Nov 02, 2007

Iranian Kurdistan: Prisoner Maltreated to Blackmail Colleagues

Iranian authorities are reportedly maltreating an imprisoned human rights activist in an attempt to prevent his colleagues from carrying out their work.

Iranian authorities are reportedly maltreating an imprisoned human rights activist in an attempt to lure his colleagues to present themselves at the police station and prevent them from carrying out their work.

Below is an article by Amnesty International:

Iranian Kurdish journalist and human rights defender Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), is reportedly being ill-treated in detention.

Amnesty International fears that this ill-treatment may be intended to force board members of the HROK to present themselves to security officials, thereby risking arrest and the closure of the HROK, and is calling on the Iranian authorities to halt any such ill-treatment immediately. 

Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand has been detained since 1 July 2007 in Section 209 of Tehran's Evin Prison. Although he is believed not to have been formally charged, in mid-July [2007] he reportedly said that he was being accused of "acting against national security," "propaganda against the system" and "cooperating with groups opposed to the system."

He also complained of poor detention conditions and that whenever he was interrogated he was blindfolded and bound hand and foot, His lawyer, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, has not been allowed to meet with him and contact with his family has been limited.

Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand is said to suffer from high blood pressure, a skin disorder and a kidney complaint, the nature of which is not known to Amnesty International. He reportedly needs to be able to urinate frequently and failure to do so adversely affect his kidneys. He has been told that if he wants to go to the toilet, he must seek formal permission in writing.

Under current Iranian law, no one is required to present themselves before police or other security forces without first receiving a written summons. However, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand has also been told that if the three board members of the HROK currently at liberty present themselves voluntarily to the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj, he will be permitted to go to the toilet whenever he needs to. In response, Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand is believed to have insisted that the HROK is an independent, human rights organisation and that 'we will simply not go away and we will continue our humanitarian works.' Amnesty International fears that if board members of the HROK present themselves for interview at the Sanandaj offices of the Ministry of Intelligence, they risk arrest and the HROK will effectively be closed.

The HROK was founded by Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand and others in April 2005 and currently has around 100 members. The authorities have never granted the HROK's request for official recognition as an NGO. A fourth board member, Ajlal Qavami, is in prison in Sanandaj in connection with another case relating to his work as a journalist.

The ill treatment of Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand and the associated attempt to pressure board members of the HROK contravene international human rights standards which the Iranian authorities have committed to uphold, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The repeated harassment and imprisonment of human rights defenders by the Iranian authorities, however, calls into question their willingness to observe basic principles of respect for human dignity. The government should ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their important work -- which has been recognised in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders - in a climate of respect and in accordance with human rights standards.


Mohamad Sadiq Kabudvand was arrested on 1 July [2007] at his place of work in Tehran by security officers in plain clothes, the day the publication ban on his newspaper, Payam-e Mardom-e Kordestan (Kurdistan People's Message), reportedly expired. He is facing a one-year prison sentence in connection with articles published in this newspaper, but his current detention does not appear to be connected with this.