"Release all political prisoners and others detained simply for their religious or political beliefs.”
Nine Iranian women, including three journalists and on-line activists, reportedly have stopped their hunger strike in Evin prison. They began the strike to protest beatings and abuse by prison guards on October 30th. Jailed human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh, winner of the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, continues the hunger strike she began October 17th to protest prison conditions, including denial of adequate medical care.
Mistreatment of Iranian prisoners, including political prisoners, has been a concern of the United States, and several UN Special Rapporteurs. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment cited various commonly applied methods of mistreatment, including beatings, stress positions, the denial of medical attention, and prolonged solitary confinement. The Special Rapporteur noted that such mistreatment affected mainly human rights defenders, journalists, social activists, political activists, religious groups, and individuals associated with various minority groups.
In addition to the nine Iranian women who protested their mistreatment at Evin, there are other recent reports of abuse in Iranian prisons. Blogger Vahid Asghari, who was sentenced to death on the charge of spreading corruption after an unfair trial, has written two letters to the Iranian judiciary accusing his jailers of subjecting him to physical and mental torture. Blogger Sattar Beheshti, arrested by Iran’s Cyber Police on October 30th, died after one week in detention. Several opposition websites allege he died after torture by security officials.
In addition, there are credible reports that appropriate medical care has also been denied to several Iranian political prisoners, including human rights lawyer Houtan Kian, women’s rights activists Bahareh Hedayat and Mahboubeh Karami, and Christian pastor Behnam Irani.
The Iranian regime’s targeting of political prisoners for torture and abuse is deplorable and contravenes Iran’s obligations under its own constitution and the international human rights instruments it has ratified. The United States calls for an end to such abuse, and for the government of Iran, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “to release all political prisoners and others detained simply for their religious or political beliefs.”