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Letter by 23 political prisoners regarding lack of due process and violation of the rights of political prisoners in Rajaee Shahr Prison

In an open letter addressed to the UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed and human rights organization, 23 political prisoners in Rajaee Shahr Prison have described how they have been denied due process rights, including the right to a fair trial. These political prisoners have also discussed how Iranian authorities have continued to violate their rights in the course of their imprisonment.

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To United Nations Human Rights Council, all human rights organizations and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran

Warm Greetings!

We, 23 political prisoners, have written this letter to draw your attention to the systematic violation of human rights in Iran.

We regret to announce that the human rights of prisoners are severely and systematically violated. This violation starts the moment the crime is detected and continues throughout the imprisonment. As a result we will point out some of these violations that have become common practice.

1.    Article 36 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the Islamic Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran oversees the “legality of crime and punishment”. This law has not been applied to political prisoners, especially those who are at Hall 12 of Rajaee Shahr prison. The signatories of this letter have not committed any crime and do not deserve to be imprisoned. The most important issue is the reason why we have been imprisoned for such a long time.

2.    Article 32 of the Constitution and Articles 112, 118 and 129 of Iran’s Criminal Code of Procedure assert the protocols related to “summons, notice, arrest and arraignment”. Almost all political prisoners have been illegally arrested without any summons or legal notice. Some have been beaten at the time of their arrest, and all of us have been kept in illegal detention facilities and inhumane conditions.

3.    As political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, we have been illegally sentenced to long prison terms in illegal closed courts, especially the Revolutionary Court, contrary to Articles 159, 172, 173 and 168 of the Constitution and the proviso to Article 20 of the Establishment of Public and Revolutionary Courts Act. We did not have a jury trial, and we were not able to retain the attorneys we wanted. Some of these illegal sentences include exile, and even in cases where there is no mention of exile, in addition to our sentences we have been illegally exiled to prisons, including Rajaee Shahr. This has not necessarily been done by judicial authorities, but by officials in the Ministry of Intelligence.

4.    As mentioned earlier, contrary to the principle that limits punishment to the person involved and prevents the properties and documents unrelated to the crime or the defendant from being searched, many of our properties have been confiscated and in some cases have not been returned to their rightful owner. Contrary to Article 96 and subsequent articles in the Criminal Code of Procedure, and contrary to the law requiring respect for the civil rights, the warrants that authorize entering the defendants’ homes and properties were either not issued at all or were issued by incompetent judges.

5.    Contrary to Articles 38 and 39 of the Constitution and Articles 570 and subsequent articles in the Islamic Penal Code, defendants have been subjected to harassment and verbal abuse during the interrogation process. If Dr. Ahmed Shaheed or representatives of independent human rights organizations have the opportunity to visit political prisoners in Iran, we will provide them with related documents and evidence.

6.    We feel it necessary to point out that based on Article 186 of the previous Islamic Penal Code, tens of thousands of people were charged with membership in various groups and were prosecuted, punished and often executed for the crime of “waging war on God.” The aforementioned article was later repealed, and according to laws regarding repealed provisions all over the world, including the laws of the Islamic Republic and according to Article 10 of the revised Islamic Penal Code adopted in 2013, those prisoners imprisoned under the repealed law should be immediately released. This has not happened. It should be noted that due to the non-retroactivity of laws, the new law applies to the future and does not extend to the past. Despite this, all the aforementioned prisoners, whom this law applies to, are still in prison, especially prisoners in Hall 12 of Rajaee Shahr. This means that as of June 12, 2013, when this law was applied, we have been detained illegally.

7.    According to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code in case of multiple crimes, up to three offenses can receive a maximum sentence. Unfortunately despite its clarity, this law is constantly broken by the authorities.

8.    In addition to the aforementioned issues, we have to point out to the death sentences and Qisas sentences handed out by illegal and unqualified judges behind the closed doors of Revolutionary Courts. Currently there are around 40 prisoners sentenced to death in Halls 10 and 12 of Rajaee Shahr. They include political prisoners like Zaniar Moradi, Loqman Moradi and Houshang Rezaee. More than 1150 prisoners sentenced to Qisas are waiting for their sentences to be carried out. In addition to prisoners with a death sentence, a number of whom are hanged every week, there are hundreds of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. These prisoners like Mohammad Nazari, Khaled Fereydouni, Afshin Baymani, Saeed Masouri, Khaled Hardani, Haj Karim Aziz Marouf, Omar Faqihpour, Shahram Pourmansour, and Farhang Pourmansour have been sentenced in illegal courts and have spent many years in Hall 12 of Rajaee Shahr.

9.    We would also like to draw your attention to the conditions of prisoners, including political prisoners. These conditions are illegal and in violation of human rights. Iran’s Prisons Organization Code has laid down certain rules and regulations on how to run and maintain prisons, and these provisions have to be followed by prisons, and prison inspectors should oversee their implementation. None of these rules and regulations are followed, no one inspects prisons, and wardens and prison guards act based on their personal preferences. For instance, Article 3 of the Prisons Organization Code states that the purpose of a prison is to provide vocational training and rehabilitation through Article 24, which provides prisoners with healthcare, physical education and recreation. Article 68 mentions employment, article 140 refers to free training, article 144 discusses the commitment to establishing a well equipped library, article 147 mentions providing audiovisual equipment and article 151 discusses the provision of sports equipment including a covered stadium. Rajaee Shahr Prison, specifically in Hall 12, does not provide prisoners with any of the aforementioned facilities and equipment. In addition, in Hall 12, doors are opened 2 hours a day and the prisoners are confined to the Hall and cell for the other 22 hours without any amenities. The only room that was used as a library was recently emptied and demolished by the order of Mr. Mardani, the prison warden.

10.  Despite the fact that Article 69 asserts the provision of medical care to prisoners and according to articles 102, 103, 104, 111, and 118 that put the prison in charge of the cost of medical exams, treatments and medication, the prison only provides prisoners with treatments for the common cold and basic tests. The prison not only does not take serious steps toward the health of prisoners, but imposes the cost of medical attention on prisoners and their families. It is important to note that in the past three years, in Hall 12 of Rajaee Shahr alone, prisoners like Mansour Radpour, Mohsen Dogmechi, Mohammad Mehdi Zareie, Afshin Osanlou and Alireza Karami Kheyrabadi lost their lives because of these inhumane practices and lack of medical attention. In Rajaee Shahr Prison approximately one person dies every week due to lack of medical care or related causes.

11.  Articles 47, 213 and 125 assert the prisoners’ right to furlough and Articles 180, 183, 185 and 197 assert their rights to correspondence and visitations. However, the only form of visitation and communication for political prisoners is one non-personal visit per week, which lasts for only 20 minutes and takes place under certain conditions.1 At the same time no phone calls are allowed and prison guards have installed jamming devices that not only prevents prisoners from making phone calls but is also a risk to their health.

12.  Article 39 of the Constitution states that any form of defamation of a prisoner is subject to a penalty and Article 169 of the Prisons Organization Code has banned any form of verbal and physical abuse. However, when prisoners enter Rajaee Shahr Prison’s quarantine, they are stripped and subjected to degrading searches. Ordinary prisoners are even anally searched. Prisoners who are sent to medical or judicial facilities are handcuffed, shackled, and forced to wear prison attire, which is not mandatory. If the prisoner resists he will be brutally beaten. Loqman Moradi, for instance, was beaten so badly that he almost lost consciousness and suffered internal bleeding. There are multiple medical records about this incident.

13.  Since, under Article 22, the establishment and administration of all prisons is limited to the Prisons Organization, executive, judiciary, security and police authorities are strictly prohibited from this act. However, agencies such as the Revolutionary Guards, the Revolutionary Guard intelligence unit, and the Ministry of Intelligence operate many illegal detention facilities inside and outside of prisons. These agencies openly abuse and pressure political prisoners. They also interfere in matters related to furloughs, pardons, general and probationary releases, and they illegally re-interrogate prisoners after sentencing. These arbitrary s actions have become routine. It is even more unfortunate that in trial and appeals courts, these security agencies dictate the defendants’ sentences to judges who are unqualified and lack independence. These dictated sentences are then announced to the defendants after a few minutes in court.

14.  Articles 93 and 95 assert the prisoners’ right to receive nourishing food that contains all vitamins. Prisoners should be provided with fresh greens, seasonal fruits and meat lunches and dinners three times a week. However the prisoners are not only denied these provisions but are also left with the cost of their own food. Since prison food is inedible, prisoners and their families are forced to buy costly food.

Regarding the information provided above, we would like to inform competent authorities and high ranking human rights officials that according to the International Covenant on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights, ratified by the Iranian parliament in 1975, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been accepted by the Iranian Government, all illegal actions, some of which have been mentioned above, are against Articles 2, 3, 19, 18, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We invite you to send your representatives to Iran in order to observe our conditions and documents, and take legal and humanitarian action against illegal conditions in prisons and courts.

Many Thanks and Regards,

1- Hassan Ashtiani

2- Mohammad Amirkhizi

3- Abbas Badfar

4- Afshin Baymani

5- Hamid Reza Borhani

6- Iraj Hatami

7- Khaled Hardani

8- Afshin Heyratian

9- Shahrokh Zamani

10- Samkou Khelgati

11- Seyed Mohammad Seifzadeh

12- Heshmatollah Tabarzadi

13- Jamshid Sadeqolhosseini

14- Mohammad Mehdi Abyat

15- Saleh Kohandel

16- Alireza Farahani

17- Saeed Masouri

18- Zaniar Moradi

19- Loqman Moradi

20- Karim Marouf Aziz

21-Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri

22- Misaq Yazadan Nejad

23- Naser Yousefi

Redistributed from the International Committee Against Executions

March 3, 2014

[1] A non-personal visit is the term used to refer to visits during which the two parties talk through a phone while sitting on opposite sides of a glass partition. A personal visit is the term used to refer to visits during which the two parties can meet without a physical barrier between them.

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