Friday, August 25, 2006

More Human Rights Violations

Omid Memarian, Rooz Online:
98 Court summons, temporary detention, disregard for prisoner conditions, closure of newspapers, heavy sentences, forced confessions are only some of the developments in Iran that speak of more human rights violations. Karimi Rad, the spokesperson for Iran’s judiciary who also happens to be the Minister of Justice, recently rejected the hunger strike of Ahmadi Batebi imprison whose health is reported to be deteriorating. He has also spoken of continued detention of Mousavi Khoeni and forthcoming ‘confessions’ of Ramin Jahanbegloo to be broadcast on national television.

The death of Akbar Mohammadi 2 weeks ago after his 9-day hunger strike has increased concerns about the life and health of other political prisoners. In a letter to Iranian officials Amnesty International (AI) had called for immediate measures regarding Ahmad Batebi even before the news of his hunger strike was reported.

Amnesty’s letter lists the health problems that Batebi suffers due to torture and other cruel acts imposed on him during his previous prison term. He has lost some teeth, his hearing is impaired, has an infectious lung, etc. AI’s letter mentioned a letter that Batebi himself wrote to Iranian judiciary officials in 2000 in which he described how prison officials tied him to a water pipe and beat him up with boots and struck his belly, finally emerging his head into the sewage. It also references that in 2004 Batebi’s father told an Iranian news agency that his son had been suffering from mental disorder due to the pressures he had been subjected to. And even though he is now in a hospital. Batebi cannot be reached and his health condition cannot be verified. READ MORE

And while Batebi’s health conditions deteriorate, a court is in the process of upholding an earlier sentence on another student political activist behind bars Abdollah Momeni. Momeni’s lawyer said that Tehran’s appellate court upheld his sentence of 23 years in prison, which can be reversed.

Another student prisoner Mohammad Ghaem Maghami 26, a graduate student in nuclear physics who was detained by security forces 32 days ago and was on a hunger strike, was unexpectedly transferred to a mental hospital outside Evin prison after being held in the Ministry of Intelligence’s notorious 209 ward. Ghaem Maghami is an acknowledged outstanding student in physics who had been arrested for a few months earlier in 2004 in Hamedan, where he had been subjected to mental and physical torture and thus suffers from various nervous, hearth and kidney disorders. Last week, because of his health condition caused by his hunger strike, he was transferred to a military hospital belonging to the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards.

In Sanandaj of Kurdistan province, a revolutionary court sentenced Kaveh Daood, son of Najmoddin to 5 years imprisonment on charges of taking measures against state security.

A new chapter in interrogations was opened last week when Mohammad Reza Khatami (a former Majlis deputy, the brother of the former president and former secretary of the Mosharekat Party) was interrogated regarding his comments made during a sit-in protest by former Majlis (Iran's Parliament) representatives in which he expressly criticized the government. Badamchian, the number 2 man at the conservative Motalefe party (Islamic Coalition party) equated Khatami’s words to those of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The media and the press too have not remained immune from the new government encroachments. Conservative Resalat newspaper claimed that during its last meeting of the Press Review board, it had filed a claim with the judiciary against Karname newspaper for publishing ‘immoral’ reports, and ordering a suspension of publication. During the same meeting, the license of another newspaper, Asia, too was suspended.

These human rights violations have been gaining momentum in Iran during the last few weeks. In addition to these, the pronouncements that Ramin Jahanbegloo has made ‘confessions’ about his activities which have been promised to be displayed on national television, all confirm the fears that a new assault on intellectuals, thinkers and dissidents was on its way. The human rights picture in Iran continues to turn darker and more serious by the day.