Governments, human rights monitors call on Iranian regime to find and hold accountable those responsible.
The murder of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti in Evin prison has brought calls by governments and human rights monitors for the Iranian regime to find and hold accountable those responsible for his death.
Mr. Beheshti, a 35 year old factory worker, wrote a blog critical of the Iranian government. He was arrested on October 30th by Iran’s cyber police force, which was established to patrol and control the online speech of Iran’s citizens. On November 6th, his family was informed Mr. Beheshti had died in custody.
The opposition website Kaleme has published a letter of complaint allegedly written by Mr. Beheshti from Evin shortly after his arrest, accusing prison authorities of torturing him during interrogations. Other opposition websites report that prisoners inside Evin have said that Mr. Beheshti had been brutally beaten.
“We are appalled by reports that Iranian authorities tortured and killed blogger and activist Sattar Behesthi during a prison interrogation,” said U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victorial Nuland in a statement.
“We join the international community in demanding the Iranian government investigate this murder, hold accountable those responsible for Beheshti’s arrest, torture and killing, and immediately cease all reported harassment of Beheshti’s family.”
The Iranian parliament responded to the international outcry over Sattar Behesthi’s death by claiming it would form a committee to investigate; and Iran’s judiciary chief, Sadeq Larijani, has reportedly also ordered an inquiry. However, there are already conflicting preliminary reports emerging about the case -- with Iran’s state prosecutor announcing that wounds were found on Beheshti’s body; and the head of the parliamentary committee saying there were no signs of abuse.
Iranian authorities have an appalling record of impunity when it comes to the murder of political prisoners in custody. Since 2009 more than a dozen prisoners of conscience have died in detention under suspicious circumstances; no senior Iranian official has been prosecuted for these deaths or other abuses.
State Department spokesperson Nuland extended condolences to the Beheshti family in their time of grief, “as well as to the families of all Iranians who have been falsely accused, illegally detained or wrongly killed at the hands of a brutal and hypocritical regime.
Sattar Beheshti is just one of thousands of victims of the Iranian government’s campaign of violent repression and efforts to curtail basic freedoms at all costs. We will continue to stand with the Iranian people and condemn the abuses against Beheshti and countless others.”