Doha Centre for Media Freedom echoes the calls to investigate the death of imprisoned Iranian blogger and activist Sattar Beheshti.
Beheshti was arrested from his home on October 30 in Tehran for “actions against national security on social networks and Facebook.” The blogger is believed to have died due to the torture to which he was subjected in prison.
“On October 30 plain-clothes agents raided our home and detained him. They did not produce any summons or charges against him. When my mother asked them to show a detention order, the agent pulled out his gun and pointed to it,” Beheshti’s sister, Fatemeh Beheshti, told Voice of America’s Persian-language service.
On November 6, Iranian authorities informed Beheshti’s family of his death by saying, "buy a grave. Come to get the body tomorrow," Iranian opposittion website Kaleme reported.
The 35-year-old blogger was critical of the Iranian regime in his writings and called for reform. In his last blog before his arrest, he wrote on Iran’s foreign policy in Lebanon and the , the prominent human rights defender held at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, which houses political prisoners, human rights defenders and journalists.
The blogger had previously received threats from the Iranian regime and had earlier written: "They threatened me yesterday and said, 'Your mother will soon wear black because you don’t shut your big mouth.'”
Calls for justice
Rights organisations around the world have condemned the killing and called on the Iranian government to bring about justive.
DCMF issued a statement calling for an investigation into the blogger's death.
“DCMF strongly condemns the targetting of media activists such as Sattar Beheshti and urges the government to conduct a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
The investigation must be full and frank, and those responsible for Beheshti's death must be held to account.
The centre was shocked to learn of the blogger's death and is highly concerned about the way in which Beheshti and his family have been treated since his arrest last month. The government in Iran must take steps to ensure that press freedom is protected and to put a stop to the culture of impunity which continues to result in more deaths of journalists and media workers.”
Spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi, said: “Beheshti’s death is certainly due to his circumstances in prison and once again the culture of rampant impunity inside prisons has claimed the life of another innocent victim. It is highly probable he died of injuries sustained due to torture under interrogations."
“The Tehran government is an egregious example of the triumph of impunity,” Reporters Without Borders said on their website. “Up to now, no-one responsible for the deaths in detention of any journalists or netizens has been brought to justice. We ask that the special UN rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, be allowed to enter Iran to conduct an independent investigation into this death and other similar cases.”
“With more than a dozen deaths in the past four years, Iran’s prisons are rapidly turning into death traps for detainees, including people who should never have been behind bars to begin with,” said deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Eric Goldstein. “The onus is on Iranian officials, including high-ranking prison officials and members of the judiciary, to immediately come clean about what happened to Beheshti and punish those responsible.”
Newer sanctions on Iran
The United States government has revealed fresh sanctions against top Iranians and national bodies, including the communications minister and the culture ministry, hitting back for media and Internet censorship.
The United States was determined to stop the "Iranian government from creating an 'electronic curtain' to cut Iranian citizens off from the rest of the world," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
"Countless activists, journalists, lawyers, students and artists have been detained, censured, tortured or forcibly prevented from exercising their human rights," she added.
In response, Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini said, "we do not want the American version of freedom. We cannot tolerate the break of moral values in Islamic countries ... The press watchdog is a source of pride for us."
Source: DCMF and agencies