Mohammad Mostafaei is a prominent human rights lawyer, noted for his representation of juveniles facing the death penalty (see separate EA feature) and for clients like Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman facing execution for adultery. He was forced to flee Iran in August 2010 and currently lives in Norway.
In an open letter posted this week, Mostafaei appeals to the UN to help Iranian journalists who are now refugees in Turkey:
Respected United Nations General Secretary, UN High Commissionaire for Refugees and Respected Foreign Ministers of Countries who Support Human Rights:
Iranian journalists are amongst those who have become victims of human rights abuse, as a result of their work in promoting human rights in Iran, and have been oppressed by Iran's security agents and judiciary. These journalists, with their writing and ideas for peace, have become targets for human rights abusers.
In recent years, there have been very disturbing stories on the status of independent media and journalists, which require urgent attention. The International Federation of Journalists and other human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have described the situation of journalists in Iran to be worrying and complicated. They have stated that the intimidation of journalists in recent years is worse than ever. Reporters Without Borders has said Iran continues to have the largest number of journalists in prison.
The increasing pressure on journalists by the security agents follows no laws and rules and this has forced many of them to leave their motherland, against their will, to seek refuge in neighboring countries and to ask for asylum from the UN High Commission for Refugees. Many are currently incarcerated, and those seeking asylum face heavy sentences if they return to Iran. Iranian security agents have threatened them on numerous occasions and caused them anxiety.
Lack of security in Turkey has caused me to write this letter to you, so that Iranian journalists and human rights activists who are residing in Turkey can be helped by whatever means possible and transferred to safer countries.
If we can support human rights, then we must support human rights activists too, who truly have paid the price for their beliefs with their lives and freedoms to make the voices of the victims of human rights abuse heard.
It is very sad that the renowned Iranian journalist Hadi Nili, who for years has been harassed and interrogated by the intelligence ministry's agents, has remained in Turkey for more than two years and has not been able to reach freedom.
Behrooz Samad Beigi has been living in a worrying condition for more than 13 months.
Hamid Mafi and his wife, Maryam Akbari, have been living in terrible conditions for more than 10 months and have been threatened on numerous occasions.
Ehsanollah Mehrabi and his wife have been exiled to a village near Syria and their situation is very worrying.
Mehdi Tajik Ghashghaei, one of the seasoned Iranian journalists, must wait until July 2013 for his first UN interview.
Alireza Firouzi, a young tireless human rights activist has to wait until February 2013 for his case to be heard by UN officials.
Farhad Nouri Koochi, a human rights activist and an active member of the Nematollahi Gonabadi Dervishes, entered Van in Turkey on 21 September 2011. His first interview was scheduled for 16 December 2011; however, due to the earthquake in Van, his interview was cancelled. Unfortunately, Mr. Koochi still has not heard anything from UNHCR regarding the rescheduling of his interview date.
Let me emphasise again. If we are able to defend the rights of journalists and human rights activist, we should defend them wherever and whenever we can. Today these people need our help. I ask you to help these people by transferring them to a safe country and improving their situation, so that they can continue to help improve the situation of their people.
With much gratitude, br>
Mohammad Mostafaei br>
Human Rights Lawyer and Activist