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Concern for Iranian human rights defender and his wife
Ahmad Batebi, a former student activist and human rights defender serving a ten-year sentence in Evin Prison, Tehran is reportedly in poor physical and mental health and it is said to be deteriorating.
Ahmad Batebi is suffering from a number of medical problems as a result of being tortured and ill treated during his period of detention, including stomach and kidney problems and permanent hearing problems and poor vision. Despite the seriousness of his medical condition, prison authorities are allegedly not permitting Ahmad Batebi to receive any medical treatment beyond a few painkillers. Ahmad Batebi's doctor, wrote to the authorities on 6 August 2006 stating that his patient was at risk of paralysis or heart attack, and needed to receive specialist treatment outside prison.
Ahmad Batebi was originally detained for his student activism in 1999 and sentenced to death on charges relating to "endangering national security" following a closed-door trial by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. His death sentence was later commuted to a 15-year prison term and in 2000 reduced further to a ten-year prison sentence. During his detention, Ahmad Batebi managed to publish an open letter detailing torture he was undergoing alongside other prisoners in Evin prison.
"The soldiers beat my hands and secured them to plumbing pipes. They beat my head and abdominal area with soldiers' shoes...[they] held me under [a drain full of excrement] for so long I was unable to breathe and the excrement was inhaled through my nose and seeped into my mouth.”
Ahmad Batebi, writing in an open letter following his imprisonment in 1999.
Between 1999 and 2005, Ahmad Batebi was temporarily released on a number of occasions. Ahmad Batebi was released in March 2005 and while on release, he gave a number of interviews to the international press in which he criticised the Iranian authorities for human rights violations and denounced conditions of torture in Iranian detention centres. On 28 June 2005, a Judiciary spokesperson announced that an arrest warrant for Ahmad Batebi had been issued after he had failed to return to prison at the expiry of his leave. Batebi was re-arrested on 27 July 2006. Reportedly, he is facing fresh charges for having “allegedly conspired against the state security” and “being illegally absent from prison”.
Ahmad Batebi's wife, Somaye Bayanat was arrested on a street on 21 February, two men, thought to be security and intelligence agents, snatched Somaye Bayanat from the streets in the northern city of Gorgan, where she works as a dentist. Reportedly, a Peugeot car pulled out in front of her, two men exited the car, showed her a piece of paper, forced her into the vehicle, and drove off. Initially, no one had any information on her whereabouts or would confirm if she had been arrested. Confirmation that Somaye Bayanat was in the hands of the security forces came only on 22 February, when the family received a phone call from her mobile phone from Gorgan’s Women’s Prison.
Somaye Bayanat told her family that she had been arrested in connection with a group of medical doctors with whom the authorities are alleging she works, and that she had been charged with several criminal offences, including forging medical documents and performing illegal abortions. She claimed that she would be released within five to seven days.
Front Line believes Somaye Bayanat is been targeted because of Ahmad Batebi's legitimate human rights activities. Front Line urges the Iranian authorities to grant Somaye Bayanat immediate release and Ahmad Batebi's immediate and unconditional release, drop all charges against him and facilitate immediate access to medical assistance. Front Line also urges the authorities to ensure that his treatment while in custody adheres to all those conditions set out in the ‘Basic Principles for Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990’.