Journalist; Human rights activist; Workers’ rights activist; Wrote for local publications in Khuzestan province.
Collaborating with hostile governments
Interviews with foreign media
Propaganda against regime
“My punishment is 12 years in prison as retribution for my activities in the interest of my country, for my fight against secessionist ideas, and for defending the rights of workers.”
Abolfazl Abedini is a journalist from the city of Ramhormoz in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. Between 2005 and 2007, he was arrested several times and sentenced to a year in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan.
On June 29th 2009, in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections and in the midst of a wave of arrests, Abedini was detained again. On October 26th, he was released on a bail of $110,000 but then rearrested on the 3rd of March 2010, when agents from the Revolutionary Guards raided his father’s house. While being held in solitary confinement at Evin, Branch 1 of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 11 years in prison on charges of ‘having connections with hostile countries’ and ‘propaganda against the regime’. The sentence consisted of five years for human rights activities and for cooperating with the nationalist Pan Iranist party. It was only after two months that he was allowed a short visit from his mother.
His brother, Mehrab Abedini, later told Reporters Without Borders that his only crime was doing journalism, supporting the rights of workers, and publishing news about labor unions. A while later Judge Moghisei of Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary court added a year to his sentence for the same charges he had received for his 11-year sentence. The appellate court upheld the year added to his sentence, thereby increasing his detention time to 12 years.
“My punishment is 12 years in prison as retribution for my activities in the interest of my country, for my fight against secessionist ideas and for defending the rights of workers,” he wrote to the head of the Islamic Judiciary after his sentence was upheld. “The calendar of my life will reach page 40 when this is finally over.” He spent four years in community Ward 350 without being granted a furlough.
During that time, Abedini had seen the torture marks on Sattar Beheshti’s body, a blogger who died in prison in November 2012 and so testified in court. For this, he was exiled to the notorious Karun Prison in August 2013 where he immediately went on hunger strike in protest. “I know that steadfastness and resistance today will affect the culture of tomorrow for the children of this realm. I am therefore powerless to oppose you in your protest and your faith,” wrote Seyed Hossein Ronaghi, a human rights activist and his cellmate, in a letter from prison to Abedini. “I am helpless because there is nobody to help you and stand by you in these difficult days. We are like waves. If we rest we cease to exist.”
Abedini is currently serving a harsh sentence at Karun Prison. Having protested against the inhumane conditions in the prison, he is now forbidden from walking in the yard or going to the prison hospital, something he needs given he suffers from a heart disorder. He was begrudgingly given a 10-day furlough on March 9th this year.