Iranian authorities reportedly threatened to rape and kill two imprisoned students to make them confess to crimes against the state.
University students Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi, both 22, were forced to confess to committing crimes under the threat of death and sexual violence by security officers from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, according to an Amnesty International report released on 4th August 2022.
The university students have been held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran since 10th April 2020 and were recently sentenced to 16 years in prison over what the authorities said were ties to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a democracy-supporting opposition group.
Reza Younesi, Ali Younesi’s brother, who now lives in Sweden, told Iran International on Thursday, 11th August 2022, that the agents repeatedly threatened to rape and kill the two students after they were arrested and placed in solitary confinement for two months.
On one occasion the officers took the students to a building near the jail where they told the young men that they were free to rape and murder them, according to Younesi.
He went on to say that the judge in charge of the case did not take any notice of what the students had to say despite the fact that they retracted their statements in court after stating that they had been forced to confess.
The report from Amnesty International describes the torture the students allegedly faced in detail while being subjected to beatings as well as solitary confinement in tiny, windowless rooms with glaring lights switched on for 24 hours a day.
According to the report, “(This) left them without a sense of day and night and caused them severe distress and pain.”
The report also said that “Ali Younesi stated that he was only able to sleep by covering his eyes with his shirt.”
It added that “agents severely limited their access to fresh air and natural light to 20 minutes twice a week and denied them face to face visits with their families.”
The students were convicted of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system” and “destruction of public property” for participating in peaceful protests by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on 25th April 2022 and were transferred to the public ward of Evin prison on 26th June 2022.
The report comes just after news of the mother of a recently released Iranian political prisoner who has been sent to the prison for criticising her son’s treatment behind bars.
Farangis Mazlum, 55, is the mother of Soheil Arabi, a photojournalist who was freed in November after serving seven and a half years in jail.
Medics had told the court that Farangis, a heart attack and stroke victim, was too frail to be imprisoned.
But now she has been jailed for 18 months after speaking out against the conditions her son endured and being found guilty of “propaganda against the regime” and “conspiracy to commit crime”.
Farangis was also charged with cooperating with the PMOI, a charge that her son reportedly dismissed as “baseless and absurd”.
Arabi described his mum as a “freethinker” who has been shunned by her family.
He said she has no political leanings but enjoys the work of American writer and activist Emma Goldman, the Italian revolutionary Errico Malatesta and the Polish-German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.
He said: “She’s also fond of Chekhov and Dostoevsky.”
Arabi added: “But she’s not dogmatic about anything. My mother is consumed with curiosity, and as such, she doesn’t imprison herself in any ideological cage.”
Arabi explained that the charge of disseminating propaganda against the regime came about because his mum had “told the truth” about conditions in Iran’s prisons.
He then stated that the Iranian authorities had wanted her jailed because he himself was still expressing himself freely online.
The PMOI describes itself as the biggest and most enduring opposition group in Iran that has struggled for democracy and freedom in the country for five decades.
The group hopes to establish a non-nuclear, democratic and secular state while promoting peace in the Middle East and believes in the principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as gender equality and freedom of expression.
Iran has a poor human rights record, with the United Nations (UN) deploring crackdowns on civil society in the country.
Iran enforces the death penalty and is known to execute minors, despite being a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), by which the country’s government is supposed to have agreed not to execute people for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old.
In response to criticism from the UN last year in 2021, Majid Tafreshi, of Iran’s state-run High Council for Human Rights, claimed that the country’s use of the death penalty did not violate human rights.
Tafreshi told AFP at the time: “When we are talking about under-18s, we are not talking about six or five years old. We are talking about mainly our 17 years old big boys (where) the court recognised their maturity.”