Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2016, 15:18 GMT

Continuous Torture of the Beheshti Family and Other Stories

Publisher Article 19
Author Amir Bayani
Publication Date 19 April 2013
Cite as Article 19, Continuous Torture of the Beheshti Family and Other Stories, 19 April 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/519dd25f4.html [accessed 26 September 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Continuous Torture of the Beheshti Family

After nearly 6 months since the death of Sattar Beheshti and due to his family's continuous requests, his case was reviewed in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (parliament if you are confused) last Tuesday. A member of majlis, Ali Motahari questioned the Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, whose accounts he did not find satisfactory. However, based on votes by other members, the case was closed. Mr. Motahari asked the Interior Minister to apologise to the Beheshti family, which he refused, explaining, "what is the purpose of an apology, because if there is a violation of the law, the perpetrator must be found guilty and punished". The Interior Minister added that Sattar Behesti co-operated with international enemies of the state and even provided them enemies of the Islamic Republic with false and incorrect information. In response to these comments, Sattar's mother wrote a letter confirming, "as already mentioned time and again, my son merely reflected what was wrong with the society in an individual capacity, and tried to share what troubled him from his own perspective in the hope to find someone who would listen to him." In response to Najjar's comments saying "We have done our best to lessen the pain of the family of the deceased by giving them financial and emotional aid", she said, "Perhaps the minister considers my son's blood money as financial aid, and the threats, cursing and beatings me, my daughter and other sons received, all of whom are aleh sadat (descendents of the prophet) as emotional aid, but I am sure the majority of the public have been on the receiving end of such aids before so I need not re-emphasize."

Meanwhile, Sattar Beheshti's mother published a video message on Nowrooz (20 March 2013), complained about the state's hesitation in following on his son's case. She also added, "We want our country and children to be free and live in happiness with their families. Why must they be tortured? Why must they be killed?". Also a week before Nowrooz, the security agnets had contacted Sattar's sister and threatened to torture her, should the family hold an end-of-the-year ceremony by his grave in Behest-e-Zahra. To keep their word, the security forces were by his grave to ensure nothing happens.

Cybernews

Internet Speed

The nearer the date of the elections, the lower the speed of the internet. This trend, along with access ban on such general websites as Google, Yahoo and Hotmail started 2 months ago. This news contradict Mohammad Hasan Nami's, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, earlier announcement that there will be no internet disruptions in 2013, and that the low speed has nothing to do with control and security. Ironically, the previous Minister for Communications and Information Technology had said that we reduce internet speed for security reasons. Nami also blamed a technical issue in one of the internet cables in the Persian Gulf for the low speeds. This news comes despite Heydar Moslehi's, the Intelligence Minister comments reaffirming, "Based on our experience from the 2009 elections, we are now prepared for potential unrests in 2012 elections". He also called the internet a 'new threat' which does not give you the information you need, which at the same time extracts the information they need from you.

Islamic Google Earth

Mohammad Hasan Nami, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, announced that Islamic Google Earth will be ready for use within the next four months. He added that 'Basir' (meaning spectator) will be made available to everyone around the globe. "On the surface, Google Earth is providing a service to users, but in reality security and intelligence organisations are behind it in order to obtain information from other countries," Nami said. The good news is he reassured everyone that "We are developing this service with the Islamic views we have in Iran and we will put a kind of information on our website that would take people of the world towards reality".

Nami also refered to something called Fazebook, which is the Islamic version of (guess what) Facebook. "Upon entering Fazebook, members are obliged to abide by terms and conditions set by fazebook, and also by the Computer Crimes Law. The website managers must be informed of any violations, publication of sort, words or images, which violate the Islamic Sharia are forbidden, and perpetrators will be prosecuted. Provocation of other members, invitations to and promotions of devil worshipping, prostitution, drugs, suicide, sexual abuse, participation in demonstrations and illegal assemblies are also forbidden." Beware Mr. Zuckerberg as your kingdom shall soon topple over by this tight competition.

Ahmadinejad's Wikipedia Filtered

Abdul-Samad Khorram-Abadi, the Attorney-General's legal advisor and Cyber Crimes Work Group secretary, believes the reason for this is 'false information' placed in the page by its 'producers', which makes the webpage 'criminal'. Did anyone ever tell him that anyone can edit Wikipedia? He also said this is not the first time the webpage has been blocked, dating it back to 16 months ago. The Cyber Crimes Work Group is the body responsible for filtering the internet in Iran. This work group is chaired by the Attorney-General, and members include members of the cabinet, members of the parliament and experts from the National Security. Another made-up body? At least they are creating jobs, aren't they? No wonder Iran tops most 'enemy of the internet' lists. Based on Reporters without Borders' special report published on 15 March 2013, Iran, along with Syria, China, Bahrain and Vietnam make the top 5. According to the report, the government of Iran aims to control the internet by having general and widespread authority over access as well as content available on the web, and also by monitoring activists on an individual basis. The report also reaffirms that low internet speeds in Iran are a result of the monitoring process due to 'security reasons'. Iran has long been talking about 'clean internet', 'halal internet' and 'national internet'.

A taste of their own medicine

Mojtaba Danesh-talab is a conservative blogger who is now sentenced to 6 months in prison for criticising (only once) a message by the supreme leader in one of his blogs. Mr. Danesh-talab, who heavily censured the 2009 opposition movement, is now charged with propaganda against the government for a post in which he criticised Khamenei's condolences on the death of Khomeini's son-in-law. "I do not understand why the first person in the country gives a condolences message for a businessman, who is only related to the late Supreme Leader, Imam Khomeini through marriage". In his post, he had asked the supreme leader "why he is not putting an end to our system of patronage, in which people are given special status due to their familial connections". The revolutionary court sentenced him to 6 months in prison.

Bans

Performance Ban

The Minister for Cultural and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Hosseini declared that musicians critical of the Islamic Republic are not allowed to hold performances inside the country. He continued that during the course of the previous elections, some artists were 'politically abused', thereby losing their artistic status in the country. He did not mention any names, but he was probably referring to Mohammadreza Shajarian, who was very critical of the way the 2009 elections were run.

Travel Ban

Neda Shahsavari, Iran's number one table tennis player, who also played for her country in the London 2102 Olympics, was banned from travelling to Hong Kong, which hosted the 2013 Asian Cup. The travel ban was placed by the Sports Organisation's Overseas Council. I am not sure, but Iran might be one of the few countries in the world, if not the only country, with such made-up offices.

Quick Updates

Jafar Kordpour said that his two brothers, Khosrow and Massoud were arrested separately on 8 and 9 March 2013 in Mahabad. Even though Mahabad's Revolutinary Court had agreed to it, the family visit was barred by the Ministry of Intelligence, also extending their detention by another month.

According to Reporters without Borders, blogger Reza Ekvanian was arrested on 29 March 2013. Reza is the writer of the famous blog called 'Good Dog Years'. His family detected marks of heavy blows to his face during a visit they had on 6 April 2013.

Mitra, Mohammadreza Pourshajari's daughter warned 'rooz' that her father's life is in danger, as he was refused a sick leave after he suffered from a heart attack. She added that in response to the family's leave request, the judge responded, "we have taken him to Ghezel Hesar Prison where he shall die". He is the writer of the famous blog called 'Iran Land's Report (Gozaresh be khakeh Iran)', accused of 'insult to the supreme leader, threat against national security, and sacrilege' in his blogs. He has been sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Shiva Nazar Ahari returned to prison as her Nowrooz leave reached an end and was not extended.

Mohammadreza Moghiseh had to return to prison too when his Nowrooz leave was not extended.

Mehdi Khazali's family are deeply concerned about his health, 107 days since he started he hunger strike.

Nasrin Sotoudeh's husband talks about his wife's vision problems. "Every time I see her, she is wearing thicker lenses and our efforts to get an ophthalmologist to see her have been in vain. The officials never bring her to the appointments we book with the specialist. I am worried about some irreparable damage to her eyes".

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