Friday, September 28, 2007

Psychological Torture of a Human Rights Activists in Evin Prison

Keyvan Rafiee was arrested on July 9th 2006, in front of the Tehran University, on the day when a ceremony was planned in remembrance of July 9th 1999 pro-democracy demonstrations.

He was taken to Section 209 of the Evin Prison and was in solitary confinement for more then 8 months. The Intelligence Ministry has charged him with involvement with opposition groups; however Mr. Rafiee has always maintained that he is a human rights activist.

Solitary confinement is an interrogation method used by the Intelligence Ministry in Iran, used to break the resistance of political prisoners. The prisoner is completely unaware of what is going on outside of the prison, has no access to his family. Also interrogators give them false news and information over a long period of time. The prison is not allowed to go out for fresh air, he also has no access to a defense lawyer. This is a silent kind of torture, a torture with no sound and does not bruise the body, however it destroys the person’s spirit.

Keyvan Rafiee has been extremely strong in the face of this torture, which is why the Intelligence Ministry keeps on torturing him in various ways in order to break him and force him into false confessions.

The Intelligence Ministry and the Courts have not yet formally charged him with any offence. Since his arrest Mr. Rafiee’s trial has been adjourned six times. The reason for these adjournments has been the non-attendance of the prosecution at trial.

According to Mr. Rafiee the Intelligence Ministry has no evidence against him, and has used these adjournment techniques in order to build a case against him while he is in prison.

Mr. Rafiee recently wrote a letter from prison which explains in details his arrest and the treatment of the Judiciary and Prison Officials as follows:
(This letter was published on June 2007)

In the Name of Freedom,
With Greetings to all Iranians,
I have decided to share with all human rights organizations and freedom fighters all over the world my story, and what has happened to me in the past year at the hands of the Islamic Regime of Iran.

I am a human rights activist and have been working with other human rights activists and groups in Iran, fighting for the rights of those whose basic human rights have been violated. I am and was not a criminal nor have I ever committed a criminal act. My only “crime” is being a human rights activist who believes in the principles of human rights for everyone.

On July 8th 2006 I was arrested by the Islamic Regime forces without an arrest warrant or without having any idea as to what I was being charged with. After my arrest I was taken to s. 209 of the Evin Prison which is under the direct control of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. This section is famous for its solitary cells, blindfolds and torture. I was taken to solitary cell numbered 115, and was there for two days, when I was informed that I would be brought before a judge. At that time I still did not know what I was being charged with. My bail was set at 500 million Rial however I was not given permission to call anyone in order to try to obtain this money.

Shortly after, I was taken into a small room with one interrogator and three guards. In the hopes of breaking my spirits, they forced all of my clothes off and told me that my hair was too long and tried to cut off my hair with a scissor. I did not want to allow them to do this and started fighting back, at this time they took me to solitary cell number 73. At this time I still had no idea what I was being charged with. Being distraught by the way I was treated I started banging on the door of my cell trying to get some answers.

One of the guards blindfolded me and took me to see the warden of s. 209 of the Evin Prison Mr. Mostafa Karimi. In answer to my protests he told me that they could and would keep me there for as long as they wanted and that they did not need any reason for my incarceration. He also informed me that if I continued my struggle they would handcuff my hands and feet in addition to keeping me in a solitary cell.

Once again I was taken to solitary cell number 63 and the blindfolded interrogations started. Their only goal was to force me into false confessions in order to use the confession to further persecute me and other members of the Human Rights Activists in Iran. Because of the fact that they had no evidence against me and they had not laid any charges the interrogations and accusations kept on changing, and they kept on accusing me of different “crimes.” There were also times when I would not be interrogated for days or even weeks and I would be left alone in my solitary cell.

It is also important to mention that during this time my family had no news of my whereabouts and I was not able to contact them. I was also not allowed very basic rights such as adequate clothing, being able to get fresh air, pen and paper or telephone calls and visitations.

Recently I found out that shortly after my arrest intelligence ministry officials had gone to my fathers house and went through my family’s personal belongings and took number of things that did not belong to me. At this time my family was desperately searching for me in revolutionary courts, jails, coroner’s office, hospitals and even graveyards, and finally after 3 months they were informed of my whereabouts.

After one month in solitary confinement and having faced such cruel and inhuman behavior I decided to go on a hunger strike and I even refused to drink water. After four days I was promised by the prison warden that the prison conditions would improve and I ended my strike. Unfortunately as a result of not drinking water for so long I came down with an intestine infection as well as severe gum infection and was not able to eat or drink anything but water for 15 days, and I was in severe pain and unable to move for these 15 days.

On numerous occasions I was told by the prison guards that I was free, or that I would be free soon, or they would give me a date on which I would supposedly be released. Unfortunately I realized that all this was nothing but a form of psychological torture and I was left in solitary cells with no hope of being released.

After three (3) months in solitary confinement once again I started my protests and insisted that I be taken into the general prison ward rather then solitary cells. I was told by prison guards that the only other place they would take me would be in a cell with Al’Qaeda detainees. When I continued my protest they did indeed put me in a cell with two prisoners whom I was told were Al Qaeda members, who needed to take dozens of medications every day in order to be able function. These two prisoners threatened me to death on numerous occasions and on one occasion produced a piece of glass and threatened to kill me with it.

Once again I requested to be put in a cell with Iranian inmates and once again I was refused. Again I was forced to go on a hunger strike even though I was extremely ill and in danger of coming down with another intestine infection. After three days of refusing to eat or drink water, once again I was taken to see the prison warden who told me that I could choose between where I was or the solitary cell, and that those were my only two choices. I had no choice but to choose the solitary cell. They forced me to write a statement claiming that I had requested to be transferred to a solitary cell and they were granting my request.

I was once again taken to solitary cell 130 and was there until 11 October 2006 when I was taken for interrogation at a revolutionary court and was charged with acting against the regime, propaganda against the regime, risking national security and involvement with anti-revolutionary groups. I asked why I had not been allowed to post bail and was told that the revolutionary courts had special powers and that they would not let me post bail and would keep me in jail for as long as they wanted.

I asked to see my family and asked for a lawyer. I was told that the lawyer I had requested was a spy working against the government and that in any event I would not need a lawyer, and if it was necessary for me to have a lawyer they would assign one for me. They also did not allow me to call my family.

Because of my requests the prison officials were not happy with me and once again I was taken to the same interrogation place on 17 October 2006 and was further charged with organizing and participating in protests, after which I was taken to solitary confinement again.

On 6 December 2006 I was taken to court and without the presence of my lawyer, or the crown the trial proceeded with the judge reading the charges against me and giving me 10 minutes to defend myself. During these 10 minutes I only had time to ask to see the evidence they had against me. I was not shown any evidence and taken back to my cell. A month later I was told that my case was under review and they did not know when there would be a verdict on my case.

On 11 January 2007after 190 days of imprisonment most of which had been in solitary confinement with severe psychological torture I was taken to the general ward in s. 209 of the Evin Prison which was an extremely small room and housing 19 prisoners. I was finally given permission to call my family after 6 months and was able to tell them that I was alive.

At this time there was a virus going around the prison and due to lack of medical attention and dirty air most of us including myself were suffering from it. I myself was coughing blood and suffering from this virus for more then 2 months without being able to get any medical attention.

Every week we had about 2 hours of “fresh air” time, where we were taken into another cell with the only different being that this cell had windows on its ceilings. We also had 10 minutes a week to call our families. The days kept passing by. Later I learned that my father had been summoned to court and ordered to speak with me and try to talk me out of my beliefs and my human rights activities.

However I cannot and will not stop my human rights activities. We celebrated the New Year in our small cell with great hope for the future and thinking about our beloved country Iran and our countrymen.

Once the prison officials realized that they would not be able to break me or change my beliefs and ideas I was taken out of s. 209 of the prison and into s. 6 of the Evin Prison. On 18 April 2007 once again I was taken to court, however due to non cooperation of the crown and the intelligence ministry officials once again my trial was postponed and all I was left with was the pain and pressure of waiting.

On 20 may 2007 I learned that once again the Intelligence Ministry had continued its cruel and inhuman behavior by going to my fathers house and after going through their personal belongings, arresting my father and sister, as well as my brother an hour later. The only possible purpose of these arrests was to put further pressure on me and try to break my will. My family members were released at 10 pm that night after being interrogated and threatened.

On 22 may 2007 I was once again taken to court for my trial however due to the absence of the Crown as well as the Ministry of Intelligence Officials my trial was postponed once again.

On 3 Juan 2007my family was summoned to court once again and this situation still continues. In the past year I have not been able to visit with my family even once. Also 11 other members of the Human Rights Activists have been summoned to court, interrogated and threatened.

My only “crime” is being a human rights activist who strongly believes in equality and other basic rights for everyone. Although I am subjected to severe physical and psychological pressures in prison I am not willing to stop for even one second from defending human rights and fighting against human rights violations in Iran. I will cope with the injustice done against me in the hopes of the rise of justice and support of all other human rights activists in the world.
Long Live Freedom and Equality,
Keyvan Rafiee
Human Rights Activist Evin Prison


Anonymous said...

Dear brothers and sisters
I just want to reminde that mr. rafee's petition is out dated since he has been freed and managed to leave Iran.
we have many brothers and sisters in prison who deserve to have there petition be placed here.

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