May 02, 2012

Iranian Kurdistan: US Calls To Release Human Rights Activist

The US State Department urged the Iranian government to release Kurdish human rights activist Muhammad Kaboudvand. 

Below is an article published by Rudaw:

In a press conference, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland called on the Iranian government to release Muhammad Kaboudvand, a Kurdish human rights activist.

Kaboudvand, from the city of Sanandaj (Sina) in Iranian Kurdistan, was the head of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization. He was imprisoned for reporting on the conditions in Iranian prisons, including the use of torture.

The U.S. State Department has launched a campaign under the slogan “Free the Press.” The initiative will continue until World Press Freedom Day on May 3 [2012].

During daily press briefings, the department is highlighting the cases of imprisoned journalists from around the world. Kaboudvand was the journalist in focus on April 26 [2012]. 

Nuland said, “Kaboudvand was reporting on torture in Iranian prisons and now finds himself in one. In 2007, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for acting against national security.”

Nuland called on the Iranian government to release Kaboudvand and 90 other journalists. 

Parinaz Husseini, Kaboudvand’s wife, expressed gratitude to the State Department for recognizing her husband. She told Rudaw, “The State Department’s action will uplift my husband’s spirit and encourage him.”

She added, “This acknowledgment by the State Department will ensure Kaboudvand that his struggles for Kurdish rights weren’t in vain.”

In 1997, Kaboudvand and activist friends established the organization Union for Democracy in Iran.

They issued a “message of the people” newspaper in both Kurdish and Persian in 2003, with Kaboudvand acting as editor-in-chief. One year later, he was arrested by the Iranian government and the newspaper was suspended.  

It was after his release in 2005 that Kaboudvand founded the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization.

In 2007, he was charged for acting against national security for establishing the organization and engaging in propaganda against the state through his writings. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He is currently serving time in prison in Tehran.

Parinaz Husseini has no hope that Iranian authorities will release her husband. She says, “We appreciate the State Department and international community’s efforts for my husband’s release. But I am not optimistic that the Iranians will respect the international community’s request. For a long time, we have been pleading with the Iranian government to let my husband out for a few days so that he can see his sick son, but they have ignored our requests.”

She added, “Kaboudvand himself is suffering from multiple health problems.”

Husseini implores the Iranian authorities to respect prisoners’ wishes. She said, “They themselves are fathers. I beg them to consider this request as fathers. The doctors believe our son’s spirit will strengthen if he sees his father. But the Iranian authorities will not allow this to happen even for one minute.”

In 2009, the British Press Awards named Kaboudvand International Journalist of the Year. He also received Human Rights Watch’s Hellman/Hammett Award.

Local and international organizations, including Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders, have called upon the Iranian government to release Kaboudvand without any conditions.