August 31, 2023

Javad Rouhi declared dead in prison while awaiting a new sentence

Javad Rouhi, a detainee from the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests, tragically died in prison in Nowshahr, Iran. Majid Kaveh, Rouhi’s lawyer, informed his family of Javad’s death. In spite of claims that he died as a result of a seizure and unsuccessful medical treatment, the circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. There have been several deaths of protesters under arrest in recent months. As per human rights activists, some of these individuals were killed via brutality from prison guards or as a result of torture.

Initially, Rouhi had been sentenced to death for “waging war against God,” “spreading corruption on earth,” and “apostasy,” despite footage from the protests showing Rouhi dancing among the crowd. Previously, Amnesty International reported that he had been subjected to inhumane treatment, including solitary confinement, flogging, and sexual violence. For the first three months of his detention, his family was unaware of his whereabouts.

In addition, according to the Follow-Up Committee, despite a lack of evidence the judge appeared to use Javad Rouhi’s false confessions and the bailiffs’ report to justify putting him to death three times.

After a few days of initial interrogation, Rouhi was transferred to the “Shahid Kazemi Sari” detention center owned by the IRGC intelligence located in Tirkolah prison in Sari. As a result of torture and fear, he became incontinent and unable to speak, resulting in his transfer to solitary confinement.

During Rouhi’s interrogation and torture, he was forced to accept guilt for the crime of burning the Koran, which he initially refused to do. After about a month, his mental health had improved sufficiently for him to play and laugh in his cell. The situation did not last long, and he was once again transferred to solitary confinement, and high-pressure interrogations for admission resumed. However, Javad refused to accept the fact that his detention would continue, stating: “I did nothing, I will be released.”

The only video of Javad Rouhi on the night of 31st of Shahrivar in Nowshahr shows him dancing in the circle of the crowd, happily circling among them. The follow-up committee reported that he left the house that day to fix his mobile phone and joined the crowd in chanting and cheering. Despite the lack of evidence of a burned or intact Quran, the pressure Rouhi was subjected to suggests that such a document was not available to his interrogators or the court.

Rouhi was not represented by an appointed lawyer during his first trial when he was convicted three times to execution.

As a result of Rouhi’s death sentence being overturned by the Supreme Court of Iran, his case should have been reexamined. However, the courts failed to make any further decisions regarding his case, leaving him in limbo.

The attorney for Rouhi, Majid Kaveh, outlined the roller-coaster of Rouhi’s legal process, asserting that Rouhi did not lead the protests but did participate in them. Kaveh noted that multiple convictions contradicted each other and that administrative proceedings were delayed in an unusual manner after the death sentence was overturned.

Rouhi’s death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court two months ago, but he was held in “temporary detention” for 344 days before his death. To facilitate his release, he requested that his detention status be changed, but his request was not granted.

NIAC extends our deepest condolences to Javad Rouhi’s family and friends during this difficult time. NIAC condemns Iran’s authorities for the horrific treatment of Rouhi and many others, including torture, forced confessions and death sentences based on sham proceedings. Iran’s treatment of Rouhi violates the nation’s international human rights obligations including under the United Nations Convention on Civil and Political Rights. We urge the UN fact finding mission on abuses in Iran and Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death in their ongoing inquiries.

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