Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience Deprived New Year Furlough
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Fatameh Kamali Ahmadsaraei, wife of Emadedin Baghi, imprisoned journalist and founder of the Society to Defend Prisoners, said that Tehran’s Prosecutor did not allow Baghi furlough for Nowruz (Persian New Year). Baghi is currently serving his seven year sentence at Evin Prison.
“Mr. Baghi has two charges. One is his charge pertaining to the establishment of the Society to Defend Prisoners and the other is his interview with the late Ayatollah Montazeri. Both of these were civil activities; these are not security charges. The worst case scenario facing such charges is being convicted of a political crime. The Iranian Parliament drafted and approved an addition to the Islamic Republic’s Constitution which provided the definition of a political crime, requiring a Jury in such trials, but the Guardian Council rejected it. Thirty three years after the Iranian revolution, the political crime is yet to be defined. Should political prisoners and their families pay the price for this negligence? Of course, in the modern world, there is no such thing as a political crime, as attempts to reform political systems are not considered crimes. Though I’d like to express my joy with the regular prisoners’ right to prison furlough, I would like to ask why political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are deprived of the same?” Fatemeh Kamali told the Campaign.
Asked about the family’s weekly visitations with Emadedin Baghi, his wife said: “Before I explain about the visits I should say that telephone contact with Ward 350 has remained cut off for the past several months, unfortunately. Previously, prisoners inside this ward could call their families on the phone daily. I mean for years, prisoners inside the General Ward have had this privilege, but political prisoners are now deprived from making phone calls and this is so cruel to them. We can only have visits once a week and only for 20 minutes, which is mostly done through the booth and from behind thick glass, using a phone receiver. A lot of times, we are still talking to Mr. Baghi, when the curtains in the booth come down, and we have to wait another week to see him. Sometimes, when the visitation days coincide with national holidays, the visitations are cancelled, like this year on Nowruz, when the New Year Day fell on a Monday.”
Emadedin Baghi is the founder of the Society to Defend Prisoners, a researcher, and journalist. In addition to his academic education Baghi studied Islamic theology. He is currently serving a sentence of seven years in prison and five years’ ban on his civil rights, journalism, and political activities. Baghi’s sentence includes six years in prison for interviewing the late Ayatollah Montazeri. He is presently awaiting an appeals court’s decision on his sentence.