Defense of Human Rights Will Not Stop

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By Maryam Kashani (Reporter for Rooz online)

Following the closure of the offices of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights in ‎Tehran by government agents, Rooz spoke with Narges Mohammadi, the spokesperson ‎for the group. She stressed that with the closure of the offices, their work would not stop ‎and that in fact they would work even harder. Read on for the details.‎

Rooz (R): Tell us about the closure of the offices?‎nargesmohammadi
Narges Mohammadi (NM): We planned to organize a simple event on the occasion of the ‎sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But intelligence ‎agents, the police and plain-clothes forces surrounded our offices that day. Tens of ‎camouflaged cars equipped with cameras filled the surrounding streets. The size of the ‎police and security agents in the Yusefabad was unbelievably large. Eventually about 10 ‎to 15 of these agents entered the building. We tried to stop them and asked for a warrant. ‎They not only ignored our demands but even verbally attacked and abused me and others. ‎One of them was so violent that other agents had to restrain him before he attacked me. ‎Eventually, they shut the offices, sealed the doors and threw us out.‎

R: Had the invitees arrived?‎
NM: The agents stopped anyone who tried to come and dispersed the guests. They even ‎cracked down on journalists and photographers and prevented them from entering the ‎building. They even confiscated the cameras and the film, erasing them or taking them ‎with themselves. ‎

R: Did they also take any equipment or belongings from the offices?‎
NM: No, all the equipment in the offices is in their hands. This is why we shall not accept ‎anything that they may later claim. The security agents did not allow us to prepare a list ‎of the items in the offices and have them signed. No matter how look at the actions of ‎these agents, what they did was illegal, from the absence of a warrant to that of a list of ‎items in the offices.‎

R: Was Shirin Ebadi present on the scene at the time?‎
NM: Yes. We, including Ebadi, and Messer Shirazi, Soltani and Ismailzadeh, tried for an ‎hour to stop them from sealing the offices or at the least do it in a legal fashion, but our ‎efforts were all futile.‎

R: What do you think is the reason for sealing the doors of the offices?‎
NM: Even thought these people did not present any reasons for their actions, we think ‎this is the consequence of the work that the Center does. The Center is active in political ‎work in three areas: Regular reporting on the violations of human rights in Iran; the ‎provision of free legal defense to ideological and political defendants; and, defense of ‎family members of political and ideological prisoners. ‎

R: Did you need a license to have the event that you planned?‎
NM: No because no license is needed for an indoor event. But still, we had informed the ‎chief law enforcement official of the district in advance.‎

R: Did he oppose the event?‎
NM: No. Not only that but he even raised his objection to those who had come to shut the ‎offices and asked them why they wanted to shut them. He told them that we had ‎coordinated our plans with him, adding that they were present then. It was clear that there ‎was no coordination among the forces. ‎

[The above story was filed by Maryam Kashani, [email protected], on Tuesday, 23 December 2008, at:]


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