12th May 2011
No Justification for Dorothy Parvaz’s Detention in Iran
No Word after Deportation and Two Weeks of Detention
(12 May 2011) Iranian authorities should immediately release Al Jazeera journalist Homa Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained in Damascus, Syria and deported to Tehran, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The government should provide a transparent account of Parvaz’s detention and allow access to her family and the Canadian embassy, added the Campaign.
Parvaz, a 39-year-old journalist working for Al Jazeera who holds Iranian, American and Canadian citizenships, disappeared after arriving at Damascus Airport on 29 April to cover protests in Syria. On 4 May, Al Jazeera reported that Syrian officials confirmed their government had detained Parvaz, but that they would be releasing her.
However, on Tuesday, 10 May 2011, the Syrian embassy in Washington, DCissued a statement saying that their government had extradited Parvaz to Iran, alleging she had attempted to enter Syria illegally on an expired Iranian passport and falsely claimed her reason for travel was tourism. Both Parvaz’s family and Al Jazeera have issued statements indicating that they have had no contact with her for two weeks, and her detention appears to be ongoing.
“Ms. Parvaz appears to have committed no crime warranting Iranian authorities to prolong her detainment,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.
“We are extremely concerned about her well-being. It is alarming that neither her family nor Al Jazeera has had any contact with her, although she has been in Iran for twelve days,” he added.
In an 11 May 2011 statement, an Al Jazeera spokesperson was quoted saying, “We are calling for information from the Iranian authorities, access to Dorothy, and for her immediate release. We have had no contact with Dorothy since she left Doha on 29 April and we are deeply concerned for her welfare.”
Parvaz’s family has also made a public appeal for her release saying, “Dorothy is a dearly loved daughter, sister and fiancée, and a committed journalist. It is now nearly two weeks since she was detained. We appeal once again for Dorothy to be released immediately and returned to us.”
Since the end of January thousands of Syrians have taken to the streets in anti-government protests. Rights groups have accused Syria of a violent crackdown on protests and free expression, with over 800 reportedly killed and hundreds of opposition activists, human rights defenders, and journalists reportedly detained. Syria has been Iran’s closest regional ally since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
“Regardless of Syria’s reasons for turning away Ms. Parvaz, Iranian authorities should respect international law and release her. There is absolutely no justification for detaining her in Iran,” Ghaemi said.