Saturday, August 2, 2014

Crime and Punishment in Kahrizak prison

Posted by IHRV On July - 22 - 2013

Before all this, the word Kahrizak reminded Iranian people of a retirement house in the southern part of Tehran. However in recent years, this word has been associated with the horrors of the illegal detention facility known as Kahrizak Detention Center or Kahrizak Salon. Although the detention center was built before 2009, it gained international fame after the 2009 post-presidential election protests. On July 9th, 2009 a number of protesters to the outcome of the election were arrested and transferred to the detention center by the order of Judge Mortazavi. The poor conditions in the facility and the torture and harassment of the detainees resulted very quickly in three deaths. Mehdi Karrubi, one of the presidential candidates, later reported that a number of the detainees had also been raped and the physician of the detention facility later died under suspicious circumstances. Although the Supreme Leader ordered the facility to be shut down, the public was waiting for the punishment of those responsible for the tragedies. Public opinion considered Judge Mortazavi as a key figure in the event. Although he stood trial, the verdict, which was recently announced, has become the subject of jokes. He was order to pay a fine of 2,000,000 Rials (166.52 USD) for this great atrocity.
Karizak Detention Center
This detention center was first built when Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was the police chief. It was initially used to detain convicts that the Iranian government labeled “gangsters and thugs.” The living conditions inside the center and the way these prisoners were treated were horrific. However, since these kinds of criminals are not connected with the media and human rights activists, before 2009, no news stories were published about this facility. Then between July 9th, when a number of the detainees were transferred there and July 27th, when the center was ordered shut, accounts of rapes, torture murders occurring at the center were made public. Mohammad Kamrani, Amir Javadifar and Mohsen Rouholamini are the three people who according to official sources are the victims of the Kahrizak detention facility.
Crimes in Kahrizak
Among the three people killed in Kahrizak, Mohsen Rouholamini was the son of one of the highest ranking Islamic Republic official. His father, Abdolhossein Rouholamini, had held the position of the deputy minister of health and management of the Pasture Institute since the beginning of the Islamic Republic regime and was very close to the former head of the IRGC, Mohsen Rezai. Probably, one of the reasons the catastrophes of the center was publicized, was his strong relationships with high ranking IR officials which made it impossible to slip the issue under the rug. Rouholamini’s father has described the events preceding his son’s death:
“Officials in civilian clothes arrested Mohsen on July 9th along with other young men. They were taken to the Tehran Mega City Police building near Kargar Street. On Friday the 10th, in the morning, they were put onto two busses and deployed to Evin prison and Kahriak detention center. From the day he was arrested, wherever I went, no one responded to me. The police, IRGC, Intelligence Ministry and the judiciary; none of them took responsibility. I spent two weeks doing this. Wherever I went, I faced this high wall of disappointment. Then I realized that when they had arrested my son, they had beaten him up so severely and had wounded him. When I saw his body, I realized they had broken his jaw.” (1)
Although some tried to say these detainees had died of meningitis, the forensics report indicated that the “death was caused by physical stress and poor conditions of detention, numerous hits and strikes from a hard object to the body, and death as a result of meningitis is strongly denied.” (2)
Rape in Kahrizak
One of the most controversial issues from Kahrizak was rape of prisoners. The issue was first revealed by the 2009 presidential candidate Mehdi Karrubi. He wrote in an open letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Discernment Council:
“Some savagely raped young boys; many are now suffering from depression, or other serious physical and mental problems, and have crawled to a side in their homes. I have been told about these things by the people who hold very high offices in this country; known icons, a number of whom are veterans of the Holy Defense (the Iran-Iraq war). These people have claimed that such things have happened in the prisons, and that if even one of them is true, it is a catastrophe for the Islamic Republic.” (3)
Karroubi also published the statements of one of the prisoners on Saham News website. The prisoner said:
“I was in prison, my hands were cuffed and I was blindfolded. They beat me almost to death; and worse, they did to me what is blameworthy, even to the none-believers and idolaters. I only dared to inform Mr.Karroubi about this. I don’t blame an individual, because unfortunately in our country, the mistakes are blamed on low level people; and they never punish the main officials who caused them.” (4)
The suspicious death of doctors
Another incident that made the Kahrizak case even more complicated was the suspicious deaths of two doctors. Ramin Pourandarjani was a doctor serving his mandatory military service for the police. He had been sent to Kahrizak to visit sick prisoners. He died on November 10th, 2009 in the building of the Tehran Police Clinic. The authorities claimed the cause of death was a “heart attack while sleeping.” Previous to his death, Pourandarjani was interrogated by the inspector general of NAJA (Iranian police), the martial court and the National Forensics Council concerning the issues at Kahrizak numerous times. He had also been threatened by unidentified people many times. Pourandarjani had described the incidents occurring at Kahrizak to a few people before his death and had told them that he was fearful for his life. (5)
Dr. Abdolreza Sudbakhsh, a professor in Tehran Medical Sciences, had also examined the victims of Kahrizak and was assassinated on the streets of Tehran by unidentified people. Jaras news website wrote: “Sudbakhsh was informed about all the cases of Kahrizak martyrs. In addition, he was the doctor to exam all the Kahrizak detainees who had been sexually assaulted. He had specific information about this issue.” (6) Sudbakhsh’s son stated in an interview:
“All the medical cases my father had are registered. Some of his patients were the ones who had been raped in prison. My father was an infectious disease specialist. I clearly remember that he was disturbed for a while; we could understand something had happened. He had become very introverted then. No matter how much we asked him, he wouldn’t tell us anything. The only thing he had said once was ‘What dastards! How were they able to rape an 18 year old child to death? How have they been able to rape people’s children like this?’” (7)
Kahrizak trials
Due to the vast coverage of the Kahrizak case in the media, an investigation and justice for the people who caused it became an important demand of the public. The police held military courts for some low level police officers and sentenced them. The trial was not public and the names of the convicts were never announced. The families of the victims demanded the prosecution of the people who held higher positions and were responsible for the mistreatment of the detainees. Saeed Mortazavi, former Tehran prosecutor, Hassan Hadad, former deputy prosecutor and Ali Akbar, Heidarifar, the deputy prosecutor that ordered the transfer of detainees to Kahrizak were among other authorities who stood on trial before a different court. That trial was also not made public and after four years, their initial verdict has recently been announced. On July 2nd, Mehr news agency reported that the judges tried in the trial of the three deaths in Kahrizak, following the 2009 election, have been sentenced to a ban from judicial activity forever and a five year ban on governmental work. According to this report the main suspect, Saeed Mortazavi, has been sentenced to pay 2,000,000 Rials for “filing a false report.” (8)
This verdict triggered vast reactions on social media websites such as Facebook. They consider this verdict insufficient and unfair for a disaster such as this. Some compared this trial with the trial of the suspects of the Tehran University Street dormitory case from the July 1999 protests. In that case, a number of officers with civilian clothes and other police officers attacked the dormitory and only one soldier paid a fine for stealing a shaver that belonged to a student.
Masoud Alizadeh is one of the Kahrizak detainees who had to escape the country two years following his release after his life was threatened. As an eyewitness to the crimes at Kahrizak, his body still bears the scars of torture. He stated to Jaras website:
“I can only tell you this; the cloth, which wrapped the bodies of the victims of Kahrizak, (before a burial in Islamic fashion) is more expensive than the 2,000,000 Rials fine for Mr. Mortazavi. Mr. Mortazavi has been fined in a court of the Islamic Republic which is filled with human rights violations. But in the court of public opinion, the people will remember all his crimes. He will never be exonerated and must pay for his crimes. The penalty of murder for the friends of the Islamic Republic is 200 thousand Tumans. So all the murderers in Iran should be released from prison and they should be thanked, because Mortazavi has just been fined 200 thousand Tumans for the many crimes he has committed and for causing the deaths of Kahrizak victims.” (9)
Lastly, Alizadeh also wrote on his Facebook page: “I have always said that I will stand up until my last drop of blood to defend the blood of the Kahrizak victims. I have paid dearly for it and have not backed down. I have been stabbed and tortured… but never backed down. My family is under pressure and is being watched, but I will not fall short.”
Sources:
1. http://zamaaneh.com/humanrights/2009/07/post_386.html
2. http://alef.ir/vdcc0eqp.2bqie8laa2.html?52664
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2009/08/090809_bd_ir88_karubi_hashemi_letter.shtml
4. http://www.dw.de/%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B8%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%DB%8C%DA%A9-%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B4%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF/a-4595622
5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2009/11/091115_ir_kahrizak_doctor.shtml
6. http://www.rahesabz.net/story/24268
7. http://www.kaleme.com/1390/06/03/klm-70588/
8. http://www.radiofarda.com/content/f35_mehr_kahrizak_case-judges-convicted-mortazavi-punishment/25033715.htm
9. http://www.rahesabz.net/story/72252/

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