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Home > English > Abbas Amir-Entezam : Nomination for the Sakharov Prize

Abbas Amir-Entezam : Nomination for the Sakharov Prize

Tuesday 14 September 2010

To:

Mr. Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament Mr. Gabriele Albertini, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament Ms. Heidi Hautala, Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the European Parliament Ms. Barbara Lochbihler, President of the Delegation of the European Parliament for Relations with Iran Mr. Joseph Daul, Chairman EPP Group Mr. Martin Schulz, President S&D Group Mr. Guy Verhofstadt, President ALDE Group Ms. Rebecca Harms, Co-President Greens/EFA Group Mr. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Co-President Greens/EFA Group Mr. Lothar Bisky, President GUE/NGL Group

Dear Sir, Dear Madam,

You are aware of the horrifying violations of human rights which are taking place in Iran and of the particularly brutal repression which have been inflicted on ordinary civilians and political activists alike since the Presidential election of 12 June 2009.

In the protests which followed the election, over one hundred people were killed on the streets by the Iranian security forces. Since then, thousands of people have been arrested, many hundreds have been subjected to show trials or other forms of summary justice while others have been imprisoned without any form of legal process whatsoever. Hundreds of prisoners have been subjected to torture, rape or other inhuman or degrading treatment. Meanwhile, opposition supporters and civil society activists remain under constant surveillance and the Iranian authorities are using all means at their disposal to try to intimidate the population.

These violations have added to an already desperate human rights situation. According to Amnesty International and the Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme, Iran is one of the countries in the world which most frequently carries out the death penalty, including execution of minors. At least 338 people were executed in 2009; several hundred people have already been executed in 2010, and approximately 2,000 people are currently condemned to death.

In recent weeks we have received disturbing news from Iran indicating an intensification of repression against political and civil society activists, up to and including the kidnapping and holding of family members as hostages, as well as intense pressure on political prisoners. For example, political prisoners in the dreaded Evin Prison are being deprived of the opportunity to call their families or to receive family visits as well as of access to a doctor. All indications are that the régime is gearing up to further executions in the very near future.

In the face of massive repression, the people of Iran continue to hope and believe that a better future is possible. They need the support and encouragement of all those outside Iran who believe in universal values of human rights and who are prepared to proclaim those values above and beyond short-term geopolitical considerations. The European Parliament, through the debates it has organised and the Resolutions it has adopted, can surely be counted among such defenders of human rights and of democracy.

We believe that one of the most important gestures of solidarity which the European Parliament can make is the annual award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. We note that since the Prize was initiated in 1988, it has never been awarded to an Iranian citizen. We believe that, in this especially traumatic year for the people of Iran, it would be appropriate to award the Sakharov Prize to someone who symbolizes the struggle for human rights, democratic ideals and the power of resistance.

There are hundreds of names which could be mentioned in this regard. Our candidate for the Sakharov Prize 2010 is Mr. Abbas Amir-Entezam, who has been a prisoner of conscience for thirty years, the longest-held political prisoner of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The moral courage which has helped him to survive more than thirty years of detention in prison or under house arrest, the consistency with which he has refused any compromise incompatible with justice and freedom of conscience, and the sense of devotion and sacrifice of his personal and family life, are testimony to the exceptional qualities which have made Mr. Amir-Entezam respected by all Iranians, inside and outside the country and whatever their political affiliations.

We believe that for the European Parliament to award him the Sakharov Prize in this thirtieth anniversary year of his imprisonment would be a fitting gesture of solidarity and support not only to him as an individual, but to all of those in Iran who have suffered for their ideals over the past thirty years.

We are available to answer any questions you may have about Mr. Amir-Entezam or about the human rights situation in Iran more generally.

Yours sincerely,

Au nom des organisations signataires
Tel. (32)-(0)476-551832
iranianbelgique@yahoo.fr

ASP
On behalf of 10 Iranian civil society organisations in Europe:
1- united 4iran-belgium
2- Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan- Belgique
3- Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)- - Belgique
4- Association de la Défense du Front pour la République et la Démocratie en Iran-Belgique
5- Centre Culturel Persepolis- Belgique
6- European Cultural Network of Iranians
7- Association of Iranians in The Netherlands
8- Platform of Iranian Refugee Organisations in The Netherlands
9- Association Culturelle Razi- Belgique
10- La Fédération Europerse

Mr. Amir-Entezam

Mr. Abbas Amir-Entezam, one of the leaders of the liberation movement against the Shah of Iran, was briefly Deputy Prime Minister and spokesman of the Provisional Government put in place after the Revolution of 1979. As a lay (non-clerical) politician, however, he was ousted when he opposed the theocratic draft constitution drawn up by the Assembly of Experts which eventually became the constitution of the Islamic Republic.

Following the takeover by fundamentalist clerics at the end of 1979, Mr. Amir-Entezam was arrested on charges of spying for the United States and tried in a closed, non-jury, procedure which lasted ten minutes and during which there was no defence lawyer present. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. After serving 19 years in the notorious Evin prison, he was allowed, on medical grounds, to return to his home in 1997 to complete his sentence under house arrest; however, after one interview in which he referred to the brutalities committed by the chief warden of the prison, he was returned to prison after only a few months and remained there until 2002. In 2002, Mr. Amir-Entezam, whose health had continued to deteriorate, was again sent home where he has remained under house arrest to this day.

Mr. Amir-Entezam has made several attempts to appeal his case or to have a retrial in public; these attempts have failed. The authorities of the Islamic Republic have on a number of occasions offered him the possibility of definitive release, on condition that he accept his conviction and withdraw his appeal. Mr. Amir-Entezam has refused these offers, because he believes that this would be a denial of justice and the freedom of thought which he has always defended.

Mr. Amir-Entezam is obliged to present himself to the authorities on a regular basis to avoid a return to prison; he is not allowed to leave the country; he has not seen his children, who are living abroad, for thirty years.

He knows that any public statement by him could lead to his being sent back to prison, which, at 77 years of age, he would be unlikely to survive. Despite this, Mr. Amir-Entezam continues to express himself where and when he can, and to defend the ideal of democracy in his country.

Mr. Amir-Entezam has already been a recipient of the Bruno Kreisky Prize (1998) and the Jan Karski Award for Moral Courage (2003

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