Sunni Prisoners Pressured to Falsely Confess for TV Documentary
“Prison officials took out eight of the prisoners, who have different sentences, from the ward in the morning. When they returned to the ward 12 hours later, the mental conditions of none of them were good. The intelligence forces had told them that they had to make confessions for a documentary film, about things they hadn’t done. One of these prisoners has a master’s degree in law, and another has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and they are both sentenced to several years in prison. Two of the other prisoners have execution sentences against them. It is not clear why these prisoners must give false confessions,” the source told the Campaign, adding that the Sunni prisoners were worried and concerned after what had happened.
The source, himself a Sunni activist, described the eight men’s descriptions of the threats they received. “They said, ‘Since we have not committed those things, we will not make false confessions either.’ But the intelligence agents told them, ‘If you do not confess, it will end up working against you.’ They said, ‘You won’t be given conditional parole, you won’t be granted prison furlough, and your visitations will be restricted.’ They even said, ‘This will be disadvantageous to your families.’”
The Campaign has received the names of those prisoners who have been put under pressure to give false confessions for the documentary film. They are Mohammad Baraei, sentenced to ten years in prison; Kaveh Vaisi, who has been in prison for four years without being issued a sentence; Namegh Deldel with a three-year prison sentence; Adel Gholami, a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with a three-year prison sentence; Osman Radbai with a three-year prison sentence; Moaz Hakimi who holds a Master’s degree in law and has been sentenced to three years in prison; Jamal Soleimani, sentenced to 11 years in prison; and Pourya Mohammadi, sentenced to death.
“They were told that they must say in front of the camera that they intended to destroy and overthrow the regime, which of course is false. They did not have such a desire. The charges brought against them include ‘acting against national security,’ ‘efforts to topple the regime,’ and ‘promoting views of Sunni tradition,’ and also the charge of ‘moharebeh,’ enmity with God, for the two prisoners sentenced to death, but they have never taken any action to destroy the regime. They only wanted the rights and the dignity of Sunni people to be respected,” the source said about what the eight prisoners are expected to say in the documentary film.
According to sources who have spoken to the Campaign about Sunni prisoners at Rajaee Shahr Prison, at this time about 170 Sunni prisoners from various provinces with large Sunni populations, such as Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan, are being held in this prison. About 20 of them are facing death, and many have been in prison for years without a court trial or a verdict.
“Most of them accepted their charges under torture. When we are arrested, we are severely tortured. They even took some in front of the camera to, for example, say that they wanted to assassinate a state figure. These were mostly young men who had no experience and became victims of the regime’s policies, appearing on camera for fear of further torture. But these are policies of the Iranian regime, which wants to uproot Sunnis,” the source had told the Campaign in a previous interview about Sunni prisoners’ forced confessions at Rajaee Shahr Prison.
According to data collected by the Campaign, the arrest of minority Sunnis has intensified in Iran since 2009. These arrests have occurred mostly in towns where Iranian Sunnis reside, such as Javanrood, Javansar, Saghez, Baneh, Bukan, Sardasht, Mahabad, and Piranshahr.