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

Farhad Vakili

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Unknown
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: May 9, 2010
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging

About this Case

The execution of Mr. Farhad Vakili, son of Mohammad Sa'id, former deputy head of the office of Agricultural Jihad Organization in Sanandaj, along with four others* was announced by the public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts, and posted on several news websites, including ISNA (9 May), Green Movement (10 May and 6 June), Committee of Human Rights Reporters (9 May and 6 June), Fars news agency (17 May), [and] Center for Iranian Political Prisoners in Exile (7 June), of 2010. Information concerning his arrest and case have been extracted from Amnesty International (12 January), Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran [Rahekargar] (26 February) Amir Kabir Newsletter (26 February), 2010 [and] Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan (30 September) 2007. Additional information has been taken from Kurdane Radio (28 May 2010), Rojpress (19 October 2011), and the testimony of Sabah Nasri, managing editor of 'Rojameh' and a former ward mate of Farhad Vakili, in an interview with Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (22 February 2011)

Mr. Vakili was popular among his fellow- prisoners. Sa'id Razavi-Faqih, who was with Mr. Vakili in Andarzgah (Correction Center) 7 of Evin, said: “he had the fortune of sharing a cell with Vakili. He added, "I had already heard a few things about his personality. But we became very close in our few days together, developing an emotional bond; I felt that I had made one of my best friendships in Evin Prison. Farhad was a very rational, reasonable person who managed to keep his emotions in check in the sphere of politics. He was a person of moral integrity. Contrary to what many might have assumed, his objectives were altruistic rather than personal. I remember Farhad's smile. During all our discussions, be they about the Iranian society, Kurdistan, political, or social, he always wore a smile. I never saw him appearing cold, despondent or bitter. He saw a bright future for our society although he believed that we inevitably had to pay a price to attain freedom, equality, awareness and a bright future. Farhad always told me with a smile that he was not affected by the tortures and pressures. He said he he had never let himself become more radical because of the tortures and pressures, and that he would not give in to feelings of revenge towards his torturers. Nor had he allowed his feelings give way to revenge towards his torturers and prison guards.”

Arrest and detention

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts announced: "The search squad of Police Precinct 116 of Molavi [street of Tehran] grew suspicious of two individuals standing next to a Paykan [Iranian-manufactured car], during their patrol on 19 August 2006. On spotting the police officers, the two individuals fled the scene. One of them, called Peyman, whose real name was later found to be Kaveh, was arrested, while the other, named Kamal, escaped. After searching the vehicle, the officers found five kilograms of explosives planted under the driver's seat. The officers went to the two individuals' residence, arresting Farzad Kamangar. According to the same sources, Farhad Vakili was arrested on 13 September 2006 after letters rogatory were issued to the city of Sanandaj.

Regarding circumstances of the arrests of Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili, and Farzad Kamanger, Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan reported, on 20 October 2007, that three Kurdish prisoners (Farzad Kamangar, Farhad Vakili, and Ali Heidarian), who had been in detention for over 14 months, had been barred from receiving visitors for about a month.

Mr. Sabah Nasri and Mr. Razavi Faqih talked about Mr. Vakili’s torture referring to the information he shared with them. According to the testimony of Sabah Nasri, another of his ward mates, Farhad had a congenital problem in his right leg. So the torturers would tie his right leg to a chair and his left leg to a door handle; they would then keep opening and closing the door. The action was so tortuous that he would almost lose consciousness in the process. According to Mr. Vakili himself he spent “days, weeks and months of enduring solitary confinement, constant pressure of interrogations and lack of news from my family” Also his other ward mate, Sa'id Razavi-Faqih, told Kurdane Radio said: "Farhad told me about the coercions he had endured in Raja'ishahr Prison in Karaj. And about how interrogators would put pressure on him to confess to involvement in armed operations, whereas he had never taken part in any armed operations."

In various prisons, Mr. Vakili wrote in a letter sent from Evin Prison: "After some two years had passed since my arrest I once again had the pleasure of being taken to the secretive Ward 209 of the Intelligence Ministry. It brought back memories of my first day in Ward 209; a time when after enduring the harshest of inhuman acts by the Intelligence Department in Sanandaj, I was transferred to Ward 209 to be subjected to an even harsher ordeal. I came face-to-face with so-called interrogators who proudly boasted about their years of interrogation techniques to frighten and intimidate me and to convince me that no-one would be able to keep any secrets in that ward.”

According to Mr. Vakili the interriogators’ new techniques was to treat him respectfully in order to make him ask for pardon. Mr. Vakili said: “He insisted that for me, who should be executed for the crime of having certain beliefs and creeds, there was only one way out, and that was to appeal for amnesty from the Iranian authorities.”After days, weeks and months of enduring solitary confinement, constant pressure of interrogations and lack of news from my family ... a return to Ward 209, where I was subjected to fresh interrogation techniques, made me wonder if many things had changed. This time I was facing my interrogators; there were no blindfolds and the interrogator had no fear of being seen by me. I could even argue with him under relatively fairer conditions. Even the outward appearance of the expert (the same interrogator) had changed. This time, I was facing someone who enjoyed reading and was literate.

After several interrogation sessions, when he felt that unlike his colleagues he could establish a close relationship with me, he [interrogator] mooted his main demand, i.e.: "request for amnesty." He insisted that for me, who should be executed for the crime of having certain beliefs and creeds, there was only one way out, and that was to appeal for amnesty from the Iranian authorities... The expectation was that by signing an amnesty request I would renege on all my beliefs. They told me that nothing could be the truth per se and that it could only become truth with their command. They wanted me to be a being devoid of any resolve, moral fibre, social and historical identity... It took days, weeks and months before it dawned on them that I did not want to define my existence through relations with the ruling establishment... I did my utmost to make the bullies and despots understand that their objective would ultimately prove unattainable." (Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran [Rahekargar])

Sa'id Pour-Heydar, one of Farhad Vakili's ward mates says the following about him: ":” (he was)In Ward 350, he acted as the ward's lawyer and was very popular with the inmates; the ward's lawyer is the inmates' liaison with ward officials. That is why everyday his name was called out through loudspeakers. Every time a new prisoner enters the ward, the ward's lawyer must take him to his cell. The ward lawyer is the prison guard's point of contact. Now imagine the fear and dread that takes over a person who has been sentenced to death, and his ward mates, every time his name is called out, in the knowledge that it could be the call for his execution.Farhad was in prison for four years, living under constant stress and trepidation, and away from his home and family. He had become weary of the situation; he was frustrated at the wait and being in a state of limbo. Once when a few inspectors were visiting Ward 350, he asked them why there was a delay in his execution.”

Trial

There is no available information about the court session or sessions. The cases of Farhad Vakili and two other defendants were heard at Branch 30 of Tehran's Revolution Court, on 30 January 2008. According to human rights organizations in Iran, the trial and sentencing of Farhad Vakili and the other two defendants took seven minutes. Mr. Khalil Bahramian, the lawyer of the two other defendants who were tried with Mr. Heidaian, confirmed Mr. Heidaria’s statements about the court. According to him, the court spent only 10 minutes to ask the defendants basic questions like their names, etc. Their lawyer was never allowed to speak. According to Mr. Bahramian: “When I told the judge I have something to say (as the lawyer), he said write it on a piece of paper, I want to to go in order to say my prayers. (so) he did not even listen to me.”

Charges

Farhad Vakili and two other defendants, all of whom were executed at the same time, were charged with "moharebeh [waging war against God] through engaging in active operations for mini groups opposed to the system, as well as possession and smuggling of weapons and ammunition." According to human rights sources and also according to people who were arrested with Mr. Vakili, they were all charged with connection with P.K.K**.

The the public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts stated unlike others stated that Mr. Vakili was part of PJAK***. According to this statement Mr. Vakili had : linked s” with PJAK and fundraising for the mini group as an intermediary.

Evidence of guilt

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts claimed to have the following evidence against Farhad Vakili and two other defendants: "A total of 10 kilograms of explosives were found on the defendants at the time of arrest, and another 12 kilograms [of explosives] as well as 15 detonators and two grenades were discovered in the home of Farhad Vakili. Also found in the homes of the defendants were 57 RPG bullets, 600 light arms' cartridges, 700 Persian translations of a book by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, 300 posters of the mini group's leaders, and 300 propaganda pamphlets and literature." This statement added: "Farhad Vakili has acknowledged links with Farzad Kamangar. He has confessed to having acquired literature, including the codebook found in his home, from PJAK via a person called Kamal. He has also confessed to links with PJAK and fundraising for the mini group as an intermediary."

Defense

There is no precise information concerning the defendant's statements of defense. In part of his letter from Evin Prison, Mr Vakili wrote: "... the new team of interrogators acknowledged that the security apparatus has, contrary to the truth and in the course of a totally political process, put pressure on the judicial system of Iran to sentence me to death. And now the only way for me to be saved and for them to redress their mistake is that I appeal for an amnesty." In another part of the letter he says: "Requesting a pardon and amnesty for a crime that I have not committed ... makes me feel that the two sides have failed to understand each other …and that we have only dealt with one another within the framework of prejudices and on the same old grounds. The system regarded me as an element that was against peace; they saw me as trespassing on their security, hence unlikely to give in. The system believed that I had no rights and must only sing its praises for being able to live my life under its rule.".…

There is no information whatsoever if the court considers the probability of Mr. Vakili’s torture or took any meassures to address that issue.

Based on the testimony of Sabah Nasri, one of the ward mates of Mr Vakili, they had leveled many charges against him and the three others who were executed at the same time, yet the Intelligence Ministry did not have any documents to corroborate those charges; nor had any of the defendants confessed. Ultimately, the Intelligence Ministry managed to impose its will based on reports from its intelligence branches in the defendants' home towns.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Farhad Vakili’s Case

Although Iran’s judicial authorities do not publish documents and information regarding cases that are considered to have political and security bases, and simply issue one-sided and general statements, the information contained in Mr. Farhad Vakili’s case (including his own statements as well those of his family and prison mates) indicate a lack of due process here.

Mr. Vakili’s prison mates confirm that they had seen signs of torture on his body. According to published information, Iranian security officials intended to obtain a forced confession by putting pressure on Mr. Vakili and by torturing him. This is while under Iranian law, torture and duress of the defendant is illegal and considered a crime, and confessions obtained in this manner are without credence and legal value. Principle 38 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution provides in this regard: “All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information are forbidden. Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is not permissible; and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is devoid of value and credence. Violators of this article shall be punished in accordance with the law.” Like the Constitution, the law for Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Safeguarding Citizens Rights of 2004-05, Paragraph 9 also provides: “All forms of torture of the defendant for the purpose of extracting confession or forcing him/her to do other acts are forbidden and confessions obtained in this way are devoid of legal and religious credence.” It was therefore necessary for the court to conduct the requisite investigations into whether the defendant had been tortured or not, an issue to which it has certainly paid no attention whatsoever.

The revolutionary court tried Mr. Vakili on the charge of Moharebeh and Efsad fel-Arz. He made no confession at the revolutionary court. According to his attorney, he was not allowed to speak in court and was simply asked about his personal information. It is therefore clear that the revolutionary court judge issued a ruling solely based on the report made by security officials and did not personally ask the defendant for a statement. In crimes that carry Hadd punishments, however, the method of proof is limited and specific. Either the defendant must make a confession before the judge (which is not the case here) or the crime must be proven based on witness testimony fulfilling legal requirements (and there are no witnesses in this case). Additionally, there is no convincing evidence that could have resulted in the “judge’s knowledge”. Therefore, given the attorney’s statements and those of Mr. Vakili’s co-defendants that the trial only lasted seven minutes and no one was allowed to speak or defend themselves, it seems that the judge took only the security officials’ reports into account and issued a ruling outside the framework of regulations regarding presentation and submission of evidence.

Judgment

The Revolutionry court of Tehran sentenced Mr Vakili to death and a 10-year prison term. The verdict was upheld by the State Supreme Court.

He was hanged on 9 May 2010 in Evin Prison without the knowledge of his lawyer and family and even before his prison sentence was finished. According to Sa'id Pour-Heydar, one of his ward mates, around middle of May, Mr Vakili was playing volleyball with his ward mates when his name was called out from loudspeakers: "Mr Vakili! Mr Vakili! Please report to the prison guard." Drenched in sweat from playing volleyball, he told us to carry on with the game until his return. He did not say goodbye and he never returned." According to0 Mr. Pour-Heydar, the telephones of ward 350 of Evin, in which Mr. Vakili was held, were out of service at the day of Mr. Vakili and three others’ execution and they remained out of service for 2 days afterward.

Families of prisoners executed at the same time as Mr Vakili came to Tehran from Kordestan to protest about the execution of their loved ones who were put to death without the knowledge of their lawyers or families. They described the executions as illegal and in contravention of the most basic human rights. Upon hearing the news of his execution, Farhad's sister said: "They caught us totally unawares. They caught us all unawares." As for his father, the news of his son's execution gave him such a shock that he died as a result.

The bodies of Vakili and the other executed victims were never given to their families, but they were secretly buried. The families of those executed at the same time as Farhad Vakili met with the governor-general of Kordestan 2nd June 2010 and asked for the bodies of their loved ones. The governor-general of Kordestan responded by saying: "Those executed have been buried in a location which, for security reasons, we are not at liberty to disclose. The authorities will inform you of the location once some time has passed and the circumstances are right." He also said that he would ask for forgiveness for the executees in the other world which saddened the families of the victims. In the wake of that meeting, security and intelligence forces contacted the victims' families threatening them with arrest should they embark on more such meetings.

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* Shirin Alamhuli Atashgah, Farzad Kamangar, Mehdi Eslamian, and Ali Heidarian.
**Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) was established in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan. It was officially named P.K.K. in 1978. This party is engaged in an armed struggle with the Turkish Government since 1984. Its ideology is a mixture of socialism and Kurdish nationalism. Its declared aim is to establish an independent Kurdistan in the south of Turkey, north of Iraq and parts of Iran. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan was arrested in Kenya and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2000, the party declared that the party would only use political means. In its 8th congress in 2002, the party officially renounced its armed means and changed its name to Kurdistan Liberty and Democracy Congress (KADEK). In 2003, the party changed its name again to Kongra-Gel (KGK). It confirmed its peacefull intentions but continued its armed struggles in the context of self-defense. In June 2003, the People’s Defense Force (HPG) which has taken over the party since February 2003, renounced the 5-year cease fire with the government of Turkey.
***PJAK is very similar in aimes and purpose to the P.K.K. Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) which is a leftist organization, was established in January 2004 with the aim of creating "an ecological-democratic society and gender equality" within the framework of a democratic and federal government in Iran where autonomy is granted to all ethnic minorities. It held its first congress on 25 April 2004. The party, led by Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmadi, has a very close relationship with the PKK Party in Turkey, and regards Apo "Abdullah Ocalan" as its spiritual leader. PJAK's influence is mainly over the northern parts of Iranian Kurdistan, where it is engaged in an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic. PJAK refers to Iranian Kurdistan as East Kurdistan.

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