WHERE IS MR SAZEGARA?

LONDON 20 Feb. (IPS) Where is Mohsen Sazegara, the outspoken journalist and critic of the Islamic Republic and its leader who was arrested on Wednesday by unidentified plainclothes men?

His wife says her husband telephoned on the night of his arrest, said he was detained in the Evin prison, that though he was well attended, but has started a hunger strike as a protest to his arrest.

"He said as the interrogation revolved over the questions he had raised in his letters to the officials of the regime, he told the interrogators that he had nothing to add and would continue his strike, including not taking his drugs prescribed for his poor heart problems", she told the Persian service of the BBC.

But when she and other relatives went to Evin to meet Mr. Sazegara, she was told that no one responding to the name Mohammad Mohsen Sazegars was in this prison.

"I told the man in charge of the meetings between prisoners and visitors that my husband called from here last night, said he was in the cell number 209, that every thing was fine, that he had started a hunger strike. But the official repeated that not only they don’t have such a prisoner, but have not recorded any telephone call last night".

In her opinion, either her husband had been taken to Evin from another entry, or he is detained in another prison described to him as being Evin.

Mr. Sazegara’s arrest was expected, as in a recent open letter, he openly criticised the leadership of the Islamic Republic and in order to bring a smooth, but radical change in the present theocracy, he suggested nation-wide civil disobedience.

"Twenty five years of continued govern is enough to show that this regime is unable to solve endemic problems of the nation and it is time to give place to a secular, democratic system", he wrote.

Lawyers and jurists said in the Islamic Republic, voicing such opinions are considered as calls for the overthrow of the regime and can led to capital punishment.

What is ironic in the this saga is that it happens as a mission from the United Nations Human Rights Commission is visiting the Islamic Republic for the first time in the past seven year, to investigation the rights abuses in Iran on the invitation of the Islamic Judiciary, an organ that is placed under the direct control of the leader of the regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i.

To add insult to perjury, the authorities also closed the offices of the Iran Freedom Movement, banned their candidates, -- as well as those of the Nationalist-religious groups, -- to the forthcoming city council elections, and hanged some common prisoners.

Lawyers and families of political prisoners confirmed Thursday that the authorities had prevented the five members delegation to meet with prominent prisoners, including Mr. Naser Zarafshan, a lawyer for the families of the dissidents murdered by high-ranking officers of the Intelligence Ministry, two of his colleagues, Abolfattah Soltani and Mohammad Ali Daadkhah as well as Mr. Ali Afshari and the Manoochehri brothers, all three leaders of protesting students.

Dr. Karim Lahiji, president of the Iranian League of Human Rights in Exile told Iran Press Service that on orders from the authorities, the telephone switchboard of Laleh Hotel, where the delegation stays, systematically rejects all calls to members of the mission.

He said so far, no prominent prisoner was authorised to meet the delegation, except Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam (Iran’s and probably the world’s longest political prisoner) who was met last night at his residence (by the mission).

"All streets to both Hotel Laleh and the united Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) are under the control of hundreds of plainclothes men who prevents people to enter these buildings", he said, confirming that delegations from the families of he prisoners who tried to enter the hotel where stopped by security forces.

"What Mr. Lahiji said is unfortunately correct", confirmed one eyewitness who asked not be identified.

US-based students organisation, the SMCCDI, with correspondents in Iran, also reported that several members of families of opponents to the regime and those executed were arrested as they tried to reach the Laleh Hotel (former Inter-Continental) located in the "Dr. Fatemi" (former Aryamehr) avenue and also in the nearby UN office.

"The group was attacked and thrown in vehicles leaving the scenes as they reached the perimeters", the organisation claimed. ENDS WHERE IS SAZEGARA? 20203