Taghi Rahmani, Iranian journalist and human rights activist, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.

9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On his imprisonment:

“I was tortured physically many times but there are many prisoners that have suffered more than I have.”

“I personally have been submitted to long periods of isolation and I have also endured physical torture and psychological torture, and this is meted out to human rights offenders.” 

On the lack of independence in Iran’s judiciary system:

“The Iranian judiciary is not independent, it is controlled by the intelligence services of the country.”

“The courts are under the influence of the intelligence service agents and investigating judges have shown me each time what my sentence was to be even before I was heard by the court. Repeatedly, the courts sentenced me to the exact same sentence that the investigating judges had announced even before the hearings began.”

“In Iran, the judiciary does not respect its own laws. They are very far from respecting human rights.”

On the persecution of political prisoners:

“Political prisoners are imprisoned alongside drug traffickers and gang members under the pretext that in Iran, there are no political prisoners.”

“The detainees are deprived of their civic rights even after they have been released and this is done so that they will submit to the will of the regime. It is extremely difficult for political prisoners in Iran.”

On what the world must do next:

“We must have a dialogue with the government in Iran and ask them, demand, that they respect their own laws and then we must try to have them change their laws on the basis of human rights.”

Full Remarks

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I am Mr. Taghi Rahmani. I am a political activist, a writer and a researcher in contemporary history. I work in the areas of politics and religion. I’ve spent more than 14 years in the Islamic Republic of Iran over the last three decades.

At the present time, I have been sentenced to five years of imprisonment and I have a number of trials pending before Iranian justice. Right now, the Iranian system is not independent and I have been sentenced to 16 years in prison. As I said, the Iranian judiciary is not independent, it is controlled by the intelligence services of the country. The judiciary in Iran does not address political cases, as it is stipulated in the constitution and according to Iranian law. These laws do not protect detainees and moreover, Iranian justice does not respect these laws for political prisoners. I am going to denounce here certain behaviours that are arbitrary by the Iranian judiciary.

First of all, there are night time arrests without any justification and without the person who is being detained being informed of the crime which he is suspected of having committed.

Second, prisoners are placed in isolation – long periods of isolation – to pressure the prisoners. I personally have been submitted to long periods of isolation and I have also endured physical torture and psychological torture, and this is meted out to human rights offenders. 

Third, we are interrogated at night without the presence of a lawyer when we are placed in isolation.

Fourth, there are unfair trials. The courts are under the influence of the intelligence service agents and investigating judges have shown me each time what my sentence was to be even before I was heard by the court. Repeatedly, the courts sentenced me to the exact same sentence that the investigating judges had announced even before the hearings began. 

Fifth, hearings are held behind closed doors under the pretext that the issues relate to the national security of the country. The governmental media exaggerate the charges against the accused and all hearings are held, as I said, behind closed doors. The accused cannot defend himself when facing the accusations by the media.

Sixth, political prisoners are imprisoned alongside drug traffickers and gang members under the pretext that in Iran, there are no political prisoners.

Seventh, there is no respect for the rules governing prisons and detainees are deprived of their rights. The prisoners are pushed to collaborate with the prison guards in order to get bonuses and certain rights.

Eighth, bail is very high and it’s particularly for the right to be remanded into custody and sometimes the authorities do not even release the bail even after the detention has ended and the prisoner has been released.

Ninth, the detainees are deprived of their civic rights even after they have been released and this is done so that they will submit to the will of the regime. It is extremely difficult for political prisoners in Iran.

Tenth, there is a creation of a climate of fear. There’s a lack of security and harassment of former prisoners to such an extent that the detainees after they have been released, do not feel psychologically safe.

Eleventh, prisoners are constantly summoned by the intelligence services and over the past years, many political activists have been summoned repeatedly.

Twelfth, certain former detainees are prevented from pursuing higher studies.

Thirteenth, certain political opponents like Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard, all leaders of their movements, are still restricted to their residences and not allowed to leave and no charges have been brought against them. 

Amongst these cases that I’ve just mentioned, the 12 points on the agenda out of 13 were points that I have suffered from and many others suffer from inhuman treatment. I was prevented from continuing my university studies and I was not allowed to hold a public job. My wife, Narges Mohammadi, was dismissed from her work because of her human rights activities. I was tortured physically many times but there are many prisoners that have suffered more than I have. 

Ladies and gentlemen, in Iran, the judiciary does not respect its own laws. They are very far from respecting human rights. The criminal code, Islamic law concerning punishment are far from the principles of human rights. But the Iranian judiciary does not even respect its own laws. And it has maintained severe restrictions that stymie freedom of expression. The third chapter of the Iranian constitution covers the rights of the nation, but the judiciary does not even respect these principles in its own constitution. The law on political offences does not ensure sufficient protection for the people who have been accused of political offences and is not in line with international law. This law has, moreover, not even been put into practice by the Iranian judiciary. We must have a dialogue with the government in Iran and ask them, demand, that they respect their own laws and then we must try to have them change their laws on the basis of human rights. Under Chapter Three of the Iranian Constitution, this is discussed. 

Thank you.