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Iran: Appeal to save lives of political prisoners

NCRI – In a letter to Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on February 22, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chair of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, appealed for her intervention to save lives of political prisoners in Iran.

Mohaddessin said: "Six months after a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assume power as the Iranian regime’s President, the situation of human rights in Iran in general and the plight of political prisoners in particular has deteriorated. Recently, the horrific hanging of one of the most well-known political prisoners in Iran was confirmed by official sources, arousing outrage and condemnation of the public as well as international human rights organizations."

Hojjat Zamani, 31, a former teacher and a member of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the main component of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, had been incarcerated for more than four-and-a-half years and subjected to the most severe forms of physical and psychological tortures. He was finally hanged on February 7 in Gohardasht (Raja’i Shahr) Prison in Karaj (west of Tehran). Officials have so far refused to hand over Zamani’s body to his family.

After Zamani was arrested in 2000, security forces attacked his parents’ house and arrested his elderly father as well as his older and younger brothers. After severely assaulting his father, security agents threw him out of a moving vehicle. In 2001, two of his brothers were murdered by the clerical regime and his father died subsequently, due to the emotional trauma caused by the death of two sons and the imprisonment of the third.

"Based on a report from Gohardasht prison on February 1, Mohammad Jaarou’i, head of the prison’s ward 6 had warned the prisoners that if the regime’s nuclear file were referred to the United Nations Security Council, all political prisoners affiliated with the PMOI would be hanged," said NCRI official adding: "Mr. Zamani’s execution, after enduring four years of torture while in captivity, is the first such retaliatory measure."

Mohaddessin reminded that in summer 1988, in similar circumstances, after the Tehran regime reluctantly accepted the Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war, some 30,000 political prisoners were massacred on Khomeini’s direct orders.

"In such circumstances," Mohaddessin wrote, "I would like to express my most profound concerns over the fate of other political prisoners in Iran, particularly with respect to the serious dangers to their lives,"

Reliable reports from Iran indicate that following the hanging of Zamani, and the subsequent anger and outrage among political prisoners, the threats against these prisoners in Gohardasht (especially those in ward 9 that is run by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security) and Zanjan prisons have been stepped up. Based on these reports, prisoners threatened with death include Valiollah Feiz-Mohammadi, Saeed Massouri, Gholamhossein Kalbi, Amir Parvizi, Alireza Karami Kheir-Abadi, Khaled Hardani, Shahram Farhang-pour and Mansour Pour-Farhang. In addition, another prisoner, Amir Saran, who had been interrogated and tortured by a prison official, named Hossein-zadeh, has disappeared.

These reports also say that in order to set the stage for the execution of a number of other political prisoners in Gohardasht Prison, the regime has dispatched a number of its own agents, disguised as political prisoners, to wards housing the political prisoners to threaten them with death by chanting "death to political prisoners," "death to counter-revolutionaries," "Mojahedin prisoners must be executed."

According to an information from Gohardasht Prison, an official, who is a member of the Intelligence service on duty in that Prison, has told political prisoners that if they stab you to death, we are not responsible. At present, all prison visits and contacts with the outside world have been cut off.

In this light, Foreign Affairs Committee Chair appealed to Ms. Arbour and wrote: "I urgently request that you use your good offices as well as other means available to the UN High Commission on Human Rights to (1) intervene to save the lives of these prisoners, dispatch a representative to inspect the prisons, contact the political prisoners and their families and demand the necessary guarantee to save their lives, and (2) intervene to ensure that this issue is addressed at the sixty-second session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and needed measure are adopted for the monitoring of the situation of human rights in Iran."