The tragic death of a detained protester has cast a glaring spotlight on the workings of the justice system and security apparatus within the Islamic Republic. The case of Javad Rouhi serves as a stark illustration of the pervasive arbitrariness that saturates this system.
Javad Rouhi was arrested during the early weeks of protests that swept through the mid-sized city of Nowshahr in the province of Mazandaran.
In January, he was sentenced to what was ominously termed a “triple execution”: once for “Spreading Corruption on Earth,” another time for “Aar against God,” and a third time for “Disrespecting the Quran.” Interestingly, all three verdicts were overturned by the Supreme Court of the Islamic Republic as early as May 23rd. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the judgments of the Revolutionary Court of Mazandaran were inconsistent, and evidence was lacking for all three accusations.
The Supreme Court was convinced that, based on the available evidence, he was subject to a maximum of five years’ imprisonment—no more severe penalty. According to the Islamic Republic’s procedural law, he should have been released on bail at the latest since that moment. However, the region’s security forces opted to keep him behind bars, exemplifying the impunity and the invincibility perceived by security authorities.
Now, the city’s prison administration claims he passed away due to a heart attack. A claim that neither the regime’s classical opposition nor the general public believes.
A scenario that appears most credible and likely is that the security forces and the region’s judiciary were so dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s ruling that they sought retribution, not only against Javad but against all protesters in Nowshahr and even the Supreme Court itself.
#جواد_روحی درحال رقص در اعتراضهای نوشهر.. او به سه بار اعدام محکوم شده بود.
وکیلش گفته بود او فقط رقصیده بود و چند شال و روسری در آتش انداخته بود و هر سه حکم اعدام موکلش فاقد ادله اثباتی است.
حالا در زندان نوشهر بدلیل آنچه قوه قضائیه تشنج نامیده جان سپرد.. pic.twitter.com/ZAxZCRMDj4
— Farin Assemi (@FareenAssemi) August 31, 2023
Notably, there is a video of Javad Rouhi at a protest, where he can be seen dancing. He is the sole individual in the video without a mask. Several voices can be heard in the brief video that lasts only a few seconds, urging him, “Put on your mask!” He disregards their plea. Do you remember the opening lines of Shervin’s first revolutionary song? “For dancing on the streets…”