The Blog

Harsh Repression Continues Against Iranian Dissidents

1:03 PM, Apr 29, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The pretext for that foray against the Evin captives was a letter by 44 of them against the transfer of Dr. Ali Nazeri, a dentist who is a Green Movement, human rights, and environmental activist, to solitary confinement in the southeast Iranian town of Zabol, near the Afghan border. Dr. Nazeri’s health is poor and he was taken out of Evin on a stretcher, according to the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights in Iran (IOPHRI), which cooperates with the Gonabadi Sufis.

Families of the April 17 Evin casualties assembled in front of Rouhani’s office on April 22, chanting slogans demanding an end to abuses by the authorities. A similar demonstration was held at the Iranian Parliament. The Evin prisoners’ relatives denounced a statement by Iranian justice minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, who said that during an “inspection” at Evin, prisoners suffered “some slight soreness and injuries, and preliminary reports indicate that it involved no more than one or two people.”

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Iranian national prisons director Gholamhossein Esmaili denied that any mistreatment occurred in the Black Thursday raid and echoed Mohammadi, calling the alleged harassment of prisoners a “routine inspection.” In an April 21 interview on Iranian state television, Esmaili claimed guards had found mobile phones in the cells, used supposedly to coordinate with “anti-revolutionary media” outside Iran. Esmaili’s comments caused a further uproar. Ahmad Reza Haeri, the brother of Saeed Haeri, a human rights activist held in Ward 350, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the families of the prisoners planned to file an official complaint with the supervisory board of the state media, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), accusing it of untruthful reporting.

On April 23, the Iranian government announced that Esmaili would be replaced as head of the prison system by Ali Asghar Jahangir. Esmaili was promoted to run the judicial system for Tehran province. Jahangir is a former advisor of Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the top figure in the Iranian judicial system, who named Jahangir to succeed Esmaili. On the same day he appointed Jahangir, Larijani insisted no offense against prisoners had taken place in the latest Evin episode.

Larijani declared, “no violations have occurred. . . . [S]editious elements have used this completely legal procedure [prisoner inspection] to . . . revive their seditious ambitions by orchestrating people inside with enemies outside the country.” He warned that prosecutors would investigate purported “publication of falsehoods and disruption of national security” involving procedures at Evin. But as noted, the families of the Evin prisoners charge that it’s the authorities who are publishing falsehoods.

Omid Behroozi, the Gonabadi Sufi lawyer injured in the April 17 violence, was taken to Taleghani Hospital outside the prison, but was returned to Evin where he was blindfolded and chained to his bed in the prison infirmary, according to the Sufis. Another Gonabadi adherent, Mostafa Abdi, was moved to solitary confinement with 28 more individuals seized during the raid.

In a letter to Rouhani, 421 civil society and political activists appealed to him to establish “a special truth commission to investigate the April 17 incidents in Evin.”

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers