Monday, August 27, 2007
RSF: Two journalists under sentence of death now on 42nd day of hunger strikeTwo journalists under sentence of death now on 42nd day of hunger strike
Reporters Without Borders is worried about the state of health of journalists Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar, who are under sentence of death and who began their 42nd day on hunger strike today. Their lawyer, Saleh Nikhbakht, who met them on 20 August, said they are “very weak” and “will not hold out much longer.” They are consuming nothing but of water with a little sugar dissolved in it.
“We hold the chief of the judicial system, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, personally responsible for the state of health of these two journalists, which is the result of the appalling conditions in which they are being held,” the press freedom organisation said. “They are in solitary confinement and their most basic rights are being flouted.”
Hassanpour and Botimar, who write for the magazine Asou, went on hunger strike to protest against the conditions in Sanandaj prison, in Iran’s Kurdish northwest, where they have been held for more than six months. They have been allowed to see their families only once, on 8 August. They are demanding an end to their solitary confinement, their transfer to another prison and the ability to see their relatives and lawyers freely. They are also asking to see a justice department official.
In his latest statement, published by the FARS news agency, Nikhbakht said the Sanandaj prosecutor refused to transfer them to the prison in Marivan, where their families live, unless ordered to do so by Ayatollah Shahroudi.
A revolutionary tribunal in Marivan sentenced them to death on 16 July for spying, “subversive activities against national security” and “separatist propaganda.”
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders is still without news of Ako Kurdnasab, a journalist with the weekly Karfto, who has been held in Sanandaj prison since 21 July, and Soheil Assefi, a freelance journalist who contributes to several news media, who has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since 4 August. Neither has been tried and it is not known what they are charged with. Assefi has not been allowed any visits.
Two non-political prisoners have been placed in the cell in which Payam-e mardom-e Kurdestan editor Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand is being held in the Evin prison’s security wing 209 and, as a result, he is worried about his safety, his wife said. Kabovand has been held in Evin prison since his arrest on 1 July and initially he was in solitary confinement.
With 11 journalist currently detained, Iran continues to be the Middle East’s biggest prison for the press and is one of the world’s 10 most repressive countries as regards freedom of the media.
Sign the petition on behalf of Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar