Kahrizak

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 19, 2009

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The name itself is an abomination in Iran. Here is why:

Three Iranian prison officials have been charged with murder after three imprisoned protesters were beaten to death in the aftermath of the country’s disputed presidential election, Iranian media reported Saturday.

Iran’s military court announced that nearly two dozen officials from Tehran’s Kahrizak prison were indicted; of those, there is enough evidence to prosecute 12, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Three were charged with premeditated murder for participating in the beatings; nine will face other unspecified charges. The judiciary did not identify the defendants.

Kahrizak officials initially had said that Mohsen Rouhol-Amini, Amir Javadifar, and Mohammad Kamrani died of meningitis, according to the judiciary. However, a coroner’s reported indicated that the three were severely beaten behind bars by prison personnel, and died from their injuries.

The judiciary also blamed the prison’s medical shortcomings and sub-par conditions as factors in the men’s deaths.

Evidently, some crimes are beyond even the ability of the Islamic regime to cover up. Note that the New York Times states that twelve people have been charged.

Relatedly:

At the height of Iran’s bloody civil unrest this year, a young doctor named Ramin Pourandarjani defied his superiors. He refused to sign death certificates at a Tehran prison that he said were falsified to cover up murder.

He testified to a parliamentary committee that jailers were torturing and raping protesters, his family says. He told friends and family he feared for his life.

And on Nov. 10, the 26-year-old doctor was found dead in the military clinic where he lived and worked.

The family of Dr. Pourandarjani, who occasionally treated prisoners in fulfillment of Iran’s obligatory military service, says he was killed for his refusal to participate in a coverup at the notorious Kahrizak detention center, widely criticized for its unsanitary conditions.

In a series of interviews over three weeks, Dr. Pourandarjani’s family spoke in detail for the first time about their son’s mysterious death.

Iranian officials first blamed the doctor’s death on a car accident, then a heart attack, then suicide and then poisoning, according to family members and government statements.

The controversy over his fate is transforming the doctor into a martyr for the opposition movement challenging the legitimacy of Iran’s rulers. In a sign of his mounting symbolic importance, on Dec. 8 Iran’s national prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, was pressed by local reporters at a news conference for answers. He said the case remains under investigation.

The story is heartbreaking, as is the thought of what might have been if Ramin Pourandarjani had been allowed to live a normal life. But if the regime thinks that it can terrify Iranians into silence, it has another think coming:

In Iran, protestors now carry the doctor’s picture in street marches and chant his name along with that of Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman whose shooting death in June was captured on video and broadcast world-wide. A popular new slogan at some marches: “Our Neda is not dead, Our Ramin is not dead, it’s the Supreme Leader who is dead,” a reference to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mothers of individuals killed in Iran’s antigovernment protests this year have formed a support group, Grieving Mothers, who march silently Sunday afternoons at Laleh Park in Tehran holding pictures of their dead children. This month, security officials arrested 15 members. They were freed a few days later when crowds gathered near the jail, demanding their release.

It may take a while for the Islamic regime to finally fall. But the smell of death is about it.

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