Continuing Persecution of Student Alumni Group
Eight Year Sentence for Prominent Activist, Abdollah Momeni
(19 November 2009) Iranian authorities have arbitrarily arrested another member of the leading student alumni group ADVAR, and sentenced its spokesperson to an eight-year prison term, while other detained members are being mistreated, unfairly tried and sentenced to jail terms, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today.
“We deplore the continuing abuse of the human rights of ADVAR members, who are being persecuted in an apparent attempt to prevent a new generation of Iranians from freely thinking and working together,” said Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesperson for the Campaign.
Salman Sima, a member of the political committee of ADVAR and a student in Azad University, was arrested on 14 November by agents who waited to capture him in front of his home. After he was arrested, the agents searched his home and confiscated personal items including his computer. His sister told the Campaign that his summons indicated that he was to be transported to ward 209 of Evin prison, managed by the Intelligence Ministry, and agents told his family his case would be heard in Branch Three of the Revolutionary Court. Sima was previously arrested in July 2008 and kept in ward 209 for 40 days.
Kouhzad Esmaieli, who was previously arrested on 4 November, was released after 20 days on bail, but was arrested again on 16 November to serve 4 month prison term.
On 19 November, Abbas Hakimzadeh, a member of the Central Council of the Iranian Student Union (Daftar e Tahkim Vahdat) was arrested at 7:00 local time at his home. His house was searched and his personal items including his computer were confiscated. Previously, he was arrested along with seven other Amirkabir University students in February, and was subjected to torture to make a false confession. He remained in prison for 134 days, 120 in solitary confinement. He was released on a bail. The Student Union issued a statement condemning his detention, and said they believe it relates to National Student Day, which is observed on 6 December.
Ahmad Zaidabadi, who served as director of ADVAR and has been in detention for over four months, including extended periods of solitary confinement, was refused release on bail by prison authorities, despite a judge having approved bail, which his family posted, according to information given to the Campaign by his wife. The judge’s letter has been sent three times. Zaidabadi’s lawyer, Mohammad Sharif, confirmed in an interview with the Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), that the requested bail was registered officially, but this was denied by the Justice Ministry. Sharif holds that charges of “conspiring against the regime” were not proven during Zaidabadi’s trial, where the only evidence presented included his published articles. According to his wife, Zaidabadi’s health has deteriorated and is at risk.
Abdollah Momeni, ADVAR’s spokesperson, was sentenced to an eight-year prison term, including six years for allegedly participating in the protests after the disputed 12 June election, and two years for an earlier charge of threatening national security. His wife, Fatemeh Adinehvand, told the Campaign that Momeni had been denied access to his lawyer and received the sentence in prison. While Judiciary authorities claim Momeni refused an attorney, she believes he was forced to do so. Momeni appealed his conviction. He suffers from kidney and heart problems.
According to information received by the Campaign, ADVAR leader Hasan Asadi Zaidabadi, who was arrested on 3 November, is being held in solitary confinement in a cell about 1 by 2 meters large. No clear information has been released about charges against him. Another ADAR detainee, Mohammad Sadeghi, also arrested on 3 November, has been denied visits from his family. Hojat Sharifi and his wife, Nafiseh Zarekohan, who were arrested on 4 November, are being held in Evin prison. Mosa Saket, in charge of the ADVAR branch in Tabriz, remains in prison, but the authorities have given no information about his case.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls for immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, including ADVAR members, and for officials responsible for breaches of Iranian and international law with respect to their cases to be disciplined in accordance with the law.