Arzhang Davoodi – Iran

Case of Arzhang Davoodi :

Arzhang Davoodi, a poet, author, and educator, was arrested in October 2003 for helping to make “Forbidden Iran,”” a documentary film that exposed human rights violations in Iran. The film revealed the truth about the death in prison of Canadian-Arabian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, and was shown in Europe and North America, and broadcast on PBS’s Frontline. He was originally sentenced to 15 years and 70 lashes in prison on charges relating to this documentary and for his call for freedom and democracy in a secular Iran. He was asked at least three times to sign a pre–written confession.

Arzhang Davoodi has never seen a copy of the conviction order or the official verdict, his sentence was passed behind closed doors, and his lawyers, who have yet to see the court’s sentencing order, were not allowed in. In 2011, he was sentenced to an additional 14 months in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system,” “insulting officials,” and “causing unease in the public mind” in connection with statements he made from prison. In August 2013 his sentence was extended by another five years to 20 years and eight months. In Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, his torturers have broken his shoulder blade, his jaw, teeth, fingers and beaten on his ears and eyes as a result of which his hearing and sight are impaired. He has been denied access to medical treatment. He has spent long periods in solitary confinement and was transferred to a prison used for violent criminals, including murderers. His house has been confiscated by the government and sold. Since then, he has been declared “moharabeh,” an enemy of God, a charge that often means death. A new charge against him has resulted in a death sentence. He has gone on several hunger strikes to protest conditions at the prison.

A report on Davoodi’s treatment was delivered by the UN Human Rights Council to the General Assembly. Amnesty International has declared Arzhang Davoodi a Prisoner of Conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing his beliefs.