By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
The family of Sattar Beheshti, a 35-year-old Iranian blogger and Facebook activist who died in police custody after being arrested, says he has been buried in his hometown of Rabat Karim, southwest of the Iranian capital.
Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti with his mother before his death in custody (source: facebook)
Opposition websites have reported that Beheshti was tortured to death while being interrogated.
The French media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders says Beheshti’s family was pressured by authorities to bury his body quickly and ordered under threat not to inform the media.
The Persian Service of the BBC reports that only Beheshti’s brother-in-law was allowed to attend his burial.
No information is available about the condition of Beheshti’s body, which was reportedly washed according to Islamic rituals in Tehran’s Behesht Zahra cemetery before being laid to rest.
Beheshti was arrested at his home on October 30 by Iran’s cyberpolice for what authorities said were “actions against national security on social networks and Facebook.”
Reporters Without Borders said Beheshti was known to the police and had previously been arrested during the 2002 student riots.
His family was informed about his death about a week after his arrest. He was reportedly held at some point in Tehran’s Evin prison, where he was allegedly beaten during interrogations.
A 'Triumph Of Impunity'
An “informed source” who did not want to be named was quoted by the BBC as saying that Beheshti had had been physically tortured in Ward 350 of Evin prison.
“...The wrists of both his hands were badly bruised which demonstrated that he had been [subjected to a form of torture known as chicken.]”
Under this form of torture, said to be used by Iran’s police, the hands of the accused are tied and he is hanged from the ceiling like a chicken.
Reporters Without Borders has urged the Iranian authorities to clarify the exact circumstances of Beheshti’s death.
“The Tehran government is an egregious example of the triumph of impunity,” the press freedom organization said. “Up to now, no one responsible for the deaths in detention of any journalists or netizens has been brought to justice.”
Amnesty International had also called for an investigation into the circumstances that led to the blogger’s death in detention.
In recent years, several detainees in Iran have died in custody under unclear circumstances.
The opposition Kalame website, which first reported Beheshti’s arrest and death in custody, has published a scanned version of an official handwritten complaint letter it says was written by Beheshti while in prison.
In the letter, which is addressed to the head of Ward 350 in Evin prison, Beheshti wrote that he had been beaten and insulted by his interrogator. He said that any confession by him would have been made under duress. He also wrote that two prisoners had seen the signs of the beating on his body.
So far, Iranian officials have remained silent about the case.
Mansour Haghighatpoush, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security Committee, has said that Beheshti’s case doesn’t warrant an investigation by his panel.
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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