PEN writes to Khatami to protest lawyers' detention
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: 011-9821-673-177 (via foreign affairs)
July 12, 2000
On behalf of the 2,700 writers who are members of PEN American Center,
we write again this time to protest the detention of Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen
Rahami, two leading pro-reform lawyers. Their imprisonment is another blow
to the course of reform underway in Iran and speaks to the precarious situation
facing writers and intellectuals. The recent arrests concern individuals
who have been instrumental in the development of the democratic process
in Iran; Shirin Ebadi, a lawyer and former judge, is an outspoken advocate
for women, and Mohsen Rahami has defended journalists and press freedom
According to our information, these individuals were arrested on June
28 on charges of "disturbing public opinion" in connection with
taped remarks against government officials. Of most concern to PEN is that
their trial scheduled to take place next week will be closed to the public
and to international monitors.
Once again we are concerned that the current political climate in Iran
severely undermines any progress made in the domain of free expression
under your leadership. There appears at present to be a concerted effort
among some in the Iranian government to seek out those who have been staunch
advocates for freedom and to build cases against them. The clamp down on
the independent press and the detention of participants of the Berlin Seminar
is further testament to the recent attacks on writers and intellectuals.
We believe that Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen Rahami are guilty of nothing
other than the peaceful expression of their opinions, and ask that you
ensure that all charges against them are dropped and that they are released
We at PEN are anxious to see that concrete steps are taken to set the
reform agenda back on the right track.
We look forward to your response.
Anthony Appiah Chair, PEN Freedom-to-Write Committee
Diana Ayton-Shenker Director, PEN Freedom-to-Write Program