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Panahi death case on 70th anniversary of UN human rights declaration

By Dr. Amir Sharifi 5/5/2018
This undated picture shows Ramin Hossein Panahi who has a stay of execution. Photo: Iran Rights
This undated picture shows Ramin Hossein Panahi who has a stay of execution. Photo: Iran Rights

Seventy years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 that calls for respect for human rights, liberty, dignity, and equality, its global foundation is under threat and nowhere is it so ruthlessly done as in Iran. This declaration has been translated into more than 500 languages including Farsi, yet it remains inaccessible if not an illusion in Iran where human rights defenders and advocates face intimidation, imprisonment, torture, and death. It is even more dangerous for religious and ethnic minorities such as Kurds who as “second class citizens” face a double oppression, more violence, more surveillance and more draconian punishments for defending human rights.

The tragic fate of Ramin Hussein Panahi family is telling. Ramin, a Kurdish political prisoner, has been condemned to death. Three days ago his niece, Nishtiman, traumatized by the news of the impending execution of her uncle, committed suicide. The brother of Ramin Hussein Panahi, Amjad in a moving statement speaks of the trauma and inflictions that his family has been subjected to as he calls upon the world to come to their rescue.

“Today, Nishtiman Hossein Panahi, Afshin and Ramin's Hossein Panahi's niece, and Ahmad Hossein Panahi's wife, who was recently arrested, has committed suicide at the age of 25. I do not know to whom I should express my condolences nor do I know with whom I should share my sorrow. Nishtiman after learning about the final verdict on the execution of Ramin put an end to her own life. I do not know how to cope with this matter. Indeed this is unbearable and far beyond the natural ability of anyone to endure. As member of the Hossein Panahi family I ask all freedom loving and genuinely humanitarian people to support Ramin Hossein Panahi and annul and denounce his impending execution and thereby alleviate our torment and anguish.”

Despite such a tragic end for a member of Hossein Panahi’s family whose members have reportedly threatened collective suicide in the event that Ramin is executed and despite repeated calls from human rights organizations, activists, and experts, the Islamic Republic is yet to annul the unfair verdict.  It was only on May 2, that Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary and arbitrary executions, urgently appealed to the Islamic Republic of Iran to annul and halt the execution of Ramin, who like many other Kurdish and non-Kurdish prisoners have not received a fair trial. Before being sentenced to death, Ramin was held incommunicado, interrogated, and tortured for self-incrimination and forced confession, He has been subjected to the most inhumane punishment then put on death row, an endless ordeal that is destroying his family. 

Although the world faces moral and intellectual challenges in confronting the impervious Islamic Republic of Iran when it comes to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights activists and defenders cannot give up the fight for the basic tenets and norms of the UDHR against those who represent the dark side of human society. Hossein Panahi's family as victims of human rights violations have already experienced and being haunted by an endless ordeal.  On the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is necessary for all human rights advocates to reassert our universal commitment to the core values and ideals of this important document and stand up for Ramin Hossein Panahi to annul and halt his execution so we alleviate the suffering of the grieving family.

Amir Sharifi is the Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group in Los Angeles, California.


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pre-Boomer Marine brat | 5/5/2018
"the world faces moral and intellectual challenges" ... With respect, it is more than those ... It is about common sense, and spine ... Khomeini's massacre of the MEK in mid-1988 involved a FAR-greater loss of life than the Kosovo War, but the globe hadn't the cohones to do anything about it ... It is all about global cowardice, about politicians AND citizens saying "it's not our fault, so why should we care?" ... It's not a question of fault ... When you are face-to-face with evil, either you kill it, or it will eventually kill you.
Daisy Garcia | 6/5/2018
It is very sad to read about the cruelty and unfairness other receive simply because of ignorance of others. The fact that a human has the heart to allow such acts is unbelievable. We seem to be in another planet because so many things happen every single day and the things we take the time to worry about are meaningless. Stories like these open my eyes a bit more make me realize while I’m sitting here enjoying my freedom others continue to fight for theirs every single day . Great information, wish we could actually do something from such distance. My condolences to their family.
Khoakha Nguyen | 6/5/2018
I think only the dictatorial regime communist governments use to control people by cruel rules. They always threaten, torture and oppress their people in order to enforce them obey what government requests. I read this writing I think about my country, Vietnamese Communist, that has lots of similar cases. Such as on news paper wrote about the student came back to visit his family in the summer time. Unfortunately for him, that night had a murder by person unknown. Polices came his house and invited him to office to inquire but next day his family had a sad news that he suicided. It is that kill to cover mouth. Someone defend they can put defenders in jail with a reason they are reactionaries and want to overthrow a government. We have to have stand up and request the UN and Human Right association that have to have strong actions on these dictatorial regimes. I feel great sympathy with the writer. I stand up with you for free Ramin Hossein Panahi.
YU ZHANG | 7/5/2018
it is foreword of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "The commitment of the United Nations to human rights stems from the Organization’s founding Charter. The international community has a duty to uphold and defend these rights. Let us ensure that those people who most need their rights protected are made aware that this Decla- ration exists — and that it exists for them. Let us each do our part to make these universal rights a living reality for every man, woman and child, everywhere." Since the declaration has signed, all countries should follow the rules, or the declaration is a waste of paper. it is sad that there are people need to go through the suffer. there must be a way to support them.
Fred Espinoza | 8/5/2018
It is devastating to read about the immoral wars innocent people experience in other places of the world for freedom. This article demonstrates we are blinded to the unjustifiable tragedies in the world. It is ignorant for the Government of Iran to overlook human rights and implement extreme consequences. The cruelty that the people of Iran go through for their freedom is saddening. Not being able to speak and defend their own rights with out being tortured or killed shows the level of immorality the government of Iran pertains. Humans shouldn’t be prohibited nor killed for speaking their minds. Instead should be supported to overthrow tyranny and to demand what has been declared!

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