Committee of Human Rights Reporters – KouhyarGoudarzi, member of Committee of Human Rights Reporters and former head of the group has left the country due to the increased pressures on him while facing a 5-year prison sentence in the remote city of Zabol. He is now outside the country and in a safe place.
Kouhyar Goudarzi, human rights activist, journalist and blogger, was first arrested in March 2006 on Women’s Day as he was taking pictures with Shiva Nazarahari and was released soon after. He was detained again in May 2006 on Worker’s Day while attending a Tehran Bus Company rally.
He was detained a third time in the summer of 2009 during the street protests after the disputed presidential elections and was released after a short period. His fourth arrest was on December 20, 2009. Goudarzi was among a group that was detained by regime forces as they were travelling to the city of Qom to attend the funeral services of the senior dissident cleric Ayatollah Montazeri. He spent time in solitary confinement and went on hunger strike before being released after one year.
Goudarzi was detained a fifth time on July 31, 2011 by plainclothes agents at his friend’s house. For months, officials refused to acknowledge his arrest and Goudarzi’s whereabouts and situation were unknown. A day after he was detained, Goudarzi’s mother Parivin Mokhtare was also arbitrarily arrested in the city of Kerman in order to inflict added pressures. She was kept in Kerman prison among criminals and was handed a 23-month sentence, which was later commuted to a suspended prison term, and she was released on bail.
Kouhyar Goudarzi was first held in solitary confinement in Ward 240 then transferred to Ward 209 in Evin prison where he was subjected to harsh interrogations. He was eventually charged with “propaganda against the regime,” and “assembly and collusion against national security.” Judge Pir Abassi presiding over Branch 54 of the Revolutionary Court handed down a 5-year prison sentence in exile in the remote city of Zabol. With the insistence of the security apparatus, the sentence was later upheld at Branch 54 of the Revolutionary Court.
In 2010 while behind bars, Goudarzi was awarded the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award from the National Press Club. Alan Bjerga, the president of the club said at the award ceremony, “This award is meant to honor those who have done their utmost to advance the cause of press freedom and open government.”