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The Internet Control Police, part of the Ministry of Intelligence, burst into the home of a citizen, upturned his furniture, and dragged him out of the house, in all likelihood with a black bag over his head.This isn’t fiction. It’s is the life of an activist blogger in Iran.
It also turned out to be his death.
Following eight days of brutal beatings, torture really, the family of Sattar Beheshti, 35, received a phone call Tuesday from the “notorious Kahrizak detention centre” to come and collect his remains. According to eyewitnesses at the prison, prior to his death Beheshti had become a lumped up, barely recognisable version of himself.
Zahra Sadr’s, a reporter for Keleme.com, a Persian language media site, wrote:
Beheshti had been severely beaten during his interrogation process, with bruises and evidence of torture visible on his head, face and body. The political prisoners at Evin’s general ward 350 … described his body as black and blue.
“[Guards] put him under the most severe torture [treatment] in order to obtain forced confession,” reports the National Council of The Resistance of Iran. “Such that witnesses said his body was “crushed” due to torture marks.”
Upon the death notification phone call, the guards flatly told the family, “He died of sickness,” and left it at that.
Beheshti’s sister told the Keleme reporter: “They summoned my husband and told him to prepare our mother. ‘Buy a casket and show up tomorrow to collect his body’ they said. That’s it! We know nothing else! We have no idea why they killed him! We have no idea what transpired. My brother left the house healthy. He left voluntarily. Everyone witnessed that he was healthy. My brother never even took headache medicine. He was 100% healthy!”
Beheshti had a long time history of resistance to Iran’s brutal media censorship. He was detained in 1999 for taking part in activism, and his final blog posting prior to his arrest illustrates perfectly the type of regime he felt compelled to resist.
The website Freedom Messenger, which popped up following elections in 2009 as an anonymous collaboration of students and activists, received and translated Beheshti’s final blog post, written days before his arrest.
Here are quotes from Beheshti:
They threaten us, and say that we should not give information otherwise they’ll shut our mouths.
It’s been a while now that the Iranian regime has put a lot of pressure against activists and other independent Iranians to maintain their opinions and thoughts to themselves.
Threats from detention and torture to public executions in order to scare the people!
If I write anything I hear and see, they will deal with me in any way that they want until I shut up otherwise they would make sure that I would be silenced without leaving any marks and signs for anyone to know what happened to me! “You will be in no one’s memory and you are a traitor to this nation!”
My intentions are not against my nation thus I’m not a traitor, I love my people, you are the real traitors in our country who does this to our people!
But I have a suggestion, if you’re afraid of information, resign this government, stop this injustice, do not arrest, do not torture, do not slaughter our people, otherwise this injustice will be brought upon yourselves.
And a day following his death notice, police contacted Beheshti’s family to tell them that they cannot attend his burial.
The translator of the Kaleme Persian news story posted an update just this morning:
In a follow up interview with Kaleme that took place today, Wednesday November 7th, Beheshti’s family announced that security agents have threatened them stating that they are not allowed to be present during the washing of the body in preparation for burial. A reliable source within Kahrizak prison’s forensic team informed Kaleme that the body of a young man who had been killed as a result torture was at Kahrizak. Another reliable source with the police claimed that Beheshti died because he was unable to withstand the interrogation process.
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