March 6, 2009
Azerbaijani journalist Abdollah Sadugi is still in detention after being arrested by intelligence officers in the city of Tabriz on January 18, 2010. According to his lawyer and family, Sadugi’s health has been rapidly deteriorating as a result of harsh prison conditions, exacerbated by a hunger strike that has thus lasted 16 days. Sadugi’s lawyer claims that he is roughly 20 kilos lighter, suffers severe headaches, bleeding from his stomach and a dangerously low blood pressure.
Abdollah Sadugi and his brother Hossein Sadugi were arrested by Tabriz Intelligence Officers after their vehicle was stopped on January 18. They were detained for publishing and distributing Tractor Sazi Football Team posters. While Hossein was released on bail after a few hours, Abdollah still remains in custody, despite the fact that he was given full permission from the city’s Ministry of Culture office to publish the posters. Iranian authorities have recently begun to crack down on printing of the Tractor Sazi FC paraphernalia since the team’s soccer games have been increasingly used as rally points for broader linguistic and cultural rights for Azerbaijanis in Iran.
Sadugi’s detention has thus far been brutal as well as illegitimate. Once prison guards learned that he would start a hunger strike, he was transferred into a dirty solitary confinement cell rife with bugs. As the days progressed, guards transferred him to a cell with common criminals who were told to beat him. After a severe beating, he was taken to a hospital infirmary to see a doctor and then sent back into solitary confinement. Three days ago, after collapsing in his cell, prison guards responded with more beatings.
Sadugi’s wife, brother and lawyer paid him a visit two days ago. According to them, Sadugi had stated that he would continue his hunger strike until released or taken to court to address his crimes.
Abdollah Sadugi is a sports journalist who writes for the sports journals Goal, Corner and Khosh Khabar.