Monthly Archives: September 2011

Incarcerated Journalist Mohamad Davari: My Work In Documenting Prison Rape And Torture Led To My Arrest

Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Saham News, Mehdi Karoubi’s presidential campaign activist and a teacher’s rights activist, Mohamad Davari has been in Evin prison for over two years without being allowed a furlough.

In a letter sent to the Kalameh news site, Mohamad Davari has described parts of what led to his arrest and what has happened to him in the past two years.

In his letter, Davari has detailed his work for Mehdi Karoubi, visiting and interviewing victims of torture and rape in Kahrizad and other prisons.

Following is a translation of the highlights of Davari’s letter:

“Spending 730 days (as of the date of this letter) behind prison walls and barbed wires is not what led me to write this letter. Rather, it was the twisting of the facts by Judiciary and the Intelligence officials.

There are still many people who don’t know who I am, or why and how I was arrested. If I remain silent against the twisting of facts by the officials, then I have also committed tyranny against myself.”

In the first part of his letter, Davari explains his educational background, his political, journalistic and civil activism:

“I have no connection with any group, any political parties, media, organizations or institutions abroad. I have never left the country, and have not had any secret or hidden activities, for them to cast any doubts on my work at Mr. Karoubi’s office.”

Davari continues with explaining that how everyone was shocked at the presidential election results in 2009 and how he along with many others were trying to find convincing answers to what led to such election results.
He says that the only answer they could come up with, was that there was fraud in the elections.

He continues, “Street protests were the natural reaction to the fraud committed. I felt obligated to participate in these protests. Therefore, I did participate in the mass protest of June 15, 2009. A protest that demonstrated a wave of civility and decency that I am always proud of participating in, and I feel sorry for the ruling establishment that did not comprehend the message contained in this protest.”

Davari’s third part of his letter explains about his work investigating the victims of the post election events, those who were killed, arrested and tortured.

He says, “From the very early days after the election, I felt obligated and saw it as my duty, to visit the families of those who were killed and those who were arrested.

However, after Mr. Karoubi’s letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani detailing the rape and torture of prisoners was published, I pursue these cases at the direct request of Mr. Karoubi.

As I said, my involvement with pursuing and investigating these cases was accidental, because the phone number for the office of Etemad Meli party (Karoubi’s political party) listed in the 118 telephone directory was the same phone number as my office.

I informed Mr. Karoubi after the first person contacted me by phone and then visited my office. This was the start of my work in investigating and pursuing the cases of the people that were arrested, tortured, raped and killed.

In the beginning I only documented the claims that people made about their torture and rape but did not publish them.

The routine that we followed was, first, when people came to us, we would confirm their identity and then hold a meeting with them, myself and Mr. Karoubi to hear their testimony. Then, we would get their authorization for documenting their testimony and ,with their approval, we would video tape the interview with them.

I personally conducted the interviews, with the objective of making perfectly clear all the aspects of what they went through.

We would then record their personal information and addresses and would stay in contact with them for further documentation of their cases.

These interviews and video documentation started on August 11, 2009. During the course of our work, we did video taped interviews with four people who were raped, and one person gave us a written statement.

We also had number of people who contacted us but did not agree to do an on camera interview, fearing damage to their reputation.

We also had number of people who contacted us by phone, but never did come to our office. I am still worried for their safety because our phone lines were tapped by Intelligence agents.

During that time, we documented the testimony of ten people who were arrested on July 9, 2009 that had been detained at Kahrizak prison. After these ten people met with Mr. Karoubi, we started documenting their testimonies.

I was present at the six hours long meeting with each one of them and heard their testimonies of the events from their arrest to their release from prison. They spoke of tortures that occurred in Kahrizak prison and the deaths of Roholamini, Javadifar and Kamrani as a result of tortures which they had witnessed.

One of the cases that we investigated was Saeideh Pouraghaei’s scenario, which we documented, in Mr. Karoubi’s office, thru the testimony of her sister Sepideh and Sepideh’s husband . Unfortunately, as later obtained facts and information revealed, this was just a made up scenario for the purpose of implicating Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karoubi.

On September 8, 2009 during an appointment with Sepideh Pouraghaei, I was arrested, Mr. Karoubi’s office was raided and his offices were sealed.

When I was arrested, we had been pursuing cases of the those who were killed (one of which was published on the site, Saham News, at the time), and we had also made an appointment with the family of Mohamad Kamrani.

Our work in pursuing and investigating all of these cases was for the purpose of interacting with and informing the Judiciary and the Parliament. We had declared our willingness to provide them with all the documents.

We even provided some of the documents to the Parliament’s Special Committee members during a meeting with had with them at Mr. Karoubi’s office.

Also, a representative from the Prosecution office had a face to face meeting with one of the prison rape victims.

While we thought that the Judiciary and the Parliament were pursuing the victim’s cases and, with the help of all the documentation we provided them, that they would arrest those responsible for committing these crimes, I was arrested and Mr. Karoubi’s offices were closed and sealed.”

Mohamad Davari continues describing his arrest, interrogations, trial and prison in the fourth part of his letter.

Davari says that on the second night of his arrest they moved him to solitary confinement in ward 240 of Evin prison.

He says, “From the very beginning my special interrogator greeted me with inappropriate and humiliating behavior, vulgar and insulting language.

They questioned me about my involvement and activities in Mr. Karoubi’s presidential campaign, my interactions with the campaign activists, my activities relating to Mr. Karoubi’s political party, Etemad-Melli, and my work and relations with the staff of Saham News, all of which I answered.

Their efforts to find any illegal acts by me obtained no results, for all of my actions were legal. The most challenging part of my interrogations related to the CD’s and documentation from the prison victims of torture and rape, about which I refused to answer.

After my refusal to give the interrogators any information about the victims, they began their unethical and illegal practices.

Threats of execution, threats of false charges of immoral acts, threats of flogging, beatings with their fists and kicking me around, long periods of interrogations and etc, were methods they used for obtaining information from me.

For days upon on days they used these methods, kept me worried each day of what more severe methods might be used.

For seventeen days they allowed me no contact with my family, which created a lot of worry and pressure for them, particularly for my mother, because there were continuing rumors that I had been killed, which at that time was quite believable.

After interrogations ended, the next phase I faced was pressure on me to accept that I had made a mistake.

By insulting and making accusations against Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Karoubi and the Green Movement ,and by insisting that the Movement and the actions of it’s activists were a failure and illegal, they tried to force me to confess that I had made a mistake and that all the people who came to us for help were hired to do so.

I kept insisting that all my actions were legal and if they had any evidence proving false the testimonies of the victims, they should provide them. Two years have gone by, and they have not been unable to present any evidence showing that the tortures and rapes we documented did not happen.

Davari continues with describing his trial, calling it a “mock trial” and says he was charged with, and convicted of conspiracy to commit anti-national security acts, and creating propaganda against the system. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Davari continues, “Despite the fact that prior to my incarceration I had no physical or psychological health issues, I now suffer from back pain, knee pain and have a worrisome pain in my heart, and despite all my efforts to medical treatment, none has been provided. I also suffer from pain in my mouth and teeth that need immediate treatment; that also has not been provided.

In addition, during the past two years of incarceration, I have not been allowed the use furlough even for few hours.

Davari ends his letter by series of summaries and conclusions in which he repeats his innocence and the innocence of other political prisoners. He also criticizes the actions of the regime in dealing with the People’s Green Movement.

He wrote, “My incarceration is a political act and a reflection of weakness and failure of the system
in response to our documentation of the criminal acts of thesr institutions and agencies.

Murder, torture, and rape are not things to be forgotten with the passing of the time. No matter how much time is passed, these atrocities will be exposed.

In conclusion, I stress the point that these days they are summoning political prisoners and by putting pressure and humiliating them, they demand the prisoners admit guilt and request a pardon.

I want to emphasize the fact here that I am not a prisoner asking for a pardon; I am a hostage and I ask for my freedom.

It is they, the various officials, that have imprisoned innocent people like us, and it is they who should ask for our forgiveness and pardon. It is the oppressor who should ask for pardon and not the oppressed.”

Source: Kalameh

Three Men Were Hanged In Iran On Homosexuality Charges

Following is translation of an article by prominent human rights lawyer Mohamad Mostafaei who currently lives in exile in Norway on HARANA (Human Rights House of Iran).

On September 4, 2011, Iranian news site ISNA reported 6 convicts were hanged in Ahvaz, Khozestan province. In that news article the charges of the men hanged were reported as, one convicted of drug trafficking, two charged with rape, and three were convicted of religiously prohibited and unlawful acts.

While in the Islamic penal code there are many acts that are religiously prohibited and unlawful, such as Hejab (Islamic dress code) and not observing fast during the fasting month (Ramadan), however, the punishment for them is not a death sentence.

Khozestan Judiciary Public Relations Spokesman, Mr. Abdolhamid Amanat in a news conference announced the hanging of the six men.

With regards to the three men that are the subject of this article he said, “The death sentences of three convicts identified as M. T, T. T and M. CH were carried out this morning.

These three men, based on Articles 108 and 110 of the Islamic penal code had been sentenced to death by Branch 17 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz for religiously prohibited and unlawful acts.”

Here, I would like to bring your attention to the horrendous and unjust criminal act committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. An act that is the same as murder:

1- The Islamic Revolutionary Court does not have the authority to try religiously prohibited and unlawful acts, such as adultery and sodomy charges.

The Legislative Branch has clearly determined the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Court and these sort of cases (adultery and sodomy) clearly fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Court and under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court. Therefore, based on these facts, the executions of these three men were completely arbitrary and selective.

2- It is not clear whether these three men had any lawyers. Who were their lawyers? Were they lawyers whose license to practice was issued by the government, and did they appeal their client’s sentences?
And tens and hundreds more questions that there is not enough room here to ask.

It is a fact that, in Iran, lawyers are not permitted to defend the rights of people in such cases. If they do defend these sort of cases and speak in protest, their voice will be silenced. Furthermore, this is also part of the problem, in this case, or better said, this crime that was committed.

3- Articles 108 and 110 of the Islamic Republic penal code refer to homosexuality. If two men engage in sexual act it is called “Lavat” (sodomy). If arrested, based on Article 110 of the Islamic penal code they will be convicted of murder.

Therefore, based on these Articles, these three Khozestan province citizens were sentenced to death and were hanged on sodomy charges.

Although, I am sure that the three hanged men were innocent and were victims of the decisions and actions of Khozestan Judiciary Chief and other Judiciary officials, however, We should not forget what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech during his visit to New York for the UN general assembly when he said “We don’t have homosexuals in Iran and no one will be punished for homosexuality in the country”.

But, of course, many innocent people are charged with and convicted of these bogus accusations and are executed in various cities in Iran.

At his press conference, this Judiciary official, in conclusion said: “The criminals, thugs, hoodlums and the violators of people’s rights should change the path they have chosen and repent, otherwise Khozestan Judiciary will not be lenient in dealing with these criminals.”

I ask, does this Mr. Chief of Judiciary even hold a degree? Has he lived in the current society at all? The criminals and thugs and hoodlums do not sit on the Internet to hear your orders. They don’t read the newspapers to hear your vague instructions and speeches.

You can not stops crimes from occurring by executing and spilling innocent people’s blood. Instead of spilling Iranian citizens’ blood, you should eradicate the roots of the crime. If you are not capable of solving the complex tangled web of crimes, then step aside and let someone who is capable resolve this tangled web.

In any case, these three young men were put to death in Khozestan against the very strict legal procedures, and the Islamic Republic must be held accountable for spilling the blood of these three men and others in similar situations.

Source: HARANA

Interview with Behnoud Ramazani’s Mother: They Killed My Son By Beating Him To Death

Following is a translation of an interview by Fereshteh Ghazi of Roozonline with the mother of Behnoud Ramazani who was brutally killed last March during the Fire Festival in Tehran.

The mother of Behnoud Ramezani, a student who was killed last March during the Fire Festival in Tehran, told “Rooz” that she wants the killers of her son to be punished. She tells Rooz, “I will not forget my son’s blood, I will pursue the matter until his assailants are found, so no other parents have to go through what we did.”

Last March, on the night of the Fire Festival, the Green Path of Hope Coordinating Council, in what had become known as Tuesdays protests, called for people to come out to the streets to protest the illegal detention of the Green leaders (Mousavi and Karoubi).

On the last Tuesday of the Iranian calendar year, during one of the Tuesday protests, 19 year old Behnoud Ramezani, a mechanical engineering student at Babol Sanati Nooshirvani University, lost his life at Narmak 22 square and became one of the Green Martyrs.

At the time, Behnoud’s father, in an interview with Rooz, said that his son was severely beaten by plainclothes agents, so severe that he suffered a broken neck, broken legs and his testicles were crushed.

At that time, Commander Radan of Tehran police force announced 3 people had lost their lives during the Fire Festival due to hand grenade explosion.

Also, some of the regime news media reported Behnoud was killed as a result of a hand grenade exploding in his pocket. However, eyewitness accounts, Behnoud’s family and the medical examiner’s report tell a different story.

Now, more than five months after Behnoud’s death, his mother Houri Golestani-Ramezani says the Judiciary refuses to investigate his case. Mrs. Golestani says, “Despite all the evidence and documents that exist, they continue to claim that there is no evidence that the murderers of my son were Basij or government forces.”

Following is the interview with Behnoud’s mother:

Mrs. Ramezani, now that 5 months have passed since the death of your son, what is the status of his case?

They will not give us any answers. They only say that there is no evidence that the killers of my son were Basij or government forces. No matter where we go trying to find answers, they send us to a different entity.

Do they not explain to you that, if they were not government forces, then who they were?

No they don’t. They don’t give any answers. They act as though no one has been killed and they have no responsibility in finding the killers.

My son’s killers fled in a white Samand car. The people who attacked my son, were some of the forces on motorbikes. They severely beat my son. After other people at the scene intervened, the attackers fled. However, they left one of the motorbikes, a motorbike without any license plate.

The attackers fled in a white Samand car, but the witnesses wrote down the car’s license plate. We have given the car’s license plate number to the police but they have not investigated and have not identified the owner of the car who helped my son’s killers flee. This in itself shows that they have no intention of arresting the killers.

We don’t know who to turn to anymore. When Mr. Larijani (the Judiciary Chief) says only one person has been killed during the unrest, then what happened to our Behnoud? Who killed our Behnoud?

Behnoud had come to Tehran for the New Year holidays, he was a student. He said he was going out to celebrate the ancient Fire Festival festivities. He said he had missed the festivities the previous year because of his university entrance exams. He said he was going to celebrate this year. He went out but never came back.

What had he done? Even if he had committed a crime, they should have arrested and tried him, not convict, sentence and implement the sentence right there at the scene. Doesn’t our country have any laws?

In which Branch is your son’s case now?

In Branch 4 of the murder investigative unit on Azari steet.

Mrs. Ramezani, the authorities said your son died due to explosion of a hand grenade, but eyewitness accounts and the medical examiners office report rejects this claim. Did you personally see your son’s body?

His entire body was shattered, his kidneys exposed, his testicles were crushed, there was not any place on his body that wasn’t injured.

I could not bear to look at him. At first, my husband, Behnoud’s aunt and my other son went to the hospital but were faced with his body. I went there later, but they told all of us to leave and return later.

Later, a number of masked agents went to the hospital to take his body away but the hospital refused to release the body to them.

They are lying, there were no explosives involved, there were no burn marks on his body. Actually, my question is, if he died due to an explosion, then why did they come to our house and remove all the black mourning banners from our home’s exterior? Why did they remove the memorial stand in front of our home and the neighbor’s homes? Why did they threaten our neighbors, that if they didn’t remove the memorial stands, they would arrest their children and would blow up their homes?”

Who were the people that came to your home?

They were Plainclothes forces, they didn’t show us any identification. So we don’t know which forces they were. But isn’t it the height of disgracefulness to be afraid of black mourning banners? Are they afraid of mourning services that is every family’s right? They denied us this right.

We had to take Behnoud’s body to another city where our relatives live, and I thank God that many people came for his funeral services. My Behnoud became the cause for so many to know their (regime’s) atrocities. Many asked how is it possible for such a horrendous crime to happen in Tehran? People were informed and became aware.

Other than the complaint you have filed, have you gone to other authorities and what did they tell you?

I wrote a letter to Mr. Larijani the Judiciary Chief. I also tried to see him but they would not allow me and said this does not concern him. They referred me to the Public Prosecutor’s office, the Deputy Public Prosecutor and to the detectives.

Every time I go there and want answers, they ask what is your problem? All this lawlessness and their lack of concern is mind boggling.

I have never cursed anyone in my life, but I ask God for them to suffer the same pain as we have, so they can feel what we have endured and the pain that we have.

Considering everything you have explained, what is your next plan of action?

“We have hired a lawyer to pursue the case. We have been shattered, and when we ourselves go to them, they just give us the run around.

But I am not going to back down, I will not forget my son’s blood. They have to identify his murderers and I am sure that it will happen someday.

My Behnoud was a genius. He loved music and sports. He was very talented, but they so easily killed him. I don’t know how they are going to answer for all the blood they have spilled. They talk of Islamic values yet they so easily kill. With what clear conscious do they perform their prayers?

You have no idea what we are going through. Right now as I am speaking to you, my husband is crying. You have no idea how much we miss my son.

On Eid Feter (end of Ramadan), I prayed for God to uproot the tyrants from our country and bring to our people peace, security and freedom. We can survive on bread alone, but we need our security to be restored. We need to know when our children go out that they will come back home.

You have no idea what pain this is, I did not even have the chance to say goodbye to my son. They so easily caused my handsome son to be buried under dirt. What was his crime?

His father and I were just sitting and reading his book of memories, reading his writings and we were crying, That is all we have left of our Behnoud; we only have his pictures left. But why? If their own children had died in this way, would they remain quiet? What would have they done?”

If the killers of your son are identified, what would you do?

One of our relatives recently had a dream about Behnoud. He said to tell me not to cry so much. We will wait for justice to be done. My son had sent me a message, but I want to see justice here and now.

Believe me, if they identify his killers, I wouldn’t want them to be executed, I don’t want to see anyone lose their lives. God gives life and only he shall take it.

I only want them to be identified and I want to ask them, why? What was my son guilty of that they killed him? Who ordered them to kill my son? They have to be exposed.

God knows that all I want is for them to be identified. I want peace, security and freedom for our people. I just want those responsible and the killers to be identified and receive just punishment so no other parent has to go through what we have.

I want that when people’s children go out that they come back home safe, I don’t want any other parent to see the death of their children. That is the reason why I am pursuing the case. I know my Behnoud will not come back, but I will do my share so no other parent feels the pain that we have.

Source: Roozonline

Koohyar Goudarzi’s Friend Behnam Ganji, Recently Released From Prison Has Committed Suicide

Recently released political prisoner Behnam Ganji Khabiri a 22 year old student at Tehran University of Applied Sciences committed suicide on September 1, 2011.

Behnam Ganji, a friends of incarcerated human rights activist Koohyar Goudarzi, was arrested along with Koohyar and another friend at his home on July 31, 2011. While Koohyar is still being detained, Behnam and his other friend were released on August 8.

Koohyar’s mother, Parvin Mokhtari was also arrested in raid of her home in Kerman on August 1, 2011.

Behnam Ganji with no history of prior political activity was taken to ward 240 in Evin prison and was put under very harsh interrogations for the purpose of obtaining a false confession.

Such harsh measures were used in Behnam’s interrogations that resulted in him going into deep depression after release from prison. He ended his life on September 1 by taking large number of prescription pills.

During his detention at wards 240 and 209 (high security Intelligence Ministry and IRGC), Behnam Ganji was put through very harsh interrogations to give false confession against his friend Koohyar Goudarzi which he refused.

The interrogators pressured Behnam to file a complaint against Koohyar, he refused. The Magistrate at the Court in Evin had also threatened Behnam and his family that they must sever all ties with Khooyar.

After one week in solitary confinement in ward 240 and number of days in a shared cell in ward 209, and more than 10 interrogation sessions while blindfolded, Behnam was released on bail.

According to law, solitary confinement and interrogations while blindfolded are considered torture. It is not known what other techniques were used during Behnam’s interrogations.

According to Behnam’s family, since his release, he suffered from deep depression and was constantly fearful of being rearrested.

Behnam did not suffer from depression before being arrested, however, he went into such deep depression after he was released that led to his suicide.

After Behnam’s suicide at midnight on Thursday September 1, security agents and police present at the home were his body was treated the family very harsh.

According to reports, Behnam’s body has been moved to his place of birth Mashhad for funeral and burial on to be held on Sunday September 4, 2011.

Concerns have increased about the fate of Koohyar Goudarzi, considering the fact that the Judiciary has yet to admit his arrest, the illegal arrest and detention of Koohyar’s mother in Kerman and now the suicide of his friend.

Source: JARAS