Prisoner of the Month: October 2003 Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari

In April 2000 Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari, researcher, journalist and reformist cleric, along with other Iranian writers, journalists and academics, attended a conference at the Heinrich Boll Institute in Berlin titled “Iran after the elections” where he participated in a debate and gave a speech on political and social reform in Iran.

Within hours of his return to Iran he was arrested for his participation in the conference, he was held in solitary confinement and then tried behind closed doors in the Special Court of the Clergy where he was convicted of “acting against national security” “defaming government officials in articles” “starting a campaign against the system” “denying and insulting the holy religion of Islam” “being corrupt on earth” “declaring war on God” and “apostasy”. These latter three charges, which carry the death penalty, were overturned on appeal and he was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.

Eshkevari is being held incommunicado. He is an insulin-dependent diabetic and there are unconfirmed reports that he has been unable to obtain insulin and that an appeal by his son requesting that a medical team be allowed to examine his father has been rejected.

In addition to being made an honorary member of PEN, Eshkevari’s case has been adopted by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Amnesty International considers him a “prisoner of conscience.”

Appeals for his release can be sent to:

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Presidency

Palestine Avenue

Azerbaijan Intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

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