Iran – September 18, 2012 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.
The Observatory has been informed by the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) about the confirmation on appeal of the sentence of five years imprisonment in internal exile against Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR).
According to the information received, on September 15, 2012, the Tehran Province Court of Appeals upheld the sentence of five years imprisonment in internal exile that had been issued against Mr. Goudarzi on February 26, 2012 on charges of “propaganda against the system” and “assembly and collusion against the state” (see background information). This verdict now places Mr. Goudarzi at risk of arbitrary arrest at any moment.
Mr. Goudarzi’s lawyer, Dr. Alizadeh Tabatabaei, said on September 15, 2012, that the appeals judge had told him that he would issue an acquittal verdict. However, the Ministry of Intelligence, which was in favour of a sentence against Mr. Goudarzi, exerted its influence on the decision.
The Observatory recalls that the Iranian legislation does not provide for “imprisonment in internal exile”, i.e. a sentence to be served in a remote location within the country, far from the detainee’s hometown.
The Observatory denounces this new arbitrary verdict against Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi since it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities, amid the continuing repression of the Iranian civil society.
The Observatory further recalls that several other human rights defenders have also been detained and faced acts of judicial harassment over the past months, including Ms. Shiva Nazarahari and Messrs. Saeed Jalalifar and Navid Khanjani, members of the CHRR, as well as Messrs. Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, blogger and human rights activist, Issa Saharkhiz, a journalist and founding member of the Iranian Association for the Defence of Freedom of Press, and Ms. Zhila Baniyaghoub, an award-winning journalist and women’s right activist.
The Observatory is all the more concerned about the fate of Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi that in early September 2012, Ms. Shiva Nazarahari and Ms. Zhila Baniyaghoub were taken into custody to serve the imprisonment sentences that had been previously imposed on them on similar charges.
Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi was arrested in December 2009 and subsequently sentenced to one year in prison on charges, among others, of “propaganda activity against the system through effective collaboration with the Committee of Human Rights Reporters website”, “collection and publication of biased news against the system and transfer of this information to terrorist organisations based abroad”, as well as “interviews with foreign media and publishing articles in websites,” pursuant to Islamic Penal Code of Iran. He served the sentence and was released on December 14, 2010. On July 30 or 31, 2011, Mr. Goudarzi was again arrested in Tehran and his whereabouts remained unknown for several weeks, which amounted to enforced disappearance. A day after his arrest, in the morning of July 31 or August 1, 2011, his mother Ms. Parvin Mokhtar’e was also arbitrarily arrested at her home in Kerman, by four plainclothes agents, without a warrant. While in detention, she was informed that she had been accused of “insulting the Supreme leader”, “propaganda against the regime”, and “acting against national security”, whereas she had no political or human rights-related activities. In December 2011, after spending nearly five months in Kerman prison, she was sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment on charges of “assembly, collusion and spreading propaganda against the State” by the Kerman Islamic Revolution Court. On appeal, the sentence was reduced to 23 months of suspended imprisonment. She was also sentenced to a cash fine for “insulting the martyrs”, which she paid, before being released on March 18, 2012.
On February 26, 2012, Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court to five years imprisonment to be served in internal exile in the remote southeastern city of Zabul. He was convicted on charges of “propaganda against the system” because of an interview he gave to the German magazine Der Spiegel, in which he spoke about his hunger strike in solidarity with prisoners and his former cellmates. He was also convicted on charges of “assembly and collusion against the system”. Although he lodged an appeal, he remained detained in Section 209 of Evin prison under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence.
On April 12, 2012, after spending more than nine months in detention including two months in solitary confinement, Mr. Goudarzi was released on bail pending his trial on appeal.
Please write to the Iranian authorities and ask them to:
Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi and of the aforementioned six human rights defenders, as well as all human rights defenders in Iran;
Drop all the charges against Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi;
Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Kouhyar Goudarzi as well as against the aforementioned six human rights defenders, and more generally against all human rights defenders in Iran;
Release all the aforementioned six human rights defenders immediately and unconditionally, as their detention only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;
Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
its article 5.b, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels, (…) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups”;
its article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.
Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shahid Keshvardoost St., Jomhuri Eslami Ave., Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Faxes: + 98 21 649, + 98 21 649 / 21 774 2228, email@example.com
President Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 5880. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, , Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur Street, Vali Asr Avenue, south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737,Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Akbar Salehi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Kushk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149
Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Javad Larijani, [C