Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Amnesty International

Iran: Hunger-striking student needs medical care: Further information: Majid Tavakkoli

Amnesty International
May 28, 2010
Appeal/Urgent Action

Further information on UA: 341/09

Index: MDE 13/059/2010

Iranian student and prisoner of conscience Majid Tavakkoli, who is serving a prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison, is in need of urgent medical attention after starting a hunger strike on around 22 May.

Imprisoned Iranian student leader Majid Tavakkoli, aged around 24, started a hunger strike on around 22 May in protest against his detention in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison. His brother and others reported on 27 May that Maji Tavakkoli has lost the ability to speak, is suffering from a respiratory condition that has got worse since he has been in detention and is suffering from internal bleeding. He needs urgent medical attention and it is unclear to Amnesty International whether the facilities in Evin Prison’s medical clinic could adequately provide it.

Majid Tavakkoli was arrested on 7 December 2009 after making a speech at a student demonstration. His lawyer was not permitted to attend his trial, which took place in January 2010. According to his brother Ali, Majid Tavakkoli was sentenced to five years in prison for “participating in an illegal gathering”, one year for “propaganda against the system”, two years for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and six months for “insulting the President”. He was also issued a five-year ban on any involvement in political activities and on leaving the country. Majid Tavakkoli is a prisoner of conscience.

In May, Majid Tavakkoli’s parents wrote to the Head of the Judiciary expressing dismay at the treatment of their son. They wrote: “It is amazing that participation in such a civil gathering should have such a high price.” They emphasized that Iran’s Constitution provides for freedom of assembly as long “the foundations of Islam” are not violated.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:

  • Expressing concern for Majid Tavakkoli’s health and safety, urging the authorities to ensure that he is given prompt and adequate medical care, such as that provided by a fully equipped hospital outside the prison;

  • Calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Majid Tavakkoli, and any others detained in connection with demonstrations on or around 7 December 2009 who are held solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;

  • Calling on the authorities, in the meantime, not to hold Majid Tavakkoli in solitary confinement.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 8 JULY 2010 TO:

Head of the Provincial Judiciary in Tehran

Ali Reza Avaei

Karimkhan Zand Avenue

Sana’i Avenue, Corner of Alley 17, No. 152

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: avaei@Dadgostary-tehran.ir

Salutation: Dear Mr Avaei

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)

Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri

Tehran 1316814737

Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspxFirst starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address

Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Director, Human Rights Headquarters

Mohammad Javad Larijani

Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh

Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri

Tehran 1316814737

Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986

Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com (In subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)

Salutation: Dear Mr Larijan

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update to UA 341/09 (MDE 13/131/2009). Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/131/2009/en;http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/015/2010/en

URGENT ACTION

HUNGER-STRIKING STUDENT NEEDS MEDICAL CARE

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Majid Tavakkoli is a member of the Islamic Students’ Association at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, where he studied ship-building. In May 2007 he was arrested with three others, in connection with student publications said to be insulting to Islam; the students insisted they were victims of a forgery. He was tortured in detention and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for "propaganda against the system" and "insulting the Leader". The prison term was reduced on appeal to 30 months and he was released in August 2008 then allowed to resume his studies in southern Iran.

He was arrested again in February 2009, with around 20 other students, after he took part in a ceremony commemorating the life of the first prime minister to be appointed after the February 1979 revolution, Mehdi Bazargan. Most were soon released, but Majid Tavakkoli and three others were held without trial until June 2009, when they were released on bail. Majid Tavakkoli was the subject of UA 113/07 and updates, and UA 70/09.

Majid Tavakkoli was beaten during his last arrest, on 7 December 2009. He had been leaving Amir Kabir University of Technology in Tehran after having delivered a speech at a student demonstration marking Student Day in Iran, held on the Persian date of 16 Azar, the anniversary of the killing of three students by security forces in 1953. Dozens of students and others were arrested around the time of the 7 December protests, which took place in cities across the country. Amnesty International believes that many of those detained have been released, but an unknown number remain in detention, some sentenced to prison terms.

The day after his arrest, Fars News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards and the judiciary, published pictures of Majid Tavakkoli wearing women’s clothing, and said he had been wearing them at the time of his arrest in order to escape detection. Student websites and others, which have claimed that Majid Tavakkoli was beaten at the time of his arrest, have denied that he was wearing the clothes at the time, but suggested he was forced to wear them afterwards to humiliate him.

After Majid Tavakkoli was pictured wearing women’s clothes, many Iranian men took pictures of themselves with head coverings, many of them holding signs saying “We are Majid”, and posted them on the internet as part of a solidarity campaign calling for his release. See for examplehttp://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198929939029#/photo_search.php?oid=198929939029&view=all

On 19 January 2010, his mother told Voice of America’s Persian service, a US government-funded radio and television station in the USA which broadcasts worldwide: “I am worn out after five years. His place is not in prison. His problems should be solved in the university, not in prison. He is entitled to the freedom of speech. For three years, they have had us on a leash. We are constantly worried for our son. He has done nothing, but studied hard. He had only made a critical comment. He doesn’t deserve prison. They said we are entitled to freedom of speech. I am looking forward to seeing Majid. I want to hear my son’s voice when I see him. For a mother, it is important to see her children. It is hard to wait for children with tearful eyes and an aching heart.”

Students have been at the forefront of continuing protests at the disputed outcome of the presidential election in June 2009 as well as at the widespread human rights violations committed as the authorities banned demonstrations and cracked down violently on protestors. Dozens of people were killed by security forces using excessive force, thousands were arrested, mostly arbitrarily and many were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Scores have faced unfair trial, including some in mass show trials, with over 80 sentenced to prison terms, and at least 12 sentenced to death, although at least one of those has had their death sentence commuted to a prison term. Two have so far been executed.