Free Ali Younesi
Free Ali Younesi
His Excellency António Guterres
Secretary General of the United Nations
New York, NY 10017
Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet Jeria
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Dear Mr. Gutierres and Ms. Bachelet,
University student Ali Younesi, aged 20, has been arbitrarily detained since his arrest on 10 April 2020, and the Iranian authorities have not provided clear information about the reason for his arrest. Instead, they have publicly accused him, and another university student arrested the same day of ties to “counterrevolutionary” groups and alleged “explosive devices” had been found in their homes, violating their right to be presumed innocent and raising serious concerns about their wellbeing. They are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
On the evening of April 10, 2020, Ali Younesi, who was teaching at a high school that day, was taken handcuffed to his home in Tehran by 12 plainclothes security agents. His forehead was split open with a gash and he had blood all over his face and wounds on his body, raising concerns that security agents had tortured him. Security agents searched his family home and took Ali Younesi’s parents away for interrogations for several hours before releasing them. The security officials did not identify themselves and showed neither an arrest nor search warrant.
Since his arrest, Ali Younesi has been permitted two brief telephone calls with his family and has been denied access to a lawyer. His family was informed by a prosecutor that he has been charged with intention for “undertaking destruction” without providing further information. Then, on May 5, 2020, during his weekly press conference, Iran’s judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili, in apparent reference to Ali Younesi and the other arrested university student, stated that two university students had been arrested for being in contact with “counterrevolutionary” groups. He used a pejorative term to refer to one such group – People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group based outside of Iran - apparently based on their families’ past or current association with the PMOI, and failed to provide any evidence for the judiciary’s accusations. In a public video response posted on social media later the same day, Ali Younesi’s sister, Aida Younesi, stated that the judiciary’s accusations were “ridiculous”.
I request that you call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to release immediately and unconditionally Ali Younesi and anyone else arbitrarily detained solely based on their families’ real or perceived ties to opposition groups. Pending this, I request that you call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment, provided urgently with any medical care they may require, and given access to their families and a lawyer of their choosing. I also urge you call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to open an independent investigation into allegations that Ali Younesi had been tortured on the day of his arrest with a view of bringing those responsible to justice in proceedings meeting international standards for fair trial.