Protesting injustice is a natural reaction! Halt all executions in Iran!

“We were tired of injustice in the country, and we went to the street to protest.”

CODIR reject the death sentences handed down to three young protesters in Iran and calls for an immediate halt to their execution…

Human rights defenders in Iran have expressed their grave concerns regarding the fate of three young men who have reportedly had their death sentences upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court for their parts in the nationwide protests that swept across Iran in mid-November 2019.

Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi were originally sentenced to imprisonment, flogging and then execution by the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

CODIR is calling for an immediate stay of execution for the three and wholly refutes the lawfulness of their convictions and sentences. The three men were detained in extremely dubious circumstances and were denied anything resembling due process from the outset, and their “confessions” have been extracted through torture by state security agents.

Background: the November 2019 street protests

Massive protests erupted on Friday 15 November 2019, following the sudden announcement by the Islamic Republic government of a triple-fold hike in the price of gasoline, and quickly spread and took hold in towns and cities across the country. The scale of the protests rocked the Islamic Republic and the authorities struggled to reassert control of the affected streets for at least a week afterwards, and a huge mobilisation of the state’s intelligence apparatus and security forces continued into January. Mohammad Javad Kolyvand, a parliamentary representative for Karaj, has gone on record as having said that on Friday 15 November alone, protests took place at 719 separate locations across Iran. Meanwhile, Seyed Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, spokesman for the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission in the Iranian parliament, stated on 25 December that the number of those detained during the protests was around 7,000.

Moradi (26), Tamjidi (28) and Rajabi (25) were alleged by the authorities to have taken part in disturbances during a street protest on Saturday 16 November in the Sattar Khan district of Tehran. There they are alleged to have met Mojgan Eskandari, a female protester, who has been handed a harsh prison sentence in the same deliberation by the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

Moradi was then picked up by security forces, having been identified on CCTV, on Tuesday 19 November. This news prompted Tamjidi, Rajabi and a woman – referred to as Shima R. – to go into hiding the following day before fleeing to neighbouring Turkey.

Escape to Turkey and subsequent handover

After arriving in Turkey, the three made their way to Van and then on to the capital, Ankara. They eventually decided to continue their journey to Antalya and rented a taxi to take them there. However, the driver decided to hand the passengers over to police at the entrance to the city. At this point, the three presented their documents to the police and formally requested asylum, making it clear that their lives would be in danger if they were returned to Iran. The police then introduced them to who they claimed to be a UN official and the three re-presented their documents and all the supporting material they had on them, including videos taken of the demonstration they had attended and the texts relating to the arrest of Moradi. Their desperate situation and request for asylum were made clear to the Turkish officials via an interpreter. The Turkish police responded that the three would have to stay in a refugee camp for a year while their case was deliberated upon. On 26 January, following on from the visit of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to Ankara, the three were handcuffed and put aboard a bus having been told that they were being transferred to another city. Over the next two days, without food or water, they were driven to the eastern border town of Aghri and deported at the Bazargan border crossing along with 30 other Iranian citizens, including Adel Bahrami – another young man sought by the Iranian authorities for his participation in the November protests. This was a clear and manifest violation of their right to claim asylum under the Geneva Convention 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967.

Return to Iranian detention, interrogation, conviction and sentencing

Having announced their identities to Iranian border officials, the three were told that warrants had been issued for their detention as escapees from Evin Prison by the security agencies in Tehran and that they would be held by the Mako City Security Police until agents arrived from the capital to pick them up. The detainees were eventually transferred to Gisha Security Police Detention Centre in Tehran and then on to Evin Prison.

In the case of Moradi, he was originally held for around a month in solitary confinement in Wards 240 and 209 of Evin Prison during which he was severely beaten by Ministry of Intelligence agents. Having completed the interrogation process he was then transferred to the Greater Tehran Prison where all three are currently being held pending the carrying out of their sentence.

The sentences given to the three by the Tehran Revolutionary Court were originally announced to their lawyers back in February – one of whom stated to HRANA, “According to the verdict issued by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court – presided over by the notorious Judge Abolghasem Salavati – Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, each of whom are accused of ‘Participation in destruction and incitement to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran’, have been sentenced to death.”

(Shima R.’s case is still pending.)

Moradi, Tamjidi and Rajabi are all from the working class neighbourhood of Khazaneh in South Tehran and all worked in the Punak district of the city. All three are breadwinners for their respective families.

The three condemned men have been tortured and mistreated throughout their ordeal thus wholly undermining the validity of their supposed confessions, as well as their subsequent convictions and sentences.

CODIR has called for the widest possible protest by the public and forces for human and democratic rights to demand the immediate stay of execution for the three as well as all those prosecuted for exercising their natural rights as Iranian citizens against the dictatorship, endemic corruption and oppression.

* In a further related development, it has been announced that 8 detainees brought before the General Prosecutor’s Court in Esfahan on account of their involvement in major street protests against the Iranian government – in November 2019 and January 2018 – have been convicted on charges of “spreading corruption on earth” and will be sentenced accordingly. It is worth noting that convictions under this particular charge usually result in the issuing of a death sentence.

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