Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Suspicious deaths in Iranian prisons

Last October, Zahra Bani Yaghoub, a young Iranian doctor, was arrested as she walked in a park in the western city of Hamadan. After just one night in prison she was dead, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Sunday.

Police told her family that she committed suicide, but they accuse prison authorities of killing her.

Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights attorney and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is handling Bani Yaghoub’s case, which is the latest in a series of suspicious deaths or tortures in Iranian prisons.

“I found many controversies in Bani Yaghoub’s case,” Ebadi said. “For instance, the exact time of Zahra’s death; also the height of the bar from which Zahra allegedly has hanged herself, and its contrast with Zahra’s height. Furthermore, the official reports about the way she was arrested and was kept in detention are dubious.”

Torture is commonplace in Iranian prisons. According to Ali Rahimi, a human rights activist, Iranian authorities see it as a deterrent to crime. “Unfortunately, it is an established method for the Iranian police,” she said. “According to this method, when a suspect enters a detention center, he has to be beaten up and insulted in order to intimidate and punish him, and supposedly, to prevent him from committing further crimes.”

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