”The traitor hypocrites do not believe in Islam and what they say is a matter of deception and hypocrisy. Moreover, they apostatize from Islam with recognition of their leaders, and that they are spies, they are verdict to death. I hope to attain the approval of ALLAH (God) by your Revolutionary anger and wrath on enemies of Islam, the gentlemen who took the responsibility of those who did not hesitate, whisper or, endeavor to be “severe against disbelievers.” hesitating in revolutionary judiciary matters is a disregard for immaculate blood of the martyrs”.
Signing / Ruhollah Khomeini
(Fatwa text issued by Khomeini to kill political prisoners)
Prisons in Iran
According to global statistics, Iran occupied the sixth place in the world in terms of prisoners’ number. Although the ranking is the 19th globally in terms of population. What is happening inside these prisons make an independent classification because of the methods of torture and intimidation especially toward political detainees.
Iranian Prison Service published the latest statistic on the number of prisoners in 05/04/2014 AD in Iran, which indicated that the total prisoners in the provinces of Iran, 210 thousand and 672 prisoners, Tehran received the largest share of prisoners’ number that reached 31 thousand and 900 prisoners, a proportion representing approximately 0.3 % of the total population.
According to statistics, the number of prisoners in Khorasan is about 20 thousand and 119 prisoners, Fars province 15 thousand and 540, Isfahan 14 thousand and 147 prisoners, Khuzestan 13 thousand and 285 prisoners, Kerman 11 thousand and 419 prisoners, Eelam in 1285, Zanjan 1102, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari 1656, Khecaoulih and Boyer Ahmad 2009, and finally the northern province of Khorasan 2222 prisoners.
Quoting from Amnesty International official website in a new report condemning Iran, there are dozens of young people in jail pending death sentences for crimes committed when they were juveniles under the age of 18.
The report exposes the attempts of Iranian authorities to hide the ongoing violations on the rights of children today. In exception for the criticism of awful record as one of the few countries in the world to carry out executions on juveniles.
The entitled report “Children growing up and waiting for gallows” revealed that Iran continues to bring juveniles to the gallows while boasting with piecemeal reforms introduced by its criminal laws, The report explains that it represents a significant progress, but in fact failed to abolish death penalty against juveniles.
“Saied Boumdouha” Deputy of Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International said, “This report highlights Iran’s shameful ignoring of children’s rights. Iran is one of the few countries that still execute juvenile offenders in flagrant violation of legal absolute prohibition on the use of the death penalty against people who were under 18 years old when the crime was committed”.
Boumdouha add: “in spite of reforms in the juvenile justice system, Iran still lags behind the rest of the world in preservation of children’s rights. It kept laws that allow the execution of girls in the age of nine years and children of fifteen years old.
Iran as a party of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, legally it must bind to treat persons aged less than 18 years as children, Therefore, Iran must ensure not to bring them to gallows at all or to judge them with life imprisonment without a possibility to release later.
However, Amnesty International’s report includes 73 executions of juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2015.
The United Nations said that 160 juvenile offenders at least are currently waiting for death row; it expected that the real numbers are much higher than the numbers listed, because mystery and secrecy often shrouded the death penalty in Iran.
Some official and secret prisons where torture practiced in various forms
– (Rajai Shahr) prison or Gohardasht: Located in Karaj city, near Tehran, this prison witnessed executions thousands of political prisoners of both sexes in 2009, and continues to witness daily executions.
– (Kahrizak): Located outside the city of Tehran, witnessed several periods and since revolution, there were repeated sexual abuses on political prisoners of both sexes at different ages, which angered the Iranian street.
– Detention camp 59 of Revolutionary Guards: A Revolutionary Guard detention secret camp of many, located inside a military garrison in Tehran, and no one can visit it, even for senior judicial authority figures. Recently it has appended with Evin Prison under the pressure of student movement.
– (Avsrah) detention camp: related to the Revolutionary Guards, located in the east of Tehran, in an area known as (Palace of Firouzah), an area teeming with highly trained military forces. This prison was a place to torture the protesters on the results of the 2009 presidential elections. It is noteworthy that leaders of reform movement Saied Hajjarian and Tajzadeh were detainees in this prison.
(Qarjek) prison: Located in eastern city of Tehran, which represents a private women’s prison. The prison lacks the minimum health requirements. That is prisoners permanently exposed to beating, verbal abuse and degradation in all kinds. It features a large number of political prisoners.
Evin prison was built during the reign of Reza Shah in the sixties of the last century, it was a house for “Ziauddin Tabatabai,” the prime minister during the same reign, and later under the jurist leadership government turned to terrorism tool, and considered a hell of God on earth by Iranian people, it is not just the most famous of all the detention camps and prisons of Iran, but globally.
This famous prison, which was established in 1962 in the “Saadat Abad” area, located in the north of “Tehran”. The prison occupies an area of over 75 sq.km; which was opened in 1972. However, it has handed over to the management of secret police of Shah’s regime “Al-Savak”, and after the Khomeini revolution, became the largest detention of the Mullahs’ regime opponents.
Evin prison divided into multiple pavilions:
– Housing pavilion: built in Khomeini era and includes more than 400 solitary confinement.
– Institute pavilion: It includes more than 100 prison cell, and considered an arena for sunbathing prisoners.
– Ministry of Intelligence pavilion: where the investigators of the Ministry only, inmates in this pavilion did not have any official records and political prisoners often liquidated in this pavilion.
– Pavilion 209: It contains 100 solitary confinement spread over ten lobbies, and has a women’s section. It considered as the most terrifying pavilion, as they keep the prisoners tortured for long periods.
– Pavilion 350: one of the general pavilions of the prison, the dimensions of the room are 6 × 6 meters, in Shah era inmates. The prison was crammed at a rate of 30 to 35 prisoners in one room, and in the time of Khomeini, that number had risen to 120 inmates.
Inmates were entitled to meet their first-degree relatives once a week from behind the glass, but this interview connected in the end to the mood of the jailer.
– Pavilion 325 and 500 A: special pavilion of the sentenced regime elements and most of them are clergy. This pavilion rooms equipped with full facilities. It even allowed the convicts to enter opium to their rooms.
– Pavilions 1, 2, 3 and 4: similar pavilions, each one is forking into two floors and each floor has seven rooms, where inmates were preparing execution bullets of their colleagues who were to execute on a hill behind the pavilion 4 building.
Pavilion 240 managed by the Intelligence Service of the Revolutionary Guards, and for the pavilion 350 that managed by the judiciary and called the Third Branch.
Evin prison and the white torture
White Torture is a type of psychological torture, which includes brutality in the sensory deprivation, and carries this kind of torture the detainee to loss of personal identity and low human production through long periods of isolation.
This type of torture called (shaknje safid) in Iran practiced on political prisons and most of them are journalists.
Evin prison, which torture process do not need necessarily a direct permission by the Iranian government, the white torture going for long periods conducted through solitary confinement, beyond the control of the prison authorities, and renowned in pavilion 209.
Amnesty International report of 2004 AD included documented evidences concerning about “white torture”, which conducted on “Ameer Abbas Fakher Avar,” the founder of Iran students’ independence movement, by the Revolutionary Guards. It was the first prominent example on white torture in Iran.
An example for one of the prison victims
“Hrana” human rights agency addressed the details of the Iranian painter and activist “Atena Varghadani” story, which is an example of what violations happened toward human rights in Evin prison.
Human rights agency mentioned that recently released woman of “Evin” prison, revealed cases of torture, abuse and monitoring women in bathrooms through secret cameras in the women’s second section which supervised by the Intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
According to the “Hrana” human rights agency, “Varghadani” activist in the field of children’s rights was aressted in August before the last, and remain detained for two months regarding to set up an exhibition on child rights violations, also her meetings with political prisoners and green uprising dead families in 2009.
Atena, the activist spoke in a video about her period of arresting that she exposed to various psychological pressures, she had a hunger strike after a month and a half, she released on bail after the deterioration of her health condition, pending her appearance in front of the Revolution Court in Tehran.
Story Camera bathrooms
Varghdani talked in a video about existence of monitoring cameras inside the bathrooms, she said: “When they took me to the bathroom, there were monitoring cameras, and when I asked about it, they told me that these cameras do not work,” she add: “I found in the trash two glasses that day, I put them under my clothes, but when they took me to my cell, I heard in the corridor female guards speaking to each other and telling to move the tape back to see why I took the cups ?! I knew that the cameras operate and recorded everything, and since then I had hard pain feeling”.
She continues: “Moments later, a wardress entered and opened the gate violently and screamed in my face: Strip off your clothes! I responded that this is not permissible, she remained screaming at me to take off my clothes, and I brought the cups from under my clothes and throw them on the ground, the guard is not so satisfied and insisted to take off my clothes, and when I resisted another wardress came then they stick me to the cell angle and hold my hands, then I started to scream, one of them put her hand on my mouth and said: Do not scream because there are prison cells for men beneath us, they will hear your voice, if you screamed I will hit you till your mouth so filled with blood.
Varghadani tell the incident seemed sadness on her face: “After that one of the wardresses hit my hands against the wall until one of them was swollen and remained to hurt me for a long time, and then they have stripped my clothes completely and violently, with the effects of their fingernails on my body that remained a period of time, and was accompanied by insults and obscene words, which I cannot describe.
Varghadani stressed, “The purpose of publishing this video on Web sites and social media was to expose the abuses that occur against women prisoners and detainees, in order not to repeat the incident again.
Calls for activists to gather protesting on the demolition of Evin prison
Evin prison’s survivors and relatives of victims who lost their sons and daughters in the prime of youth, bereaved mothers who have lost their beloved children, gathered today to commemorate the black summer of 1988, and write witness papers for history at a gathering entitled “Remembrance for Evin” recounting the testimony of those horrors and misfortunes that have lived and suffered in Evin prison, which its effects still until today and still and will accompany them until the end.
“Let’s build a memory monument in our thoughts”, with this sentence protestors began the statement that posted on social media and Internet sites, which stated:
”Evin, the name of all prisons, Evin is Iran’s contemporary history, Evin is a common jail for the Shah’s and Islamic Republic regimes, rulers were planning for some time to be handed over to the mayor of Tehran to make it a park, and accessories such as this type of programs is an abuse of state land. We who have been torment or torture and execution of our loved ones, or have spent a lifetime in Evin wish to see the blue of the sky, our wish was to transform this prison into a museum, but they are today obliterating Evin landmarks. Come and object…!
Some of the victims’ witnesses
”Many people were detained for no reason, they were interrogated and tortured to admit something they did not do, my torturing period continued for seven hours to admit of any political groups that I belong to, this process was repeated more than once, and the torture often ends with fractures in hands and feet, I still suffer from pain due to torture … “. Munira Baradaran
”the voice of Adan and radio reminds me of Evin Prison, and also the loudness reminds me of sexual assault on the inmate in the neighboring prison cell, when they want to sexually abuse a prisoner in the pavilion (A) they were raising the voice of the Qur’an and said they were teaching him a lesson.” Pervez Seri
”One day I went to Evin to meet my captive husband, while I embraced my baby, his name was not included on the list of prisoners who are allowed to be visited, so I started to cry fearing that he has been sentenced to death, meantime, one of fighters mother who was killed in Shah era said: Do not cry in front of your enemies, I came here to visit the rest of my children.” Nsturn Afshari
”The investigator told me, why not you pray! I told him that I pray. He said, Read Al-Fatihah! I said, I do not like hypocrisy. He replied, Shut up and read, but in fact, I did not know how, he started to beat me with his feet and tell me: You dirty insect I will kill you. Pavilion (A) was gloomy and funny at the same time. “Mohsen Rustam Bakhsh
Iranian regime’s attempts to hide crimes landmarks committed in its prisons:
– January (1999): obliterate graveyard of “Khafran” landmarks in southern Iran, which contained thousands of unidentified graves, where its occupants are from the massacres of 1988 victims.
– November (2003): demolition of ”Al-Qasir” prison and turned into a park and museum, it is mentioned that many of the followers of the Shah’s regime were executed without a trial, one of them is (Amir-Abbas Hoveyda) Prime Minister of the Shah, where he was executed by Ayatollah Khalkhali without a trial.
– Obliterate traces of blood and torture, and clean all the walls of Evin prison, at different stages of time, as to afforest the area around the prison and painting walls in different colors to clear the traces of blood.
Among the criticisms of the prison, the Opposition National Council of Iranian Resistance site has published a statement of the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for Human Rights in Iran Dr. ”Ahmed Shaheed” last year, which criticized the high number of executions during a year since the election of the president, “Hassan Rawhani,” stressing that it “affected 852 people, including women and juveniles under the legal age.”
Shaheed expressed his concern about the deteriorating of human rights situation in Iran, this came in his annual report submitted to the Human Rights Council for voting and making a decision toward it , the report criticized the authorities that continued to arrest journalists and human rights activists, restrictions on freedoms, and to expand the censorship imposed on social media and Internet, he stressed “the continuing in practicing physical and psychological torture systematically to get the recognition of the detainees and particularly politicians, on a large scale.
The report also stated what was related to minorities, activists of national and religious minorities in Iran charged with fabricator charges such as “enmity against ALLAH (God)” and “corruption on earth” and “anti-Islamic regime,” which result death sentences.
“Ahmed Shaheed” pointed to the interviews conducted in Turkey with 24 people from refugees fleeing from the Iranian security forces tracking, it was found that 20 of them had been detained before his imprisonment in solitary confinement cells for months where they were subjected to various forms of torture, including electric shocks that lead to burns in body, sexual abuse, beatings with whips and other types of torture.”
In response to this report, the Secretary of Human Rights Commission in the Iranian judiciary, “Mohammad Javad Larijani,” said, “human rights became a tool of West pressure on Iran’s political.
For her part, spokeswoman of Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ”Mardia Afkham” has accused the report as “biased and far from the facts,” arguing that the Special Rapporteur has become as “a political prosecutor against Iran by adopting a wrong methods and far from facts and illegal,” as she expressed.
“Ahmed Shaheed” has previously announced that 85% of women and 35% of men raped in Iran’s prisons.
It is worth to mention that during the past years, many reports of rape in Iran’s prisons published especially during the period accompanied with protests in 2009, where the detained Reformist Leader, “Mehdi Karroubi” sent a message to “Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,” in which he stressed that he had witnesses for some men and women who have been raped in prisons.
Ahmed Shaheed called to release political activists particularly “Mir Hossein Mousavi” and “Mehdi Karroubi,” explaining that some of provisions are not compatible with the accusations directed by the judiciary to the detainees, and pointed to the issued death sentences toward five political activists of Ahwazi Arabs, he said, “they are waiting death row for involvement in cultural activities.”
Iranian regime hid the whip under his cloak; hide its real image in the uniform of “religious democracy”. However, when it comes to expressing an opinion and objection on conditions not accepted by anyone, or claim for the most basic rights, that time it will reveal its jaws, no one is entitled to object, if this right politically and religiously forbidden in Iran.
Human rights violations in this country are going in the reverse curve with the reports of international human rights organizations, when the voice of political activists in Iran rise to the extent that up to the ears of human rights organizations, regime will start to cut a little bit of his voice, and if they forgot about the human rights organizations, these little oppressed sounds, regime then will raise his whip and vocalizing, the problem is that the whip blow hurts but you will not hear the voice of the sufferer in Iran, only after a while, regime violations occur only in darkness.
It is worth mentioning, that we can describe the freedom of opinion and expression in the reign of the current president, “Hassan Rawhani,” as it died “clinically”, where reports indicate that the number of jailed journalists had arrived at the present time to 19 prisoners, 12 of them were arrested during the last year, and that the number of detainees from the bloggers were about 37 people, 25 of them have been arrested last year.
When”Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf,” the mayor of Tehran, spoke about switching Evin prison to a public park surrounded by new buildings at the opening of the XIII International Flower Exhibition, and news reaches thousands of victims who have suffered and are still suffering from their dark memories, I do not find a response better than what the Iranian political activist “Munira Baradaran” said in the field of prisoners’ rights and resistance of torture inside prisons, which tasted for years in its hell:
”It is not necessary that a historical building stand as an anniversary of greatness, there are many buildings are worth nothing but image documents of a black page of a political history of our country. Evin prison represents one of these documents. It is the prison of our government and a symbol of oppression and criminality, the demolition of it is a way to hide the crime landmarks.