Imprisoned Journalist on Hunger Strike
(16 October 2008) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed serious concern today for the health and safety of imprisoned journalist Mohammad Hasan Falahiezadeh. He has been on hunger strike since 5 October to protest the failure to honor his basic rights as a prisoner.
Falahiezadeh, an Iranian journalist belonging to the Arab minority, was the managing director of the now- banned Aghlam Al-Talaba newspaper and was a reporter for Al-Alem television news, the official Iranian Arabic news network. He also worked with international media such as Al-Mostaqbel in Lebanon. He was arrested in December 2007 for his reporting of street protests by members of the Iranian-Arab minority in the southern city of Ahvaz.In September 2008, Falahiezadeh was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of $20,000. His wife, Bayan Falahiezadeh, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Falahiezadeh has had four defense lawyers until now: Saleh Nikbakht; Ahmad Shamosi; Mehdi Hujjati; and Mohammad Reza Faqihi. She said none of these lawyers were accepted by the court and that Falahiezadeh’s court hearing was held without a lawyer present. Additionally she said, “He is being denied the most elementary rights in prison. He appealed his sentence, but contrary to regulations, they have not processed it. He is also denied the right to temporary parole, which he is entitled to under regulations. These are the main reasons for his protests.”
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stresses that, “The case of Mohammad Hasan Falahiezadeh is a clear example of the multi-faceted human rights violations committed in Iran. As a journalist, he should have job security and freedom of expression, and not be prosecuted for his reporting. As a prisoner, he should be given the right to a lawyer, the right to appeal his case and to receive medical treatment. He has been denied all these rights.”
Falahiezadeh, while suffering from thalassaemia, a blood disease, wrote a letter to prison officials on 5 October 2008. In his letter, he asked for the resumption of his appeals process, permission to visit with his lawyer, and to be granted temporary parole. He wrote that he will continue his hunger strike until his legitimate demands are met.
According to his wife, prison officials have asked Falahiezadeh to end his hunger strike without meeting any of his demands. But he has refused to comply and there are serious concerns for his deteriorating health.
The Campaign said that under international law, the Iranian government and prison officials are fully responsible for Falahiezadeh’s health and well-being. The Campaign urged the Iranian authorities to immediately provide Falahiezadeh with his rights under the law, thereby putting an end to his life-threatening situation.
“He should receive a proper appeals hearing and be released as there are no grounds for his imprisonment,” the Campaign said.