On October 12, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei triggered a new round of suppression under the pretext of “security.” “Without security, all of our values will fall into disorder. Security is a critical element for the state,” he claimed in a virtual meeting with graduates of the Armed Forces universities.
Following Khamenei’s remarks, oppressive forces, including the state security forces (SSF), the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and Basij paramilitary forces affiliated to the IRGC, launched a new wave of suppression, shooting and killing citizens in public.
Iranian authorities have a notorious background in using violence to silence political dissidents. However, in such circumstances, while the government’s reputation has severely plummeted and the ayatollahs’ social base has shrunk, they resorted to gross violations of human rights in public, hoping to deter the society from further protests.
These days, thanks to the progression of technology and social media, the world is witnessing the true face of Iran. In just a few days, Iranian citizens posted harrowing videos of security forces’ brutality against the people. These videos shocked the international community, highlighting the importance of prioritizing human rights issues in any talks with Iranian officials. However, it is unclear how far EU leaders would go to remain loyal to values against economic interests.
In response to social outrage, Iranian authorities vowed to investigate the issues. Of course, 41 years of the ayatollahs’ rule in Iran shows that whistleblowers and eyewitnesses are usually the subjects of investigations. The Judiciary system regularly detains and sentences people who expose the government’s crimes. Now, rather than capturing criminals and bringing them to justice, judicial officials seem to be more interested in catching those who report these crimes.
However, the Iranian government has a longstanding background in punishing social, human rights, labor, and social media activists. This is in addition to political dissidents, who always face severe torture, long-term imprisonment, and death sentences.
Sattar Beheshti: Killed for Criticizing Iranian Leaders
One example is Sattar Beheshti, 35, who was a Facebook activist and blogger. On October 30, 2012, the cybercrimes police unit or Police Tolid va Tabadol dar Fazay-e Majazi in Persian (FATA) raided his home in Robat Karim district, southwestern Tehran. He was arrested and immediately subjected to torture for criticizing the Islamic Republic’s regime on Facebook.
Sahar, the sister of the late blooger&labor activist #SattarBeheshti, remembered his brother's birthday.
In 2012, security forces detained Sattar & tortured him to death without any reason.
He was smiling until the end—a torturer
I'm proud to offer you in line of #Iran—his mother pic.twitter.com/yOoRYfy5pN
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) August 23, 2020
A day later, Beheshti issued an official letter to the head of the prison. “I, Sattar Beheshti, was arrested by FATA and beaten and tortured with multiple blows to my head and body… I want to write that if anything happens to me, the police are responsible,” the Kalame website quoted his letter.
On November 6, 2012, authorities told the Beheshti family to collect their loved one’s body. He was killed under torture three days before. “Beheshti’s death has provoked outrage among both opponents and supporters of Iran’s leaders,” The New York Times wrote on November 12, 2012.
Sattar’s mother still seeks justice. She and her sister attend commemoration ceremonies for other victims of the regime and narrate Sattar’s story. However, Iranian authorities did not punish anyone for Beheshti’s murder. Hawks will not pick out hawks’ eyes.
Reyhaneh Jabbari: Executed for Self-Defense
On October 25, 2014, Iranian authorities hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, for defending herself against an officer of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). In 2007, Morteza Sarbandi, MOIS agent, convinced Jabbari to visit his office to discuss a business deal.
However, Sarbandi’s attempt to rape Jabbari prompted her to defend herself with a pocketknife and flee the scene. Sarbandi died of his wounds. His at the MOIS arrested Jabbari and kept her in solitary confinement for two months without access to her family or a lawyer.
Six years ago today, Iranian authorities executed Reyhaneh Jabbari,26, in Rajaeishahr Prison. Judiciary sentenced her for self-defending against an MOIS agent's rape.
The murder of Reyhaneh, Mostafa, and #NavidAfkari are samples of #Iran's cruel judiciary.pic.twitter.com/4hLcBzGJ62
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 24, 2020
Despite reliable evidence and public demands for acquitting Jabbari, judicial officials rejected the self-defense act and sentenced her to death. She spent seven years in prison for defending her honesty and was hanged in spite of a campaign backed by Amnesty International, the United Nations, and European Unions to spare her life. In her final message, Reyhaneh asked her mother to donate her body organs to the needy.
Sina Ghanbari: Killed Under Torture for Participating in Iran Protests 2018
On December 28, 2017, Iranian citizens flooded onto the streets, demonstrating their fury against the government policy to raise egg prices. The protests initially began in Mashhad city, northeastern Iran. However, public rage against the entire ruling system prompted citizens to join demonstrations in every corner of Iran and shape a nationwide uprising.
State security forces reacted to people’s economic grievances with violence. Consequently, demonstrators’ cries turned from economic demands to political desires for overthrowing the Islamic Republic regime.
In their ruthless crackdown on the fed-up people, authorities detained several thousands of protesters and bystanders. They rapidly transferred almost 8,000 detainees to dungeons, torturing them to make confessions. SSF and interrogators killed at least 50 protesters, half of whom under torture. Sina Ghanbari, 22, was one of the victims of Iranian authorities’ inhuman torture. No official or interrogator was held accountable for these crimes.
Mostafa Salehi and Navid Afkari: Hanged for Crimes They Never Committed
In 2018, SSF detained Mostafa Salehi, 31, and Navid Afkari, 25, for participating in anti-establishment protests. Authorities tortured them to extract confessions. The judiciary later filed these confessions as evidence and sentenced them to death.
Both of them rejected the judiciary’s accusations. Judicial officials, who were looking for “necks to fit their noose,” did not care about Mostafa and Navid’s denials.
On August 5, 2020, Iran’s society was shocked by the news of the secret execution of Mostafa Salehi. He was a construction worker and had two small children–Nazanin, 4, and Amir Hossein, 6. Little than a month later, on September 10, authorities ordered his widow to pay a $21,700 fine as “blood money.”
This is while SSF agents had seized Mostafa’s belongings and spare tools when they raided his house and arrested him. The judiciary informed Mostafa’s parents, widow, and orphaned children that they would confiscate their home and properties if they did not pay the fine.
Navid Afkari was a 27-year-old wrestling champion. Authorities had detained him and his brothers Habib and Vahid. The judiciary accused them of killing a security agent during the 2018 protests. The Afkaris rejected the allegations. Authorities tortured Navid’s brothers to testify against him.
Death-row #politicalprisoner #NavidAfkari from #Shiraz prison:
"I wrote a letter to judicial officials & said I'm not a murderer. The forensic report, eyewitness testimonies, & evidence proved I was tortured. But, they're looking for a neck to fit their noose" pic.twitter.com/9w8QVUH9sc
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) August 31, 2020
In a joint domestic and international campaign, many athletes and ordinary people appealed to the Iranian government to spare Navid’s life. However, on September 12, he was hanged in Shiraz Central Prison without previous notice to his family or lawyer. “I did not commit any crime… However, I’ve realized that they are just looking for a neck to fit their noose,” Navid said in one of his audio messages.
Navid was innocent, even based on the Islamic Republic’s Penal Code, and his case lacked reliable evidence. His fellow-citizens and Iranian citizens called him “Champion.” He had made a will, addressing his family, to donate his organs to needy individuals after his death.
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) September 14, 2020
The Iranian Government Continues Arbitrary Murders in Public
In recent days, Iranian authorities frequently torture and shoot citizens in broad daylight, showing their brutality. In early October, SSF killed a young man, Kazhvan Almasi, in the Shahryar region, Alborz province. Oppressive forces committed the crime at a party and in front of his friends’ eyes.
Ashkan Azizi was another victim of police officers’ brutality in Kermanshah city, western Iran. SSF agents opened fire on Ashkan’s car, killing him and injuring his friend. Oppressive forces detained his wounded friend and left Ashkan to bleed to death.
In Abadan city, southwestern Iran, an oil company CEO called SSF agents to silence a young woman who intended to reveal the government-linked CEO’s moral corruption. Police officers cruelly beat and trampled the young women. Videos circulated on social media exposed police brutality and CEO’s scandal.
This woman was raped by an oil company CEO. However, when she went to the government-link CEO's house and complained, he called police officers to violently silence her.
Police trampled her while she was pregnant!
🩸𝐈𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐬' 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫pic.twitter.com/ZheFB77k8Z
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 25, 2020
On October 18, SSF agents detained 28-year-old Mehrdad Sepehri in Mashhad city. They tied him to an electric post and tortured him with electric shockers and pepper spray in public. He lost his life in the custody of the security forces. Videos circulated on social media show police officers’ brutality and torture signs of Mehrdad’s lifeless body.
#Iran's state security forces (SSF) killed a young man Mehrdad Sepehri with electric shocks and pepper spray in public.
Iranian authorities weep crocodile tears for foreign citizens while SSF agents show no mercy.
🩸𝐈𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐬' 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫pic.twitter.com/s5wqAIy4L8
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 25, 2020
On October 22, oppressive forces shot and beat another young man in Sari, northern Iran, in public. Two days later, the police’s deadly shooting led to the death of 37-year-old Mohsen Minbashi in Esfarayen, eastern Iran. Many other such incidents are taking place across the country every week.
37-year-old Mohsen Minbashi is another victim of SSF murderers' cruelty in #Iran. Police shot Mohsen and beat him to die.
The mullahs intensified suppression in fear of erupting new rounds of #IranProtests.
🩸𝐈𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐬' 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫pic.twitter.com/NLNumu8iTF
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 25, 2020
Iranian authorities have promised to investigate these cases—of course, those who were revealed in social media. However, in the past 41 years, criminals were promoted for their ruthless crimes. Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is a perfect example.
Criminals Shape the Islamic Republic’s Hierarchy
Raisi was one of the appointees of the regime’s first supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, tasked for purging political prisoners in the summer of 1988. He flagrantly defended the massacre of over 30,000 prisoners for their political beliefs and described it as a necessary action to preserve the religious state.
President Hassan Rouhani was an advocate of compulsory hijab. In an interview, he bragged about his order to dismiss the Defense Ministry’s female employees, who disobeyed the hijab. His predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was notoriously renowned as an interrogator who had fired 1,000 coup de grace shots.
The Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was the SSF chief for many years. He personally participated in the crackdown on student protests in 1999. Later, he became Tehran’s Mayor. However, he was finally compelled to resign due to his corrupt cases.
Also, President Mohammad Khatami (1996-2004) was the minister of censorship and propaganda in the early 1980s. Then-Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi covered up the massacre of political prisoners for many years. Both of them, along with Mehdi Karroubi, former Majlis Speaker, are prominent figures of “reformists,” while they were involved in crimes against humanity. In the 2009 Presidential debates, Karroubi’s rival revealed that dissidents were tortured in the basement of Bonyad-e Shahid [Martyrs Foundation] under Karroubi’s supervision.
In this respect, as the Iranian people frequently declared, there is no difference between so-called reformists and conservatives. They are two sides of the same coin. “Reformist, principalist, the game is over,” protesters chanted in nationwide protests.
Iranians Deserve International Support Against Criminal Rulers
In such circumstances, while the Iranian government flagrantly violates its own people’s inalienable rights, the international community must act. The Iranian people openly demonstrate their desire for fundamental changes. There is no day without a protest or strike in spite of cruel suppression. In this context, the civilized world must stand along with hundreds of thousands of citizens who struggle for a shining future.
To protect Iranians’ lives versus the government and security forces’ brutality, the United Nations Security Council must launch an investigation into the Islamic Republic’s bloody history. Negligence and ignorance of the crimes committed in the past four decades merely granted criminals further impunity to shed more blood weather inside the country or abroad.