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Witness Statement: Shahram Rafizadeh

16. The PIA did not have a uniform method for dealing with detainees. Their treatment of a detainee who was “one of them” (i.e. those who were regime insiders) was, to a certain degree, lenient if not generous. This is not to say that they did not resort to violence against these individuals, but that the violence and its consequences were less severe than that which was used against other detainees (i.e. those who were not regime insiders).

The History of Secret Prisons in Iran


17. The history of secret, special or hidden detention facilities inside the Islamic Republic of Iran goes back to the days of the Islamic Revolution. It goes back to the establishment of Islamic revolutionary committees, the Basij, the Revolutionary Guards, and the confiscation of the residential areas and homes of those opposed to the Islamic Revolution. These Islamic committees and armed groups who supported the new Islamic government, such as the Mujahedin-i Khalq and the Feda’in-i Khalq, confiscated the homes of these government dissidents and used them as detention facilities. There was no rule of law in these detention facilities, and those responsible answered to no one. Torture and forced confessions were common interrogation and investigation methods used in these detention centers. This deplorable method of interrogation is a continuing legacy [of this era].

18. Although with the establishment of the Ministry of Intelligence in 1984 a series of detention facilities which were located in confiscated homes came under the control of the ministry, the culture of torture and its concealment did not disappear. The Ministry of Intelligence continues to use some of these homes as intelligence centers, and others as temporary and secret detention facilities. In addition, the residences that were confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards and Basij remained under the control of these forces. Anyone who visits these secret detention facilities realizes that they are, in fact, residential homes. One of these secret facilities, which was located in western Tehran and was used by an intelligence group under the command of Emami (a deputy head at the Ministry of Intelligence during the time of Fallahian) was a building which was located in the middle of a residential area. But Emami used it as a detention center.

19. There are lots of these types of detention facilities in Iran. The State Prisons Organization (SPO) submitted a report to Majlis in 2006-07 regarding the closure of more than 100 of these secret prisons. The Iranian Students News Agency also reported the existence of more than one hundred of these secret detention facilities in 2006-07. In addition, the special commission (headed by Ali Akbar Musavi- Khu’ini) established to inspect the condition of secret facilities in Tehran reported on the existence and closure of secret prisons that were administered by the PIA. Only portions of this report were ever made public.

20. After the case of bloggers created a lot of news and almost all the arrested individuals complained about the torture in secret prisons, Hashemi Shahroudi created a committee by the name of “Committee for Executing the Civilians’ Laws” under the supervision of Alizadeh and made him carry out a research on the secret prisons. In his report to the head of Judiciary, Alizadeh announced his “inability to access some of the prisons” that were under the protection of the Intelligence Office of Revolutionary Guards. The Revolutionary Guards had told Alizadeh that they work directly under the Supreme Leader and the Ministry of Justice does not have the authority to investigate the centers of that organization.

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Tagged as:

Cyber Journalism, Secret Prisons, Imprisonment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Illegal Search and Seizure, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination