The following is the translation of a letter from Houtan Kian written in Farsi from prison in Iran. Please note that a couple of pages of the original letter are missing.
In the name of the God of our fatherland, I offer my greetings.
I must occupy your valuable time because of my enforced lack of contact with the outside world and the opportunity that has arisen through [name]. I ask you to do me the favour of relaying my voice to the foreign press and websites. If you refuse or even tear up my letter, rest assured that I will not be upset, since you owe me nothing and it is not your duty to go to great lengths on my behalf. Please forgive me for inconveniencing you. You yourselves know that my mother lived in America for some time, and only came to Iran because of my arrest and is now forbidden from leaving the country or giving interviews. Furthermore, the Germans who were arrested with me are still being detained by the secret services.
Since my arrest on 10 October 2010 I was kept in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, until 15 days ago, when I was transferred to Tabriz prison (to the ward designated for the insane and HIV-positive intravenous drug users) where I have been forbidden visitors and communication. I have also been denied visits to a doctor because of the visible signs of torture upon my body. Therefore, through my meeting with [name], the God of our fatherland has afforded me the opportunity to be heard by the outside world. Because I do not want to implicate [name], I will explain the situation further on pages 2 and 3 in my own handwriting, imploring you to relay these pages to various entities enumerated below.
- The US Secretary of State (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- The Human Rights Watch (HRW) site (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- The United Nations Human Rights Council (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Barack Obama (US President) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Ms Condoleezza Rice (former US Secretary of State) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Lawyers Without Borders (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Amnesty International (Mr Eric Dyke) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Ms Elahe Boqrat (independent journalist) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- Dr. Alireza Nurizadeh (translation and copy of the text).
- Mr Hossein Alizadeh, chief of the GAY centre (America). Lest this be misconstrued, neither I nor Mr Hossein Alizadeh are ‘gay’; that is simply the title of his designation.
- Ms Mina Ahadi (email@example.com).
- Le Monde (France) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- The Guardian, London (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- The Turkish Cumhuriyet and Milliyet newspapers (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- The Italian AKI Farsi news agency (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Pope Benedict XVI (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- Herana (website). (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- BBC London (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- VOA USA and Radio Farda (after translation, and together with a copy of the text) (important).
- CNN (USA) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- FOX (USA) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
- CBS France and El Pais (Spain) (after translation, and together with a copy of the text).
I apologise most sincerely for the length of this list, but these will all be copies of the same texts, and I have given numerous interviews to all these organisations, who all know me well and are aware of my honesty.
I would be deeply grateful if you would distribute my open letter to organisations throughout the world regarding my situation from childhood to the present day and during my incarceration, which [name] witnessed and whose marks are still upon my body. Photographs of me are available on google images if necessary. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and remain fervently hopeful.
I will abandon courage, love and resistance; I will keep my eyes open. Though there be nothing to see but suffering and regret, I would not pay for my serenity with blindness.
My letter follows in the pages below.
Invoking the God of our Fatherland, I offer my greetings.
I would like first of all to offer a summarised autobiography. I was born on 21 January 1974. According to a widespread Iranian (Tabrizi) tradition, my late father increased my age by one year in my birth certificate (as he did with his other children). On 14 August 1980, my father was arrested for supporting the Khalq-e Mosalman (Muslim People) party, and two days later, on 16 August 1980, he was executed by firing squad. The prosecutor who held sway and had unmitigated power in the northwest of the country was Seyyed Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi (head of the Majma’-e Rouhaniun-e Mobarez – Society of Combatant Clerics, residing in Qom), who is now a black-turbaned religious scholar. After my father’s execution, this prosecutor came numerous times to court my mother through coercion and threats. My mother recorded one of this visits on a cassette, which she sent to Mr Khomeini (the founder of the Islamic Republic), but to no avail. The late Ayatollah Montazeri, on hearing the cassette, explicitly expressed his displeasure to the prosecution office pertaining to the aforementioned personage, and consequently my mother was forced to marry one of the Imperial Guards (Immortals), Col. Amir Hossein Qasempur. The final chapter of the tale of Mousavi Tabrizi’s enormities, revealed during my childhood: from the prison records extracted by Col. Khosroshahi, it emerges that he was demoted to Sergeant following a charge of sodomy. (My father’s name was Majid Houtan Darzheh, known as Majid Kuzegar).
In 1993 I graduated from medical school (specialising in dentistry), ranked 64th of all graduating students of that year. Two years later, when I was an extern at the Arya hospital, I was expelled together with three friends of mine (Mohammad Tofiq, Mohammad Mehrab, and Mohammadreza Chehr). I should explain that Mohammad Tofiq is the son of Dr Tofiq who owns the Jahannama hotel in Tabriz; Mohammad Mehrab now peddles books in Sa’at Square in Tabriz, where the municipal building is; and Mohammadreza Chehr is the son of the owner of the Chehr bookshop who was executed on political charges. As for me, I was expelled around January/February 1995 by the head of the Shahid Beheshti (Melli) University Disciplinary Committee, Haddad ‘Adel. This was when Dr Haddad ‘Adel was head of the Centre for Persian Language and Literature. In order to continue my studies, I was forced to obtain a new birth certificate in the name of my stepfather.
In accordance with Iranian laws, because of my expulsion I was banned for studying at the university for two years. The reason for my expulsion was my publication of two books. The first was called Collected Socio-political Essays (published by Amir Kabir). It dealt with the struggle to counteract superstition and reveal the brutality cloaked in Islam and the true nature of the Islamic Republic. It contained 47 essays written by four authors. The second was called Solitary Dialogues (published by Talash). It was sociological and dealt with backwardness; I was its sole author.
During that year, in my time of tribulation I represented myself in the revolutionary court, headed by the cleric Haj Fazel, and began to study the law; of course, my father’s fate increased my motivation in this field. Regarding the two aforementioned books, in accordance with existing laws, I was initially condemned to death, but because I was under 18, I was sent to a juvenile reformatory and the sentence was commuted to seven months’ incarceration and flogging.
In 1999 I consulted with Shahram Jazayeri Arab, and was acquitted of all charges.
From 2001 I began working as a lawyer. Because I had obtained some inheritance from my mother, I took no money from most of my clients. As demonstrated from the available records (archive of court files and rulings and so on), most of my cases, because of my fields of specialisation (penal law and criminology), were political or related to murder, stoning, execution and so forth.
In July 2010, following the recommendation of the Judiciary because of my proficiency, I accepted to be the court-appointed defence lawyer of Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. I even paid all the requisite fees as well as her children’s rent and mortgage and other expenses between July 2010 until late October, when I was arrested.
In mid-August a Swedish journalist arrived in Tabriz. Her interpreter introduced himself as Ebrahim, and because of his insistence on interviewing me and some of the things he said, I became suspicious of his motives and refrained from associating with him. The fifth or sixth time that he called me insisting on an interview, I asked him to stop contacting me. Unfortunately, Mr Sajjad Qaderzadeh, encouraged by his mother from prison, granted him an interview that was entirely favourable to the Islamic Republic and the justifiability of stoning in Islam and in his mother’s case. (The text of his interview is in the possession of Ms Sima Oskuinezhad of the Committee Against Execution and Stoning in Sweden, and reported in an associated publication). It appears that the Swedish journalist was either intentionally or unintentionally misled. I conducted some research regarding the Swedish journalist and her interpreter. They were staying in the Shahryar Hotel in Tabriz, and I soon became aware that the so-called ‘Ebrahim’ was an official of the secret services called Hossein Kerbalai, whose brother is, in a manner of speaking, ‘teaching’ in New York having assumed the forged identity of ‘Kourosh Yaghmai’ (a security officer).
In any case, on 10 October 2010 I was arrested. One evening I was placed in solitary confinement in the secret service building located in Sa’eb Street. The following day, after having been informed, as explained below, of the charge against me by the interrogator of the Ministry of Intelligence in Tabriz, Mr Hashemzadeh (nephew of Hossein Shariatmadari, former interrogator and director of the Keyhan newspaper which adheres to the governmental doctrine of ‘velayat-e faqih’, the ‘rule of the jurist’), and after my home and office were sealed by the authorities and my car seized, I was conveyed by plane directly to ward 209 of Evin prison. (Since from that first moment I was bound hand and foot and blindfolded, I didn’t know whether the Germans were also transferred along with me; I should explain that later, after I was transferred to Tabriz prison on 22 January 2011, I realised that they had not been transferred to Tehran). I also became aware that from 11 November 2010 onwards, Sajjad Qaderzadeh had unfortunately been officially co-opted into collaborating with the Intelligence Ministry, to which he revealed all information at his disposal. (The case number in interrogation branch 4 is 890632).
I am kept in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, in a new building that is approximately 100 stairs above the cellar level. All the signs of torture remain on my body, and following the orders of the interrogator of branch 4, my written entreaties have been ignored. I have been made to wear nylon underwear, and in the time of my solitary confinement in ward 209, from 11 October to 12 December 2010, I have been burned by approximately 60 cigarettes on my legs, testicles and feet (5 cigarettes there). I am only given one meal a day, in the morning; once it was a small piece of cheese, another time, three dates. I have lost 51 kilos, and twelve of my teeth have been almost completely broken by blows with boots, as has my nose, which bleeds permanently. At midnight, in cold weather, I was soaked with a fire hose and left, with hands and feet bound, in the courtyard until four in the morning, when I was taken to be interrogated. Consequently from 13 December 2010 to 10 January 2011 I was confined to a place resembling a hospital, whose location I still do not know. The marks of intravenous tubes are still visible on my arms and legs. From 12 to 22 January 2011 I was bedridden in the hospital ward of Tabriz prison, and according to the doctors there, it is miraculous that I came back to life.
I am currently in ward 7, which is designated for the quarantine of the insane and HIV-positive and hepatitis-infected intravenous drug addicts. This contravenes the regulations of the Islamic Republic’s own prison authority. The charges against me are simply that I bravely defended my client and my other clients, and caused the expulsion of four corrupt judges (Sedaqat, Bahush, Juyande and Afarin) from the court establishment.
9. The revelation of secrets and internal corruption (articles 501 and following of the Iranian penal code). Two issues. 1. The revelation of secrets (first of all, the late Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian-Iranian journalist charged with irreverence and photographing Evin prison (the prison wall from outside), was tortured and killed by Said Mortazavi. 2. The concealment of the records from the office of his friend and old university colleague, Dr Ramin Purandarjani (the doctor of Kahrizak), wherein the wife of Said Mortazavi, a doctor, described in detail the cause of death and ailments of political convicts. Purandarjani was killed with cyanide, and his family in Tabriz was not even given his corpse, which instead was buried in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in Tehran after being kept for 60 days.
10. Given that I was forced to obtain a false birth certificate in order to continue my studies, this act was counted as a crime and added to the charges against me.
11. This act occurred many years ago when I was still a student of medicine, not law, and yet the authorities have claimed to find forged stamps and other implements of forgery, of which I truly know nothing, in my home in Tehran!
In conclusion, I am innocent, and merely because of my reports regarding the election fraud of 2009, which were conveyed to international human-rights organisations through film, photos and written documents leading to the expulsion of eight holders of high office in Mahmud Ahmadinezhad’s judicial and executive bodies, and also my difficulties with a clique of corrupt judges in