Arbitrarily arrested Iranian-Canadian-Irish academic Homa Hoodfar must be released immediately

Press release
en fa

Paris, 16 June 2016 – The Iranian authorities have been increasingly arresting Iranians with foreign passports on obscure politically-motivated grounds. The accomplished Iranian-Canadian-Irish academic Dr. Homa Hoodfar is the latest to suffer this fate. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release her and all other prisoners of conscience in Iran, FIDH and its Iranian member organisation, League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), stated today.

Dr. Homa Hoodfar, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Concordia University in Canada, was arrested on 6 June 2016 by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and is currently being held incommunicado, in the notorious Evin prison. [1] No formal charges have been filed against her, but there has been mention in the Iranian media of her “cooperating with a foreign government against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Mashregh, a news website close to security and intelligence organisations, stated that “Ms. Homa Hoodfar, a board and founding member of the subversive organisation Women Living Under Muslim Laws [2] … has been detained by the judiciary for anti-security activities.” [3]

Dr. Hoodfar arrived in Iran in February 2016 to visit her family and conduct research on the participation of women in Iranian politics. She was first taken from her home by the IRGC on 9 March for questioning – two days before she had planned to depart from Iran – but was released on bail shortly after. The authorities however, seized her passports, phone, computer, and research work, and banned her from leaving the country. Between her first detention in March and her arrest in June, Dr. Hoodfar was repeatedly summoned by the IRGC and questioned without the presence of a lawyer.

When Dr. Hoodfar was summoned by the judicial authorities and arrested on 6 June she was not given any explanation for her arrest or presented with a warrant. Although her lawyers and family have received official authorisation to visit her, the officials detaining her have refused to grant any visits on the grounds that she “is a security prisoner.” Furthermore, authorities have refused to allow Dr. Hoodfar’s relatives or lawyers from providing her with prescription medication for a rare neurological condition (Myasthenia Gravis) from which she suffers. Her family members have expressed concern regarding her health, notably since Dr. Hoodfar has in the past suffered from a mild stroke.

FIDH and LDDHI recall that the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Ms. Zahra Kazemi died as a result of having been tortured in Evin prison in 2003. [4] The perpetrators responsible for Ms. Kazemi’s death still enjoy impunity, and there are continuous reports of torture and ill-treatment of those detained in Evin prison. Our organisations strongly urge the Iranian authorities to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Dr. Hoodfar, and to release her immediately and unconditionally since she is a prisoner of conscience. More generally, we urge the Iranian authorities to abide by their obligations under the international human rights law and to put an end to all harassment and repression against individuals targeted for exercising their right to free expression and association.

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