Sattar Beheshti: "As an Iranian who loves his country, I announce here that I cannot stay silent"
Iran's parliament called Sunday for a special inquiry to investigate the death in detention of a blogger whose posts criticized the country's leadership.
In a case that provoked international outrage, Sattar Beheshti was arrested in his home on Oct. 30 after receiving death threats, and died some days later, having complained of being tortured.
"It is necessary that the responsible agencies ... exercise more supervision and seriousness with regard to these bitter events and carry out a special inquiry of the case of the death of Sattar Beheshti," parliament said in a report read out Sunday.
The report also recommended training for all staff in detention units, the installation in detention centers of CCTV equipment and the regular inspection of facilities.
It is unclear what a special inquiry would involve and whether the government will follow up on the recommendations. But the report demonstrates the extent of concern within parliament over the case and the assembly's emphasis on human rights before presidential elections in June.
Authorities have arrested seven people suspected of involvement in Beheshti's death, three of whom are still in custody.
His death also led to the dismissal of the head of Tehran's cyber police unit for "failures and weaknesses in adequately supervising personnel under his supervision".
Digital Memorial for Sattar Behesti
(December 13, 2012): Movements.org has learned that the family of Sattar Beheshti has been attacked and arrested today during a memorial service for Sattar in Tehran. The family has received numerous threats from security forces stemming from the November torture and murder of Sattar by "Cybercrimes" police, yet they have refused to be silenced. While the Iranian regime attempts to violently subdue voices of dissent in Iran, it is all the more important for the global community to stand in solidarity with the Beheshti family and support the basic human right of free expression.
In late October, 35-year old Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti was abducted from his home by security forces, and on November 6, his relatives were informed by the same security forces that he was dead. No explanation was provided about his mysterious death - that is, until information began leaking out from within one of the world’s most repressive nations. In testimony given by Sattar’s family and friends, bizarre reports from Health Ministry officials, and even letters written by prisoners and smuggled out of the notorious Evin Prison (where Sattar reportedly spent time), details emerged of a young man who had been brutally, severely tortured, to the point of death. Reportedly, he was originally taken by police for his work to expose conditions for Iran’s thousands of political prisoners.
After identifying his mutilated corpse at the morgue, Sattar’s family courageously relayed details of what they saw to the outside world. Security officials would not permit the family to hold a public funeral, and they were threatened on several occasions to keep quiet about the case. As more and more evidence pointed to Sattar being tortured to death while in police custody, the Iranian regime was forced to take the unprecedented step of firing several top police officials, including the chief of Tehran’s “Cybercrime” force. While Iranian officials have acknowledged that Sattar was abused, they have refused responsibility for his death, maintaining instead that Sattar died of “natural causes” unrelated to his mishandling by police.
“If Iranian authorities claim that he died of natural causes, why didn’t they deliver his body to his family or allow them to hold a normal funeral service for him, instead of taking the body to the grave themselves?” one friend of Sattar asked.
Despite the enormous risks, the Beheshti family has spoken up and encouraged the world to honor her son’s memory: “As a mother, I am asking international human rights organizations to not let my son’s name be forgotten. I am in pain. They took my (other) son and forced me to sign a testimonial; they told me that if I don’t, they’ll arrest my daughter,” Gohar Eshghi, Sattar’s mother, told the Iranian opposition website Kalame.
In his last blog post, Sattar wrote:
“The Iranian regime has become more radical recently. They use all tools, such as threats, arrests, and even executions to stifle dissidents, journalists and lawyers. They say ‘Do not talk otherwise we will bring you down...’ As an Iranian who loves his country, I announce here that I cannot stay silent.”