Leading Human Rights Activist Arrested
Pressure on Civil Society Builds Ahead of 11 February Revolution Anniversary
(3 February 2010) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran denounced the arrest today of Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, a leading human rights activist, member of the Central Council of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, and journalist.
“Kermanshahi is one of the most important sources of objective human rights information and analysis in Iran, and one of the few still courageously working to document, in a scientific way, the deprivation of human rights there,” stated Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesperson for the Campaign.
“Kaveh has committed no crime, and his arrest is an apparent attempt to shield the authorities from scrutiny ahead of expected protests on 11 February,” he added.
Kermanshahi was arrested in his hometown of Kermanshah in Western Iran. According to information obtained by the Campaign, seven security agents searched his home, confiscated his personal belongings, including his computer and written documents, and took him to an unknown place. The agents arrested him on the basis of a warrant that did not show the name of the authorities who issued it. No information was given to his family about where he was taken.
At twenty-five years old, Kermanshahi holds a law degree. As a human rights defender, his work is widely recognized for its quality and detail and his personal attention to political prisoners and their families. Kermanshahi was also member of the student alumni group ADVAR, and the One Million Signatures Campaign working for an end to gender discrimination.
Ejlal Ghawami, spokesperson for the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, told the Campaign that there is high pressure on members of the organization to close it. He said that in the past month, he had been summoned three times by security agents, who had demanded the closing of the group. The founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, has been in custody since June 2007, and is serving an 10-year prison term having been convicted solely on the basis of his human rights activities.
Other human rights organizations, including the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, have come under increasing assault from government authorities and prosecutors. As reported by the Campaign, arrested members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters are under pressure to deliver forced confessions on unfounded allegations of the Committee’s affiliation with the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which could lead to their conviction as Mohareb, or “enemies of God,” a charge punishable by death.
In the past several weeks prominent human rights defenders have been detained without authorities providing any information about them. They include Emad Baghi, founder of the Association to Defend Prisoners’ Rights, as well as seven members of the Committee of Human Rights Defenders: Shiva Nazarahari, Parisa Kakaie, Mehrdad Rahimi, Kouhyar Goudarzi, Saeed Hayeri, Saeed Kalanaki, and Saeed Jalalifar.
“The Islamic Republic is egregiously violating its international obligations to protect human rights defenders, and the international governmental and civil society community should demand the immediate release of Kermanshahi and all human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily arrested,” Ghaemi said.