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Iran protests: Jailed activist Sepideh Qolian describes brutality in letter

Headlines 10:48 11 Jan, 2023
One of Iran's most prominent female activists has described how confessions are forced out of prisoners
Iran protests: Jailed activist Sepideh Qolian describes brutality in letter

Sepideh Qolian has been serving a five-year sentence since 2018 after being convicted of acting "against national security" for supporting a strike, reports.

Writing from Evin prison, she describes the brutal treatment of her and other detainees by interrogators.

Their forced confessions are later broadcast on state-run television.

Alluding to the current anti-government protests sweeping the country, Ms Qolian writes: "In the fourth year of my imprisonment I can finally hear the footsteps of liberation from all across Iran. 

"The echoes of 'Woman, Life, Freedom' can be heard even through the thick walls of Evin prison."

Ms Qolian is currently studying law in prison. In her letter she describes how Evin's "cultural" wing - where she takes her exams - has been turned into a "torture and interrogation" building, and says she has witnessed young detainees being interrogated there. 

"The exam room is filled with young boys and girls and the shouts of torturers can be heard," she writes.

Ms Qolian describes a scene she witnessed on 28 December 2022 as she was taken to the wing for her exam. 

"It's freezing cold and snowing, near the exit door of the building, a young boy blindfolded and wearing nothing but a thin grey T-shirt is sat in front of an interrogator. 

"He's shaking and pleading: 'I swear to God I didn't beat anyone.' They want him to confess. As I am passing I shout: 'DO NOT confess,' and 'Death to you tyrants.'" 

So far, at least 519 protesters - including 69 children - have been killed and 19,300 arrested, according to the Human Rights Activists' News Agency (HRANA). Thousands have been imprisoned.