diplomat sheds light on notorious Islamic Republic of Mullahs prison
Tehran, Iran, Jul. 21 – A
diplomat from the Dutch embassy in Tehran has revealed that
political prisoners locked up in one of Iran’s most notorious
prisons were being systematically tortured and deliberately harassed
for their opposition to Iran’s clerical leadership.
The report by Loes Bijnen,
which first appeared in a Persian-language website, provides a
shocking account of the treatment of political prisoners in
Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj, a major city west of the Iranian
capital. The website of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Tehran
identifies Ms. Bijnen as a second secretary in the embassy’s
“Going to [Rajai-Shahr
Prison in] in Karaj is a harsh punishment. When someone sets foot there, all
humanity disappears”, the Dutch diplomat wrote after making an
investigation into the state of the prison.
The report surfaced a day after
the ultra-conservative daily Ressalat published a letter from two
former prisoners in Rajai-Shahr Prison, who thanked Prison Governor
Ali Haji-Kazem for his “excellent treatment” of prisoners. The
official news agency, IRNA, put out an interview with Haji-Kazem, in
which he described the prison as “a model educational centre”.
Efforts to portray Rajai-Shahr
Prison in a good light came in the wake of extensive repercussions
of a hunger strike by political prisoners earlier this month.
Angered by the leak of news of the hunger strike, prison authorities
cut off all contacts between prisoners and the outside world,
according to prisoners’ relatives.
The Dutch diplomat’s report,
posted on the website Rooz, sheds light on techniques other than
torture used to break ! political prisoners. They “are forced to
share cells with dangerous criminals such as murderers, rapists and
drug addicts”, she wrote. The diplomat said dissidents in
Rajai-Shahr Prison were kept in solitary confinement for months at a
Ms. Bijnen noted in her report
that “mysterious deaths” were common in Rajai-Shahr Prison. She
mentioned a number of prisoners were treated with singular
brutality. Arjang Davoudi, a 49-year-old engineer, teacher, and poet
was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 70 lashes for aiding foreign
journalists secretly produce a documentary about the
Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who died under
torture in Evin Prison in the summer of 2003.
The Dutch diplomat described in
detail the beatings Davoudi received in prison and revealed that he
was held in solitary confinement for more than 100 days.
Hojjat Zamani, a member of the
Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin, who has received a
death sentence, Valiol! lah Feiz-Mohammadi, and Jafar Aghdami were
among other political prisoners being mistreated, Bijnen wrote.
Bina Darabzand, a 46-year-old
man, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for
“demonstrating illegally” outside the United Nations building in
Tehran in August 2004. Darabzand had taken part in an
anti-government protest by relatives of political prisoners.
Mehrdad Lohrasbi, a bookseller,
received a 15-year prison sentence for taking part in the July 1999
student-led anti-government protests in the Iranian capital. Bijnen
reported that he was beaten systematically by prison guards.
Another political prisoner that
the Dutch diplomat wrote about was Amir Saran, a political activist,
who had been sentenced to eight years in prison. She wrote that
Saran had gone on hunger strike in protest to the June 2005
presidential elections, calling it a sham.
have Western newspapers remained silent in the face of this
calamity?” the Dutch diplomat
wrote. “Why do they ignore the unbearable pain of countless people
in Iran’s prisons yet at the same time write plenty of news about
Iran’s nuclear project?”
Executions by hanging are carried out in Islamic Republic of ayatollahs in accordance with the Islamic "eye-for-an-eye" law of retribution, otherwise known as "qesas".
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