Emadeddine Baghi was arrested on 29 December 2009

December 28, 2009

When awarding Emad Baghi the Martin Ennals Award on 19 May 2009, the 10 international NGOs on the Jury specially noted the desire of this theologian and writer to work within an Islamic context and advocate for non-violent changes. In spite of this, Emad Baghi was denied permission to travel abroad to receive his award in November. A month later Emad was forced into canceling his participation in a reception given by the Swedish EU Presidency in Tehran.

On 28 December 2009 Emad Baghi was arrested at his house at 6.45am by four plainclothes, armed officials, who forced their way into his house, and, refusing to show any identification, severely beat his brother-in-law, verbally abused members of his family. When Emad Baghi tried to assure his wife and daughter that he would remain strong in prison, the men told him he would not live long enough in prison to need to remain strong. Statements made by the unidentified security officials at the time of his arrest suggested that he was being detained for having appeared in a video with the recently deceased Grand Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri.

An arrest made by officials who cannot be identified and who produce no document authorising the arrest is in clear breach of both Iranian law and the international human rights treaties to which Iran is a state party, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in particular Article 9.  We therefore consider that he has been arbitrarily detained for his human rights-related activities and he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association. In this regard, the above-mentioned 10 international organisations on the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award have written to the Iranian authorities with a call for his immediate and unconditional release. Also the former Laureates and Patrons of the MEA have intervened in a similar fashion.

Emad Baghi is not known to have been charged with a crime. He is believed to be held in solitary confinement in Evin prison. There has been no access to a lawyer or by family members. On 6 January a detainee just released from Evin Prison in Tehran said that he had heard Emad Baghi’s voice in prison. By mid January Emad was allowed to make a furtive call of a few seconds to his family to inform them that he was detained as prisoner number 240.

There is great concern about his poor health stemming from his previous imprisonment (in December 2007 he suffered three seizures and a heart attack and remained in poor health without adequate medical care until his release in October 2008) and there is fear that he could be subjected to ill-treatment and medical neglect while in detention under the above-mentioned conditions.

Geneva, 19 January 2010