By Mansoureh Galestan
The Iranian regime’s President Hassan Rouhani tries to paint himself as a human rights defender but the actual evidence discredits this notion, according to political scientist Dr Majid Rafizadeh who has been writing about the suspicious deaths of political prisoners in Iran’s prisons.
Last week, political prisoner Alireza Shirmohammadali was stabbed to death in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, dying before the guards even got to the scene.
Shirmohammadali, 21, was on a hunger strike to protest prison conditions when he died, shedding light on an important situation that the regime would rather keep hidden, and it appears that the regime orchestrated his murder by removing guards from the ward, bribing prisoners to attack him, and cutting telephone lines.
In a letter, Shirmohammadali wrote: “We went on a hunger strike because of the lack of facilities and threats to personal safety inside the prison… The safety of our lives is of no concern to the prison authorities… Just yesterday, Reza Haghverdi, one of the prison officers, told us very directly that our hunger strike is going to end with death certificates… We have asked the authorities to look into our requests many times but they have not done so.”
Shirmohammadali was arrested in July 2018 on vague charges of “insulting sacred religious beliefs,” “insulting the supreme leader” and “propaganda against the state” for comments he posted on social media. These charges carry the death penalty in an attempt to stop people from criticising the Regime.
Under Iranian law, prisoners of different categories are supposed to be house separately, so that political prisoners aren’t housed with murderers, but this did not happen for Shirmohammadali and he is far from the only one.
During the widespread anti-regime protests last year, thousands of Iranians were arrested, including Vahid Heydari and Sina Ghanbari. Heydari, 22, and Ghanbari, 23, died shortly afterwards in police custody, with authorities claiming that both men killed themselves. The regime could provide no credible evidence that the men would do this, but brushing off suspicious deaths as suicides is something that the mullahs are used to.
They are still trying to claim that Iranian-Canadian Environmentalist Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami committed suicide after being arrested for “spying” when he was actually monitoring rare animals with the permission of the regime.
And these are just some of the deaths reported by the Regime. The actual number of deaths is likely much more.
Dr Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “In a nutshell, more and more people are being killed in Iran’s prisons. This should cause alarm in the international community and particularly the UN Human Rights Council, whose duty it is to prevent such atrocities and promote human rights. Instead of appeasing the Iranian regime, the EU must also hold Tehran accountable.”