Iran Must Release Jailed Brother of Acclaimed Filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi

Press Release
November 28, 2012

Iran Must Release Jailed Brother of Acclaimed Filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi

Human Rights Organization Raises Serious Concerns About Behrouz Ghobadi’s Health in Detention, Due to Chronic Medical Conditions

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, (212-633-4150)

(New York) – Amnesty International today called for the immediate and unconditional release of the jailed brother of the acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, who was arrested earlier this month. The human rights organization raised serious concerns about his health in detention because he suffers from chronic medical conditions.

Behrouz Ghobadi was arrested on November 4 by men in plain clothes, believed to belong to the Ministry of Intelligence. He is reportedly being held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention center, placing him at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Amnesty International is mobilizing its worldwide membership amid growing repression in Iran’s film industry to ensure that if Ghobadi is to be charged with a recognizable criminal offense, that he be given a fair trial and that he also be given access to adequate medical resources and a lawyer of his own choosing.

Amnesty International is seriously concerned about Behrouz Ghobadi’s health as he suffers from various medical conditions, including asthma, a heart condition, and pain resulting from serious injuries in an earlier automobile accident, which require medical care and medication.

Amnesty International would consider Behrouz Ghobadi a “prisoner of conscience” if his arrest was connected solely with his or his brother’s film-making activities. The organization fears that Behrouz Ghobadi’s arrest may be related to the film making activities of his brother, Bahman Ghobadi.

Ghobadi, who is a Kurd, was arrested in the early hours of November 4 on his way to a Tehran airport after the taxi he was riding in was stopped outside of Sanandaj, the capital of the Kordestan province. Judicial officials claim that they had an arrest warrant but the reasons for his arrest do not appear to have been disclosed to his family or lawyer.

Kurdish human rights defenders, community activists, and journalists often face arbitrary arrest and prosecution. Others - including some political activists - suffer torture, grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts and, in some cases, the death penalty.

Bahman Ghobadi, Behrouz’s brother and the filmmaker, has left the country as a result of the increasing repression of the film industry.

Behrouz Ghobadi is believed to be held in the Ministry of Intelligence detention center in Sanandaj on suspicion of national security-related "offenses" although the exact charges brought against him remain unclear. His family and lawyer have not been able to visit him, despite their repeated requests. According to his family, Behrouz Ghobadi is not affiliated with any political group. He manages a shop in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and has worked as the production manager for some of his brother’s films. He has also directed a few short films himself. Not only does he have a new-born son, but he is the sole support of his elderly mother in Iran.

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