Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - In the past couple of months in Iran there have been reports of suspicious deaths of prisoners while they are in state custody.

The most recent news indicates that Mohammad Raji, a Gonabadi Dervish, died in Tehran while in police custody sometime at the end of February or beginning of this month. His daughter, Tayebeh Raji, said that the family have plans to sue the Iranian authorities and a lawyer is looking into the case. She said that they are demanding that an autopsy is carried out. She said: “We need to shed light on this crime.”

Authorities say that Raji was hurt during the recent protests and will not take responsibility for his death.

The daughter said that her father’s death while in police custody is a major blow to the family, especially considering her father’s service for the country during the Iran-Iraq war.

The Tehran prosecutor acknowledged that Raji has died but stated that it was because of the injuries sustained during the protests and not during an interrogation or investigation process.
Tayebeh Raji was also arrested in February but was quickly released. Her brother – Mohammad Ali Raji - was arrested too, and the family has had no information about his whereabouts since 20th February.

He is one of several hundred Sufi Gonabadi Order members that were arrested during clashes with the police in Tehran last month.

There are many people in Iran dying in state custody and it is unacceptable that the authorities are allowed to conceal the actual circumstances of such tragedies. One can only wonder how many lives will be sacrificed before independent investigations are carried out.

Clerics in Iran have supressed minorities in Iran for years and many have been arrested and put in jail for their beliefs. It has been reported that Friday prayer leaders are calling Dervishes spies and terrorists. One Friday prayer leader said in February: “[The Dervishes] caused these riots to cover up the enemy’s espionage operations against our missile sites under the guise of environmental protection. These [Dervishes] must be uprooted for harming people’s security.”

Many Dervishes have been denied university education and the authorities see their alternative beliefs as a threat to their rule.

In the clashes in February, there were reportedly almost two hundred Dervish activists that required medical attention after they were violently attacked by plain clothed officers and policemen.
The news of this suppression, and the general oppression faced by the wider public, is very worrying and numerous human rights organisations have called on the Iranian regime to immediately put an end to it.
Iran is notorious for arbitrary arrests and detainments and it executes thousands of prisoners every year. In Amnesty International’s most recent report regarding the international human rights situation, a number of the regime’s activities were highlighted.

Following the recent protests in Iran that started at the end of last year, millions of people in Iran are calling for regime change. It is very clear that this is the only viable solution for a peaceful Iran.

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