A friend of student activist Zia Nabavi, who is now exiled to a prison in Ahvaz, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that during a recent telephone call Nabavi spoke about prison beatings and abuses. According to this source, the warden of Ahvaz prison has forced Nabavi to sign a statement denying having been abused. For security reasons, the Campaign is withholding the identity of this source. Read the interview here:
Campaign: How were you informed of Zia Nabavi’s situation after he went to Ahvaz Prison?
Source: Zia Nabavi is a “starred”* graduate student and a close friend of mine. He is a victim of revenge by security authorities for his peaceful activities in the Council for Defense of the Right to Education. He has repeatedly denied the ridiculous charges of association with the terrorist Mojahedin Khalgh Organization throughout his interrogation, investigation, and trial, expressing his disgust for the group. But he was charged with moharebeh [enmity with God] and was given a heavy and unexpected sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment in exile. It is interesting that the only evidence in the case cited by the judge is that a few distant relatives of his live at Camp Ashraf, many of whom Zia has never even met.
Zia was suddenly transferred to Karoon Prison in Ahvaz, without notifying his family or lawyer. Afterward he was transferred to solitary confinement, interrogated by an intelligence team from Ahvaz Intelligence Office, threatened, and beaten. After two days, he was transferred to the special security ward of the Prison, where he was able to contact his family and friends and tell them about his serious and alarming conditions in the prison and its terrible and intolerable circumstances. Zia also talked to his family about his bad situation in the prison.
*[“starred” students are those who are partially or totally banned from continuing their education if they are considered a threat by security organizations.]
Campaign: What is the reason for his exile, and what kinds of problems has this created for his family? Can he call his family regularly?
Source: In my opinion, this heavy verdict and the pressures put on this excellent student, on the one hand is reprisal for his activities defending the right to education, and on the other hand is to draw the line and to show student and civil society activists that they will suffer the same fate as him. Zia Nabavi is from the northern city of Babol and his family temporarily lives in a small village around the city of Semnan. He has been exiled to the farthest possible location, meaning to Karoon Prison in Ahvaz in southern Iran. Without any doubt this was done to deprive him of his right to have visits from his family, putting more pressure on him, and eventually breaking him. This task has not been accomplished yet, despite the imperative growing pressures put on him in different wards of Evin prison.
According to what Zia said, it appears that the authorities in charge of his case wanted to transfer him to the worst possible place in order to put maximum pressure on him, and also so news about him would not leak out of the prison.
Campaign: What is the reaction of the prison authorities about the leaked news?
Source: In his last contact, Zia said that the Ahvaz prison warden forced him to sign a statement denying the pressures and the beatings. This issue has added to his family’s concern.