Life of Imprisoned Human Rights Defender in Danger
(19 December 2008) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on the Iranian Judiciary to immediately release imprisoned human rights activist Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand for urgently needed medical treatment. In the early hours of 17 December 2008, Kaboudvand suffered a heart attack inside his cell in Evin Prison, and is in a life-threatening situation.
“Kaboudvand should have never been imprisoned in the first place for his peaceful human rights activities,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson. “Now his life is in grave danger and Iranian authorities bear full responsibility for his health and safety.”Kaboudvand is a prominent Iranian human rights defender and founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK). He is serving a 10 year prison term. He has been prosecuted solely for his human rights activism.
Kaboudvand’s wife, Parinaz Baghbani Hassani, told the Campaign that she last talked to Kaboudvand by phone on 16 December. Kaboudvand said he was seriously ill with a kidney infection and had contracted the flu. On the morning of 17 December, Hassani received word from inside the prison that Kaboudvand had suffered a heart attack in the middle of the night. Kaboudvand also suffered a heart attack on 19 May 2008.
During their last phone conversation on 16 December, Kaboudvand told his wife that medical doctors at Evin Prison are concerned about his high blood pressure, kidney infection, and prostate condition. His wife told theCampaign that Kaboudvand’s family has a history of heart conditions. Both of Kaboudvand’s parents died of heart attacks and his siblings have also suffered heart attacks, she said.
According to Baghbani, prison doctors have written to judicial authorities stating that Kaboudvand is in urgent need of specialist medical care outside of the prison, but the authorities have not taken any action.
Baghbani also told the Campaign that as winter is beginning in Tehran, Evin Prison’s heating system is malfunctioning and prisoners have complained of exposure to severe cold.
In addition to the founding of the HROK, Kaboudvand is also the managing director and editor of the banned weekly “Payam Mardom.” After the establishment of the HROK on 9 April 2004, it quickly became a primary source of reports and advocacy on a wide range of human rights issues.
Kaboudvand also lead a peaceful campaign of advocacy with local and national authorities to bring attention to widespread violations of human rights in Kurdistan. The HROK grew to include 200 local reporters throughout the Iranian Kurdish region, enabling it to provide detailed and timely reports from throughout the region. Kaboudvand was instrumental in creating a civil society network for Kurdish youth and activists through the establishment of HROK. Kaboudvand thus made a very important contribution to flourishing civil society in Iranian Kurdistan through the establishment of HROK and publication of “Payam Mardom.”
Intelligence agents arrested Kaboudvand on 1 July 2007. He was then transferred to his house, which was searched. He was subsequently taken to ward 209 of Evin Prison, the ward under the control of the Intelligence Ministry. He was held in solitary confinement for five months.
Prosecutors charged him with “acting against national security by establishing the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan,” with “widespread propaganda against the system by disseminating news,” “opposing Islamic penal laws by publicizing punishments such as stoning and executions,” and “advocating on behalf of political prisoners.” He has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“It is completely unacceptable that Kaboudvand is being imprisoned solely for his human rights work. Now with his health in great danger, Iranian authorities have a serious obligation to release him and end his unjust confinement,” Ghaemi said.