Fifty Foreign Ambassadors Tour Tehran’s Evin Prison

Fifty Foreign Ambassadors Tour Tehran’s Evin Prison

The Honorable Ms. Asma Jilani Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights In the Islamic Republic of Iran,
OHCHR-Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Re: Fifty Foreign Ambassadors Tour Tehran’s Evin Prison

Your Excellency,

July 13, 2017

On July 5th, the Islamic Republic’s Judiciary arranged for 50 foreign ambassadors residing in Tehran to a “display tour” of “The Evin Prison” in an attempt to prove that the allegations raised against Islamic Republic’s prisons are false and politically-motivated.

According to a report by Ms. Shirin Ebadi, President of Defenders of Human Rights Center (“DHRC”,) in Iran, which was submitted to Ms. Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur, Iranian officials engaged in a hastily staged transformation of the Evin prison to a luxury hotel as follows:

  • At 8 am on Wednesday, July 5th, more than twenty political prisoners were transferred from their regular cells in Evin prison to solitary A-2nd cells by the order of judicial authorities.
  • In the evening, theses prisoners were returned to Evin Prison not knowing that 50 foreign ambassadors had visited their cells in Evin Prison.
  • Curiously, the ambassadors never visited the Women’s Ward where 24 women political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are being held. Kazem Gharib-Abadi, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic Judiciary’s Human Rights Office, declared the ambassadors’ visit was aimed at showing that the image portrayed of the Iranian prisons by certain countries and media is a false and distorted one. In addition, the Iranian domestic media which is controlled by the authorities interviewed some of the ambassadors. Iran National Council for Free Elections strongly denounces this scandalous, staged visitation. The 24 women political prisoners being held in Evin Prison, including Atena Iraie, Atena Daemi, Narges Mohammadi, Nazanin Zagheri, Azita Rafizadeh, etc. were kept out-of-sight. Other male political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; such as, Reza Malek, Amin Afshar Naderi, Hadi Asgari, KaarenVafadari, Professor Ahmad Jalali, Ali Kebritsaz Tavakoli and others were transferred to other locations. The latter three are prisoners who hold dual citizenships.

We urgently request that your high office forward copies of the letters of Atena Iraie, Atena Damei, and Reza Malek describing the catastrophic, unsanitary conditions in Evin Prison to the foreign ambassadors who visited the prison in Iran. Atena Iraie and Atena Daemi have stated in their letters: “Dear ambassadors, while we are in prison in deplorable conditions, you are free and only motivated by your political and economic agenda. You, unwittingly, became the Islamic regime’s spokesman and described an unreal version of Human Rights situation in Iran”.

Reza Malek, a former agent of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence who is serving an eleven-year prison sentence for attempting to disclose information about Iran’s notorious “Chain Murders” in 1988-1998, addresses the ambassadors in his letter as follows: “It was only a few days that everyone was painting and decorating to give the dead prison illusion of livelihood; the face of the prison had changed so much as if anticipating a great celebration. They were explaining and instructing prison guards and other security personnel so as to deceive the visitors.”

We must also mention Amin Afshar Naderi, a Christian convert held in Evin prison who went on a hunger strike after the authorities kept him and others from speaking with the visitors.

The Iran National Council for Free Elections would like to highlight the following two facts:

  • Many Iranian citizens are frequently arrested merely for voicing everyday-life’s difficulties and/or objecting to violations of their most basic human rights. Under the Islamic regime’s system of jurisprudence, many crimes are punishable by death, including some that do not involve violence; such as, “insulting the Prophet,” apostasy, homosexuality, adultery, and drug-related offenses. Frequently, those opposing the regime are charged with fabricated or fictitious allegations. Allegations have included “Western agents,” “warring against Islam,” “conspiracy against national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” “enmity against God,” “insulting the Prophet,” and “insulting government officials”. According to Iran National Council’s Human Rights Commission Report 2017, the Iranian government has continued to highly restrict speech and dissent; authorities have arrested journalists, bloggers, and online media activists for exercising their rights of expression. Iranian dual nationals and citizens returning from overseas have been at higher risk of arrest by the secret police and security apparatus.
  • According to the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, Iran scored 26 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), and was ranked 136th out of 175 countries. There is no “accountability and transparency” in very large segments of the Iranian economy, judiciary and governance.

Corruption in all segments of the regime is the black hole that generates a breeding ground for transnational organized crime, money laundering, terrorist financing and the trafficking of humans, drugs, and arms. The blatantly corrupt Islamic judiciary has led to greater suffering for criminal defendants and hardship for civil litigants alike.

Based on the foregoing, Iran National Council for Free Elections appeals to your high office to condemn the masquerade of the ambassadors’ visit and demand a visit of political prisoners under your supervision.

We sincerely thank you for your support and attention to this humanitarian matter. Very truly yours,

Nazila Golestan

Special Envoy for Human Rights
Iran National Council for Free Election


Mr. Antonio Guteres, UN Secretary General

Ambassador Nikki R. Haley
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis
EU Special Representative for Human Rights

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mr. Salil Shetty,
Secretary General of the Amnesty International

Mr. Michel Forst
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Mr. Fernando Gentilini
EU Special Representative for Middle East peace process


Conseil National Iranien pour les Elections Libres

115 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France