Iranian authorities arrested internationally acclaimed human rights advocate Emadeddin Baghi on December 28th. More than one week later, his family still has not heard from him.
Baghi suffered seizures and a heart attack during a previous prison term. His health hangs in the balance as he languishes in incommunicado detention.
Baghi is no stranger to harassment by Iranian authorities. He has faced harsh prison sentences 3 times over the past decade and Iran’s government has banned many of his books.
By Sherry Harbert
Amnesty International joined a coalition of international organizations around the world to support the victims of human rights abuses in Iran on July 25. Portland was one of over a hundred cities which gathered together to express concern and solidarity with those detained for peacefully protesting the June election results.
The Global Day of Action was a vision of local Portland Iranians, human rights organizations and individuals, led by the groups United for Iran and Portland Stands with Iran. The groups have been hosting weekly rallies for peace since June. They have called for nonpolitical unity in support of all Iranians. Though some separatists, as with the movement of royalists opting for regime change also voice their demands, the major momentum of the movement focuses on human rights. Representatives of United for Iran and Portland Stands for Iran express their wish for Iranians to settle their own affairs. They simply want to convey their support for those who are fighting for their rights according to Iranian law.
Mayor Sam Adams was one of a dozen speakers at the Portland rally in Pioneer Square that was covered with green flags, green balloons and green attire. The City of Portland issued a proclamation for the day to express its solidarity with the people of Iran and to raise concerns about the violent responses to peaceful demonstrations after the election. Mayor Adams offered his concern and support to the crowd of about 100 people.
The world has watched with shock and a profound sense of dismay the scenes of bloody, rampant violence that have filled the streets of Tehran and other cities in the wake of Iran’s hotly contested presidential elections.
But behind the scenes, Iranian authorities are conducting a simultaneous effort aimed at silencing dissident voices through arbitrary arrests and detention.
Plain clothes Iranian security officials have arrested leading human rights activist Abdolfattah Soltani and have rounded up countless other students, opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists and sent them to prison.
Soltani has for years stood by individuals who have suffered repression in Iran. And by putting himself in the line of fire, he too has become a target of the Iranian government’s brutal repression.
15 June 2009
UA 150/09 – Fear of excessive use of force/torture (PDF)
IRAN – Demonstrators against announcement of re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad
Thousands of people, mainly supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has challenged the announcement that current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won the 12 June presidential election have been demonstrating, sometimes violently, in the streets in Tehran and other cities. They are at risk of injury or death at the hands of the security forces. Dozens have been arrested, and up to five students are reported to have been killed on Sunday and one person in a demonstration on Monday. Amnesty International believes the security forces are likely to use excessive force if, as expected, there are further demonstrations, and that those arrested are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The organization also believes the authorities are unlawfully restricting freedom of expression and information by blocking access to phone services, including SMS messages, foreign media and various internet sites.
Update – May 12, 2009
Roxana Saberi was released on May 11, 2009. Thank you all for taking action on her behalf. Check out AI’s comments on her release.
Iran recently sentenced Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old journalist who holds both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, to eight years in prison on charges of espionage after a brief closed door trial. She had been living in Iran and working as a reporter for the past six years, filing stories for news outlets such as National Public Radio, although the government claimed it had withdrawn her press credentials. She was reportedly working on a book about Iranian society at the time of her arrest.
The Iranian government has not released any evidence against Roxana and reports indicate she was pressured into making statements that were used against her in the legal proceedings. The government has imprisoned and persecuted numerous bloggers, journalists, labor activists, students and members of religious minorities. The harsh prison sentence of Roxana is yet another example of the increasingly severe crackdown on those exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association in Iran.
Take action now to call for her immediate release.