Gholam Hossein Arshi’s Narration of His Torture in Prison

Tuesday, 04 January 2011

His Excellency Prosecutor of Tehran,

I, Gholam Hossein Arshi, was arrested after the 2009 Ashura events by the security police, and sentenced to 4 years in prison by the lower court which was later reduced to a year in prison by the appeals court.

I have been serving my sentence in Ward 350 of Evin Prison for the past 9 months. The events that have occurred during the preliminary investigation by the security police, interrogations, and court sessions have persuaded me to write this letter to you. In my opinion, the incidents have been unjust and unlawful and in general torture and harassment of a defendant for making confessions is against the law.

Similar to hundreds of thousands of other citizens, I was in the streets on last year’s Ashura to participate in the ceremonies on this holy day. I witnessed the violence used by the riot police against other citizens and in particular girls and women which would cause anyone with the slightest amount of dignity to react. Consequently, a confrontation between the citizens and the riot police took place.

His Excellency Prosecutor of Tehran,

On February 6th, I was identified through the photos from the confrontations on Ashura published in Naja and Gerdab websites and 8 officers of the Tehran security police arrested me and transferred me to their headquarter. Two plainclothes agents began interrogating me after one night. They asked me to confess to being the person in the photo published on Gerdab and to confess to setting fire on several anti-riot police cars. I informed them that even though I am the person in the photos, I was not involved in setting fire on public property and based on the published photos and videos, I was assisting the police forces who were surrounded by angry citizens.

The interrogators began beating me and cursed me and my family and threatened that there will be serious consequences if I fail to confess to setting the cars on fire. During the second interrogation session, I was exhausted of the degrading treatment of the interrogators. I even denied that I was the person in the photos. I asked them to stop cursing me and beating me for God’s sake and asked them not to force me into making false confessions. I told them that I take responsibility for my own deeds and I never escaped even though my photo had been published. The interrogators talked to me in an offensive manner and told me that “we would have found you even if you were in your mother’s womb and we are the ones who decide for you here, not God.” They handcuffed me to the chair and started beating me with cable and wire to the extent that the injuries from the beatings were evident on my arms and legs for months and those injuries can be confirmed by my cellmates. In order to force me to confess to something I had never done, setting fire on the police cars, they spread my legs while my hands were tied, and hit me in my testicles, inflicting severe pressures on them. I was screaming out of pain and they responded to my cries for help by using degrading words to insult my honor.

His Excellency Prosecutor of Tehran,

I was transferred to the court in Evin Prison for interrogation. Judge Asadi of the 5th branch of the Tehran Court ignored my objections to the tortures I had endured and stated that
“you have been charged with being a Mohareb (waging war against God) and you are aware what the punishment for the crime of Moharebeh is; however, we will only fine you if you agree to confess to setting fire on the police cars.”

After 10 days of enduring pressure and harassment by the security police, I was first transferred to Ward 240 and later transferred to Ward 350 where I was able to contact my family and inform them of my condition.

His Excellency Mr. Jafar Dolatabadi,

I have been deprived of my right to have a lawyer in the lower court. The presiding Judge of the 15th branch of the Revolutionary Court, Judge Salavati, sentenced me to 4 years in prison for assembly and conspiracy. He ignored my complaints stating that my body still had the marks from the injuries caused by cable and wire and that there were black marks on my testicles from the beatings.  During my time in prison, I have been deprived of prison visits which are the natural rights of every detainee. I am suffering from kidney problems since my hunger strike in August and my transfer to solitary confinement but other than prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication, I have been deprived of medical attention.  In the past 9 months, my requests for prison visits have been denied and the authorities have refused to grant me prison visit, temporary prison leave or conditional release due to my participation in the hunger strike.

By writing this letter to you, I intend nothing but to inform the citizens of this country of the mistreatments of the post-election protesters by the so called security authorities and the unjust decisions made by the Judiciary with respect to the Ashura detainees and the events that followed the disputed presidential elections. Other detainees and I know that no one in the Judiciary is going to care about what has happened to us. This has been proved to us by your behavior and the behavior of the other officials.

At the end of my letter, I emphasize that my only crime was that I was trying to prevent the IRI authorities from getting hurt.  They were facing the consequences of their brutal actions at the hands of the angry mob. Yet, they survived with my help and the assistance of people like me, and were later forgiven by the kind citizens of this country. I was most likely sentenced to 4 years in prison for helping the Islamic Republic of Iran authorities.

Gholam Hosssein Arshi


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