Following the sentencing of prisoner of conscience Heshmatollah Tabarzadi to nine years in prison, his son told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that his father’s sentencing has taken place under the influence of intelligence and security organizations and it is illegal. According to Hossein Tabarzadi, his father has been formally served with his sentence, but his three attorneys have not yet received the ruling. He criticized the Judiciary’s lack of independence during the interview. “He has been sentenced to a total of 9 years in prison and 74 lashes. Some of his charges are ‘insulting the Leader,’ ‘creating public anxiety,’ and ‘establishment of the Students Unity Council.’ — International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
The following is his written response to the court:
In the Name of God who Created Liife and Wisdom
I have remained in illegal detention for 8.5 months, since 29 December 2010. According to my defense lawyers, it is not clear who ordered my arrest.
During my interrogation, I was under duress and torture. As I point out in the enclosed defense bill, I was informed of my charges in an illegal manner. My arrest and the location where I was detained were both illegal. I was in a solitary cell for 40 days inside Ward 40 of Evin prison, and I spent two months inside Ward 209. I also spent 24 days at Kachouei Prison and presently I have been exiled to Rajaee Shahr Prison for more than three months.
Simultaneously, my two defense lawyers, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mohammad Oliaifar, have been arrested and imprisoned. My other defense lawyer, Mr. Mahmoudi, was detained for 20 days and yet another, Ms. Giti Poorfazel, was summoned and intimidated. The security-judicial system has charged me with a variety of crimes in a wholesale, ambiguous, and unfounded way. The security apparatus has asked the judge for maximum punishment and exile for me. The court will not convene according to Article 168 of the Iranian Constitution. [Article 168: Political and press offenses will be tried openly and in the presence of a jury, in courts of justice. The manner of the selection of the jury, its powers, and the definition of political offenses, will be determined by law in accordance with the Islamic criteria.]
Therefore I cannot recognize this court as fair or just. This show trial is convened at the will of the security apparatus and in service of the regime. Of course I reserve the right to pursue my rights in international and impartial courts of law, registering my complaint for the way the court has ruled and the security-judicial apparatus has treated me, and to demand material and non-material damages against the initiators and operators who caused the loss of my rights.
Lack of observation for trial procedures
What matters to me is that the law and the procedures are observed. When laws are observed, even if the wishes of the representative of the Ministry of Information who has requested maximum punishment, exile, and lifetime social deprivation for me are granted, it won’t matter to me. That is why I present this defense with an unburdened conscience and willingly, hoping for my right to freedom. A fair judgment on my case, especially from the public, is sufficient for me.
It is necessary that I present a realistic and objective, albeit short, report about my arrest, detention, interrogation, and trial, in order to make it clear how well the trial procedures have been followed.
On the morning of 27 December 2009, four men who claimed to be from the Prosecutor’s Office entered my house without an arrest warrant, showing a blanket order. After they searched the premises, they took me along with two computer hard disks and a few other things. As I did not believe that their actions were legal, I did not sign the list of items they were taking. The only reason I went with them was because I was concerned that they might confront my family members. In fact, if I had the possibility of resisting this illegal and forceful action, I would not have allowed them to search my home and to enter the private domain of my life and to take me. I must add that their blanket order had the Prosecutor’s signature under it.
They took me to Ward 209, changed my clothes, put blindfolds on me, and transferred me to the solitary cells of Ward 240. As soon as I entered the Ward, someone asked me my name. I said, “I’m Tabarzadi.” He asked me a question and I answered it. After a few questions and answers, he threatened me and said, “We will put a stick up your … We will try you like a communist member of the Toudeh Party.” I was blindfolded, holding my towel, toothbrush and glasses in my hand. Just because I said, “Do as you wish,” he punched me in the neck, pushed me and with the help of another individual who was waiting there, pushed me into my cell. I stayed in that cell for 40 days and after that, I was kept in another cell inside Ward 209 for another 61 days. During the first 40 days, they interrogated me repeatedly, threatening and insulting me, degrading me. During the past 15-16 years, I had never experienced such insults and pressure during any of my detentions and interrogations. This caused the interrogations to deviate from a normal and legal path, putting me in a stubborn, rather than intimidated, state and hence I do not recognize these interrogations as legal at all. Additionally, I did not and do not trust them in any way about their possession of documents, which they claim they retrieved from my computers, or which they said they found on my blogs, or [which they claimed] were written by me. This is because I had no possibility to compare and match their claims against my writings.
Additionally, all interrogations were derailed into areas that had nothing to do with the charges of which they had supposedly informed me. They attempted to force me through repeated threats, intimidations, and insults, to give in to their illegal demands for false confessions. For example, [they wanted me] to accept that in return for my interviews or my legal activities I had received money from foreigners.
Regarding how I was informed of my charges and the arrest warrant, a sadder story took place. They arrested and detained and interrogated me for three days, and on 31 December 2009, they took me and several other detainees, blindfolded and in a most insulting manner, from Ward 240 to the ground floor of Ward 209. They sat us on the floor, facing the wall, and without allowing me to remove our blindfold, they handed me my arrest warrant and another sheet of paper, which supposedly listed my charges. All the people who were arrested on Ashura Day, [27 December 2009] were handed a photocopied page which contained four general charges. This method of informing me of my charges reminded me of field marshals! My temporary detention orders were never extended. I have been in prison for the past six months, having only been informed of my charges and the warrant in the way I explained, and I don’t know what my orders say. I have been moved around five times. I was in solitary confinement inside Ward 240 for 40 days, about two months in Ward 209, one month in Ward 350, 25 days in Kachouei Prison, and now it has been more than a month since I have been transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison. You can judge this method of detention yourself!
But the next point is about the court. According to Article 168 of the Iranian Constitution, political crimes must be tried in a public court with the presence of a defense lawyer and a jury. The jury has to be comprised of trusted professionals and social elite who are asked to express their fair judgment about the charges. The court has to be public so that the free press can publish the court proceedings in order to inform the public. These are the conditions under which the court’s decision and the suspect’s defense can be meaningful. But the way the courts are now, the trial is based on the indictment prepared by the Prosecutor’s representative and a judge who has been installed by the regime. No matter how hard the judge may try to be independent, he will not be able to step outside the framework of the regime’s interests and security policies. The trials are held in the absence of representatives of public opinion and a jury. The rulings issued by these courts are known to be illegal in advance, as the courts are not legally qualified to address the charges raised.
I call upon public opinion and educated and impartial human beings to judge the way the laws and trial procedures were implemented in my arrest, detention, interrogation, trial, and sentencing. I wish for that judgment to be placed on a page of the history of this era in order to show the way I have had to endure the present situation, putting my best asset, my life, out of my control like this. If we focus on the fact that everyone’s life is his most valuable asset, we will heed caution in issuing prison sentences or illegal detention orders. I have not defrauded anyone financially; I have not oppressed anyone; and I have not betrayed my country, my nation, and their interests and security. Why should I be in illegal detention and be deprived of the implementation of laws in my case? If there is no one or no organization in Iran to be accountable about this, how else would I pursue this injustice other than through international organizations?
Prisoner Heshmatollah Tabarzadi
Karaj, Gohardasht, Rajaee Shahr Prison
Published by Student Committee in Defense of Political Prisoners
* Note: For the sake of brevity, sections of the letter in which Tabarzadi refutes the charges against him have been omitted. The full text may be obtained from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran