News / Middle East

Iran Lawmakers Demand Probe of Alleged Beatings of Political Prisoners

FILE - Iranian prisoners work in a kitchen in the Evin prison, Tehran.
FILE - Iranian prisoners work in a kitchen in the Evin prison, Tehran.
VOA News
Several moderate Iranian lawmakers have demanded a probe into alleged beatings of several political prisoners held at Tehran's Evin prison, Iran’s official news media reported.

The demand comes after foreign media last week reported that more than 30 detainees in Ward 350 at the prison were allegedly beaten, several of them seriously, during a snap inspection on April 17.

Iranian judiciary officials continue to deny any use of violence, despite testimonies from the families of the prisoners.

Gholam Hossein Esmaili, the head of Iran’s state prisons, called the foreign media reports propaganda against the Islamic republic.

Asked about injuries suffered by the prisoners, Esmaili said, "We don't intend to respond to the allegations made by opposition websites that spread lies against the regime," the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.

On Tuesday, Iranian State Television broadcast a 10-minute report, lambasting Voice of America’s Persian service and BBC Persian Television for their coverage of the raid on the political prisoners in Evin prison.

Families of the inmates protested the alleged abuse outside the presidential palace earlier this week, eventually meeting with a presidential adviser to discuss their concerns.

By Wednesday, Esmaili was removed from his prison post. He was promoted and will head Iran’s judiciary department, the Associated Press reported.

The Guardian reported on its website that more than 30 inmates held in Evin's Ward 350 were beaten April 17.

Some suffered skull fractures, broken ribs, wounds and swelling on their bodies after guards and intelligence officials forced the prisoners to run through a gauntlet as they beat them with batons, according to opposition sources.

Voice of America’s Persian service heard from several prisoners’ family members.

Mohammad Shojaei’s sister said she saw her brother during a regular visit at the prison on Monday. “There were several wounds and bruises on his body,” she said. “He told me that officers handcuffed his hands behind his back and beat him.”

Inmate Amir Eslami’s wife said that when she saw her husband at the prison, she could tell he had been beaten. Eslami told her: “We are in good condition, so we are allowed to visit our family. But others who (were) beaten heavily are in solitary cells.”

Eslami’s wife said she told her husband to report his injuries to the prison medical office. But he told her that if he were to report his injuries, officials would send him to solitary.
Inmate Hossein Ronagi’s father said, "Our sons are not safe there. … They threaten us to be quiet. How can I become silent when there is no safety for my son and I?"

The wife of inmate Atefeh Khalafi said, "Our prisoners are innocent. Everybody knows they were arrested after 2009 election and without a fair trial and … sentenced to years. Now, we expect respect from officials and also new government."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who promised to usher in change, including better treatment of political prisoners, had not yet commented on Thursday about the alleged incident last week.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least seven Iranian journalists were among those beaten. CPJ stated: “We call on the Iranian government to hold to account those involved in the attack and to ensure that all the journalists receive appropriate medical care.”

In a BBC report, human rights activists have accused the Iranian authorities of regularly subjecting prisoners, especially those convicted on politically motivated charges, to abuse and of depriving them of medical treatment.

Seven political prisoners are thought to have died as a result of torture, ill-treatment, or medical neglect since 2009, when millions protested after the disputed re-election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs