Families Say Convictions were Based on Forced Confessions under Torture, Hold Protest Outside Prison

Photo shows right to left, Kamal Moulaei , Jamshid Dehghani, Hamed Ahmadi, and Jahangir Dehghani.

Four Sunni prisoners on death row were transferred from the General Ward of Rajaee Shahr prison to solitary cells at Ghezel Hessar Prison on the morning of June 14, 2014. As the four men’s death sentences have been confirmed and no explanation was provided at the time of their transfer, it is believed that the prisoners may be executed at any moment.

Fifty family members and friends of the four prisoners on death row have gathered outside the Ghezel Hessar Prison since June 14, and are demanding that their death sentences be revoked. Eighty Sunni prisoners inside Ward 12 of Rajaee Prison have also been on a hunger strike in support of the four prisoners since June 16.

From Left: Hamed Ahmadi, Kamal Moulaei, Jamshid and Jahangir Dehghani

Hamed Ahmadi, Kamal Moulaei, and Jamshid and Jahangir Dehghani are Sunni Kurds who were first arrested and prosecuted for murdering a pro-government Sunni cleric, but they were later acquitted of this charge and then tried at Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Moghiseh on charges of “moharebeh” (enmity with God) and “acting against national security by supporting opposition Kurdish parties.”

Their death sentences were upheld at the appeals level. The families of the prisoners believe that the four men have been sentenced to death on baseless charges.

“They were not even given the right to defend themselves in court. After their trial, Judge Moghisseh told them to ‘be quiet! You are Sunni dogs who must be hanged!’ and told them they didn’t have the right to object and that they had to leave the court quickly,” a member of Hamed Ahmadi’s family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The source told the Campaign that the four men “were not even allowed to have [their own] lawyers and that they had court-appointed lawyers. Their families couldn’t object, either, because the Intelligence agents kept threatening them into silence.”

The brothers Jamshid and Jahangir Dehghani were arrested on June 17, 2009. Kamal Molaei was arrested on July 15, 2009, and Hamed Ahmadi was arrested on July 30, 2009.  The Sunni Cleric Mohammad Sheikholeslam, whose murder they were initially held responsible for, was assassinated on September 17, 2009. After several Kurdish-language websites stated that it would have been impossible for the four imprisoned men to have murdered the cleric they were acquitted of this charge, but were then sentenced to death on the charges of “moharebeh” and “acting against national security” instead. Members of religious or ethnic minorities who are active in their communities are often prosecuted under national security grounds.

The source told the Campaign that the four prisoners had never been armed and their activities were limited to peaceful religious and cultural activities, but that they had “confessed” under severe torture by the Sanandaj Intelligence forces. Forced confessions elicited under torture is commonplace in Iran. During their entire imprisonment period, the four men have only been allowed to visit with their families twice and each time for only a few minutes. They have repeatedly said that their confessions were extracted under torture.