Increased Pressure on Activists in Babol: Forced Confessions, Mistreatment, and Torture
A local source in Babol told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that several activists arrested in the northern city during recent protests on 14 and 20 February have been released from prison, though the status of many detainees is still unknown. Those detainees include: Mohsen Barzegar (former Cultural Secretary, Islamic Association of Noshirvani Industrial University in Babol), Iman Sedighi (former Political Secretary, Islamic Association of Noshirvani Industrial University in Babol), and Fariba Asadian, mother of Moeen Eslami Jam (former Organization Secretary, Islamic Association of Noshirvani Industrial University in Babol). According to the source, Hossein Zamen Zarrabi, Sara Bagheri, Ali Yazdanpanah, Ramtin Meghdadi, Danial Zargarian, Milad Taheri, Ali Gholampour, Siavosh Chitgar, Amir Hossein Rostami, Mahmoud Shagerd Dabbagh, and Ehsan Parvin were arrested by security forces during the 14 and 20 February protests but were released from prison on bail.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Babol announced the charges against these student activists as, “acting against national security through riots and inciting people to demonstrate,” and “propagating against the regime.” Bail amounts for Hossein Zamen Zarrabi (Secretary of the Poetry and Literature Center, Islamic Association of Noshirvani Industrial University) and Noshirvani University student activists Ali Yazdanpanah and Sara Bagheri were set at $30,000 each; for Ramtin Meghdadi, the youngest campaign activist for Mir Hossein Mousavi’s presidential campaign in Mazandaran, $20,000; and between $10,000 and $20,000 for other activists. After their release, some of the activists returned to Prosecutor’s Office in order to provide their last defense. Several of them said that the Prosecutor presented them with a hand-written letter showing their friend’s confessions and instructed them to confess to their roles in the protests in Babol. They were threatened that if they did not confess they would be returned to prison. The student and political activists objected to the manner of their interrogations by security authorities, and told the Prosecutor that after their arrests they were severely beaten by security and police authorities. The activists would not confirm their statements made during interrogations in detention, as the interrogations were done under duress and torture.
The said local source also told the Campaign that Intelligence Ministry forces went to the home of Moeen Eslami Jam (former Secretary of Organization, Islamic Association of Noshirvani Industrial University) and arrested his mother, Fariba Asadian. So far, Asadian’s charges and detention location are not known.
The conditions of Tahkim-e Vahdat members Mohsen Barzegar and Iman Sedighi are also still unknown at this time. In recent days, the Prosecutor told the families of Barzegar and Sedighi that, “we won’t release your children until things calm down.” During a call to the Province’s Intelligence Office, in the presence of their families, Deputy Babol Prosecutor Akbarzadeh told intelligence forces to crack down on these activists forcefully and without exception.
In recent days, Barzegar informed his family of his poor health inside the solitary ward of Sari Intelligence Office Prison (Shahid Khachouei), and asked them to take his medication to the Mazandaran Province Intelligence Office. After Barzegar’s arrest on 14 February, his family went to the Prosecutor’s Office in Babol on numerous occasions and tried to get the medication to him, but each time the authorities dismissed the request. Barzegar’s family presented his prescriptions to the Prosecutor, telling him that their son’s health could be jeopardized if he did not take his medication regularly.
There is also news that Iman Sedighi was on hunger strike inside Mati Kola Prison in Babol for five days to protest the ambiguities in his case. Babol’s security and judicial authorities told the Sedighi that unless he ends his hunger strike, his conditional release after an earlier arrest would be revoked and he would have to serve five months in prison. Witnesses who last saw Sedighi inside the prison reported that his health is deteriorating and that several Intelligence Ministry forces transferred him in handcuffs, ankle chains, and blindfolds from Mati Kola Prison to Sari’s Intelligence Office Prison (Shahid Kachouei).