Where is Arash Sadeghi? Is Missing Student New Pawn in IRI Game?September 14, 2013
Update – Arash Sadeghi was reported to be released from Evin Prison in October 2013 (after Rouhani became President of Iran and attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York City). Sadeghi says the Iranian authorities were holding him in solitary confinement cells in wards 209 and 240 of Evin Prison. Interviews with Arash after his release Fereshteh Ghazi and Masih Alinejad. Iran in the news in October 2013 1 | 2 | 3
Translations by Siavosh Jalili
Report editing by Maryam Nayeb Yazdi and Uli V. Sanden
Persian2English — In the wake of the Prosecutor General of Iran’s recent statement that nobody with the name Arash Sadeghi is held in Evin Prison, online pro-democracy and human rights activists are demanding from authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to answer the question people in Iran and around the world have urgently been asking: Where is Arash Sadeghi?
The last confirmed news on Arash Sadeghi’s whereabouts, which was obtained from Rooz in June 2013 through interviews with Sadeghi’s lawyer and father, states that authorities have verbally confirmed that Arash has been held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison. Arash was last reportedly arrested on January 15, 2012.
It is said that this person is on hunger strike in Evin Prsion. However, there has been no such individual held in Evin Prison in the year 2012 or 2013. There was someone arrested under this name in the year 2010; he was sentenced to one year in prison and released after serving his sentence…
Though Ward 209 is part of Evin Prison, it is technically a prison within a prison, because the ward is operated independently by the Ministry of Intelligence; therefore it falls OUTSIDE the jurisdiction of the State Prisons Organization (via iranhrdc.org). This means that the officials in this ward are NOT accountable to the head of Evin Prison, and the head of Evin Prison cannot enter this ward without permission from the officials in charge of Ward 209.
He could be still held in Ward 209. He could be “released” but still in the custody of authorities, held in another location. The possibilities are endless until authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran reveal Arash Sadeghi’s actual whereabouts.
BEFORE & AFTER ARREST
Arash Sadeghi, a student at Allameh Tabatabai University and a member of a campaign advocating for Mohammad Khatami’s candidacy in the 2009 election for President in Iran (Khatami eventually stepped aside in favour of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s candidacy), was first arrested on July 9, 2009. He was released in September of the same year without any charges. He was arrested a second time in December 2009, and released in March 2010 without a trial. He was arrested a third time in June 2010, and released in September of that year. Following his release, his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabai, informed him that Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Pirabbasi, sentenced him to six years in prison on charges of “Propaganda against the regime” and “Collusion and Conspiracy to Act against National Security”.
JUDICIAL DETAILS (as told by Peyman Aref to Deutsche Welle):
Arash was initially sentenced to six years in prison, and it was ‘unofficially’ announced to his lawyer. Arash based everything on that sentence. In December 2010, after his mother’s death, Arash finally turned himself in. Assuming that he was sentenced to six years in prison, and because he was suffering from serious depression as a result of his mother’s death, Arash did not seek clarification on his legal status. Also, he had no access to a phone or his lawyer. Mr. Tabatabai would not visit him. Arash had no news about the ruling of the Appeals Court. In the Appeals Court, Arash’s six-year sentence remained intact, but five of the years are converted to a *suspended imprisonment term. Arash’s interrogator had said that they [interrogators of the Ministry of Intelligence, who largely influence the outcome of the judicial cases of political prisoners] had agreed to suspend part of this sentence as a result of his mother’s death. When there was only two weeks remaining before the end of the first year of his sentence, he finally sought news on his status; and that’s when he learned about the decision of the Appeals Court…
*A suspended imprisonment sentence means that the sentence will not be implemented, unless the person is found guilty on another charge. There is usually a time limit associated with the suspension.
MOTHER DIES, SON TORTURED
Arash Sadeghi did not turn himself in to begin serving his sentence. Security agents raided his home at 4:00 a.m. on October 30, 2010. As a result of the raid Arash’s mother suffered a heart attacked and died. In the wake of this incident, Arash turned himself in to Evin Prison on December 21, 2010. During this period of his detention, based on the testimony of those held in the same section of the prison as Arash, this student activist was severely tortured [and placed under pressure] to declare that the raid of IRI agents on his home in the middle of the night had nothing to do with his mother’s death.
IRI AUTHORITIES HOLDING ARASH HOSTAGE?
A close source recently reported to Daneshjoo News the reason behind Arash Sadeghi’s long detention is the complaint he lodged against the Ministry of Intelligence, holding this security body of the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible for the death of his mother. According to the close source, Sadeghi’s resistance against pressures from Islamic Republic authorities to withdraw his complaint led the Ministry of Intelligence to take him hostage. Consequently, they may reportedly be holding Arash hostage until he withdraws his claim.
His Father in Interview:
The worse torture [Arash] was subjected to was they pulled the hair on his body one by one, and he would lose consciousness as a result of repeated slaps. One of his teeth was also broken.
Tortured and Released
Peyman Aref, who was also imprisoned in Ward/Section 350 tells Deutsche Welle that when they brought Arash to Ward/Section 350, his shoulder was broken and he could not lift his right arm. Arash was released from Evin Prison on December 14, 2011.
On January 15, 2012, the “Rah-e Sabz-e Azadi” (Green Path to Freedom) website published news that Arash Sadeghi was arrested again. Five days later, Saham News reported that Arash had made contact with his grandfather and informed him that he was in Ward/Section 209 [operated by the Ministry of Intelligence] of Evin Prison.
On May 4, 2012, journalist Masih Alinejad interviewed Arash’s father and published the audio version of the interview online. In this interview, Arash’s father mentioned that Arash’s grandfather met with Arash in the visitation hall of Ward/Section 209. The grandfather reported that Arash had lost much weight and his head was shaved [by prison officials].
According to Peyman Aref, some of the prisoners of conscience’s families have confirmed that they saw Arash’s grandfather in the Evin Prison visitation hall.
GRANDFATHER ARRESTED AND THREATENED
In June 2012, Arash Sadeghi’s grandfather was arrested and detained for one week after stating in an interview that Arash had launched a hunger strike in solidarity with Hossein Ronaghi Maleki. In the same month there were conflicting reports published that Arash had gone on hunger strike to protest ill treatment from prison guards.
Amnesty International and three members of the European Parliament have expressed concern over Arash Sadeghi’s conditions during periods of his imprisonment.
Islamic Republic of Iran authorities responsible for answering #WhereisArashSadeqi?
Rumours and Concerns
According to reports, Arash Sadeghi’s family has not seen or spoken to him over the phone since May 2012. In response to a reporter’s question about the situation and whereabouts of Arash Sadeghi, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Eje’i, the Prosecutor General (Attorney General) in Iran said: “It is said that this person is on hunger strike in Evin Prsion. However, there has been no such individual held in Evin Prison in the years 2012 or 2013. There was someone arrested under this name in the year 2010. He was sentenced to one year in prison and released after serving his sentence. Even if there was a name resemblance, there was no such person in Evin Prison in the years 2012 and 2013.” This is the only time to date that an IRI judicial official has publicly spoken out about Arash Sadeghi.
Peyman Aref’s account of Arash Sadeghi’s release in December 2011
I was responsible for gathering the crowd in front of the prison on the day he was supposed to be released [December 15, 2011]. I was in Ward/Section 350 of Evin Prison with [Arash] from October 30 to December 11, 2011; I was taken to court and released that night. I brought news with me that Arash’s sentenced had been reduced to one year in prison, and that he was due to be released on December 15, 2011. On December 15th, we gathered in front of the prison and everyone waited until the night time, but no Arash. [We late discovered that] Arash was released the night before in the cold of late December. Arash had nowhere to go nor did he have any money. His father had rejected him after his mother’s death [the father blamed Arash for the mother’s death] and moved while Arash was in prison. In order to not freeze, Arash walked along Yadegar-e Emam highway and the streets until morning. He [eventually] went to Honarmandan (Artists’) Park, a place he had memories and knew well. Finally, tired and hungry, he decided to try his luck at his grandfather’s home. He was accepted with open arms. After we spent two days anticipating his release, we contacted his father, but he said that he had no news about Arash. We finally discovered through his uncle that he was staying with his grandfather.
ARASH’S FATHER & IRAN’S MILITARY
According to reports, Arash’s father works for the Iranian military and lives in units built by them. He has told media in the past that he was summoned and threatened many times by the army’s security apparatus, who warned him that if he maintains his contact with his son he will lose both his salary and home.
Over several days, efforts from DW to contact Arash Sadeghi’s father and lawyer proved fruitless until finally a woman responded. She first said that Arash Sadeghi’s father is out of town, and then said they’re all out of town, and are now receiving calls on a Tehran phone number. When DW called lawyer Alizadeh Tabatabai, there was no ring or answer.
What is certain: Nobody has seen Arash since May 2012
Numerous human rights activist are concerned that authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are purposely not disclosing information about Arash Sadeghi’s whereabouts in order to measure the reaction of the international community toward Arash’s situation and the public support he may have. Activists have seen IRI authorities attempt a similar tactic in the cases of other political prisoners in Iran, including Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Saeed Malekpour. It is believed that if IRI authorities sense that the liability of Arash’s life is little and they can afford to get away with abusing him, they will feel more at ease to further torture him or extend his imprisonment. Further, activists have not yet ruled out the possibility that authorities have already killed Arash under torture or he committed suicide from the pressures authorities inflicted on him and his family.