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Witness Statement: Ali Afshari

Ali Afshari, a political analyst, human rights advocate and former leader of the student movement in Iran, describes his numerous arrests and torture he suffered in prison in Iran during the reform period of President Muhammad Khatami.

 

Full Name: Ali Afshari

Date of Birth: March 21, 1973

Place of Birth: Ghazvin, Iran

Occupation: Student, human rights activist and one of the former leaders of the Iranian students movement

Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

Date of Interview: February 16, 2008; September 26; 2008 October 3, 2008

Interviewer: Habib Rahiab

Witnesses: None

 

This statement was prepared pursuant to in-person and telephonic interviews with Mr. Ali Afshari, a human rights activist and one of the former leaders of the Iranian students movement. The statement consists of 83 paragraphs and 20 pages. The interviews were conducted on February 16, 2008, September 26, 2008 and October 3, 2008. The statement was approved by Mr. Afshari on October 29, 2008.

 

Witness Statement

 

The Iranian Prison System

 

1. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not have a unified and consistent system for managing its prisons. The system is marked by a lack of coordination, overlapping of duties, and divided jurisdictional authority, which often leads to confusion and interference between and among various agencies within the regime. On the managerial level, numerous agencies such as the Ministry of Justice and a number of security, intelligence and law enforcement units are responsible for administering a series of prisons.

2. In general, the prison system in Iran may be divided into two parts: public prisons and detention facilities.

Public Prisons

3. Public prisons are facilities wherein convicted prisoners are locked up. The prisoners’ cases have already gone through the trial and appeals stages and a verdict and sentence have been issued. Public prisons are under the supervision of the State Prisons Organization, whose official is appointed by the head of the Judiciary. Public prisons have separate holding facilities for different criminal charges. Since political crimes have not yet been defined under Iranian law, political prisoners are divided based on the nature of the charges and penalties assessed against them and imprisoned in a related criminal ward.1 Evin and Rajaee Shahr are two well-known examples of public prisons in Iran.

4. Evin prison is one of the most well-equipped prisons in the Middle East. Despite the fact that it is a public prison, different [security and intelligence] agencies administer various wards or sections within the facility. This prison was built during the time of Mohammad-Reza Shah. Before the revolution, Evin prison consisted of two wards (a solitary confinement ward and a public ward) and was much smaller than it is today. It was solely used to hold political prisoners. After the revolution, new sections were added to the prison, including sections 7, 8, 240, special clerical section, and wards A and B of the Revolutionary Guards (previously ward 325). In addition to the public wards, this prison also contains a solitary confinement section known as Section 240, used to punish disobedient prisoners. Each solitary cell has its own bathroom. Evin prison also has a separate ward for women. After the formation of the Ministry of Intelligence in 1985, the ministry took control of the solitary confinement ward of Section 209 (which was built before the revolution) away from the State Prisons Organization.

1 Examples of these wards include national security, financial/white collar crimes, moral crimes (a ward which is heavily populated by women), drugs and narcotics, murder, fraud, adolescents, family crimes (which includes crimes related to dowries) and others..

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Secret Prisons