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Rights Groups Call for Independent Autopsy of Iranian Doctor Who Treated Tortured Prisoners

by on November 25, 2009

Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran sent a letter to Iranian authorities on November 25 to ask for a full, transparent and independent investigation into the suspicious death of Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani, a physician who had examined prisoners wounded and killed during the 2009 Iranian election protests. Dr. Pourandarjani, 26, reportedly died of a heart attack in his sleep at police headquarters in Tehran on November 10.The letter states:
We strongly urge that this investigation be thorough, impartial and independent and we also urge you to ensure that internationally respected forensic experts be invited to assist in such investigations. We respectfully draw to your notice that experienced forensic specialists from Physicians for Human Rights, would be willing to assist in the investigation.
Dr Pourandarjani graduated with distinction from the University of Tabriz and was doing his two-year national service at the Kahrizak detention center in Tehran during the June 2009 protests.Many protestors were held in Kahrizak where they were allegedly tortured and ill treated. At least three detainees reportedly died of their injuries, including Mohsen Ruholamini, the son of a senior conservative politician. Following his death, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered the closure of Karhizak. Although Iranian authorities have promised to investigate the ill treatment of detainees at Kahrizak, no prosecutions have yet been announced.The Washington Post reported on November 18:
A parliamentary committee plans to issue a report soon on the Kahrizak prison, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said. The makeshift detention center was closed in July on the orders of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, because of substandard conditions.The prison became the focus of a rare investigation into police conduct after the death of Mohsen Rouholamini, the son of a former senior Health Ministry official. Authorities said he and two others died of meningitis, but Rouholamini's father said his son was tortured to death.Former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, a Shiite cleric, publicly accused security forces in August of having tortured and raped detainees in Kahrizak, an allegation that government officials denied. In a raid on Karroubi's office in September, security forces confiscated witness reports, names and addresses.
Dr. Pourandarjani had reportedly examined Mr. Ruholamini two days before he died. The doctor reportedly stated to Iranian MPs: “He was brought to me after being physically and severely tortured. He was in a grave physical condition and I had limited medical supplies, but I did my best to save him. It was then that I was threatened by the authorities of Kahrizak that if I disclose the cause of death and injuries of the detainees, I will cease to live.”Defending colleagues at risk is at the core of PHR's work. Physicians for Human Rights was founded in 1986 after Dr. Jonathan Fine and a group of US physicians visited Chile to advocate for the release of imprisoned health professionals. Since then, PHR has rigorously defended health professional colleagues and pressured governments for their release, supplementing secondary material with firsthand research and investigation.

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