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01/13/12

Assassinations and Threats of Military Action Portend Serious Violence

Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

International Tensions Could Lead to Gross Human Rights Violations


In Mourning: Fathers of assassinated Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and his bodyguard Reza Ghashghaei

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran today strongly condemned the assassination of an Iranian scientist in Tehran. The Campaign expressed its serious concern at an increasing climate of violence relating to Iran’s nuclear crisis, compounded by recent statements by Israeli officials and a former Obama advisor regarding a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

“This increase in violent confrontations, covert or acknowledged, coupled with rising belligerence from all parties, will lead to a human rights catastrophe in Iran,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.

In the past several days, human rights defenders living inside Iran have repeatedly told the Campaign that certain elements in the Iranian intelligence and security forces are gearing up for an opportunity to severely persecute activists, dissidents, and prisoners of conscience. They fear a military conflagration could provide just such an opportunity to target them for widespread extrajudicial killings.

In July 2011, the Campaign published a comprehensive report, “Raising Their Voices: Iranian Civil Society Reflections on the Military Option,” presenting the viewpoints of 35 prominent Iranian civil society and cultural figures living inside Iran. Those interviewed are people outside the ruling establishment; many have faced censorship, harassment, and imprisonment for their opinions or activities.

The interviewees unanimously expressed their grave concern that a military conflict would exacerbate the human rights situation and provide a pretext for the full militarization of the Iranian state, all the while increasing civil and political repression. The report concluded that a pre-emptive attack would be ruinous for human rights and democratic change in Iran.

“If war breaks out, democracy, human rights, and civil society will be the main losers,” one student activist told the Campaign. “The Iranian government would militarize and such a militaristic government has the potential to carry out widespread killings of opponents.”

The Campaign strongly denounces the rapid march towards a military confrontation by all sides and believes any further violence will certainly result in gross and unacceptable violations of the Iranian people’s human rights.

Last week the Iranian government issued several threats to use military force to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to rising international tensions, an act that could result in serious multi-national military conflagrations.

At the same time, Israeli officials continue to promote and justify a pre-emptive military strike against Iran. Furthermore, Dennis Ross, a former top national security advisor to President Obama, told Bloomberg News on 10 January that the Obama administration is prepared to use force to pre-emptively attack Iran in response to its ongoing nuclear enrichment activities.

On 11 January 2012, unidentified assassins killed a 32-year-old Iranian scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, in the streets of Tehran. The method of bombing and assassination was identical to five other targeted assassinations of Iranian scientists in the past two years.


Memorial for Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan at Tehran's Sharif University

While no entity or government has taken responsibility for these assassinations, there is widespread speculation by media and foreign policy experts, as well as denouncements by the Iranian government, that Israeli intelligence services bear responsibility.

Meanwhile, some dissident Iranians have insinuated that the Iranian government may have orchestrated the assassination of Ahmadi Roshan, suggesting that some elements of the Iranian regime may have an interest in consolidating power through promoting military confrontations with outside powers. Many questioned how the Iranian government could fail to apprehend the assassins while implementing a widespread security crackdown against dissidents and other critics.

The Campaign expressed alarm at the increased use of illegal targeted assassinations in the form of bombings and drone attacks across the Middle East and South Asia by governments and paramilitaries.

“Roshan’s death appears to have been an extrajudicial killing in violation of international law,” Campaign spokesperson Ghaemi said. “We call on Iranian authorities to launch a complete and transparent investigation into the matter and urge full cooperation by foreign governments and international law enforcement.”

Over the course of the past four months a number of Republican presidential candidates have publicly endorsed the idea of killing Iranian scientists in order to deter Iran’s nuclear program.

“These public messages legitimizing acts of terror are barbaric, coupled with remarks by Israeli officials that suggest targeted killings are legitimate, which they are not,” Ghaemi added.

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