Osanloo’s Family Calls for Investigation Into His Prison Death
Hospital nurses claim Afshin Osanloo was dead on arrival. Fereshteh Osanloo also told the Campaign that the family was not allowed to hold a mosque ceremony and must instead hold the memorial services at home.
“The nurses at the hospital told us that he was taken to the hospital at about 8 p.m. on Thursday night, but that he had died a long time before arriving the hospital. They said that my brother had not even died on the way to the hospital, that he had died before all this,” Fereshteh Osanloo told the Campaign, an hour after her brother’s burial at Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery on Monday, June 24.
When confirming Osanloo’s death, Sohrab Soleimani, Head of Tehran Province Prisons, told Fars News Agency on June 22 that “after complaining about chest pain inside Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj on June 20, he was transferred to the prison infirmary. After examination and an EKG, he was transferred to Shahid Rajaee Prison in Karaj, and after a few hours, he died after a heart attack.”
Afshin Osanloo, 42, was a labor activist and the brother of labor activist Mansour Osanloo. A member of the Tehran Bus Drivers’ Union (Vahed), Afshin Osanloo was arrested in 2010 on charges of “collusion and assembly with the intent to act against national security,” and was later sentenced to five years in prison. Last year he was transferred from Evin Prison to Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj.
Upon completion of his prison sentence, Osanloo was expected to be released in March 2014.
“My brother died on Thursday, but the officials did not call my mother to inform her, even though they had her number. We heard the news from our friend on Saturday morning, two days after my brother’s death. Those who had gone to visit their imprisoned kin at Rajaee Shahr in Karaj asked us whether we had heard that Afshin had suffered a heart attack inside the prison! We were shocked and aghast. We couldn’t digest this news at all. When we only knew that he had suffered a heart attack, we went to prison immediately, but the prison forces did not answer us properly. My mother asked about my brother’s conditions from one of the Prison Guards at the gate, who has always treated my mother well, but he said nothing. After we did not receive any response from the prison visitation unit, we went to the administrative department of Rajaee Shahr Prison. That’s where we were informed that my brother had died. They told us that in order to get his body, we would definitely need a letter from the courthouse,” Fereshteh Osanloo told the Campaign.
“It took us until Saturday afternoon to get the letter from the courthouse and then we went to the hospital. We did not believe it until we got to the hospital and saw the body,” said a tearful Osanloo.
“My brother did not have any heart conditions. He was well. He exercised in prison every day. He had an in-person visit with my mother two weeks ago. My mother said that Afshin was healthy and doing well. If Afshin had a problem, he would have told my mother during the visit. This is why we were shocked when we heard that he had died as the result of a heart attack,” she added.
Fereshteh Osanloo told the Campaign that her family is pursuing an investigation into the cause of death. “The Medical Examiner did not give us an answer. They told us that the results will be known in three months. We have no specific information. We trusted the prison authorities with my brother’s safekeeping, and they should have returned him to us whole. I believe they are responsible for his death,” she told the Campaign.
Asked whether Afshin Osanloo’s family would file a grievance against judicial authorities for not informing them about her brother’s death, Afshin Osanloo’s sister said, “This is our legal right, but we will have to see what my mother’s decision is about this. My mother tolerated all this pressure during this time and delivered many letters to the Prosecutor’s Office. The last time my mother went to the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office for Afshin was on Tuesday, June 18, to ask for a pardon for him. My brother was supposed to be released in March and my mother had gone to ask for a pardon for the remaining months.”
Fereshteh Osanloo told the Campaign that her family has been unable to rent a mosque to hold her brother’s memorial services on the customary third and seventh days after his passing. “Someone died and the least he deserves is to hold his ceremony in a decent venue. We were not told directly that we can’t, but I believe that we are not extended the right [to hold the ceremonies in a mosque]. We were unable to get the venues we had in mind to agree with the rental. We wanted to hold my brother’s ceremony at a decent venue, but it wasn’t possible. My mother said that we will hold the ceremony at home. We have no other choice.”
On Monday, June 24, 44 political prisoners inside Evin Prison’s Ward 350 wrote a condolence message, which was published on Kaleme Website. “Once again the Judiciary officials’ and the Prisons Organization’s negligence and lack of attention have led to the unjust death of another political prisoner, Afshin Osanloo. This, of course, was not the first such case. Two years ago, Hoda Saber lost his life to the same health condition and because of the officials’ negligence. The subsequent objections were never heard and hence Afshin Osanloo is now another victim. This could be repeated at any moment. There is no shortage of political prisoners who suffer from acute illnesses and who are denied hospitalization and treatment by the Tehran Prosecutor and in some cases Judge Salavati, despite recommendations by specialists,” said the statement.
On his Facebook page, Mansour Osanloo, the brother of the deceased labor activist, wrote, “After I was arrested on July 10, 2007, and the Syndicate’s second office, which had been re-opened and made ready through a large effort by the workers, was shut down, Afshin returned to driving on the roads and in the desert. About three years ago, when I was in prison, they arrested him in the sleeping quarters of the South Terminal bus drivers. In coordination with the Evin Intelligence [Unit], they took him to Ward 209 at Evin and put him under the most severe torture, in order to extract confessions from him against the Syndicate and union activities. [They told him to] make confessions about the Syndicate’s cooperation with political groups and illegal activities, and even procuring arms for the Syndicate, or having bombing plans in cooperation with elements from Islamic Republic opposition political groups, which were all lies and unfounded, and because he would not accept any of these accusations, he was put under more severe pressure.”