Amnesty urges world to save tortured Iranian prisoner arrested at 17

Amnesty urges world to save tortured Iranian prisoner arrested at 17

Published by on February 14, 2015

Amnesty International is appealing to halt the execution of Saman Naseem, an Iranian arrested at the age of 17 and tortured for 97 days in a bid to force a confession of membership of an armed opposition group.

Saman Naseem is due to executed on February 19, after being arrested on 17 July 2011, after a gun battle between Revolutionary Guards and a Kurdish opposition group.

After his arrest he was held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre without any access to his family or a lawyer.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a press release: “That the Iranian authorities are preparing to put to death a young man who’s been tortured for 97 days to ‘confess’ when he was 17 years old beggars belief.

“With less than a week left before he is due to be executed, there is no time to waste. Saman’s execution must be immediately stopped and his case thoroughly reviewed.

“In a letter seen by Amnesty International, Saman Naseem, now 22 years old, described how he was kept in a 2 x 0.5 metre cell and constantly tortured before being forced while blindfolded to put his fingerprints on ‘confession’ papers. He was forced to admit to acts that lead to his conviction for membership of an armed opposition group and taking up arms against the state. He was 17 years old at the time.

“With less than a week left before he is due to be executed, there is no time to waste. Saman’s execution must be immediately stopped and his case thoroughly reviewed.

“This is the reality of the criminal justice system in Iran, which makes a mockery of its own statements that it does not execute children and upholds its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

In the letter seen by Amnesty International, Saman has said: “During the first days, the level of torture was so severe that it left me unable to walk. All my body was black and blue. They hung me from my hands and feet for hours. I was blindfolded during the whole period of interrogations and torture, and could not see the interrogation and torture officers.

“They repeatedly told me that they had arrested my family members including my father, my mother, and my brother. They told me that they would kill me right there and would cover my grave with cement.

“When I wanted to sleep during nights, they would not let me rest by making noises using different devices, including by constantly banging on the door. I was in a state between madness and consciousness. I could not have any contact with my family during this time. During the trial, even the presiding judge threatened me with more beatings a number of times and my lawyers were removed under pressure.”

According to Amnesty International’s press release Saman was arrested on 17 July 2011, after a gun battle between Revolutionary Guards and armed opposition group Party For Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), in the city of Sardasht, West Azerbaijan Province.

His family members were not informed of his arrest and first learned about it through a video clip of Saman aired on state TV, in which he ‘confessed’ to taking part in armed activities against the state. Court documents indicate that during the fight, a member of the Revolutionary Guards was killed and three others wounded.

In the  press release Amnesty International explains that: “In January 2012, Saman was sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court after being convicted of ‘enmity against God’ and ‘corruption on earth’ because of his alleged membership of PJAK and taking part in armed activities against the Revolutionary Guards.

“During the trial, he retracted his earlier ‘confession’ and said that he fired into the air and not towards the Revolutionary Guards. He also told the judge he was tortured but he dismissed this and relied on his “confessions” as admissible evidence. His lawyers have been prevented from pursuing his defence.

“In August 2012, the Supreme Court had overturned the death sentence and sent his case to a lower court for a retrial on the grounds that he had been under 18 at the time of the crimes of which he had been convicted.

“However, Saman was sentenced to death in April 2013 by a criminal court. The Supreme Court upheld this death sentence again in December 2013.”


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Abolish death penalty in Iran

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Dear Secretary General of United Nations,

The number of executions is rising in Iran, journalists are being detained for doing their job and activists face cruel and degrading punishments, long prison terms and even execution. According to the most recent reports by Amnesty International and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Iran’s judiciary continues to sentence child offenders to death, and carry out their execution by hanging”. Also, on August 9th, 2016 the son of late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s designated successor in 1988, published a shocking audio tape of his father’s meeting with the “Death Commission” which summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini.

We, the undersigned, hereby urge you to take up this issue and raise it in the General Assembly in order to;

1. Put pressure on Iran to immediately halt the executions and abolish death penalty in Iran.
2. Call on all Western governments to make any improvement in economic relations with Iran contingent on its human rights record.
3. Demand in its resolution on human rights violations in Iran, to bring the perpetrators of 1988 massacre (one of the worst atrocities the post-war world has ever seen – Geoffrey Robertson-QC) to justice before an international tribunal.

Executions must stop.

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