Ramin Seyed-Emami has issued a statement about the death of his father, Kavous Seyed-Emami, and what his family experienced while trying to find out more about the circumstances of his death. While at the coroner's office near Tehran, he was given access to video footage of his father before his death, but he insists that “nothing is conclusive.”
“We have a right to know why my father was arrested and the circumstances that led to his passing,” Ramin Seyed-Emami, a rapper who is known by his stage name King Raam, wrote on his blog. “We will use every legal channel at our disposal towards an independent investigation.”
Authorities arrested Kavous Seyed-Emami, a professor, sociologist and environmental campaigner with dual Iranian-Canadian citizenship, at the end of January, along with several other environmental activists, most of them with links to the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. On February 9, the family was informed that he had committed suicide. The next day, Tehran’s prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi officially announced the death, and confirmed that other environmental activists had been arrested on charges of espionage.
On his blog, Ramin Seyed-Emami gives his account of going to the coroner’s office, and of viewing video footage of his father in his cell before his alleged suicide. “I won’t speak of the pain of seeing this video, but I will say that nothing in it is conclusive. The actual death is not recorded. All I could see is that my dad is nervous and restless. He is not himself.” His father is seen leaving the room where the camera is. “Seven hours later, a body is carried out of that room,” he writes.
The family’s legal counsel, who Seyed-Emami refers to as Mr Keykhosravi and Mr Derafshan, accompanied him and his brother to the coroner’s office in Kahrizak, south of Tehran. They were not, however, allowed to see the body, or the cell where Kavous Seyed-Emami was held. Authorities said if the family wanted lawyers to have access to the autopsy report when it was released, it had to appeal to a special court for permission.
Coroner officials told Seyed-Emami that an autopsy would automatically take place since the death occurred while his father was in custody, but that the report would take four to six weeks at the very least.
Ramin Seyed-Emami describes how his mother found out about her husband’s death. “On Friday 9th of February, [the court] summoned my mother purportedly to ‘meet with her husband.’ Instead, they had interrogated and threatened her for three hours before announcing the death.” He adds that authorities then asked her to sign a document and threatened her that if she spoke to the media, she would be put in prison.
He added that authorities had threatened the family in a similar way during his father’s incarceration.
In the statement, Ramin Seyed-Emami thanked those who had offered support to the family following the death of his father, including friends, politicians, lawyers and people trying to “shine a light on the ambiguities of this case.”