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Kurds Protest Outside Tehran Jail After Prisoner Dies

The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Saturday that Aghli Hatami, father of Amir-Hossein Hatami, a 22-year-old Kurd who died in Greater Tehran penitentiary, had refused to accept his son’s body for burial.

Hengaw, which is based in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, said Hatami first wanted an official announcement of the cause of his son’s death.

1500tasvir, a Twitter account that highlights protests in Iran, claimed in a post Saturday that seven prison officers had thrown Hatami to the ground and beaten him with batons after he quarreled with a guard Wednesday. Hatami, who worked in a bazaar in Tehran, was reportedly detained after a street fight.

According to 1500tasvir, the guards broke Hatami's toes, and left his body covered in bruises. The young man fell into a coma and passed away due to brain hemorrhage Thursday, 1500tasvir claimed.    

Dozens of people from Hatami's hometown of Sirvan in Ilam province, western Iran, travelled 700 km to Tehran Saturday to meet with prison authorities. A video posted on Twitter shows some of them in front of the prison main gate chanting "The judiciary must be accountable."

People protesting in Sirvan demanding accountability for Hatami's death

One banner carried by protesters, seen in the video, demanded accountability for "the murder of Amir-Hossein Hatami" while another banner asserted that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was "always asleep."

"How long are you going to remain silent about the injustices of the judiciary and Prisons Organization?" the banner asked the UNHRC.

One protestor has circulated a video on social media where he says the chief warden of the prison showed disrespect by refusing to meet them. "I am really sorry for the judiciary and I am very sorry for us who have to witness such injustice in our country," he says.

News of Hatami's death in custody came only three days after another prisoner, Shahin Naseri, died at the same prison. A source close to Naseri's family told Iran International Saturday that while preparing the body for burial, the family had seen bruises on his body and blood oozing from his ears into the funeral shroud.

Authorities say they are investigating the cause of death, which occurred after 45 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), usually used for cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Amnesty International in a recent report published a list of 72 individuals whose deaths in custody since January 2010 it said Iran had not adequately explained. Amnesty said that in 46 cases, sources including relatives or other inmates had claimed the deaths resulted from torture or other ill treatment.

In late August a ‘hactivist’ group released video image from security cameras in Tehran's Evin prison, where many political prisoners are held, showing abuse and ill-treatment. Prison authorities later claimed some staff had been investigated and punished.

Speaking to Iran International Saturday, Ghasem Shole-Sa'di, a member of parliament 1988-96 and former prisoner, called conditions in the Greater Tehran penitentiary "horrible." Sa'di said that authorities expected complainants to prove allegations, for instance when a detainee was suspected of having died under suspicious circumstances.  "On paper it all looks possible to prove, but not in practice," Sa'di said.

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