Iran: The Iranian government should immediately release human rights defender and retired humanitarian worker Baquer Namazi, and his son Siamak Namazi, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) said today.
Baquer Namazi, who is 81 years old, served as a UNICEF representative between 1984 and 1997 and worked in countries such as Kenya, Somalia, and Egypt. He also established Hamyaran Iran, the first capacity-building resource centre for NGOs in Iran. Siamak Namazi is a 45-year-old public policy scholar who spent much of his life in the US and advocated for closer ties between the United States and Iran, according to the “New York Times.”
On 22 February 2016, Baquer Namazi was arrested as he was leaving Tehran airport by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He had arrived in Iran to secure the release of his son Siamak Namazi, who was arrested on 13 October 2015 while visiting his family in Tehran. According to reports, Namazi was driven back to his home by the IRGC, who then searched his home and confiscated his possessions. After the search, the IRGC guards informed Namazi that they needed to present him to the magistrate and he was transferred to Evin Prison.
The trial of Siamak Namazi began on 01 October 2016 and that of Baquer Namazi on 05 October 2016. According to reports, both hearings were held in secret and access to legal representation was limited. Neither Baquer Namazi nor Siamak Namazi was allowed to present any evidence or call witnesses, and they were denied the opportunity to meaningfully challenge any charges or evidence. On 17 October 2016, both men were sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of “collusion with an enemy state.”
On 22 August 2017, the appeals court in Tehran upheld the 10-year prison sentences for the Namazis. Both Namazis hold joint US and Iranian citizenship. Their arrest and imprisonment forms part of a broader pattern of targeting Iranians who hold dual citizenship, a pattern which has been strongly condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Asma Jahangir, in her report to the UN General Assembly in August 2017. See: http://undocs.org/A/72/322
The Namazis are currently being held in Evin prison and there are grave concerns for the deteriorating health of Baquer Namazi, as he has serious heart problems and other conditions that require him to take special medications. Both men have been held in extended periods of solitary confinement. Evin prison has a long history of brutality and is infamous for ill-treatment against journalists and human rights defenders.
GCHR urges the authorities in Iran to:
Immediately and unconditionally release Baquer Namazi and Siamak Namazi and ensure that they have contact with their families;
Ensure immediate access to medical treatment for Baquer Namazi and Siamak Namazi; and
Allow human rights defenders and humanitarian workers to carry out their work freely in Iran, without any restrictions and regardless of nationality.
GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters" and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”