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Nobel Peace Laureate Urges UN Official To Visit Prisons When In Iran

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Iranian Peace Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi has urged a top UN human rights official to cancel her visit or meet with those on death row during her stay in Iran.

Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, is scheduled to arrive in Tehran on February 3 to investigate executions and women’s rights violations.

In a message addressed to Al-Nashif on her Instagram Thursday, Ebadi pointed out that at least four prisoners including a protester, Mohammad Ghobadlou, and a Kurdish political prisoner, Farhad Salimi, were executed in one week after unfair trials and in violation of the Islamic Republic’s own laws just ahead of her visit to Iran.

Ghobadlou who had just turned twenty-four was hanged despite his death sentence being overturned by the Supreme Court which ordered a branch of Tehran Criminal Court to retry the case. Carrying out a death sentence despite such a ruling was unprecedented.

Ebadi recommended to Al-Nashif to cancel her visit in protest to “extra judicial and increasing executions to prevent the regime from taking advantage of it and using it for propaganda.

Ebadi also recommended Al-Nashif not to wear a headscarf, as Iranian authorities demand female foreign visitors to do, and to meet and talk with ordinary people alongside meetings with government officials.

“Visit Evin prison and talk with some of the women who are on hunger strike, including [2023 Peace Nobel Laureate] Narges Mohammadi, and the family of Mahsa Amini who was killed by government agents in September 2022 because of her hijab, and with several prisoners who are on death row such as Mujahid Korkur, among others, so that a fuller picture of the deplorable conditions of human rights [in Iran] is shown to you,” Ebadi wrote.

Another post on Ebadi’s Telegram channel Thursday about UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk’s expression of concern over the spike in the use of death penalty in Iran, said “Expressing concern is not enough.”

The Islamic Republic which has the highest rate of executions in the world after China has executed 90 people just during December 22-January 21 this year.

Sixty-one female prisoners at Tehran’s Evin Prison from various political backgrounds including Nobel Peace Laureate Narges Mohammadi staged a one-day hunger strike Thursday in protest to the regime’s increasing use of executions including those of political prisoners.

Some activists in Iran and abroad including dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi and pop singer Mehdi Yarrahi, some of the families of prisoners, and political prisoners, including Zeynab Jalali who is serving a life sentence at Yazd Prison, have joined the hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners at Evin.

Türk said in a statement on Wednesday that he is alarmed by the sharp spike in use of the death penalty in Iran including the two execution last Sunday. “This practice must be stopped immediately,” he said.

UN experts on January 21 also strongly condemned these recent executions and expressed serious concern at credible reports that those executed had been denied access to lawyers during their detention and trial.

The mothers of four death-row political prisoners — Mohsen Mazloum, Pezhman Fatehi, Vafa Azarbar, and Hazhir Faramarz – have also pleaded with Al-Nashif to urge Iranian authorities to halt the impending execution of their sons as well as other prisoners on death row.

The hashtag #NoToExecution has been trending among Iranian social media users following the announcement of the hunger strike and a tweet storm on Monday has been announced.