Authorities Attempt to Crush Remaining Active Human Rights NGOs
Human Rights Community in Iran has been decimated
(6 January 2010) Islamic Republic authorities are attempting to shut down the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, one of the few human rights organizations still active in the country, and to stop the human rights activities of the student alumni group ADVAR, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today. Some members of the groups are being arrested, and others are under intense pressure to halt their work.
“In illegally shutting down independent, domestic human rights reporting, the authorities are attempting to preserve their own impunity before Iranian and international law,” said Campaign spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi.
On 2 January 2010, Parisa Kakaie and Mehrdad Rahimi, members of the Committee who had been summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and threatened by telephone, were arrested when they appeared at the Intelligence Office. Activists Shiva Nazarahari, Kouhyar Goudarzi and Saeed Hayeri, also members of the Committee, have been arrested as reported by the Campaign.
Previously, on 1 December 2009, Committee members Saeed Kalanaki and Saeed Jalalifar were arrested. Kalanaki was arrested at his office, and his house was later searched and his personal belongs confiscated. Jalalifar was arrested in front of his house by Intelligence Officers who were waiting for him. Both are being held in the public ward in Evin prison. Kalanaki was visited by his family once, but Jalalifar has been denied any visits. Previously, Kalanaki was arrested and convicted by the Revolutionary Court to a three-year suspended prison term. Jalalifar was expelled from Zanjan University during the student protests against the alleged sexual abuse of a female student by the University Deputy.
Two other members of the Committee, Saeed Habibi and Hesam Misaghi, have been summoned and threatened by phone, but they refused to appear at the Intelligence Ministry because according to the law, a written summons is required. Previously, Habibi was arrested in November 2007 and released after 70 days on bail of 1,500 million Rials ($150,000) and tried and convicted to a three-year prison term, which has been appealed.
In the week of 28 December 2009, Kalanaki and Jalalifar contacted two other members of the Committee by telephone from prison and requested them to stop running the Committee’s website. After they had spoken to their colleagues, their interrogators took the phone and threatened the members, and said that if they did not stop posting information, they would be treated “either within prison or out of the prison.”
According to the Committee, the arrested members are being forced to confess that they have relationship with the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, which has been an opposition group operating abroad.
The student alumni group ADVAR, which has a unit devoted to human rights violations, still monitors human rights issues from an independent perspective, but the government has arrested key personnel including members who have studied and worked in human rights. On 2 January, ADVAR members Rouzbeh Karimi, a trained human rights defender and journalist, and Forouq Mirzaie, who is educated in human rights and law, and works in the office of human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, were arrested. Rashid Esmaieli, a human rights student who was expelled from studying and a member of the Central Council of ADVAR, was arrested in Isfahan on 24 December 2009 while suffering from serious health problems.
The Committee of Human Rights Reporters and ADVAR are among the few independent human rights monitoring groups still operating in the Islamic Republic, while numerous leading human rights defenders have been jailed or driven into exile. The Defenders of Human Rights Center, headed by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, was closed by the authorities in December 2008. The director of the Human Rights Organization in Kurdistan, Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand has been in prison since 2007 and is serving a 10 year and 6 month prison term, having been sentenced for his human rights activities. The founder of the Association of Prisoners Rights, Emad Baghi, was arrested on 28 December 2009, and no further information about his status has been provided.