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Concern over fate of journalists detained in Kurdish province of Iran

Reporters Without Borders today demanded the immediate release of four journalists who were arrested in the Kurdish part of Iran in late July and early August - Madh Amadi, Ejlal Ghavami, Roya Tolou and Said Saedi - and called on the authorities to explain their arrests. Only one of them, Ghavami, has so far been tried.

"It is unacceptable that these journalists are being held with non-political prisoners, who are sometimes used by the authorities to harass or attack the political prisoners," the press freedom organisation said, voicing particular concern about the state of health of Amadi and Ghavami, who are on hunger strike.

A freelance journalist who works with several local media, Amadi was arrested on 28 July in the Sarvabad border area after visiting the Kurdish part of neighbouring Irak. Now held in the main prison of the city of Marivan, he is still awaiting trial. He began a hunger strike on 1 September in protest against his detention, which he considers illegal.

The reason for his arrest is not known, but it could be linked to his investigation of a massacre of residents in the village of Garna (in the Kurdish part of Iran) in the 1980s. Many documents about the massacre which he had collected were seized at the time of his arrest.

The three other journalists were arrested because of their coverage of recent disturbances in Iran's Kurdish-dominated northwestern region.

Ghavami, who works for the weekly Payam-e mardom-e Kurdestan, was arrested on 2 August and was tried by the court of the city Sanandaj on 29 August on charges of "inciting the populations to revolt" and "acting against national security." He was then transferred to the non-political prisoners wing of the prison. He began his hunger strike on 31 August. In a letter he managed to get out to his family, he said, "my life is in danger."

Tolo, the editor of the newspaper Resan, was formally placed in custody on 9 August pending trial. The authorities refused to release her on bail, and she has also been put in a cell with non-political prisoners.

The third journalist being held without trial, Saedi, is a freelancer who occasionally works for the weekly Asou.

... Payvand News - 9/9/05 ... --

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