Nov 21, 2017

Iranian Kurdistan: Hunger Striker and Political Prisoners Beaten and Illegally Transferred Prisons

Photo above of Mohammed Nazari

On 15 November 2017, Mohammad Nazari, Khalid Fereydouni and Omar Faghihpour were badly beaten by guards at Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran where they were being held. They have since been moved over 400 miles away to Orumiyeh Central Prison in West Azerbaijan Province, without a court order. The three political prisoners are serving life sentences, which began in the 1990s, for alleged membership to the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) – membership that is no longer considered a crime since the 2013 revision of the Iran Islamic Penal Code. Earlier this year, Nazari completed nearly 100 days of hunger strike to demand that his sentence be reviewed and has since required specialist medical attention. 

The article below was published by Center for Human Rights in Iran:

Three political prisoners serving life sentences have been transferred from Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, to Orumiyeh Central Prison in West Azerbaijan Province, 444 miles away, without a court order.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned that Mohammad Nazari, Khalid Fereydouni, and Omar Faghihpour were moved on November 16, 2017, after being beaten by guards in the clinic of Rajaee Shahr Prison.

“On November 15, [2017], a prison guard named ‘Mollazadeh’ became angry and started slapping Mohammad Nazari when he complained to prison clinic staff about why he wasn’t receiving any treatment,” a source inside Rajaee Shahr Prison told CHRI on November 17.

“At that point, Khalid Fereydouni, and Omar Faghihpour, who had come to visit Nazari, intervened and they, too, got a beating,” added the source who requested anonymity for security reasons. “They were all accused of attacking the guard and then exiled to Oroumiyeh.”

“The guards in Rajaee Shahr commit all sorts of violations with complete immunity,” said the source. “The guard beats up a prisoner and then a security file is opened against the prisoner who gets accused of trying to escape or causing a fight. It’s always the prisoner who gets punished, not the guard.”

In December 2016, political prisoner Saeed Shirzad sewed his lips shut and went on hunger strike to protest what he described in a letter sent to judicial officials as “the quiet death of prisoners” in Rajaee Shahr Prison at the hands of guards and prison officials.

Nazari, Fereydouni and Faghihpour were arrested separately in the 1990s and sentenced to death for their alleged membership in the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an organization seeking autonomy for the mainly Kurdish populated region of northwestern Iran.

On July 30, 2017, Nazari went on hunger strike for nearly 100 days to demand a review of his sentence. He believes he is eligible for release based on articles 10, 99, 120 and 728 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code.

Membership in the PDKI is no longer considered a crime in Iran according to the most recent version of the code, which was revised in 2013.

Nazari required specialized medical after he ended his prolonged hunger strike on November 6, the source inside Rajaee Shahr told CHRI.

“The long hunger strike has left Nazari very weak,” he said. “He has pain in his back and neck. He can barely walk. He’s very depressed. His transfer to Oroumiyeh could make his condition worse.”

“If the law had been applied, I would have been freed four and a half years ago,” wrote the ailing political prisoner in an open letter on October 18, 2017. “But invisible hands rooted in centers of power and the security establishment are preventing the implementation of the law in my case.”

“Now, in the 24th year of my imprisonment, I am alone, with no one to rely on,” he wrote. “I am on hunger strike because I have no options left.”