Source: Radio Farda
Iranian security forces are holding protest detainees in appalling conditions without due process while arresting more to prevent fresh outbursts and to prove their conspiracy theories about foreign meddling in the unrest.
According to Radio Farda’s estimates, based on Iranian authorities’ statements since November 15 at least 8600 protesters have been detained in 22 Iranian provinces.
Fearing a fresh round of protests starting from the public memorials of the protesters on December 26, security forces swarmed the streets and cemeteries in full gear and equipment including water canons. The police arrested tens of people attending the ceremonies in Karaj in the west of the capital and Someh Sara in Gilan Province.
Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Activists in Iran say most of those arrested in Tehran and Alborz provinces are held at the overcrowded Fashafuyeh Prison in the south of Tehran without due process.
The prison was originally a camp for drug inmates. Hassan Khalilabadi, the Chairman of the City Council of Shahr-e Ray, said the conditions of Fashafuyeh Prison where many detainees are held together with “dangerous inmates”, is very grim. “Even the prison staff are in difficult condition there, let alone the inmates.”
Authorities claim that all those arrested have been processed by the Judiciary but so far have not announced the exact number of the detainees and the death toll of the protests. They also claim that most of the protesters were killed by agents of foreign countries, not government security forces.
On December 28, however, Jalal Mirzaiee, a reformist lawmaker, said the police have taken responsibility for “some of the deaths”. He called on law enforcement organs to provide a transparent report on the death toll and the manner of the deaths.
Mirzaiee demanded that police authorities explain their role in the protests to Majles lawmakers and clarify how many protester deaths are “suspicious” as they claim and how many others were killed by the police.
In a special report Reuters said December 23 that 1,500 protesters were killed; a much higher number than human rights and opposition organizations had earlier estimated. This put the Islamic Republic in a much position position. If officials were contemplating to come up with a number not too high and not unbelievably low, the Reuters figure made the task much more difficult.
In an interview with Etemad newspaper on Saturday Helaleh Mousavian, a lawyer, said most detainees do not have access to legal representation and most of them are so poor they cannot afford bail. According to Mousavian, in some cases the detainees do not even know where they are being held. According to her some of those detained had not even been present in the protests.
Meanwhile more arrests have been made in several provinces including the oil-rich Khuzestan where the regime alleges foreign involvement, presumably by Saudis. A lawmaker on December 11 said many people had been killed in Mahshahr and added: “We know who they were, where the weapons were sent from”. He claimed that the protesters in Mahshahr intended to destroy the country’s major energy routes.
Protests in Khuzestan were fierce and the province has a substantial Arab-Iranian population, which is seen as posing more of a threat to the government.
Fars News Agency on December 25 reported that 13 people were arrested in Khuzestan and claimed that they were members of a “terrorist team connected with a separatist group known as Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz”. The report also included a video of a man who said he procured weapons to shoot at protesters.
These arrests were followed by the arrest of two members of a “cyber-network” in Ahwaz (Ahvaz), the capital city of the oil-rich Khuzestan Province. The Police Chief of Khuzestan Province claimed these individuals had “instigated the protesters in Ahwaz”.
Brigadier General Heydar Abbaszadeh said that these individuals were members of a terrorist group and wanted to carry out terrorist operations in Ahwaz. “The network planned to urge people of Khuzestan to rise up and challenge the Islamic Republic authorities,” he claimed.
On December 25 Iranian news agencies reported that an individual who provided photos and footage of the protests to the London-based Iran International TV was arrested in Khuzestan.
“The arrested individual has reported fake news about the protests in Mahshahr to Iran International TV,” Abbaszadeh told reporters. The television is rumored to be funded by Saudis.
Khuzestan was the scene of harshest reaction by security forces to the protests. As local forces failed to control the situation, Revolutionary Guards stepped in and even used heavy machineguns and tanks to quell the anti-regime demonstrations.