Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Abbas Disnad

About

Age: 37
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: June 24, 2009
Location: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

He was a business owner.  His shop stood on Karun Street, within walking distance of home.  Life with the family was good, in spite of an injury from the Iran-Iraq war.

Information about Mr. Abbas Disnad’s death was taken from interviews with his wife by Saham News* (August 20, 2009) and by Rooz Online (April 12, 2010). His name is mentioned in the list of “72 Martyrs of the Green Movement” by Ali Reza Beheshti (a campaign manager for the 2009 presidential candidate Mir Hossein Musavi), which was published on the Norooz website on September 4, 2009, and the list “Names of Martyred Workers of the Green Movement” (April 27, 2010).

Mr. Disnad was born on December 20, 1961. He owned a store on Karun Street in Tehran. He was married and had two children. During the Iran-Iraq War (September 1980 – August 1988), he fought on the frontlines and was injured.

On June 20, 2009, Mr. Disnad closed his store around 5:00 p.m. and was on his way home when he was hit in the head with a baton by security forces. His family was unaware of what happened to him until late in the evening when someone contacted them from the Shahriar hospital. According to the information available, three persons who were injured that day died at the Shahriar hospital that same day. Mr. Disnad died in the hospital on June 24, 2009.

After days of public protests against the presidential election result, the state’s suppression entered a new phase on June 20, 2009. Public gatherings were violently suppressed by Basij and plain clothes forces in various parts of Tehran.

Officials’ Reaction

According to Mr. Disnad’s wife, a resident of Karun Street (where Mr. Disnad’s store is located) stated that when he was hit and fell to the ground, state agents prevented passers-by from taking him to a hospital and he laid on the ground for hours. Doctors from the Shahriar Hospital told his wife that if he been taken to a hospital earlier, the chances of his survival would have been much greater.

The state agents returned Mr. Disnad’s body to the family on the condition that the family proclaim he had died of a heart attack. The coroner’s death certificate was not given to the family.

Based on the information available, officials did not investigate Mr. Disnad’s death. His son says, “we have followed up but nobody gives us an answer. They tell us to go and come back later. We ask when we should come back, they say they do not know” (Saham News).

Family’s Reaction

After Mr. Disnad’s burial, his family filed a complaint at the criminal prosecution office. His wife says that after some time, someone contacted her from the governor’s office and said, “it has been proven that your husband was innocent.” She says that she will follow up on the case. Her son states, “My father was innocent when he was killed. We just do not want his life to go to waste” (Rooz Online).

Background

Election returns from Iran’s June 12th, 2009, presidential election declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected with 62.63 percent of the vote. Following the announcement, citizens disputing these official results demonstrated in the streets. Text messaging services were disrupted starting at 11:00 p.m. on the night before the election and remained unavailable for nearly three weeks, until July 1st. On Election Day, the deputy chief of Iranian police announced a ban on any gathering of presidential candidates’ supporters throughout the country. The same evening, security forces made a “show of strength,” increasing their presence in Tehran’s public squares to “reinforce security at polling stations.” Officials at election headquarters began reporting results soon after midnight, despite a statement from the Minister of the Interior that the first returns would not be announced until after the morning prayer (around 4:00 a.m.).

Many supporters of other presidential candidates came out into the streets on June 13th, once the results were made public, to protest what they believed to be a fraudulent election. Candidates Mir Hossein Musavi, Mehdi Karubi, and Mohsen Reza’i, Ahmadinejad’s competitors in the race, contested the election, alleging many instances of fraud. They filed complaints with the Council of Guardians, the constitutional body charged with vetting candidates before elections take place and approving the results afterwards, requesting an annulment and calling for a new election. Before the Council of Guardians could review their claims, however, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election. In the meantime, many people active in Karubi’s and Musavi’s campaigns were arrested.

On June 15th, unprecedented demonstrations filled the streets of central Tehran, in which an estimated three million protestors participated, according to statements attributed to the mayor of Tehran. As the demonstrations were ending, paramilitary forces attacked the marchers, injuring and killing several people. To prevent such news from being broadcast, the Iranian government expelled foreign journalists from the country and banned news agencies from reporting on the events. Over the next three days, protesters took part in peaceful demonstrations in Tehran. The repression entered a new phase on June 19th after Ayatollah Khamenei’s Friday sermon, in which he announced his support for Ahmadinejad and warned protestors that they were responsible for any disorder and its consequences. Amnesty International stated that the speech gave “legitimacy to police brutality.” The next day and thereafter, police and plainclothes paramilitary groups attacked the protesters. Public gatherings of any kind were declared illegal, and police, motorcycle-riding special units wearing black uniforms and helmets, and plainclothes agents brutally enforced this restriction.

Individuals in civilian clothing, commonly referred to as plainclothes forces, are used in the Islamic Republic to disrupt political and trade union activities, student events and gatherings, electoral initiatives, and protests. Armed with sticks and clubs, and sometimes with chains, knives, batons, or firearms, they emerge when the state decides to suppress dissent. These plainclothes forces move about freely, violently beating protesters and arresting them, while the police passively look on or actively cooperate with them.

There is little information on the command structure and organization of such groups, whose members wear ordinary clothing rather than official uniforms and may be affiliated with the ministry of information, influential political groups, or the armed forces. Following the post-election demonstrations in June 2009, pictures of some plainclothes agents were posted on internet websites. Internet users helped to identify some of them and provided evidence that these individuals were affiliated with the Basij paramilitary groups, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and state intelligence forces. On September 16, 2009, a deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps of the Province of Tehran confirmed the active and decisive role of Basij forces in the repression of the demonstrations, saying, “Basijis, through their presence in recent events, have blinded the eyes of the conspirators, and they should be appreciated… The enemies of Islam wanted to make the air dusty and to exploit the recent events, but thank God, through the enlightenment of the Honorable Leader we were victorious against this conspiracy.” He also emphasized, “The zealous youth of [the] Basij, believers in the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, are the second and third generations of the Revolution. They have been successful in this stage and victorious on this battlefield.”

When personal property was damaged during the protests, government authorities and state-run radio and television programs accused the demonstrators of vandalism and justified the repression. At the same time, however, footage posted online showed security forces destroying and damaging property on side streets and in uncongested areas away from the protests. Moreover, in a public gathering in Tehran on October 20th, the chief of Iranian police conceded that police had destroyed and damaged property and accepted responsibility for it.

The precise number of citizens injured, killed, or disappeared in the post-election violence is not known. According to various reports, there were hundreds of victims in demonstrations throughout the country. More than seventy names have been reported. It is said that officials have threatened victims’ family members, demanding their silence and that they refrain from giving interviews. Reports also allege that returning a victim’s body to a family has been made conditional upon their agreement to change the cause of death listed on the coroner’s certificate to that of a heart attack or some other natural cause — thus foregoing the right to file a complaint — as well as the family's agreement not to hold memorial services for the loved one.

According to government statements, more than 4,000 people were arrested throughout Iran in the weeks following June 12th. Many have been held at the Kahrizak Detention Center, where prisoners’ rights and minimum hygiene standards were typically ignored. Numerous reports of violence, including the torture and rape of detainees, have been published. State reports and testimonies confirm that a number of detainees at Kahrizak died in custody due to beatings, difficult and unbearable prison conditions, and torture.


* Saham News is the news agency of the E’temad Melli Party. Mehdi Karrubi is the secretary-general of this party, and was a candidate in the 2009 presidential election.

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