Iranian security forces detained a human rights defender and his wife. Why did that happen? Where are they?published on Saturday, July 21, 2007
AI Index: MDE 13/093/2007
Arbitrary arrest/Fear of torture
20 July 2007
Loghman Mehri (m),
Member of Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (RMMK)
Iranian Kurdish human rights activist Loghman Mehri and his wife were reportedly taken away in a car on 18 July by three men in plain clothes who stopped them at the East Bus Terminal in Tehran. Eyewitnesses apparently saw Loghman Mehri being beaten and pushed into the back of a car along with his wife. Their whereabouts are now unknown, and they are at risk of torture.
Loghman Mehri is a member of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (RMMK). He has been arrested several times before. He was arrested in May 2004 during a peaceful May Day celebration in Saqqez, and during a demonstration against discrimination against women in June 2005, for which he was reportedly sentenced to six months' imprisonment and 25 lashes. He was last arrested in August 2005 in Saqqez following widespread unrest in Kurdish areas. He was released on bail, but was later sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in connection with these demonstrations, apparently on charges of “acting against internal security”, “membership of an illegal opposition group” and “incitement to riot”. This sentence was reportedly confirmed on appeal and was further confirmed by the Supreme Court on or around 11 July 2007.
Iran’s Kurds 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 organisations 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 from some Kurdish groups, and has accused foreign governments of fomenting unrest among its ethnic minorities.
Violent unrest broke out in Kurdish areas in July 2005 and continued for several weeks, after the security forces shot dead a Kurdish opposition activist, and reportedly dragged his body through the streets behind a jeep. Thousands of Kurds took to the streets to protest, and in some places attacked government buildings. The security forces responded with substantial force and up to 20 people were reportedly killed and hundreds injured. The authorities acknowledged that five people were killed, and said their deaths were under investigation. At least 190 were arrested, according to official reports, although the true figure may well be higher.
Other Kurdish human rights defenders have been detained recently. RMMK head Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was detained on 1 July and is held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran (See UA 171/07, MDE 13/081/2007, 4 July 2007). RMMK board member Ajlal Qavami 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 for organizing a demonstration in July 2005. He had appealed against this sentence but his appeal is reported to have been rejected, although neither he nor his lawyer was told this before he was arrested.