CHRI – Guards in Iran’s Great Tehran Penitentiary (GTP) attacked and beat detainees inside Ward 3 of the prison on August 29, 2018, and moved some of them into solitary confinement.
The detainees are Sufi Muslims belonging to the Gonabadi Order—also referred to as dervishes—a persecuted religious minority in Iran.
Niloufar Dowlatshah, the wife of detained Sufi, Mohsen Azizi, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 29 that the authorities had also threatened the detainees’ families who had gathered outside the prison to go home or risk being arrested.
“The authorities denied that anyone had been beaten and told the families that it was just a normal incident and the situation was calm,” Dowlatshah told CHRI. “Do they think it’s normal to severely beat the prisoners?”
“One of the detainees contacted his family from inside prison and said the attack by the guards against the inmates was very brutal,” she added.
Nearly 300 Gonabadi Sufis are imprisoned in wards 2, 3 and 4 of the GTP after being arrested during a protest in Tehran in February 2018 that resulted in the death of one dervish and three policemen.
At least 20 of the protesters were issued heavy prison sentences in August 2018. Eight of them were sentenced in absentia after they refused to appear in court in protest against the denial of their due process rights.
The guards attacked the detainees as around 30 dervishes resumed a sit-in, which began on June 13 outside an officer’s post in Ward 3, to protest the detention of four Sufi women in Gharchak Prison, located south of Tehran.
Several of the detainees were badly injured and suffered broken bones, while others were transferred to solitary confinement as punishment for their protest, according to Dowlatshah.
On August 29, the Twitter account of the Gonabadi Order announced that 18 detained Sufis had been sent to solitary: Ali Mohammadshahi, Heydar Teymouri, Hassan Arab-Ameri, Saeid Dourandish, Reza Yavari, Reza Sigarchi, Mohsen Azizi, Mehdi Keivanlou, Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Saleheddin Moradi, Sina Entesari, Hadi Shahreza, Ahmad Iranikhah, Mehdi Mardani, Rasoul Hoveyda, Kianoush Abbaszadeh, Mojtaba Biranvand and Abbas Dehghan.