News : Human rights
- Published: Tuesday, 08 January 2019
By INU Staff
INU- The Iranian Regime is pressuring labour activist Esmail Bakhshi to retract his statement about being tortured “to the brink of death” while in prison late last year, with his family also potentially being threatened, according to various sources.
Farzaneh Zilani, the lawyer of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers’ representative, said: “After the torture was brought up, pressure against Esmail Bakhshi intensified and there is evidence that suggests that my client is under pressure and that there is a psychological environment against him to deny the torture.”
Bakhshi was arrested on November 18, during a strike by the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane factory workers, along with photographer Sepideh Qelian.
While the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane factory workers’ Telegram channel wrote: “After Esmail Bakhshi published a letter detailing the torture he was subjected to in which he cited that Ms Qelian was also beaten, from a few days ago, Esmail Bakhshi and his family are under constant and severe pressure by security forces to deny the letter.”
However, Bakhshi and his family have not taken back the statements he made on Instagram on January 6.
In the post, Bakhshi demanded that Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi explain why he had been tortured “to the brink of death” and detailed the use psychological torture against himself and Qelian, noting that while they were beaten the guards yelled abusive sexual language at them.
He also accused the government of tapping his phone to listen in on his private conversations before his arrest.
Bakhshi wrote: “In the 25 days that I was unjustly detained by the Ministry of Intelligence, I went through such immense pain that I’m still suffering and I have turned to neurological drugs to ease the pain.”
This sparked a wave of similar posts from people arrested by the Regime, detailing their own horror stories using the hashtag # torturenarrative.
Since then, Iranian officials have stepped in to “inquire” about these accusations and the Chief Justice of Iran, Amoli Larijani, has even ordered that an “independent” team should review the case and present a report. But those familiar with the Regime know that this is code for threatening Bakhshi into retracting his statement by any means necessary.
Larijani also denied that the judiciary or the security and intelligence agencies permit offences like this, blaming the “alleged misconduct” on a rogue interrogator. And yes, he did refer to a detainee being tortured to the brink of death as misconduct.
However, we know that this sort of abuse happens all the time. The Iran Regime has used torture against both political activists and ordinary Iranians since 1979, as a way to force false confessions and break the spirit of political prisoners. It’s how the Regime keeps power.