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"Human Rights Should be a Precondition for Engagement with Iran": Letter from the Political Prisoners of Gohardasht

Political Prisoners of Karaj’s Gohardasht Prison
Political Prisoners of Karaj’s Gohardasht Prison/ Translation by ABF
October 9, 2017
Letter

The human rights situation in prisons has not changed. Why?

Each one of us political prisoners in Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison (also known as Gohardasht) have spent an average of one year in incarceration. We had previously complained about why we were not given the same conditions and facilities afforded to regular prisoners, such as access to a telephone, temporary leave, medical and medicinal access, and other facilities (the protest was over prison conditions and providing information regarding the condition of prisoners). The current situation, however, is that we have even been deprived of those minimal facilities, and no improvement has been made in spite of a change in the directorship and promises they had made. We are now even deprived of air to breathe: the political ward has been transformed into a steel cage and they have blocked the smallest air passage ways; the only air that gets in, comes through a passageway that goes through the location reserved for the collection of the ward’s refuse, thereby rendering the air polluted and unhealthy.

The current situation, however, is that we have even been deprived of those minimal facilities, and no improvement has been made, in spite of a change in the directorship and promises they had made

After we complained about the expropriation of the minimal facilities of life such as plates and such, not only was nothing returned to prisoners and not one of our complaints listened to (all due to the Prisons Organization’s spite and hatred for political prisoners and the prison warden, Mohammad Mardani’s, spite for us), but they now also force prisoners to declare in writing that our possessions have been returned to us (after we got a couple of objects and some clothes) and that we no longer have any complaints. Unfortunately, no lawyer has thus far agreed to follow up on this issue (due to threats by the Judiciary and the Prisons Organization). Books and newspapers continue to be banned, and there is one television set for every sixty people, installed in the middle of the hallway, which everybody walks through and where some other prisoners live. Due to lack of space and because they protested ward conditions, some prisoners have been forced to live on the hallway floor, with two blankets and a pillow… They have been put up in the ward hallway where they sleep, sit, and eat… because there is no other place… Even their plates and their clothes have not been returned to them. This is the Judiciary and the Prison Organization’s way of driving political prisoners to the brink… As before, political prisoners are deprived of having an attorney of their own choosing, of knowing the content of the case file, of even the date of trial and where they are being taken during transfers. When summoned, no prisoner has any knowledge whatsoever as to who the summoning authority is, why they’re being summoned, and how, though this is the minimum of a prisoner’s rights…

As before, political prisoners are deprived of having an attorney of their own choosing, of knowing the content of the case file, of even the date of trial and where they are being taken during transfers.

With that brief introduction, we, the political prisoners of Karaj’s Gohardasht Prison, ask all human rights institutions, and particularly ask all democratic governments of the community of nations, and the United Nations Secretary General, to make respect for human rights standards and respect for human dignity a precondition for having relations and engaging with this regime.

It is highly improbable for a regime that does not recognize the rights of its own citizens, and does not accord them an opportunity to claim and demand these rights, to recognize laws and rights promulgated by the international community.

It is highly improbable for a regime that has never been seriously called to account for the mass killings of prisoners in 1988, to stop the current wave of executions and the pressure it exerts on political prisoners.

A regime that fundamentally does not value human life, as demonstrated by the number of executions of its own prisoners,  and uses such executions to terrorize its citizens, cannot be expected to respect... international obligations

A regime that fundamentally does not value human life (as demonstrated by the number of executions of its own prisoners) and uses such executions to terrorize its citizens, cannot be expected to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and other international obligations) solely through dialogue and without any real and serious pressure. Such an expectation would be similar to trying to reason with a wolf, through explanation and guidance, not to rip sheep apart… Therefore, once again, we ask all human rights organizations, states members of the community of nations, and the United Nations Secretary General, to very seriously impose respect for and adherence to human rights tenets as a precondition for engaging in commercial and diplomatic relations with this regime.

The Political Prisoners of Karaj’s Gohardasht Prison

October 9, 2017