Human Rights Defender’s Precarious Health Makes Detention Life-threatening
Fear of Torture and Death Penalties for other Detainees to Confirm Allegations of Foreign Instigation
(29 December 2009) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for the immediate and unconditional release of leading human rights defender Emadeddin Baghi, who was among numerous journalists and reformists detained on 28 December along with over 1,000 others, in the wake of violent crackdowns on Ashura protests. Also detained was the sister of Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Dr. Nooshin Ebadi.
Baghi, one of the top human rights defenders in Iran who has received numerous international recognitions including the Martin Ennals Award in 2009, suffers from heart and nerve conditions that have been severely aggravated by his previous incarcerations following convictions for his writings and human rights advocacy. He is a leading opponent of the death penalty.
“Emad Baghi’s arrest, as well as that of Dr. Ebadi, constitutes a blatant assault on the principled human rights community and a challenge to the growing civil rights movement in Iran,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.
“There is no reason to arrest Dr. Ebadi other than to intimidate Shirin Ebadi; the arrest is existentially a kidnapping consistent with the tactics of criminal gangs,” he said.
Shirin Ebadi released a statement regarding her sister’s arrest and called for an investigation by the Judiciary.
Many other prominent journalists and activists have been arrested during the past two days, including: Ebrahim Yazdi, former Foreign Minister and head of the Liberation Front; Mash’allah Shamsalvaezin, spokesman for the Association in Defense of the Press; Shapour Kazemi, brother in law of Mir-Hussein Mousavi; Badralsadat Mofidi, head of the Journalists’ Association; prominent journalists: Reza Tajik, Nasrin Vaziri, Keyvan Mehrgan, and Mohammad Javad Saberi; Mansoureh Shojaii, women’s rights activist; and political activists: Alireza Beheshti, Morteza Haji, Ghorban Behzadian-nejad, Mostafa Ezedi, Mohammad Taheri, and Heshmatollah Tabari.
Little information is available about the whereabouts and condition of the recently detained citizens who are held incommunicado. Under such conditions, the Campaign believes they may be tortured to produce false confessions confirming official claims that Ashura protests were instigated by foreign governments. Members of the ruling political elite have called for harsh penalties.
“It may be assumed that many detainees will be subjected to torture followed by “show trials” and convicted of crimes that carry the death penalty in the Islamic Republic,” Rhodes said.
The Campaign calls upon the Islamic Republic authorities to release to their families the bodies of those killed by militias and security forces during the demonstrations, so that they may be buried—insofar as still possible–in accordance with religious law.
Declaration by Dr. Shirin Ebadi
I hereby declare that my sister Dr. Noushin Ebadi who is a Medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran was detained by four officers from the counter-intelligence agency of Islamic Republic of Iran.
She was arrested at 9 pm today (28/12/2009) at her home in Tehran. At present, we have no information of her whereabouts.
During the past two months, my sister had been contacted by the elements within the government and told in no uncertain terms to contact me and persuade me to cease my activities as a human rights advocate. It was strongly suggested that she should leave her apartment which is within the same block as my apartment in Tehran. She was told that her failure to cooperate with them will result in her arrest. I initially did not take this seriously, but I’m sad and upset to see that this was not an empty threat.
It is important to note that my sister is not politically active nor is she a member of any human right organisation. Her only crime seems to be that she is my sister and her arrest is nothing less than a political blackmail and attempted pressure. This is another method employed by the authorities in Iran to stop my activities.
I hereby draw the attention of the Iranian judiciary to this unlawful and wrongful arrest of a member of my family for political gain by the government of Iran and I call for immediate release of my sister.
Iran is currently in turmoil and these unlawful and illegal actions will only have negative effect. What is needed in Iran is peaceful dialogue and tolerance.