Since his 3 November arrest, 74-year-old Mohammad Tavassoli, Political Secretary of Iran’s Freedom Movement, has been in prison without any communication with his family.
Mehdi Nourbakhsh, a close relative of Tavassoli, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Tavassoli’s family is under pressure for talking to the media about him.”Throughout the time Tavassoli has been in detention, his family has not been informed about his location, nor specifics about his charges. During his detention, he has not been allowed to contact his family at all,” said Nourbakhsh.
Security forces arrested Tavassoli at his home on 3 November in relation with a letter to Mohammad Khatami signed by 143 political and social activists. “There will not be the smallest glimmer of hope for protecting the people’s vote and for holding free, healthy, and fair elections,” said the letter.
“We heard from some Evin prisoners and their families that Mr. Tavassoli is inside Evin Prison and under immense pressure. Kayhan Newspaper wrote after his arrest that the reason for his arrest is forging 143 signatures on a [15 October] letter to Khatami. But during the weeks since he has been in prison, we heard that several of the people who signed the letter have been taken to the Intelligence Ministry, where they were interrogated. They all said ‘we signed the letter ourselves and it is not a forgery.’ Now we heard news from the prison that they want to charge Tavassoli with writing the text of the letter, whereas members of the Nationalist-Religious group wrote this letter. More importantly, it doesn’t matter who authored the letter signed by 143 people. It means that all of them assume responsibility for it, and not just one person,” Nourbakhsh told the Campaign.
Mohammad Tavassoli was Tehran’s first mayor after the 1979 Revolution. He has been arrested and tortured several times since then. His last detention before the recent one was during the days immediately following the 2009 presidential election, when he spent almost two months inside Evin Prison’s Ward 209.
Nourbakhsh, who is also Ebrahim Yazdi’s son-in-law, told the Campaign that the Tavassoli family are under pressure not to talk to the media. “From that first day intelligence forces arrested Mr. Tavassoli at his home, his family was told not to give interviews. The Tehran Prosecutor told them the same thing later. His family has been going to courts and other places, but has not been able to receive any answers about his whereabouts and his charges,” he said.