Young Activist Dies Under Suspicious Circumstances in Iranian Jail

Written by Mansoureh Galestan 

A young Iranian Arab man named Benyamin Albughobeish has been killed in an Iranian prison, according to local human rights sources in Ahvaz, south-western Iran.

According to the report, on June 26, Benyamin’s family received a phone call from the Iranian Intelligence Ministry office in Ahvaz, informing them of the death of their son at the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in the city.

Benyamin Albughobeish, 29, along with his brother Mohammad-Ali Albughobeish, 26, and his mother, Maryam Zobeidi, 52, were arrested on March 15, 2018, by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in Ahvaz.

Benyamin Albughobeish and his brother were released on bail several months later, while their mother was transferred to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz and subsequently released on bail around December 2018. Both men were rearrested in early 2019 and released on bail after two months.

One of Albughobeish’s relatives said, “They killed Benyamin under torture. He was young and healthy and had no problems. The intelligence agents have tortured and threatened him and his mother, who was imprisoned in Sepidar Prison”.

On 26 May 2019, Benyamin Albughobeish and his brother and mother were arrested again. Benyamin was transferred to a detention centre believed to be under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. His brother was transferred to Sheyban Prison in Ahvaz and their mother to Sepidar Prison, where they remain to date.

On Friday, June 28, 2019, Amnesty International said on its website the Iranian authorities must urgently carry out an effective and impartial investigation into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Benyamin Alboghbiesh.

It said Alboghbiesh was arrested on 26 May. Just a month later, on 26 June, his family were informed by an intelligence official believed to be affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards that he had died at a detention centre in Ahvaz, in southern Iran. The authorities have yet to return his body to his family, the human rights group said.

Given the systematic use of torture in Iranian detention facilities, the death of a young man, from a widely persecuted ethnic minority group and with no known health conditions, so soon after his arrest raises serious concerns that he was subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and that this may have caused or contributed to his death, Amnesty International said.

“Benyamin Alboghbiesh was a healthy young adult when he was arrested. His alarming death just over a month later raises serious concerns about his treatment and conditions of detention, including the possible use of torture. The Iranian authorities must immediately order an effective and impartial investigation into his death, including an independent autopsy,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“A state’s failure to adequately investigate potentially unlawful deaths in custody is a breach of the right to life. Anyone found to be responsible for his death must be held accountable through a fair trial and without resorting to the death penalty.”

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