Besides the fact that Iranian judicial authorities overlooked the right to due process when they charged the 3 university students, Amnesty International fears that they also used torture to extract admissions of guilt.
AI Index: MDE 13/114/2007
26 September 2007
Further Information on UA 113/07 (MDE 13/054/2007, 15 May 2007) and follow-up (MDE 13/077/2007, 22 June 2007 and MDE 13/098/2007, 1 August 2007)
Fear for safety/Fear of torture and ill-treatment/Medical concern
Ahmad Qasaban (m), Student at Amir Kabir University, Tehran
Majid Tavakkoli (m), Student at Amir Kabir University, Tehran
Ehsan Mansouri (m), Student at Amir Kabir University, Tehran
Ahmad Qasaban, Majid Tavakkoli and Ehsan Mansouri reportedly appeared before Branch 6 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 22 September on charges of "insulting Islam" and "acting against national security". The session was reportedly held behind closed doors and their lawyer was reportedly not given the opportunity to defend them. The next hearing is scheduled for 29 September.
The families of the three students were asked to attend the office of Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor, Sa’id Mortazavi, on 19 August. Said Mortazavi reportedly reiterated his warning that the families should not have given interviews or divulged information about Section 209 of Evin Prison and that as a result the students were being held in solitary confinement and forbidden from receiving family visits or phoning them. He reportedly said that the three Amir Kabir University students should write a letter of repentance in order to secure their release. He further denied that the students had been tortured.
Later that day, during a news conference on freedom of speech held by Shirin Ebadi, Ehsan Mansouri’s mother, Azam Tajik, publicly accused the authorities of torturing the three students in order to obtain confessions. She reportedly said "Our children were forced to confess in prison under torture" … "When they left solitary confinement they rejected the statements they had given." Azam Tajik further added that the authorities have accused the family of lying and told them to stop giving interviews.
The crisis at Amir Kabir University started on 30 April 2007 with the publication of student newsletters carrying articles which university officials deemed insulting to Islam.
These newsletters, bearing the names and logos of four student publications, were distributed throughout the campus. They contained three controversial articles and two caricatures which could have been perceived as critical of the Iranian government and insulting to Islam. Distribution of the publications took place one week before the annual elections to a student union, the Islamic Students’ Association (ISA).
One article questioned the infallibility of the Prophet Mohammad, the first Shi’a Imam, Ali, and the place of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Another criticised the government's crackdown on women’s clothing, and a third ridiculed Islamic women’s attire.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Using your own words, please choose a few of the suggestions below to create a personal appeal and send it as quickly as possible:
- asking for the details of the charges against Ahmad Qasaban, Majid Tavakkoli and Ehsan Mansouri, including the evidence against them and the outcome of any trial proceedings against them, to be made public;
- expressing concern at reports that the three men’s lawyer was not given the opportunity to defend them during the hearing and as such their trial did not meet international standards for fair trial, as laid down by Article 14(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a State Party;
- expressing concern that the three men have been prevented from receiving family visits and calling on the authorities to ensure that they are given immediate and unconditional access to their lawyers, their families and any medical treatment they may require.
- reminding the authorities that confessions extracted under duress are prohibited by Article 38 of the constitution of Iran, which says that “All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information are forbidden,” and that Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Article 7 states that “No one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.”;
- expressing concern that Ahmad Qasaban, Majid Tavakoli and Ehsan Mansouri are alleged to have been tortured and seeking assurances that they will not be subjected to further torture or ill-treatment;
- calling on the authorities to order an immediate investigation of these allegations and to make the findings public;
- calling on the authorities to release them immediately unless they are to be tried promptly and fairly, in accordance with international fair trial standards, on recognisably criminal charges.