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Human Rights Commissioner on the health of Iranian human rights defenders Arash Sadeghi, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, Mohammad Reza Nekounam and Morteza Moradpour

28.12.2016 - Press release

Following current reports about the critical condition of several incarcerated Iranian human rights defenders on hunger strike, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (28 December):

Extremely worrying news has reached me from Iran in recent days.

Arash Sadeghi, who went on hunger strike on 24 October 2016 to protest against the continued imprisonment of his wife Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, is in an extremely critical condition.

Arash Sadeghi was condemned for his work in the defence of human rights – rights that Iran has undertaken to respect and protect under international law. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was condemned for speaking out peacefully as a writer against the inhumane practice that is stoning.

The imprisoned Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nekounam has also gone on hunger strike. His condition is likewise critical.

Finally, worrying news has reached us regarding imprisoned human rights activist Morteza Moradpour, who has worked to defend the rights of the Azeri minority in Iran.

Iran must guarantee fair trials based on the rule of law and must not restrict the freedom of opinion. As long as this is not the case, those affected must be released from imprisonment.

Background information:

Arash Sadeghi and his wife Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee were first arrested in 2014 for their work to promote human rights in Iran. Iraee was threatened with execution after being placed in custody. Following a summary trial, Arash Sadeghi was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for defending human rights. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was handed a six-year sentence of imprisonment for “insulting Islamic sanctities” after writing an unpublished short story in which she criticised the inhumane practice of stoning. Arash Sadeghi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are both being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.

According to current reports, high-ranking Iranian Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nekounam went on hunger strike at a prison in Qom on 21 December 2016. It is claimed that he collapsed and lost consciousness on 28 December before being taken to hospital. His family is most concerned for his life. Following his arrest in 2015, the then 66‑year‑old Nekounam was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by a Special Court for the Clergy. He was accused of “collusion against the regime”, “immoral behaviour” and “insulting the Supreme Leader”. After serving 18 months of his sentence, he was released on 23 June 2016, only to be sent back to the prison again on 7 July. His books and publications have been banned.

Morteza Moradpour, who works to defend the rights of the Azeri minority, was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court to a total of three years’ imprisonment for charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly against national security” in 2009. After first being released on bail, he was imprisoned once again in May 2015. He went on hunger strike on 25 October 2016 in protest against his continued imprisonment. Sources report that he is in a very critical condition.

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