Sunday, August 16, 2020, 72 political prisoners arrested during the November 2019 uprising held at Greater Tehran Prison went on a hunger strike. In a letter posted by HRANA, Human Rights Activists News Agency, on its website, which we also published, the prisoners stated that the reason for their hunger strike was the statements made by Amin Vaziri, Deputy Prosecutor and Superintendent for political prisoners, to their families. The letter read: “Given that even the head of the judiciary has agreed to our leave, Amin Vaziri, the prosecutor’s representative and Superintendent in charge of political prisoners, has explicitly opposed this emergency leave, which could save our lives, and in response to our parents, who say “why you imprisoned our breadwinners”, had explicitly said, “you must starve to death!”
Other reasons for the hunger strike were mentioned in the letter as not being sent on leave due to the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the substandard situation of the Greater Tehran Prison. The letter was signed by 72 people. At the beginning of the signatories list was three names, Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi.
The news of political prisoners hunger strike in Greater Tehran Prison was spread by human rights activists on social media quickly.
One day later, on Monday, August 17, 2020, HRANA reported that “prison officials, in response to” the hunger strike of 72 political prisoners detained during the November 2019 nationwide protests, “summoned a number of signatories to the prison administration office and threatened them by the possibility of opening a new case. On the other hand, in a conversation with several protesting prisoners, the prison security officials promised to address the demands of the protesting prisoners. The protesting prisoners ended their strike with a favorable promise from the authorities.”
On the same day, one of the lawyers of the three sentenced to death, Dr. Babak Paknia, tweeted:
“Due to friends’ concerns, I should say that a few minutes ago I spokes with Amir Hossein Moradi on the phone, he told me that neither him nor Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi have not signed any letter pertaining to hunger strike and are not on hunger strike.”
In the fast process of forming these developments, the signature of Mr. Amin Vaziri, the Deputy Prosecutor and Superintendent of political prisoners, the young, new, ambitious and criminal face of the regime in the Judiciary can be easily recognized. Opening a new case for prisoners and extending their detention this way is one of Amin Vaziri’s favorite methods. On the one hand, Vaziri breaks the spirit of resistance in detainees by imposing restrictions on them inside the prison (restrictions on recreation time, restrictions on the possibility of communication with other prisoners, restrictions on space and facilities, etc.), and on the other hand, expands the circle of persecution out of prison: threatens families and relatives, pressures prisoners’ lawyers, throws dark cocoons of quiet, uncertainty and silence around prisoners, producing contradictory information about prisoners’ fate and spread it in the society, or in that silence, on a dawn, execute a death sentence.
A clear example of his use of Gestapo method is documented in the case of Atena Daemi. Regarding the restrictions imposed on the space inside the prison in order to break the strike, we can refer to the case that has been published in the media: Atbin Jafarian, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Behnam Mahjoubi, political prisoners in Ward 8 of Evin Prison, on the seventh day of their hunger strike. Soheila Hijab has been on a hunger strike in Qarchak prison for three days. According to Iranwire, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband was able to visit his spouse on the sixth day of the strike and described the conditions of the prisoners and the atmosphere in the prison:
On the sixth day of the hunger strike, a representative, usually from among financial crimes prisoners, is chosen, whom according to many of the experienced inmates is in coordination with the warden and prison guards, and threatened the strikers. This happened while “Bagheri”, the head of Ward 8, issued an order to impose restrictions on this section. Going outside in various halls was reduced to two hours a day, and hall doors were closed to prisoners. Prior to that, the passage between the halls was free and going out was not restricted. But the news from halls eight and nine indicates that they are being restricted and the atmosphere is intense. Some of the political and ideological prisoners of Ward 8 of Evin prison have been transferred to medical facilities in the past few days, but there is no news about them, and various restrictions have been imposed on the others since August 16, 2020. Meanwhile, five political and ideological prisoners on hunger strike were threatened by Bagheri on the same day that they would not be granted parole or leave if they did not end their strike. One of these prisoners, Behnam Mahjoubi, needs certain medications due to a neurological disease, which the prison, unlawfully, refuses to provide to this prisoner.
Amin Vaziri uses human beings as a tool to exert psychological pressure and torture: prisoners to put pressure on family, lawyers, and civil society, and family members and relatives to put pressure on prisoners. To break Nasrin Sotoudeh’s hunger strike, arranges arrest of her daughter, Mehraveh, and summons her to Evin Prison Court. As we saw in the last case, the hunger strike of the 72, under pressure, civil activists were forced to even delete their tweets about prisoners’ strike and protests:
There are countless documents left from the cases investigated by the Gestapo (Third Reich Secret Police). One example. Adolf Diamant reports: In the summer of 1933, a young man in the German city of Frankfurt left a folder containing anti-fascist leaflets in the city subway. The folder falls into the hands of the Gestapo. The addresses of those who were intended to distribute these notices were in the folder and there was no need to follow them. The Gestapo intervenes swiftly and raids the address, which was a house in Escherheim. Arrests everyone who lived in that house; except for a mother and her 10-year-old son who were on the Baltic coast at the time of the raid. Gestapo sends two of its agents to the Baltic, arrests the mother and child, and brings them to Frankfurt. The 10-year-old is handed over to his aunt and the mother is interrogated. She is accused of “conspire to commit treason” (something like Moharebeh in the Islamic Republic Judiciary). They even brought her son to the interrogation room several times to get a forced confession out of her. All those who somehow played a role in the printing, production and distribution of these leaflets were identified and arrested. However, the mother remained in the Gestapo detention center until the end of October 1933 (more than 3 months).
The interrogation, torture and intimidation of innocent people unrelated to the accused’s case, outside of any legal protection and without the supervision of legal institutions, is called the “Gestapo method” of fact-finding and trial. The Deputy Prosecutor, Mr. Amin Vaziri, and his partner intelligence agencies, in cases such as breaking the prisoners’ strike, forcing the lawyer to deny, arresting and summoning the prisoners’ family members, have created an embodiment of the Islamic Gestapo methods perfection.
Despite the fact that one of the lawyers denied his client’s signature and hunger strike on Twitter and argued: “Basically, according to the law, our clients are not eligible for leave, the death sentence is not quashed yet, the case is still being reviewed. Hunger strike about our clients is definitely false.”
It should be noted that the issue of “non-leave in the context of the outbreak of coronavirus in prison” was just one of the cases mentioned by 72 people, not just his clients, in that letter. The main issue that was described in detail in the letter was the behavior of Mr. Amin Vaziri, the Islamic Gestapo, in dealing with the families of the prisoners. Amin Vaziri, in response to the fathers and mothers of the detainees of the November 2019 nationwide protests, who asked him why he had imprisoned their breadwinners, had explicitly said: “You must starve to death!” Another issue protested by political prisoners in Fashafoyeh was the substandard condition of the prison. In this regard, the Human Rights Organization of Iran published a detailed report on the situation in Greater Tehran Prison yesterday, August 18, 2020, as well as the names and sentences of 77 detainees of the November 2019 uprising, who are currently being held in this prison. In addition to Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi, who were sentenced to death for Moharebeh, another prisoner in Fashafoyeh is awaiting sentencing on the same charge, the report said. About 70 other political prisoners have been sentenced to between one and nine years in prison.
The 110-hectare prison, which the protesters described as deplorable in their letter, is the largest prison in the Middle East. However, the prison water is not drinkable and prisoners have to buy drinkable water from the prison store with their own money.
It seems that the Deputy Prosecutor and his intelligence assistants are trying to undermine the trust of social media users in the news and reports of human rights activists and organizations. Their goal is to prevent the formation of powerful and influential campaigns in the future that affect the world’s public opinion, similar to the #اعدام_نکنید campaign. Their goal is execution in silence.
Translation of this article by Sahar.