Iran: Incommunicado Detention/Fear of Torture
January 26, 2007 Amnesty International Urgent Action
Sherko Jihani (m), journalist and human rights defender. New concern: Unfair trial Journalist and human rights defender Sherko Jihani has been transferred to Mahabad Central Prison in northwestern Iran. He had previously been held incommunicado at an unknown location, believed to be a detention facility belonging to the Ministry of Intelligence. He is believed to have been tortured, including by being beaten severely, and he is said to be in poor health. He may have been detained for his peaceful activities in defence of the rights of Iran’s Kurdish minority, in which case Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience. A report published on 31 December 2006 on the website of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), (see http://basharnews.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_basharnews_archive.html) stated that Sherko Jihani had been moved back to Mahabad Central Prison. On 25 January 2007, the HROK reported that Sherko Jihani had appeared before Branch 1 of the General Court of Mahabad on 22 January, charged with "spreading lies". He appeared in a separate case on 24 January 2007 before Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Mahabad charged with "propaganda against the system" and "acting against state security" (http://basharnews.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_basharnews_archive.html). Both trial sessions were said to have been closed and to taken place without the presence of a defence lawyer. Sherko Jihani's family were able to visit him in Mahabad Central Prison on 8 January 2007, and again shortly before his first trial hearing. They have not been permitted to visit him since then. Sherko Jihani, the correspondent of the Turkish news agency Euphrat in Mahabad and a member of the HROK, was detained on 27 November 2006. During his interrogation, he was reportedly accused of involvement in organizing protests against the kidnapping on 8 January 2006 of a woman human rights activist, Sarveh Komkar (Kamkar), and for giving interviews to foreign stations about the killing by Iranian security forces of a Kurdish activist, Showan (Shivan) Qaderi, in July 2005. Sherko Jihani reportedly refused to pay bail of 50 million Rials (about US,500) and on 30 November began a hunger strike in protest at his arrest and detention. On 4 December, he began refusing to speak. On 6 December 2006, Sherko Jihani was removed from Mahabad Prison and was held incommunicado at an unknown location until 13 December when he was allowed to phone his family briefly. Sherko Jihani has reportedly been arrested nine times since 1999 and is said to have been tortured during previous periods of detention.