Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Victims and Witnesses

LETTER TO THE HEAD OF THE JUDICIARY

Ahmad Batebi
Boroumand Foundation
March 23, 2000
Letter

"O! Almighty, you know that what we did was not for gaining power or fortune in the world, but for bringing back your faith and to make reign peace and reform, so your oppressed creatures can live in it with security and peace and that your laws can be respected" - Nahjol -Balagheh

(Imam Ali, Sahife Sajadie -Prayer 54)

To the Attention of the Honorable Special Team of the Judiciary Power:

I, Ahmad Batebi, son of Mohamad Bagher, born in 1978, and having the National ID card # 448 issued in Shiraz, am a student of film production of the University Jihad, and reside in Fardis of Karaj. I was condemned by the honorable judiciary following the tragedy of July 1999 [the brutal crushing of a student demonstration for press freedom that led to the destruction of their dormitory, numerous casualties, disappearances, one fatality and, ultimately, to a popular uprising in Tehran].

My purpose in this missive is to tell you, Your Honor, about the circumstances of my arrest, interrogation and trial, and it is my hope that by doing so, we would intervene for the promotion of the truth and help remedy the devastating harm that has been done [...]

From the end of June 1999 until my day of arrest, I - -with the authorization of the University Jihad Office - -was producing a documentary about the dangers of drug addiction and social problems.

Hearing about the student dormitory [attack], I went to cover this incident, and I conducted my work in the university dorm area... until Wednesday when I was arrested by plainclothesmen who were participating in the student demonstration.

I have been imprisoned since then, and sentenced to death .[1] I will list, hereby, the abuses of my fundamental human rights [that took place] during my interrogations and trial; and in order to avoid taking too much of your precious time, I will cite only the most important aspects [of these abuses] and those which have affected my life.

A) Physical and psychological pressures:

1 - On the first day of my arrest by the plainclothesmen, I was brought inside the university where they confiscated all my documents and possessions. While taunting me with insults, they beat me on my testicles, my legs and abdominal area.

When I protested, they answered that this is the land of the "Velayat" (referring to the absolute power of the Supreme Leader), and that I should be blinded and not be allowed to live here.

2 - They then transferred me to the Law Enforcement Force of Zir -Pol Hafez where, after more interrogation and under pretext of having proof of my participation in the destruction of public property, they handcuffed me and beat me with Cop -bats.

3 - Later they transferred me in a van along with other people arrested. They blindfolded us with our shirts and tied us around our necks in a 12 square meter room. LEF (d*) soldiers beat us with Cop -bats.

I pulled off the shirt covering my eyes in order to clean my bleeding nose.

When the soldiers saw me doing this, they brought me to another room where they tied my hands and handcuffed my right foot to my hands.

An official report available at LEF shows I was condemned to receive lashes. They blindfolded me and carried out the sentence in the same room.

4 - They transferred us via bus to another location where I was separated from the others. Interrogators asked me questions such as what was I doing at the students' dorms and why there were medicines in my bag.

They also accused me of having a gun which I had allegedly dropped into a city gutter. I was told I was part of the recent unrest. They even accused me of stealing from a bank. When I protested the[se] charges, they handed me over to a couple of very large soldiers wearing commando uniforms saying that these people will "make me talk."

The soldiers tied my hands to plumbing pipes. They hit my head and abdominal area with soldiers' shoes. They insisted I sign a confession of the accusations made against me.

Next, they threw me onto the floor, stood on my neck and cut off not only all my hair, but also parts of my scalp causing it to bleed.

They beat me so severely with their heavy shoes that I lost consciousness. When I regained consciousness, they started their actions again.

5 - They gave me some A4 paper and ordered me to write and sign a "confession" of their accusations. Upon my protesting, they took me to another room, blindfolded me and tied hands to the window bars.

Once again they insisted that I "confess." When I again protested, they beat me with a car -jacking cable.

Under extreme duress, I was forced to write what they wanted. At that time, they tore up the A4 paper and said that I had to write the same thing on official paper with [a] logo. But they never brought this paper.

I asked to go to the bathroom, but they would not let me close the door saying I might commit suicide.

I said I needed to have the door closed, but they refused. Not wanting to expose my bodily functions to others, I told them I no longer wanted to go to the bathroom. They insisted I must go, and the door must be open. Then they began lashing me.

I resisted and punched one of them in the face. At this point, they took me and pushed my head into a closed drain full of excrement. They held me under for so long, I was unable to hold my breath any longer, and excrement was inhaled through my nose and seeped into my mouth.

For many hours, I was not allowed to wash myself. An investigator wanted to question me further, and the stench was so bad that he asked me to clean up to get rid of it.

6 - During the interrogations, they threatened several times to execute me and to torture and rape my family members as well as imprison them for long terms.

7 - The investigators who questioned me initially, ordered me to confess to false allegations. I resisted as much as I could. Under the most trying conditions and extreme duress, I was forced to "confess" to the actions alleged. I had to sign a "confession" fearing that they would carry out their threats to me and my family.

Despite the baseless confessions to allegations devoid of any proof, the investigators would not believe my explanations of the circumstances surrounding these confessions.

8 -Threats were made to execute my family members. My mother and sister were brought to the TOHID Detention Center (e*), and I could hear my mother's voice from my cell window. They denied that my mother had been at TOHID, but I recognized her voice.

9 - Several days after my transfer to the Section 209 of Evin (f*), they brought me blindfolded to a room and gave me a paper to sign. When I inquired as to the content, they said, "Creating street unrest," and "Agitating people to create unrest."

When I denied the charges, they beat me kicking me in the face causing fractures to my right jaw and knocking out my teeth. I had to tear out the remaining roots.

10 - When I was in solitary prison, the guard hit me on my head and ears. That beating caused an infection in my left ear which left me with diminished auditory capacity.

11 - I have lost a significant amount of my visual acuity according to doctors' diagnoses and evaluations. My left eye especially has been affected and has lost strength due to the pressures and beatings I endured.

I now have to use glasses.

12 - On the same first days, they wrote my name on my hand with a green ink ball -point pen. When I asked why, all they said was that they were going to take me to be executed, and it's better to confess before dying in order to be clean and not suffer while dying.

Then they made me sit on a chair and put a rope around my neck keeping me in this position for more than two hours.

They asked me to say my final prayer and write my will; then someone came in and told them I had not been sufficiently debriefed to be executed. At this time, they brought me down from my position.

13 - During this time, they made several calls to my family telling them that I would be sentenced to be imprisoned for long terms and even executed along with other threats.

Before I went to court, the investigator told me that if I did not make a televised confession, I would be condemned to ten years of imprisonment.

14 - I couldn't recognize the places and people during this time as I was blindfolded, and once in Evin and again at TOHID, they videotaped interviews with me.

15 - There were also investigators who did take my poor physical condition into consideration, and they did not exert the same pressure on me.

B) Circumstances of Doubt, Judgment and Declaration of Sentence:

1 - They made me exit cell number 417 of TOHID blindfolded. Half an hour later my judgment started at Branch 6 of Revolutionary Court. I had not been told where we were going. I had assumed the interrogation and investigation processes would be continuing.

I, therefore, was astonished when they removed my blindfold. In fact, I did not understand what was happening until the moment I was brought to the room to be charged.

I had fever, severe diarrhea and had lost consciousness due to all the pressure and sleep deprivation and, thus, I could not control my stability. I was unable to focus on what was happening, and these factors rendered me unable to defend myself.

My father arrived during the last minutes bringing our Home Ownership Title evaluated at 20,000,000 tomans for my bond and was told to give it to the court. But they never released me and are still keeping the document.

2 - After a while, they brought me to court, and this time in the same office of the branch without the presence of a judge. The secretary of the branch showed me an individual and said that he was my lawyer.

I told them I didn't want a lawyer. The individual said, "You need to; it is not possible to be judged without lawyer." I had to accept. He signed the paper fabricated in the last session and told me that I needed to ask for forgiveness.

In his last plea (defense), he said: "Ahmad Batebi has been influenced by the situation and acted as he did. I request from the holy regime that his sentence be reduced."

That's it; that was my trial.

3 - Again and after a long period, they took me to court. In the court, Mr. Haghani and his honorable secretary were present.

The secretary showed me a folded paper, and he was covering the inscriptions on it. He put it in front of me and said to sign it.

I asked what I needed to sign. He said, "This paper. It is your sentence that has been contested by your lawyer, and you need to sign it." I tried everything to be able to see it and to understand its content but couldn't.

They said the reason was that I simply needed to sign it, and I had to resign myself to doing it without being able to see it, to read it or to understand it.

4 - During the last months, I was brought back to the court several times to see my family based on their requests.

5 - After a couple of months, rumors were heard that my sentence was death. Since I never saw my sentence, I could only wonder about it.

We hired attorneys. With their help we understood that my file had been transferred to Branch 32 of the Supreme Court to be reexamined.

During all that time, I was allowed to see my lawyer only once - -for twenty minutes, and until today (March 23, 2000), the lawyers had neither been able to see the sentence nor study it.

6 - I was summoned to the court two months ago, and they told me that my sentence had been approved by the Supreme Court. When I asked what the sentence was, they responded, "What you need to know it for?"

I said, "The sentence is mine, and you're asking what I need to know it for?" They neither told [read] me the sentence, nor did they formulate it for me.

They added that my lawyers were spies for the USA and that if those lawyers had to defend me, then my file will be political, and that I needed to recuse them.

They told me that my sentence had been approved by the Supreme Court, and that no one could do anything more for me. They told me again that I needed to recuse the lawyers to get pardoned.

I refused to do so, but my lawyers - -based on the court's promises - -abdicated, and I had to announce their withdrawal to the court.

On that day, I argued with the judge and told him that I had no animosity against the regime and asked why they see me as an apostate and how come you concluded I'm guilty with only a couple of minutes of a one -way speech and without any defense from my part?

He said that everything was over, and there was nothing more to be done.

I told him about how the arrest came about, the judiciary process and my whereabouts in those days. Something interesting was the fact that the honorable judge didn't even know where I was on those days.

Finally, he promised to summon me again the next week, but he has done no such a thing so far.

7 - On March 16, 2000, I was again summoned to the court. On that day, one of the employees of Branch 6 brought me to another room, and two interrogators came again to interrogate me.

They told me that I was taking my last breaths, and this was my last chance. They told me that they will release me if I was honest. They said that when they are telling one "to be honest to be released," usually, [that] means ... to be killed by them and to be released from life. But this time, if I'm honest, they really will free me to be able to go back to my family.

They told me that they are looking for the real instigators responsible for the events, and that if I write what they want, they will make a doomsday sermon with me to free me to go home.

They told things, such as, Ezatollah Sahabi (a political dissident) being among those responsible, as he had stated before the event of the dormitory that during the University holiday, such an incident would happen.

They told me why I shall be in prison when members of the Office of Consolidating Unity (OFCU)[2] can go to Haj pilgrimage?

They quoted Goethe to me saying, "When you're falling, you must catch others and make them fall as well."

Then, they brought me my file and showed it to me with my death sentence and told me to go and think until Saturday, March 18, 2000, when I would be summoned to the court, but I was not summoned again until the end of the year (the Iranian year commence on Mrach 21st).

This letter contains the main aspects of my arrest, trial and sentence processes during the year 1378 (l999) that I explained in short.

What is bothering me is that today the investigation team of the judiciary is asking what is happening to me, but not wondering what has happened before; and how the rights of silent people have been crushed under the judiciary's feet without any sign of protest.

But I know that there's a time when the strong wild horse of power will be tamed by the people and...despite all this threatening speech, they (tyrants who rode the wild horse of power) were unaware that the strong wild horse can just as likely fling and throw them on the ground because of their actions... And maybe at that time, they would understand that each actioncalls for a reaction ... (and the ultimate justice is not that of the people against their tyrants) but the one promised by our Lord who will interrogate them and sentence them so that they learn to respect the rights of the people.

May it be so...

"A dominion can live on without faith in God but never with injustice" - Prophet Mohammed."

Ahmad Batebi

March 23, 2000



[1] TEHRAN, Iran, December 25, 1999 (Reuters) - An Iranian court has sentenced two students to death for their role in a social unrest in Tehran in July, a newspaper reported on Saturday. The daily Fath quoted a student group as saying that Akbar Mohammadi and Ahmad Batebi had been convicted by the court as ``Mohareb,'' or someone who makes war on Islam, a charge punishable by death under Islamic sharia law.

[2] A Student Organization that regroups most of the Students' Islamic Association of Iran's universities.