Mohammad Seddigh Kaboodvand, Iranian political prisoner and founder of Kurdistan Human Rights Organization was released on Friday May 12 after ten years in jail. Meanwhile, another political prisoner Esmail Abdi is reportedly in critical health conditions as he entered his seventieth day on hunger strike.
The jailed labour activist and head of Iran’s Teacher’s Association has challenged his conviction and called on the judiciary to find that labour activism not be regarded as a “threat to national security” and deemed subject to penal charges.
Iranian teachers have been continuously involved in demonstrations and sit ins across the country protesting their low pay and demanding that it be made commensurate with the wages of other public employees. The government has however confronted the protests with arrest and intimidation tactics.
Atena Daemi, 28 years old human rights activist is also on her 40th day of hunger Strike in Evin Prison. She is protesting the persecution, arrest and charging of her two sisters with obstruction of justice.
The two sisters Ensieh and Haniyeh Daemi were charged during a raid to arrest Atena. They refused to let the intelligence officers inside their home.
Atena’s family have said that the intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who has arrested their daughters is responsible for their well being.
Hengameh Shahdhi, a journalist who was arrested on 9 March and has been denied access to her lawyer has also gone on hunger strike to protest her own unlawful arrest.
Mohammad Seddigh Kaboodvand was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for the charges of “acting against national security and propaganda against the regime”.
Kaboodvand, 54, is an award winning journalist and activist. During the moderate government of Mohammad Khatami in the 90s, he managed to obtain a licence to publish Payam-e Mardom, a publication issued both in Persian and Kurdish. The newspaper however was banned after its twelfth issue for allegedly “publishing falsehoods, disturbing public sensibility and inciting ethnic unrest with provocative headlines”.
In 2005, Kaboodvand founded the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization. The activities of the organization as it also drew more attention from international human rights groups irked the government and once more led to Kaboovand’s arrest and filing of charges against him. In 2007 he was arrested and subjected to extensive interrogations and seven months in solitary confinement bfore being slapped with a ten year sentence.
He suffered many health complications during his imprisonment and despite his medical needs was only given one furlough throughout the first seven years of his sentence. When his child was hospitalized suffering from cancer, after 59 days on hunger strike, he was finally given a temporary leave to visit his son.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has on several occasions challenged Kaboodvand’s imprisonment and called on the Islamic Republic to release him. Kaboodvand’s release is still conditional as other charges were brought against him during his time in jail but the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization reports that the application of the new penal legislation regarding consolidation of sentences into the longest term will confirm his full release