While hundreds of demonstrators have extended their protests in front of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, demanding information about loved ones who disappeared in anti-establishment protests, Amnesty International describes the situation of detainees in Iran as “alarming”.
In a statement published Tuesday, January 9, Amnesty International (AI) called upon Iranian authorities to immediately investigate reports that at least five people have died in custody and take all necessary steps to protect detainees from torture and prevent any further deaths.
Meanwhile, after it was revealed that 23-year old protester, Sina Ghanbari “committed suicide” behind bars, a prosecutor announced that another young protester, Vahid Heydari has also died as a result of “suicide” in Arak detention Center, in central Iran.
Campaign for Human Rights in Iran announced on Tuesday that another young protester, Mohsen Adeli has also reportedly committed “suicide” in prison in Dezful, southwest Iran. But local authorities denied this, insisting that he was never detained. Their version of events is that Adeli was wounded by accident during the protests and later died in hospital
In an interview with Radio Farda, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist, Nasrin Sotoudeh said on Tuesday that, based on what she has heard, two more detainees have died in Evin’s “quarantine section”, and prison officials have classified the cases as “suicide”.
Referring to all these cases, AI insists in its statement, “The shroud of secrecy and lack of transparency over what happened to these detainees is alarming”
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi, affirms, “Instead of rushing to the judgment that they committed suicide, the authorities must immediately launch an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation, including independent autopsies”.
AI’s statement, reiterating that the Islamic Republic is responsible for the well-being of detainees, notes, “We have long documented the nightmarish conditions in detention facilities in Iran, including the use of torture”.
Moreover, AI has called upon the Islamic republic’s authorities to suspend “those suspected of having any responsibility for these deaths from their positions and prosecuted in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty.”
According to Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of parliament, more than 37,00 have been arrested in recent protests, which broke out in Iran’s second largest city, Mashhad on December 28, and swiftly spread to many other cities.
“The authorities must not only inform family members of detainees’ whereabouts, but also allow families to visit detainees and ensure they have legal representation. Nobody should face reprisals for inquiring about the whereabouts of a loved one or seeking truth about their fate,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.