Detained Sufis Kept in Solitary and Dangerous Wards for Refusing to “Express Remorse” for Peaceful Prison Protests
A number of detained Sufi dervishes of the Gonabadi Order have been kept in solitary confinement or transferred to a ward with dangerous inmates because of participation in a protest crushed by guards inside Iran’s Great Tehran Penitentiary (GTP).
The confined protesters have also been denied family visitation, a relative of one of the Gonabadi detainees told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on September 4.
“The authorities say if the dervishes want to return to their previous wards they have to express remorse but they have refused to do so because they believe they did nothing wrong,” added the source, who wished to remain anonymous.
About 300 Gonabadi Sufis are behind bars in GTP wards 2, 3 and 4 for their alleged role in a clash with police and security forces in Tehran in February 2018 that resulted in the death of one dervish and three policemen.
At least 20 of the protesters have been given heavy prison sentences in rulings by preliminary Revolutionary Courts.
On August 29, GTP guards attacked about 30 dervishes who resumed a sit-in, which began on June 13 outside an officer’s post in Ward 3, to protest the detention of Sufi women in Gharchak Prison, located south of Tehran.
As a result of the attack, some protesters suffered broken bones and a number of them were moved to solitary confinement as punishment.
“Families of the detainees gathered and protested outside the prison until finally we were able to visit our loved ones on Saturday [September 1, 2018] and they said some of the dervishes are still in solitary confinement and are not allowed visitation,” the source told CHRI.
Meanwhile nine of the detained Sufis who were moved to a ward with inmates convicted of violent crimes, have gone on a hunger strike, according to the source. “The authorities have taken away the detainees’ phone cards and they cannot contact anyone outside and as a result we don’t have much information about their situation.”