Dervish Lawyers in Dire Health at Evin Prison
Seven Dervish lawyers being held at the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209 at Evin Prison have not had access to light in months and have developed various illnesses, the wife of one of the lawyers told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Sedigheh Khalili, the wife of imprisoned lawyer Hamidreza Moradi, added that officials have warned them not to give interviews to the media.
“When Hamidreza was holding the telephone receiver inside the prison visitation booth, I noticed his hand was swollen and his index finger kept turning purple. The other Dervishes were not well, either. My husband said that they have not seen any light for three months. When they were brought down to the visitation room, they were blindfolded and they were again blindfolded when they were taken back. Their room is dark. They all looked sallow. They have all developed skin problems in Ward 209 and each of them suffers from multiple illnesses. Unfortunately, when they were taken to 209, they were severely beaten and abused and then they were left untreated. My husband’s teeth broke and his spine was injured. They only take them to the infirmary and there is no medical treatment there, only painkillers,” Khalili told the Campaign about her last visit with her husband on April 11.
Hamidreza Moradi, Mostafa Daneshjoo, Amir Eslami, Reza Entesari, Afshin Karampour, Farshid Yadollahi, and Omid Behrouzi are lawyers representing the Gonabadi Dervishes who were arrested in September 2012. They run the Majzooban-e Noor website, which focuses on disseminating news about Dervishes. After the seven lawyers refused to attend their court trial on January 15, 2013, in protest of the court’s lack of qualification and the illegal process of their cases, Judge Salavati ordered their transfer from Evin Prison’s General Ward to Ward 209. They face charges of “publishing falsehoods,” “creating public anxiety,” “propaganda against the state,” and “acting against national security.”
“My husband doesn’t even have access to pen and paper. He is not allowed to make phone calls. I have only been able to see him five or six times in three months, each time for just a few minutes and each time in the presence of two guards. One stands behind him and another stands next to him, so we can’t talk freely and our discourse is limited to greetings. For what crime is he being kept inside Ward 209 without a court ruling? He has been in prison for 19 months without a ruling. His only crime was that he did not participate in his trial because he did not believe his court was qualified. He is a lawyer and is aware of his legal rights; he can’t be expected to attend just any court,” said Sedigheh Khalili.
Asked whether she knows why her husband has been charged, Khalili said, “One of the Intelligence Ministry officials once told me that my husband was arrested because of the Majzooban-e-Noor website. But now, a whole year after his arrest, the site continues to work and I don’t know why my husband and the other lawyers were arrested. Hamid Reza and six other lawyers established Majzooban-e-Noor as a news website for Dervishes, so that people would know what is happening to the Dervishes. Their charges are absolutely unfounded and untrue. Hamid Reza has not accepted any of his charges: he believes that he worked at Majzooban-e Noor Website and defended the rights of Dervishes, but that he has not done anything illegal.”
“After the Dervishes’ mosque, Hosseinieh, was demolished and other things happened to them, my husband and the other Dervishes wanted to start a website to disseminate news about what was happening to the Dervishes. All Iranians oppose the demolition of the Hosseinieh. They say these worship centers intend to corrupt, but we read the Quran there, we call on God, and read Hafez and Molavi [Rumi] poetry there. If this is corruption, then all of Iran must be demolished, because all Iranians follow God and the Quran. How could such activities end one in prison?” said Sedigheh Khalili, objecting to the treatment of Dervishes.