Houtan Kian supported Sakineh’s son Sajjad Ghaderzadeh in his efforts to raise international awareness about his mother’s case. The campaign, implemented jointly by the International Committees against Stoning and Execution and Mission Free Iran, and with the support of millions of people worldwide, succeeded in stopping the killing of Ms. Ashtiani, who was to have been executed by stoning in early July 2010 (sadly, due to the excruciating nature of her circumstances, Ms. Ashtiani has recently attempted suicide). The campaign to stop stoning in Iran and free Sakineh Ashtiani raised global awareness of the crimes of stoning and execution in Iran, and created a crisis of legitimacy in the international arena for the Islamic Republic regime.
On October 10, 2010, Houtan Kian, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and two German journalists were arrested by agents of the Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Intelligence in Mr. Kian’s law offices in Tabriz, West Azerbaijan, Iran. Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, who was reported to have been brutally tortured throughout his detention, was eventually released on January 1st, 2011. The two German journalists were released to the German Foreign Ministry in apparently good health on February 20, 2011. But Houtan Kian remains in prison, having been under unspeakable torture for the duration of his detention. The International Committees against Stoning and Execution recently announced that Mr. Kian’s execution is imminent.
Houtan Kian is to be executed for defending the life and freedom of his client, Sakineh Ashtiani.
In an effort to raise awareness about the criminal injustice of Mr. Kian’s impending execution sentence, Mission Free Iran will be publishing a series of articles on Mr. Kian. A petition demanding his release is in circulation, and a letter-writing campaign is available below.
This article details the experience of Houtan Kian since his arrest in October 2010. Based on letters received by the International Committees against Stoning and Execution, it describes what Mr. Kian has endured over the past months. It serves as a testimony to the inhuman brutality of the Islamic Republic, and we hope it also serves to move people around the world to rise and act in defense of Houtan Kian and, by extension, all political prisoners in Iran. Houtan once said that he would stand and defend Sakineh Ashtiani’s innocence unwaveringly, even if it meant that the Islamic Republic would execute him. It has come to that. We should not allow it, and by raising our collective voice once again, we can work against this barbaric injustice and save the life of the unsung hero of the Sakineh Ashtiani case, Houtan Kian.
Mr. Kian’s Practice of Law
Originally a student of dentistry, Javid Houtan Kian began to study law when he was forced to defend himself in revolutionary court against charges stemming from his publication of two books. The first, Collected Socio-political Essays, “dealt with the struggle to counteract superstition and reveal the brutality cloaked in Islam and the true nature of the Islamic Republic.” The second, entitled Solitary Dialogues, was sociological and dealt with “backwardness.”
Houtan Kian was motivated to study law for another reason: his father had been arrested for supporting a political party called the Khalq-e Mosalman (Muslim People) party and was executed by firing squad on 16 August 1980.
From 2001, Houtan began practicing law. An inheritance allowed him to work pro-bono for most of his clients. Most of his cases were political or related to murder, stoning, or execution. He accepted the stoning case of Sakineh Ashtiani in the summer of 2010, and the struggle to stop the execution of Sakineh and secure her release played out across social media networks, in city centers, in the mainstream media, and in various halls of Parliament and other seats of political influence.
The Arrest and Torture of Houtan Kian
Because of his staunch and uncompromising defense of Sakineh Ashtiani’s innocence, and his role in the international campaign for her release, he was arrested. Houtan writes:
“In any case, on 10 October 2010 I was arrested. One evening I was placed in solitary confinement in the secret service building located in Sa’eb Street. The following day, after having been informed… of the charge against me… and after my home and office were sealed by the authorities and my car seized, I was conveyed by plane directly to ward 209 of Evin prison. (Since from that first moment I was bound hand and foot and blindfolded, I didn’t know whether the Germans were also transferred along with me; I should explain that later, after I was transferred to Tabriz prison on 22 January 2011, I realized that they had not been transferred to Tehran).
Since my arrest on 10 October 2010, I was kept in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, until 15 days ago [about mid-February], when I was transferred to Tabriz prison (to the ward designated for the insane and HIV-positive intravenous drug users) where I have been forbidden visitors and communication. I have also been denied visits to a doctor because of the visible signs of torture upon my body.
I was kept in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison, in a new building that is approximately 100 stairs above the cellar level. All the signs of torture remain on my body, and following the orders of the interrogator of branch 4, my written entreaties have been ignored. I have been made to wear nylon underwear, and in the time of my solitary confinement in ward 209, from 11 October to 12 December 2010, I have been burned by approximately 60 cigarettes on my legs, testicles and feet (5 cigarettes there). I am only given one meal a day, in the morning; once it was a small piece of cheese, another time, three dates. I have lost 51 kilos, and twelve of my teeth have been almost completely broken by blows with boots, as has my nose, which bleeds permanently. At midnight, in cold weather, I was soaked with a fire hose and left, with hands and feet bound, in the courtyard until four in the morning, when I was taken to be interrogated. Consequently from 13 December 2010 to 10 January 2011 I was confined to a place resembling a hospital, whose location I still do not know. The marks of intravenous tubes are still visible on my arms and legs. From 12 to 22 January 2011 I was bedridden in the hospital ward of Tabriz prison, and according to the doctors there, it is miraculous that I came back to life.
I am currently in ward 7 [of Tabriz prison], which is designated for the quarantine of the insane and HIV-positive and hepatitis-infected intravenous drug addicts. This contravenes the regulations of the Islamic Republic’s own prison authority. The charges against me are simply that I bravely defended my client and my other clients, and caused the expulsion of four corrupt judges (Sedaqat, Bahush, Juyande and Afarin) from the court establishment.”
The Courage of Houtan Kian
Houtan closes his letter with the following courageous words: “I will abandon courage, love and resistance; I will keep my eyes open. Though there be nothing to see but suffering and regret, I would not pay for my serenity with blindness.”
MISSION FREE IRAN ASKS THAT YOU TAKE URGENT ACTION FOR HOUTAN KIAN AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN IRAN:
Sample Letter and Addresses Appear Below
To Responsible Parties at the United Nations:
I am writing to you, in the wake of over 100 executions already implemented this year by the Islamic Republic, to bring your attention to yet one more person in Iran who is at imminent risk of execution.
His name is Javid Houtan Kian. He is the lawyer who never once backed down from the honorable defense of his client, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, even though he knew that standing firm on his ethical and professional principles would likely lead to his current circumstances: arbitrary and indefinite detention, excruciatingly brutal torture, and an execution sentence that is to be implemented imminently.
It is an outrage that the gross and criminal violations and tortures that Houtan Kian has been subjected to are not unique under the bloody reign of the Islamic Republic.
No less an outrage is the fact that the UN condones the arbitrary detention, barbaric torture, and mass executions of people in Iran by refusing to act substantively against the criminal regime in Iran, i.e., by imposing diplomatic sanctions on the Islamic Republic and expelling this regime from UN organizations.
I hereby demand that the UN immediately cease mouthing empty condemnations of the vast crimes committed by the Islamic Republic. I demand action from the UN to be taken in urgent support of Houtan Kian and all political prisoners in Iran. Houtan Kian, like all political prisoners, is not being detained and tortured for any crime he committed, but for political reasons only. He should be released immediately and without condition.
Send to the UN Secretary General and the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Send copies (cc) to the following:
Selected international bar associations:
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Foreign ministries and selected other government responsibles:
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Media (some may bounce):
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