On February 28, Iranian authorities hanged four Iranian Arab political activists at Ahvaz’s Sepidar Prison, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. These four political prisoners were executed despite international calls for the executions to stay. However, the regime once again boasted its defiance of international norms and fundamental human values.
The executed political prisoners were all of the Arab descent, including Jassim Heydari, Ali Khosraji, Hossein Seylavi, and Nasser Khafajian. Previously, the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz had sentenced Ali Khosraji, 29, Jassem Heidari, 31, Hossein Seylavi, 33, and Naser Khafajian, Khuzestan residents, to death on the bogus charge of “Moharebeh” [waging war against God]. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld these criminal sentences in October 2020.
Back in March 2020, these political prisoners were kept at Sheiban Prison, another jail in Ahvaz. Following the prisoners’ riot in March and April 2020, the guards transferred them to solitary confinement.
At the time, as the COVID-19 pandemic had swept Iranian prisons, many prisoners rioted in different prisons across the country to free themselves due to wardens and guards’ indifference about the coronavirus outbreak in jails. To quell riots, security forces used lethal force against barehanded inmates and killed dozens of prisoners. Furthermore, the guards chased and detained several fugitives and executed Iranian Kurdish political prisoner Mostafa Salimi on April 11, 2020, and juvenile offender Shayan Saeedpour on April 21, 2020.
The latest four executed prisoners were exposed to torture and ill-treatment for months. On January 23, 2021, Ali Khosraji, Hossein Seylavi, and Jassem Heydari began an unlimited hunger strike, protesting the ban on prisoners’ family visits and mistreatment by prison guards.
Jasem Heydari was from Ahvaz’s Kuy-e Zaferanieh district. He had taken refuge in Austria before being arrested. However, following his deportation to Iran, intelligent agents affiliated with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) detained him in Tehran in December 2017.
Heydari was initially transferred to the notorious Evin Prison. Then, the MOIS took him to the intelligence department of Ahvaz. MOIS interrogators practiced severe torture against him, coercing him to make forced confessions. Furthermore, the intelligence department in Ahvaz redoubled psychological pressure on Heydari by arresting his mother Marzieh Heydari on March 11, 2018.
Mrs. Heydari was later transferred to Sepidar Prison, then was freed on heavy bail. However, his son remained exposed to severe physical and mental torture at the intelligence department for months. Authorities eventually took him to Sheiban Prison.
These executions were carried out amidst ongoing protests by members of Iran’s ethnic Baluch minority in Sistan and Baluchistan Province. The government once again resorted to the gallows to terrify society from taking part in further protests.
Recent crimes by the authorities either at Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz city or at the border crossing in Saravan city are a sign to the international community that the government that kills its own people cannot be trusted, Iran watchers say. These gross and systematic violations of fundamental rights sounded alarms about the imperative of human rights issues in any talks with the ayatollahs.
“The Iranian Resistance strongly condemns the criminal executions of these political prisoners and once again urges the United Nations Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for human rights as well as the UN Human Rights Council, and the European Union, to take urgent actions to save the lives of death row prisoners, especially political prisoners. It also reiterates the need for an international fact-finding mission to visit Iranian prisons and visits prisoners. The case of human rights violations in Iran must be referred to the UN Security Council, and the regime’s leaders must be brought to justice for four decades of crimes against humanity,” the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) stated on March 1.
Also, NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi condemned the executions, calling on the international community to send an international mission to Iran to visit Iranian prisons and meet prisoners.
Silence and inaction with regards to the ongoing executions in #Iran encourage the mullahs to continue their 4 decades of crimes against humanity. It is imperative that an international mission visits Iranian prisons and meet with prisoners. #FreePoliticalPrisoners
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) March 2, 2021