Prominent Human Rights Defender Arrested on Eve of Demonstrations
More Arrests of Activists Reported
(3 November 2009) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported that Hasan Asadi Zaidabadi, a respected and influential human rights defender and member of the Central Council of the student alumni group ADVAR, was arrested at 20:30 today at his home in Tehran, on the basis of a summons from the Revolutionary Court. Other members of the group were also reportedly arrested. Asadi was taken to Evin prison, ward 209.
“Asadi’s arrest represents a ‘preemptive strike’ against anti-government protests on 4 November,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
“The government is nervously trying to prevent mass demonstrations tomorrow and is arresting Asadi and others without any legal justification. He is the latest victim of the security forces targeting of activists, hoping to quell tomorrow’s planned protests,” he added.
Asadi is a prominent human rights activist, journalist, and spokesperson of the Committee to Investigate Arbitrary Detentions, as well as being in charge of the human rights committee of ADVAR.
While Asadi has recently been summoned on a number of occasions, he has not previously been arrested in the context of Iran’s recent political upheavals. ADVAR has called for participation in demonstrations on 4 November, the anniversary of the students’ movement in 1977, and a traditional day of celebration in Iran since then. This year, however, the authorities intended to highlight the anniversary of the occupation of the United States Embassy, and warned students and others not to use the protests as a pretext for expressing rejection of the June 2009 election results and opposition to the government. The General Secretary of ADVAR, Ahmad Zaidabadi, and its spokesperson, Abdollah Momeni, have been detained since June and are reportedly under severe pressure and physical abuse to make false confessions.
“Asadi has broken no law, neither now, nor in the past,” Ghaemi said. “His arrest represents an attempt to quell protests before they happen.”
He added, “The authorities are apparently afraid of the voices of the Committee to Investigate Arbitrary Detentions on the eve of demonstrations and potential confrontations, and thus subject them to arbitrary detention to prevent their human rights work.”
The Campaign called upon the authorities to release Asadi and the other human rights defenders and political prisoners, and to end the violation of Iranian citizens’ rights.
The Campaign is closely monitoring the situation in Tehran ahead of tomorrow’s protests and will send regular updates as the extent of arbitrary arrests and targeting of activists becomes known.