The Iranian authorities must release a journalist and prisoner of conscience who has been on hunger strike since 26 May in protest at being denied permission to visit his sick son, Amnesty International said.
Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, a former newspaper editor and founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, is nearly half-way through a 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence after having been convicted of charges relating to his journalism and human rights work.
He is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
"It appears that the authorities are denying Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand the possibility to visit his ailing son in an attempt to pressure him into stopping his ongoing activism from inside prison by way of open letters to officials," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
"Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand should not be in prison in the first place, as he is being held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and because of his journalist and human rights work. He should be released immediately and unconditionally."
“Further tormenting a father by denying him the right to visit his ailing son is another testament of the cruelty of the Iranian authorities”.
Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand’s son Pejman has been ill since January 2012 with an undiagnosed condition. He has been allowed only one two-and-a-half hour hospital visit with his son in February 2012.
Prison leave in Iran for family visits of this kind is permitted under the Prison Regulations, and is usually granted.
In an open letter from 27 May 2012, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand wrote:
“The Prosecutor and the security apparatuses continue to deny [prison] leave because of their enmity, grudge and malice towards me as a human rights activist; this despite my having served half of my illegal and unjust prison sentence and my son’s incurable diseases and acute emergency situation... Therefore, to protest the illegal and inhumane behaviour of these judicial and security officials, I launch an indefinite hunger strike as of 9 PM, Saturday 26 May 2012”.
Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand’s health has also deteriorated as a result of his prolonged hunger strike. The official medical personnel and doctors have recommended he be transferred to a hospital for appropriate care.
Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand refused to be transferred as he was to be handcuffed, and he was concerned that he would be forcibly fed, including intravenously, in hospital.
He is now receiving daily injections from the prison doctors to support his weakened kidneys.
As well as his work with the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was editor of weekly newspaper Payam-e Mardom-e Kordestan, which carried articles promoting the cultural, social and political rights of Iran's Kurdish minority.
Payam-e Mardom-e Kordestan was issued with a three-year ban by Iran’s judiciary on 27 June 2004 for “disseminating separatist ideas and publishing false reports”. On appeal to the Supreme Court, this ban was lifted, though the newspaper has not re-opened since.
In July 2009, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand appeared before Branch One of the Revolutionary Court in Mahabad, north-east Iran, on the charge of “propaganda against the system” for the publication and distribution of pamphlets about Kurdish women.
Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand reportedly told the court that “the materials printed in the pamphlet referred to in the indictment have no resemblance to the literature published by HROK. The materials brought out by HROK have the logo and the address of the organization and we can only be responsible for the materials published on the website of the organization.”
No verdict is known to have been issued in this trial.