Ghanbari, Ahmad Daneshpour Moghaddam, Mohsen Daneshpour Moghaddam, Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei, and Javad Lari.

Faraz Sanei of Human Rights Watch in New York says that the Iranian Supreme Court has apparently approved the execution of the seven men.

"The sentences apparently were affirmed by [Iran's] Supreme Court and have been sent to what is called the enforcement or implementation division of the judiciary, which means that they are in danger of being executed fairly soon," said Sanei.

Former French Ambassador to Tehran Francois Nicoullaud says that the cases against most of those condemned are often flimsy.

"In all these cases, the trials are not what we consider trials," said Nicoullaud. "The charges are practically nothing, and they're condemned on practically nothing. This is Iranian justice, unfortunately."

Nicoullaud argues that many opposition activists and political prisoners have little to no access to an attorney.

"They have attorneys, but the attorneys play very little role. Very often they have access to the files sometimes a few minutes before the opening of the [court] session," added Nicoullaud. "And very often they have practically no contact with the client. It's a parody of justice."

Iranian human rights attorney Mohammad Mostafaei, who has represented many political prisoners, was recently forced to flee the country after his own arrest warrant was issued. His wife and brother-in-law were taken into custody to pressure him. Tehran's prosecutor also now claims that Mostafaei is guilty of "financial fraud."

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