Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Victims and Witnesses

Letter from Shuresh Morovati, Death Row Prisoner in Saqqez: "Recognize Some Value for Human Dignity!"

HRANA, Shuresh Manouti
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
February 2, 2021

A death row inmate has protested the violation of his rights in an open letter written from inside Saqqez Prison where he is incarcerated. In the letter, the prisoner talks about the pressure put on the victim’s next of kin [in the homicide case in which he has been charged] by Prison and Judiciary officials to demand the implementation of the death penalty. This inmate has repeatedly asked officials to carry out his death sentence because of the prison’s harsh and unbearable conditions and his inability to withstand them.

According to a report by HRANA News Agency, the news arm of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, a death row inmate has protested the violation of his rights in an open letter written from inside Saqqez Prison.

On March 27, 2020, Gholamreza (Shuresh) Morovati and a number of other inmates incarcerated at Saqqez Prison, fled the Prison following the onset of the Corona virus pandemic and the ensuing unrests in various prisons across the country. He was ultimately arrested on April 6, 2020, and taken to Sanandaj Prison. He was transferred to Saqqez Prison in November of 2020, and he has now written a letter in which he has protested the violation of his rights subsequent to his arrest and return to said Prison.

The following is the full text of the letter which has been put at HRANA’s disposal for publication:

“I, Shuresh Morovati, am one of Kurdistan Province’s oldest prisoners and am serving my sentence under the harshest of conditions. I would like to inform the people of the world, human rights activists, and those who engage in the efforts to uphold prisoners’ rights, that on November 7, 2020, I was transferred back to Saqqez Prison under severe security conditions, without my knowledge and without a personal request for such transfer. I have been placed in the Prison’s quarantine ever since, for no reason whatsoever. And this, while the Prisons’ Organization has issued a directive according to which, because of the dreadful Corona virus pandemic, every prisoner must be tested for the virus, even with the prison’s half-baked tests, and be immediately separated from incoming inmates and transferred to other wards until a negative test result has been declared.

In his recent visit to the Saqqez Prison quarantine, Dr. Azizi, the Kurdistan Province Head of Prison Infirmaries, stated expressly and with utter frankness that “we will not accept responsibility for you and your health under any circumstances”. During the time that I have spent in quarantine, around 25 individuals have been infected with the Corona virus and have either been transferred to isolation cells or solitary confinement, or been sent on leave. Furthermore, I have been deprived of certain privileges such as a renewed phone card in order to contact my family, access to the prison’s barber, and in-person visitations. I must note the heating system in the quarantine is defective and does not work, and it is very cold in here. I am in extremely dire and desperate conditions.

Another extremely important issue is that the murder victim’s next of kin have been instigated and threatened on behalf of certain members of the Prison’s General Administration and certain individuals employed by the Saqqez Judiciary and other governmental organs, so that [the next of kin] insist on demanding the implementation of my death sentence. They have been told that Shuresh Morovati was arrested with [members of the] PEJAK group as he was fleeing the Prison; in doing so, they have aroused negative sentiments in the next of kin. The plaintiffs (that is, the victim’s next of kin) have [stated] as much to those who have gone to visit them in order to obtain their forgiveness [to forego Qesas or “retribution”]. They have been threatened and told “to follow up on the case [and insist on the death penalty] and not to settle with Shuresh Morovati’s family under any circumstances”. Given all of that, I now suffer from depression and I am on medication prescribed by Dr. Fakhruyan, Saqqez Prison’s psychiatrist, and I’m being treated by him.

[Because I am unable to withstand] these conditions, I have been forced to ask the Saqqez [Prison administration] to carry out my sentence. I now have certain requests that I want you to relay to the authorities:

One – I have been made to pay for the crime I have committed in the harshest and most severe possible manner: Six months in prison for breaking out of prison and for destruction [of property]; beatings and torture, the signs of which I still carry on my body as a souvenir; exile to Sanandaj Prison for six months and aggressive and violent behavior on the part of prison guards; and now, I am been kept in quarantine for three months so far. [That’s more than enough,] so don’t overdo it!

Two – [I want] a meeting with the Islamic Consultative Assembly’s (Parliament) official in charge of citizens’ rights, and a meeting with the Judiciary Branch’s person in charge of citizens’ rights, in Tehran.

Three – [I want the officials] not to threaten and instigate the plaintiffs (the next of kin) to insist on carrying my Qesas sentence.

Four – [I want the officials to] reinstate the privileges I have been deprived of in quarantine: Visiting with my mother, having a phone card, access to a barber, and general hygiene products.

Five – [I want to] be transferred to the ward like other inmates in accordance with the charter of the country’s Prisons Organization, [and enjoy the benefits of] the Prisons Organizations’ hygiene guidelines and executive directives.

In closing, I would like to say this: You, who claim that you keep prisoners in a [humanitarian] manner prescribed by Islam, and claim that you respect and observe human rights and [formulate and] come up with citizens’ rights: According to numerous verses of the Koran, you have committed grave sins, and you treat your captives and your prisoners in an utterly inhuman fashion and you have no respect for human dignity whatsoever.

Your objective is, and all your efforts are geared toward, taking lives instead of saving lives, which is unbecoming of any government in the world. With this kind of [governance, that is,] carrying out base, dastardly [and cowardly] execution, and the way you conduct ourselves, you will only become more and more hated, an outcast, and banished by the rest of the human community, and you will be all the more isolated and you will gain nothing. May you come to your senses and follow your own slogans which are “reforming prisoners for their glorious return to family and society”, and may you recognize some value for human dignity! May you effect a radical change in your behavior and become accepted by the rest of humanity.

Shuresh Morovati, February 2021, Saqqez Prison.”

It must be noted that that the writer of this letter, Gholamreza “Shuresh” Morovati, was sentenced to flogging and death for committing murder in the course of an armed robbery. He has been serving time in prison since approximately 11 years ago. This inmate had been transferred from Rajaishahr Prison in the city of Karaj to Saqqez prison in 2017-18, as a form of punishment for protesting the process of his case’s adjudication; he has repeatedly asked prison officials to carry out his death sentence because of the Prison’s extremely harsh and intolerable conditions and because of his inability to cope with them.