By Jubin Katiraie
On September 10, following the inhuman death sentences against peaceful protesters detained in August 2018 and November 2019, Branch 38 of the Iranian supreme court upheld the death penalty against seven Sunni political prisoners for the third time.
These prisoners of conscience were captured in 2009 based on a fake scenario provided by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Farhad Salimi, Qassem Absteh, Davood Abdollahi, Ayub Karimi, Anwar Khezri, Khosrow Besharat, and Kamran Sheikha, incarcerated in Urmia, Evin, and Gohardasht prisons.
Already, Branches 41 and 42 upheld the death sentences against these captives on bogus and repeated charges such as “acting against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “corruption on earth,” and “waging war against God ‘moharebeh.’” Given their families’ appeal for retrial, Branch 38 of the supreme court “reviewed” the case and showed that different judiciary system sections are all cut from the same cloth.
Emphasizing death penalties in parallel with the worldwide campaign for stopping executions in Iran indicates that the government relies on suppressive measures rather than enjoying a public base. “These execution sentences are meant to intimidate the public and prevent popular uprisings”, the Iranian coalition opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) stated on the same day.
In recent weeks, Iranian authorities issued several severe sentences against jailed people, particularly protesters. In July, the supreme court upheld the death penalty against detained youths for participating in the November 2019 nationwide protests.
Excessive punishment against peaceful protesters prompted Iranian citizens and netizens to oppose the judiciary’s ruthless sentences openly. In a joint campaign on social media and into the streets, millions of Iranians and their friends across the globe trended نکنید_اعدام# and #StopExecutionInIran, compelling the judiciary to suspend their punishment.
On August 5, the judiciary secretly hanged Mostafa Salehi, who was detained for participating in the December 2017-January 2018 uprising. The issue corresponded with a wave of condemnation inside Iran and abroad. More particularly, the government faced public anger when the people realized that Salehi had admitted to allegations under torture, and the court had sentenced him based on enforced confessions.
— Iran Focus (@Iran_Focus) August 5, 2020
“Amnesty International condemns the execution of protester Mostafa Salehi, which was carried out in Esfahan prison on 5 August despite serious unfair trial concerns incl torture and other ill-treatment & the denial of access to a lawyer during the investigation phase of his case.
“Mostafa Salehi was convicted of murder for the killing of a Revolutionary Guards member during nationwide protests in Dec 2017-Jan 2018. He maintained his innocence and independent media reports suggest that the prosecution authorities failed to provide evidence of his guilt,” the Iran desk of Amnesty International tweeted on August 6.
2) Mostafa Salehi was convicted of murder for the killing of a Revolutionary Guards member during nationwide protests in Dec 2017-Jan 2018. He maintained his innocence and independent media reports suggest that the prosecution authorities failed to provide evidence of his guilt.
— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) August 6, 2020
Later, in mid-August, Iranian authorities transferred four protesters detained in December 2017-January 2018 protests to solitary confinement to hang them. Once again, the people of Iran managed to save the lives of the protesters. Of course, they are still on death-row and their lives are at risk. However, the people’s will spared the lives of these young protesters at least until this moment.
In late August, the supreme court upheld the death sentence against the 27-year-old champion wrestler Navid Afkari, which led to global outrage against the Iranian government’s merciless penalties. Many athletes inside Iran and abroad condemned the brutal sentence and rights groups called the United Nations to intervene and pressure Iran to abolish the death penalty.
Thanks to a worldwide humanitarian campaign, Iranian authorities have thus far refrained from executing this wrestling star. On the other hand, prosecutors exercise harrowing torture against detainees, including Navid Afkari and his brothers and other protesters, to accept false accusations during televised confessions.
On September 5, Aida Younesi, sister of award-winning Iranian student Ali Younesi, revealed that the interrogators had suggested Ali and Amirhossein Moradi, another award-winning student, to accept alleged crimes and then judicial officials will reduce their death penalty to life imprisonment. Notably, these elite students have yet to be tried as of this report.
Earlier, on September 2, Amnesty International organization shed light on horrible torture and ill-treatment exercised by Iranian authorities against detainees, particularly protesters. In this respect, many political prisoners pass dire conditions in jails and dungeons contaminated with the coronavirus. Despite the Iranian judiciary propaganda about offering furlough to prisoners due to the coronavirus pandemic, the rest of the political prisoners did not receive such furloughs.
Instead, in tandem with the second and third wave of the health crisis, intelligence officers raided and detained more citizens on “security charges.” They are mostly relatives of members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), like Forugh Taghipour, Fatemeh Mosanna, Parastu Moeini, Zahra Safaei, and fourteen others. These female political prisoners are held at Qarchak Prison in Varamin county suburb of Tehran.
According to reliable sources, the head of the prison Mehdi Mohammadi has hired and provoked several prisoners for dangerous crimes to murder these prisoners by creating fake clashes. “Some ordinary women prisoners have said that the head of the prison hired us to beat and fight these prisoners,” Iran Human Rights Monitor reported.
Majid Assadi, Jafar Azimzadeh, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and Behnam Mousivand are among the political prisoners who have experienced brutal behavior on behalf of the prison officials.
Regarding reports revealing flagrant violations of human rights principles, it is imperative that international bodies, particularly the UN, take urgent action and persist on sending a fact-finding delegation to Iran and inspecting Iran’s dungeons, the opposition has said. Iranian authorities detained over 12,000 protesters in November 2019, many of whom are exposed to torture and heavy sentences. Rights organizations must compel authorities to respect the conventions they had signed before and immediately release all political prisoners, activists say.