Friday, June 27, 2008

Amnesty Concern on Arzhang Davoodi's Condition


Amnesty International have issued the following statement raising serious concerns on Arzhang Davoodi's deteriorating conditions as a result of his marathon hunger strike.

Arzhang has been a staunch supporter of Fakhravar and yesterday, a group of Iranian ex-political prisoners including my Iran-Iraq war veteran friend, Hamid Alizadeh, urged Arzhang in an open letter to end his hunger strike.

'PUBLIC - AI Index: MDE 13/087/2008 26 June 2008 UA 183/08 - Fear of torture or other ill-treatment/Medical concern/Prisoner of conscience IRAN - Arzhang Davoodi (m), aged 56, teacher and writer Political activist Arzhang Davoodi has been prevented from appealing to the Supreme Court against a 15-year sentence handed down as punishment for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. He has been tortured.

Arzhang Davoodi, a writer and the Director of the Parto-e Hekmat Cultural Education Center in Tehran, was arrested in October 2003 for being involved in the production of a TV documentary called Forbidden Iran in which he spoke out about human rights violations in Iran. He was held in a detention facility run by the Revolutionary Guards until March 2004, spending over three months in solitary confinement. He was then moved to Evin Prison in Tehran, where he was severely beaten and tortured: his jaw and shoulder were broken. Arzhang Davoodi was not charged for at least a year.


In a letter from prison dated July 2005, he said that he had been sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and 70 lashes by a Revolutionary Court, which deals with crimes against national security. His appeal was rejected. He was convicted on charges of establishing and directing an organisation opposed to the government; writing and publishing a book opposed to Iran's system of government, called Manifesto for a Secular Iran; organizing action to undermine the state; and involvement in the production of the TV documentary.

On 20 September 2005 he was sent into internal exile in Bandar Abbas Prison, Hormozgan Province, 1500 km south of his home in Tehran. He was told of his sentence, but never given a written copy of his sentencing order, though this is required by law. His sentence was passed behind closed doors and his lawyers, who have yet to see the court’s sentencing order, were not allowed in. Arzhang Davoodi's appeal is now due to be heard by the Supreme Court, but this cannot be done without the sentencing order, which he is also obliged to sign.

Arzhang Davoodi was sent back to Evin Prison in December 2007, for questioning. On 14 April 2008 he was put into solitary confinement, for reasons unknown, and began a hunger strike on 18 April. Ten days later he was transferred to Section 6 of Reja'i Shahr Prison in the city of Karaj, 20 km west of Tehran; this section of the prison is for violent criminals, including murderers.

In a DATE radio interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle his wife, Nazanin Davoodi, said that she had last been allowed to visit him in May 2008, when he was in Reja'i Shahr Prison. On 6 June she had spoken to him by phone, and found that he was too weak to talk for long. The Evin prison authorities have threatened to move Arzhang Davoodi back to Bandar Abbas unless he stops his hunger strike.

The TV documentary Forbidden Iran was filmed secretly and illegally. It was widely broadcast in northern Europe in December 2003 and in North America in January 2004. Arzhang Davoodi had assisted in the making of the documentary and was one of those interviewed on film. During his interview he spoke about political prisoners and the death in custody of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. The documentary can be seen at http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/iran. '

6 comments:

barmakid said...

You know, this is tragic; just plain tragic. What's even more upsetting is that Davoodi is not the only victim of a politically predatory justice system; not just in Iran, but all over the world.

Aristotle was right, justice is the most encompassing of virtues - "in justice is every virtue comprehended." Seriously, when you think about it, government without justice is nothing more than mob-rule. Thomas Payne once said that, "government, at best, is but a necessary evil." Hmmm...

Iran is in a sad state of affairs right now. The politics of regression has sapped Iranian society and all I can do is just observe - kinda sucks. We need to start burning some scarves:)

Peace,
barmakid

p.s. Instead of "ya marg, ya Mossadegh" I propose a new revolutionary mantra that might encapsulate the times we live in a bit more accurately: "Na kakh! Na Maschet! Faghat peeshraft-e mardomet!!" :) What do you think?

Azarmehr said...

I have been watching the likes of Alireza Haghighi and Jamshid Assadi on VOA over the last few days. Normally these are big time apologists for teh Islamic Republic, normally whatever Islamic Republic did or IR officials said, these two would somehow find some justification to get the IR out of the hole, yet when I last saw these two on VOA, they too had given up with defending IR.

These are all good signs, before a regime collapses, opportunists and lackeys like these two are the first ones to abandon ship.

Winston said...

If there was a solid, unified opposition to the mullahs, this regime would have collapsed by now.

Mehrzad said...

Action speaks lauder than words. Of course, words have a crucial role too. As you know, there are brave people in Iran and abroad who sacrifice themselves for the sake of truth. And truth can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

Anonymous said...

Dear Azarmehr,

You clearly know nothing about Jamshid Assadi, his family, or his work. Please keep your ignorant remarks to yourself when regarding this fine Iranian-French activist. He has never been an apologist for the regime that ran him and much of his family out of Iran. It disgusts me that armchair commentators like you are allowed even to post comments on sites like this. Clearly you envy his effective activism and desire his renown. Stay in England where you can pump your ego and let us real Iranians help effect the change you pretend to be helping happen.

Turaj Zaim

Azarmehr said...

Turaj,

You may be right. It must have been my impression at the time. I make mistakes some times too