PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/091/2007

UPDATE

19 July 2007

Further information on UA 171/07 (MDE 13/081/2007, 4 July 2007) Fear of torture / Possible prisoner of conscience

IRAN

Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand (m), human rights defender and journalist

Iranian Kurdish journalist and human rights defender Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was reportedly allowed a short telephone call to his family on 17 July, in which he confirmed that he was detained in Section 209 of Evin Prison, and said that he was being accused of “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the system” and “cooperating with groups opposed to the system". He reportedly said that whenever he was interrogated he was blindfolded and bound hand and foot, and complained about the poor conditions he was held in.

He was arrested on 1 July at his place of work in Tehran by security officers in plain clothes, the day the publication ban on his newspaper Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan (Kurdistan People’s Message) reportedly expired. He is facing a one-year prison sentence in connection with articles published in this newspaper, but his current detention does not appear to be connected with this. His lawyer has not been allowed to meet him and has complained about suspicious phone calls from people claiming to be members of the Intelligence Ministry received by Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand’s family. Amnesty International is concerned that he may be at risk of torture and ill-treatment and believes he is very likely to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Kurds, who are one of Iran’s many ethnic groups, live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in the province of Kurdistan and neighbouring provinces bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. For many years, Kurdish organizations such as the Kurdistan People’s Democratic Party (KDPI) and Komala carried out armed opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, although more recently they have abandoned armed opposition in favour of a federal solution. Iran continues to face armed opposition mainly from the Kurdistan Independent Life Party (PJAK), which reportedly began operations in 2004, and is affiliated to the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Iran has accused foreign governments of fomenting unrest among its ethnic minorities.

Other Kurdish human rights defenders have also been detained recently. Ajlal Qavami, a member of the RMMK board and former journalist of Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan and member of the editorial board of the bilingual weekly Didgah (Viewpoint), was arrested on or around 9 July after being summoned to the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj. He had previously been sentenced to three years' imprisonment by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanadaj for organizing a demonstration in July 2005 in protest at the killing of a Kurd, Showan Qaderi, by the security forces. He had appealed against this sentence but his appeal is reported to have been rejected, although neither Ajlal Qavami nor his lawyer was told this before he was arrested.

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