Saturday, August 12, 2006

Petition: Free Ahmad Batebi

Petition Online:
To: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

In the summer of 1999, 21 year old film student Ahmad Batebi arrived at a peaceful student protest held in front of his school at University of Tehran. A vigilante mob supported by the special security police had already attacked the protestors injuring several students, arresting numerous others and killing at least one.

Batebi who was trained as an emergency paramedic by the Red Crescent Society of Iran was assisting the injured when he came across a severely injured friend and held his friend's bloody t-shirt above his head to show the cruelty of the attackers. Several journalists and photographers took pictures of his gesture and one eventually found its way to the cover of London's prestigious The Economist. Preparing for a movie where he was to play the role of Jesus Christ, Batebi had long hair and a beard at the time, making him an attractive subject for such a dramatic pose.

Batebi was arrested on that day and was later brought to trial in front of the special "revolutionary court" in Tehran. His "trial" lasted only a few minutes and he was denied having a lawyer present to defend him. The Economist cover was used as part of the evidence against him and to prove his "counter-revolutionary" activities. He received a death sentence but internal and international pressure, finally caused the authorities to reduce his sentence to 15 years.

Ahmad Batebi has been subjected to solitary confinement, physical and mental torture during his captivity so far and will be a 36 year old man when and if released at the end of his sentence. All for a bloody t-shirt and a picture.

We, the undersigned, appeal for your involvement on Batebi's behalf based on principals of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

His arrest, trial and detention are clear violations of Articles 9, 10, 11, 18, 19 and 20 of this significant document adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December of 1948 and as such mandates your immediate intervention.

Furthermore, we call upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to meet its international obligations and free all political prisoners and others held based on their religious or ideological opinion and belief.


The Undersigned
To sign the petition click here.