Thursday, June 23, 2011

Urgent Action Request: The detention of Ms. Mansoureh Behkish in Iran

I know many of you subscribe to Amnesty International's 'Urgent Action Request' mailing list. However, I'm sure there are many of you who don't and so I'm sharing this latest posting here on the blog.

I strongly urge you to utilize one of the contact methods listed in this request. You could help save Ms. Behkish from torture or even death. If you cannot find the time to go out and buy a postcard, I encourage you to use email and reach out to the contact listed here.  If you would like a prewritten letter you can send instead of writing your own, please contact me at for a copy of the one I sent.

Here is the appeal:

23 June 2011

UA 196/11         Risk of torture/Risk of ill-treatment
IRAN                Mansoureh Behkish (f)

Iranian human rights activist, Mansoureh Behkish, was arrested on 12 June 2011. She is a member of the 'Mourning Mothers' group, which campaigns against human rights violations such as unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances. She is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Mansoureh Behkish, 57, was arrested by men believed to belong to the Ministry of Intelligence when they recognized her in a street in Tehran, at 8pm on 12 June 2011. She is now held in Section 209 of Evin Prison. She was able to make a short phone call to her mother two or three days after her arrest and again on 20 June, but could not talk about the conditions of her detention. Mansoureh Behkish suffers from a neurodegenerative disease called diffuse myelinoclastic sclerosis, or sometimes referred to as "Schilder's disease".

The 'Mourning Mothers' group mainly comprises women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in post-election violence in Iran since June 2009, but it quickly grew to include relatives of other victims of human rights violations and their supporters. Mansoureh Behkish has lost several members of her family who were executed in the 1980s; since then she has been an activist and has been detained several times before.

Mansoureh Behkish was among 33 women from the 'Mourning Mothers' group arrested during their weekly meeting in Laleh Park, Tehran, on 9 January 2010 and held for several days. On 17 March 2010, she was prevented from traveling to Italy to visit her children and her passport was confiscated. She remains banned from travel abroad.

BACKGROUND INFORMATIONThe 'Mourning Mothers' group was set up by women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in post-election violence in Iran since June 2009 but it quickly grew to include relatives of other victims of human rights violations and their supporters. The 'Mourning Mothers' meet in silence for an hour each Saturday near the place and time of the killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan, who came to symbolize the brutal repression meted out by security forces after the disputed presidential election of 2009. Her death was shown in footage circulated around the world Mansoureh Behkish has not herself lost a child but lost several members of her family in the 1980s and is very involved in the movement.

Mansoureh Behkish, along with other women in the 'Mourning Mothers' group, was first seized during the group's weekly meeting in Laleh Park, Tehran on 5 December 2009. Members of the group were arrested again on 9 January 2010; several of them were beaten and 10 were taken to hospital (see: Iran's 'Mourning Mothers' must be released, 11 January 2010,

On 9 April 9 2011, Leyla Seyfollahi and Zhila Karamzadeh-Makvandi were sentenced in connection with their membership of the 'Mourning Mothers'. They were arrested on 8 February 2010 and appeared before Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran in May 2010 and March 2011. Leyla Seyfollahi and Zhila Karamzadeh-Makvandi were sentenced to four years imprisonment for "founding an illegal organization" and "acting against state security". They remain free pending their appeal.

Mansoureh Behkish was first arrested in December 1981 and held in solitary confinement for three months, while pregnant. She was released on bail to deliver her baby outside prison. After her delivery, she escaped from her home town of Mashhad and went into hiding for more than seven years.

Between 1981 and 1988 Mansoureh Behkish lost five members of her family including a sister, four brothers and a brother-in-law. Starting in August 1988 and continuing until shortly before the tenth anniversary of the Islamic revolution in February 1989, the Iranian authorities carried out mass summary executions of political prisoners, known as the "prison massacre" – the largest numbers since those carried out in the first and second year after the Iranian revolution in 1979. In all between 4,500 and 5,000 prisoners are believed to have been killed, including women.

For the past few years, Mansoureh Behkish has participated in the commemoration of the victims of the 1988 mass executions, some of whom were buried in the Khavaran Cemetery in south Tehran. This event is held yearly by relatives of the dead on or about 29 August to mark the anniversary and demand justice for their loved ones. Hundreds of those summarily executed are buried in the cemetery, many of them in unmarked mass graves. Families of the victims have been under pressure from the Iranian authorities not to hold commemorations at the cemetery or in their homes. On 29 August 2008 Mansoureh Behkish was arrested and held in Evin Prison for three days and summoned several times that year.

Mansoureh Behkish is the main caretaker of her elderly mother.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please write immediately in French or your own language:-- Call on the Iranian authorities to release Mansoureh Behkish immediately and unconditionally if, as appears to be the case, she is held solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association;
-- Call on the authorities to ensure that she is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and grant her immediate and regular access to her family, lawyer of her choice and adequate medical care;
-- Urge the authorities to remove unlawful restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly in Iran.


Leader of the Islamic RepublicAyatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street,
Twitter: "Call on #Iran leader @khamenei_ir to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mansoureh Behkish"
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
[care of] Public relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street
Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection
Email:  (In subject line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani)
Salutation: Your Excellency


Secretary General, High Council for Human RightsMohammad Javad Larijani
High Council for Human Rights
[Care of] Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St.,
Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737,
Email: (subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)Salutation: Dear Sir
Iran does not presently have an embassy in the United States. Instead, please send copies to:
Iranian Interests Section
2209 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 965 4990
Fax: 1 202 965 1073

Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 4 August 2011.

1 comment: said...

I sent out a letter to all 4 addresses. writing to communicate when wrong is being done is a fundamental important part of being my brothers keeper