Lawyer’s ‘Nationalism’ on Par with Apostasy Says Deputy Prosecutor
Lawyer and human rights activist Mohammad Ali Dadkhah faced new charges in a trial court hearing held on Saturday, 21 May, including a charge on the same level as apostasy, according to the Deputy Prosecutor. Dadkhah’s charges ranged from membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center, to representing a case against Isfahan’s Metro for endangering national heritage monuments.
“The most important charge in my case is my membership in the founding committee of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, which according to the court, was operating illegally and against national interests. I said in court that according to articles 26 and 27 of the Iranian Constitution, associations do not need permits. They recognize the Defenders Center as illegal. But the question remains as to whether an individual who wishes to run an illegal operation would go to the Interior Ministry, and adopt its articles of incorporation and credo? The reasoning of the court suffers from a paradox and no wise and rational individual would accept it,” Dadkhah told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about the charges raised against him in court.
“They told me that my actions smell of nationalism. It was the Prosecutor’s deduction that nationalistic activities amount to apostasy. I told him that I am no expert in this area, but of course I have always defended our cultural heritage, such as Nowruz, to the best of my ability. The prophet of Islam said: ‘Love for the land comes from the belief in God.’ Which one should I accept now and what should I do?” said Dadkhah about his charge of “nationalism.”
Dadkhah told the Campaign that during his trial session, Shirin Ebadi’s activities were also mentioned. “They told me that they believe Ms. Ebadi to have issues, for example that her actions are [towards] overthrowing the regime. I told them that she has a separate and independent case, and [her doings] are not related to my case,” said Dadkhah.
Dadkhah, who was previously arrested and tried on charges of possessing drugs and guns, told the Campaign that his criticism of Saeed Mortazavi, the former Prosecutor of Tehran, was one of the issues raised in his trial. “In court, they asked why I said that Saeed Mortazavi had no right to mention my name in the newspapers as a suspect in a case of possession of guns and drugs. I said that if Mr. Mortazavi is responsible for implementing the law as the Prosecutor, he should know that according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, mentioning a suspect’s name is against the law, whether or not Mr. Mortazavi knew this. If he didn’t know it, he acted against the law and was not qualified to be the Prosecutor. But if he knew it and acted on it, then he had mal-intention in my case and has treated me on other motivations.”
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is a lawyer and founding member and spokesperson for the Defenders of Human Rights Center. He currently represents university students and many political activists who were arrested in the aftermath of the 2009 election. He also represented the plaintiffs in the case of the demolished Gonabadi Dervishes’ mosque. After pressure on lawyers began to mount, he was arrested in his office on charges of possession of drugs and guns. He spent more than 60 days in detention. New charges have been raised against Dadkhah, while the earlier case remains open.