Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today on learning that journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar were sentenced to death by a revolutionary tribunal in Marivan, in Iran's Kurdish northwestern region, on 16 July.
"These death sentences are outrageous and shameful," the press freedom organisation said. "They show how little Iran is bothered by international humanitarian law. They also show how determined it is to use every possible means to silence the most outspoken journalists and human rights activists."
Reporters Without Borders added: "We appeal to the international community to ask Iran to reverse this decision and to refrain from executing two men who did nothing but exercise their right to inform their fellow citizens. Iran is in the process of becoming one of the world's biggest prisons for journalists."
Hassanpour worked for the magazine Asou, which has been banned since August 2005 as a result of a decision by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. He wrote about the very sensitive Kurdish issue.
At his trial, which was held behind closed doors, he was found guilty of "activities subverting national security" and "spying." His interviews for foreign news media including Voice of America were cited by the prosecution. According to his family and one of his lawyers, Sirvan Hosmandi, he was transferred to Sanandaj prison on 18 July.
The charges on which Botimar, a contributor to Asou and an active member of the environmental NGO Sabzchia, was sentenced to death were not immediately known.
Three other Kurdish journalists are currently in prison in Iran. Ejlal Ghavani of Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan, a weekly that was suspended in 2004, was detained on 9 July of this year after being convicted by a court in Sanandaj of "inciting the population to revolt" and "activities against national security."
Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan's editor and the founder of a human rights organisation, was arrested on 1 July and transferred to Evin prison. He has not been officially charged.
Kaveh Javanmard of the weekly Karfto is currently serving a two-year prison sentence. He was not allowed access to a lawyer during his trial, which took place behind closed doors.
With a total of nine journalists currently detained, Iran continues to be the Middle East's biggest prison for the press and one of the world's ten most repressive countries as regards freedom of expression in the media. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on the Reporters Without Borders list of the world's 34 worst "press freedom predators." Since he became president in August 2005, the authorities have cracked down hard on journalists. The situation is especially fraught in the Kurdish northwest.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
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Political Campaign Intervention
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Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
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Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)