Below is Hamid Gharagozloo’s presentation at the weekly International Religious Freedom meeting regarding the recent Human Rights violations in Iran:
“First and foremost I would like to thank Commissioner Manchin for USIRF’s statements of support for the campaign to uncover the truth behind Dr. Tabandeh’s suspicious death and also for USCIRF’s statement condemning the upholding of the death sentences of seven Sunnis on charges of “enmity against God”.
I am sure that all of you, like the rest of the world, are in shock with the news of the murder of the Iranian national wrestler Navid Afkari, at the hands of the occupying regime in Iran. Despite the whole world united, demanding the stay of his execution, Khamenei’s regime murdered another innocent Iranian. The same crime happened almost three years ago with the hanging of Mr. Mohammad Salas, the innocent Gonabadi Sufi. It has happened tens of thousands of times before and it will happen again.
The simple fact is that the international communities’ united front against this regime is only as strong as its weakest link, Europe being the primary one. Europe claims to be a defender of human rights but in the case of Iran, it has consistently paid lip service to these values, issuing official statements condemning Khamenei’s actions while at the same time maintaining its financial dealings with the regime, and providing one of the primary financial lifelines for its survival
And regarding this issue, I am pleased to announce that that we at the Iran Action Group are working on a webinar with Mr. Eslami, an Iranian ex-diplomat who fled to Japan more than 15 years ago, seeking political asylum. Mr. Eslami has agreed to talk in detail about the atrocities of the occupying regime in Iran and its many ways of buying the Europeans’ cooperation and silence in regards to its gross human rights violations and terrorist activities all over the world. He also has firsthand information about the regime’s informants, operatives, and lobbyists in the U.S. and I urge everyone to attend this informative event.
In regards to the religious minorities and prisoners of conscience:
A Gonabadi Sufi was arrested, beaten and tortured to the point that his heart stopped. Then he was taken to a hospital where he was revived and the tortures continued under medical observation. Eventually, he was sentenced to 3 years of prison and now is being charged for the treatments he received for his cardiac arrest and injuries sustained under torture. Non-payment of these fees also carries a prison sentence.
Another Gonabadi Sufi was sentenced to 7 years of prison for calling Ghasem Soleymani not a national hero but a terrorist.
Prison authorities continue to withhold proper medical care and necessary medications from a Gonabadi Sufi who is in critical condition and suffering from health issues due to tortures and abuses in prison.
The numbers of murders of Sunni laborers (Koolbars) have increased dramatically. In the past two months alone, armed forces have shot to death at least 15 Kurdish and Baluchi laborers.
Nasreen Sotudeh is in her 6th week of hunger strike and her health has deteriorated at an alarming rate. Additionally it has been more than 4 weeks that the prison authorities have not allowed any contact or visits by her family.
Mohammad Noorizad is also in dire health condition and in need of immediate proper medical care.
The same is true for Mr. Khastar. Prison authorities have cut off his contacts with his family and the outside world as well.
And finally, I am working on an extensive report on the human trafficking and sex slave trade by the security apparatus and high ranking members of Khamenei’s regime. According to reports by international agencies, Iran is one of the primary transit countries for human trafficking, both import and export. About 15 years ago, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, a non-profit organization, reported that at least 45 young Iranian girls aged 16-26 are sold monthly in Karachi, Pakistan. A greater number are sold across the Persian Gulf in the rich Gulf States. Institutional rape of the family members of the ethnic and religious minority prisoners is another fact of life. So is child slavery. And the vast majorities of these victims are from the poor and disenfranchised ethnic Sunni minorities such as Baluchis, where children younger than 10 years old are abducted routinely. This is an issue that up to now has not received the attention it deserves. Anyone interested in this subject, please contact me with any questions.”
After Mr. Gharagozloo’s presentation, he and Ambassador Brownback had a conversation about these issues where Ambassador Brownback asked Mr. Gharagozloo to pass on the relevant information and documents to the USCIRF for further action.