Attacks on Iranian Citizens

Arseh Sevom — The Islamic Republic ratcheted up its attacks on Iranian citizens this past week. As you are reading this digest, the Iranian prisoner of conscience Mohsen Aminzadeh, is fighting for his life due to deteriorating health, and the death sentence of an IT expert, Saeed Malekpour, was confirmed by judicial authorities.

Stifling Dissent

On the 14th of February, security forces filled the streets of Tehran and other large cities in an attempt to nip in the bud any sign of possible opposition gatherings and dissent. Calls had been made for a silent protest, marking one year since opposition leaders Moussavi and Karroubi were placed under house arrest. Reports of several arrests were broadcast on media.

The Butcher of the Press

A long awaited verdict in the case against the chief prosecutor of Tehran, Saeed Mortazavi, shocked civil society activists. Mortazavi, known as the “butcher of the press,” and on trial for the torture and death of prisoners at Iran’s notorious Kharizak detention center, was found “vindicated.”

In 2009, during the height of street protests against the results of the presidential elections, Saeed Mortazavi was among the authorities who ordered detainees stuffed into Kahrizak, where they faced severe overcrowding, torture, and rape. A number of prisoners died as a result of incarceration, including the son of a high-ranking regime official. and Mortazavi was legally put on trial. Many saw this as a positive move towards accountability and a sign of an established civil society amid all the shortcomings.

To the dismay of civil society activists, Mortazavi was vindicated from charges and “without the victims’ families and their lawyers even notified of the verdict.” according to Roozonline.

One of the plaintiffs, Masood Alizadeh, told Roozonline they were threatened to take back their testimony against Saeed Mortazavi and two others on trial for the treatment of prisoners at Kharizak. (More can be found on Enduring America and at Tehran Bureau.)

Denial of Health Care to Imprisoned Political Activist

Political activist and former deputy minister of foreign affairs during former President Khatami’s administration, Mohsen Aminzadeh, who is in prison in Evin, is facing serious health problems. Authorities refuse to allow him go on a “medical leave.” The opposition website of Kaleme quotes Mahnaz Asgharzadeh, Aminzadeh’s wife, as being in a desperate situation and expressing serious concern over Mohsen Aminzadeh’s health as “he is suffering from heart and kidney arrhythmia, severe blood pressure fluctuation as well as liver problems.” Another jailed activist, Hoda Saber, died after being refused basic medical attention in May.2011. Mahnaz Asgharzadeh warns that given her husband’s deteriorating health: “a tragedy might strike any moment.”

Web Developer Faces Execution

Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian IT expert who is a permanent resident in Canada, will soon be executed by hanging. The sentence is now confirmed for a second time and Malekpour’s hours might be numbered. In an open letter of appeal that made the rounds in Iranian cyber space, Saeed’s sister, Maryam Malekpour, appealed to UN officials, including Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for the Office of Human Rights, for immediate action from international entities to save her brother. In her letter, Maryam writes:

“We cannot believe Saeed was arrested in the first place let alone sentenced to death. We cannot believe that we have been forced to live a horrific nightmare every day for more than three years. Saeed can be illegally executed at any moment unless the international community defends his life. Saeed’s lawyers have told our family that the only hope left is the international community. All legal channels within Iran have been exhausted.”

Global Condemnation of the Treatment of Families of BBC Persian Journalists

Last week global condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s hostage taking of the relatives of BBC Persian journalists continued.

The Iranian internet reached a record of inefficiency in its history perhaps taking the country one step closer to the threatened national Internet, which would isolate Iranian netizens from their global peers. In an interview with Arseh Sevom, cyber activist Walid Al-Saqaf said that one reason for the slowdown was the interception of internet traffic.