Wednesday, May 22, 2024
 
 

Political prisoners in Iran do not bow to the absolute authority of the Supreme Leader

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Over more than four decades of the mullahs’ rule in Iran, the term “political prisoner” has never been recognized in the judicial system of the Islamic Republic. The Velayat-e-Faqih regime, which gives political leadership to the faqīh, or jurist in Islamic canon law, whose characteristics best qualify him to lead the community. like its predecessor Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahalavi, who had established a one-party autocratic government until 1979, labels their imprisoned opponents as foreign-backed saboteurs, threats to the country’s security, propagandists against the regime and spies in order not to recognize their basic human rights.  

shahThe mullahs who rule Iran consider themselves God’s representatives on Earth, with a legal system based on “Sharia”; an extremely brutal and reactionary interpretation of Islam that serves the persistence of their rule. 

In this system, a political prisoner is a person who has opposed God’s will and therefore does not have the right to life. In fact, if it was not because of the fear of a people’s uprising and the international reaction, the mullahs preferred to hang them all, as they did in the first decade of their rule.

In the second half of 1982, almost three years after Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran, political opponents, the majority of whom were school or university students or even children, were executed in groups of dozens by firing squads without even their identities having been verified. Their photos were published after their execution in the state media, asking their parents to come forward to identify their children’s bodies. 

The most horrible mass murder of political prisoners, however, happened in the summer of 1988, when 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were supporters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, were executed in a period of fewer than two months. This happened without any previous notice, their bodies were not handed over to their families, and even their burial places were not revealed.

Absolute deprivation of any right

The judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic are open-handed in dealing with political prisoners. Their legal system justifies the torture of prisoners based on its reactionary laws under religious terms “Hadd”, “Tazir” and “Qisas”. The system, in many cases, violates even its own laws. 

I have personally witnessed the arbitrary behavior of the IRGC agents when I felt deprived of any rights.

Only because of my student activities, I was imprisoned for 5 years in various prisons, including Evin (three months in solitary, then in the general ward), Gohardasht Prison in Karaj and Qarchak Prison in Varamin. 

During my five years in jail, I was a prison mate with hundreds of female prisoners from all social groups, including students, teachers, university professors, housewives, etc. I was also imprisoned with former political prisoners, those whose loved ones had been executed by the regime on fabricated charges of “actions against national security”, “spreading falsehoods” and “propaganda against the regime”. 

One of my prison mates was Maryam Akbari Monfared, mother of three daughters. Maryam has been in prison since the nationwide protests in 2009. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Maryam’s three brothers and one sister were executed in the mass killing of political prisoners by Khomeini’s regime in the 1980s. A brother and a sister of hers were executed in the massacres of 1988, for which while in prison, Maryam bravely complained to the United Nations against the authorities of the Islamic Republic. Because she was seeking justice, she was subjected to yet more severe torture and was sent to Semnan prison.

I also was a cellmate with Christian and Baha’i women who were arrested only because of their religious beliefs. Two of them were named Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet; both were imprisoned for 10 years. They again have been arrested and both have been sentenced to 10 more years in prison.

In Iran, under the rule of mullahs, every little act of a free and normal life is a subject of political accusation.

Specifically, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in the four months of the nationwide uprising in Iran, in addition to hundreds of deaths, at least 30,000 protesters have been arrested throughout the country. Two prisoners named Mohsen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard were the first detainees of the recent uprising to be executed.

As a former political prisoner, I can testify that the detained protesters are under torture, are kept in the worst conditions, and their lives are in imminent danger. I can testify that one of the most horrible tortures is when your friend receives a death sentence. I was imprisoned with a brave Kurdish woman named Shirin Alamhuli, who was executed by the regime. I will never forget the dawn time when she was hanged.

The necessity of decisive international action

A series of actions can save the lives of thousands of prisoners. 

Firstly, decisive measures should be taken by the international community against the regime. Only words are not enough when we are witnessing the brutal killing of human beings. The Iranian regime should be made to understand that with the continuation of these medieval practices, it will not have a place in the modern world. The mullahs have enjoyed impunity for more than four decades despite committing horrible crimes against humanity. The dossier on human rights violations in the Islamic Republic should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for taking preventive measures to save the lives of prisoners.

Iranians’ right to self-defense, and their right to determine their own destiny, should be recognized by the international community. And this is undoubtedly equivalent to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The support of the international community will provide the protesters with a protective shield against the criminal mullahs. It warns them that they soon will be brought to justice. 

Countries’ with economic and political relations with the regime, and the regime’s membership in international institutions, must be subject to compliance with human rights standards.

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Forme Iranian political prisoner, educator and activist; author of "The Undefeatable Martyrs of Summer 1988"

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