Hunger strike and alarming health situation of Mr. Akbar Ganji
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.A good introduction on Ganji's situation.
The Observatory has received new information by the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (Ligue pour la défense des droits de l’Homme en Iran - LDDHI) about the deteriorating health situation of Mr. Akbar Ganji, a prominent journalist and human rights defender who has been imprisoned for more than five years in Tehran’s Evin prison. READ MORE
According to the information received, Mr. Akbar Ganji’s health has now become alarming after 27 days of hunger strike (See background information below).
The Observatory is extremely worried regarding Mr. Ganji’s health and life and urges the Iranian authorities to allow him to benefit from the adequate medical treatment requested by his state of health.
Moreover, on July 12, 2005, following a call for support from 400 intellectuals, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Tehran University, asking for the release of political prisoners, including Mr. Ganji. The police then assaulted the crowd, and several demonstrators were beaten and arrested.
Mr. Akbar Ganji, of the daily newspaper Sobh-e-Emrooz, was arrested on April 22, 2000 for having written several articles suggesting the involvement of the Iranian regime, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, in the assassination of dissident opponents and intellectuals in late 1998. Mr. Ganji was also arrested because he took part in a conference in Berlin on the Iranian legislative elections and democratic reforms in April 1998. In January 2001, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison but the appeal court reduced the sentence to six months in May 2001. However, in July 2001, the Supreme Court quashed the May sentence on technical grounds and imposed a six-year jail sentence on the charge of “threatening national security and propaganda against the institutions of the Islamic State” (See Observatory Annual Report 2004).
On May 19, 2005, Mr. Akbar Ganji began an “unlimited hunger strike” to protest against his imprisonment, which he called off on May 24, 2005, after negotiations with three prison officials who promised to give way to his demands the following week. But the following day, an assistant of the Tehran prosecutor accused him of lying and warned “the Ganji family not to continue with these lies”. The journalist then told his family that he had decided to renew his fast “and this time to the end”.
Mr. Akbar Ganji suffers from asthma and serious back problems, for which doctors recommended that he be immediately hospitalised. However, in detention, Mr. Ganji did not have access to adequate treatment. On May 28, 2005, Evin prison officials proposed to Mr. Akbar Ganji that he should be examined by two doctors chosen by his family to confirm his poor state of health and, on that basis, they would grant him permission to leave the prison. Mr. Ganji would be hospitalised for a week. On May 30, 2005, the Iranian authorities decided to release on a temporary basis Mr. Ganji, so that he may receive medical treatment.
On June 14, 2005, his house was searched on order of Mr. Mortazavi, Prosecutor of Tehran, in order to arrest him. On the following day, on June 15, 2005, Mr. Akbar Ganji presented himself to jail. On June 16, 2005, he started a hunger strike and he is currently held in solitary confinement in spite of the specific recommendation made on June 27, 2003, by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to this widespread practice which it considered as arbitrary in nature (See the UN document E/CN4/2004/3/Add.2, paragraphs 4 and 5).
Please write to the Iranian authorities, urging them to:i. Release Mr. Akbar Ganji immediately;
ii. Allow Mr. Akbar Ganji to benefit from the adequate medical treatment requested by his state of health, outside the Evin prison;
iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Akbar Ganji;
iv. Put an immediate end to all acts of harassment against Iranian human rights defenders;
v. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels”, as well as 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 or 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”;
vi. More generally, conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the other international instruments ratified by the Islamic Republic of Iran.