By Meredith Lee-Clark
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
TEHRAN, Iran – Forty days have passed since Neda Agha-Soltan was killed during a post-election protest on the streets of Iran, and as the traditional mourning period draws to a close, those who question the validity of the June 12 presidential election are once again taking to the streets.
On July 30, hundreds of protestors gathered at the grave of Neda, a 26-year-old music student whose death was captured by a fellow protestor’s mobile phone camera and was watched by millions worldwide on YouTube. Police reportedly prevented Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading reformist presidential candidate, from staying at the graveside service. Mehdi Karroubi, another reformist candidate, was also at the service.
As the mourning period ends, several people arrested during the protests are preparing to go on trial beginning August 1, under numerous charges such as attacks on government and military offices, vandalism, arson, and “contacts with enemies.” Many international human rights groups question the validity of such trials, especially considering reports that the Iranian government has repeatedly arrested and intimidated human rights lawyers.
Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division reported that on July 15, plainclothes policemen seized human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr while she was walking to Friday prayers. On July 21, security forces reportedly made a threatening phone call to Mohammed Seifzadeh, another leading human rights lawyer, telling him they would “take steps” to prevent him from continuing to represent defendants. At least four other human rights lawyers have been arrested in Iran since June 12, and the head of the Iranian Judiciary has revised the regulations governing the Iranian Bar Association, severely restricting its members’ independence.
International human rights groups have called for Iranian authorities to end the threats against lawyers and to release those arrested. On July 25, several international cities hosted a global day of support for those killed and arrested since the election nearly two months ago.
For more information, please see:
Al-Jazeera – Iranian Police Clash with Mourners– 30 July 2009
Human Rights Watch – Iran: Stop Arresting, Intimidating Rights Lawyers– 26 July 2009
United for Iran – A Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the People of Iran– 25 July 2009
Amnesty International USA – Global Day of Support for Iran’s Victims of Human Rights Abuse– 24 July 2009
Human Rights Watch – Iran: Halt Moves to Curtail Lawyers– 16 July 2009