By Dr. Amir Sharifi:
Letter to UN Special Rapporteur
Dear Dr. Shaheed
I am writing to you with great urgency to call your attention to the tragic case of Mr. Mohammad Sadigh Kaboudvand, a prominent Kurdish human rights activist and journalist, who has been on protest hunger strike since May 8 and his declining heath has put his life in imminent danger. We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the Islamic Republic’s atrocious disregard for the precious human life and values. Mr. Kaboudvand has endured three hunger strikes during his decade long confinement to draw the international attention and sympathy to the plight of political prisoners who are wrongfully convicted for expression of their peaceful beliefs, brutally tortured, and condemned to long and heavy sentences if they are lucky not to be executed in Iranian prisons. Ironically after nearly a decade of torturous abuse, at a time that his sentence is about to end, the Iranian authorities have brought newly fabricated charges against him including “spreading propaganda against the state from prison”. His hunger strike is a protest against these hollow accusations, which could lead to the extension of his imprisonment. Serving a prison sentence of ten years and six months, he has been inflicted with several serious illnesses including a heart condition, high blood pressure, kidney problem, and internal bleeding, and prostate, all of which would require immediate specialized medical attention.
The Islamic Republic of Iran ever since its inception has waged a relentless war on its actual and perceived critics, human rights activists, democratic values, and practices, imprisoning thousands and executing hundreds every year. Mr. Kaboudvand’s case has become an obvious and ominous sign of the serious and systematic violations. He was arbitrarily arrested in 2007 and wrongfully sentenced to ten years and a half for being the president of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization, documenting human rights violations, publishing a magazine, entitled paym e mardom “Message of the People”, and defending the cause of women’s rights.
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. While these well-deserved admirations and moral support are encouraging for his sustained struggle against the aggressive and inhuman treatment of prisoners in Iran, he can no longer survive the appalling and intolerable prison conditions, given his precarious state of health resulting from inadequate and incompetent medical assistance. He must be set free, as his term of punishment is about to end. A decade of imprisonment has subjected him to unimaginable levels of suffering and hardship now intensified through his continuing hunger strike. Unfortunately the nuclear deal with Iran has undermined attention to gross human rights violations in Iran
I directly appeal to you as an acute observer of human rights violations in Iran to stand up for Mr. Kaboudvand and stop the draconian punishment and abuse to which that this defender of human rights has been subjected. I urge you as an advocate of fundamental freedoms in Iran, to send a clear and strong message to the Iranian government to provide urgent and proper medical treatment to Mr. Kaboudvand in compliance with international conventions and to release him immediately and unconditionally.
Dr. Amir Sharifi
Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group, Los Angeles
Enclosed please find links to background information about Mr. Kaboudvand: