December 25, 2009

THE OBSERVATORY FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS


PRESS RELEASE

IRAN: New crackdown hitting human rights defenders

Paris-Geneva, December 29, 2009 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), condemns the wave of arrests hitting dozens of human rights defenders since yesterday, including journalist Emad Baghi and the sister of co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), and Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, Dr. Noushin Ebadi.

On December 28, 2009, at 9 pm, in the wake of massive public demonstrations in Tehran and the main Iranian cities on December 27, 2009 to express opposition to the regime and their consecutive bloody repression by the authorities, Dr. Noushin Ebadi, medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran and sister of Shirin Ebadi, was arrested at her home in Tehran by four officers from the counter-intelligence agency. During the past two months, Dr. Noushin Ebadi, who is not politically active and does not belong to any human rights organisation, had been threatened by government officials of being arrested in retaliation for Ms. Shirin Ebadi's human rights activities.

Mr. Emad Baghi, who is also the founder of the Society for the Defense of Prisoners' Rights and winner of the 2009 Martin Ennals Award, was also arrested at his home on the same day in the morning. According to information received, plainclothes officers entered Baghi’s home, insulted his wife and daughters and badly beat his brother-in-law.

The December 27 protests were severely repressed by the police and plainclothes Bassijis who beat and opened fire on demonstrators. Since December 28, 2009, the wave of arrest was extended to a large number of civil society activists in Iran. Arrested civil society activists also include student activist and former leader of a student NGO Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, the Spokeperson for the association for the defense of freedom of the press Mashaollah Shamsolvaezine, the Director of the website kalameh Alireza Beheshti, journalists Mostafa Izadi, Morteza Kazemian, Nasrin Vaziri, Keyvan Mehregan, peace activist Mahin Fahimi, Adwar Tahkim NGO member Mehdi Arabshahi and women's rights actvists Mansoureh Shojaie and Haleh Sahabi, the member of the organisation Mothers for the Peace, Zohreh Tonkaboni, the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of the Cultural Foundation Baran Morteza Haji and Hassan Rasouli, etc.

“Since the arrest of the civil society activists, their whereabouts remain unknown. We are extremely worried and we fear for their physical and psychological integrity”, said Karim Lahidji, President of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) and FIDH Vice-President. “I reiterate once and again that defending human rights is a right in itself, protected under international law. I therefore call for the immediate end of harassment against human rights defenders” said Eric Sottas, OMCT Secretary-General. Shirin Ebadi, recalled that “My sister's only crime is of being my sister and her arrest is nothing less than a political blackmail and attempted pressure. What is needed in Iran is peaceful dialogue and tolerance”.

The Observatory calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and their families currently detained in Iran as their detention only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities.

The Observatory calls upon the Iranian authorities to conform in all circumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.



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