#Human Rights
UN, UNHCHR, US State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament, AI, HRW

Fariborz Raisdana, an Iranian economist who criticized government-subsidy cuts by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration, has been sentenced to one year in prison.

According to Aftab news, the charges against Fariborz Raisdana range from “membership in Writers’ Association, preparing press releases for seditionists, issuing announcements against the regime and propaganda for leftist and Marxist groups, interviews with the BBC and VOA, and accusing the Islamic Republic of prisoner abuse.”

The Iranian government implemented the so-called “targeting of subsidies” law last year, causing Iranians to pay higher prices for energy and food staples. The government gave cash benefits to households to help them adjust to the higher costs of everyday needs. The plan was criticized by many experts, including Raisdana, who predicted rising inflation and hardship for the working class.

Raisdana was arrested last December after he spoke against the subsidy changes with the BBC. He was released on bail after a month. This is not the first time Fariborz Raisdana has been in prison, as he has been imprisoned before for questioning the political system in Iran, nevertheless he has continued to call for reforms within Iran.

In June 2012 the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported the following:

Prominent economic analyst Fariborz Raisdana, who has been in prison for over a month, is facing a deterioration of his health condition. His wife, Azadeh Forghani, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that poor prison treatment and conditions threaten his physical state.

“Due to his age and his different illnesses, the prison environment is deteriorating his health and I am very concerned for him. He has diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive track and prostate problems. He must take his medicine regularly and follow a strict diet. Prison nutrition and hygiene conditions are not suitable at all. Even the prison store does not offer fruits and vegetables for prisoners to buy themselves. Away from his family and his only child who is 4, Fariborz has a very hard time,” Azadeh Forghani told the Campaign.

On May 21, 2012, security forces arrested Fariborz Raisdana, economic analyst, former university professor and member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, and transferred him to Evin Prison’s General Ward 350 to start serving his one-year prison term.

“When I visited with him on Monday, June 25, I realized he has not been given some of his pills, nor his glasses. But he had received his books and clothes. How can he read without his glasses?” said Forghani.

Raisdana was first arrested on December 19, 2010 at his home after he gave an interview to BBC Persian television about President Ahmadinejad’s “Targeted Subsidies Plan,” calling it “a neo-liberal policy.” He was released a month later, but at his trial on May 28, 2011, Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Raisdana to one year in prison on charges of “propagating against the regime through membership in the Iranian Writers’ Association, signing certain political statements, and giving foreign media interviews that were critical of the Islamic Republic government’s performance.”

Fariborz Raisdana, a prominent economic analyst, had been banned from his permanent university teaching job due to his critical lectures and writings, and was only teaching as a visiting professor in universities. Prior to his May 21 arrest, security forces had threatened Raisdana to keep silent.

Raisdana’s wife told the Campaign that the Iranian Judiciary has not returned the bail posted for his 2010 release yet, and that no reasons have been given for the refusal.

“When Fariboz sees a man like Abdolfattah Soltani, his cellmate, who has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, or Saeed Madani, or the young people who are in prison for ambiguous reasons, his mental state is affected; all this could lead to a prisoner’s depression,” added Azadeh Forghani. “Thank God Fariborz knows how to keep up his spirits. Now he teaches a class in prison yard, analyzing Iran’s economy, and it no longer matters to him whether they would shut down his class or not! He is already in prison.”

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Fariborz Raisdana and a complete repeal of the Islamic Republic's illegal conviction against him. Fariboz Raisdana is a prisoner of conscience who has been persecuted solely for pursuing his duties as an economist and peacefully disseminating his opinions and professional findings.

The arrest and prison sentence of this economist is a flagrant violation of his rights under both the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights as well as the Iranian Constitution.

The Free Iranian Economist Fariborz Raisdana petition to UN, UNHCHR, US State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament, AI, HRW was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.