ENSAFALI HEDAYAT’S OPEN LETTER TO THE IRANIAN NATION, OFFICIALS
TEHRAN, 28 Mar. (IPS) In a new open letter to the Iranian nation and its leaders, detained journalist Ensafali Hedayat paints a gloomy picture of the conditions of his life in prison and harangues President Mohammad Khatami for his total indifference towards the fate of Iranians abused by the Judiciary and other organs of the Islamic Republic.
An independent reporter covering occasionally for foreign-based Iranian media like the American government-sponsored Radio Farda (Tomorrow), Mr. Hedayat was arrested last January on his return to Iran from Berlin, where he attended a conference of Republican Iranians and was jailed in Tabriz, the capital city of the Eastern Azerbaijan province on charges of espionage and activities against the interests of the Islamic Republic.
However, since his arrest, and despite several days of intense interrogations, he had not been tried and the Judiciary had produced no evidence for the charges that he claims are "utterly and totally baseless".
Because of his straightforward and uncompromising articles reporting on the situation in Iran, the authorities ordered all local media not to take any thing from Mr. Hedayat, forcing him to leave Tehran for his hometown of Tabriz, where he lives in a small, 2 rooms only house with his wife and two children.
But while all other Iranian journalists who also covered the conference were working for foreign-based Iranian press, Mr. Hedayat was the only one who had come from Iran and for this reason, not only he was often interviewed by other colleagues, but also contacted by many participants at the meeting that was also attended by a delegation from Iran.
Informed sources and friends believe that this is one of the reasons why the authorities are accusing him of espionage and collaboration with Iranian opposition organizations outside the country.
In his letter, Mr. Hedayat recalls that when arrested last summer, his interrogators had told him that he would be killed within six months or he should leave the country.
"And exactly six months latter, I was arrested, denied any legal rights reserved to prisoners. Does Mr. Khatami, who as President is the guarantor of the rights of the citizen of this country knows that a journalist named Ensafali Hedayat has been detained on totally baseless charges of espionage?
"Does the concerned authorities know that many of the young and certainly honest judges, like the one who has charged me, are acting under political pressures, keeping inmates in prison without producing any convincing documents or facts, just because of the pressures applied on them?
"Does Mr. Khatami and other concerned authorities know that a penniless prisoners like me is charged for heating his cold meals or getting much needed hot water to clean his wounds?
Does our dear President knows that some sick prisoners like myself are denied medical treatments? Does he and other officials knows that some political prisoners are kept behind bars for months without any justification?" he asked without expressing any anger, but "a bad feeling of sadness for myself and other Iranians victim of blunt injustice".
However, except a few Iranian internet newspapers based outside Iran, no domestic media, including the so-called pro-reform newspapers, published the open letter, written in Farsi.
Several international and foreign-based Iran organizations defending the rights of journalists, like the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) or the Association of Iranian Journalists Abroad (AIJA) based in Rome have, in faxes and e-mails to Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i and President Mohammad Khatami, urged the Iranian clerical rulers to free Mr. Hedayat, as well as other journalists "immediately and unconditionally", but so far there has been no words from the authorities in Tehran.
Besides Mr. Hedayat, more than a dozen political activists, journalists, students, a prominent lawyer and a university professor are in prison, all of them accused of anti-State activities and propaganda, insulting the leader or Islam. ENDS ENSAFALI HEDAYAT LETTER 28304