UPDATE: Iran: Iranian-American student released in Iran

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the release on bail of Ms. Esha Momeni, a member of the One Million Signatures Petition Campaign and a graduate student at the California State University Northridge.
According to the information received, on November 10, 2008, at 5 pm, Ms. Esha Momeni was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on bail. Her bail of 2,000 million rials (200,000 $) was met by the deeds to her family’s apartment. According to the Deputy General Prosecutor of Tehran, Ms. Esha would be accused of “propaganda against the State”. Ms. Momeni had been kept in solitary confinement since October 15, 2008 (See background information). She would not be permitted to leave Iran.
The Observatory welcomes the release on bail of Ms. Esha Momeni, and thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened in her favour.

However, the Observatory recalls that Ms. Esha Momeni remains charged with “propaganda against the State”, and expresses its deep concern about the ongoing harsh repression of the Iranian authorities against human rights defenders, in particular women’s rights activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign. To that extent, the Observatory recalls that more than a hundred of women’s rights activists have been arrested, interrogated, or sentenced in the past two years and that the government has raised over one million Euros by imprisoning the activists and releasing them on high bail.

The Observatory further wishes to insist on the fact that Iran had committed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” by presenting its candidacy to the Human Rights Council 2006 election and had insisted in this regard on the fact that the country had “continuously put great efforts into safeguarding the status and inherent dignity of the human person as well as the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. In order to ensure the continuation of these efforts, the Observatory urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to conform with international human rights standards.

13 November 2008

Background information:

On October 15, 2008, Ms. Esha Momeni, who was then on a visit in Tehran, was forced to pull over while she was driving on Moddaress highway by individuals who identified themselves as traffic police. The latter argued that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. They subsequently arrested her and took her to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.

Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home in Tehran in her absence, and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project, focusing on the Iranian women’s movement. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property.

On October 19, 2008, Ms. Esha Momeni’s parents went to Evin to follow-up on their daughter’s case, but were told not to come again since no information would be given until the end of the investigation.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Iran urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Esha Momeni, as well as all activists engaged in the One Million Signatures Campaign;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Esha Momeni since her detention is arbitrary as it only seems to sanction her human rights activities;

iii. Drop all arbitrary charges and stop harassment against all women’s rights defenders involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Iranian human rights defenders;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and Article 12.2, which provides that “"the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Iran.


o Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: info@leader.ir / istiftaa@wilayah.org / webmaster@wilayah.org;

o President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir;

o Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567 / +98 21 3 390 4986, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir;

o Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email: matbuat@mfa.gov;

o Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran, His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani, C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827

o Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int;

o Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: iran-embassy@yahoo.com.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Iran in your respective country.


Geneva - Paris, November 13, 2008

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply: IRN 010 / 1008 / OBS 166.1

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29