UPDATE 12 October 2013: We have received reports that although the authorities disclosed the location of the fifth prisoner, Arash Sharifi, there is no news on his condition or wellbeing.
Four Sunni political prisoners were removed from their cells yesterday morning and taken to an unknown location. They were being held at Rajai Shahr prison, Karaj, where they were awaiting execution. There has been no news of the four men, Kaveh Sharifi, Shahram Ahmadi, Talib Malaki and Behrooz Shah Nazari, since they were moved.
A worrying sign is that a fifth inmate was also removed from his cell, but was separated from the group of prisoners, with the authorities openly disclosing his location. Arash Sharifi, the fifth prisoner, was reportedly transferred to Kashan Central prison, Isfahan province, Iran. Many are questioning why the authorities have remained silent about the fate of the other four men.
The news comes at a time when there are already serious concerns for the welfare of two other prisoners who have not been heard of since they were taken to an unknown location eleven days ago. Mamousta (sheikh) Kaveh Vaisi and Mokhtar Rahimi were removed from ward 10 of Rajai Shahr prison, Karaj, on Sunday 29th September.
There are reports that Sunni political prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison have begun a hunger strike to protest the disappearances.
There are currently at least 30 Sunni political prisoners facing execution in Iran, all of whom were sentenced to death in Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. The death sentence for all the men was issued by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh, a person named by the European Union in 2011 as being subject to sanctions for human rights violations.
The men all face charges such as 'Moharebeh' (enmity against God/ the state) or 'membership of a Salafi group'. The men have all been tortured, with many of them forced to 'confess' to crimes they have not committed. The men were all allegedly victims of government persecution due to their active propagation of Sunni Islam. In a country where Sunnis face discrimination, being outspoken in spreading Sunni Islam and criticizing the government is dangerous. Many prominent Sunni figures and teachers have already been executed by the Iranian regime.