Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, November 17, 2006

Former Iranian Political Prisoner Speaks at Freedom House

Speaking before members of the media at a press conference hosted by Freedom House on November 16th, Manouchehr Mohammadi recounted the abuse that he and his brother, Akbar Mohammadi, endured at the hands of the Iranian government for their roles as political activists. Apprehended in 1999 in response to large-scale student protests and charged with attempting to overthrow the administration, the two were kept in prison for seven years. During this time they remained committed to the promise of a fully democratic Iran, even as they were subjected to unrelenting physical and psychological torture that was described as “medieval” in nature. During the harshest periods, the two were bound, gagged and beaten on a regular basis. Akbar Mohammadi, who angered prison guards by constantly crying out, “long live freedom and death to oppression!” while being beaten, staged multiple hunger strikes over the course of his detainment, and eventually succumbed to the abuse, dying from a heart attack earlier this year.

Manouchehr Mohammadi aspires to carry on the legacy of his brother, whose life was commemorated recently in his home country with a National University Student Resistance Day. Mohammadi has been awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for Democracy to continue his efforts to promote reform in Iran, and is looking to collaborate with the international human rights community to pursue this goal. However, for change in his country to occur, Mohammadi stressed that a stronger, more united Iranian opposition movement, free of internal political fissures, is needed. Additionally, the United States and Europe need to prioritize the long-term welfare of the Iranian people over immediate economic interests in the nation, through financial support of the reform movement. Mohammadi hopes that this is possible, as he would like to see the widespread democratic aspirations of his countrymen fully realized.


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