Incarcerated Journalist Mohamad Davari: My Work In Documenting Prison Rape And Torture Led To My Arr


Kalameh: Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Saham News, Mehdi Karoubi’s presidential campaign activist and a teacher’s rights activist, Mohamad Davari has been in Evin prison for over two years without being allowed a furlough.

In a letter sent to the Kalameh news site, Mohamad Davari has described parts of what led to his arrest and what has happened to him in the past two years.

In his letter, Davari has detailed his work for Mehdi Karoubi, visiting and interviewing victims of torture and rape in Kahrizad and other prisons.

Following is a translation of the highlights of Davari’s letter:

“Spending 730 days (as of the date of this letter) behind prison walls and barbed wires is not what led me to write this letter. Rather, it was the twisting of the facts by Judiciary and the Intelligence officials.

There are still many people who don’t know who I am, or why and how I was arrested. If I remain silent against the twisting of facts by the officials, then I have also committed tyranny against myself.”

In the first part of his letter, Davari explains his educational background, his political, journalistic and civil activism:

“I have no connection with any group, any political parties, media, organizations or institutions abroad. I have never left the country, and have not had any secret or hidden activities, for them to cast any doubts on my work at Mr. Karoubi’s office.”

Davari continues with explaining that how everyone was shocked at the presidential election results in 2009 and how he along with many others were trying to find convincing answers to what led to such election results.

He says that the only answer they could come up with, was that there was fraud in the elections.

He continues, “Street protests were the natural reaction to the fraud committed. I felt obligated to participate in these protests. Therefore, I did participate in the mass protest of June 15, 2009. A protest that demonstrated a wave of civility and decency that I am always proud of participating in, and I feel sorry for the ruling establishment that did not comprehend the message contained in this protest.”

Davari’s third part of his letter explains about his work investigating the victims of the post election events, those who were killed, arrested and tortured.

He says, “From the very early days after the election, I felt obligated and saw it as my duty, to visit the families of those who were killed and those who were arrested.

However, after Mr. Karoubi’s letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani detailing the rape and torture of prisoners was published, I pursue these cases at the direct request of Mr. Karoubi.

As I said, my involvement with pursuing and investigating these cases was accidental, because the phone number for the office of Etemad Meli party (Karoubi’s political party) listed in the 118 telephone directory was the same phone number as my office.

I informed Mr. Karoubi after the first person contacted me by phone and then visited my office. This was the start of my work in investigating and pursuing the cases of the people that were arrested, tortured, raped and killed.

In the beginning I only documented the claims that people made about their torture and rape but did not publish them.

The routine that we followed was, first, when people came to us, we would confirm their identity and then hold a meeting with them, myself and Mr. Karoubi to hear their testimony. Then, we would get their authorization for documenting their testimony and ,with their approval, we would video tape the interview with them.

I personally conducted the interviews, with the objective of making perfectly clear all the aspects of what they went through.

We would then record their personal information and addresses and would stay in contact with them for further documentation of their cases.

These interviews and video documentation started on August 11, 2009. During the course of our work, we did video taped interviews with four people who were raped, and one person gave us a written statement.

We also had number of people who contacted us but did not agree to do an on camera interview, fearing damage to their reputation.

We also had number of people who contacted us by phone, but never did come to our office. I am still worried for their safety because our phone lines were tapped by Intelligence agents.

During that time, we documented the testimony of ten people who were arrested on July 9, 2009 that had been detained at Kahrizak prison. After these ten people met with Mr. Karoubi, we started documenting their testimonies.

I was present at the six hours long meeting with each one of them and heard their testimonies of the events from their arrest to their release from prison. They spoke of tortures that occurred in Kahrizak prison and the deaths of Roholamini, Javadifar and Kamrani as a result of tortures which they had witnessed.

One of the cases that we investigated was Saeideh Pouraghaei’s scenario, which we documented, in Mr. Karoubi’s office, thru the testimony of her sister Sepideh and Sepideh’s husband . Unfortunately, as later obtained facts and information revealed, this was just a made up scenario for the purpose of implicating Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karoubi.

On September 8, 2009 during an appointment with Sepideh Pouraghaei, I was arrested, Mr. Karoubi’s office was raided and his offices were sealed.

When I was arrested, we had been pursuing cases of the those who were killed (one of which was published on the site, Saham News, at the time), and we had also made an appointment with the family of Mohamad Kamrani.

Our work in pursuing and investigating all of these cases was for the purpose of interacting with and informing the Judiciary and the Parliament. We had declared our willingness to provide them with all the documents.

We even provided some of the documents to the Parliament’s Special Committee members during a meeting with had with them at Mr. Karoubi’s office.

Also, a representative from the Prosecution office had a face to face meeting with one of the prison rape victims.

While we thought that the Judiciary and the Parliament were pursuing the victim’s cases and, with the help of all the documentation we provided them, that they would arrest those responsible for committing these crimes, I was arrested and Mr. Karoubi’s offices were closed and sealed.”

Mohamad Davari continues describing his arrest, interrogations, trial and prison in the fourth part of his letter.

Davari says that on the second night of his arrest they moved him to solitary confinement in ward 240 of Evin prison.

He says, “From the very beginning my special interrogator greeted me with inappropriate and humiliating behavior, vulgar and insulting language.

They questioned me about my involvement and activities in Mr. Karoubi’s presidential campaign, my interactions with the campaign activists, my activities relating to Mr. Karoubi’s political party, Etemad-Melli, and my work and relations with the staff of Saham News, all of which I answered.

Their efforts to find any illegal acts by me obtained no results, for all of my actions were legal. The most challenging part of my interrogations related to the CD’s and documentation from the prison victims of torture and rape, about which I refused to answer.

After my refusal to give the interrogators any information about the victims, they began their unethical and illegal practices.

Threats of execution, threats of false charges of immoral acts, threats of flogging, beatings with their fists and kicking me around, long periods of interrogations and etc, were methods they used for obtaining information from me.

For days upon on days they used these methods, kept me worried each day of what more severe methods might be used.

For seventeen days they allowed me no contact with my family, which created a lot of worry and pressure for them, particularly for my mother, because there were continuing rumors that I had been killed, which at that time was quite believable.

After interrogations ended, the next phase I faced was pressure on me to accept that I had made a mistake.

By insulting and making accusations against Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Karoubi and the Green Movement ,and by insisting that the Movement and the actions of it’s activists were a failure and illegal, they tried to force me to confess that I had made a mistake and that all the people who came to us for help were hired to do so.

I kept insisting that all my actions were legal and if they had any evidence proving false the testimonies of the victims, they should provide them. Two years have gone by, and they have not been unable to present any evidence showing that the tortures and rapes we documented did not happen.

Davari continues with describing his trial, calling it a “mock trial” and says he was charged with, and convicted of conspiracy to commit anti-national security acts, and creating propaganda against the system. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Davari continues, “Despite the fact that prior to my incarceration I had no physical or psychological health issues, I now suffer from back pain, knee pain and have a worrisome pain in my heart, and despite all my efforts to medical treatment, none has been provided. I also suffer from pain in my mouth and teeth that need immediate treatment; that also has not been provided.

In addition, during the past two years of incarceration, I have not been allowed the use furlough even for few hours.

Davari ends his letter by series of summaries and conclusions in which he repeats his innocence and the innocence of other political prisoners. He also criticizes the actions of the regime in dealing with the People’s Green Movement.

He wrote, “My incarceration is a political act and a reflection of weakness and failure of the system

in response to our documentation of the criminal acts of thesr institutions and agencies.

Murder, torture, and rape are not things to be forgotten with the passing of the time. No matter how much time is passed, these atrocities will be exposed.

In conclusion, I stress the point that these days they are summoning political prisoners and by putting pressure and humiliating them, they demand the prisoners admit guilt and request a pardon.

I want to emphasize the fact here that I am not a prisoner asking for a pardon; I am a hostage and I ask for my freedom.

It is they, the various officials, that have imprisoned innocent people like us, and it is they who should ask for our forgiveness and pardon. It is the oppressor who should ask for pardon and not the oppressed.”



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