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A Year Later: Suppression Continues in Iran

Arrests and Detentions

 

Many demonstrators who were arrested in the summer of 2009 were taken to Kahrizak Detention Center. Located in southeastern Tehran, Kahrizak was designed to house “thugs and criminals.” The facility was cited as sub-standard in 2007 by inspectors but Kahrizak was only shut down after detainees arrested during the July 9 demonstrations died.

Accounts from survivors detail rampant abuses at Kahrizak. The brutality of the security personnel and the filthy conditions of the cells were horrific even by the standards of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. One survivor told of being crowded into a jail cell and then beaten in complete darkness. Another account describes methods of intimidation, including torture and sexual abuse.

At least three of the demonstrators brought to Kahrizak on July 9 died during their time in the facility or immediately thereafter.

Amir Javadifar suffered mortal wounds at the facility. Medical reports reportedly show that he had several broken bones and missing toenails. The Majlis Committee appointed to investigate post-election abuse concluded that he was beaten when arrested and that he “did not have the strength to withstand the physical and psychological damages” of his four-day incarceration at Kahrizak. His condition became critical while on the bus to Evin Prison and he died “outside the bus.” His family first received news of his death when they were told to pick up his body on July 26.

Mohammad Kamrani also died from the injuries and lack of medical care he suffered in Kahrizak. His family has insisted that Kamrani was simply a pedestrian in the area of the demonstrations and not a participant. In any case, the 18-year-old was arrested and eventually taken to Kahrizak for some time before being transferred to Evin. His family was eventually told that he would be released from Evin on July 15. On that day, they arrived to take him home but were told that he had been transferred to Loqman Hospital. The Majlis investigative committee found that he did not receive proper care and that his family was not informed of his critical condition until 30 hours after his transfer. At the hospital, his family found him secured to the hospital bed, under the supervision of guards, and near death. They succeeded in transferring him to Mehr Hospital to receive better care, but he died a few hours after his arrival on July 16.

Mohsen Ruholamini was arrested during the July 9 protests and initially taken to NAJA’s Greater Tehran office in Kargar Street, close to Enqelab Square. The day after his arrest, security forces put Ruholamini on a bus to Kahrizak. The Majlis Committee reported that he was later put on a bus to Evin.

His father, Abdulhossein Ruholamini, a well-known adviser to conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai, spent two weeks looking for him but was unable to find any trace of him until July 20, when he confronted the Minister of Intelligence. Like other family members of victims, Ruholamini was forced to sign documents releasing the authorities from any blame for his son’s death and relinquishing the right to give his son a proper burial.

On July 27, the Supreme Leader ordered that Kahrizak be closed, and prisoners were transferred to other facilities. Authorities in Evin Prison, one of the most notorious prisons in the Middle East, found the condition of the prisoners shocking. They refused to take responsibility for the Kahrizak prisoners and transferred them to nearby hospitals.

Police Chief Ahmadi-Moqaddam was forced to admit that conditions had been “grave” at Kahrizak. However, he continued to insist that the issue was the overcrowding of the facility, that only two guards had beaten prisoners, and that the number of victims was only three, none of them among those who died. Instead, he insisted that “there is indisputable evidence that proves the deceased inmates died of a deadly virus infection.”

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Reports, Right to Protest, Imprisonment