A journalist member of Iran’s Arab minority who was detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression is reportedly being denied the medical treatment he needs.
AI Index: MDE 13/058/2007
25 May 2007
Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya (m), journalist
Journalist Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya, a member of Iran’s Arab minority, is serving a three-year sentence in Tehran's Evin Prison after writing articles criticizing the Iranian government and reportedly contacting opposition groups based outside Iran. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association, and is concerned that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. He is reportedly being denied the medical treatment he needs.
Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya is the managing editor of ‘Aqlam al-Talaba’ ('The Students’ Pens'), a publication issued by the students in Ahvaz University in Khuzestan province; a correspondent for several Arab television and radio broadcasting news agencies including Abu Dhabi TV and Radio, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); a journalist for the Lebanese ‘al-Mustaqbal’ broadcasting corporation.
He was detained in November 2006 and reportedly held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, run by the Ministry of Intelligence. On 21 April, he was reportedly sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with hard labour. He was not afforded legal representation at any point in the judicial process, in violation of international fair trial standards.
Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya suffers from sickle cell anaemia (an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells) for which he needs regular antibiotics and access to medical examinations. In addition, he suffers from heart problems, for which he also requires medication. According to Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya’s family, the prison authorities have refused to allow them to bring in supplies of his medication. It is feared that his health may be at serious risk if he is not granted access to adequate medical care.
Much of Iran's Arab community lives in the province of Khuzestan which borders Iraq. It is strategically important because it is the site of much of Iran’s oil reserves, but the Arab population does not feel it has benefited as much from the oil revenue as the Persian population. Historically, the Arab community has been marginalised and discriminated against. Tension has mounted among the Arab population since April 2005, after it was alleged that the government planned to disperse the country's Arab population or to force them to relinquish their Arab identity. Hundreds have been arrested and there have been reports of torture. Unconfirmed reports in April 2007 stated that ahead of the second anniversary of the April 2005 unrest, scores of Iranian Arabs had been arrested and later released.
Following bomb explosions in Ahvaz City in June and October 2005, which killed at least 14 people, and explosions at oil installations in September and October 2005, the cycle of violence has intensified, with hundreds of people reportedly arrested. Further bombings on 24 January 2006, in which at least six people were killed, were followed by further mass arrests. A total of 12 men have been executed as a result of their alleged involvement in the bombings.