Iran Human RightsDutch diplomat sheds light on notorious Iran prison

Dutch diplomat sheds light on notorious Iran prison

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jul. 21 – A diplomat from the Dutch embassy in Tehran has revealed that political prisoners
locked up in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons were being systematically tortured and deliberately harassed for their opposition to Iran’s clerical leadership. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 21 – A diplomat from the Dutch embassy in Tehran has revealed that political prisoners locked up in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons were being systematically tortured and deliberately harassed for their opposition to Iran’s clerical leadership.

The report by Loes Bijnen, which first appeared in a Persian-language website, provides a shocking account of the treatment of political prisoners in Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj, a major city west of the Iranian capital. The website of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Tehran identifies Ms. Bijnen as a second secretary in the embassy’s political department.

“Going to [Rajai-Shahr Prison in”> Karaj is a harsh punishment. When someone sets foot there, all humanity disappears”, the Dutch diplomat wrote after making an investigation into the state of the prison.

The report surfaced a day after the ultra-conservative daily Ressalat published a letter from two former prisoners in Rajai-Shahr Prison, who thanked Prison Governor Ali Haji-Kazem for his “excellent treatment” of prisoners. The official news agency, IRNA, put out an interview with Haji-Kazem, in which he described the prison as “a model educational centre”.

Efforts to portray Rajai-Shahr Prison in a good light came in the wake of extensive repercussions of a hunger strike by political prisoners earlier this month. Angered by the leak of news of the hunger strike, prison authorities cut off all contacts between prisoners and the outside world, according to prisoners’ relatives.

The Dutch diplomat’s report, posted on the website Rooz, sheds light on techniques other than torture used to break political prisoners. They “are forced to share cells with dangerous criminals such as murderers, rapists and drug addicts”, she wrote. The diplomat said dissidents in Rajai-Shahr Prison were kept in solitary confinement for months at a time.

Ms. Bijnen noted in her report that “mysterious deaths” were common in Rajai-Shahr Prison. She mentioned a number of prisoners were treated with singular brutality. Arjang Davoudi, a 49-year-old engineer, teacher, and poet was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 70 lashes for aiding foreign journalists secretly produce a documentary about the Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who died under torture in Evin Prison in the summer of 2003.

The Dutch diplomat described in detail the beatings Davoudi received in prison and revealed that he was held in solitary confinement for more than 100 days.

Hojjat Zamani, a member of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin, who has received a death sentence, Valiollah Feiz-Mohammadi, and Jafar Aghdami were among other political prisoners being mistreated, Bijnen wrote.

Bina Darabzand, a 46-year-old man, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for “demonstrating illegally” outside the United Nations building in Tehran in August 2004. Darabzand had taken part in an anti-government protest by relatives of political prisoners.

Mehrdad Lohrasbi, a bookseller, received a 15-year prison sentence for taking part in the July 1999 student-led anti-government protests in the Iranian capital. Bijnen reported that he was beaten systematically by prison guards.

Another political prisoner that the Dutch diplomat wrote about was Amir Saran, a political activist, who had been sentenced to eight years in prison. She wrote that Saran had gone on hunger strike in protest to the June 2005 presidential elections, calling it a sham.

“Why have Western newspapers remained silent in the face of this calamity?” the Dutch diplomat wrote. “Why do they ignore the unbearable pain of countless people in Iran’s prisons yet at the same time write plenty of news about Iran’s nuclear project?”

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