To UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir: "Heed Our Cry, the Cry of Those Condemned to be Erased"
As a 17-year-old on summer vacation, Mohammad Saber Malek Rai’si, an Iranian citizen from Baluchestan Province, crossed his country’s border with Pakistan to visit a brother who had fled Iran’s security forces. With the same step, he crossed one of the government’s red lines. Rai’si was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to seventeen years of prison and exile away from his native Charbahar, a move which separated him from family and support networks. Now seven years into his incarceration, Rai’si is making his case to both Iranian and international officials, demanding that his human and civil rights be respected.
In this January 17, 2017 letter to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran Asma Jahangir, he protests his treatment at the hands of a system which respects no law or set of rights, domestic or international, in its pursuit of national “security.” In an attached December 30, 2016 letter, Rai’si makes a simple request of President Hassan Rouhani: that he and those in his situation “only be treated in accordance with the law.”
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
With great respect: I, Mohammad Saber Malek Ra’isi, political prisoner and prisoner of conscience, son of Daad Ali, born in January-February 1992, an ethnic Baluch, citizen of Iran, and resident of the town of Chahbahar, am currently in exile and am being held at Ardebil Central Prison.
I was arrested on September 24, 2009 at the age of 17 for having contact with and visiting my brother who lives in Pakistan. On July 23, 2011, I was sentenced by the Zahedan General and Revolutionary Court to 15 years’ exile at Ardebil Prison and to two years’ imprisonment for having crossed the border.
Ever since being arrested, I have undergone the worst types of torture and inhumane conditions.
For the 21 months I was detained at Zahedan Information Ministry Detention Center, I underwent the worst types of physical and psychological torture, and at such a young age.
For the 21 months I was detained at Zahedan Information Ministry Detention Center, I underwent the worst types of physical and psychological torture, and at such a young age. They forced me to make false admissions and confessions by tying me up to the torture bed - “the bed of miracles” as they call it. They also started to put pressure on my family to bring back my brother Abidorrahman (who had taken up residence in Pakistan for having refused to cooperate with the Information Ministry) lest I be executed. After two years of pressure and threats of execution, their wishes that my brother would return and turn himself in had not materialized, and I was tried at the Zahedan Court. I defended myself against the false, trumped-up charges and stated that I hadn’t done anything, that I had simply gone to Pakistan during school holidays to visit my brother, and that I had not committed any crimes whatsoever. However, to my utter disbelief and with the court’s complete disregard of my defense, I was sentenced to 17 years’ exile and prison in that very court session and was transferred to Zahedan Central Prison the next day.
This was the beginning of false hope for me and my family. I thought being sentenced and transferred to jail meant being free from the Information Ministry, execution, and physical and psychological torture. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did prison conditions fail to improve; they in fact got worse. From the moment I arrived at the prison, I was scolded and chastised by the prison’s Information Protection section for my crime, and was also insulted and humiliated by prison officials in front of the other prisoners. When I protested this inhumane and illegal treatment by the officials and their subordinates (which was in violation of the country’s laws,) I was quarantined and put in solitary confinement in a five-foot cell, handcuffed and shackled. I spent days and weeks in that state.
When I protested this inhumane and illegal treatment by the officials and their subordinates I was quarantined and put in solitary confinement in a five-foot cell, handcuffed and shackled.
On May 25, 2012, with the clampdown on protestors in Ward 5 (the political and security prisoners’ ward) due to the provincial head of the Information and General Protection Administration’s insult against the Holy Prophet and the trampling of the prisoners’ rights as citizens, I, along with the political prisoners of Ward 1 (the youth ward) was taken to Ward 5’s football court. Not having committed any violations or protested anything, I was punched, kicked, and beaten with electric clubs. I was then thrown into a solitary confinement cell with an open wound to the head, a broken nose, and a beat-up and bloodied body. I faced the worst torture in the world until the next morning.
I did not sleep a wink until the next morning, and I was in excruciating pain, having been put in the middle of the cell handcuffed and shackled. For two days in the prison quarantine, I had no choice but to go on hunger strike along with others like myself, demanding that the exile sentence in my case be carried out in the hope that transfer to a place of exile far away from my province would perhaps be a way out of this injustice and unbearable torture.
I have been scolded and insulted time and time again for my religious beliefs on religious occasions.
But I was wrong again. Things became much worse than they had been at the Information Ministry Detention Center and Zahedan Prison. Immediately upon my arrival at Ardebil Prison, I was forbidden visitations and phone calls for 15 months (without a judicial order) by the prison’s Information Protection section. This was only the beginning of hardships that continue to this day. I have been scolded and insulted time and time again for my religious beliefs on religious occasions. I was even beaten by the prison warden himself and one of his high-ranking officers while handcuffed and shackled. In [the month of] Ramadan of 2014, I was beaten by prison officials at the instigation of ignorant and fanatical prisoners. While fasting, I and other political and religious ward inmates were taken out of the ward and turned over to fanatical prisoners picked out beforehand. I have also been persecuted on numerous occasions for unfounded and bogus reasons, and ultimately taken to quarantine. The last such occasion was December 28, 2016, when I was taken to the prison yard for having objected to one of the officials’ illegal conduct and tied with handcuffs and shackles to purpose-built iron bars attached to the wall. This occurred in Ardebil’s cold winter weather where the temperature was at zero centigrade and the ground covered with snow. I was in short sleeves and barefoot from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, and did my noon, afternoon, sundown, and evening prayers in that position. I was twisting and turning from the cold that had penetrated my body down to my aching bones. Ultimately, I went on a hunger strike to protest the wrongs I was subjected to and to demand that the law be respected and carried out. I also wrote a letter to the country’s president (see below) asking for justice and implementation of the law for political crimes, and declared the start of my hunger strike. Nothing has been done so far, however, and I’m still in the same situation as before. I must note that all of us political prisoners of the ward are in the same situation and in similar conditions. We are, in a way, the prison guards’ slaves and they treat us any way they please. To quote them, the law doesn’t apply to us, because we are considered in some sense traitors to the country and thus deserve (to name examples) the beatings, the insults, the humiliation, the inhumane torture, the trampling of our rights as citizens, and even the violation of the country’s laws, such as Principles 19, 23, and 39 of the Constitution which are relevant to our ethnic, religious, and prison conditions.
I was taken to the prison yard and tied with handcuffs and shackles to purpose-built iron bars attached to the wall. This occurred in Ardebil’s cold winter weather where the temperature was at zero centigrade and the ground covered with snow.
I am even denied my human rights, as they prevent me from receiving medical care and treatment for the illness from which I’m suffering. I must also note that our legal and penal conditions are dire, and we have not been allowed any leave from prison after the passing of so many years of incarceration. We are subject to deprivation and discrimination even regarding type of sentencing and implementation of the penal sentence. For instance, with the passage of the new Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Article 9 of which addresses [crimes committed] by people under 18 years of age (which, given my age, would provide for a maximum 5-year sentence pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 10(b),) I repeatedly petitioned the Supreme Court and the Zahedan General and Revolutionary Court for a commuted sentence. I even requested a new trial due to the disproportionality of the punishment with the crime, given the Law for Rules of Criminal Procedure’s Article 474. However, after the passing of two years and numerous and continuous correspondence from my family and myself, no response or action has been taken by either the Supreme Court or the Zahedan General and Revolutionary Court. Furthermore, given the separation of the crimes of Moharebeh and Efsad fel-Arz in the Islamic Penal Code and pursuant to that Code’s Paragraph (b), in accordance with that same law’s Article 288, and based on the dissolution of the relevant group, I deserve at most 5 years of imprisonment – though I have spent close to 8 years in prison. Pursuant even to the conditions for a new trial based on disproportionality between sentence and crime, and to the provisions of the Law for Rules of Criminal Procedure Article 474(f) in accordance with Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Article 288, I and many other political prisoners related to the Jondollah group should have been released, though we have not been. All the while, I am innocent and have not committed any crimes whatsoever. Even if I were a criminal and guilty [of the crime charged], I should have been released in accordance with the provisions of the aforementioned laws.
Even if I were a criminal and guilty, I should have been released in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Penal Code.
Now I ask you Ms. Asma Jahangir, United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur for Iran, to heed our cries, the cries of those condemned to oblivion and of the families persecuted by the Information Ministry, the Prisons Organization, and the oppressive and tyrannical Judiciary Branch. We ask that you pay attention to the requests of these forgotten prisoners.
When all is said and done, our Creator is all we need. May God reward you.
Heartfelt thanks for your efforts, honorable lady, in restoring our rights, the rights of the oppressed.
Mohammad Saber Malek Ra’isi, Political Prisoner
Letter to Hassan Rouhani:
Greetings and Salutations to the Elected President of the People of Iran;
I would like to respectfully inform you, an eminent official of the people, that I, Mohammad Saber Malek Ra’isi, son of Daad Ali, birth certificate number 645-001522-5, was arrested on the charge of membership in the Rigi group and sentenced by the Zahedan General and Revolutionary Court to 15 years of exile at Ardebil Prison and to two years’ imprisonment for illegally crossing the border. I have now spent 7 years and 3 months in jail and in my place of exile.
I must note that I was 17 years old at the time I was charged with the crimes, in my second year of high school...
I must note that I was 17 years old at the time I was charged with the crimes, in my second year of high school, and that I had not committed any of the crimes with which I was charged. I had simply gone in and out of Pakistan illegally during summer vacation 2009 to visit my fugitive brother who had not cooperated with the Information Ministry and had fled the country two years earlier. Now I would like to inform you, Iran’s eminent elected high official, that I have not taken to writing solely for having been unfairly sentenced, because I believe I might deserve condemnation for causing trouble and heartache for my father and mother numerous times. However …
In any event, I have taken to writing to let you know that we, the prisoners arrested on the charge of being hostile to the Islamic Republic of Iran, are beaten and injured by prison guards and officials. These officials consider themselves followers of the Islamic Republic, regard us as traitors to the country, and consider any type of conduct toward us as combat with enemies of the Islamic Republic - though in the eyes of the law we are simply prisoners no different than other prisoners who have committed other crimes. We have the right to serve our time within the framework of the Islamic Republic’s laws and regulations. Discrimination based on religion and the type of crime committed is meaningless from a legal standpoint. The officials pretend to be zealous and revolutionary, though they themselves violate our rights as well as the laws of the Islamic Republic.
The officials who abuse us consider themselves followers of the Islamic Republic, regard us as traitors to the country, and consider any type of conduct toward us as combat with enemies of the Islamic Republic.
I have repeatedly wanted to send an official letter about our condition to the Prisons Organization and to other governmental bodies but I was never able to because my letters were not signed and stamped by prison authorities and were ultimately confiscated at the inspection and exit point. I was also scolded and subjected to aggressive behavior from officials for writing these letters, ultimately resulting in my not being sent to the hospital for medical treatment for an illness from which I have been suffering for years, and in not being able to obtain the necessary documentation from the Medical Examiner’s Office confirming my illness. I am currently in quarantine for having protested an official’s conduct toward me.
Additionally, on Wednesday, December 28, 2016, at 8:00 AM, I was tied with handcuffs and shackles to purpose-built iron bars attached to the outside wall of the building in the prison courtyard in Ardebil’s cold winter weather, the ground covered with snow. I was left there until 10:00 PM. At lights out, I was transferred to quarantine. I must note that I remained in that position even at prayer time and performed my noon, afternoon, sundown, and evening prayers in gestures. They even took off my slippers. Due to the extreme cold I was in such a condition that I asked my Creator to take my life. When I was transferred to quarantine, my body and head were in such great pain that I did not sleep a wink all night. I have had no choice but to go on hunger strike in order to improve my conditions and have asked for treatment in accordance with the law. I beg you, honorable elected high official of the people, to please pay attention to these prisoners who have been in jail for years and have withstood all kinds of insults, humiliation, and suffering with no one to heed their calls except Almighty God. Please take this prisoner’s request – only that we be treated in accordance with the law - into consideration, and order that the necessary steps be taken in this regard.
(When all is said and done, our Creator is all we need.)
May God reward you. Many thanks to you, the people’s elected official.
Prisoner Mohammad Saber Malek Ra’isi, son of Daad Ali
Incarcerated at Ardebil Central Prison
Friday, December 30, 2016