Family Members of Prisoners Beaten Outside Evin Prison
A human rights activist told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that dozens of family members of political prisoners who had gone to Evin Prison hoping to receive bail or furlough orders for their kin, faced insults and in some cases beatings from prison officers. According to this eyewitness, though most families showed up to Evin Prison Court following instructions to post bail or introduce custodians [in lieu of bail], they were kept from entering Evin Court and court officials refused to accept their bail or custodians for prisoner release. The eyewitness identified those attacking families as police officers, soldiers stationed at the prison, and certain employees of Evin Prison Court, who routinely insult and abuse family members of political prisoners.
“Most people gathered in front of Evin Prison are family members of those arrested on 14 and 20 February and 1 March whose relatives remain inside different wards of Evin Prison. These families went to Evin Prison hoping to see their relatives released on bail or in their custody,” the human rights activist told the Campaign.
The human rights activist told the Campaign that officers and authorities insult prisoners and their families. “I witnessed one of the soldiers who came in the middle of the crowd and beat and dispersed the families,” he said.
According to reports, during the three days of protest on 14 and 20 February and 1 March, more than 1,000 protesters were arrested, hundreds of whom remain inside different detention centers and Evin Prison.
“The sister of one of the detainees told me: ‘My brother is only 17 years old. He was arrested along with a large of number of other under-18 protesters; they are all detained inside a correctional facility, and despite his bail ruling, they refuse to allow me to post his bail in order to release him.’ The old mother of another detainee, an Azeri speaker who spoke Farsi with difficulty, told me that she is waiting for her son who is her only kin. She said her son is a laborer who was arrested on his way home from work on 1 March, and he has not been released since. She said that she has no one in Tehran and is unable to raise bail or introduce a custodian [for her son’s release]. The father of another prisoner who was facing verbal abuse of officers kept smiling and shaking his head, saying that he would not retort, so that he could see his son released. Another family member who resisted the beating of a prison soldier, and pushed him aside, faced an officer who told him: ‘Even if the judge decides to release your prisoner [relative], I won’t allow it.’ People said that every day dozens of prisoner families gather here from early in the morning until late at night, under snow and rain, awaiting the roll call of prisoners who are released on bail,” said the human rights activist about various conversations he had with families of political prisoners in front of Evin Prison.
Evin Prison Court (Shahid Moghaddas) is a part of the Revolutionary Court system which has eight investigative branches and is located inside the Evin Prison complex. Former Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered Evin Prison Court closed after due process requirements were continuously not observed and because the court prevented lawyers and families of political prisoners from attending sessions or from having access to case files.
Following the post-election protests of 2009, which resulted in the arrests of thousands of journalists, political, student, women’s rights, human rights and labor activists, and regular protesting citizens, Evin Prison Court was re-opened on orders from the new Head of the Juridiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani. Currently, all judicial cases pertaining to political prisoners in Tehran are handled in this Court.
Aside from being located inside Evin Prison Complex, many individuals who have been put on trial there or whose cases were reviewed inside this court, have reported that the entire court is under the intense influence of security organizations. This influence is so marked, that security interrogators and forces exert complete control over political cases. They even determine sentences prior to the trial and judge’s verdict, and inform the suspects of their sentences beforehand.
Before being sentenced to 11 years in prison by a lower court, prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told the Campaign that her interrogators and security forces told her that she would not receive a sentence shorter than 10 years. Other political prisoners have also testified to the influence of security organizations that eliminates the possibility of any fair trial based on international standards.