Iranian university student, Ali Younesi of Sharif University was arbitrarily detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on 10 April 2020. As of July 2020, he has yet to be released and reports state that he has contracted the coronavirus in prison.
After almost a month of secrecy, and following student protests at Sharif University, the Iranian regime's judiciary finally stated on 5th May that Ali Younesi, and a fellow colleague Amir Hossain Moradi, were detained. Amir Hossein Moradi disappeared on April 10, and Ali Younesi was brought home in the evening of the same day by authorities linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, with injuries and torture marks. He was later detained and held at Iran's notorious Evin prison.
Ali Younesi, who is only 20 years old, has achieved many awards in his line of study. Ali won the gold medal of the 12thI nternational Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, held in China in 2018. Earlier, he had won the silver and gold medals of the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2016 and 2017.
On 25th April 2020, Ali Younesi's sister, Aida Younesi, released a twitter video stating that IRGC had approached and beaten Ali before his arrest. She said: “In which part of the law does it say that IRGC officers can beat up a 20 year old student on the streets, leaving him bloody, with no reason”. Aida continued: “If you do this to him on the streets, what are you doing to him behind closed doors in Prison?”.
Aida stated that her brother has been under severe interrogation for over two weeks. An
official said that Ali would be free on Tuesday 28th April 2020, however, this did not occur and now it appears that the Iranian government is going to charge Ali with a false accusation that may result in Ali being imprisoned for life or executed.
Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said that these two students were arrested due to contact with the Iranian opposition group PMOI, People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran, and were “attempting to carry out sabotage operations” - although they have yet to provide any evidence for this allegation. On 11th May 2020, the U.S State Department stated that these charges are bogus.
Ali's brother, recently stated that Ali has contracted coronavirus in his 56 days of solitary confinement. Ali has now been transferred to a small cell in Evin Prison's general ward, but is seriously ill. He has been denied adequate medical treatment and a lawyer, whilst the Iranian authorities contemplate trumped up charges to detain him further. In Evin Prison, inmates with symptoms of COVID-19 and tested positive are still sharing cells with healthy prisoners, and many lives are in danger. The Iranian authorities have been reckless in tackling this problem and this a direct crime against humanity.
Many members of parliament, personalities, as well as international associations and bodies have called on the Iranian regime to release Amir Moradi and Ali Younesi. They include Nobel laureates, a group of members of the European Parliament, Amnesty International, parliamentary committees in the UK, Italy, Australia, Canada and Belgium, the Human Rights Federation of Italy, the Hands off Cain NGO from Italy, the Committee of Muslims in France, Irish MPs, the International Committee in Search of Justice representing 4,000 MPs in Europe and the U.S., the committee of MPs from Romania, MPs and dignitaries from Arab countries, and the Committee of French Mayors.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Human Rights Council, as well as the international human rights organizations, must take urgent action to secure the release of these detainees and to send international missions to visit the regime’s prisons and meet with these prisoners.