Here is the transcript of Hamid Gharagozloo’s presentation at the USCIRF Weekly Roundtable with Gayle Manchin:
Behnam Mahjoubi, the Gonabadi Sufi who endured the most vicious physical and mental tortures over the past two years, was murdered in the infamous Evin prison 11 days ago, and his lifeless body was transferred to a hospital to be kept alive in a vegetative state in order to keep his family and Gonabadi Sufis in a surreal state of hope and despair, in order to prevent a possible protest. In the end, they would not release his body to his family unless his mother would abandon her request for an autopsy. The regime’s prosecutor in charge of the Gonabadi Sufis’ cases in prison has openly expressed his hatred of the Gonabadi Sufis and declared that the rest of the Gonabadi Sufis in prison face the same fate as Behnam Mahjoubi.
Ms. Zahra Esmaili, who had falsely confessed the murder of her husband, a high-ranking IRGC member who had savagely abused her for decades, in order to protect her daughter who in fact had murdered her father while he was violently beating her mother, was murdered a few days ago. She, along with 16 other prisoners was transferred to the special facility to be hanged. The executioners hanged the 16 other prisoners before her eyes and as a result, she suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. Yet, the shameless prison personnel hanged her lifeless body.
Over the past few days, armed IRGC members have shot to death 8 Baluchis in the southeast province of Baluchistan. Their only crime was smuggling fuel to earn a meager living and escape the abject poverty imposed on them by the regime.
Last week, Basij and IRGC agents abducted the Sunni Imam in Birjand, named Mohammad Hassan Pahlevan. As of yet, his family and followers don’t have any information about his health and whereabouts.
Over the past two months, 33 Baluchis were executed, and over 110 Iranian Kurds were arrested and sentenced to prison.
The oppression of Baha’is continues at an unprecedented rate. Summons to appear before the court, baseless charges, prison sentences, etc. have picked up in recent months. What is alarming is the verdicts by the lower court in Mazandaran, affirmed by the upper court and the court of appeals, regarding the right of property ownership for Baha’is. For the first time, the regime’s judiciary has ruled that Baha’is do not have the right to land/property ownership because of their faith. The affirmation of the lower court’s ruling by higher courts is the foundation to make this a national law.
Another alarming development is the addition of articles 499 and 500 to Volume 5 of the regime’s Penal Code, which enables the regime to brand any group as a cult or sect which is illegal and carries harsh penalties. This is particularly disturbing in the case of Gonabadi Sufis and Baha’is.