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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jailed activist, on hunger strike, is in critical condition!!

IRAN: Jailed activist, on hunger strike, is in critical condition!!

Behroozjavidtehrani2 After nearly 10 years, the last known prisoner from Iran's bloody 1999 student uprising, Behrooz Javid-Tehrani (pictured), is in critical condition in the so-called "doghouse" section of the Gohar Dasht prison, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

The organization issued a press release Saturday demanding Javid-Tehrani's release and accusing Iranian authorities of failing to provide adequate medical care during the prisoner's hunger strike, now in its third week.

Javid-Tehrani, 29, has not had access to a lawyer and has had limited contact with his family since his 2005 arrest, the group said, adding that a medical examination in 2006 suggested he had been physically abused in prison.

In addition to being beaten and shackled in solitary confinement, Javid-Tehrani has lost 50% of his vision due to severe head injuries, friends and family told Human Rights Watch.

Javid-Tehrani has been in and out of prison since he was arrested during the government crackdown on student demonstrations following the closure of a liberal newspaper in July 1999, sparking the bloodiest riots in Iran's recent history.

He was released in 2003 after serving four years of an eight-year sentence, but his continued activism on behalf of political prisoners and their families soon attracted the attention of judicial authorities.

In 2005, Javid-Tehrani conducted an interview with the imprisoned dissident Akbar Mohammadi shortly before the latter died under mysterious circumstances, and Javid-Tehrani was promptly re-arrested.

Although Javid-Tehrani was sentenced by the same judge who presided over Roxana Saberi's case, an expert at Human Rights Watch said that without an American passport, he is unlikely to receive the same attention or leniency.

"Looking back on his cellmate Amir Heshmat Saran, who died mysteriously in March 2009, as well as his friends Akbar Mohammadi and Valiollah Faiz Mahdavi -- two others who died mysteriously, as well as the blogger Omid Reza Mirsayafi, who died mysteriously last month, it's hard not to imagine that Behrooz's fate is coupled with theirs," the expert wrote in an e-mail to Babylon & Beyond.

In other news, human rights organizations are condemning the Iranian judiciary's decision to execute 18-year-old Mohammad Reza Haddadi of Shiraz for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 15.

The execution is expected to be carried out this week, despite reports that Haddadi's innocence was corroborated by his adult co-defendants, who both received lighter sentences.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Behrooz Javid-Tehrani. Credit: Human Rights Watch website

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