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Amnesty Urges Accountability For 72 Suspicious Deaths In Iran Prisons

Amnesty International published a list of 72 individuals Wednesday whose deaths in custody since January 2010 it said Iran had not adequately explained despite reports that they resulted from torture and ill treatment, including firearms and tear gas.

“In 46 cases, informed sources including the relatives and/or fellow inmates…reported that the death resulted from physical torture or other ill treatment at the hands of intelligence and security agents or prison officials,” Amnesty said in a report demanding accountability for the suspicious deaths.

The international rights watchdog said its findings were based on research and a review of reporting by credible human rights groups and media outlets. The deaths all occurred in 42 prisons and detention centers, including facilities run by the ministry of intelligence, in 16 provinces across Iran during preliminary investigations or within a few days of arrest.

“Ensuring respect for people’s right to life requires that officials suspected of torturing prisoners to death are criminally investigated, and if enough admissible evidence against them is found, prosecuted,” Amnesty said. “Lack of investigations constitutes in and of itself a violation of the right to life.”

Amnesty International on August 25 issued a statement that surveillance videos from Tehran’s Evin prison circulated by hackers were the “tip of the iceberg” of mal-treatment. The hackers said last month they would release further incriminating footage.

Last week, labor activist and author Sepideh Gholian, currently on furlough from prison in Bushehr province, made detailed allegation of abuse of prisoners in the prison’s women's ward.

In previous reports Amnesty International has listed beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemicals, and deprivation of medical care as among the tortures committed by Iran's police, intelligence and security forces and prison officials against detainees with the complicity of judges and prosecutors.

Iran has generally ignored Amnesty reports, and has long responded to allegations of prison abuse by referring to practices in other countries, particularly those allied to the United States.

The latest death in custody documented by Amnesty International was Yaser Mangouri, in Urumieh, West Azerbaijan province September 8. Security forces last week told Mangouri's family that he had been killed in an armed clash with security forces two months earlier but Kurdish rights groups such as the Iraq-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights allege he died under torture. Mangouri's body has not ben returned to his family.

The public relations of Urumieh province’s Justice Department Wednesday called Mangouri "an armed terrorist" who was killed in an armed encounter in July. Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa regional director at Amnesty International, said Wednesday that the case illustrated “how the prevailing climate of impunity further emboldens security forces to violate prisoners' right to life without any fear of consequence or accountability.”

A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
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