Repression of Ethnic and Religous Minorities

Repression of Ethnic and Religous Minorities

Recent Events

Assassination of Community Leaders by State Security Agents

Amnesty International, January 12, 1994

Amnesty International fears that Dibaj is at imminent risk of execution. According to information received by the organization, he was sentenced to death by an Islamic Revolutionary Court on 3 December 1993, and in January 1994 he was given 20 days to appeal against the sentence. He is currently held in a prison in Sari, the provincial capital of Mazandaran. Background information Mehdi Dibaj reportedly converted to Christianity 45 years ago. He has been detained since 1984. He was reportedly never given a reason for his arrest. He may have merely exercised his right to freedom of religion and speech, without using or advocating v iolence. These rights are guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to which Iran is a state party.

Mehdi Dibaj

Reuters, January 13, 1994.

The United States has called on Iran not to execute an Iranian citizen facing a death sentence for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity 55 years ago. In a written statement on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Christine Shelly said the man, Mehdi Dibaj, had been arrested in 1983 and served 10 years detention without trial. He was brought to trial late last year, convicted for the "crime" of apos tasy and sentenced to death.

Diplomatic campaign by the Vatican to save Mehdi Dibaj's life

Agence France Presse, January 14, 1994

Vatican city - The Tele-Pas television, close to the Vatican, announced on Friday that the Vatican diplomacy will be mobilized to save the life of Mehdi Dibaj, the Iranian priest who was Muslim by birth but has been sentenced to death in Sari for converting to Christianity.

France intervenes for the Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy

Agence France Presse, January 24, 1994

Paris - Mrs. Lucette Michaux-Chevry, the Minister for Humanitarian Actions and Human Rights of France "intervened" through France's ambassador in Tehran on behalf of the Iranian pastor Mehdi Dibaj, 59, accused of apostasy, expected to be execu ted soon. A statement by the Ministry of Human Rights adds that Mrs. Michaux-Chevry expressed the French government's "regret" over the sentence. Mrs. Minister "deplored the situation of religious minorities in this country."

Relatives say Iranian pastor murdered in connection with his religious activities

Agence France Presse , January 31, 1994

Replying to questions by the AFP, relatives of pastor Haik Hovsepian-Mehr said that his murder was connected with the important activities of the "Assemblies of God." His body was found on January 20. A family member who requested anonymity, declared that Mr., Hovsepian felt endangered following his actions in January to draw the attention of the international community to the case of Iranian priest Mehdi Dibaj who was also a member of the "Assemblies of God." A relative stressed: "He had no enemies. The only problem was that he led the 'Assemblies of God.' Our Church is very active in promulgating the Bible. The government has asked us to stop our proselytization."


Reuters , July 4, 1994

Porters Ouverts {Open Doors}, founded in the Netherlands in 1995, appealed to United Nations High Commissioner for human Rights Jose Ayla Lasso to intervene with Iran on behalf of Christians in the country. It identified the dead man as Tateos Michaelian, a 62 - year - old - Presbyterian preacher who was acting chairman of the Council of Protestant Ministers in Iran. In that post he had succeeded Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr of the Iranian Assemblies of God church who was found murdered near Tehran in January. Exile and church groups accused Iranian Authorities of involvement in Hovsepian's deaths, alleging it was part of a campaign against Christians, especially those who had Been born as Moslems...

Murder and Disappearance

Agence France Press , July 4, 1994
On Monday authorities from the "Assembly of God" religious sect said pasture Tateos Mikailian a leader of a small Iranian Protestant sect was found murdered last week in as yet unknown circumstances. The predecessor of pastor Tateos Mikailian at the head of this sect, pastor hike Hovsepian was himself murdered in Tehran in January. Last Wednesday Mr. Mikailian disappeared in Tehran and his body was found on Monday according to the same sources who said they have no information on circumstances and place of death of Mr. Mikailian.

PMOI Blames Regime for Murders

Agence France Press , July 4, 1994

The people's Mojahedin - the main Iranian armed opposition on Monday blamed the Iranian regime for last week's murder of a Protestant religious leader in Iran. According to a statement received in Nicosia quoting Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the Mojahedin "Khomeini's successors carried out this vindictive murder only a few days after a bomb explosion in saint Reza Shrine" in Mashad on 20th of June ...

Murder of Dibaj

Agence France Press , July 5, 1994

Tehran - The official news agency IRNA reported that the corps of an Iranian Bishop Mehdi Dibaj who had been a Muslim before and who had disappeared a few months ago following disputes with the Justice (administration) was found on Wednesday i n Western Tehran...

Protestant Clergy Executed

The Washington Times, July 6, 1994

A Protestant clergyman was executed in Iran and another was reported dead months after his deaths sentence was lifted following international pressure, a Christian human rights group said Monday... Christian Solidarity International said the R ev. Tateos Michaelian, 62, chairman of Council of Protestant Ministers in Iran, was killed a week ago by Iranian authorities.

Iranian opposition accuses Tehran of "murdering" Mehdi Dibaj

Agence France Press,July 6, 1994

The Mojahedin, the Iranian regime's main armed opposition group on Wednesday condemned Tehran for the "brutal murder" of the Protestant pastor, Mehdi Dibaj, whose body was found by the police near the capital. In a statement received by AFP in Nicosia, the Iraq-based Mojahedin "condemned the brutal murder of the courageous pastor Mehdi Dibaj by the criminal gang ruling Iran." The aforesaid organization called on the international community to "break its silence vis-#-vis this medieval regime's crimes." A Mojahedin spokesman on the other hand accused the Iranian Intelligence Ministry of murdering two other Protestant leaders, bishop Haik Hovsepian who was killed last January and Tateos Michaelian who disappeared last week and was murdered 48 hours later . The 59-years-old Dibaj, a Muslim who had become a Protestant, spent nine years in jail for "insulting Islam."

Death sentences for the Bahai

The New York Times, December 31, 1993

A few days before Christmas, jarring news made its way from Iran: Three adherents of the Bahai faith have been condemned to death solely because of their beliefs. The judicial judgment against two defendants living in Karaj, near Tehran, accus es them of a new kind of crime -- transmitting information that they were on trial for their lives to the United Nations and to Bahai groups outside Iran. Those facing execution squads are thus expected to collaborate in a cover-up of their own fate. They are meant to meet their deaths with the silence of lambs being led to slaughter. No criminal acts are cited in the 700-word verdict reaffirming the death sentence. The two Bahais are simply accused of holding feasts, owning books and being "unprivileged infidels at war with the Muslim nation."

Reported execution of Jewish Synagogue official condemned.

Associated Press, March 11, 1994

The State Department is condemning the reported torture and execution of an elderly Iranian Jew as "a deplorable act of brutality." According to Jewish groups, Feysollah Mechubad, 77, was executed Feb. 25 after nearly two years of imprisonment in Tehran. Iranian authorities claimed he had ties to Israel. The family, summoned to the central prison, retrieved his body from an undertaker at a Muslim cemetery. It bore the marks of torture, including the gouging of his eyes, the World Jewish Congress said. At the time, the Jewish community was raising money demanded by Iranian authorities for his release, the Jewish group said. Mechubad served as the sexton of the Tehran synagogue and was active in raising funds for the poor and in Jewish activities.

Iran wages fierce campaign against its Christian minority

The New York Times, August 1, 1994

The Islamic Government of Iran, which has often been criticized by human rights groups for its treatment of religious minorities, is mounting the fiercest campaign since the 1979 revolution against the small Christian minority here, church lea ders and Western diplomats say. Three Christian leaders have been killed since the beginning of the year. Churches have been shut down. Scores of young Christians, many converts from Islam, have been imprisoned and tortured, especially in the cities of Gorgan and Kermanshah, church off icials say. And pastors have been expelled from parishes or are under surveillance.

Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, Revolutionary Leadership, Europe Committee

Press Release, January 6, 1994

...On 4th January a cadre of K.D.P.I. (R.L). Taha Kermanj was assassinated by Islamic Republic regime's terrorists in the town of Charoom in turkey and died in hospital. It is necessary to mention he is the fourth brother from the same family who has been killed by the regime's mercenaries during the past few years...

Dissident Iranian Kurd killed in Turkey

Salam, January 9, 1994

Turkish police said an Iranian dissident Kurd was killed yesterday by gunshots. The Turkish police said a number of people including a few Iranians have been arrested in this regard... According to reports by the Turkish media, Kormanesh was a leader of a group from the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran... In a statement issued in Paris, an Iranian opposition group, the National Security Council of resistance of Iran, has accused Iranian authorities of having assassinated this Kurdish dissident. This Council has called on the Turkish authorities to safeguard Iranian refugees in Turkey. In Ankara an authority for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said: In June Kormanesh was registered as a homeless and lived in Korum and the High Co mmission was looking for a third country to give him a permanent visa.

Assassination of Kurdish Leader

Amnesty International, January 21. 1994

Just over two weeks ago an Iranian refugee was killed in Turkey in circumstances suggesting the possible involvement of Iranian agents. On 4 January Taha Kermanj, a leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (Revolutionary Command) , was shot dead near his home in Qom.

Bomb attack on Kurd in Sweden political

Reuters, January 18, 1994

A letter bomb badly injured an Iranian Kurdish activist in Stockholm in an attack which was probably politically motivated, Swedish police said on Tuesday.

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