Open Letter to UN High Commissioner on Human Rights: Case of Ramin Hussein Panahai

Ramin Hussein Panahai

By Dr Amir Sharifi:

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.

June 29, 2018

Dear Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein:

On behalf of the Kurdish human rights organizations and associations in Southern California, I express my grave concerns, disquietude and distress over the tragic fate of the Kurdish political prisoner, Ramin Hussein Panahai whose life is more than ever being threatened with an impending execution in Iran. I know that you in defense of international human rights have devoted some time to Ramin’s case, whose unjust sentence is finally receiving some global and local attention thanks to the international campaigns of human rights advocates and activists throughout the world. However, according to Mr. Panahai’s lawyer, Mr. Hossein Ahmainiaz Ramin is now absolutely isolated, incommunicado, and despite the opposition of his inmates and his injury, has been forcefully removed and placed in a death cell, totally cut off from his lawyer, his family, friends or even fellow prisoners, all apparently as an ominous and hideous prelude to send him to the gallows at any moment.

Dear Mr. Al Hussein it is imperative that you use the power of your Office urgently in defense of the human dignity to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to annul and reverse the impending execution of Ramin Hussein Panahai and thereby alleviate the psychological torture, degrading and ill-treatment to which his old and sick parents have been subjected.

Ramin as amply made clear by his lawyer in Iran and Ms. Esperanza Muñoz, a Spanish humanitarian lawyer who supports international human rights, Ramin has been falsely convicted in a sham trial in which no evidence was presented to charge him with a capital offense, an essential requirement to impose the death penalty. According to Article 287 of the Islamic Penal Code any group that takes up arms against the Islamic Republic of Iran is deemed a Yaqi or “rebel” sentenced to death in the event of engaging in armed insurrection. Article 288 notes, that if members of the group are arrested before using arms, they shall be sentenced to imprisonment.

The fact of the matter is that Ramin had never used any weapons against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards; his only “crime” was membership in a Kurdish political party. The Guards had shot and wounded him in detention while he was unconscious. Nor had any of the Guards suffered any casualties. As a result of the gunshots, Ramin suffers from severe kidney infections for which he receives no medical attention in prison. These circumstances make it undeniably evident that Ramin had not committed any crimes nor had he assaulted the Revolutionary Guards.

Dear Mr. Al Hussein, that is why many people have revoiced and resounded his lawyers’ appeal to stop and annul his execution. Many have shown their sympathy upon seeing the sorry condition of his agonized and traumatized parents. Many have seen the despair and desperate efforts of his brother, Amjad Panahai, in Europe to save his brother’s life from the dread of execution. Ramin’s unfair trail and torture in prison has aroused some international condemnation. Yet their plight has not changed but intensified.

Dear Mr. Al Hussein you as a protector and promoter of human rights know more than anyone else that we can not stand aside when all evidence evokes the grim and gruesome image unless immediate action is taken to stop the execution of a young man who has indeed become iconic for human rights defenders everywhere. Prominent international figures and intellectuals and human rights advocates have all joined the global campaign to stop his execution. Iranian government can no longer claim that it is beyond universal principles of human rights and norms as your Office has been unequivocal about the defense of human rights of individuals against states’ unfair imprisonment and death penalty.

As you had mentioned in the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, “The upholding of human rights could solve virtually all the issues we confront. Humanity has done this before. Our forebears in the past century faced similar challenges, and far worse ones-and they left us a roadmap to their solutions: The Universal Declaration of Human Right.” Unfortunately such an intrinsic principle is being denied and violated in the case of Ramin Hussein Panahai in the present time. Consequently there is an urgent need for another bold and prompt intervention by the authority of your Office to reassert our legitimate anxiety and that of worldwide protests and appeals.

Only you as the international figure and face of the human rights, can make the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable to institutional pressures of international human rights and conventions to stop and annul the dreadful execution of Ramin Hussein Panahai and put an end to the endless dread and suffering of his family.


Dr. Amir Sharifi

Dr. Amir Sharifi is Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group

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