Iranian secular democrat dissident, Heshmat Tabarzadi was called to attend an upcoming hearing for new charges due to an article that he recently sent from prison titled “My devastated Homeland” (1). In the article, which was also translated to English, he wrote: “Which land do you know of that its government secretly and irresponsibly starts an ambitious nuclear program and as a result creates billions of dollars of expenses and losses to its people and subjects them to international sanctions while its leader, even more irresponsible than others, stubbornly persists on continuation of such anti-national policies?” Referring to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Tabarzadi has spent seven years of his life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for his activities when a student leader. After breaking his silence while on prison leave, Tabarzadi was once again arrested and incarcerated on January 15, 2014.
Mr. Tabarzadi has filed a complaint against Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah All Khamenei and has asked the international Rights attorneys and organization to follow with that. Heshmat Tabarzadi is the leader of “Iran Democratic Front” and the spokesperson for “Solidarity Council for Human Rights and Democracy in Iran”.
In a letter from Rajaee Shahr prison earlier this year, Tabarzadi warned the government authorities that if the systematic pressure and mistreatment of him continues , he may “resort to hunger strike” which “undoubtedly at that point, my demand will be freedom or death” he stated. ”The record of systematic violation of human rights by the Islamic Republic regime, has thickened so much that even the western powers and (5+1) negotiating parties have been forced to take a stand against the regime and issue some conditions.” he continued.
In another message to the 5+1 nuclear negotiating team (2) shortly before Iranian authorities enter his home and detained him, Tabarzadi wrote: “ Until the international community do not hold the government of Iran accountable for its actions against its own citizens, any agreements at the government levels while closing eyes to the fate of the Iranian nation and their legal , civil and human rights will neither be lasting nor complied with, because a government which violates the legal rights of its own people under its own and international laws will not have any hesitation in violating any other accords and agreements.”
Earlier this year the European Union in a resolution called for the release of all prisoners of conscience including trade unionists, labor activists and those jailed after the disputed presidential election in 2009. The EU also urged Tehran to allow the UN special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit the country. It further declared that the European Union authorities will continue to meet the Iranian civil and human rights activists during their official visits in Iran. European Union delegates have met the Iranian civil society representatives during their past official trips to Iran despite the regime’s harsh criticism.
In October 2010, Tabarzadi was convicted of 5 charges : “insulting the Leader” (Khamenei), “insulting the President” (ex-president Ahmadinejad) , “propaganda against the system”, “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”, and “disturbing public order.
In the absence of sufficient pressure on the part of President Obama, the international community and media about the fate of Heshmat Tabarzadi and hundreds of other Iranian political prisoners and prisoners of conscious, the new charges are seen as the Islamic regime’s latest attempts to exert more pressure on Tabarzadi to remain silent. In the questioned March article, Tabarzadi wrote: “this is my homeland. The land where the totalitarian, dogmatic and fanatical ruling clergy, jointly with their intelligence, military and economic organizations overseeing all matters, monopolize the essence of national and human resources. With expansionism, adventurism and illegal interference in the internal and external affairs of others, in fact they have taken our nation hostage while blackmailing other countries. This mafia like gang one day speaks of nuclear technology as its “inalienable right” and therefore immerses the country in to crushing international sanctions and another day advocates “heroic flexibility” just to buy more time for itself…….. Now they have made her wait for another year until the nuclear negotiations conclude. A mirage of an opening, which will not be for the benefit of the people but for the ruling regime.”
In his January letter to 5+1 Tabarzadi said: “The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts” to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. This did not mean only peace with the governments but also meant consideration for the peace and human rights of “The People.”
Unlike his predecessor, President George Bush who spoke in the support of later released dissident Akbar Ganji while on hunger strike, President Obama has been very silent when it comes to the human rights situation and the fate of Iranian political prisoners such as the secular democrat leader Heshmat Tabarzadi.
“Mr. Nelson Mandela was recently honored by the international community as well as the Iranian government. However, Mr. Mandela’s struggles as a political activist and prisoner, only after being amplified by the pressures from the International community, resulted in his freedom and abolition of apartheid in South Africa. Today 50% of the Iranian population , the women, are facing gender apartheid; not to mention the violation of the basic rights of minorities, ethnicities and many others.” Tabarzadi said earlier this year.
Last month “Reporters without Borders” reported that the “Freedom of information still flouted , a year after Rouhani’s election” (3) , while many human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been consistently reporting and condemning the ever increasing number of executions and political prisoners in Iran.
A petition signed by number of Iranian activists calling for the release of Tabarzadi can be found at: www.tinyurl.com/heshmat