Tuesday , 6 June 2023

Blinding as a Weapon (40): Victim Arrested, Tortured, Denied Treatment; Faces Death Penalty

Iranwire – As IranWire has reported, hundreds of Iranians have sustained severe eye injuries after being hit by pellets, tear gas canisters, paintball bullets or other projectiles used by security forces amid a bloody crackdown on mainly peaceful demonstrations. Doctors say that, as of now, at least 580 protesters have lost one or both eyes in Tehran and in Kurdistan alone. But the actual numbers across the country are much higher. The report concluded that such actions by the security forces could constitute a “crime against humanity,” as defined by Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Vahid Abbasi Piani was arrested in the hospital where he was taken to treat his injured eye

IranWire has explored this question more deeply in an interview with Professor Payam Akhavan, a prominent human rights lawyer, special advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and a former member of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

IranWire is aware of more than 50 serious eye injuries sustained by protestors and bystanders over the past five months. With the help of independent ophthalmologists, we have reviewed the medical records of around a dozen individuals and compiled a comprehensive medical report.

In the series of reports “Blinding as a Weapon,” IranWire presents the victims’ stories told in their own words. Some have posted their stories, along with their names and pictures, on social media. Others, whose real names shall not be disclosed to protect their safety, have told their stories to IranWire, which can make their identities and medical records available to international legal authorities and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


This is the story of Vahid Abbasi Piani, a resident of Izeh in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. He was arrested while in hospital four days after he sustained serious eye injuries during protests. It took a month for his family to find out he had been transferred to the central prison of Ahvaz, the provincial capital.

While in detention, Abbasi Piani has not received any treatment for his injured eye and has been subjected to beatings and torture. He has been told that he is facing the charge of “waging war against God”, which can carry a death sentence.

“My brother’s life is in danger and he is charged with moharebeh. Whenever my brother asks for his eye be treated, they tell him, ‘You’ll get a death sentence, why do you want the eye?’” Abbasi Piani’s brother said on Instagram.

According to him, Vahid’s eye was shot on November 15, 2022, and the man was abducted from the hospital on November 19. A month later, his family found out that he was incarcerated in the central prison of Ahvaz, where he has been tortured both mentally and physically to give forced “confessions.” His teeth were broken and his jailers have not allow his injured eye to be treated. 

Brutally Arrested, Beaten 

On November 15, the streets of Izeh were the scene of protests. Many pictures and videos of that night have been posted on social media, showing fires, smoke and protesters shouting anti-regime slogans.

After finishing work, Abbasi Piani went into a store to do some shopping. Protesters were outside the shop when security forces opened fire at them. Abbasi Piani’s eye was shot as he was returning home.

He managed to get home. His injured eye was red and he could not open it. As protests and clashes continued, Abbasi Piani decided to stay home but, with each passing day, the condition of his injured eye deteriorated. His friends finally took him to Imam Hospital in Ahvaz. A few minutes after he arrived there, at least 15 security agents entered the facility.

Abbasi Piani and two of his friends were arrested. According to one of them, the security agents belonged to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). Pouria Rahmani, one of the detainees, was released a short while later, but Abbasi Piani was remanded behind bars.

Abbasi Piani and his friends were beaten during their arrest. The security agents pulled sacks over their heads and took them to an unknown location, where interrogations started and beatings resumed. Abbasi Piani was told that he must confess to whatever the interrogators told him. His teeth were broken.

A month after the arrest, Abbasi Piani’s family learned that he was in Sheyban Prison, the central prison of Ahvaz. They managed to visit their loved one there and sometimes they are allowed to talk with him on the phone.

“Why Do You Need the Eye?”

According to a person close to Abbasi Piani, he has refused to confess to the charges against him. He has been reportedly accused of “throwing stones” at security forces and “serving coffee to mercenaries.” The case has not yet been sent for trial. Judiciary officials are not giving any information about the case to Abbasi Piani’s family.

Physically and mentally, Abbasi Piani is in a bad shape. A relative tells IranWire, “They beat him and broke his teeth even though his eye was injured. Vahid says that when they take him to the clinic, they tell him…that he needs no treatment because he’s going to be sentenced to death. ‘Why do you need the eye?’ they say.”

Abbasi Piani’s eyesight is deteriorating. His injured eye is only able to vaguely distinguish between light and dark.

Eye surgeons tell IranWire that a damaged eye must be treated as quickly as possible and any delay in treatment can have irreparable consequences. 

Preventing Abbasi Piani from receiving medical care amounts to torture, considering his physical condition and his injured eye.

“Your Silence Amounts to Supporting Tyranny”

Abbasi Piani was born in 1974. He is a successful player for Izeh’s Omid Football Team. Because of financial difficulties, he could not continue his education and had to enter the workforce. He worked in a coffee shop when he was arrested, and that’s most probably why he has been accused of “serving coffee to mercenaries.”

He has four brothers and sisters, and the family cannot afford a lawyer. However, a lawyer in Izeh has volunteered to defend the accused. A relative tells IranWire that the family is psychologically devastated and his mother is crying day and night.

Finding information about the conditions of political prisoners in towns far from Tehran, especially in border provinces, is not easy. This makes them more vulnerable to inhumane treatment by the Islamic Republic’s security agencies and prison system.

“We want you to be the voice of my innocent brother…Your silence amounts to supporting tyranny and injustice,” Abbasi Piani’s brother wrote in his Instagram post.