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Outspoken Tehran MP Says 'Stop Threatening Us', Let Us Visit Prisons

Protests in front of Evin prison in Tehran, demanding release of recently arrested detainees, January 9, 2018

Tehran’s outspoken MP, Mahmoud Sadeghi has responded to threats by the Islamic Republic’s Prisons Agency.

“Instead of threatening [us]… let the legislators visit prisons,” Sadeghi has tweeted. Many legislators have repeatedly requested permission to visit Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Immediately after Sadeghi revealed that a protester who died behind bars had earlier told his relatives that he and other prisoners were forced to take pills that made them sick, the Islamic Republic’s Prison Agency threatened him with being legally charged.

Sadeghi, who is renowned for not mincing his words, noted in another tweet, “It’s good for the Prisons Agency to explain its responsibility concerning a healthy person it places behind bars, but later delivers his dead body to his family”.

Tehran’s MP was the first person who disclosed the case of detainees forced to take pills in Evin prison, in Tehran.

“Relatives of a prisoner, who later died behind bars, have announced that he had told them on several telephone conversations that the officials of the prison forced him and other prisoners to take pills that made them sick,” he wrote.

The Prisons Agency’s public relations department on Thursday, January 18, denied in a statement that prisoners in Evin, were forced to take pills that made them sick.

Mahmoud Sadeghi , an outspoken MP and a member of the reformist faction of parliament..
Mahmoud Sadeghi , an outspoken MP and a member of the reformist faction of parliament..

“These unfounded and imaginary claims amount to spreading lies and disturbing public opinion,” the Prisons Agency said in a statement, threatening, “Those who present such claims will be sued and legally charged as soon as possible in the Revolution and Public Courts”.

Earlier, the Islamic Republic’s Prosecutor-General, mid-ranlking clergy Mohammad Jafar Montazeri had maintained that a 23-year old prisoner, Sina Ghanbari, who died in custody in Tehran, had been a drug addict and committed suicide in Evin.

The judiciary spokesman, another mid-ranking clergy, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei has gone even further, saying that Sina Ghanbari’s suicide has been documented on CCTV, but so far no forage has been made public.

Islamic Republic’s officials have repeated the same explanation for another young prisoner, 23-year old peddler, Vahid Heydari who died in custody in a police station in city of Arak, central Iran.

Heydari’s pro bono lawyer, Mohammad Najafi categorically denied the claim, insisting that his client was not an addict and did not commit suicide.

Days after these comments, Najafi was arrested on Monday, January 15, while leaving his house.

Many defenders and activists across the world, including UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, have repeatedly called upon the authorities in Tehran to present the video evidence they claim to have.

The death notice of 22 year old Vahid Heydari, a protester who died in custody.
The death notice of 22 year old Vahid Heydari, a protester who died in custody.

There have been also reports, recently circulated on social media concerning the deaths of other protesters in custody, including Saro Ghahremani in Sanandaj and Mohesn Adeli in Dezful, but the Islamic Republic’s authorities have dismissed them as unfounded.

Meanwhile, a renowned lawyer and former prisoner of conscience, Nasrin Sotoudeh has called for launching an independent committee to look into these contradictory reports and remarks.

In the meantime, based on comments made by the Islamic Republic’s authorities, MPs and state-run TV reports, 25 people have lost their lives while protesting poverty, unemployment, dictatorship and corruption.

Reportedly, more than forty MPs have sent parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, asking him to assign an independent group to investigate recent death of protesters in custody.

Furthermore, President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy for parliamentary affairs, Hossein Ali Amiri disclosed that 43 MPs have written a letter, asking the president to help release female detainees of recent widespread uprising.

Amiri also said that Rouhani’s administration is following the case of the detainees as far as it is allowed to do so; reflecting limitations the elected government has when it comes to matters of suppressing dissent.