Death Row Inmate Abruptly Transferred, Imminent Execution Feared
A local source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the abrupt transfer of Younes Aghayan, a political prisoner on death row, from his prison cell to other detention locations, has sparked fears of his imminent execution.
According to the local source, Special Police Forces transferred a handcuffed, foot-cuffed, and blindfolded Younes Aghayan from Orumiyeh Prison to Police Headquarters in Mahabad. The Mahabad Prosecutor stated that he was unaware of the reasons for the prisoner’s transfer. After hours of waiting, Orumiyeh Special Police Forces delivered him to Mahabad Police Headquarters, where he was kept until 9:00 p.m. in a cell until a Mahabad police official, Colonel Valizadeh, ordered his transfer to Karaj (outside Tehran) for court proceedings. On 21 June, Younes Aghayan appeared at Karaj General and Revolutionary Courts but a judge at the Special Crimes Unit of the Karaj Courts disavowed knowledge about the reasons for his transfer, and refused to authorize his transfer to one of the prisons in Karaj.
“He was transferred back to Mahabad Prison and delivered to prison authorities there. On Saturday, 23 June, Head of Mahabad Prison Sentence Enforcement Unit stated that they are awaiting orders from the Supreme Court, and if Aghayan’s sentence is finalized, they will execute him over the coming days. Considering the Supreme Court has finalized the sentence, the execution of this prisoner of conscience could be imminent. After waiting for days, the prisoner’s father was allowed to visit with him for a short time today,” the source told the Campaign.
Younes Aghayan is a follower of the Yari faith (Ahl-e Haq) from the village of Ooch Tappeh, near Miandoab. In October 2004, police raided Ooch Tappeh village to remove signs with religious writings of Yari faith. When villagers resisted the raid and confronted the police, Younes Aghayan, 21, and another Yari faith follower by the name of Mehdi Ghassemzadeh (Aghayan’s uncle) were arrested. In January 2005, the two men were put on trial by Branch Two of Mahabad Revolutionary Court, and were sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “carrying ammunition and arms,” and to death on charges of “armed resistence against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” After the Supreme Court confirmed the sentences, Mehdi Ghassemzadeh was executed in 2008, and Younes Aghayan has remained on death row inside Orumiyeh Prison since then. Mehdi Ghassemzadeh was executed without the knowledge of his family and his court-appointed lawyer, and according to the source, his body was never returned to his family for burial.
According to local sources, Yari faith followers (Ahl-e Haq) live predominantly in Iran’s western provinces of Kermanshah, Lorestan, and West Azerbaijan. They are followers of the Shiite First Imam, Imam Ali, and hold their spiritual ceremonies through playing music and performing whirling dances of dervishes. Outside sources have alleged that many members of Ahl-e Haq were killed during the 2004 raid.