Amnesty International (AI) says it is shocked at the murder of a 21-year-old prisoner of conscience, Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali, at Fashafouyeh Prison in Iran.
Shir Mohammad Ali's attorney, Mohammad Hadi Erfanian Kasseb, announced on June 12 that his client had been stabbed 30 times on June 10 after leaving his solitary confinement cell.
Extending its heartfelt condolences to Shir Mohammad Ali's family, AI wrote on Twitter, "We call on the Iranian authorities to conduct an investigation into his death."
The Tehran Prosecutor's office of public relations announced that it is conducting an investigation, and the justice department issued indictments against two murder suspects.
Reportedly, two inmates attacked Shir Mohammad Ali on the night of June 10, at Fashafouyeh, otherwise known as the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary.
"My client was apparently held in a ward next to a solitary cell occupied by two inmates convicted of murder," Erfanian Kasseb told Iran’s official news agency (IRNA), adding, "Sadly, it is not yet clear what happened on the night of the murder".
We only know that two (criminals) suddenly attacked my client without any prior clash or dispute and killed him with numerous stabs." Responding to IRNA's question of how the convicts were able to leave their cells, he said, "I am still unaware of the exact details of the incident, but based on my unquestionable information, Shir Mohammad Ali was held in a ward next to the solitary cell where the two criminals were behind bars".
The cell was always locked. Nevertheless, on the night of the murder, the two convicts somehow managed to pull my client into the cell and murder him."
He criticized the fact that he has not yet received a report on the murder case. "Even the coroner's office had no report on the incident available,” Erfanian Kasseb cited the victim’s relatives as saying.
According to the lawyer, his client was killed with more than 30 stabs by a sharp object and died before reaching a hospital in the city of Shahr-e Rey, south of the capital. Shir Mohammad Ali came from Tehran's poverty-stricken Naziabad district in the south of the city. He was initially detained in July 2018 and later sentenced to eight years for anti-regime propaganda, insulting the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Islamic Republic routinely convicts dissidents on similar vague charges. Even a comment on social media can land people in prison and lead to heavy prison sentences.
While the first court sentenced Shir Mohammad Ali to eight years’ discretionary prison sentence, the court of appeals was scheduled to review his case on July 9. Shir Mohammad Ali and fellow inmate Barzan Mohammadi had been on hunger strike from March 14 until April 16, demanding that prisoners should be separated based on their crimes.
They also protested living and health conditions at Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary and the lack of safety inside the prison. The penitentiary is located 32 kilometers (approximately 20 miles) south of the capital.
The prison was initially built as a concentration camp for drug-related convicts. However, intelligence agents often punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience by exiling them there.
There have been numerous reports about inhumane living conditions at the prison, Iran Human Rights Monitor (IHRM) reported on June 11.
"Last September, Gonabadi dervishes were brutalized in this prison for holding a protest sit-in against the beating of their wives and relatives in Qarchak Prison,” it said.
“Political prisoner Soheil Arabi is also currently detained at this prison, where he has been viciously beaten by inmates several times."
Relatives of Shir Mohammad Ali buried him in a private funeral on June 12. Reportedly, he used to manage a Telegram Channel under the title of "Atheists."