Free Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Sentenced To 9 Years!
- Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament
UPDATE DECEMBER 29, 2012
Less than three months after being ordered to begin serving his nine-year prison sentence in Evin Prison, prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is reported to be suffering impaired memory and is also under renewed pressure to give his jailers a "confession."
The brother of founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the prominent human rights lawyer is showing signs of impaired memory at Evin Prison, and that he is under severe pressure to confess against himself and to accept charges leveled against him. Seyed Hossein Dadkhah expressed grave concern about his brother’s conditions and told the Campaign that Dadkhah’s family members do not know why nor how his memory loss has come about.
“He did not recognize his daughter during the in-person visitation and he was talking nonsense. It is very sad. I met Mohammad through a booth. I was surprised to observe that he constructed his sentences in haphazard ways. Mohammad has always had excellent speech, he would never make mistakes or talk haphazardly, he never paused in the middle of his talks. I don’t know what happened to him. He wasn’t the same last week,” Seyed Hossein Dadkhah told the Campaign.
“I don’t know what resulted in this. Maybe he can’t speak very frankly during booth visits. Whatever I asked him he answered, ‘It’s good.’ I asked, ‘Are they abusing you?’ He said, ‘No. Everything is good.’ I asked ‘Are you eating?’ He said, ‘Good.’ ‘Do you sleep well?’ He said, ‘Everything is good,’” Dadkhah’s brother told the Campaign.
Prominent Iranian lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah represented many political activists, such as Ebrahim Yazdi and Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, as well as Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and ten years’ ban on legal practice and teaching in July 2011. An appeals court upheld his sentence in full.
Prior to his imprisonment, Dadkhah was put under pressure to confess on television. During an interview with the Campaign in May 2012 he said hat security forces had asked him to state before a television camera that the Defenders of Human Rights Center received funds from foreigners in order to carry out their goals.
“They told him, ‘If you accept one of your charges, we will free you immediately.’ He told them, ‘Considering I have not done anything, why should I confess to having done it?’ He told them, ‘My activities were only related to human rights, and if you want I will confess to the same.’ They told him, ‘Then stay right here.’ We have kept our silence so far, because we didn’t want his conditions to get worse than this,” Dadkhah’s brother told the Campaign about the pressure on his brother in prison.
In September 2012, prior to his imprisonment, Mohammad Ali Dakhah told the Campaign, “They told me that if I didn’t confess, they would enforce my sentence. They talked to me for long periods of time and I did not accept it. I will say now that if one day I say things, they are not credible and I must have been under conditions where I was forced to say those things. I hope God maintains my power.”
Dadkah’s brother told the Campaign, “During his weekly visit with his daughter last week, he said that he has problems with his teeth, but told her not to request medical treatment for him.”
“I have gone everywhere. I have told hem that Mohammad does not deserve prison. His intelligence must be put to use outside the prison and for the country. About two months ago I requested that they allow him to leave prison daily and go to the Encyclopedia Office in order to complete his unfinished book on the “7 Seen” [traditions related to the Persian new year celebration of Nowruz]; [so that] he would go there for work every day and return to prison in the evening. They said that the Tehran Prosecutor would have to issue the permission, but so far there has been no word from the Prosecutor’s Office. I will go to follow up on this in a few days again,” his brother added.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 1, 2012:
Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was transferred to Ward 350 of Evin Prison in order to begin serving his 9 year prison sentence.
According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was sentenced to nine years in prison, ten years' ban on legal practice, flogging, and cash fines by Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court in July 2011.
Dadkhah is a distinguished human rights lawyer who has represented many prisoners of conscience including the Nationalist-Religious activists, Abdolfattah Soltani, Gonabadi Dervishes, Amir Kabir University students, Zanjan University students Alireza Firouzi and Sourena Hashemi, and Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor formerly on death row.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah also represented cases where people had filed suit against the government for building the Sivand Dam in Fars Province, and for giving construction permit for Jahan Nama Tower, a highrise in Isfahan.
Dadkhah was first arrested in 2002 during wide arrests of Iran Freedom Movement members. His last arrest was on July 8, 2009, when Security Police arrested him and several of his colleagues at his offices and sealed his legal practice.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was a member of Center for Human Rights Defenders. Most members of CHRD, including Mohammad Seifzadeh, Abdolfattah Soltani, and Nasrin Sotoudeh are in prison at this time and Narges Mohammadi was released recently on medical furlough.
July 4, 2011--Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, the spokesperson for the Human Rights Defenders’ Committee, stated that he has been sentenced to a 10 year ban on the practice of law, 8 years in prison for plotting a soft revolution, one year of imprisonment for anti-regime propaganda, lashes and a monetary fine.
According to the Human Rights House of Iran, Dadkhah is the spokesman and one of the founders of the Human Rights Defenders’ Committee.
Another prominent attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh has also received an 11 year prison sentence, a 20 year ban on exiting the country, and a 20 year ban on the practice of law.
The semi-official ISNA news agency reported Monday that Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has also been sentenced to pay the equivalent of $300 dollars for possessing a satellite TV receiver in his apartment. Dadkhah says he will appeal.
The lawyer represented activists and opposition supporters arrested after the disputed 2009 presidential elections.
Gonabadi Dervishes Hosseineyeh Ershad incident, the case of attorney Abdolfatah Soltani and the case of the Religious-Nationalist activists.
He also had a prominent role in the Savand dam case and the Jahan Nama towers in Naghshband square in Esfahan.
He also defended many of the university students cases, including the following:
1- The case of 3 students of Amir Kabir university, where, because of his continuous pursuit of the case while very close to obtaining acquittal for his clients, against the Iranian Judiciary laws and international laws he was barred from seeing his clients.
2- The case of three young men charged with insulting the Supreme Leader. This case lasted for five years and ended up in an acquittal of his clients.
3- The case of Zanjan University students, Sorna Hashemi and Alireza Firouzi, who were arrested after a sit-in protest at the university about an attempted rape of one of the female students by the then Deputy Chancellor of Zanjan university Dr. Hassan Maddadi.
4- The case of pastor Nadarkhani who was charged with apostasy.
On 8 July 2009, Mohamad Ali Dadkhah was arrested at his office along with his wife Maliheh Dadkhah, Sara Sabaghiyan, Bahareh Davlou and Amir Raeisian.
On 4 July 2011 he was sentenced to nine years in prison and barred from working as an attorney for 10 years. Speaking about his sentence then, Dadkhah stated, “I have been sentenced to a 10 year ban on the practice of law, eight years in prison for plotting a soft war for the purpose of overthrowing the regime and by being the spoke person for the Defenders of the Human Rights Center, and an additional one year in prison for propagating against the system and the Islamic Republic. I was also sentenced to flogging and a monetary fine.”
UPDATE May 3, 2012:
On April 28, 2012, Mr. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a human rights lawyer and founding member of the DHRC, was informed by Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court, as the former was attempting to represent a political prisoner, that his nine-year imprisonment sentence and his 10-year ban on practising law and teaching had been upheld on appeal. In the past, he has defended many political and student activists and unionists as well as the Christian Pastor Mr. Yousef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death on charge of apostasy.
According to the e-daily Roozonline, Mr. Dadkhah declared on May 1, 2012 that he has to report himself to prison on May 5 to serve his nine-year sentence. He added that “They have banned me from practising law for 10 years and also from teaching even in private institutes after my prison term. My sentence includes a cash fine of 25 million rials and lashing, which has also been substituted with a cash fine”. Besides, he declared that he rejected opportunities to leave Iran and said: “I will go to prison; I will not leave my land even if I die in prison”. Today, Mr. Dadkhah is at risk of imminent arrest.
He has been charged and sentenced solely for the peaceful pursuit of his professional duties, and thus both the charges and the sentence are illegal under international laws and human rights covenants to which Iran is a signatory state.
The harsh prison sentences meted out to Nassrin Sotoudeh, and now to Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, point to a very alarming trend within Iran of deliberately targeting human rights lawyers in an effort to silence them and deprive the politically persecuted of effective legal representation.
The international community, particularly those bodies concerned with human rights and jurisprudence, cannot allow this travesty to go unaddressed.