Siamak Pourzand is under house arrest and banned from leaving Iran. His daughters do not feel safe to go to Iran and visit their father. The picture was taken when Azadeh Purzand, Siamak Pourzand’s younger daughter, visited her father in January 2005. She went to Iran with great fear, and despite facing many difficulties, she successfully saw her father. The picture shows their first encounter, in which pain and grief are easily traceable in Siamak Pourzand’s face.
Siamak Pourzand on a forced television interview
-PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE APPEAL CASE –
Siamak Pourzand: a case study of flagrant human rights violations
May 2004 AI INDEX: MDE 13/025/2004
Siamak Pourzand, (aged 74), Head of Majmue-ye Farhangi-ye Honari-ye Tehran (The Tehran Artistic and Cultural Centre) and an occasional newspaper correspondent, is a prisoner of conscience. He is serving an 11 year sentence imposed after a grossly unfair and politically motivated trial in connection with oral statements he allegedly made about Iran’s political leaders; Amnesty International fears that the activities of his wife, Mehrangiz Kar, a human rights defender currently outside Iran, may have exacerbated the treatment of Siamak Pourzand. He has urgent medical requirements for which he recently started to receive specialist care. It remains to be seen whether this will be adequate. Amnesty International (AI) is calling for his immediate and unconditional release with a view to a full review of the charges and sentence he faced.
Arrest and incommunicado detention
On 24 November 2001, Siamak Pourzand was arrested in central Tehran, at around 9 o’clock in the evening. He had just left his sister’s apartment. The family initially thought that he had “disappeared” as there was no official acknowledgement that he had been detained. On 7 December 2001 one of his sisters, Mahin Pourzand, was reportedly requested to bring a change of clothes for him to an office of the Edare-ye Amaken, or Bureau of Premises. The Edare-ye Amaken is reportedly responsible for the enforcement of accepted moral codes in places of work and other offices. When she asked where her brother was held and what he had been charged with, she was reportedly told that it was none of her business.
Place of detention unknown
On 12 or 13 January 2002, his sister was permitted to meet with him for the first time at the Edare-ye Amaken. The meeting reportedly lasted 10 minutes and Siamak Pourzand, who arrived by car from an unknown location, reportedly appeared afraid and weak. No further information about his whereabouts was disclosed until 16 May 2002, when according to a report, Siamak Pourzand was transferred to Evin Prison. However, according to his family, he was only transferred to Evin Prison after his first temporary release.
Siamak Pourzand reportedly made a “confession” in the first session of his closed trial on 7 March 2002. He was denied free and unfettered access to a lawyer of his choice, and he was reportedly ill-treated during his interrogation. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.
On 9 July 2002 the Tehran Appeals Court upheld the sentence. In a televised “confession” broadcast by the state media on 25 July 2002, he reportedly looked frail and seemed to have lost at least 30 kg. He also “confessed” to a range of accusations including “having links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries”, “spying and undermining state security” and “creating disillusionment among young people”.
Siamak Pourzand was temporarily released from prison on 30 November 2002 due to his poor health. During his release, he stayed at his sister’s residence where he reportedly confirmed that he was detained in solitary confinement in an unknown prison.
Return to prison
In March 2003, Siamak Pourzand was sent to Evin Prison, possibly by agents of Edare-ye Amaken. He was reportedly urged to implicate other individuals in acts about which he did not know and to take part in a television program reportedly then being prepared to show which artists “had acted against Iran”. He reportedly refused. He was later sent home. In April 2003, Siamak Pourzand was summoned to a court where he was reportedly asked again whether he would “cooperate” and appear in the television program referred to above. After having refused once again, he was sent with two guards to his sister’s residence where he gathered personal effects – save for medicine he requires – and he was taken to Evin Prison.
Around May 2003, Siamak Pourzand wrote to the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, explaining his medical condition. Attached to his letter were reports supporting his need for an operation. These reports were supported by doctors working for the judiciary.
According to a diagnosis given on 30 July 2003 at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Teheran Siamak Pourzand is suffering from spinal stenosis (a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and pinches the spinal cord and nerve root, possibly leading to paralysis) which requires a surgical intervention. He is unable to walk and to attend to his “daily needs”. Furthermore, in October 2003, his medical records were reviewed by a doctor in the US who concluded that if unattended, Siamak Pourzand’s condition would deteriorate and he would be made wheelchair-dependant. It was recommended that he be urgently treated at duly equipped surgical centres.
Around 31 March 2004, Siamak Pourzand reportedly suffered a heart attack that left him in a coma. He was not treated until another prisoner, the lawyer and human rights defender Nasser Zarafshan(1) went to the prison medical facility and insisted that someone examine him. Siamak Pourzand was taken to Tehran’s Modarres Hospital for treatment and after 36 hours in a coma he regained consciousness.
Siamak Pourzand was again admitted to Tehran’s Modarres Hospital on 18 April. According to initial reports, he was chained to his bed by his feet and denied family visits. Three days later, he was moved to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) in the hospital where he reportedly remained for 10 days and received specialist care. Following his return to the ordinary ward and according to information received by AI, Siamak Pourzand reportedly received a telephone call from Evin Prison asking him to give an interview to a prisons’ publication to declare that he had never been ill-treated and that his trial had been fair. Shortly after this phone call, Siamak Pourzand had to be transferred again to CCU.
Siamak Pourzand is due to be transferred to Mahrad Hospital to undergo a spinal surgery. He is then scheduled to return to Modarres Hospital to receive treatment for his kidneys and prostate.
Siamak Pourzand is the husband of lawyer and humanrights defender, Mehrangiz Kar, who continues to face charges in connection with her participation at a socialand cultural conference, which was held in Berlin inApril 2000. She is a former prisoner of conscience (see UA 103/00, MDE 13/20/00 3 May 2000 and follow ups)
(1) Please see: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGMDE130122002
AI Index: MDE 13/025/2004 13 May 2004