Witness name and surname: Withheld
The place about which she is testifying: Withheld
Witness status: The aunt of one of the detainees
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Withheld
My nephew often participated, along with me, in demonstrations and political activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Aban 1398 (November 2019) they shut down the Internet and we could not make contact with Iran. Finally, after one week or ten days, I was able to get in touch with my mother and get news about family members. My mother said: ‘All is well and there is no need to worry.’ I contacted M (abbreviated name of my nephew) but his mobile did not respond. I spoke to my sister and she said that he had gone out. Every time I spoke to my family, they said one thing or another. I became very concerned. Finally, one and a half month after November 2019 I learned from my sister that he (M) had been arrested. I do not know precisely on what date he was arrested. They were not able to give me detailed information as the phones were bugged.
I only know that he participated in the protests for the first four days only, and was arrested two days later (probably on 29 Aban or 20 November). I had no choice but to contact one of the friends of M and obtain information from him. He said: ‘We had no news of M for one month; we only knew that four plainclothes men, likely from the Ministry of Intelligence, with beards, buttoned collars, carrying pistols and radio telephone, went to his shop Since he put up some resistance, he was beaten up. His mobile was seized; he was handcuffed, his eyes were closed by a band, he was shoved in a car and taken away. A few days after his provisional arrest, they had come to his house and introduced themselves as Special Intelligence agents. They made a thorough search and took away his laptop computer. There was a video and a number of photographs of the demonstrations in his laptop. They went again to his shop and took away his computer.
My sister, her husband and a couple of relatives had made inquiries at hospitals and the Forensic Medicine Center but no one knew the whereabouts of this boy. They visited prisons and obtained information that he was arrested. At the very early stage his family hired a lawyer. The lawyer did not have access to his file. However, based on verbal statements of families, a statement of defence was written and submitted to the court. After about one and half month, he himself made a 5-minute phone call and spoke to his mother. He said that was alive and asked her forgiveness as it was not certain what would happen to him. He said that he was in Prison. He was transferred that very afternoon from the provisional prison to another prison.
His father had gone there and when he received no appropriate answers, he became a little angry. He too was detained temporarily for a few hours. His father filed a petition for the release of M on bail. They accepted the petition and sent his file to the Prosecutor’s Office. Ten days after the title deed and 50 million cash were furnished as security, they removed M from the provisional detention after 24 hours and sent him to his house.
He did not speak to anyone for about one week, ten days. I could not speak to my family in this respect. I heard from his friends that the evidence on his body showed that he was assaulted; his tooth was broken, his head was broken, there were footprints of baton on his hands, legs and back. His eyes were swollen and had black and blue rings around it. He had become extremely thin. His friend told me that his mother said that he did not come out of his room for one whole week; he did not allow anyone to go to his room.
He would not take even the food that they brought for him; he would ask them to leave it at the door and he would pick it up later. No one knew what had happened to him. He had become silent and did not speak to anyone. He told only his sister that at the beginning a very large number of people were taken to a prefab metal warehouse where they were detained. It had no heating, no bed; they had only blankets and slept on the floor. Then they were separated and transferred to solitary confinement. There was only one blanket in the solitary cell. He was given food once or twice a day. He said that it was not the food one could eat.
I believe that during the period of one month or so when no one had any news about him, he was kept there. One or two days later, after a lot of assault and violence, they took him to a room and interrogated him there. They asked him what he was doing in the demonstrations. He said that he didn’t do anything. Then they showed him the video and photographs in which he stood in the middle (of demonstrations), and asked: ‘If it is not you, then who is this?’ M had told his sister that his feet were in water (in the interrogation cell) without sandals or shoes. They tied an electric wire to his leg and put four five sheets of paper in front of him and asked him to write down his confession. He replied that how could he confess when he had done nothing wrong. They said: ‘Write down with which group, organ or social media you are in contact with outside of Iran. If you don’t confess, we will connect the wire (to electricity).’ That’s how they administered shocks to him a couple of times. They put paper in front of him and asked him to confess. Then they made a video. He was forced to confess. In relation to those confessions, he did not say anything to us. He said that a very large number of protesters of November 2019 were held in that detention center.
M was summoned to court once for interrogation. He went to the court for the second time when the judgment was issued; for the third time when he visited the court of appeal, which confirmed the judgment. The lawyer took action for a review of the judgment before the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, but the judgment remained unchanged. Regretfully the family was not allowed to attend the court. He was taken to the court alone. My sister pleaded to be allowed to attend the court. They wanted to arrest (her). The court proceedings took about two hours’ time. The lawyer was not allowed to attend the court. No one knows precisely what happened there.
I now have the final writ of the Prosecutor’s Office; it was issued after his provisional arrest. It states that the proceedings were held before the Revolutionary and Public Prosecutor’s Office. They have issued a judgment for him. After some time, the court summoned him and issued a judgment condemning him to prison, banishment and lashes. He is charged with destruction, wilful arson, assembly and conspiracy against the internal security of Iran and disruption of public peace and security. The court has handed down for him lashes, imprisonment and banishment. The judgment has been notified to his lawyer. He (M) was required to present himself one week after the judgment was issued. He was warned that if he failed to present himself, they would come to his house and act according to law. So, he went to the Revolutionary and Public Prosecutor’s Office, and presented himself. His prison sentence began in the rison,. He was allowed no personal meetings but took a one- or two-day leave, after furnishing title-deed of property as security. He is permitted to make short phone calls of no more than 5-minute long.
He has passed his imprisonment. His order of lashes was executed three weeks ago. M had phoned his family and told them that his order of lashes was carried out in the same prison. The last contact he made with his family was one week ago. We know nothing as to where he is at present. He was supposed to be banished His family has taken action but has received no reply. He is no longer allowed any leave. His sister had once visited one of those judges to obtain permission of leave from him. She said to him: ‘Tell us how much security we must furnish so my brother could come to us for at least one week and take some rest.’ The judge replied: ‘You are proposing a bribe to me. I can have you arrested right away.’
He (M) has developed mental and psychological issues and lives in very bad conditions. He is kept in a cell where criminals are detained. A very large number of prisoners of November 2019 are kept in the prison; but all of them are not kept in one cell. They have been distributed among other criminals. Regretfully he does not speak much to his family about the events that occur there. But he has spoken to his friends and has told them that there is a lot of torture, a lot of harassment, insult, humiliation and beating. They force the (political) prisoners to perform very low jobs, beyond their dignity. They take them to wash public toiletsM is in need of consultations and medical treatment. He always had lack of energy and low blood pressure and still has those issues. But they have not allowed him any medical treatment. He had toothache but they did not allow him to receive medical treatment for it. They gave him only the acetaminophen pills. His family had offered to bring medications for him, but they did not allow it. As to panishment, no one knows whether he would be kept in a prison or would be asked to rent a room.
When the family had spoken to him twice in this respect, Special Intelligence agents came to their house and threatened that if they spoke to any foreign TVs or reporters in this respect, they would create problems for them.