For over four decades, Iranian authorities were exercising different kinds of torture and ill-treatment against political prisoners, protesters, prisoners of conscience, followers of religion and ethnic minorities with impunity. However, the progression of communicating devices and messaging apps shed light on what the ayatollahs, Pasdaran, members of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), and intelligence officers affiliated to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are applying against inmates.
In a coordinated mission, judicial officials accommodate interrogators by attributing detainees’ allegations to security crimes. Iran’s judiciary annually issues hundreds of heavy sentences, such as long-term imprisonment and even the death penalty, for dissidents and protesters on repeated charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “disrupting public order,” and “moharebeh,” meaning waging war against God, or.”
These brutal punishments have ranked Iran as the record-holder of executions per capita. Since the beginning of 2020, under the notorious chief of judiciary Ebrahim Raisi, more than 100 prisoners have been hanged. Notably, in July 1988, the Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah Khomeini appointed Raisi as a key member of the “Death Commission,” which led thousands of political prisoners to the gallows. According to the then deputy Intelligence Minister Reza Malek, authorities executed around 33,750 inmates in the summer of 1988.
On September 2, Amnesty International revealed new scopes of human rights violations inside Iran’s dungeons and prisons. This non-profit organization mentioned that Iranian authorities use torture and other ill-treatment as a punishment. “Instead of investigating allegations of enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment and other crimes against detainees, Iranian prosecutors became complicit in the campaign of repression by bringing national security charges against hundreds of people solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, while judges doled out guilty verdicts on the basis of torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Let’s move on…
On April 10 of this year, two elite students Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi disappeared. Younesi, 20, is an award-winning computer science student at Tehran’s Sharif Industrial University. He won the gold medal of the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, held in China in 2018. Earlier, he had won gold and silver medals in the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016 and 2017. Moradi is an award-winning physics student. He also won the Olympiad silver medal in 2017.
During his May 5 press conference, judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili eventually acknowledged to having apprehended the two and holding them in custody. He claimed that they had been detained for being affiliated to the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI).
Since that day, these elite students have endured excessive physical and psychological pressures. However, it seems that notorious interrogators have yet to succeed in raising the required allegations against them. Therefore, they recently began practicing a new round of torture: pushing them to make televised confessions.
“On Wednesday (September 2), my brother, Ali Younesi, was told to accept allegations in televised confessions to have his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. After five months of detention, torture in solitary confinement, and general interrogations, he has been under pressure and threats for three weeks to agree to a televised interview,” tweeted Aida Younesi on September 5.
دقیقه ۱:۴۰صحبتهاى آقای ابراهیمی رو ببينيد. همين حرف رو روز چهارشنبه به برادرم #علي_يونسى گفتند که با اعتراف تلويزيوني اتهامات رو قبول کن تا اعدامت رو بکنیم حبس ابد. بعد از ۵ماه بازداشت، شكنجه، انفرادی و بازجویی عمومی، ٣هفته است كه با تهدید و فشار اصرار بر مصاحبه تلویزیونی دارند. https://t.co/IypaLHWXLm
— Aida Younesi آیدا یونسی (@YounesiAida) September 5, 2020
Before the revelation made by Aida Younsei, authorities had attempted to lure her brother into televised confessions by claiming he would be meeting with Mattias Lentz, the Swedish ambassador to Tehran. In this respect, Reza, brother to Ali Younesi, revealed the authorities’ attempts to obtain enforced confessions.
“My brother, Ali Younesi, has been detained for 150 days now. He was held in solidarity confinement for two months (of which 20 days he was in a 2.5 square meter room with no windows). Last week, interrogators tried to deceive Ali by offering him a visit to the Sweden Embassy in Tehran and a conversation with the Swedish ambassador and other diplomats. Ali refused and said he would not attend any such meeting until he has access to a lawyer of his own choosing,” Reza Younesi tweeted on September 7.
Last week, interrogators tried to deceive Ali with offering him to visit Sweden Embassy in Tehran and have a conversation with the Swedish ambassador & some other diplomats. Ali refused and said he will not attend any meeting until he has access to own lawyer. @AmnestySverige
— Reza Younesi رضا يونسى (@RezaYounesi) September 7, 2020
“I have informed the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Iran’s intelligence service lied in claiming the Swedish ambassador would meet Ali in the Swedish embassy in Iran to actually obtained coerced confessions and footage for a televised confession. Although the deception of ‘meeting with Swedish diplomats’ did not succeed, they are still using threats and deception to extract a televised confession. They have threatened that if Ali and Amirhossein do not confess, they will receive heavy sentences in court,” he explained.
Although the deception of "meeting w/ Swedish diplomats" did not succeed, they are still using threats & deception to make televised confession. They have threatened that if Ali & his friend do not confess, they will receive heavy sentences in court. @KerstinLundgren @MCederfelt
— Reza Younesi رضا يونسى (@RezaYounesi) September 7, 2020
Notably, in recent months, the authorities have more frequently used coerced confessions to raise allegations against detainees. On August 5, the Iranian government executed Mostafa Salehi for participating in late 2017-early 2018 protests. However, harrowing torture compelled him to admit to crimes he had not committed to ending his suffering. Judiciary officials filed his confessions as evidence and used it to have him executed.
In other cases, authorities sentenced to death nine protesters detained in August 2018 based on coerced confessions. National wrestling champion Navid Afkari is among them. The Iranian judiciary is claiming he had killed a security agent while it previously had sentenced another person and executed him for the same charges.
In fact, Iranian authorities try to terrify the society by practicing excessive pressures on elites. In this respect, as the Iranian people continue their struggle for fundamental freedoms, civil rights, justice, equality, and the rule of law, the international community must compel the Iranian government to abolish the execution sentences and free all political prisoners, including protesters detained in recent protests.