A protester who died in custody had confided to his family that inmates were forced to take pills that made them sick, Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi revealed on Twitter on January 16.
“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.
According to human rights activists and sources, three to five prisoners who had participated in the recent widespread protests against Iran’s regime and its leaders, have been killed in custody.
Iranian officials insist that only two of the detainees died behind bars after committing suicide.
Furthermore, they maintained that the two were drug addicts and had been arrested for their involvement in distributing narcotics.
Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei claimed there is footage documenting the suicides of Sina Ghanbari and Vahid Heydari in Tehran and Arak, respectively.
Mohseni Ejei was echoing comments earlier made by Central Province Prosecutor Abbas Ghassemi.
“There were definite signs of self-beating on this individual. There is also a film showing the moment he committed suicide. Therefore, the evidence confirms that his death was caused by suicide,” Ghassemi told Mizan, the judiciary’s official news agency, on January 10.
Authorities have not released the alleged footage they claim to have.
In the meantime, Heydari’s lawyer, Mohammad Najafi, told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that other detainees had reported beatings at the station where Heydari died.
“On the first day of protests in Arak on December 30, there were no street confrontations. But on the second day, it dragged into a little bit of tension and confrontation. Vahid Heydari was arrested on this day,” said Najafi, who had offered his services pro bono to Heydari’s family.
“We have received reports of cases of people who were beaten at that police station during this period,” he added. “We have also visited Heydari’s village near Arak and spoke to his family and associates who have denied he was ever an addict or sold drugs. They are very upset.”
Iran has so far ignored the calls of human rights activists, including UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Asma Jahangir, to make the footage accessible to the public.