- UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ahmed Shaheed, State Department, EU, European Parliament
Early in the morning on February 14, 2011, the day of mass pro-democracy protests in Iran, a man climbed atop a crane in Tehran, wearing a green head band, holding a long piece of green cloth and picture of himself. He was arrested and taken to prison. That man is Akbar Amini, who in late 2013 began serving a five-year prison sentence. w
Following is an excerpt of an article on Kaleme by one of Amini’s cell mates telling the story of the man who climbed atop a crane in protest, even after having been arrested and tortured post-election in summer of 2009.
Akbar Amini’s cell mate says Akbar is known as the “Crane” among other prisoners. Even the prison football and volleyball teams that Akbar plays on is called “Crane”.
Akbar Amini, like many other Iranians, went out on the street after the rigged presidential election in June of 2009 to ask “Where Is My Vote”.
Amini says, on June 22, 2009, a young man contacted him at his store, with the pretence of buying number of computers for a government entity. The young man came to the store, talked for a few minutes about buying computers and than left to bring coworkers to buy the computers. Minutes later, the young man came back accompanied by 8 armed men. They arrested Akbar Amini, confiscated his personal computer and took him to Evin 209 (Intelligence section) and put him in solitary confinement cell 102.
Three days later they started interrogating Amini. He was beaten during the interrogations. After 45 days in solitary confinement he was transferred along with 190 other post-election detainees to ward 7 in Evin.
Early on, after their transfer to ward 7, an interrogator named Haydarifar would select a number of detainees for practice sessions for show trials that were going to be held in a few days. They were told what they had to say during the trial.
The trial practice sessions were arranged just like a real trial. During the practice sessions, there were interrogators, prosecutors and a judge in attendance. Even Judge Mortazavi (then Tehran Prosecutor) came in and checked on the practice sessions few times.
Among the detainees there were a few that were transferred in from Kahrizak. Their stories about Kahrizak were horrifying, accounts of rapes by batons, beatings with cable and lashings.
On August 12, 2009 a number of members of Parliament came to ward 7 for inspection. Alaedin Broujerdi from the National Security Commission along with Omidvar Rezaei, Ghodratollah Alikhani and Zohre Elahiyan asked the detainees questions about their condition in prison. They had a crew with them video taping the session.
The MP’s were told of long interrogation sessions, hanging prisoners from their feet for long periods of time, hanging prisoners from their feet half naked at times, throwing prisoners in water tanks and beating prisoners with shock batons which is very painful.
The MP’s got very upset at what they heard, some even cried. They promised the detainees their release and asked them to go to the Parliament after their release so they can help them. Akbar Amini along with many of the 190 detainees were released that very same day.
After release, Akbar and others went to the Parliament but the MP’s refused to see them, they were even confronted by the guards there. They left messages for MP’s Omidvar, Rezaei and Alikhani but received no response from them.
Akbar Amini was upset, felt insulted and thought to himself he will come up with a plan that would make the world listen.
He was inspired by the self emulation of the Tunisian man, thought about doing the same, then decided that would not grab as much attention in Iran considering the situation and limitations placed on the media.
He came up with the idea of climbing a crane. February 14 protest was an ideal day for him to do that.
For many, February 14, 2010 was a resurgence day for the Green Movement. There are many of our youth, women and men that feel their voice is not reaching anyone. They love their country, they are some of the same ones that fought for 8 years against Iraq and now feel they deserve a better life, they are not “Saboteurs”.
Akbar emphasizes on the word “Saboteurs” used by government to describe the protesters and says “The government must listen to us”.
Before the February 14 protest, Akbar made his plans for climbing a crane and picked a location most visible to carry out his plan.
On February 14, he filled a backpack filled with few cans of tuna fish, water, bread and warm clothes. He planned to stay up there for few days.
Early on the morning of February 14, Akbar went to the location he had picked. He took with him his backpack, a large picture of himself, a picture of his 10 year old son, a large flag with a big question mark inscribed in the middle, a 2 meter long green cloth and a green head band.
He was afraid, he was trembling and had second thoughts. He thought he may fall down to his death and did not want the media calling his death a suicide.
He climbed up the crane; it was 6 in the morning and not much traffic yet. The first person that noticed him up there was a traffic policeman. It was 7:20 when a fire truck with sirens on arrived. People were gathering at the bottom of the crane. People were taking pictures of him, cars were honking horns, people were whistling and waving at him.
At that time Akbar Amini had no idea he had become top news on news sites.
Mondays are visitation days for ward 350. That Monday, February 14, the hot news inside ward 350 was this man who had climbed a crane.
Akbar says he knew the news of him on top a crane had spread by the number of people and police that were down there.
The roof of the building closest to the crane was filled with police, guards and Plainclothes. Number of them were video taping the events.
The Plainclothes were threatening they would kill him, some were encouraging him to jump and the police were asking him to climb down.
A police Commander named Mostafanejad asked Akbar to climb down and promised he would listen to his complaints. Akbar said “where were you when they were torturing me?”.
Akbar says he could see police and people clashing on the streets, he could clearly hear chants of “No dictator either with motorcycles or camels” (referring to the then Egypt events).
It was 9 AM and he saw his mother down there crying. A policeman threatened to shoot him down. Akbar immediately tied himself to the crane with a rope he had with him. He thought if they shot him he wanted to dangle from the crane and not fall down.
Eventually police were able to arrest him by reaching up there with a hydraulic crane, and pulled Akbar down. He was being pulled and pushed, kicked and bloodied.
They pulled him to the adjacent roof top, just about every policeman there kicked him and threw insults at him. They took him to an apartment in the same building. On the way they continued kicking and hitting him.
They asked the owner of the apartment to leave and, right then and there, they started interrogating him. Akbar was bloodied, his clothes were torn. They told him to prepare himself for a TV interview. They were trying to broadcast the interview on TV before the planned mass protest in the afternoon.
That same Commander Mostafanejad told Akbar that he has to talk about having been hired by the Sedition Movement, that he has received money to do this. He also told Akbar he has to name a certain foreign country that has paid him money to do this. In his instructions he emphasized numerous times for Akbar to mention having been paid by the U.S. and Israel.
They threatened him with execution if he does not confess to receiving instructions from Monafeghin (MEK/MKO).
During the on camera interview, Akbar did not follow their instructions. He only repeated what he was protesting and said he just wanted others to hear his voice.They transferred him to security police where he was beaten again.
By than many had heard Akbar’s voice. At night time the national news program covered his crane climbing event but said he had mental problems.
That afternoon thousands of people came out to the streets. The Green Movement once again showed it’s power.
Many of the youth that were arrested that day, are in Evin ward 350 and say that Akbar climbing up the crane with a Green cloth was inspiration for them to go out and join the protest that afternoon.
(SOURCE: Kalema; TRANSLATION: Persian Banoo)
UPDATE FROM SEPTEMBER 2013:
Akbar Amini has been transferred to ward 350 after being in solitary confinement in ward 209 for more than 100 days.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Akbar Amini who was arrested on June 7, 2013, was transferred to ward 350 after being in solitary confinement in ward 209 for more than 100 days.
In February, 2014 the authorities of ward 350 of Evin Prison prevented Akbar Amini from being transferred to a hospital outside of prison.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Akbar Amini, the political prisoner of ward 350, was supposed to be sent to the hospital for his jaw and dental problems on Wednesday February 26, however the authorities did not permit him.
An informed source said to HRANA’s reporter: “Momeni, the vice executive of prison, has prevented him from being transferred, because of recent tension inside the ward 350.”
Then came the notorious day, April 17, 2014. when a large group of security officials, including some in plain clothes and wearing masks, assaulted prisoners over a period of several hours after entering Section 350 early on the morning of 17 April. As a result of the assaults, many prisoners sustained injuries, such as fractures, cuts and bruises, some of which were still visible when their relatives gained access to them days later. Those carrying out the assaults included Ministry of Intelligence officials and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who, between them, control some sections of Evin Prison.
Akbar's father told Kaleme, a Persian-language news website, that he found his son wearing a cervical collar and with a cut on his head that had not been stitched. Akbar Amini reportedly told his family that he had received a blow to his head and neck and had lost hearing in his right ear.
SOURCE: HRANA Human Rights News Agency
WHEREAS: Akbar Amini is a prisoner of conscience sentenced to five years solely for his peaceful political activism, and in vindictive retaliation for a brave act calling the world's attention to Iran's human rights situation;
AND WHEREAS: The imprisonment of Akbar Amini is therefore ILLEGAL under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, as well as Article 25 of the Iranian Constitution;
AND WHEREAS: In prison Akbar Amini has fallen victim to torture at the hands of his jailers both by medical neglect and by vicious physical violence;
THEREFORE: We, the undersigned, demand that the international community bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to IMMEDIATELY and UNCONDITIONALLY release Akbar Amini from prison, rescind his prison sentence, drop all charges against him and secure for him all needed medical care.
The Free Akbar Amini, Iranian Prisoner of Conscience, Iranian Hero petition to UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ahmed Shaheed, State Department, EU, European Parliament was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.