On Thursday, December 9, state media aired a video showing forced confessions by two elite Iranian students Ali Younesi and Amir-Hossein Moradi.

In this propaganda video, authorities deny displaying the face of accused persons and even their confessions. However, the media claims that these persons explain their anti-establishment activities.

Younesi and Moradi were detained by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) on April 10, 2020. Since then, they have been subjected to physical and psychological torture to make confessions.

As a known method, authorities in Iran, particularly the intelligence apparatus, use torture and ill-treatment against innocent people, forcing them to parrot what the torturers want. Then, judicial officials file these torture-tainted confessions as evidence and issue severe sentences such as the death penalty against victims.

In 2020, Iranian authorities used this heinous method to sentence and hang Mostafa Salehi and Navid Afkari due to participating in peaceful protests. During the past 600 days, interrogators applied various kinds of torture on these two students to admit allegations.

Furthermore, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) organization has a longstanding background in publishing such forced confessions. Following the gas protests in November 2019, authorities forced several detainees to make televised confessions.

The government, indeed, attempted to terrify society from the consequences of further protests and nip other anti-establishment activities in the bud. Instead, it earned public hatred while citizens publicly chanted “IRIB is a disgrace” slogans in different socioeconomic marches and rallies.

Extracting Forced Confession Is a Criminal Act

In this context, Reza Younesi, the brother of Ali and the associated professor at the Swedish Uppsala University, severely attacked the authorities for their pressure on detained students. He described the act as ‘inhuman’ and provided further details about the dire conditions of his brother Ali and Amir-Hossein Moradi.

“With nearly two years of ‘temporary’ detention, 59 days in solitary confinement with mental and physical torture, and a lack of access to the lawyer for a year, forced and directed confessions of two 20-year-old youths do not prove any accusation. It only confirms [officials’] ‘brilliant’ track record in a fake filing. #AmirHosseinMoradi #AliYounesi,” Prof. Younesi tweeted on December 8.

Indeed, this video was authorities’ response to students’ protest on December 7, when the Secretary of the Islamic Students Association of the Sharif University of Technology Mohammad-Hossein Kazemi slapped President Ebrahim Raisi for the Islamic Republic’s history of economic failures and bloody crackdowns on peaceful protesters.

“Do you know that for more than two years, our two academics, Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi, remain in prison?” Kazemi questioned Raisi. “Do you know that many students are still involved in cases that were filed under the pretext of legal student activity in the form of licensed student institutions or under the pretext of peaceful student protests in January 2017 and November 2019?”

Ali Younesi Has Lost His Sight Under Torture

In an interview with the Iran International news agency, one of Ali Younsi’s former cellmates said Ali was exposed to harsh torture and severely harmed his sight. “They were filming some sentences for ten times to make televised confessions. The product of one film sometimes took one day. After 100 days, pus was still coming out of Ali’s eye due to the beating. He was saying, ‘I cannot accept what I had never done,’” Mojtaba Hosseini, who had already been released, explained in April.

Younesi, 21, and Moradi, 22, had won several medals at the International Olympiad. Younesi won the gold medal of the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, held in China in 2018. Earlier, he had won the silver and gold medals of the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016 and 2017. Amir Hossein also won the Olympiad silver medal in 2017.

Human rights organizations and defenders, including Amnesty International, have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the health and life of these elite students, calling for their unconditional release immediately.

“For one year [Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi] have been held without trial in section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison, under the control of the ministry of intelligence, and have been denied access to an independent lawyer of their own choosing,” Amnesty tweeted.