U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert
U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday, March 6 expressed regret on behalf of the American government at the death of Mohammad Raji, a member of Iran’s Gonabandi Dervish community in a prison in Tehran. Raji, who was arrested a few days earlier for protesting against regime abuses, is believed to have been tortured to death by regime personnel, although the Iranian regime, as always, insists that he died of “natural causes.”
In her statement, Nauert said, “Once again we are saddened to hear that yet another prisoner of conscience has passed away while in custody. We also continue to receive disturbing reports of the Iranian regime’s ongoing forceful crackdown on the Gonabadi Dervish community across the country, in which hundreds have reportedly been arrested and some have been hospitalized. We call on the Iranian regime to respect the rights of its citizens & release all prisoners of conscience who are unjustly imprisoned.
The Dervishes’ official website, Majzooban, reported that after the body of the prominent activist was returned to his family by the regime he was laid to rest in his hometown of Aligudarz in Lorestan province on Monday night. Raji, who was a popular and widely respected member of the religious minority whose followers are brutally persecuted by the regime, was seized by regime officers during clashes in February between Dervishes and police. Majzooban further confirmed that according to those who saw his body prior to burial, he had clearly been severely beaten and subjected to horrific torture during detention.