Imprisoned Student Reveals Details of Unfair Prosecution

Feb 22, 20100 comments

(22 February 2010) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has obtained a copy of a letter by an imprisoned student, sentenced to 15 years, which demonstrates the utter lack of evidence against him as well as the arbitrary nature of the show trial convicting him. The letter, by Seyed Zia  Nabavi, is written to the head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani from inside Evin prison’s ward 350, demanding a fair appeals hearing. “This document provides significant evidence of how Iranian Judiciary doles out lengthy and unjust prison sentences for young people, without any evidence against them,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson. The Campaign urged Ayatollah Larijani to immediately address the gross miscarriage of justice against Nabavi as well as immediately to end patently unfair show trials. In addition to Nabavi, hundreds face similar prosecutions or have already been sentenced. [To read the Farsi version click here] Among Nabavi’s colleagues, the Campaign is seriously concerned about the fates of Somieh Rashidi, Shiva Nazarahari, Saeed Jalaiefar, Mahdieh Golroo, Majid Dari, Peyman Aref, and Koohyar Goudarzi. Dari has also been prosecuted and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Keyvan Samimi, a human rights defender who also advocated for student banned from education, has been sentenced to six years in prison. Somieh Rashidi, after more than sixty days of detention, has been allowed only one visit by her family. Her lawyers have been denied the right to meet with her or access her file. In his letter, available in Persian on the Campaign’s website, Nabavi details his background, arrest, interrogations, and prosecution. He is a Chemical Engineering graduate of Noushirvan University of Babol, who was banned from continuing his graduate studies in 2006 and is one of the estimated 80 “starred” students, similarly banned from continuing their education on political grounds. Since then, he had been actively advocating with the authorities to end arbitrary and unjust denials of right to education. Nabavi reveals that he and seven other active members of the “starred” students group are in detention and being coerced to admit that the group was initiated by the opposition group Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), which has a history of armed struggle against the Iranian government. “ I was arrested on the evening of 15 June 2009, at the home of my relatives. I was held at Evin prison’s ward 209 (under the authority of the Intelligence Ministry) for 100 days and then moved to the public section of ward 350,” he writes. “After the passage of seven months in prison, I have yet to see a document authorizing my arrest and stating the reason.” Nabavi describes his treatment as the following: “During the interrogations I only said the truth. Although I was put under tremendous psychological pressures, as well as sometimes physical ill-treated (forced to do sit-ups, beatings, insults and intimidations,…), I did not admit to a single charge. Whatever I have done has been transparent and in relation to my advocacy on behalf of students banned from education.” He states the charges against him and the subsequent sentence as the following:

  1. Assembly with intent of  conspiracy against the national security, three years imprisonment;
  2. Propaganda against the State, one year imprisonment;
  3. Disturbing public order, one year imprisonment;
  4. Disturbing public opinion, 74 lashes;
  5. Communication and cooperation with Monafeqin organization (government term for MKO, literally meaning “The Hypocrites”), 10 years imprisonment in exile, to be served in city of Izeh.

The first four charges are apparently related to Nabavi’s participation in post election demonstrations. “I only went to one gathering that took place on 15 June, between Enqelab Square and Ministry of Labor. I was there from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., no violence took place, and I participated as an individual without any coordination or planning with anyone. Thus the charges of assembly with intent of conspiracy and disturbing public order are without foundation,” he writes to the head of Judiciary. The charge of “communication and cooperation” with the MKO is apparently based on the fact that one of Nabavi’s relatives is a member of this organization abroad. Nabavi points out that there is no evidence of his cooperation with the group and he should not be unfairly punished for another person’s affiliation with the group. “Due to the specific situation within my family and the sensitivities and attention on my family, I have always taken utmost care not to have the smallest interaction with the organization [MKO], not even in my subconscious level. As the report of the Intelligence Ministry makes clear, I not only did not have any suspicious communications, even ignored unknown phone calls from news media. In complete disbelief, all these attempts to avoid any contacts, instead of clearing me of such a charge, are used to justify a ten- year sentence for ‘communication and cooperation’ with the Monafeqin organization,” he states. Nabavi concludes his letter by urging the head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Larijani, to demonstrate fairness, and in light of overwhelming evidence of his innocence, and provide him and the other seven members of the “starred” student group a fair trial and due process. To see the full letter in Persian see: