Paris-Geneva, February 22, 2013. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), condemns the continuing repression of human rights defenders in Iran.
On February 20, 2013. Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and founding member of the the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), was notified by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court of a new sentence of six years imprisonment in first instance, for “assembly and collusion against national security”.
The Observatory recalls that on October 29, 2010, Mr. Seifzadeh was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment and ten years’ ban on practice as lawyer by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, on charges of “acting against national security” through founding the DHRC, and “propaganda against the regime” through interviews with foreign media. He was later arrested on April 23, 2011, and has remained in detention since then.
In June 2011, Mr. Seifzadeh’s family was told that the Appeal Court had reduced his prison sentence to two years. However, on September 13, 2011, he was summoned to court and notified of a new charge of “propaganda against the system”. This is believed to be connected to a letter he wrote from prison to former President Khatami on July 21, 2011. In that letter, he had mentioned the widespread breach of the law in the judiciary and stated that there was no solution but to dissolve the illegal authorities such as the Islamic Revolution Courts and the Special Clergy Court and to reform the judiciary’s structure.
The Observatory firmly denounces the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, which only aims to sanction the legitimate exercise of his human right activities. The Observatory is all the more concerned that Mr. Seifzadeh suffers from health problems and requires medical treatment. On February 6, 2013, he was transferred to an outside hospital for treatment of his kidney, but was returned to prison soon after, on February 16.
Accordingly, the Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Seifzadeh and all human rights defenders presently detained in the country, to put an end to any kind of harassment against them and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity, in line with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.
For further information, please contact:
• FIDH: Arthur Manet / Audrey Couprie: + 33 1 43 55 25 18
• OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: + 41 22 809 49 39