A journalist risks torture in Evin Prison.
AI Index: MDE 13/148/2008
Arbitrary arrest / Fear of torture
14 October 2008
Negin Sheikholeslami (f), human rights defender, journalist, aged 34
According to the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), Negin Sheikholeslami, a human rights activist from the Kurdish minority in Iran, was arrested at her home in Tehran by members of the security forces at about midnight on 4 October. She is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment and needs medical attention for her respiratory problems. A guest who was staying with her was also detained for about an hour, and then released.
Negin Sheikholeslami’s initial whereabouts were unknown, but her husband was told on 9 October 2008 that she was being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, which is controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was not told the reasons for her arrest and was informed that she would not be allowed to meet anyone until the investigation into her case was complete.
Negin Sheikholeslami is the founder of the Azar Mehr Women’s Social and Cultural Society of Kurdistan, which was founded in Sanandaj in Kordestan Province in 2000. It organizes training and sports activities for women in the city of Sanandaj and elsewhere in Kordestan Province. She is also associated with another human rights organization, the HROK, which reports on human rights violations against Kurds in Iran.
According to the HROK, a month before Negin Sheikholeslami was arrested, she underwent heart surgery and was still recovering from the operation at the time of her arrest. She also has respiratory problems and is in need of medical treatment.
Negin Sheikholeslami has previously been arrested in February 2001 for participating in a demonstration in front of the United Nations office in Tehran, and was released two months later. She was also arrested in January 2002 and was released three months later.
Several prominent Iranian Kurdish human rights defenders are currently detained or imprisoned in Iran after being charged or sentenced on vaguely-worded “security” charges in violation of their right to freedom of expression and association. The founder of the HROK, prisoner of conscience Mohammad Sadigh Kabudvand is serving an 11-year sentence in Tehran. Another activist associated with the HROK and with the women’s movement, Zeynab Beyezidi, was arrested in July 2008 and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment to be spent in internal exile. Her sentence was confirmed on appeal on 23 August 2008. Two other members of Azar Mehr, Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, have been detained since October and November 2007. Hana Abdi was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment to be spent in internal exile; this was reduced on appeal to 18 month’s imprisonment to be spent in Razan, Hamedan province. Ronak Safarzadeh is still awaiting the outcome of her trial.
Iran's Kurdish population live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in Kordestan and neighbouring provinces, bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. They have long suffered extensive discrimination. Iranian Kurdish human rights defenders, including community activists and journalists, risk arbitrary arrest and torture.
For more information on human rights violations against the Kurdish minority in Iran, see AI report: Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority, at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/088/2008/en/d140767b-5e45-11dd-a592-c739f9b70de8/mde130882008eng.pdf