Family of Activist Allegedly Tortured in Tehran’s Evin Prison “Afraid” to File Complaint
Civil rights activist Mahmoud Masoumi, who was arrested during Tehran’s December 2017 protests, was allegedly tortured in detention by an interrogator but his family is “afraid” to file a complaint, a relative told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“When he was released on January 9 (2018), he wouldn’t even leave the house. They had beaten him so badly and he was terrified to go out… There were marks on his body from a lot of electric shocks that were clearly visible after his release,” Masoumi’s godmother, Leila Faraji, told CHRI on February 20, 2018.
She continued: “The things he described to me were ghastly. He said his interrogator had put a gun on his leg and said, ‘Have you ever had a bullet emptied into your leg?’ and then pulled the trigger but the chamber was empty. Or they pretended to strike him with the sharp end of a knife but had instead beaten him with the handle. They wanted to scare him. They told him so many awful things that could mess up any human being.”
Asked if the family had filed any complaints, Faraji said, “We are too afraid to file a suit. Who can we complain to? If I did, would the interrogators admit they had beaten him? I don’t want him to face more problems. We’re afraid. We have kept quiet. I love him like my own child.”
CHRI was unable to independently verify Faraji’s statements about the abuse her grandson allegedly suffered in Evin Prison. Many former detainees said they had been tortured and subjected to ill treatment in prisons in Tehran after they were detained during the massive protests that occurred across the country in 2009.
Masoumi has been held in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, which is controlled by the Intelligence Ministry, since February 1. Previously he was arrested on January 2 and held for eight days for allegedly engaging in the anti-government protests, but was re-arrested again at an unknown date.
“We demand the Intelligence Ministry, as the arresting authority, to give assurances of his safety,” Faraji told CHRI.
“He only contacted us briefly on February 13,” she added. “All he said was that he’s well and had no problem. But it was obvious he’s not well… They are responsible for his life and health.”
On July 1, 2017, the civil rights activist was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the charges of “propaganda against the state,” “assembly and collusion against the state,” “insulting the supreme leader” and “insulting the sacred” for engaging in peaceful activism.
He is due to appear at the Appeals Court in Tehran for a hearing on those charges on February 28, 2018.
Faraji has been taking care of Masoumi since his mother’s death several years ago.
Masoumi, 22, a former trainee in aircraft mechanics at Saha Airlines, was previously arrested in June 2016 for taking part in a rally against the imprisonment of civil rights advocates and political activists. He was in detention for one month before being released on 200 million tomans bail ($66,300 USD).
“I have been going to Evin Prison every day but no one answers any questions,” Faraji told CHRI. “All they say is that he is facing heavy charges. When I ask why, what has he done, they only hurl insults and humiliate you.”