31 protesters died in streets & detention centres; more than 3,700 detained

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The following report is based on two Persian-language statements dated 8 January 2018 and 9 January 2018, which LDDHI issued as updates to the Press Release “Iran: Government must respect rights, show restraint in dealing with nationwide protests”, 3 January 2018.

• Three detainees lose their lives in Tehran’s Evin prison
• One detainee commits “suicide” in the city of Arak
• One more protester dies in Dezful
• Detainees are tortured to “confess” affiliation to foreign powers
• Some detainees disappear
• More than 3,700 detained during recent protests

Four detainees die in custody
The number of protesters detained during the recent unrests, who have lost their lives in detention, reached at least four. Ms Nasrin Sotoudeh, the prominent human rights lawyer, announced on 9 January 2018 that a total of three detainees, including Sina Qanbari, a 23-year-old male detainee, had lost their lives in Teheran’s Evin prison, according to the information she had received from other detainees.

According to an announcement by Member of Parliament for Tehran Mahmood Sadeqi on 8 January 2018, Evin prison officials had confirmed to him that Sina Qanbari had committed “suicide” in detention. Mashreqnews, a news website that is closely associated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), claimed that the young detainee had been arrested by the police for possessing drugs.

Vahid Haydari, another young male detainee, also died after allegedly committing “suicide” in Arak prison, in central Iran. Prison officials and the city prosecutor claimed that he had been arrested for carrying 10 grams of heroin. Mr Mohammad Najafi, a lawyer in Arak, said that Mr Haydari had died as a result of heavy blows and his murderers were trying to disgrace him, according to a report by Radio France International. He emphasised that the security forces had put strong pressure on the victim’s family. A civil rights activist in Arak also said that Mr Haydari’s family members, who saw his body, had noticed a deep cut on the left side of his head. His uncle said that the family had been forced to hastily bury Mr Haydari at a location that the security forces had specified in the city’s cemetery.

It appears that the authorities in Iran are intent on repeating allegations about “suicide” and possession of drugs in regard to all detainees who lose their lives in custody.

Mohsen Adeli died as a result of a Kalashnikov bullet in the head during street protests in Dezful, a city in the southern Khuzestan province, on 30 December 2017 and was buried on 5 January 2018. His family did not have any information about him for three days, because the security forces had moved his body to a morgue in the provincial capital Ahvaz. Reports about his death and video footage of his burial were published on the Internet. Some sources had reported his demise in Dezful prison.

The above figures bring the total number of deaths during the protests to 31, including two security agents and two young schools students, whose deaths were confirmed by the minister of education. Until 8 January 2018, a total of 26 protesters had died. LDDHI tallied the figures of casualties based on announcements made by local officials in different cities: 4 in Khomeinishahr, 6 in Qahdrijan, 3 in Shahinshahr, 4 in Dorood, 6 in Tuyserkan, 2 in Izeh, 1 in Kahriz-sang (near Najafabad). Central government officials have not made any announcements on the total figure of casualties. The real figure of casualties is estimated to be higher.

Detainees disappeared
Families of a number of detained protesters have not been able to obtain any information about their loved ones. Among them are Ashkan Absavaran, a 20-year-old male detainee, and Sepideh Farhan (Farahabadi), a young female. Ashkan Absavaran informed his family of his detention in a telephone call on 4 January. Officials of Evin prison told his family later that he had disappeared.

The IRGC and its affiliated paramilitary force, the Basij, have been mainly responsible for the heavy crackdown on the protesters. Having initially denied direct involvement in repressing the protesters, the IRGC commander declared on 3 January that they had taken action in three provinces. Furthermore, the IRGC has been responsible for torturing the detainees in order to make false confessions in Wards 2A and 240 of Evin prison.

Lives of all detained protesters are at risk. There is a clear precedent in Iranian prisons. The killing of several protesters detained in Karizak detention centre (2009), the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Ms Zahra Kazem (2003) and the dissident blogger Sattar Beheshti (2012), the death under highly suspicious circumstances of prisoners of conscience Akbar Mohammadi (2006), Valiollah Fayz-Mahdavi (2006), and Hoda Saber (2011), the dissident blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi (2009) and the trade unionist Shahrokh Zamani (2015) are a few examples among tens of others, which have previously been documented in more detail. [1]

In a worrying development, a number of Iranian authorities have reported detention of “leaders” of protests. President of the unconstitutional Islamic Revolution Courts declared on 2 January: “As a rule, one of the charges to be brought against certain people who were involved in disturbances as leaders is moharebeh (fighting God).

Expressing grave concern for the lives of detainees, Karim Lahidji, FIDH honorary president and LDDHI president, said: “The right to assembly and protest is a basic human right. Any resorting to vaguely worded and inhuman charges against the protesters, including moharebe, shall be a gross violation of the Iranian regime’s obligations under international human rights instruments and shall only aggravate the already catastrophic human rights violations record of the Iranian authorities before the international institutions.”

More than 3,700 detained
A spokesperson of the Ministry of interior told journalists on 8 January that he was unable to provide the precise number of detainees. Nevertheless, MP Mahmood Sadeqi announced on 9 January that the various security forces had detained more than 3,700 people during the protests in different parts of the country. Unofficial reports indicated that more than 1,000 protesters had been detained alone in the southern city of Ahvaz and the surrounding towns, including 400 women in Izeh. Member of Parliament for Izeh said most of the detainees were young people aged 16 to 24.

Official sources have confirmed that 90 university students were detained, in most cases as preventive measures. However, names of more than 100 detained students as well as at least four detained labour activists have been recorded.

League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) strongly urged the Iranian authorities to:

  respect the legal rights of and due process for all prisoners and detainees;
  release immediately all protesters who have exercised their right to assembly under international human rights law;
  - facilitate independent investigations about officials responsible for the death of protesters in different cities and torture of the detainees, and allow independent judges to try the perpetrators.

League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI)

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