Detention of Iranian human rights defender

Chairwoman Hautala calls for a release of Emadeddin Baghi, a prominent human rights defender and founder of the Association for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights and the Society of the Right to Life Guardians in Iran. [:]He has been in detention since his arrest on 28 December 2009. He is a vocal critic of death penalty and staunch defender of the right to freedom of expression. He has also received several international awards for his work, including the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2009.

According to human rights organisation “Front Line”, following demonstrations marking a religious event known as ‘Ashoura’ on 27 December 2009, Emadeddin Baghi was arrested at his house on 28 December at 6.45am by four plainclothes, armed officials, who forced their way into his house refusing to show any identification and severely beat his brother-in-law.

The authorities have not provided his family with any further information concerning the arrest and Emadeddin Baghi has not been granted access to his lawyers. It is believed that he is being held in the Evin Prison.

Chairwoman Hautala is gravely concerned especially of Mr Baghi’s medical condition. It is believed that Emadeddin Baghi is being held in solitary confinement despite of the fact that he has serious medical problems, many resulting from previous periods of imprisonment. His doctor has asked the authorities not to put him under pressure so that his health condition does not deteriorate further.

In the past Emadeddin Baghi has been repeatedly subjected to harassment. On 31 July 2007, he was condemned to three years in prison for “activities against national security” and “publicity in favour of the regime’s opponents” but was released in September 2008 on medical grounds. Prior to this he had written an article in which he called for the defence of persons sentenced to death in the southern Khozestan region. He was also previously detained from 2000-2003 due to articles he had written condemning the death penalty. Furthermore, in November 2009, Emadeddin Baghi was prevented from leaving Iran to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, where he was invited to receive the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders.

Chairwoman Hautala believes that the imprisonment of Emadeddin Baghi is a result of his legitimate work in the defence of human rights, in particular his work against the death penalty and his efforts to defend the right to freedom of expression in Iran. While in prison, Iranian authorities must ensure that Mr Baghi is not ill-treated. He must also be guaranteed access to his lawyers and provided with appropriate medical care. Chairwoman remains gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Emadeddin Baghi and fears that his life may be in danger.