Sunday, July 24, 2005


Iran 001/0004/OBS 030.7

New information

Arbitrary detention/ Hospitalisation


July 21, 2005

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

New information:

The Observatory has received new information by the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (Ligue pour la défense des droits de l’Homme en Iran - LDDHI) about the hospitalisation of Mr. Akbar Ganji, a prominent journalist and human rights defender who has been imprisoned for more than five years in Tehran’s Evin prison.

According to the information received, Mr. Akbar Ganji, whose health had become alarming after more than one month of hunger strike and who has reportedly lost 50 pounds as a consequence (See background information below), was hospitalised in Tehran’s Milad Hospital on July 17, 2005. He has been since then under perfusion, being fed and medicated intravenously. His lawyers were denied to visit him, and his wife was authorised to visit him only once. According to his doctor, he has been hospitalised in order to have surgery on the meniscus of his two knees, and maybe his spinal column, when his health allows it.

The Observatory, which had expressed its concern regarding Mr. Ganji’s health and life, welcomes the hospitalisation of Mr. Ganji. However, it urges the Iranian authorities to grant Mr. Ganji an unconditional and definitive release, his detention aiming only at sanctioning his freedom of _expression and being as such arbitrary.

Background information:

Mr. Akbar Ganji, a journalist of the daily newspaper Sobh-e-Emrooz, was arrested on April 22, 2000 for having written several articles suggesting the involvement of the Iranian regime, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, in the assassination of dissident opponents and intellectuals in late 1998. Mr. Ganji was also arrested because he took part in a conference in Berlin on the Iranian legislative elections and democratic reforms in April 1998. In January 2001, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison but the appeal court reduced the sentence to six months in May 2001. However, in July 2001, the Supreme Court quashed the May sentence on technical grounds and imposed a six-year jail sentence on the charge of “threatening national security and propaganda against the institutions of the Islamic State” (See Observatory Annual Report 2004).

On May 19, 2005, Mr. Akbar Ganji began an “unlimited hunger strike” to protest against his imprisonment, which he called off on May 24, 2005, after negotiations with three prison officials who promised to give way to his demands the following week. But the following day, an assistant of the Tehran prosecutor accused him of lying and warned “the Ganji family not to continue with these lies”. The journalist remained in detention and told his family that he had decided to renew his fast “and this time to the end”.

Mr. Akbar Ganji suffers from asthma and serious back problems, for which doctors recommended that he be immediately hospitalised. However, in detention, Mr. Ganji did not have access to adequate treatment. On May 28, 2005, Evin prison officials proposed to Mr. Akbar Ganji that he should be examined by two doctors chosen by his family to confirm his poor state of health and, on that basis, they would grant him permission to leave the prison. Mr. Ganji would be hospitalised for a week. On May 30, 2005, the Iranian authorities decided to release on a temporary basis Mr. Ganji, so that he may receive medical treatment.

On June 14, 2005, his house was searched on order of Mr. Mortazavi, Prosecutor of Tehran, in order to arrest him. On the following day, on June 15, 2005, Mr. Akbar Ganji presented himself to jail. On June 16, 2005, he started a hunger strike and he is currently held in solitary confinement in spite of the specific recommendation made on June 27, 2003, by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to this widespread practice which it considered as arbitrary in nature (See the UN document E/CN4/2004/3/Add.2, paragraphs 4 and 5).

Moreover, on July 15, 2005, in a joint statement issued by the Geneva-based Office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, five UN human rights experts (including Mrs. Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Mrs. Leila Zerrougui, Chairperson and Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mr. Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, and Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and _expression) expressed their “profound concern” at the alleged continued refusal by the authorities at Iran’s Evin Prison to provide Mr. Ganji with appropriate medical attention.

Action requested:

Please write to the Iranian authorities, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Akbar Ganji;

ii. Ensure immediately the unconditional and definitive release of Mr. Akbar Ganji;

iii. Put an immediate end to all acts of harassment against Iranian human rights defenders;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels”, as well as its article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. More generally, conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the other international instruments ratified by the Islamic Republic of Iran.


- Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 649 5880 / 21 774 2228 (ask fax to be forwarded to Ayatollah Khamenei), Email: (on the subject line write: For the attention of the office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei, Qom)

- President, His Excellency Hojjatoleslam val Moslemin Sayed Mohammad Khatami, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 588, E-mail:

- Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671, Email:

- Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Kamal Kharrazi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 390 1999 (number may be unreliable; please mark “care of the Human Rights Department, Foreign Ministry”), Email:

- Ambassador Mohammad Reza Alborzi, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, E-mail:

Geneva - Paris, July 21, 2005

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.


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