Iranian labor activist Esmail Bakhshi is under pressure by Iran’s security system to take back his statement on being tortured “to the brink of death” while in prison.
Various sources, including the lawyer of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers’ representative, have confirmed that Bakhshi and his family are under pressure.
“After the torture was brought up, pressure against Esmail Bakhshi intensified and there is evidence that suggests that my client is under pressure and that there is a psychological environment against him to deny the torture,” his lawyer Farzaneh Zilani said today in an interview with an Iranian website.
A Telegram channel that belongs to the workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane factory in southern Iran also confirmed the pressure on the Iranian labor activist to deny the torture.
“After Esmail Bakhshi published a letter detailing the torture he was subjected to in which he cited that Ms. Qelian was also beaten, from a few days ago, Esmail Bakhshi and his family are under constant and severe pressure by security forces to deny the letter,” the workers wrote.
Reports indicate that Esmail Bakhshi and his family have not given in to the threats.
On January 6, Esmail Bakhshi addressed Iran’s Intelligence Minister, Mahmoud Alavi, in his Instagram post, demanding to know why he was tortured “to the brink of death”.
“In the 25 days that I was unjustly detained by the Ministry of Intelligence, I went through such immense pain that I’m still suffering and I have turned to neurological drugs to ease the pain,” the Iranian labor activist wrote in his Instagram post.
He also detailed the use psychological torture against himself and a female photographer detained along with the workers for taking pictures of their strike, and called the mental torture worse than the physical torture. He said that he and Sepideh Qelian were attacked with abusive sexual language while being beaten.
Esmail Bakhshi also accused the government of tapping his phone before his arrest and listening in on his private conversations.
Following his Instagram post, Iranians came to his support on Twitter with the hashtag #روایت_شکنجه (torture narrative) detailing the tortures they or others were subjected to in prison during the 39 years of the Islamic Republic.
Iranian officials also stepped in to supposedly inquire about the accusations though anyone familiar with Iran knows that these comments are veiled threats against the labor activist who dared speak out against the government.
In a meeting with judicial officials today, Iran’s Chief Justice addressed the labor activist’s accusations.
According to state-run news agencies, Amoli Larijani ordered that an “independent” team be sent to the region to “review the various dimensions of the issue and present the report to the people as soon as possible.”
“These kinds of issues are very important to us as there have never been such offences in the foundations of the Islamic Republic, the judiciary, security and intelligence agencies,” the cleric said.
“We consider this legally and religiously prohibited,” Larijani said.
Iran’s Chief Justice said that “one interrogator’s alleged misconduct should not be blamed on the whole system.”
Larijani also signaled that Iranians should not spread such rumors as it is “in unison with the enemy”.
The Islamic Republic has been using torture since 1979 against both political activists and ordinary Iranians.
Iranian security forces and police regularly torture ordinary Iranians as a way to force them to make false confessions and tortures political prisoners to break their spirit.
The regime would not be in power if not for its widespread and systematic use of suppression and torture.
According to the Iran Human Rights Monitor, more than 13 protesters were killed under torture in prison while 60 were sentenced to flogging for expressing dissent in 2018.
During the 2009 protests that swept through Iran, protesters were beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested and tortured, and even shot in some cases. Opposition groups also reported thousands more were arrested and tortured in prisons around the country, with former inmates alleging mass rape of men, women and children by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards in prisons such as Kahrizak and Evin.
The Iranian government confirmed the deaths of 36 people during the protests, while unconfirmed reports allege at least 72 deaths in the three months following the election. Sources said that relatives of the deceased were forced to sign documents citing death by heart attack or meningitis in prison.
The daughter of the late powerful cleric Rafsanjani, also recently stated that the regime has evaded its collapse only through “intimidation”.