The brother of founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the prominent human rights lawyer is showing signs of impaired memory at Evin Prison, and that he is under severe pressure to confess against himself and to accept charges leveled against him. Seyed Hossein Dadkhah expressed grave concern about his brother’s conditions and told the Campaign that Dadkhah’s family members do not know why nor how his memory loss has come about.
“He did not recognize his daughter during the in-person visitation and he was talking nonsense. It is very sad. I met Mohammad through a booth. I was surprised to observe that he constructed his sentences in haphazard ways. Mohammad has always had excellent speech, he would never make mistakes or talk haphazardly, he never paused in the middle of his talks. I don’t know what happened to him. He wasn’t the same last week,” Seyed Hossein Dadkhah told the Campaign.
“I don’t know what resulted in this. Maybe he can’t speak very frankly during booth visits. Whatever I asked him he answered, ‘It’s good.’ I asked, ‘Are they abusing you?’ He said, ‘No. Everything is good.’ I asked ‘Are you eating?’ He said, ‘Good.’ ‘Do you sleep well?’ He said, ‘Everything is good,'” Dadkhah’s brother told the Campaign.
Prominent Iranian lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah represented many political activists, such as Ebrahim Yazdi and Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, as well as Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and ten years’ ban on legal practice and teaching in July 2011. An appeals court upheld his sentence in full.
Prior to his imprisonment, Dadkhah was put under pressure to confess on television. During an interview with the Campaign in May 2012 he said hat security forces had asked him to state before a television camera that the Defenders of Human Rights Center received funds from foreigners in order to carry out their goals.
“They told him, ‘If you accept one of your charges, we will free you immediately.’ He told them, ‘Considering I have not done anything, why should I confess to having done it?’ He told them, ‘My activities were only related to human rights, and if you want I will confess to the same.’ They told him, ‘Then stay right here.’ We have kept our silence so far, because we didn’t want his conditions to get worse than this,” Dadkhah’s brother told the Campaign about the pressure on his brother in prison.
In September 2012, prior to his imprisonment, Mohammad Ali Dakhah told the Campaign, “They told me that if I didn’t confess, they would enforce my sentence. They talked to me for long periods of time and I did not accept it. I will say now that if one day I say things, they are not credible and I must have been under conditions where I was forced to say those things. I hope God maintains my power.”
Dadkah’s brother told the Campaign, “During his weekly visit with his daughter last week, he said that he has problems with his teeth, but told her not to request medical treatment for him.”
“I have gone everywhere. I have told hem that Mohammad does not deserve prison. His intelligence must be put to use outside the prison and for the country. About two months ago I requested that they allow him to leave prison daily and go to the Encyclopedia Office in order to complete his unfinished book on the “7 Seen” [traditions related to the Persian new year celebration of Nowruz]; [so that] he would go there for work every day and return to prison in the evening. They said that the Tehran Prosecutor would have to issue the permission, but so far there has been no word from the Prosecutor’s Office. I will go to follow up on this in a few days again,” his brother added.