Student Activist Ashkan Zahabian Remains in Solitary Confinement
A source close to the case of student activist Ashkan Zahabian told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the prisoner of conscience recently met with his parents while under security supervision. Due to the presence of security forces, Zahabian did not discuss his charges with his parents. Zahabian’s parents surmised from his statements, however, that his interrogations are complete.
‘”Though his interrogations are complete, Ashkan remains in a solitary cell and we don’t know why he is kept under such circumstances. Authorities from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Intelligence Ministry continually keep silent on when his detention may end or about the legal process of his case,” the source told the Campaign. According to the source, Zahabian was in good spirits during the visit and did not complain about his conditions in prison conditions. He told his family not to worry.
“The fact that he has remained in continuous solitary confinement in the past 37 days and the state of limbo regarding his charges and his case are both worrisome and damaging to his family, as they can’t see any legal reasons for continuing this situation,” a source close to the family of Zahabian told the Campaign.
Ashkan Zahabian turned himself in to judicial authorities on 1 May, expecting to be transferred to Babol Prison to start serving his six-month prison term. As in other cases, security authorities asked his family not to speak to the media and to refrain from providing information about their son’s case.
Ashkan Zahabian was arrested on 16 June 2009 and sentenced to six months on prison on charges of “disrupting order,” “inciting people to demonstrate,” and “organizing Mazandaran University protests.” He was arrested for the second time on 5 November 2009 on charges of “acting against national security through forming the Islamic Associations organization in Northern Iran.” According to a source, if Zahabian was summoned to commence his prison term, he shouldn’t have been transferred to the Intelligence Office, but rather should have been taken to prison. Zahabian was a student campaigner at the campaign headquarters of Mehdi Karroubi in the city of Babol. During post-election arrests, he was severely beaten by security forces and in one instance was unconscious for three days. He was imprisoned for a total of 8 weeks.
In 2008, Zahabian was suspended for one academic term because of his student activism. Only four days after the disputed election of 2009, he was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence. Plainclothes forces known as Ansar-e Hezbollah severely beat him during his arrest. During Student’s Day protests on 4 November 2009, he was arrested for the second time. A Revolutionary Court in Babol sentenced him to six months in prison in his absence. In February 2009, while still suspended, he was banned from continuing his education based on an Intelligence Ministry decision, and was expelled from university just one term shy of graduating.