In the month of September, Amnesty International has called for attention and action on behalf of several Iranian dissidents. Imprisoned by the regime, these people make up a cross-section of Iranian society. Amnesty is urging that appeals be sent to the Iranian government for their release.
One is Ramtin Soodmand, a 35-year-old Christian who works with youth groups for a church in Tehran. His father, Reverend Hossein Soodmand, was a Christian convert, who became a Protestant pastor in the city of Mashhad. He was hanged in December 1990 after being convicted of apostasy. Ramtin Soodmand was detained last month after being told to appear at the Ministry of Intelligence in Mashhad. He has not been seen since, and his family does not know where he is.
Another is journalist and human rights defender Emadeddin Baghi. Repeatedly interrogated and imprisoned because of his work on behalf of prisoners’ rights in Iran, Mr. Baghi is in deteriorating health, and is currently believed to be in solitary confinement in Evin prison.
Amnesty is also voicing concern over dissident Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, who advocates separation between religion and politics. Violently arrested by Iranian security forces in October 2006, Ayatollah Boroujerdi is said to be in poor psychological and physical shape. There are reports that he has been repeatedly tortured in prison.
President George Bush says that successful societies share common principles:
“Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions – for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty – the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution.”
Iranians like Ramtin Soodmand, Emadeddin Baghi, and Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who are thrust behind bars solely because of their beliefs, are signs of a failed state that fears its own people.