Letter to the Iranian leader
Human Rights Watch/Middle East

Human Rights Watch/Middle East
1522 K Street, NW
Suite 910
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: 202-371-6592
Facsimile: 202-371-0124
Email: hrwdc@hrw.org

February 7, 1997

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Section, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

via facsimile, c/o His Excellency Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Your Excellency:

Human Rights Watch, a nongovernmental and nonpartisan human rights organization, is writing to express its deep concern over the apparent arrest and detention of Mr. Faraj Sarkouhi, the editor of _Adineh_ magazine, and his brother Isma'il. We are also concerned about the reported disappearance since January 24 of Mr. Sarkouhi's assistant, Ms. Pervin Ardalan.

Mr. Sarkouhi was first reported missing on January 27. Although Iranian authorities were quoted a few days later as saying that Faraj and Isma'il Sarkouhi had been arrested in southwestern Iran while attempting to leave the country illegally, Human Rights Watch believes that the real motive for their arrest may be political.

This was in fact the second disappearance of Faraj Sarkouhi in two months. On November 3, Mr. Sarkouhi was reportedly detained at Merhabad airport while planning to board a plane to join his family in Germany. According to his family, Sarkouhi never arrived in Germany. Mr. Sarkouhi resurfaced on December 20 at Tehran airport, claiming that he had been in Germany during this period and that he was a Germany spy. However, a letter apparently written by Sarkouhi and smuggled to his family in Germany claimed that Sarkouhi had in fact been held for forty-seven days during November and December in secret detention in Iran, and that he had been tortured during this time and forced to state that he had been in Germany and worked as a German spy. The letter was published on January 30 by the Berlin newspaper _Tageszeitung_.

Mr. Sarkhouhi was one of the Iranian writers who had signed a petition in October 1994 demanding more freedom of expression. In the summer of 1996 he was arrested along with several other writers while attending a dinner given by a German diplomat in Tehran.

We respectfully urge your government to: provide information concerning the whereabouts and legal status of Faraj Sarkouhi, Isma'il Sarkouhi and Parvin Ardalan; release immediately those in custody unless there is a legitimate basis for charging them with offenses that warrant pre-trial detention; and grant, for those being held, immediate and regular access to family members, doctors, and lawyers of their choice.

Thank you for your consideration. We will continue to monitor these cases and welcome any comments you may have.

Sincerely yours,
/original signed/ Eric Goldstein


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