OPEN LETTER TO THE HEAD OF THE JUDICIARY
In the name of the Creator
Honorable Head of the Judicial Power
Mr. Ayatollah Shahrudi
Respectfully with Salutations
I, Ali Afshari, was arrested in the month of December 2000, per the orders of the Judge of the 26th Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal...
The initial charge against me was related to my talk at a conference officially named "Objections to the (Current) Political Impasse." given at Amir Kabir University (Tehran) on November 26, 2000. I was charged with "propaganda against the regime," "agitating public opinion", and "insulting the Leader."
After having spent approximately eight days in the public section of the Evin prison, I was transferred to section 240 (solitary confinement). Then, the security interrogation began. This was not merely questioning: my interrogators cursed me, insulted me, and used force.
After one week of uninterrupted interrogation accompanied by sleep deprivation, being forced to stand in front of a wall, and being threatened with various tortures, I was transferred to a place which the interrogators called the "dungeon of the ghosts." I was kept sleepless for 24 hours, was blindfolded and made to lie down in the back seat of a car wrapped in a blanket. Later I found out that this place is the Incarceration 59 of the Sentries. The reasons for my transfer were as follows: 1) I denied my interrogators' accusation that I had attempted to overthrow the regime; 2) I did not retract the contents of my aforesaid talk; 3) I did not apologize to the Leadership and the Head of the Judicial Power; and, 4) I refused to answer any questions outside of the purview of the stated charges.
During the night of the transfer, I was subjected to beatings and insults by several people and was forced to answer questions unrelated to the charges brought against me in violation of my rights and expressed wishes.
From then on, the intensity of the physical and psychological pressures, deprivations, lack of affection, and isolation, was gradually and continually intensified, so that after one month of resistance I was suddenly broken, my personality was destroyed, and I became like a child who is placed in an unknown environment. I was detached from my previous space and was changed to a person with no self-control or will, a person who is malleable in the hands of the prosecutor. The prosecutor, hence, was in total control.
In this critical circumstance, like a psychotic patient, I went through the process of de-socialization and was more alienated from my previous personality daily.
My situation was such that I was incapable of disagreement with and resistance against to the prosecutor and I was only concentrating on mitigating the impact and reducing the extent of the demands of the prosecutor.
The demand of the prosecutors, at this period, was first to fabricate their own (imaginary) version regarding national security files, such as the attack of the students dormitory by security forces in 1999 (and the students' uprising of the same year), the Khorram Abad incident (students demonstration in the Province of Lorestan), the actions of the Office of Fortifying Unity (a reformist student Union) and the student movement. They were also attempting to force me to confess lies about the reformers and the opposition. They had concocted a preconceived scenario and wanted it substantiated by my confession. I resisted their pressure for 45 days, but could not bear the hardship anymore. I agreed to submit to an interview, on the condition that I would not be confessing lies against others and would not distort facts.
First the investigative magistrate dictated the script of the interview and I started negotiating with him, and then the first draft of the interview was prepared with the input of the prosecuting team. Three video interviews were done in the incarceration area with the prosecuting team.
The videos were sent to the "expertise group" and were edited again based on their inputs. A new draft was prepared based on the interviews and was presented to me for memorization. After one day of practice, I was transferred to a place inside the Eshrat Abad Garrison. An interview was supposed to take place with a professional team of filmmakers. Suddenly, and without any previous notice, I was confronted with the reporter and the filming crew from state-owned television (Voice and Image).
The prosecutor's signals indicated I ought not to show any reaction. Given that I was deprived of the right of "being myself", a self-evident human right, had lost my independent will, and was scared of being hurt in order to confess their lies, I had no choice but to acquiesce.
The process of that so called voluntary interview, which had supposedly taken place "per my request," is a sad story. It shows that the forces and the desires of the megalomaniacs to kill the truth and distort reality know no boundaries.
First, the prosecutor, in the presence of the interviewer (from state media) of the Voice and Image, sat on the interviewer's seat. Then, while looking at the camera of the Voice and Image, I started reciting without interruption and without any question and answer, from memory, the contents of the written documents which were brought from the prison.
Of course, I was glancing at the written document now and again while I was reciting.
The whole interview was filmed in a half an hour single tape.
The prosecutor claimed that he wants this film for the prosecuting team and some of the authorities and has nothing to do with a television interview.
Then, the interviewer from Voice and Image, Mr. Fallah, sat on the chair and asked some questions within the prepared framework. I gave answers in line with what the prosecutors wished. The taping took more than one hour in various videos.
In fact, none of the words I uttered in this interview were mine; they were the words of the prosecuting team which were spoken by me because of the heavy pressures brought on me.
This interview was a completely fabricated film directed by the prosecuting group in which I played the role of the interviewee. Unfortunately, even though the Judge had clearly announced that the interview was internal and would not be broadcasted in the media, despite our agreements, the edited interview in the presence of the prosecutor and the reporter of Voice and Image was selectively broadcasted.
In this period, they made me sign several letters of repentance addressed to the Judge, the Head of the Judiciary Power, and the General Committee of the Office of the Fortifying Unity (student Union). The contents of these letters, like the interview, were coerced and dictated by the prosecuting team and none of them reflected my opinion and perspective. They were reflective of a personality they had fabricated from me during the forced interrogation. None of the said letters, of course, were published.
Also in this period, there was a lot of pressure put on me to write and give information about the reformist activists and the students in the framework of the predispositions and thoughts of the prosecutors.
At last, with the help of the Creator, while I was distraught and anxious and had even attempted suicide several times with an electric wire, in the second half of (June 2000) in those difficult situations, I found my old self again, the person I was before I was arrested. I stood up to the plans of the prosecutors and refused to submit to their command. At my first opportunity, I reported all the violations and fabricated confessions to the Judge. In my initial meeting with my family, I told them about what had happened so that thepublic would be informed.
The pressures and threats resumed again and I was threatened with extensive prison time. They (the prosecution team) told me, among other threats, that I will not have a chance to defend myself in public. They repeatedly emphasized the Judge and the courts have no role in this case and that they (the prosecution team) were the main and the final decision makers.
In the month of July 2000, my bail was changed to a 200 million Tomans.($200,000) Despite the fact that my family presented the whole amount of the bail in the form of property deeds and received a receipt for it in the month of August of the year 2000, I was held in section 59, in solitary confinement without being told of new charges. In the last three months of that period, no interrogation took place.
In sum, the salient physical and psychological abuses during the period of 356 days are as follows:
-328 days of solitary confinement of which 128 days of it was in a cell 2meters by 1/3 m and 200 days of it was in a cell of 3m by 6m.
-Incarceration in high ranking secure and military jails.
-Incarceration in the Intelligence units of the Ministry of Defense adjacent to the MehrabadAirport, where the incessant sound of the landing and take-off of the airplanes leaves no room for tranquility.
-Being beaten up and slandered while blindfolded and subjected to vile insults and cursing.
-Repeated long periods of sleep deprivation, in one case, for a period of four consecutive days.
-Repeated threats for being executed and setting up mock stages in which preparations for hanging were set up as well as efforts in forcing me to write my will.
-Being forced to stand facing the wall for long periods of time.
-Threats to various forms of tortures accompanied with constant deafening noises, some of which were accompanied with sexual pressures.
-Threats to arrest the members of my family and friends.
-Deprivation from affection and sensory pleasures and prevention from free and effective contacts with the family and the attorney.
-No access to books and newspapers for a period of 8 months and no access to T.V., radio, and the reformist papers.
-Being blindfolded during the whole period of incarceration.
-Being taken to bed for the purposes of being flogged and its preparation.
-Extensive psychological pressure.
-Being exposed to cold weather, such that during winter time I was deliberately kept in a cold room.
-No access to free telephone conversations and limitations on the telephone contacts in the presence of the interrogator.
-Deprivation from and limitation on fresh air access during the first four months of the incarceration. I had access to only five minutes of fresh air in the small back yard of the prison while blindfolded.
-Being deceived and being told lies about the political atmosphere and political issues of the country and the student movement.
-Being fed fabricated news and lies quoting friends and the reformist activists.
-Transfer from one prison to another in an ambulance (and in some cases on a stretcher).
-Unlimited interrogation in all areas and outside of the subject of incarceration.
After posting the bail of two hundred thousand dollars and being released, I attempted to demand my suspended rights by holding press interviews, writing to high officials, pursuing legal means, and exposing the issues surrounding the incarceration. Unfortunately, I received no replies. I was imprisoned for another two years on unsubstantiated charges. I paid for my steadfastness and my belief in human rights.
What transpired in my case is a perfect illustration of the violations you have enumerated as those recurrent in the judicial system. Until such a time that the perpetrators and the agents of these violations are duly punished for their inhuman and unislamic behavior, one cannot hope for a genuine reform of the judicial system.
Now, after more than 55 months from the filing of the case, and 44 months after being released with posting the $200000 bail, Tuesday, August 23, 2005 has been designated as my court date.
With regard to the foregoing, with respect to the political nature of the charges, the requirement for a fair judicial process, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, religious principles, and my own human rights, it is required that per the Article 168 of the constitution, my trial be public and that I be judged by a jury of my peers.
The way my trial is conducted will be a good illustration of how authentic and sincere is the authorities' proclaimed desire to reform the judicial system and respect the rights of the citizens. For this reason, I strongly insist on having a public trial based on the due process of law.
"And success is from God"
August 15th, 2005
Literally "troubling the public spirit". This is one of the classical charges in totalitarian systems; it does not refer to a concrete act of subversion but to a doctrinal subversion. The accused is "troubling" the public spirit because his opinions go against the ideological orthodoxy of the regime.