Pressure on Civil Society Builds Ahead of 11 February Revolution Anniversary
(3 February 2010) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran denounced the arrest today of Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, a leading human rights activist, member of the Central Council of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, and journalist.
"Kermanshahi is one of the most important sources of objective human rights information and analysis in Iran, and one of the few still courageously working to document, in a scientific way, the deprivation of human rights there," stated Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesperson for the Campaign.
"Kaveh has committed no crime, and his arrest is an apparent attempt to shield the authorities from scrutiny ahead of expected protests on 11 February," he added.
Kermanshahi was arrested in his hometown of Kermanshah in Western Iran. According to information obtained by the Campaign, seven security agents searched his home, confiscated his personal belongings, including his computer and written documents, and took him to an unknown place. The agents arrested him on the basis of a warrant that did not show the name of the authorities who issued it. No information was given to his family about where he was taken.
At twenty-five years old, Kermanshahi holds a law degree. As a human rights defender, his work is widely recognized for its quality and detail and his personal attention to political prisoners and their families. Kermanshahi was also member of the student alumni group ADVAR, and the One Million Signatures Campaign working for an end to gender discrimination.
Ejlal Ghawami, spokesperson for the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, told the Campaign that there is high pressure on members of the organization to close it. He said that in the past month, he had been summoned three times by security agents, who had demanded the closing of the group. The founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, has been in custody since June 2007, and is serving an 10-year prison term having been convicted solely on the basis of his human rights activities.
Other human rights organizations, including the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, have come under increasing assault from government authorities and prosecutors. As reported by the Campaign, arrested members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters are under pressure to deliver forced confessions on unfounded allegations of the Committee's affiliation with the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which could lead to their conviction as Mohareb, or "enemies of God," a charge punishable by death.
In the past several weeks prominent human rights defenders have been detained without authorities providing any information about them. They include Emad Baghi, founder of the Association to Defend Prisoners' Rights, as well as seven members of the Committee of Human Rights Defenders: Shiva Nazarahari, Parisa Kakaie, Mehrdad Rahimi, Kouhyar Goudarzi, Saeed Hayeri, Saeed Kalanaki, and Saeed Jalalifar.
"The Islamic Republic is egregiously violating its international obligations to protect human rights defenders, and the international governmental and civil society community should demand the immediate release of Kermanshahi and all human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily arrested," Ghaemi said.
New arrests: Sahar Ghassem Nejad, Nazanin Hassan Nia, and Alireza Saghafi
At 4 a.m. today (Februrary 3rd), plainclothes
officers stormed the homes of Sahar Ghassem Nejad and Nazanin Hassan Nia, who
belong to families of those executed in the 1980's, arresting both women. After
searching the premises, the officers who had warrants from the Prosecutor's
office took computers and personal items of the two individuals and transferred
the women to an unknown location. The only explanation the officers gave
families of the arrested individuals was that if they don't hear anything by
Thursday, they can go to the Revolutionary Courts. Sahar and Nazanin did not
belong to any political party or group.
Sahar Ghassem Nia was born in 1982 and her father was one of those who were executed in that decade in Iran. Nazanin's aunt was also in prison for some time in the 1980's. Her arrest took place a few weeks after the arrests of Omid Montazeri and his mother, Mahin Fahimi. Mr. Montazeri's father was also executed in 1988, along with a large group of political prisoners.
Iranian news web sites report on the arrest of Alireza Saghafi, member of the Iranian Writers' Association, and a labor rights defender. This journalist and author was arrested on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, after appearing at the Ministry of Information. After Reza Khandan, he is the second member of the Iranian Writers' Association to be arrested over the past few days. Previously, Alireza Saghafi and his son, Mohsen Saghafi, had been arrested during the International Labor Day ceremonies at Park Laleh in Tehran, and released on bail after a few weeks.
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