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Appeal by Ahwazi journalist and Prisoner of Conscience
rights, freedoms and repression |
Wednesday October 31, 2007 17:51 by Daniel Brett - Chairman, British Ahwazi Friendship Society
Press Release: - For Immediate Publication.
This an appeal by Ahwazi Arab journalist Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya to the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. The letter was smuggled out of Evin Prison, where Iran keeps its political prisoners, and published by the Human Rights Activists of Iran group. Amnesty International has declared Fallahiya a prisoner of conscience and has raised concerns that he is not receiving adequate treatment for sickle cell anaemia and heart problems .
He is currently serving a three year jail term for criticising the Iranian government's treatment of the Ahwazi Arabs. Fallahiya was a correspondent for the government's Al-Alam Arabic language news network and has also worked for a number of other television networks.
He is not the only journalist to be imprisoned for criticising the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. This month, Emad Baghi - an ethnic Persian journalist and human rights campaigner - was summarily imprisoned for "threatening national security" for writing to Iran's Chief of the Judiciary criticising the trials of Ahwazi Arabs sentenced to death last year, criticism that has been supported by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.
Prominent Ahwazi Arab journalist, Yussef Azizi Bani Torouf, is also facing charges of threatening national security and is currently free on a heavy bail (backed by his entire extended family's property and savings). He is also likely to be imprisoned in the near future, but if he leaves Iran his entire family - including cousins - will be made homeless because they posted bail.
Please distribute this appeal and call on Javier Solana to condemn the imprisonment of both Fallahiya and Baghi, who are simply demanding that the Iranian government obeys Iranian laws and its international obligations and condemn the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and all other indigenous ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, including the Balochis, Kurds, Azeris, Turkmen, Sufis, Jews, Sunnis, Bahais and Mandeans. The EU should also support freedom of expression in Iran, including the right of journalists to write articles critical of their government. Human rights should be central to the EU's relations with Iran in order to allow for the development of a civil society capable of generating democratic change in the country and stability in the Middle East.
Chairman, British Ahwazi Friendship Society
Your Excellency, Mr. Javier Solana,
I am pleased and honoured to send this letter to you. I am an innocent man and am behind bars in an Iranian prison for my published articles and journalism. What national security did I put at risk by my journalism?
It takes a long time to talk about the problems experienced by our Arab people in Al-Ahwaz which is located in south Iran. These people are starving although the land is fertile; people are dying of third, although there are ample rivers. My homeland's prisons are full of prisoners demanding their legitimate national rights; the mouths of these people's relatives are shut over due to the fear of the executioner; and my homeland's gallows are full of hanged heads.
The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security,
As you have close relationship with the Iranian government and Iranian politicians, and as you represent the countries which include the oldest democracies and which demand human rights throughout the world, I appeal to you to take my concerns seriously. As I am being handcuffed and have no power and strength, I see with my own eyes that how human rights have been violated and freedom of expression is absent and so forth.
Mr. Solana, after more than 10 months since my arrest, my family has been dispersed to different regions and countries. My rights as a journalist have been breached and I have been denied a solicitor. I have been charged with unfounded allegations without any evidence or justification.
I demand you to pursue not only my personal case, but the people who demand their legitimate national rights which are enshrined in international law
The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security,
Usually journalists are honoured of being the fourth authority in their countries, in developed countries, but in third world countries including Iran they are regrettably treated as a paid mercenary.
At conclusion of my appeal, I believe it is significant to raise the issues of national [ethnic] and religious persecution in Iran as it is your humanitarian duty ... and consider my case as a prisoner who demands his people's rights and take action for my release and the realse of all Ahwazi political detainees ...
With many thanks,
Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya
A prisoner of Evin prison.