Outspoken regime critic, author and blogger, Dr. Mehdi Khazali, incarcerated in Evin prison, has been on a hunger strike since his violent arrest on January 9, 2012. During this violent arrest Dr. Khazali suffered a broken arm and broken teeth.
Dr. Khazali, an Ophthalmologist, is the son of hard line cleric Ayatolla Khazali, a staunch supporter of Ayatollah Khamenei. Ayatollah Khazali has publicly denounced and distanced himself from his son’s positions.
Dr. Khazali has been arrested a number of times since the 2009 rigged presidential election. His lastest arrest was last July, a violent arrest during which Dr. Khazali suffered injuries.
On the day he was arrested and arraigned, Dr. Khazali vowed to remain on hunger strike until martyrdom, he said, ” “I will go on a hunger strike and will stay on it until martyrdom, I will not touch their food.”
During these past 39 days a number of political activists, religious figures and former president Khatami have urged him to end his hunger strike, to no avail.
Following is a translation of Dr. Khazali’s response letter to Hojatolislam Ahmad Montazeri (son of the late Ayatollah Montazeri) urging Dr. Khazali to end his hunger strike as published on his supporters’ site Baran:
In the name of God the Merciful
Honorable brother Hojatolislam Moslemin Ahmad Montazeri:
I have received your message. The atrocity inflicted upon me is but one hundredth of the atrocities that are inflicted on my cellmates.
Among us are people who were political prisoners in the 80’s, but their life was spared during the mass executions of 1988.
The stories they tell of the prison conditions during those times makes my hair stand on end. He says, “They put me in a solitary confinement cell with three tier bunk beds. In each cell there were 30 people, nine people would squeeze in each level of the bunk bed, and the rest of the people would sleep on the tight space on the floor. We could not straighten our knees when going to the bathroom (they called this the solitary cell).”
And what about the frightful stories of Haj Davoud Ahangar’s (then the prison warden), cages, sacks & other confinements.
Now I understand what would have happened to us if it wasn’t for your father’s outcries. Here, all prisoners pray for your father and have the utmost respect for him.
Let my insignificant life cause justice to prevail in our Courts, and stop the influence of anti-revolution and the seditious elements in the Intelligence Ministry and Sepah. Perhaps then, in the future, people would say “God bless his soul” for me also.
Perhaps my martyrdom will cause an end to the rampant injustice in the Revolutionary Courts, the show trials in it’s branches, and the fictitious Appeals Courts, and maybe then these scandalous injustices will be removed from our Justice System.
What I have personally witnessed is that, in the Revolutionary Courts, the minimum rights of the accused are not even allowed. Many are denied a defense attorney; most are not allowed a consultation with their lawyer prior to trial. No one is allowed to review and read their case file to prepare themselves for a defense.
Verdicts are given (pardon me, dictated) by the Intelligence Ministry, without any evidence of guilt or confession, solely based on the Intelligence Ministry’s reports.
They do not provide the defendants with an indictment or a judgement. Before they give you the court’s verdict, they make you sign an affidavit saying that you were officially provided with court’s verdict. They won’t even allow you to see court’s issued judgement.
Three of my cellmates were tried by Judge Pirabbasi in a two minute trial and, without any evidence of guilt or a confession, they were found guilty as charged, and were sentenced to total of seventeen years. They have been on a hunger strike since February 3.
Another person here has been sentenced to death without any evidence of guilt or confession, and for only receiving a short email from an unknown sender.
Yesterday, a person who had been sentenced to death twice by Judge Salavati, was ordered released by the Appellate Court, and was released and returned to his family.
The send off we had for him was one the happiest and memorable events we had here. This case only shows the incompetence of the original Judge.
Last week they exiled a young man to another prison only because he refused to deny the ideology in statements that he had signed with other prisoners.
They have imprisoned three people solely for being Christians, while they had no political activities. Also, a number of other people are incarcerated here solely for their religious beliefs. Beliefs that have nothing to do with politics or the government. They have been sentenced to long prison terms. We all have been deprived of any basic citizen’s rights.
Many are incarcerated here only as a payback for disagreements with high ranking officials. They are under physical and mental torture pressure to give false confessions of having connection with foreign intelligence agencies.
They are being pressured to confess to embezzlement from government agencies, while no money has been embezzled from those agencies.
During torture sessions no religious or moral standards are observed. Even when prisoners refer to religious figures and swore upon them as to their innocence, they ridicule them and say “Who are these people”.
Ultimately, the presiding judges of the unjust Revolutionary Courts convict and sentence people to long prison terms, and destroy their lives, in trials that only last few minutes, while people are deprived of even a defense attorney.
These are examples of the pain and sufferings inflicted upon us. There is much more painful things to speak about, but there is not enough room in this short letter for me to explain.
Now, isn’t this enough justification for me to die? Didn’t they remove the thorn from the foot of the Jewish woman (referring to a story about Imam Ali).
Now I understand the outcries of your late father. May God bless his soul and may God remove this injustice from it’s root.
If God willing,
God alone is sufficient for us, and he is our esteemed friend and he is the best friend and ally that we have.
February 13, 2011
Evin Ward 350