Detained since 1 October, Ebrahim Yazdi  Still Not Informed About Charges

(26 November 2010)  The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for the immediate release for medical treatment of Ebrahim Yazdi, who has been in detention since 1 October, but has yet to be informed of the charges against him.

The Islamic Republic’s first Foreign Minister, Yazdi was arrested on 1 October in a private home in Isfahan for allegedly participating in “illegal prayer” when attending the memorial service for the daughter of a friend. He was subsequently moved to section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison, which is operated by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.

Yazdi is recovering from bladder cancer surgery as well as heart surgery, and his family believes his life is in danger because of the physical and psychological strains of prison, where Yazdi has been deprived of medical care and lives in unsanitary conditions. His wife was allowed to visit him only after he had been jailed for 40 days.

“After Yazdi’s arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and denial of due process and medical care, he needs to be released immediately into the care of medical authorities and his family, and informed of the charges against him so that a proper defense may be prepared,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the spokesperson for the Campaign.

At 80 years of age, the head of the Freedom Movement of Iran is the country’s “oldest political prisoner,” according to his family.  Since the onset of political unrest following tainted presidential elections in June 2009, he has been arrested three times, once when he was in an intensive care hospital ward. During one of his imprisonments, he spent 50 days in solitary confinement.

Yazdi is among the leading reform voices in Iran, beginning with his resignation as Foreign Minister in 1979 following his attempt to resolve the crisis over the seizure of American hostages in the United States Embassy. He subsequently served in Parliament, but was eventually barred from further political service.

Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, who has defended Yazdi on numerous occasions when he has been summoned and charged by the government, appealed to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to intervene with Iranian authorities for the release of Dr. Yazdi in a letter published on 23 November and signed by seven other notable Iranian public personalities.

Over 500 Iranian prisoners of conscience remain incarcerated following post-election protests. Most, like Yazdi, have been deprived of due process rights and prison conditions that meet minimum standards.

On 18 November 2010, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly passed a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which called Iran to account for, among other things: “Continued harassment, intimidation and persecution, including by arbitrary arrest, detention or disappearance, as well as violent repression of, inter alia, political opponents, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and other
media representatives, Internet providers, Internet users, bloggers, clerics, academics, students and labour leaders from all sectors of Iranian society, noting in particular the continued harassment and detention of staff members of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre…”

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to meet its international human rights obligations by releasing Yazdi and all prisoners of conscience.