Iran: Arbitrary Detention and Ill-Treatment of human rights defenders Hemid Valai, Sejjad Radmehr and Vedud Esedi
Front Line is concerned following reports that human rights defenders Hemid Valai, Sejjad Radmehr and Vedud Esedi have been arbitrarily detained and subjected to ill-treatment and torture. Hemid Valai is a human rights lawyer. Hemid Valai, Sejjad Radmehr and Vedud Esedi are all activists working to promote the rights of ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran.
Posted 08/08/2008 Hemid Valai was reportedly detained on 15 July 2008, after being summoned to the interrogation unit of the Ministry of Information in Tabriz. While in custody, Hemid Valai has reportedly been subjected to ill-treatment and torture. Following repeated requests from his family, he was transferred to a prison hospital to receive treatment for injuries allegedly sustained during his detention and was permitted to receive family visits. Reports indicate that Hemid Valai's two front teeth are broken, as are several of his ribs and his right leg, and that his jaw has been damaged. He also reportedly lost consciousness several times while in detention as a result of the beatings inflicted by authorities.
Sejjad Radmehr was arrested by security agents on 17 July 2008 at the entrance of Tabriz University following his defence of his graduate thesis. It is believed that the arrest was in connection with Sejjad Radmehr's conducting a peaceful sit-in of university students on 11 May 2008 in protest against his treatment by the university authorities, who had initially banned him from defending his thesis and in protest against arrests of human rights activists. Sejjad Radmehr is reportedly in incommunicado detention and no charges against him have as yet been made public.
Vedud Esedi was arrested on 22 July 2008 at his home in Rasht. Four security agents reportedly entered Vedud Esedi's home, conducted a search of the residence and confiscated his computer, several CDs and other personal belongings. Vedud Esedi's current whereabouts have not been confirmed by authorities but reports have indicated that it is probable that he has been transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. According to information received, no charges have been publicly brought against him.
Front Line believes that the arrest and detention of Hemid Valai, Sejjad Radmehr and Vedud Esedi is directly related to their activities in defence of human rights, particularly in defence of the rights of ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran. In light of reports of the ill-treatment and torture of Hemid Valai, Front Line fears for the physical and psychological integrity of Hemid Valai, Sejjad Radmehr and Vedud Esedi, and believes that their continued detention may form part of a campaign to restrict the work of ethnic Azerbaijani human rights defenders in Iran.