UA 171/07

Fear of torture/ Possible prisoner of conscience

04 July 2007

IRAN

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

Iranian Kurdish journalist and human rights defender Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand is detained in an unknown place, possibly Section 209 of Evin Prison. He was arrested on 1 July 2007 at his place of work in Tehran by plain-clothed security officers. 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.

Upon his arrest, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was initially taken to his house in Tehran , where the security officers confiscated three computers, books, photographs, family films and personal documents, before taking him away to an unknown destination. He is believed to have had no contact with his family since his arrest.

Chair of the Kurdish Human Rights Organization (RMMK) based in Tehran , Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, is also the editor of Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan (Kurdistan People’s Message) a weekly published in Kurdish and Persian, which was banned on 27 June 2004 after only 13 issues for “disseminating separatist ideas and publishing false reports”. Convicted of “disseminating tribal issues and publishing provocative articles” and “spreading lies with the intention of upsetting public opinion” by a Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, western Iran, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand received on 18 August 2005 a suspended prison sentence of 18 months, and a five-year ban on working as a journalist. His conviction was reportedly upheld on appeal, but the suspended prison sentence was increased to one year’s actual imprisonment. In September 2006 he was summoned to begin his prison sentence, but remained free pending an appeal against his conviction to the Supreme Court.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Kurds are one of Iran ’s many ethnic groups. They live mainly in the west and north-west of Iran , 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 struggle 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.

Violent unrest in the Kurdish areas of Iran broke out in July 2005 and continued for several weeks, after Iranian security forces shot dead a Kurdish opposition activist, Showan Qaderi, and reportedly dragged his body through the streets behind a jeep. Thousands of Kurds took to the streets to protest. Security forces reportedly used light and heavy weaponry in response to the demonstrations, which in at least some places included attacks by demonstrators on government buildings and offices. Up to 20 people were reportedly killed and hundreds more injured. The authorities acknowledged that five people were killed, and stated that their deaths were under investigation. At least 190 were arrested, according to official reports, although the true figure may well be higher.

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