Jailed Iranian Journalist's “Exile” to Rajai Shahr Prison Raises Serious Concerns
Freedom House is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of wrongfully imprisoned Iranian journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee who was abruptly and unjustly transferred into especially dangerous prison conditions. Freedom House calls for his immediate release or, at a minimum, his return to Evin Prison in Tehran.
Ahmadi Amouee was transferred on June 26 from Evin Prison to solitary confinement in Rajai Shahr Prison in the remote outskirts of the city of Karaj, approximately 40 miles west of Tehran. He is currently held in the notorious Ward One, a section that houses prisoners on death row and is known for its deplorable conditions. Ahmadi Amouee was "exiled" after a June 11 protest at Evin Prison led by him and several other prisoners in memoriam of activists Hoda Saber and Haleh Sahabi, who died in prison a year before from a combination of hunger strike, torture and mistreatment. Iran is notorious for sending prisoners to distant detention centers to isolate them further from their families, doctors and other support networks.
“Iranian authorities are punishing Bahman for speaking out for greater justice against tyranny by banishing him to solitary confinement in a distant city, as if serving an unfair lengthy prison sentence isn't enough,” said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House.
Bahman and his wife, Jila Bani-Yaghoub, were arrested on June 20, 2009 in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in Iran. In early 2010, Ahmadi Amouee was unjustly sentenced to 7 years in prison and 34 lashes on charges of “propagating against the regime” and “acting against national security.” His articles criticizing political leaders were used as evidence against him. After appeal, his sentence was reduced to 5 years. Jila was released on bail on Aug. 19, 2009.
Human rights activist Narges Mohammadi
Ahmadi Amouee’s case is just one of many examples of prisoners banished to hard-to-reach prisons. On June 11, human rights activist Narges Mohammadi was transferred from Evin Prison to Zanjan Prison more than 200 miles away from Tehran, making it difficult for her to receive medical treatment, see her children and communicate with her lawyer.
"The use of prison exiles just shows that the Iranian judicial system is not seeking justice but rather aims to intimidate and silence those who would otherwise be an influential force in a peaceful process towards freedom and human rights," continued Dunne.
Iran is also one of the world's worst offenders in jailing journalists. The country is rated Not Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012, where it ranked 192 out of 197 countries, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2011.
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