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Iran: three protesters face imminent execution with families told it was their last prison visit

One of the three, Majid Kazemi, has spoken of how he was systematically tortured by his interrogators © Private

Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi, from city of Esfahan, were subjected to unfair trials and allegedly tortured

Families mounting desperate protest outside prison from 10pm tonight

‘The use of the death penalty against these men is a blatant act of vengeance’ - Diana Eltahawy 

Three jailed protesters in Iran are at imminent risk of execution, said Amnesty International today, after the organisation learned that the families of the three men have been told that their visits today would be their last ever ones.

The three - Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi, all from the city of Esfahan in central Iran - have been forced to make “confessions” broadcast by state media, while the country’s supreme court has upheld their death sentences despite serious concerns over the unfairness of their trials and allegations that they were tortured in detention. 

The three were arrested in November following their participation in protests in Esfahan amid wider nationwide protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini. 

According to informed sources, the three men were forcibly disappeared, then subjected to torture and forced to make incriminating statements which formed the basis of the criminal cases against them. Sources said that interrogators suspended Kazemi upside down and showed him a video of them torturing his brother, whom they also detained. Kazemi was subjected to mock executions at least 15 times, where he was made to stand on a chair while a rope was put around his neck. In the days leading up to his trial, interrogators threatened to kill his brothers if he didn’t admit the charges against and “confess” to whatever they said. 

In an audio message from inside Dastgerd Prison, where the three are held, Kazemi is heard to say:

“I swear to God I am innocent. I didn’t have any weapons on me. They [security forces] kept beating me and ordering me to say this weapon is mine ... I told them I would say whatever they wanted, just please leave my family alone. I did whatever they wanted because of the torture.” 

The men were put on trial in December and January, and sentenced to death on the charge of “enmity against God” for the alleged possession of a firearm. On 10 May, the authorities announced that the men’s sentences had been upheld by the supreme court despite due process violations, significant procedural flaws, lack of evidence and torture allegations that were never investigated.

According to informed sources, the authorities had told the men’s families on several occasions before the supreme court’s decision that they would be pardoned and released due to a lack of evidence. However, the families were called for a visit with the men today, during which the prison authorities told them that this was their final visit, leading to grave concerns that they may be executed as early as tomorrow morning. The families have called for a protest outside Dastgerd prison at 10pm (Tehran time) tonight.  

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director, said:    

“The use of the death penalty against these men is a blatant act of vengeance against a courageous generation of protesters for steadfastly demanding the rights of Iranian people during the past seven months. 

“The shocking manner in which the trial and sentencing of these protesters was fast-tracked through Iran’s judicial system amid the use of torture-tainted ‘confessions’, serious procedural flaws, and a lack of evidence, is another example of the Iranian authorities’ brazen disregard for the rights to life and fair trial. 

“The international community must take urgent, and bold action to stop the execution of these protesters before it is too late.”

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