Iran: Writers on minority issues under attack

IRAN FOCUS: 15 May – 15 June 2009


Since President Ahmadinejad came to power in August 2005, there has been a widespread crackdown on peaceful political dissent across many aspects of civil society in Iran. Those to have been targeted include writers and journalists, academics, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders. Separatist struggle has placed writers and journalists particularly at risk in Iran’s ethnic regions, and International PEN is alarmed at the number of Kurdish, Azeri and Arab journalists targeted for their critical reporting, peaceful activism and writings in support of minority cultural and political rights. In the run-up to the next Presidential election which is due to be held in June this year, International PEN has launched a month-long campaign to highlight these cases, and to call for greater freedom of expression in Iran.  

English PEN is currently campaigning on behalf of six writers, journalists and cultural activists from Iran’s ethnic regions who are all sentenced for their critical reporting and peaceful activism on minority rights. They are:

• Adnan Hassanpour, Iranian-Kurdish journalist, detained in January 2007 and charged with espionage and Moharehbeh (fighting God) for expressing his views on the Kurdish issue. He is awaiting a re-trial after his death penalty was overturned.
• Kaveh Javanmard, Iranian Kurdish journalist, arrested in December 2006 and serving a three-year sentence for his reporting on the Kurdish issue.
• Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, Iranian Kurdish journalist, arrested on 1 July 2007 and sentenced to eleven years in prison for his Kurdish rights activism. 
• Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya, Iranian Arab journalist, arrested in November 2006 and sentenced to three years in prison for his reporting on the repression of the Arab minority in Khuzestan. 
• Yousef Azizi Banitorof, Ahwazi writer, translator and human rights defender, sentenced on 20 August 2008 to five years in prison for his reporting on protests by the Arab community in the southwestern region of Khuzestan (known locally as Al-Ahwaz). Left Iran in November 2008.
• Said Matinpour, Azeri journalist, sentenced to eight years in jail, suspended, on 11 June 2008 for ‘publicity against the Islamic regime’. He was detained incommunicado for nine months in jail before being released on bail.

In addition to those listed above, PEN is aware of the cases of at least ten other journalists and writers from Iran’s ethnic regions who are currently facing charges for their critical writings and political and cultural activism.  Most are charged under national security legislation or Iran’s Press Law, which is also widely used to ban publications perceived as critical by the authorities, and to prevent writers from publishing their work.



During the Focus period 15 May – 15 June 2009
• Write a letter to the Iranian government.
• Lobby your own government
• Publicise the issue of freedom of expression in Iran in your local press




– Expressing serious concern about the large numbers of writers, journalists and publishers to be arbitrarily detained in Iran, many serving lengthy sentences, and the widespread practice of ill-treatment of dissidents in detention;.
– Expressing alarm at the widespread crackdown on peaceful dissent since President Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, in which a large number Kurdish, Azeri and Arab journalists have been targeted for their legitimate critical reporting, peaceful activism and writings in support of minority cultural and political rights.
– Reminding the Iranian authorities of their obligations to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.




Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi                
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh  (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)                
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran      
Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency


Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie              
Ministry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue,
Islamic Republic of Iran     
Salutation: Your Excellency



Leader of the Islamic Republic             
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei        
The Office of the Supreme Leader,
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street 
Islamic Republic of Iran    
via website: (English) (Persian)
Salutation: Your Excellency


His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: 98 21 6 649 5880
Salutation: Your Excellency
Speaker of Parliament              
His Excellency Ali Larijani
Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami,
Baharestan Square,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.      
Fax: 98 21 3355 6408         
Email: (Ask for your message to be passed to the Article 90 Commission)


You may also wish to write to the Iranian ambassador in the UK asking for his comments on your appeal:


His Excellency Rasoul Movahedian
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince’s Gate

Visit these links for more information:


Human Rights Watch, Iran: Freedom of Expression and Association in the Kurdish Regions

BBC Country profile on Iran:

CRS Report for Congress, Iran: Ethnic and Religious Minorities

Originally posted with the url:

About English PEN staff

This content is published by the English PEN staff.

View all posts by English PEN staff →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *