Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Iran: The arrest of leading female activist Narges Mohammadi

Source: International Freedom of Expression eXchange

Narges Mohammadi, a journalist who works closely with Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and who is the spokesperson for the Tehran-based human rights group founded by Ebadi, Human Rights Defenders Centre, was arrested at her home on the evening of 10 June 2010 by intelligence ministry officials. Her family does not know why she was arrested or where she is being held.

Mohammadi is the wife of fellow journalist Taghi Rahmani, who has spent a total of 16 years in the Islamic Republic's prisons. Both have been hounded by the authorities for the past ten years and have been summoned and interrogated several times by intelligence ministry officials since the disputed presidential election of June 2009.

A few hours before Mohammadi's arrest, state television broadcast a programme attacking Ebadi that included video of Ebadi's husband making extraordinary "confessions".

The Human Rights Defenders Centre, founded by Ebadi and five other lawyers, provides free legal aid to minorities, dissidents and journalists. The police closed its offices on 21 December 2005; on 5 August 2009, it was declared illegal and it continues to be targeted by the regime.

Ebadi's law office was searched on 29 December. Two of the centre's founders, Mohamed Ali Dadkhah and Abdolfatah Soltani, were arrested in June 2009 and were held for several months. Both have defended many lawyers and cyber-dissidents.

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe awarded Ebadi the title of "honorary citizen of the city of Paris" at a 10 June ceremony in Paris at which she officially launched a campaign for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran. The campaign is being organised jointly by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Reporters Without Borders.

"We are on the eve of a sad anniversary," Ebadi said. "One year ago, millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest peacefully against the results of the elections. The government's sole response was bullets and violence."

Reporters Without Borders has learned that journalist Hider Karimi was also arrested on 10 June after intelligence ministry officials in plain clothes raided his home in the northwestern city of Khoy. It is not known why he was arrested or where he is being held. Karimi previously reported for "Sina", a weekly that was closed down by the authorities in December 2009.