2006: Iran: Elham Afroutan

Oslo, February 14. 2006

His Excellency
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

c/o Iranian Embassy in Norway
telefax: 22554919

Norwegian PEN fears for safety of journalist and writer Elham Afroutan and other journalists arrested for the publication of a satirical article

Norwegian PENs Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned about the arrest of journalist and writer Elham Afroutan, who is among seven journalists from the provincial weekly newspaper Tammadon-e Hormozgan (Hormozgan’s Civilisation) to have been detained since 29 January 2006 following the publication of a satirical article. The journalists are believed to be held incommunicado without charge, and to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment.  According to information from International PEN, there is serious concern for the safety of Elham Afroutan and those detained with her, and Norwegian PEN therefore seeks immediate guarantees of their well-being.  Both International and Norwegian PEN call for their immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

According to PEN’s information, journalist and writer Elham Afroutan and six other Tammadon-e Hormozgan journalists were arrested following the publication of a satirical article entitled «Let’s Expose the AIDS Epidemic of the Regime», which compared the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the advent of Ayatollah Khomeini to AIDS and gave the current physical embodiment of the disease as President Ahmadinejad. The detained journalists did not write the article, and are thought to have reproduced it in the newspaper’s health section without thorough checking because they were short of stories. Afroutan is believed to be the principle accused in the case. The article is said to have been written under an alias by somebody outside Iran, and published on the Internet.

Norwegian PEN hereby express our serious concern about the arrest of journalist and writer Elham Afroutan and up to six other Tammadon-e Hormozgan journalists detained with her, and we seek immediate assurances that they are not being ill-treated.  We urge that they are granted access to their families, lawyers, and any necessary medical attention and call for their immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

Sincerely
for the Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN

Carl Morten Iversen
secretary general