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Iranian Regime Officials Violate Prisoners of Conscience

Iran Roundtable received reports that Iranian security forces wrapped in anti-riot gear and wielding metal batons beat political prisoners for approximately five hours in Iran’s most notorious prison – Evin.  On the morning of 17 April, Ministry of Intelligence officials, with approximately 100 guards dressed in riot gear reportedly entered ‘Section 350’ of the prison to ‘conduct a search’.
 Reportedly more than 30 prisoners were injured, and at least four had to be transferred to a hospital outside the prison. The transportation of prisoners to hospital is considered a rare event as medical aid is actively withheld from prisoners. 
According to the reports, scores of prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement despite having sustained grave injuries from the unprovoked assault. They were further beaten with batons during their transfer. Some prisoners reportedly sustained broken ribs and skull fractures. 
Despite calls and protests by the prisoners’ family members, the government has refrained from making any statements on the incident, whilst the head of Iran Prisons Organization, Gholamreza Esmaili, has dismissed the report as ‘rumours sparked by opposers of the revolution’.  He was quoted by ILNA, Iran's semi-official news agency, commenting "we should not pay attention to reports by the anti-revolutionary media". It became evident that the Iranian authorities have no intention of responding appropriately to this serious violation of the human rights of the prisoners of conscience.
Amnesty International created an urgent action calling on the Iranian authorities to ensure that all prisoners receive the medical care they require; urging them to protect those in solitary confinement from torture and other ill-treatment, and to have access to family visitation rights, and lawyers. The renowned international human rights organization further called on the Iranian government to immediately conduct an independent, impartial, and thorough investigation into what took place at the prison, including why so many prisoners were injured, and whether guards and officials used unnecessary or excessive force. 
The Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ], which is based in New York, reported that at least seven journalists were among those attacked when Iranian guards and intelligence officials carried out the raid.
Iran Roundtable has called on the Iranian regime and the new administration of President Hassan Rouhani to cooperate with the international mandates and bodies in charge of human rights safeguards in Iran. Iran is party to a key international human rights treaty that provides strong human rights protection for all people, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966; notably Article 7 prohibition of torture, cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It may be argued that the actions of the guards, in the presence of ministry officials amounted to torture and cruel treatment/punishment; thus, violating this a provision of international law. 
Iran Roundtable’s President, Sharif Behruz, issued a statement calling "... on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, to initiate an independent and impartial investigation into the deteriorating situation of prisoners of conscience in Iran, and the April 17th raid at Evin prison.  Once more, we call on the government of Iran to co-operate with the UN Special Raportuer, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, and to permit his entry into Iran in order to carry out his mandate”.   
Behruz further urged the international community, in particular the United States to condemn “this barbaric act” against political prisoners in Iran, and to raise the issue openly with the regime officials via the available dialogue mechanisms forged. Behruz added “all these available channels of dialogue must be utilized to further the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran by supporting the defenceless prisoners of conscience and exerting maximum pressure on the regime in Iran to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens”.

IranRoundtable, Staff Writer
April 28, 2014

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