A few good lawyers

Jahanshah Javid
by Jahanshah Javid

I was encouraged to see that lawyers representing Issa Saharkhiz are using the European court system to sue Nokia-Siements for selling advanced technology that would allow a notorious regime like the Islamic Republic to spy on its restless citizens.

This is the kind of civil action that has been missing for too long. And why just stop there? Why hasn't the IRI been taken to the International Court of Justice for documented crimes against humanity, namely the 1988 massacre of political prisoners?

If I was a lawyer, THAT would be my goal in life. THAT would make my life meaningful.

There are thousands of Iranian lawyers in north America and Europe. Like all professionals, they are making a good living and are generally unconcerned about human rights issues. That is fine and natural. We can't expect all of them to have a throbbing conscience, to put their life and livelihood at risk and do something for the good of humanity.

All we need is just a few good lawyers who care. Where are they? What are they doing? Why are they not using their skills for the greater good? What's stopping them from spending a few weeks/months out of their lives preparing a legal case against the Islamic Republic and shaming it for its atrocities?

Not every Iranian in the medical profession will join Doctors Without Borders and volunteer to save innocent lives in conflict areas. But I know some have. What I have not seen is the same degree of selfless humanitarian action by Iranian lawyers abroad -- unlike their counterparts in Iran who have defended prisoners of conscience despite huge obstacles and personal risks.

I hope the Saharkhiz case will shake the conscience in the rest of the Iranian legal community and someone somewhere will challenge the biggest criminal of all.


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I agree and have blogged about the issue before

by Onlyiran on



IRI officials can be prosecuted in countries where there is universal jurisdiction. 

Look at other nations, or groups of people.  Jews are still suing VW and other German, Austrian and Swiss companies for what happened to them in WWII.  And if I recall correctly, certain European (or was it Australian) nationals also sued Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi because they were used by these companies as slave labor while they were POWs in WWII.

In all honesty, I think that there are several problems with our community.  First, we Iranians are self centered people.  We don't like to take responsibility for anything.  We always blame things on others and want others to take the first step in something (just look at your site.  Have you ever seen a blog that says something is our fault?  It's always someone else's fault).

Second (which is actually related to the first) is that a lot of Iranian lawyers, etc. don't want to sacrifice their connections to Iran by becoming the champion of legal actions against the IRI.  They want to travel there and visit family, have their "chelo-kabob" in North Tehran, etc.  They probably say to themselves: "be man cheh? aghay-e felaani har tabestoon mireh iran ba khanevadehash va kheili beshoon khosh migzareh.  ma chera khodemon ro gereftar koneem?"

Third, it's IRI's propaganda.  For the past 31 years, through billions of dollars spent on propaganda, including a cyber army which we see on your site every day, the IRI has been successful in creating enough doubt about the nature of its mass executions, and even the numbers that a great number of people don't even believe the extent of its atrocities.  Just look here, and see how they try to cast doubt and murky the issues surrounding IRI's mass murder of civilians:


And have no doubts about it.  They are very skillful and cunning with their efforts. 



Katyn massacre

by Anonymouse on

JJJ I think more is being done after the fiasco of 2009 election. If you notice many of the prisoners, political prisoners, are former Islamic Republic officials.  The same people who come out and then march back to prison are speaking out against the corruption and human rights abuses that are going on.

When Karoubi took the cause of the rapes in prisons it highlighted the situation and there were lawyers pursuing it.

So when you look in the big picture this regime has actually created a movement against itself and the human rights abuses which was not at the forefront as much as it it needed to be.

Human Rights lawyers are mostly busy working visas for those seeking asylum for various regime's abuses.

Do you know about the Katyn massacre?  I was thinking of blogging about it, maybe someday.  Russians did it and Germans discovered the massacre but for years Russians under Stalin and Poland under communism blamed it on Germans until later which the massacre was fully disclosed once again.  It is the same for the 1988 massacre and Islamic Republic, we all know about it and one day it'll be fully disclosed for all to know. 

Everything is sacred

Jahanshah Javid

Good to know

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks Esther. Very helpful. I just have a nagging feeling that more can be done.


A question of jurisdiction

by Esther on

Dear JJ et al,

I responded to a similar question here.  To summarize, first, there are two international courts in the Hague: the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which tries disputes between states, and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which tries international crimes.

Second, in addition to the issue of evidence Paymaheh raises, there is the issue of jurisdiction.  Neither court has unlimited jurisdiction.  In terms of parties, the ICJ only has jurisdiction if both states have consented.  The ICC only has jurisdiction if the state of the accused or the state where the alleged crime was committed has consented; if the UN Security Council refers the situation (as in the case of Darfur); or if the prosecutor initiates (as in the case of Kenya, where there is significant state cooperation).

In terms of time, I don't remember the ICJ rules (not that IRI would ever consent anyway), but the ICC only has jurisdiction over cases that arose after its establishment (I believe 2002).

So all the lawyers in the world can't really do much about the 1988 massacres right now at those courts (another time or another court may be another story).

If you would like to support those who are trying to do something, Darius has noted a couple; I believe Sayeh, who contributes from time to time, is one; and I have noted other Iranian human rights organizations here and here.

Arthimis or others who are more interested in the 2009 election aftermath, the IHRDC not only produced a report, but also held a press conference with Iranian lawyers Shadi Sadr and Payam Akhavan, which touched on possibilities for international action.  You can view it here.

I hope this helps!


Dear JJ, I am with you on

by Arthimis on

Dear JJ, I am with you on this 1000% !

I mean isn't it absurd that Iranian Lawyers in North America (Mostly USA) and in Europe haven't yet United to represent any major case against Islamic Republic, it's leader and all the other criminals within it for all or at least some major parts of their crimes against humanity (Iranians) in The International Criminal Court in Holland????!!!

With your permission, I raised this question (under a different username) many times in few blogs and comments last year during the "Velvet Revolution" and after Not getting one single positive help and/or guidance from anyone here, I started getting really angry and subsequently went on using even profanities here which lead to my profile cancelation...

I am not complaining now since I understood/understand your set of rules and agreements on this site and therefore, signed up under a different (new) name in order to be able to use your site again according to those agreements.

PS. Last year, after all that atrocities committed against peaceful Iranians, Like many here and all over, I was glued to my computer almost 24/7 (I even lost my girlfriend because of all the time I spent exclusively and only on Iran's situation...) I took off two months from my work , gathered as much information on the web about I.R. crimes and prepared a somewhat very primitive case, and I went on to meet with few high profile Iranian-American lawyers in Criminal Justice and International Corporate... in three major cities in the U.S.... One of them, my own cousin who is a very successful criminal attorney in L.A. None of them were interested in the case against I.R. !!! I gave two months of my life, money and other costs for nothing!!! I have a small business and an Iranian best friend /business partner who runs it with me. He encouraged me to do this duty as an Iranian and took all the business responsibilities and financial pressures, for me to do this mission! It was a try, but Not a successful one! Nobody took a little guy like me serious... So maybe and Godwillingly, Some True Iranian Lawyers outside Iran would listen to you and likes of you who are fighting in your own way against injustice and wishes of Freedom for Iran and Iranians....

May God be with you and those Iranian Lawyers who will come in for sake of TRUTH and HUMANITY...

Free Iran.


It would have happened by now

by I Voted Ahmadinejad on

Why no taking George W Bush to the international court for having killed so many afghans and Iraqis??or taking Israel to a genocide court for commiting real crime agianst 'humanity'????

A court in US doesn't have jurisdication over in Iran; however, international court of law can summon anybody for questiong or puting him/her in trail. Why dont they in case of Iran? for the same reason they dont call for Bush or Israel!!!!

Last year, I worked for ziemans-nokia in Thailand. This is a multi-billion dollars company with top notch lawyers working for it. saharkiz will end up paying for  the cost of trail plus a big law suite for defamation, if he decides to take his case further than it is right now, a propganda campagin.

ram jams

Hoshang Targol

Sahr Khiz has also done something thousands time more valuable

by Hoshang Targol on

than suing Nakoia.

Writing a letter to the Brazilain presisdent Lola from his jail cell in Tehran, having his jail-mates Esanloo and others as co-writers.

If we recall Lola also recently made an international splash by trying to mediate for Ashtiani's case.

Why shouldn't Lola also do the same thing for our labor activists in jail, and once that happens, why can't that be extended to all political-prisoners in Iran.

Political-prisoners in Iran can and must use all the interantioanl publicity they could get. 

We ( all Iraninas living abroad, at least, about some 3 millions if I'm not mistaken) in a collective sense have some of the most formidable resources in our hands. Unfortunately we have never used them as we ought to.

My humble suggestion, and it doesn't need a Law degree, though having  one always helps!: As many Iranians abroad as possible should reproduce Sahar Khiz's letter in Portugues, Spanish and fax and e-mail it to ALL Brazilian, Venezulan, Bolivian, ... embassies, their  respective UN consulates, all their diplomatic outlets. If only 10% of us do this, the results will be tremendous.

Sahar Khiz and friends have created an excellent window of opportunity for us. Are we going to use it, or once more squander a great opportunity to bear pressure on IR? History shall be the judge!

Jahanshah Javid

Not convinced

by Jahanshah Javid on

Paymaneh, I'm sure it's would be very difficult case to present to the world courts. However, I do not believe it's for lack of hard evidence.

Just recently the Israeli defense minister canceled a trip to London because human rights activists had asked the courts to arrest him for war crimes:

The same happened to the Israeli foreign minister:

By now there's volumes of hard evidence on the 1988 massacre.

Paymaneh Amiri

An idea whose time fast approaches

by Paymaneh Amiri on

A very good idea, indeed. The problem is not that there have been no volunteer lawyers for the task, JJ. There have been many lawyers and organizations who have expressed an interest and a will to file suit against the Islamic Republic of Iran for crimes against humanity.

The biggest problem impeding progress on such efforts is a lack of detailed information and evidence which is necessary for pushing such cases forward. Over the past 20+ years, officials of Islamic Republic of Iran have remained silent on the mass executions. Their unity in their criminal behavior has enabled them to keep that evidence from emerging.
One of the reasons Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was so hated and mistreated by IRI authorities was the 2002 publication of his memoirs on the internet in which he included his private memos to Ayatollah Khomeini about the executions. Considering his position at the time of the executions, the memoirs became an important piece of evidence in pursuing the matter of the executions in special courts in the future.

Still, there have not been enough IRI officials to come forward with their own account of what did happen. Last year's political developments have separated and polarized IRI's leadership, to the point where questions are being asked about who was who, who did what, and who knew what in the summer of 1988 when the executions happened. Only this past week Mir Hossein Mousavi alluded to the fact that his cabinet was not involved in the executions. We can only hope that as the polarization continues, more former officials step forward and speak more explicitly about what they know. The courts will need those kinds of testimony and evidence for carrying the case forward.

Though everyone speculates, and organizations such as the Boroumand Foundation have done a very good job of documenting the missing and the murdered during those years, the exact number of executions, the exact locations for the burials, and other critical information are yet to emerge and be verified. One of the reasons the Islamic Republic is so adamant about razing the Khavaran Cemetery and all the similar locations, repeatedly attempting to pour concrete over the mass grave sites is to make future forensic studies on the sites impossible.

The evidence was gathered slowly and incrementally in the first two decades after the tragedy.  I can only speculate that this will now pick up pace and intensity.  It is just a matter of time before the effort is completed and the case can be presented in an international court.  

What would you like to see done to the people who did this, JJ?  Have you thought about it?

Take a look at this Guardian article by Judge Geoffrey Robertson:
The UN must try Iran's 1988 murderers
The mass murderers of 1988 now hold power in Tehran. The world must make them face justice.

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's electronic memoirs, "Faghih-e Alighadr"

Ladan Boroumand's reaction to the Robertson report on Radio Farda  

Darius Kadivar

FYI/ Payam Akhavan Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center

by Darius Kadivar on

Quite Right we Need More Involvements and Volunteers in this cause.

I have noted a few who are doing their share of good work in this field:

Payam Akhavan:

Thinking of Home And of Human Rights by ARIELLE LEVIN BECKER (New York Times)

More on Him Here

Boroumand Foundation:


Human Rights & Democracy for Iran
A project of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation