Political Prisoners in Iranian Prisons in Grave Danger

Press release

FIDH and LDDHI demand urgent independent investigations into recent deaths.

Following the deaths of two prisoners detained in Iran’s prisons on the grounds of their political beliefs, within just over five weeks, FIDH and its member organization, the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (Ligue de Défense des Droits de l’Homme en Iran - LDDHI) express their profound concern over the situation of political prisoners and human rights defenders in detention in Iran, and urgently call upon the Iranian authorities to conduct independent and impartial investigations into the circumstances of these deaths.

On 6 September 2006, the Iranian authorities announced the death in custody of 28-year old Valiollah Feyze-Mahdavi. His death followed that of Mr Akbar Mohammadi, on 31 July 2006, detained in the notorious Evin prison, in Tehran. Both men had been on hunger strike in protest against the conditions of their detention. However the circumstances of their deaths remain obscure and raise serious questions about the treatment of prisoners in Iranian prisons. Furthermore, the Iranian authorities have failed to conduct investigations into these deaths.

Mr Valiollah Feyze-Mahdavi had been sentenced to death in 2000, following an unfair trial, in which he was denied access to a lawyer, on charges related to his support for supporting a Mujahedin organisation. He was hospitalised on 28 August 2006, following a nine-day hunger strike. His family and lawyer were denied access to visit him. Various claims have been made by the authorities concerning the cause of his death, including that he died of a heart attack and that he committed suicide.

Mr Akbar Mohammadi, a student activist, had been arrested in 1999, with many other students, for participating in peaceful student demonstrations. After trial proceedings characterized by numerous violations of the right to a fair trial, he was sentenced to death, later commuted to a 15-year prison sentence, as a result of pressure from the international community. According to information received by FIDH and LDDHI, whilst in detention Mr. Mohammad was subjected to severe ill-treatment as a result of which his physical health had seriously deteriorated.

FIDH and LDDHI also express their concern for the numerous other activists and political prisoners detained in Iranian prisons. The situation in respect of political prisoners and prisoners of opinion has severely deteriorated. A hunger strike movement is developing inside Iranian prisons. NGOs are not permitted to visit these prisoners and their families often fear contacting NGOs, with the result that dozens of individuals are detained without outside knowledge of their identities. “We are deeply worried about the increasing numbers of political prisoners detained and ill-treated in Iranian prisons”, said Karim Lahidji, President of LDDHI and Vice-President of FIDH, “These latest events further demonstrate the grave threats to the health and safety of other prisoners held for their political beliefs imprisoned in Iran”.

FIDH and LDDHI call for urgent independent and impartial investigations into the circumstances surrounding these recent deaths which could indicate the beginning of a deeply concerning pattern of abuse by the authorities. FIDH and LDDHI are deeply concerned by these events in the general context of increasing violations of Human Rights in the country, and urge the Iranian authorities to respect their obligations under international human rights law, in particular the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party.

In conclusion, FIDH and LDDHI urge the UN Human Rights Council, which will meet on the 18th of September for the opening of its 2nd session, to adopt a resolution condemning Human rights situation in Iran.

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