PARIS, 14 Dec. (IPS) In line with press crackdown, authorities in the Islamic Republic prevented dissident journalist and human rights campaigner Emadeddin Baqi to travel to France where he had been awarded the French 2005 Prize of Human Rights.
According to the journalist, the authorities refused to give him back his passport confiscated last year at Tehran Meharabad international airport as he was boarding a plane bound for Canada to attend several conferences on human rights there as well as in the United States and then some European countries.
“If only they could give me a valid reason.. but I heard nothing from the authorities about my passport and why they have confiscated it.
“They did not explain why my passport had been confiscated and why I was not allow to travel”, he told the Persian service of the Deutsche Welle radio on Tuesday.
The award ceremony was held two days earlier at the office of the French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who, in his speech, regretted the absence of Mr. Baqi, also expressed wishes to see Mr. Akbar Ganji, the veteran journalist, writer and investigative reporter who is in jail for a series of “offenses” and “activities against the security of State” etc..
Receiving the award on behalf on her husband, both founders of the “Iranian Association for the Defence of Prisoners”, Mrs. Fatemeh Kamali Ahmadsara’i said the clerical-led authorities refused to let Mr. Baqi coming to France by refusing to give him his passport back, and this despite efforts from some lawmakers and even the Tehran Prosecutor’s office, “without giving any reason”.
Mrs. Ahmadsara’i is herself also a victim of the press crackdown as her publication, “Jame’eh No” (New Society), has been banned by the authorities.
“If only they could give me a valid reason.. but I heard nothing from the authorities about my passport and why they have confiscated it”, the 43 years-old Baqi told the French centrist daily “Le Figaro”’s correspondent in Tehran, Ms. Delphine Minou’i on 12 December.
Mr. Baqi used to work with major reformist and independent newspapers during the presidency of former president Mohammad Khatami, popular and large circulation newspapers closed under pressures from ruling hard liners and order from Ayatollah Al Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic republic.
“According to our estimates, there are some 137.000 prisoners registered officially in Iranian prisons, among them many political dissidents”, he told the French daily.
But sources from other human rights organizations in Iran and abroad say the number is much higher, mostly concerning political prisoners, not only because of the fact that the Iranian authorities insist that there no political prisoners in Iran, but also because an undisclosed numbers of them are held in unofficial prisons operated by Revolutionary Guards, the Police and intelligence services.
Jailed for several years because of the exposures he made, alongside Mr. Ganji, about the assassination of political dissidents, writers, journalists and intellectuals, Mr. Baqi and some other human rights campaigners created the Iranian Association for the Defence of Prisoners, fighting not only for better situation of the Iranian prisons, but also against the death penalty that exists in the Islam-based Constitution of the Islamic Republic, where each year more than a hundred people are executed.
I’m certain that sooner or latter, the regime would come up to abandon the inhuman penalty.
That’s why his new book, entitled “The Right To Live”, in which he explain the reason the present regime must do with death penalty, has not received authorization to be published.
“I’m certain that sooner or latter, the regime would come up to abandon the inhuman penalty, but it takes time and it is not with slogans one can reach this difficult goral, since it is based on religion”, he told “Le Figaro”.
The French Human Rights Committee awarded Mr. Baqi at a time that in Iran, authorities under the new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is increasing crackdown on the independent and reformist press, dissidents of all walk and on human rights campaigners while the international community is outraged and indignated about Mr. Ahmadinejad's repeated denigration of the Hollocaust, the mass killing of the Jews by Nazi Germany and his promises of "wiping off Israel from the map of the world".
ENDS BAQI AWARD 141205