By Dr. Amir Sharifi:
Thank you for your expressions of solidarity with Mr. Kaboudvand and participating in the campaign to save his life. Your efforts have been consequential and successful. According to Mr. Kaboudvand’s family members and human rights organizations, Mr. Kaboudvand has ended his hunger strike after receiving assurances that his prison sentence would not be extended and no new charges would be brought against him.
For almost a month Mr. Kaboudvand was refusing food in protest against threats of newly fabricated charges that would have extended his decade long imprisonment. Because of draconian restrictions and years of abuse and torture, his health deteriorated during the strike; he became seriously and his precarious condition was even more complicated by the multiple hunger strikes he has endured throughout his imprisonment.
We hope that he will be freed in 10 months after the termination of his prison sentence. However, the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan has reported that he will resume his hunger strike if his demands are not met, stressing the importance of the implementation of the UN resolution about his arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
A 2012 UN resolution concerning the establishment of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and the activities of Mr. Kaboudvand found that banning the organization and Mr. Kaboudvand’s activities were in violation of Iranian law; therefore, his arrest and imprisonment was arbitrary and unlawful. The same resolution calls on Iran to immediately free him and to compensate him and his family for the physical, psychological, financial damages they have suffered.
Mr. Kaboudvand a prominent journalist and human rights activist was arbitrarily arrested in 2007 and wrongfully sentenced to ten years and a half of imprisonment for founding Kurdistan Human Rights Organization to document Kurdish human rights violations publishing and editing a magazine, entitled paym e mardom “People’ Message”, and defending civic and women’s rights. Predictably after nearly a decade of torturous abuse, at a time that his sentence was about to end, the Islamic Republic authorities in April 2016 were in the process of bringing new charges against him including “spreading propaganda against the state from prison”. His last hunger strike was a protest against these fabricated accusations and the harsh prison conditions. His health has deteriorated in prison, suffering a heart attack and developing serious medical conditions including but not limited to kidney, lung and skin problems.
He has authored three books “ The Other Half” on women’s rights, “ Democracy in Purgatory” which delves into the paradoxes of transitions to democracy, and “Social Movements”. These books despite multiple “revisions” have been barred from publication.
As a pioneer and an indefatigable human rights activist, Mr. Kaboudvand has been recognized as the Amnesty International’s Prisoner of Conscience and been the recipient of several prestigious human rights awards. In granting him the Human Rights Watch Hellman/ Hammett award in 2009, Sarah-Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch asserted, “His experience is harsh testimony to the plight of journalists, dissidents and other peaceful critics in Iran.” The US State Department has twice recognized Kaboudvand’s courageous dedication and commitment to defending truth as a journalist. The global campaign to free Mr. Kaboudvand, should continue until his immediate and unconditional release.
Dr. Amir Sharifi – Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group