Activists and Intellectuals Detained in Iran for Participating
in a Conference
(Washington, DC, May 3, 2000) -- Human Rights Watch today condemned
the April 30 arrest of six prominent Iranian activists for participating
in a conference on the future of Iran. The conference was held in Berlin
on April, 7-8, 2000.
The detainees, all prominent Iranian intellectuals, included Mehrangiz
Kar, a women's rights advocate; Shahla Lahiji, publisher of women's books;
Akhbar Ganji, a journalist; and Ali Afshari, a student leader. Ezzatollah
Sahabi, a former minister, and Hamid-Reza Jalai-Pur, an editor, were arrested
and later released on bail. The six are charged with "acting against
the internal security of the state and disparaging the holy order of the
"These people were detained for talking about the future of their
country," said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East
and North Africa Division. "It's outrageous. They should enjoy their
basic right to freedom of expression and association."
Two more Iranian reformists, Jamileh Kadivar, a member of parliament-elect,
and Ali-Reza-Tabar, a member of the editorial board of the daily Sobh-e-Emruz,
have been officially charged with working against the security of Iran
and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic at the conference.
Ali-Reza-Tabar and Kadivar were released on bail. Arrest warrants have
also been issued against Yosoffi Ashkebah Varai and Kazam Kardavani, writers
who are currently out of Iran, for their participation in the Berlin conference.
This action follows the closing during the past week of 17 Iranian newspapers
"These arrests are nothing more than an attempt to silence the
reform movement," said Megally. "The activists who are the target
of this witch-hunt are being held on trumped-up charges and their safety
is at risk." Human Rights Watch noted that some of the activists arrested
have been targeted before by the government. For example, Kar has been
harassed for her work on women's rights.
Human Rights Watch strongly condemns the continued detention of Mehrangiz
Kar, Shahla Lahiji, Akhbar Ganji, and Ali Afshari, and calls for their
immediate release. Human Rights Watch further calls on Iran to respect
its international obligations as a signatory to the International Convention
on Civil and Political Rights, and guarantee the right to freedom of expression
and association, and to fair trial and impartial judicial proceedings.
For further information, contact Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Ave.,
34th Floor, New York NY 10018-3299, U.S.A., tel: +1 212 290 4700, fax:
+1 212 736 1300, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Human Rights Watch, 1522 K Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20005-1202,
U.S.A., tel: +1 202 371 6592, fax: +1 202 371 0124, Internet: http://www.hrw.org/