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IRAN: Wave of executions
Nayereh Tohidi of UCLA has forwarded a long message expressing anger over the action of the Iranian government against reformist students. The case has received ample publicity. Here is the opening of the message:
"Human Rights Watch condemns the arbitrary and harsh sentences handed down by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on January 13, 2001 against seven of the seventeen defendants being tried for attending an international conference in Berlin, Germany, in April 2000. We believe there is no basis to the charges that they "conspired to overthrow the system of the Islamic Republic"? and that they are victims of a politically-motivated prosecution intended to discredit the cause of political reform, to punish leading reformists, to intimidate independent thinkers, and to chill dissent."
My comment: I share Nayereh's anger. At our July conference, the session on religion will deal largely with the Middle East, and will have two themes: religion as the cause of wars, and religion and human rights. Both are sensitive and complex issues, but at the same time they are of primary importance, and cannot be avoided.
Ronald Hilton - 1/19/01