Emadeddin Baghi, a prominent human rights activist, was the subject of an article in the last issue of ACAT Luxembourg’s bulletin. A journalist and writer, the founder of the Association for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights and 2009 recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award, who had been imprisoned repeatedly, has just been rearrested in the aftermath of demonstrations marking the Shi’a religious observance of Ashoura.
On 28 December, at 6.45 am, he was arrested by four plainclothes, armed officials, who forced their way into his house and, refusing to show any identification, severely beat his brother-in-law. When Emadeddin Baghi assured his wife and daughter that he would remain strong in prison, the officials told him he would not live long enough to need to remain strong.
The authorities have given his family no information about his fate and whereabouts, and have not allowed his lawyers to contact him. Emadeddin Baghi is suffering from serious medical problems, many resulting from his previous periods of imprisonment. He is believed to be held in solitary confinement in Evin prison. His doctor has warned the authorities that his health problems would worsen if he was put under pressure.
Emadeddin Baghi had been released from Evin Prison in October 2008 after serving a one-year sentence for « undermining national security », because of his criticism of the use of the death penalty. While in custody, he was not allowed to go to the toilet for four days and prison officials delayed urgently needed medical treatment. In December 2007, during his last imprisonment, he suffered three seizures and a heart attack and his state of health remains extremely precarious.
In the late 1990s, Emadeddin Baghi exposed the mysterious serial murders of Iranian intellectuals. His books using Islamic texts and jurisprudence to argue for the abolition of the death penalty were banned by Iranian authorities, his newspaper was shut down, and the Association for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights, which had been compiling information on torture and other abuses of detainees, was forced to close down in August 2009, at the worst of the repression by the security forces in the wake of the June 2009 disputed presidential election.
A great many other human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, academics and students have been arrested across the country in recent weeks, in addition to all those still detained following last June demonstrations. Harsh conditions, ill treatment and torture, which are common knowledge in Iranian prisons, are causes of deep concern for the life and safety of Emadeddin Baghi and all the other prisoners of conscience at the hands of this ruthlessly repressive regime.