(3 November 2008) Ebrahim Rashidi is a poet, writer and Mechanical Engineering graduate of Orumieh University. On 5 August 2008, he was sent to prison to begin serving his five-month prison sentence.
Rashidi is a founding member of the Azeri non-governmental organization Topraq, co-founder and director of the Ostad Shahriar Forum at Orumieh University, director of the student publication Oldooz, secretary of the Boloot publication and managing editor of the publications Bakhish and Opanish. He was also an Azeri language and literature teacher at Orumieh University and medical school. Rashidi was among the master’s degree candidates who were barred from receiving their certificates in 2006.
Rashidi was arrested multiple times in 2003 and kept in the Intelligence Offices of Orumieh, Ahar and Ardabil. He was also kept in Evin Prison. After being in prison for two months and being interrogated and tortured, he was released on 9 June 2006, posting approximately $10,000 (100 million Rials) bail. On 22 April 2007, by the direction of the 102nd Branch of the Orumieh Court, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment and twenty whiplashes. The 10th Branch of the Appeals Court of Western Azerbaijan confirmed his sentence on 1 October 2007, but changed his twenty whiplashes sentence to a fine of approximately $5,000 (50 million Rials).
Rashidi, in a letter to publicize the denial of his rights wrote that, “After being released when people asked if I was tortured while in custody I would say no, because in my opinion, torture is having a hot iron on your body and having your fingernails pulled out. In the summer of 2003 though, while in prison in Ardabil, I was kept in a dark cell. While in prison in Ahar in 2006 I slept four nights on a wet, cold and dirty floor. For 43 days during my two months in Orumieh I was kept in solitary confinement. Because of the lack of fruits, vegetables, vitamins and any healthy food in my diet, the majority of my teeth and gums became infected and bloody. These are essentially forms of torture. I didn’t even consider physical abuse to be torture, but I was consistently beaten with punches and kicks in order to divulge information.”