The Iranian regime has imprisoned the country's leading prisoners' rights activist, Emaddedin Baghi, on charges of spreading propaganda and publishing secret documents.
Baghi, who heads the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners' Rights, had fought for fair trials for a number of Ahwazi Arab prisoners, who were executed over the past year on charges of "threatening national security" and "enmity with God".
A former journalist born into a family of religious clerics, Baghi has previously been imprisoned as a political prisoner. Since he was released in 2003 after serving a three-year jail term for criticising the government, Baghi has fought against the unconstititional and illegal judgements against political prisoners in Iran. He has called for an end to the death penalty in Iran, where at least 207 people have been executed for various crimes so far in 2007, on both criminal and political charges.
In February, Emad Baghi issued his strongest condemnation of the Iranian regime's treatment of Ahwazi Arabs. In an article published in French on his website, Baghi stated that the regime itself is responsible for creating the conditions for ethnic Arab unrest, including bomb attacks in Ahwaz.
He reiterated his call for understanding of Arabs' plight, rather than executions, would help quell unrest and also restated his opposition to the death penalty. He said: "They are individuals who live on the black gold of the oil-bearing province of Khuzestan, but have only known poverty and misery. There are among them individuals who believed in the reform, who fought by peaceful means to assert their rights while trying to elect representatives to the municipal councils of their cities and to Parliament. These efforts were in vain, leading to despair.
"There came a feeling of political and social obstruction. Misery, scarcity, humiliation and despair can only generate one of two reactions: depression and passivity or aggressiveness. And what did we who owe our wellbeing with the oil revenue do? Would these attacks have taken place if we had not remained silent over these inequalities and denounced discrimination?"
He had previously suggested that the executions of Ahwazi Arabs would heighten and injure ethnic sensibilities and create more problems than they would solve (click here for more information).