Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace laureate, says the death of Iranian political prisoners attests to the Islamic Republic government’s “organized and systematic determination” to destroy its political opponents.
Ebadi told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran: “When a political prisoner refuses to bow down, to give an interview or acquiesce to false confessions, they use every method to break him/her, and one of these methods is physical abuse, which at times leads to their death.”
Ebadi added: “What is happening in Iran is systematic and it is not the mere negligence of a couple of lowly prison officials. If it had been just a few lowly officials, the Islamic Republic, at least after the first or second incidences, would attend to the matter and prosecute the culprits. But as we saw, this did not happen.”
Ebadi added that the 12 prisoners who are currently on hunger strike at Evin Prison have called for the identification and prosecution of those who caused Hoda Saber’s death.
Reza Hoda Saber died days into his hunger strike in protest to the death of Haleh Sahabi. His fellow inmates claim he was beaten by prison officials at the infirmary on the 8th day of his hunger strike. His family also contends that the officials delayed in transferring him to hospital after the onset of his pain.
Shirin Ebadi named others who have died in Iranian prisons with no sign of accountability from prison authorities: Akbar Mohammadi, Omidreza Mirsiafi and Zahra Bani-Yaghoub.
Akbar Mohammadi was arrested in the student protests of 1999. In 2006, he died in prison a few days after starting a hunger strike. His attorney reported that Mohammadi had been beaten by prison staff before his death.
Omidreza Mirsiafi, a blogger who was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for “insulting Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei,” Iran’s former and present supreme leaders, died in prison in March of 2008.
Reporters Without Borders says there are indications that Mirsiafi was murdered in prison.
Zahra Bani-Yaghoub, an Iranian doctor, was arrested in a park in Hamadan while talking with her fiancé. She was arrested by Basij forces and later died while in custody.
Shirin Ebadi, who was Bani-Yaghoub’s defence attorney at time, said: “I was her lawyer and I know that suicide, as the authorities have suggested, was in no way the case. It was a mere scenario concocted to cover up her murder.”