8 April 2011 - Karim Lahidji, Vice-president of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and President of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), said today: “Arresting and persecuting lawyers is another dimension of the total disregard of the Iranian authorities for due process, and standards of fair trial. The authorities are punishing the human rights lawyers and trying to reduce the number of the lawyers who are prepared to defend victims of the overtly flawed judicial system, in particular the human rights and women’s activists, the trade unionists and student activists. We call on the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to intervene to stop harassment and persecution of lawyers in Iran, who are increasing targeted for practising their profession.”
Five lawyers are already in prison. At least six others are facing possible imprisonment and ban on practising their profession. A number of others have spent time in detention or been expelled from university posts, and some others have had to leave the country to avoid harassment and detention.
Mr. Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, lawyer and university professor, was arrested after a domestic flight from Shiraz at Mehrabad Airport of Tehran and taken to Evin Prison on 3 April 2011.
In 2002, Ghasem Sholeh Saadi wrote a strongly worded open letter to Ayatollah Khamanei, the Supreme Leader, questioning his religious qualification to become the leader and voicing other criticism. He was then arrested and spent 36 days in detention. The Islamic Revolution Court tried him on charges of “insulting the authorities, propaganda against the system and publishing lies with intent to cause anxiety to public opinion” and sentenced him to 1.5 years imprisonment in June 2006. The sentence was upheld in April 2007. His latest detention is likely to be related to that sentence.
Sholeh Saadi is a former Member of Parliament of two terms. He was prevented from standing as a presidential candidate in 2009.
During the last couple of years, many lawyers, both defenders of human rights as well as others, have been targeted for harassment and unfair prosecution as a result of practicing their profession.
Other lawyers currently imprisoned:
• Ms. Nasrin Sotudeh, a human rights lawyer, was arrested on 4 September 2010 and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, 10 years of ban on professional activities and 10 years of ban on travelling abroad, on 9 January 2011.
• Mohammad Oliaiyfard, another human rights lawyer, was arrested on 1 May 2010 to serve a 1-year imprisonment.
• Ms. Ma’edeh Ghaderi, a lawyer, was arrested in the Mashhad on 3 March 2011 and still remains in detention.
• Javid Houtan Kian, lawyer of the stoning sentence case Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was detained in October 2010 and remains in detention to this date. He has reportedly been sentenced to 1 year imprisonment and 5 years of ban on practice. But it is not clear yet if he is facing more charges as well.
Lawyers harassed and persecuted:
• Mohammad Seifzadeh, founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre - DHRC (FIDH league member in Iran), was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment and 10 years of ban on practice in November 2010.
• Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, founding member of the DHRC, was detained for over two months in July-September 2009. He has been tried but has not received a sentence yet.
• Abdolfattah Soltani, founding member of the DHRC, was detained for over two months in June – August 2009. He had spent over 7 months in detention in 2005.
• Khalil Bahramian was sentenced to 18 months in prison and banned from practising law for 10 years on February 2, 2011.
• Mohammad Sharif, founding member of the DHRC, was expelled from his teaching post in university on 5 April 2011.
• Several lawyers of the Sufi Dervishes have faced harassment, including Mostafa Daneshju (disbarred and facing a 7-month imprisonment sentence), Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami (facing six-month imprisonment sentences), Omid Behrouzi (disbarred) and Ehsanollah Haydari (expelled from university teaching post).
• Nasser Zarafshan, lawyer of the families of murdered intellectuals of the late 1990s, served five years in prison (2002 – 2007) for practicing his profession.
• Five lawyers, including four women, Maryam Sabbaghian, Maryam Karbasi, Maryam Kian-Ersi, Rosa Gharachorlo, and Mr. Mohammad Hossein Nayyeri were arrested on returning from Turkey in November 2010 and spent one month in detention.
• Other lawyers have had to leave the country to avoid arrest and harassment. They include Ms. Shirin Ebadi (2003 Peace Nobel Laureate), Mohammad Mostafaei (human rights lawyer), Ms. Shadi Sadr (human rights lawyer).
Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 90 19 / +33 6 72 28 42 94
karine Appy: +33 1 43 55 14 12 / +33 6 48 05 91 57
FIDH is a federation of 164 non-governmental human rights organizations operating in more than 100 countries. FIDH has a consultative status before the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe, and observer status before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. http://www.fidh.org – http://www.blogfidh.org