The Torture of Houtan Kian, Defender of Sakineh Ashtiani: “I Will Keep My Eyes Open” (includes Letter-Writing Action)

Javid Houtan Kian is the lawyer who defended Sakineh Ashtiani as she fought to avoid a stoning execution under the barbaric shari’a laws of the Islamic Republic regime in Iran.

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.”

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.

[your name]

Send to the UN Secretary General and the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights:
inquiries@un.org, sg@un.org, npillay@ohchr.org, urgent-action@ohchr.org

Send copies (cc) to the following:

Selected international bar associations:
iba@int-bar.org, ccbe@ccbe.eu, ethics@barcouncil.org.uk, info@eyba.org, ace@avocatline.com.fr, info@advocatenorde.nl, consiglio@ordineavvocati.roma.it, admin@barobirlik.org.tr, abailo@staff.abanet.org

Foreign ministries and selected other government responsibles:
jerzy.buzek@europarl.europa.eu, michael.spindelegger@bmeia.gv.at, kab.bz@diplobel.fed.be, info@mvp.gov.ba, iprd@mfa.government.bg, imprensa@itamaraty.gov.br, imprensa@planalto.gov.br, pm@pm.gc.ca, ministar@mvpei.hr, minforeign1@mfa.gov.cy, podatelna@mzv.cz, udenrigsministeren@um.dk, vminfo@vm.ee, umi@formin.fi, bernard.kouchner@diplomatie.gouv.fr, inform@mfa.gov.ge, guido.westerwelle@auswaertiges-amt.de, gpapandreou@parliament.gr, titkarsag.konz@kum.hu, external@utn.stjr.is, dcpf@mea.gov.in, minister@dfa.ie, gabinetto@cert.esteri.it, segreteria.frattini@esteri.it, mfa.cha@mfa.gov.lv, tonio.borg@gov.mt, secdep@mfa.md, post@mfa.no, DNZPC.Sekretariat@msz.gov.pl, ministro@mne.gov.pt, senec@mne.gov.pt, pm@pm.gov.pt, msp@mfa.rs, ministry@mid.ru, miguel.moratinos@maec.es, beatriz.lorenzo@maec.es, registrator@foreign.ministry.se, info@eda.admin.ch, info@mfa.gov.tr, haguew@parliament.uk, stewartkb@state.gov, info_leader@leader.ir

US Contact Form

Dutch Contact Form

Media (some may bounce):
evening@cbsnews.com, earlyshow@cbs.com, 60m@cbsnews.com, 48hours@cbsnews.com, ftn@cbsnews.com, dateline@nbcuni.com, hardball@msnbc.com, joe@msnbc.com, nightly@nbc.com, today@nbc.com, newshour@pbs.org, ombudsman@npr.org, city@thestar.ca, letters@latimes.com, letters@nytimes.com, Bruce.Wallace@latimes.com, Mark.McGonigle@latimes.com, news-tips@nytimes.com, foreign@nytimes.com, nytnews@nytimes.com, editor@usatoday.com, wsj.ltrs@wsj.com, letters@washpost.com, ombudsman@washpost.com, letters@newsweek.com, letters@time.com, letters@usnews.com, info@ap.org, redaktion@faz.de, redactie@volkskrant.nl, ole.erik.almlid@aftenposten.no, bjorn.hedensjo@dn.se, redaktion@tages-anzeiger.ch, foreign.news@thetimes.co.uk, simon.jeffery@guardian.co.uk, redazione.tg5@mediaset.it, redazione.studioapertorm@mediaset.it, skytg24.redazione@skytv.it, segreteria_roma@repubblica.it, roma@lastampa.it, esteri@liberazione.it, segreteria@unita.it, lorenzocairoli@hotmail.com, redazione@ilmanifesto.it, nadiapizzuti@gmail.com, nadia.pizzuti@ansa.it


10 thoughts on “The Torture of Houtan Kian, Defender of Sakineh Ashtiani: “I Will Keep My Eyes Open” (includes Letter-Writing Action)

  1. please save the people’s lives in Iran who are defending of human rights especially Javid Houtan Kian is the lawyer who defended Sakineh Ashtiani as she fought to avoid a stoning execution under the barbaric shari’a laws of the Islamic Republic regime in Iran. .
    we condemn torturing and executing of prisoners in everywhere.

    Posted by mina alizadeh | March 2, 2011, 5:19 pm
  2. Here’s a man to look up to. His body can be beaten, but his spirit cannot be defeated!

    Posted by Ham Sangar | March 2, 2011, 11:01 pm
  3. Mission free Iran. I wish you all the luck. Here is a wonderful democratic poem which I found on the net and would like to share with you all.

    Poem: Suppression, I accept not – by Bhuwan Thapaliya

    I came into this world
    not like the river but like a drop of water
    and will soon evaporate

    Though, I am only a drop of water in the majestic ocean of nature
    I yearn to create a vigorous ripple of freedom, in the eternity of the water

    For I am a man of eternal freedom,
    and suppression I accept not …
    I will not accept it

    The living God within me urges me to be free, and to
    march on the road of freedom sans any dread

    My heart, like Einstein, thinks in another dimension
    unknown and unknowable …
    even to my own mind

    And like Goethe, looks at things in a different manner,
    different than those thinkers
    bestowed with pristine minds

    Freedom, the gift of God, is the inherent right
    of every individual
    in this compressed world

    I will fight till the end to free the masses
    from the grip of suppression
    and ignite the lamp of freedom

    I will free the masses or die in the attempt
    but I will never live to see
    the naked dance of repression

    I am not afraid of those suppressors,
    nor am I afraid of the death
    that they are planning for me;
    they can kill me but not freedom forever

    My blood boils whenever I see the strong ones
    pulverising the lean, and my heart cries
    whenever I see the starving pauper
    in the abattoir of the prosperous butcher

    For me
    a red rose is a red rose
    it is not white just because they call it white
    to disguise the ignorant

    They can conquer Everest but not my spirit
    they can stagnate the river
    but not my impetus

    They can take my sight away
    but not my vision of freedom

    They can cut my tongue into pieces
    but not my voice of freedom

    They can stab me with the dagger of despotism
    but not impede the blood of freedom

    I know the road to freedom is blocked with obstacles
    but obstacles cause no despair
    if they are encountered with hope

    We must act now and not merely just look away
    when our freedom
    is threatened from within

    Because it is better to perish without freedom
    than to have a yearn for freedom
    but not the valour to harvest it

    Don’t be a coward …

    Be prepared to receive bullets to your chest
    because, in the struggle of freedom, tolerance
    of suppression is an offence

    Stand up … stand up

    Gather your courage. Come out
    into the field; let’s march hand in
    hand together, right beneath the
    nose of the suppressors, for the
    emancipation of our freedom

    Let us not forget that …

    The ocean is composed of drops
    of water, and all drops possess
    equal potentials, but only, when
    they mix with other drops do
    they form a powerful bond

    So …

    Listen, my oppressed brothers
    listen, my trodden sisters
    listen … listen
    to the natural desire
    of your ceaseless soul

    Do not fear
    trust your soul
    and march ahead
    with a resolute heart
    for the better tomorrow

    And scatter
    the seeds of freedom,
    where does it go?
    it does not matter
    scatter it more with hope

    Welcome the freedom
    welcome it today
    and enjoy it evermore
    but do not use your freedom
    to suppress the people’s soul
    to suppress the people’s soul

    Posted by Trish | March 3, 2011, 4:17 am
  4. The iranian regime will fall soon

    Posted by Waltraud Grassegger | March 3, 2011, 3:35 pm
  5. This inhuman regime must be overthrown and Houtan Kian set free immediately.
    As a Canadian, I deplore the lack of basic human rights for all Iranians.

    Posted by judith dennison | March 4, 2011, 8:49 pm
  6. This is just the most deplorable unbelievably horrible treatment of a human being and it must be prosecuted fully whosoever dares to treat a man this way. Houtan Kian we will perservere no matter how long it takes to find you and release you from where ever you are be it Evin prison or elsewhere. Sakineh Ashtiani is so fortunate to have you represent her interests and the Iranian Regime will pay dearly for this extremely dangerous mistakes and steps they have taken against the will of all the world speaking clearly that this is NOT TOLERABLE. This is sheer rabid hatred lashed against innocent people and are like bloodless individuals trying to suck the blood and life from those whose lives rise above this madness and vitriolic behavior. History will not turn away from leaving any stone unturned to find all the victims of these terrible crimes against humanity that have been committed. Justice will prevail and those guilty for tormenting Sakineh, Sajjad, and Houtan Kian will pay a price to perpertrate this evil upon human beings. There is no excuse or reason other than the abject lack of a soul within the persons carrying out this cruelty, you are hollow individuals who have lost your way and may God know how callous and savage the treatment you gave these innocent people so you will have to face your Judge and Maker one day and answer for this brutality.

    Posted by Lisa | March 8, 2011, 10:20 pm
  7. I’ve sent the e-mail.
    I wanted to say thank you so much for all your efforts in bringing these issues to our attention. You make our job so much easier–a simple copy & paste–and it’s done; and very much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

    Posted by Yasmin (@Yasthetwit) | September 28, 2011, 6:41 pm


  1. Pingback: Mission Free Iran – The Torture of Houtan Kian, Defender of Sakineh Ashtiani: “I Will Keep My Eyes Open” (includes Letter-Writing Action) | windy lookout - March 2, 2011

  2. Pingback: Call to save the life of lawyer Houtan Kian and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani « Denizen of the Deep's Blog - March 3, 2011

  3. Pingback: Interview with Lawyer of Javid Houtan Kian, Courageous Advocate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani [ENG & FA] « Flüchtlingshilfe Iran e.V. 2010 - September 15, 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: