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Shocking Details of Lawyer Payam Derafshan’s Torture and Institutionalisation for Maximum Pressure

20 Oct 21
Shocking Details of Lawyer Payam Derafshan’s Torture and Institutionalisation for Maximum Pressure

Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); October 20, 2021: Human rights lawyer, Saeid Dehghan has revealed the shocking details of Payam Derafshan’s torture in detention.

Iran Human Rights draws the attention of the international community, the World Health Organisation in particular, to the unlawful and unethical use of psychiatric facilities by the Islamic Republic authorities to inflict torture and pressure on political and civil prisoners.

In a thread on Twitter, human rights activist and lawyer, Saeid Dehghan exposed the shocking details of Payam Derafshan’s case. He details how Payam was transferred to a safe house following arrest and injected with an unknown shot that made him tremor and bite off half his own tongue, sectioning him in the Amin Abad psychiatric hospital, how he was subjected to electric shocks and beaten by Prison Organisation soldiers.

There is precedent of political prisoners being transferred to psychiatric hospitals as a form of breaking and coercing their resistance and several were previously taken to this particular hospital. In the most recent case, Gonabadi dervish, Behnam Mahjoubi died in hospital under suspicious circumstances after he was institutionalised at the hospital.

A part of Saeid Dehghan’s tweets reads: “When Payam Derafshan knocked on the door to ask them to turn the lights and ventilators off so he could sleep for a few minutes, three guards entered the cell and one of them threatened him with an electric shocker and told him that he would be dealt with if he ever knocked on the door again! So, he didn’t knock again, but those three guards came and took him to a different part of Ward 2A which was not the infirmary and told him that they would give him “a shot to sleep comfortably!” in a terrifying and mocking manner. In response to Payam’s protest and resistance against the injection, they said it’s not for you to decide and we’re not your mocking tools. After injecting him, he was transferred to the cell where he falls asleep but started tremoring in his sleep which caused him to bite off half his tongue. He passed out and started severely bleeding in that state which goes down his throat and his clothes were covered in blood.”

Payam Derafshan has also written a message which in part reads: “It is important to note that from day one, all the pressure I endured was under the supervision of Evin Prison’s Branch Two of the Shahid Moghaddas Court, Mr Haji Moradi. And he ignored all my protests to being transferred to a safe house instead of a detention centre and unlawfully issued my detention order and transferred me to Ward 2A and let them do what they wanted to me. They then refused to send me to medical furlough despite the horrific and painful state they had left me in, and as well as preventing my group of lawyers from declaring themselves as the attorneys in the case, they never informed them or my worried family of what they had done to me. It was Haji Moradi who helped cover it up despite the fact that the fabricated case against me for publishing lies was for giving an interview about the situation of women in Rey Shahr Prison. Such a charge does not legally and ethically warrant arrest. It is clear that Haji Moradi was looking to issue the arrest warrant at the request of the IRGC so they could transfer me to Ward 2A to do what they wanted and he must be named.”

Payam Derafshan was arrested on 31 August 2018 while visiting the family of another imprisoned lawyer. He was sentenced to two years for “insulting the supreme leader” and banned from practicing law by Branch One of the Karaj Revolutionary Court in August.

A number of lawyers representing political and religious prisoners have been arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in recent years.

Payam Derafshan’s full message:

“I am forever grateful to the brothers who treated me like compassionate nurses in Ward 4 of Evin Prison in the summer of 2020. When I wasn’t able to chew or swallow due to the injuries to my tongue, they bought me porridge, milk and date syrup with their own money.

It was then that I came to believe that no matter how hard they may try and no matter how much calculated pressure they may inflict, the real human spirit, the political prisoners, would never be broken.

I have tried to expose what is happening (to them) by telling my story at the cost of violating my bail conditions set by the IRGC, which they're looking for the slightest excuse to revoke.

It is important to note that from day one, all the pressure I endured was under the supervision of Evin Prison’s Branch Two of the Shahid Moghaddas, Mr Haji Moradi. And he ignored all my protests to being transferred to a safe house instead of a detention centre and unlawfully issued my detention order and transferred me to Ward 2A and let them do what they wanted to me. They then refused to send me to medical furlough despite the horrific and painful state they had left me in, and as well as preventing my group of lawyers from declaring themselves as the attorneys in the case, they never informed them or my worried family of what they had done to me. It was Haji Moradi who helped cover it up despite the fact that the fabricated case against me for publishing lies was for giving an interview about the situation of women in Rey Shahr Prison. Such a charge does not legally and ethically warrant arrest. It is clear that Haji Moradi was looking to issue the arrest warrant at the request of the IRGC so they could transfer me to Ward 2A to do what they wanted and he must be named.”

 

Saeed Dehghan’s Twitter thread:

“Payam Derafshan wasn’t just an ordinary human rights activist, he was the Secretary of the Bar Association’s Commission on the Protection of Lawyers whose duty was to support lawyers facing judicial and security issues. On 7 June 2020, security forces raided Payam Derafshan’s law office, conducted a full search and recorded his work computers and case files, effectively breaching client confidentiality. Upon entry to his office, the IRGC’s Security institution’s only concern was why he had accepted Kavous Seyed-Emami’s case! They later dedicated more time and pressure to the topic during his interrogations. As well as transferring this human rights lawyer to a safe house blindfolded, not to a legal detention centre, and denying the right to contact and inform his family and lawyer, he was also kept in a completely dark room with no windows in the summer season, which was the first sign of their project to completely destroy him through maximum psychological and physical pressure. Transferring him to a cell in Ward 2A of the IRGC with constant bright lights, loud noises from the three ventilators and the stench of the dirty toilet that stank even more due to the small space; lengthy interrogation sessions unrelated to the charges in the case which was publishing lies in an interview with BBC Persian about the poor conditions of the women’s prison in Shahr Ray; but he was questioned about the suspicious death of Kavous Seyed Emami and why he had represented Nasrin Sotoudeh. And when Payam Derafshan knocked on the door to ask them to turn the lights and ventilators off so he could sleep for a few minutes, three guards entered the cell and one of them threatened him with an electric shocker and told him that he would be dealt with if he ever knocked on the door again! So, he didn’t knock again, but those three guards came and took him to a different part of Ward 2A which was not the infirmary and told him that they would give him “a shot to sleep comfortably!” in a terrifying and mocking manner. In response to Payam’s protest and resistance against the injection, they said it’s not for you to decide and we’re not the objects of your mockery. After injecting him, he was transferred to the cell where he fell asleep but started tremoring in his sleep which caused him to bite off half his tongue. He passed out and started severely bleeding in that state which trickled down his throat and his clothes were covered in blood. He was transferred to the Baghiallah Hospital by ambulance the next morning, where he first underwent surgery on his tongue but is then admitted to the neurology department due to the tremors and disorientation. His worried family and lawyers continuously appeared at the Evin court during this period without being provided with any information.  

While doctors were trying to diagnose and treat the damage caused by the injection, IRGC Intelligence forces came to the hospital to inform him that he would be required to go to the Evin court as the interrogator had agreed for bail to be set. However, the hospital staff refuse to discharge him unless he agreed to take full responsibility in writing! Payam Derafshan gave his consent to be discharged in writing but the guards threw him in the back of a metal vehicle without any windows in the unbearable July heat for a prolonged period which caused his wounds to bleed without anything for him to wipe it with! He realises that he is in the Revolutionary Court not the Evin court to set bail once he disembarks! In order to hide what state he was in from his colleagues working in the court, they forced him to use the stairs through the back door to see Judge Moghiseh, all under the pretext of an investigation into him protesting his arrest!

Payam Derafshan had to stand before Judge Moghiseh who shouted one way insults and berated him while the guards mocked him, and all the while he was unable to defend himself due to the swelling of his tongue and the bleeding from the stitches. Then instead of returning him to the hospital for treatment for his tongue which had swelled so much by then that he couldn’t chew or swallow food, and despite needing specialist care to prevent further tremors, they didn’t even take him to the prison infirmary but to the general ward! After the tremors started, instead of transferring him to a specialised hospital, they transferred Payam Derafshan to Amin Abad Hospital (for psychiatric care) in handcuffs and shackles. They subjected him to electric shocks there which as well making his previous injuries worse, also caused him serious brain damage and he passed out! Once his family and lawyers located him through Evin political prisoners, they were faced with not only the serious condition he was in but also discovered that he was being beaten by the Prison Organisation soldiers at the encouragement of two infirmary staff because he had complained about the constant pain he was in from the handcuffs and shackles!

He was tried in absentia by Judge Afshari and sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment and a two-year ban on practicing law, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals. They rejected his request to be set bail despite his dire physical condition and he was held in continuous detention until the confirmation of his sentence. He managed to escaped the same inevitable fate as the late Behnam Mahjoubi through his family efforts in paying off the hospital doctors and gaining the written confirmation of the doctors and social workers stating that he had improved and wanted to return to prison. He partially healed in prison due to the compassionate care he received from the political prisoners in Ward 4 of Evin Prison. Following the confirmation of his sentence, he has been furloughed for a few days according to the Forensic Medical Examiner’s opinion that the execution of his sentence be postponed due to the required specialist medical treatment, which was extended, and after serving a third of his sentence, he was released on conditional bail and is undergoing treatment.

There seems to be a clear message being sent by the authorities, deliberately causing damage to Payam Derafshan’s tongue as a human rights lawyer who was the voice of the voiceless!