At least 16 Iranian detainees died under torture, report says
It is unclear who held the cell phone that captured the video, but the person in front of the cell phone's camera was 31-year-old Mehdi Zare Ashkevari. When he smiled, the space of two teeth on the right side of his upper jaw became visible. Those teeth had he lost under torture.
In the video, captured a few hours after his release on bail, he has a bitter smile. The kind of smile that Iranians put on when they are trapped in a horrible situation, but they make fun of it to release the pressure. Then, in his underpants, he turns in front of the camera and shows the bruises on his body; the wounds he took during his arrest.
Yet it is unclear how long he was under arrest and during which demonstration he was arrested. He did not have enough time to explain all about that. Some hours after recording the video, he went into a coma, and 20 days later, he died on 30 December.
Ashkezari's death is one of the latest cases relating to deaths under torture, which has happened since the demonstrations began in Iran in protests after Mahsa Amini's death during police custody.
According to a report published by the Follow-Up Committee on Detainees' Fate, a group of independent Iranian activists, at least 15 men other than Ashkezari, were killed in police stations and security forces' detention centres.
The New Arab investigation into the cases revealed by the committee demonstrates that the Iranian Kurds, a minority group residing in western Iran, had the highest number of death due to torture.
Among the 16 people who died under torture, eight were from the Kurdish cities of Saqqez (Mahsa Amini''s place of birth), Sanandaj, Boukan, Sardasht and Dehgolan.
These victims of torture during the arrest are identified as Esmaeil Dezvar, Ramin Fathi, Mohammad Lotfollahi, Omid Hassani, Heemen A'man, Mohammad Haji Rasoulpour, Shahriar A'deli, and Shadman Ahmadi.
The family members of these individuals told the rights groups that when the police asked them to identify the dead bodies, they saw the marks left by torture on the bodies and faces of the dead detainees.
The captives' dead bodies were released only after their families agreed to bury them without a funeral. They also reported that they were under pressure to say the arrested persons died in a car accident, due to falling from a height or as a result of committing suicide.
The seven other individuals named in this report were Saman Ghaderpour and Ahmad Goudarzi in Tehran, Yousef Raisi in Lashar, Milad Khoshkam in Shiraz, Amir Javad Asaadzadeh in Mashhad, Eiliad Rahmanipour in Firouz Abad, and Hamed Salahshour in Izeh.
Salahshour's body was not handed to his family, and the security forces buried him outside his hometown.
The report added that the number of those killed under torture must be "much higher" because "very little information has been available about all those killed in official or unofficial detention centres".
The committee also named 12 other individuals as those who died under "suspicious circumstances" and still investigating the causes of their deaths.
According to rights groups, at least 481 protestors have been killed since last September in Iran, and about 20,000 have been arrested.