Hossein Hashemi was arrested on November 16, 2019 amid nationwide protests sparked by a 200% spike in gas price. MOIS took him from his job to Evin prison. He was charged with “blasphemy and disturbing public order.” In March 2020, Mr. Hashemi was sentenced to 6 years in prison, 74 lashes, rewriting two religious books and one condemning the Pahlavi dynasty, and washing the dead 4hrs a day for a month! September 2020 he was summoned to serve his sentence in Evin prison and then transferred to “Greater Tehran Penitentiary” in April 2021. His letter from prison sends chills down everybody’s spine!
“10-15,000 Toman for drinking water every day,” is the starting point of Hossein Hashemi’s letter. He describes the water in prison undrinkable, and not suitable for brushing teeth or washing body, unless you want your skin to crack and your teeth to fall, because the prison’s water is full of silicon and reeks of putrid odor. He talks about being beaten during interrogation to the point of breaking two of his vertebrae. Hossein writes how prison officials make political prisoners addicted to drugs in order to suffocate their voice after their release. “Drugs are found in abundance, there is no water but drugs are everywhere!”
Hossein Hashemi talks about kangaroo courts where attorneys are either paid shills of the regime or just mute, not saying a word to defend their clients, and how judges hand down heavy predetermined sentences! He says his court took 1.5 MINUTES while the attorney did not talk a single word!
He continues by mentioning the devastating situation of a few other political prisoners. “Siamak Moghimi attempted suicide about 10 times, but they still kept him in prison!” He questions the regime officials as to why the only caretaker of his elderly mom must be crushed in prison. Vahid Babaei is the next heartbreaking story in Hashemi’s letter. Mr. Babaei is sentenced to 6 years for “propaganda against the regime,” and while serving his prison term in this hell, he was not allowed to attend his brother and nephew’s funeral. “He’s married with two children, 3 and 4. They haven’t seen their father for a long time and the sole breadwinner of their family is in prison” for no reason!
Hossein Hashemi names Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi too. Their death sentence has been on hold after the worldwide #اعدام نکنید campaign, waiting for a retrial for months. They are in a limbo for months, their court being canceled several times! Amir Hossein suffers from psoriasis and other medical conditions which he must be injected with a special medicine. His family have to provide the medicine, but even then, prison officials refuse its on time administration. Amir Hossein’s father, under enormous mental pressure, committed suicide and just like Babaei’s case, he was not allowed to see his father for the last time.
“We are being held in the same block as serious criminals.” Hashemi raises the question why separation of crimes is not observed! “For any small protest, we are deprived of our basic rights. First offense would ban you from furlough, then conditional release, and next step they block your letters,” he writes. According to Hossein, a prisoner was sent to the “council” because he wore shorts to bed!
Sanitary condition of the prison is ineffable. The letter includes details about allocation of bathing time, extremely unhygienic bathrooms, humongous rats and bed bugs.
The November 2019 detainee finishes his letter by “They hold us in a place not even animals should be kept! People of Iran, we are not spies or enemy. We were laborers who were tired of seeing all the poverty, watching women selling their bodies for a loaf of bread. We were tired of all the injustices and oppression. We fought for human dignity. We fought to achieve 5%, only 5% of the life people of other countries live.”
Islamic Republic officials have been working hard to spark passion in people to participate in regime’s sham “elections” or as some call it, “selections.” One of the main “candidates” in this quadrennial charade is Ebrahim Raisi, Chief of Judiciary! Raisi, who was appointed by Ruhollah Khomeini as a member of “Death Commission” in 1980s killing thousands of political prisoners, was appointed by Ali Khamenei as the head of regime’s Judiciary in March 2019. Everybody in Islamic Republic political spectrum was content with this appointment. Even “reformists” welcomed the change and called him a “perfect choice” for this position!
He revealed his “justice” by crushing November 2019 protesters. Thousands were arrested, imprisoned for long terms and several are sentenced to death, including Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi. 5 other protesters from Isfahan, whose innocence is clear, have been condemned to death under Raisi’s rein. Political prisoners have been protesting about the horrifying condition in Islamic Republic prisons, especially the “Greater Tehran Penitentiary.” In response, Raisi had the audacity to claim: “we would open the door of our prisoners to human rights claimants if they allow us the same for any prison we name.” We just had a small peek inside the “Greater Tehran Penitentiary.”
Biden administration came to power by emphasizing on “human rights!” Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, has repeatedly claimed “US will stand up for human rights everywhere.” However, these same officials are trying to make a deal with a regime that deprives Iranians of their very basic rights. It is time for human rights to become forefront of international relations and not just an election gimmick! It is time for the world leaders to see the Islamic Republic as it is, a totalitarian theocratic regime. No matter who is at the top, whether it is “Javad Zarif”, “Ebrahim Raisi” or “Ali Larijani”, they are all infatuated with the “Supreme Leader.” Change in this regime and its behaviors is nothing but a wishful thinking, not only for the ordinary Iranians but also for the world!