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Four Kurdish journalists and writers arrested for expressing support for two colleagues sentenced to death

(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC is alarmed by the death sentence handed down to Iranian Kurdish journalist, writer and human rights activist Adnan Hassanpour on 16 July 2007. Hassanpour, who was arrested on 25 January 2007, is believed to have been convicted of being a mohareb ("enemy of God") and "acting against national security", apparently for expressing his views on the Kurdish issue. International PEN fears that he is being detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and, if so, calls for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a signatory.

According to PEN's information, Hassanpour, journalist and advocate of cultural rights for Iranian Kurds, was detained on 25 January in Marivan, a small city in the northwestern province of Kurdistan. He was reportedly held incommunicado without charge in a Ministry of Intelligence facility in Marivan, and transferred to Marivan prison on 26 March. He appeared before the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj on 12 June, in the presence of his lawyer.

Hassanpour was reportedly taken from Marivan prison to an unconfirmed place of detention, possibly the detention facility run by the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province, early in the morning of 15 July. On 16 July he was told that he had been sentenced to death on charges of espionage and Moharebeh (being at enmity with God). If confirmed on appeal, the sentences would then have to be further confirmed by the Supreme Court.

In April 2007, the Mehr News Agency, which is said to have close links with Iran's judiciary, apparently alleged that Hassanpour had been in contact with Kurdish opposition groups and had helped two people from Khuzestan province, who were wanted by the authorities, to flee from Iran. However, in an interview carried by the online publication Rooz, Hassanpour's lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said that the charges related to a phone conversation he had with a staff member of Radio Voice of America (see: http://www.roozonline.com/english/archives/2007/07/006302.php ).

Hassanpour is a former member of the editorial board of the Kurdish-Persian weekly journal, "Aso" (Horizon), which was closed by the Iranian authorities in August 2005 following widespread unrest in Kurdish areas. He had previously been tried in connection with articles published in the journal. He is a member of the Kurdish Writer's Association. Hassanpour's cousin, environmentalist Abdolwahed (known as Hiwa) Butimar was also tried with Hassanpour on the same charges, and handed down the death penalty.

On 23 July, four Kurdish intellectuals were arrested for their activities in support of Hassanpour and Butimar, including journalist Ako Kurdnasab, a board member of the weekly "Karaftu", Behzad Kordestani, a well-known poet and writer from Marivan, and Bakhtiyar Rehimi, a journalist from Marivan. Behzad Kordestani was released without charge on 24 July, but Ako Kurdnasab and Bakhtiyar Rehimi will reportedly remain in jail for at least two months, and are feared to be held incommunicado.

International PEN is deeply concerned about an apparent pattern of repression against journalists and human rights activists in Iranian Kurdistan, which has been ongoing since unrest broke out in the Kurdish areas of Iran in July 2005, and was violently suppressed by the authorities. Several other Iranian-Kurdish journalists are currently detained, including Kaveh Javanmard, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand and Ejlal Qavami.

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Please send appeals to the Iranian authorities:
- expressing dismay at the death sentence handed down to journalist Adnan Hassanpour, and fears that he is being held in violation of Article 19 of the ICCPR
- expressing concerns at reports that he has been ill treated in detention, and seeking reassurances from the Iranian authorities that Adnan Hassanpour's wellbeing is guaranteed
- expressing concern about an apparent crackdown on Iranian-Kurdish journalists and writers, and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists and writers detained in Iranian Kurdistan solely for the peaceful expression of their views

APPEALS TO:

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via Judiciary website: Iranjudiciary.org/feedback_en.html
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence,
Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.
Email: [email protected]

If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country.

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