Iran Set to Free Prominent Reformist Saeed Hajjarian
By VOA News
An Iranian judiciary spokesman says a prominent reformist detained during post
election unrest will be released Wednesday.
The spokesman says Saeed Hajjarian will be freed following an order this week
from Iran's Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to speed up the review of
the cases of detained reformists.
Poster featuring Saeed Hajjarian at hunger strike in front of United
Nations headquarters in New York (July 22-24) -
On Tuesday, Iranian authorities released on bail
140 people detained following the June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. An Iranian lawmaker said another 150 people are still being held
and face more serious charges than those who have been released.
Iranian media say 20 protesters will go on trial in the coming days on several
charges, including carrying weapons and grenades.
Political activists, journalists and others were arrested as part of a crackdown
on protests that stemmed from the election. The political opposition alleges
fraud, but Iranian authorities say Mr. Ahmadinejad's re-election was fair.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
Press Release by
Human Rights Watch about
Free Disabled Reformist
Condition of Saeed Hajjarian, Who Exposed Intelligence Ministry Killings in
1990s, Has Deteriorated
(New York, July 28, 2009) -
A prominent reformist's poor health has deteriorated further in detention from
harsh treatment, including interrogation under the sun in very high
temperatures, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch renewed its call
on the Iranian government to free the reformist, Saeed Hajjarian, immediately.
"Saeed Hajjarian has been in detention without access to a lawyer or proper
medical attention for more than six weeks," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East
and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "We believe his life is in
danger. He should be freed immediately."
Hajjarian, 55, was detained without charge on June 15, 2009, and has neither
seen a lawyer nor received adequate medical care. He was one of scores of
prominent reformist politicians, intellectuals, journalists, clerics, student
leaders, and others whom the authorities arrested in an effort to stamp out
nationwide protests against the disputed results of Iran's June 12 elections.
A senior intelligence official in the 1980s, Hajjarian became a leading
strategist in the reformist movement in the 1990s and a political adviser to
then-President Mohammed Khatami in 1997. His newspaper, Sobh-e Emrooz
(Today's Morning), played a major role in exposing the involvement of Iran's
Ministry of Intelligence in a series of killings and disappearances of leading
intellectuals in the late 1990s.
On March 12, 2000, when Hajjarian was a member of the Tehran city council, a
gunman on a motorcycle shot him in the face in front of the city council
building. Hajjarian survived, despite lapsing into a coma for more than a week,
but is permanently disabled, largely wheelchair-bound, and requires ongoing
medical assistance and monitoring.
Zeinab Hajjarian, Saeed Hajjarian's daughter who lives in the United States,
told Human Rights Watch that her father has been subjected to increasing
physical and psychological pressure in detention.
Her information is based on an account by her mother, Vajihe Marsoosi, who is a
medical doctor and who visited her husband in Evin prison on July 24. Hajjarian
told his wife that interrogators regularly questioned him outdoors under the sun
in temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Based upon
her visit and evaluation of her husband's health, Marsoosi suspected he was at
risk of serious cardiac and hepatic complications.
Marsoosi told her daughter: "His color seemed yellow and not normal. He was
completely weak and was unable to speak easily. He seemed under a lot of
psychological pressure." Marsoosi said she took Hajjarian's pulse and noticed
irregularities, raising concern about a serious heart problem. "His conditions
clearly showed that he was not being taken care of," her daughter quoted her as
saying. "It seemed like they were trying to have him killed."
Zeinab Hajjarian said that when Marsoosi asked the interrogators when they would
release her husband, they replied, "When their project is done." They did not
specify what the "project" was. Many detainees have come under intense pressure
to sign false confessions supporting the authorities' assertion that Iran's
post-election protests are instigated and backed by foreign powers and designed
to topple the government.
Zeinab Hajjarian told Human Rights Watch that her mother said that prison
authorities were not allowing his family to provide Hajjarian with the
medications necessary to treat his condition. His condition requires careful
administration of a range of prescribed medicines; incorrect administration can
result in serious harm.
Besides putting pressure on Hajjarian himself, the authorities have also
interrogated and harassed his son Mohsen, and his wife, who both live in Iran. A
security officer reportedly warned them that Hajjarian would come under more
pressure if they reported the conditions of his detention to the media.
Zainab Hajjarian told Human Rights Watch that anonymous persons, who she thinks
were Iranian security agents, have contacted her by email in the United States
and warned her against reporting anything regarding her father's condition.
The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners require that: "Sick
prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized
institutions or to civil hospitals." Failing to provide adequate medical care
for a seriously ill detainee has been considered inhuman or degrading treatment
by international courts, a very serious human rights violation.
"The Iranian government is exploiting Hajjarian's poor health and disability,
apparently in order to force him to make a false confession, in line with the
abusive interrogation pattern we've been seeing," said Stork. "The Iranian
authorities are completely responsible for his well-being. They should release
him to his family and medical caregivers immediately."
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:
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