“(T)he reason for his death,” says Hamid, “has not been announced but he was in very bad psychological condition.”
Considering torture and other types of mistreatment are par for the course for free speech prisoners in Iranian prisons, Omid’s death may well have been a direct result of Iranian government actions. Considering the government usually places bloggers in prison with the most dangerous criminals, his death may only have been an indirect result. Either way, the men of the government of Iran and its prisons have a lot to answer for.
In the meantime, for what it’s worth, our heartfelt condolences go out to Omid’s family. They’ve killed one of us.
Iranian blogger dies in prison
Omid Mir Sayafi was an Iranian blogger who has died in prison in Iran after being jailed for insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Omid Mir Sayafi was about 25-years-old and had been imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Iran for insulting both the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In February 2009, he was sentenced to 30 months in jail for the insults and on Thursday, February 19, 2009, it was reported that he had committed suicide in the prison.
Sayafi’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, is pressing for an autopsy and inquiry into the cause of death.
Sayafi was initially arrested and imprisoned in April 2008. He was released on bail, but re-arrested and has been in prison every since that time. He was just sentenced last month.
Other bloggers have been arrested for similar crimes. One blogger was arrested for questioning Khomeini’s ties to Hezbollah. This is all part of Iran’s crackdown on bloggers and internet users that the islamic state deems to be hostile to Iranian authorities and islamic values.
Some of the others who have been arrested and imprisoned include Hoder Derashkhan, a Canbadian-Iranian journalist and blogger detained in Iran last November. Mr Derashkhan’s family is said to have had no news of him since his arrest.
I am a sensitive person
An Iranian blogger, Omidreza Mirsayafi, has died in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. His sister told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that the death of her 28-year-old brother came under suspicious circumstances.
The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was "deeply shocked" by the news and called for an investigation into the details of the tragedy.
According to RSF, Mirsayafi's lawyer, Mohamed Ali Dadkhah, was told of his client's death by a doctor, Hesem Firozi, who is himself in prison.
Mirsayafi mostly blogged about traditional Persian music and culture, not politics.
He had been summoned to Tehran's Revolutionary Court for interrogation on February 7.
At the end of the questioning, he was placed in detention.
"The death of this young blogger is entirely due to a failure to provide assistance," Firozi said.
He said Mirsayafi had been despondent at the refusal of prison authorities to allow him to leave prison.
"I am worried," Mirsayafi told RSF in a recent e-mail. "The problem is not my sentence of two years in prison. But I am a sensitive person. I will not have the energy to live in prison. I want everything to be like it was before. I want to resume my normal life and continue my studies."
Mirsayafi was first arrested in April 2008. He was released after 41 days in custody on payment of bail of some 72,000 euros.
He was tried in November under articles of Iran's Criminal Code dealing with insults against the country's leaders.
"I am a cultural and not a political blogger," he told RSF after his conviction. "Of all the articles I have posted online, only two or three were satirical. I did not mean to insult anyone."
Call to prosecute officials after Iranian blogger dies in prison
- The Guardian, Friday 20 March 2009
An Iranian blogger convicted of insulting the country's religious leaders has died in jail after taking a drug overdose.
Omidreza Mirsayafi, 29, died in Tehran's notorious Evin prison on Wednesday, just over a month after a judge gave him a two-and-a-half year sentence for posting comments on his blog about figures including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini .
Human rights campaigners called for prison officials to be prosecuted after Mirsayafi took extra doses of tranquilisers prescribed by prison doctors. He was suffering from depression and had previously attempted to commit suicide, according to a fellow inmate.
His death followed that of Amir Hossein Heshmatsaran, founder of an Iranian opposition group called the National Unity Front, who died on 6 March while serving an eight-year sentence. Heshmatsaran's family alleged that he had died because of negligence, after suffering a stroke.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said the deaths illustrated contempt for political detainees' health.
"Iranian leaders have relegated the administration of the prison system to a group of incompetent and cruel officials who are showing their utter disregard for human life," said Hadi Ghaemi, the campaign's spokesman. "If the authorities do not move quickly to hold negligent officials responsible, they are reinforcing impunity and the lack of accountability."
Mirsayafi was convicted of insulting religious leaders and of making propaganda against the Islamic system. He was awaiting a further trial on charges of insulting "sacred Islamic values". The offences were allegedly committed on his blog, Rouznegar, which focused mainly on music and cultural issues.
Mirsayafi denied the postings were insulting and said they were only intended to be read by friends. Before being convicted, he told associates he would die if he was imprisoned.
Details of Mirsayafi's deterioration in prison were given by Hesam Firoozi, an imprisoned doctor who witnessed his treatment. Firoozi, who has treated some of Iran's best-known political activists, told Mirsayafi's lawyer that medical staff had denied him proper care by failing to send him to hospital.
Iran has come under scrutiny before for its treatment of imprisoned activists. Human rights groups voiced outrage in July 2006 when Akbar Mohammadi, incarcerated for leading anti-government student demonstrations, died in Evin prison after going on hunger strike. He had been fasting to protest against the lack of treatment for injuries suffered in captivity.
News of Mirsayfi's death emerged as officials announced the arrest of 27 people they said were involved in pornographic and erotic websites allegedly created by foreign powers aiming to foment a "soft revolution" against the Islamic regime.
An excerpt from a blog post written on art and music by Mirsayafi
Time to support bloggers in Iran
Omid Reza Mirsyafi, was sentenced to two and a half years of prison in December 2008. He was accused of insulting religious leaders, and engaging in propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Over the past 5 years, several bloggers in Iran have faced jail and persecution because of their blogs. Some were detained for a few days while others were condemned to several years.
Simon Columbus, a researcher studying the cases of jailed bloggers around the world (article forthcoming), estimates that the number of Iranian bloggers who have been arrested solely for their blogging activities comes to about 20. He has counted a total of 30 Iranian bloggers who have been jailed for political activity, which may not be directly linked to their blogs.http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/12/18/iran-a-long-and-painful-story-of-jailed-bloggers/