Urmiye Prison - KHRN

Sources inside the Urmiye Central Prison have reported to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) that on Wednesday 18th of February at exactly 10 am local time, a number of plain clothed officers along with special guards entered Ward 12 of the prison where many of the Kurdish political prisoners were being held.

The guards first summoned the Kurdish prisoner Sirwan Najawi to the security office. However, as Sirwan was in the shower at the time he was not admitted. Instead, the prison guards summoned the brothers Ali and Habib Afshari, who were promptly tagged, handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded.

According to this source, Sirwan Nejawi and Ibrahim Issapour were delivered to the guard’s door. Following this the security guards returned to prison room 12 again and asked for Saman Nasim, who was informed a few days before about the implementation of his execution. The guards then asked Nasim to leave with him through the main entrance door.

At this point Saman started shouting slogans, and a number of the prisoners started shouting slogans with him too. Following this disturbance, a number of guards entered the ward and another detainee by the name of Kamal Silo was also requested to leave; for several moments the prison room was extremely tense. Finally, two more of the prisoners along with the five others were taking out of the room by the guards.

The source inside the prison highlighted what occurred next to Younes Aghayan. “Younes Aghaiyan was being held in prison ward 1 when he was summoned. On being alerted as to the approach of the guards, he immediately attempted to contact his family. However, while attempting to contact his family the guards hauled him roughly out of the ward along with the five other prisoners noted above with extremely high security. He was likewise handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, and along with a number of the plain clothed officers the prisoners left the prison complex.”

The source noted further that the “Prison officials initially stated to the remaining political prisoners that their fellow detainees would be simply taken to another prison. This was similar to the situation of another political prisoner Ali Ahmad Soleiman, who only two weeks before and after participating in a hunger strike, was deported from Urmiye prison to another prison in Tabriz. However, through disconnecting the prison’s telephone lines, the heavy security presence in the prison and prevention of traffic of detainees from the various sections of the prison, there was a strong possibility that the execution of the prisoners was imminent. The officer responsible for distribution of information informed the political prisoners that the specified prisoners were being transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence and that their fate was in the hands of the Ministry.”

The Kurdish Human Rights Network contacted the families of Afshari, Nejawi, Issapour and Nasim’s relatives on Saturday, 19th of February, following the release of the information about the removal of the prisoners. Officials of the organisation visited the Urmiye Central Prison and government authorities to obtain further details. However, the only official announcement by the prison authorities was to Nasim’s family, which merely included the court orders for the security forces to remove and relocate the prisoners, including Nasim, to an unknown location. The family was not given any further information as to the whereabouts of the prisoners, or their status. Following these events, the most recent contact from the prison authorities has been to the family of Saman Nasim. The security agent introduced himself to the family as an officer of the Urmiye Central Prison and the contact phone number also further validated his location and position within the prison. The prison officer requested that Saman’s family must collect his personal belongings on Saturday 21st of February, indicating that Saman had been executed.

This member of Saman Nasim’s family has informed the KHRN that Iranian intelligence administration of Urmiye and Merîwan contacted them on Thursday, February 19 and threatened them that if they executed Saman, the family are not to hold a funeral service or ceremony for Saman in their village mosque or a commemoration for him, they are to only hold a small gathering in their home with their relatives.

A member of Saman’s family added that they told us if you obey these instructions, then we will return Saman’s body to you. In accordance with reports received by the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, family members of these six prisoners were threatened to have no communication with the media and human rights organizations. They have also been put under constant pressure and intimidation from authorities.

On Friday February 20 the Kurdistan Human Rights Network recieved information from one of our reliable sources in Iran that in the computer system of Urmiye prison contained the following registered information about the locations of t

he six prisoners: Ali and Habib Afshari were exiled to Qazvin prison, Sirwan Najawi and Ibrahim Issapour were exiled to Tabriz prison and Saman Nasim and Yunes Aghayan were exiled to Zanjan prison.

Also on Friday February 20, the Urmiye intelligence administration contacted the families of Ali and Habib Afshari to officially notify them of the execution of the two brothers. They also threatened these families that they are not to hold a commemoration or funeral in a mosque, they are only to hold a small gathering in their own homes. On the same day the Kurdistan Human Rights Network contacted Ali’s wife and Habib’s father in law and they both confirmed these reports. They also informed us that the Intelligence administration called Rahim Afshari, another relative, and also notified him of the execution of these two brothers.

Investigation of the Kurdistan Human Rights Network confirmed that Sirwan Najawi and Ibrahim Issapour were exiled to Tabriz Prison and have been held at the prison since February 21. We were also able to confirm that they are being held in the punishment department of this prison (This department is reserved for prisoners sentenced to death- They have no access to a phone and they not entitled to meet with their families). They are being held in this department of the prison in handcuffs and in foot cuffs. We have also been notified that they have been on strike since being transferred, February 21, due to their worsening situations.

In addition, we have reports that on February 22, after Yarsan prison repetitively referred Younes Aghayan’s father back to Urmiye Prison, they eventually informed him that his son had in fact been transferred to Zanjan Prison. After our phone conversation with Mr Aghaiyan, we confirmed that he had visited Zanjan Prison on the afternoon of 22 February and after several follow ups, a staff member of that prison informed him that Younes Aghaiyan was transferred to this prison along with a number of other prisoners and he is now solitary confinement. The staff member also stated that Younes Aghaiyan and the other prisoners are not entitled to have any phone conversations or meeting/visits until permitted.

In accordance with our phone conversation with Saman’s brother, he stated that his family had been to Zanjan Prison on February 22 and had asked officials to inform them of Saman’s situation and whereabouts however they denied any transfer of Saman and refused to give any information. Saman’s family then went to the revolution court of Zanjan to obtain further information. The court informed them that Saman was being held in Zanjan Prison and they could give further information to them in the afternoon, however, during the next meeting with the court they were told that there was no news of their son.

On 24 February the family of Saman Nasim were referred to Urmiye Revolution Court, the Judge of Order of the court informed them that Saman was transferred to Zanjan Prison because of his participation in the hunger strike, chanting slogans, and overcrowding in prison and that he has not yet been executed. On the same day, after our conversation with Yune Aghayan’s Father we were informed that he too was transferred to Zanjan Prison due to his participation in the hunger strike, chanting slogans, and overcrowding in the prison. His father stated to authorities that he needed confirmation of these claims by seeing his son, but to no avail. Our investigation shows that during the 23 day hunger strike in Ward 12 of Urmiye Prison, Yunes Aghayan was in Ward 1 of Urmiye Prison and therefore had no role or contribution in the hunger strike as claimed by authorities. This information further increases concerns about the possibility of the secret execution of these prisoners.


Kurdistan Human Rights Network ─ KHRN