Weekly report on Human Rights Violation in Iran 14 August 2016

 

Weekly report on Human Rights Violation in Iran

14 August 2016

International Condemnation of Violation of Human Rights in Iran

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

International Religious Freedom Report for 2015

In Iran, the government executed at least 20 individuals on charges of moharebeh, translatable as “enmity towards god,” among them a number of Sunni Kurds. A number of other prisoners, including several Sunni preachers, remained in custody awaiting a government decision to implement their death sentences. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center database of prisoners, at least 380 religious practitioners remained imprisoned at the end of the year for their membership in, or activities on behalf of, a minority religious group, including approximately 250 Sunnis, 82 Baha’is, 26 Christian converts, 16 non-Sunni Sufis, Yarsanis, three Sunni converts, and two Zoroastrians. According to representatives of the Baha’i community, the government continued to prohibit the Baha’is from officially assembling or maintaining administrative institutions, actively closed such institutions, harassed Baha’is, and disregarded their property rights. Christians, particularly evangelicals and converts, continued to experience disproportionate levels of arrests and high levels of harassment and surveillance, according to reports from exiled Christians.

 

Iran – Execution of Shahram Amiri (August 7, 2016)

http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/iran/events/article/iran-execution-of-shahram-amiri-07-08-16

France condemns the execution of Shahram Amiri, which the Iranian authorities announced on August 7. We repeat our unwavering opposition to the death penalty everywhere and in all circumstances.

Juvenile Execution

Saving Iran’s Children From Death Row

Scores of Youths Likely Face Execution in Iran

August 9, 2016 10:12AM EDT Dispatches https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/09/saving-irans-children-death-row

 

The mass execution of 20 people in Iran’s Rajai Shahr prison was not the only grim news from that country this past week.

On August 1, Alireza Tajiki, who was sentenced to death at age 15 following a

trial that fell short of international standards, was saved from execution thanks to the last-minute efforts of his family and his lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh. Unfortunately, the postponement is only temporary.

Shadows of an Iranian policeman and a noose are seen on the ground before an execution in Pakdasht, south of Tehran, March 2005.

Alireza, now 19, was convicted of rape and murder and set to be executed August 3.

Amin Tajiki, Alireza’s brother, told Human Rights Watch that their family had requested a retrial based on new evidence, but the court rejected their attempts.

Scores of children are believed to be on death row in Iran, despite denials by the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani. Amnesty International has identified the names and locations of 49 such children, and the UN believes the number could be as high as 160. The majority of children on death row in Iran were convicted of murder in trials that fell far short of international standards. In many cases, they reported torture and mistreatment in detention.

On July 18, Amnesty International reported that Iranian authorities hanged Hassan Afshar, who was arrested at 17 and convicted of “forced male to male anal intercourse” (lavat-e be onf). He had no access to a lawyer.

As a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on Rights of the Child, Iran is obliged to end child executions. The country has taken some small, positive steps. Since 2013, judges may use their discretion to not sentence a child offender to death if they do not understand the nature of the crime. Judges may now seek the opinion of the government’s Forensic Medical Department to assess the child’s mental state. Also, all children sentenced to death under Iran’s old penal code are eligible to be retried under the new one, passed in 2013, although they have to file for a retrial.

But, not only do these narrow reforms fail to meet Iran’s obligation to end all executions of children, but in practice, they are negated by ongoing abuses. Iranian authorities frequently deny children in pretrial detention access to a lawyer. Many children spend up to a decade on death row based primarily on confessions made under credible allegations of torture.

Now the Iranian judiciary should save all child offenders from the cruel fate of execution by granting them retrials in accordance with international human rights law standards. Child offenders like Alireza should never have been on death row in the first place.

 

Execution

Iran: Mass Execution on Terrorism Charges

Secrecy Raises Fair Trial Concerns August 8, 2016 8:01AM EDT

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/08/iran-mass-execution-terrorism-charges

 

Mohammad Abdollahi’s Family Is Not Allowed to Receive His Body

Posted on: 9th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/mohammad-abdollahis-family-allowed-receive-body

HRANA News Agency – When Mohammad Abdollahi’s

family went to Uremia Prison to receive his corpse, the authorities confirmed the execution but refused to deliver the body. They were told that they were not allowed to hold a funeral in any mosque and they would not receive the corpse.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News

Agency in Iran (HRANA), the authorities of Uremia Central Prison confirmed the execution of Mohammad Abdollahi, refused to deliver his body to his family and prohibited them from holding funeral in a mosque.

“The head of the prison told Mohammad’s family that they had sent the body to Imam Khomeini hospital. They were told in the hospital that they needed a permission in order to receive the body. When they went to the court, they were sent to an irrelevant branch where they were told that Mohammad was executed, they would not receive the body and they could only hold a private funeral at home and not in a mosque.”

Mohammad Abdollahi, political prisoner in Uremia Prison and at least 5 other prisoners who had been transferred to solitary confinements were executed this morning.

Kamran Pouraft from Piranshahr, Tohid Pourmehdi from Uremia, Jahangir Razavizade from Uremia, Jabrail Kanaani from Uremia and a prisoner with unknown identity are the 5 others who were executed on drug-related charges.

These prisoners met their families for the last time last evening.

Mohammad Abdollahi’s lawyer, Mostafa Ahmadian had stated in an interview with HRANA: “There are many things which are wrong with this case. My client was never treated legally and fairly. He has never taken up guns.”

“I can give some examples of injustice in the case. My client was acquitted of the charge of Muharebeh. The attorney general and the prosecutor closed the case. The case was definitely closed and the judge of the revolutionary court had no right to open it again. He could not order the prosecution to reopen the case but he did it and the case was reopened.” He explained about the illegal procedures in his client’s case.

 

Mr. Ahmadian continued: “We asked for a retrial and the case was sent to the very branch which had issued the sentence whereas legally it should have been sent to another branch.”

“The sentence had to be stopped until the end of retrial. I ask the authorities to stop the execution so that we can move on with the retrial.” He said in the end.

Mohammad Abdollahi, political prisoner in Uremia Prison and at least 6 other prisoners have been transferred to solitary confinements to be executed.

Some hours ago their met their families for the last time.

Mohammad Abdollahi had been on hunger strike for 32 days in protest at the “unjust” verdict and the way of handling his case since May 29, 2016 and accepted to end his strike after the authorities had promised him to agree with his retrial.

During his hunger strike, Mohammad Abdollahi had written a letter to the Head of Judiciary and Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur of United Nations on the human rights situation in Iran. He demanded a fair trial for himself in this letter. The full text of the letter was published by HRANA.

Mohammad Abdollahi, 35, married and former resident of the city of Bokan was sentenced to death on charge of Muharebeh through membership in one of Kurdish opposition parties by branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Mahabad.

His death sentence was officially notified to him by the executive branch of Mahabad prison after being upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014.

Mohammad Amin Abdollahi, Mohammad Abdollahi’s brother is also a political prisoner in Birjand prison who went back to the prison on Sunday and after a short furlough.

Further Information about Executions in Central Prison of Uremia

Posted on: 9th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/information-executions-central-prison-uremia

 

Two Prisoners Hanged at Rajai Shahr Prison and Two Prisoners Hanged in Public

http://iranhr.net/en/articles/2612/

Two prisoners were hanged at Rajai Shahr Prison on Wednesday August 10, while another two prisoners were hanged in public in two different Iranian cities on Tuesday August 11.

Iran Human Rights (AUG 11 2016): On Thursday August 11, two prisoners were hanged in public, one in the city of Ravansar (Kermanshah province, western Iran) and one in the city of Kazeroon (Fars province, southcentral Iran). On Wednesday August 10, at least two prisoners were reportedly executed at Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison (west of Tehran) on murder charges.

On Monday August 8, Iran Human Rights had reported on the transfer of at least four prisoners at Rajai Shahr Prison to solitary confinement in preparation for their executions. The execution sentences of two of these prisoners were reportedly carried out on Wednesday. Sources say the names of the two prisoners are: Fariborz Jalali and Gholamreza Arabderazi. The execution sentences of the two other two prisoners, identified as Shokr Ali Ahi and Majid Shirafkan, were stopped by the complainants on their case files.

The state-run news site Jame Jam reports on the public execution of the prisoner in Kermanshah. The prisoner, who is not udentified in the report, was reportedly hanged for the murder of Salim Ghanbari, former prosecutor of Ravansar.

”The people of Ravansar had organized an online campaign calling for a boycott of this public execution to urge citizens not to attend. This is why not many people attended,” a confirmed source tells Iran Human Rights.

The state-run news agency Mehr reports on the public execution of the prisoner in Fars. According to the report, the prisoner, identified as Abbas Tahmasebi, had previous murder convictions in his case file, but he was arrested and sentenced to death for ”purchasing and selling of 100 grams

 

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry Tries to Hide Evidence of Massacre of

Thousands of Political Prisoners in 1988

August 12, 2016 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/08/ahmad-montazeri/

Recording of Ayatollah Montazeri’s Plea to Stop the Executions is Taken Off Website

An audio file of Grand Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri—the once successor to Iran’s first supreme leader—bitterly criticizing the Islamic Republic’s mass execution of political prisoners in 1988 and arguing for an end to the killings, has been removed

from his official website upon “request” from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.

“They contacted us from the Intelligence Ministry’s branch in Qom and said in their view the audio file should be removed. They didn’t make threats. It was a friendly request and we removed it,” said the late ayatollah’s son, Ahmad Montazeri, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Asked why he complied, Montazeri said, “We’re talking about a request from the Intelligence Ministry of the Islamic Republic. We did it out of respect for [President] Hassan Rouhani and his government. Of course, their request was unreasonable because the file had already been downloaded and spread, so it doesn’t make a difference to us. But since they asked, we took it off the site.”

In the audio file, Montazeri, who at the time was heir apparent to the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, admonishes members of a four-man special judicial tribunal for what he described as “the greatest crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He directly tells the tribunal, later called the “Death Committee” by the victims’ families, that he did not wish for Khomeini to be judged by history as a “bloodthirsty, cruel and brazen figure” for executing political prisoners en masse.

In July and August 1988, prisoners sympathetic to opposition groups, namely the Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK), as well as communist organizations, were executed and buried in mass graves in Khavaran Cemetery in southwest Tehran.

Iran has never revealed the official number of victims, but opposition and human rights groups have said that an estimated 4,000-5,000 executions were carried out at the time based on a secret order by Khomeini for the tribunal to re-prosecute the prisoners who had not received death sentences.

Montazeri’s official website published an announcement on August 9 stating that the audio file was made available because “the public has the right to know.”

It said the audio file was an unedited recording of a meeting in August 15, 1988 between

Montazeri and Judge Hosseinali Nayeri, Tehran Prosecutor Morteza Eshraghi, Deputy

 

Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raeesi and the Intelligence Ministry’s representative in Evin Prison Mostafa Pourmohammadi.

Pourmohammadi is currently the Justice Minister in Rouhani’s cabinet. Raeesi is now head of Astan Qods Razavi, a religious and industrial conglomerate in Mashhad, and has been mentioned in establishment circles as a possible successor to Iran’s current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

Montazeri, who died in December 2009, was touted as the future supreme leader soon after the Islamic Republic was established in 1979. But Khomeini dismissed him after their differences arose over the mass executions.

Montazeri’s strong opposition to the killings was well known based on his published memoirs. But the audio file of his comments to the tribunal had never before been made public on such a wide scale through the Internet.

In one part of the recording, Montazeri says: “None of my cousins are [MEK] members so I’m not worried for my own family members in prison. And I’m no friend of this group either. I’ve been harmed by them, inside and outside prison, more than anyone else. They martyred my own son (Mohammad Montazeri in 1981). They have martyred many of our great people. But what’s important for me is Islam’s and the revolution’s reputation and the future of our country as well as the person of Mr. Khomeini and how history will judge.”

“I don’t want Mr. Khomeini to be judged and called a bloodthirsty, cruel and brazen figure 50 years from now,” he said. “I believe this is the greatest crime committed in the Islamic Republic since the [1979] revolution and history will condemn us for it. This action has been carried out by you, good and pious figures in the judicial administration. History will write you down as criminals.”

“Unfortunately, the problem is that our Judiciary is headed by someone [Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili] who’s against these [executions] … but he doesn’t have the guts to go to the imam [Khomeini] and tell him that this situation is harmful and against our interests,” said Montazeri in the recording.

For nearly two decades the victims’ families and human rights groups have called on the Islamic Republic to lift the veil of secrecy and investigate the mass executions. However, senior Iranian officials have consistently refused to provide details.

An opponent of political violence was once set to lead Iran. One last quarrel changed it all.

By Brian Murphy August 12

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/08/12/an-opponent-of-political-violence-was-once-set-to-lead-iran-one-last-quarrel-changed-it-all/?postshare=3331471029013305&tid=ss_tw-bottom

In 1988, nearly a decade after Iran’s Islamic revolution, the country’s leader-in-waiting faced a decision.

He could stay silent as Iran stepped up a campaign of mass executions, torture and gulag-style imprisonment against perceived internal opponents. Or he could follow his conscience and speak out.

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri chose to take a stand.

It came at a high cost. Montazeri was dumped as the hand-picked successor to the revolution’s leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He would be declared a foe of the state and placed under house arrest for six years.

The executions and purges of the late 1980s in Iran are well known and have been examined in books and reports by rights

groups such as Amnesty International. Less clear, however, is what transpired at the highest reaches of power during a pivotal period for Iran and, by extension, for the wider region and Tehran’s relations with the West.

An audio file that surfaced this week — posted on a website maintained by supporters of Montazeri, who died in 2009 — purports to offer a new glimpse into his last, desperate attempt to limit the killings and roundups.

[Opinion: What else is Iran hiding?]

Its importance derives mostly from historical conjecture. Had Montazeri been elevated to power, Iran could have taken a very different course.

Montazeri was an unwavering critic of the ambitious reach of Iran’s theocratic state. In broad terms, he felt the spirit of the revolution was betrayed as Khomeini and other clerics consolidated control after the Western-backed shah was ousted in 1979. The clerics, Montazeri believed, should stay on the sidelines as advisers and guides to the nation, while elected officials and hired-on-merit technocrats took the helm.

The break with Khomeini was sealed by Montazeri’s opposition to secret political trials and summary executions carried out in the name of protecting the revolution.

It came to a head in the final months of the country’s 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Worn down by conflict and nearly bankrupt, Iran lashed back hard at those it deemed domestic enemies. They included Western-leaning students, ethnic minorities and opposition factions including the Mujahideen-e Khalq, or MEK, which had launched a failed guerrilla offensive.

A full accounting of what’s called the ”death commission” created by Khomeini has yet to be carried out. But thousands died — by hanging or firing squad or in places such as Tehran’s Evin prison. According to an Amnesty report in 1990, “Thousands of people were executed between 1987 and 1990 including more than 2,000 political prisoners between July 1988 and January 1989.” The MEK and other groups place the overall death toll much higher.

“In my opinion, the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you,” Montazeri is recorded as saying on the July

1988 tape to a group of senior judicial and intelligence figures, including a domestic spymaster, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who now serves as justice minister in the government of President Hassan Rouhani.

“Beware of 50 years from now, when people will pass judgment on the leader [Khomeini] and will say he was a bloodthirsty, brutal and murderous leader. … I do not want history to remember him like that,” added Montazeri, who was one of Khomeini’s most trusted allies for decades before they parted ways.

[Iran’s parliament moved toward secular politics, but clerics still hold all the power]

A translation of the 40-minute recording was provided by an opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has offices in Washington and other cities. Similar translations were made by various outlets, including the BBC’s Persian Service.

The authenticity of the recording could not be independently verified. Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, a moderate cleric, said Iranian intelligence officials ordered him Wednesday to remove the audio from the website, news reports said.

Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran opposition group, urged international prosecutors to use the tape as further evidence that can be used to press charges for the political slayings of the late 1980s. She noted that some of the officials who helped carry out the purges — such as Pourmohammadi and the others who met with Montazeri — “have, from the beginning of this regime to the present day, held posts at the highest levels of the judicial, political and intelligence apparatuses.”

Khomeini died in June 1989, less than a year after the claimed date of the recording, and was succeeded by a lower-ranking cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some detractors say Khamenei was selected as a low-risk leader who would not challenge the powers of the theocracy or its powerful backers such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“Killing is the wrong way to resist against a thought, an idea,” Montazeri said in the 1988 meeting, referring to those opposing the Iranian leadership at the time. “They have one thought, one idea. Responding to a process, a logic — even a faulty logic — with killing will solve nothing. It will make it worse.”

“We will not be in power forever,” he continued. “In the future, history will judge us.”

[The age-old tensions between Iran’s clerics and chess]

Montazeri was placed under house arrest from 1997 until early 2003, leaving him effectively silenced during most of the term of reform-minded President Mohammad Khatami. But Montazeri had one more run left.

He lived long enough to witness — and encourage — the Green Movement protests after the disputed reelection to the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009. Later that year, Montazeri issued a public apology for his participation in the 444-day hostage standoff at the U.S. Embassy that ended in 1981.

Montazeri died in December 2009 as Iranian authorities gained the upper hand in the post-election chaos. At his funeral in Qom, the center of Shiite religious study in Iran, tens of thousands of mourners streamed through the streets. Some pumped their fists in defiant chants against Khamenei and his security forces.

Iran’s state-controlled media also got in one last shot. Reports of Montazeri’s death ignored his central role in the Islamic revolution, referring to him dismissively as the ”rioters’ cleric.”

Eye Witnesses Explain Sunni Prisoners’ Mass-Execution in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: 13th August, 2016

https://hra-news.org/en/eye-witnesses-explain-sunni-prisoners-mass-execution-rajai-shahr-prison

HRANA News Agency – On Monday, August 1, 2016, 36 death row Sunni prisoners were transferred to solitary confinements while being handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded under tight security measures by unprecedented onslaught of black guards of Rajai Shahr prison. One day later at least 20 of them were executed. Over time, further details of the events of “Black Monday” are being reported from eye witnesses from Rajai Shahr prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), based on additional information obtained from multiple firsthand sources, at 5:30 PM on Monday, August 1, one hundred Special Forces stopped all breaks, at the same time all vacations of prison staff were completely canceled and the prison became at their disposal on the orders of Special Forces Intelligence (or IRGC Intelligence). All the prison staff were summoned to prison. Heads of the wards who finish their job by 3:00 PM on usual days, returned to work on the order of the warden.

It should be noted, the first abnormal signs of these days were that Kurdish Sunni prisoners had never used frozen poultry or meat in prison or in some cases in the store. They believed that “the animals were slaughtered incorrectly.” They would just eat the meat which was slaughtered by them themselves. Prison officials had refused for months to buy an alive sheep. But on Monday, Mr. Mardani became well-mannered and “miraculously” had agreed to buy two alive sheep after months of waiting and allowed them to slaughter their sheep in the prison kitchen. The prisoners during transporting the sheep to the hall promised to the prisoners in other halls to send them some of that meat till the same night.

Close to a hundred Special Forces and high-ranking prison officials lined up in front of hall number 12. The down door of the hall opened and the guards with guns, electric batons, tear gas and special clothing with helmets and masks attacked the hall number 10 where 37 Sunni prisoners used to live.

At 5:30 PM, officers with “cap hats” brought down Sunni prisoners one by one, shackled and handcuffed in the back. They shut their mouths with adhesive tape and drag bags over their heads, and took them to the solitary confinement of ward 5 of the prison.

The transfer of 37 prisoners of hall 10 with the violence lasted about an hour and then on the orders of head of the prison they welded the gate of this empty hall.

All calls and prison phone lines had been cut; jamming devices had been activated to prevent from connecting mobile phones of prisoners and the prison was on alert. Several coffins were brought into the prison by a pickup. Top model cars carrying several high-ranking officials with escort motorcycles came to prison.

Every Monday, Rajai Shahr prison witnesses a lot of death row prisoners being taken to solitary confinements, as for all were commonplace and a routine. But this Monday was actually very different. The shadow of death and execution was everywhere.

The slogans of “Allaho Akbar “ and “La Ilaha Illalah” were heard in ward eight at 8:00 PM and these slogans lasted up to an hour and a half. Sounds of loud sirens were heard frequently in IRGC ward.

The horrific situation lasted up until the following day and coupled with the execution of at least 20 of these prisoners on Tuesday. The families who had been told to go to the prison for the last visit were told on their way to prison to go to Kahrizak forensic to receive the bodies of executed prisoners.

On Tuesday evening, at 5:30 PM, three political prisoners from hall 12, Afshin Baymani, Saleh Kohandel and Mohammad Ali Mansouri who are associated with the MEK were summoned to “the eight”. But prisoners in hall 12 were worried due to horrific atmosphere at the same time.

By querying the reason for the summons by other prisoners, officials told Mr. Mozare was responsible for it and wanted to see them and it was not an important issue.

But a large number of special agents were waiting for Afshin Baymani in front of the meeting hall and transferred him to solitary confinement of ward five.

Then pressures to transfer Saleh Kohandel and Mohammad Ali Mansouri grew. In front of Hall 12 was full of Special Forces and the two prisoners were transferred with violence to solitary confinements in ward five.

Shift Officer, Mr. Sahragard announced the order of head of ward 8, Mr. Najmi as the reason of this decision.

When the three prisoners got into ward 5, one of the officers told them: “Are you also Sunni? Are you offender like those who were executed last night?” The prisoners responded: “we are political prisoners from Hall 12.” The officer replied, “What is the difference? Everyone who comes here is to be executed. Last night 25 of your friends were executed. They also brought another person for execution, but I do not know what happened to him.”

However, the three prisoners returned to the ward on August 7. No clear explanation was given to them.

When the three prisoners returned to the ward, one of the officers told them: “You are very lucky that you were not executed.” In response to the surprise of prisoners who told him that they had not been sentenced to death, went on “It’s like a mobile phone that is always available, a judge was with the Special Forces, they will do whatever they want. Anybody who is brought here, is to be executed. You are very lucky that you were not executed.”

 

It should be noted that after more than a week since the execution of at least 20 Sunni prisoners, their names and the details of their cases are not known completely yet.

2 Prisoners Executed in Qazvin

Posted on: 13th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/2-prisoners-executed-qazvin

HRANA News Agency – Two prisoners were hanged in Qazvin Central Prison on Wednesday, August 3.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), two prisoners with unknown identities and charges were hanged in Qazvin Central Prison.

This should be noted that the execution of these two prisoners has not been announced by the official media

yet.

Prisoners of Conscience

3 Political Prisoners Returned from Solitary Confinements

Posted on: 11th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/3-political-prisoners-returned-solitary-confinements

HRANA News Agency – Saleh Kohandel, Pirooz Mansouri and Afshin Baymani are three political prisoners who had been violently transferred to solitary confinements of the IRGC, came back to the ward after 5 days. The wave of executions in Rajai Shahr had rosen serious concerns about the fate of these prisoners.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News

Agency (HRANA), Saleh Kohandel, Pirooz Mansouri and

Afshin Baymani returned to the general ward from

IRGC’s solitary confinements.

A close source to these prisoners told HRANA’s reporter: “When these prisoners asked about the reason of this transfer, prison authorities responded that it was the order of intelligence service. They did not give more information”.

Need to be mentioned that on August 2, Saleh Kohandel, Pirooz Mansouri and Afshin Baymani, three political prisoners, were transferred to solitary confinements.

No Information about Ayatollah Nakounam after Being Transferred to Hospital

Posted on: 11th August, 2016

https://hra-news.org/en/information-ayatollah-nakounam-transferred-hospital

 

HRANA News Agency – There is no information about the status of Ayatollah Nekounam, imprisoned cleric, since his transfer to the hospital. Ayatollah Nekounam was transferred to a hospital outside the Saheli prison in Qom by the order of special clergy court on Monday August 1.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), there is no information about the status of Ayatollah Nekounam since his transfer to a hospital

outside of prison.

A close source to this critic clergy told HRANA’s reporter, “follow up of his students had no result yet and there is no information about his status.”

Ayatollah Nekounam was transferred to a hospital outside of Saheli prison of Qom, on Monday August 1.

Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nekonam, Shiite Marja and dissident cleric, was held in Qom prison with a sentence of 5 years imprisonment. After about 18 months imprisonment on June 23, he was transferred from prison to his home, but after a short time he was arrested at his home, on July 7, and again was transferred to Saheli prison in Qom.

In the previous reports it had not been clear if he was out of prison for furlough or on parole.In such a short time of freedom, security forces were monitoring the commuting to the house of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nekonam and imposed illegal restrictions on his ties and calls, although he was not in the prison.

It should be noted that, HRANA had published the relevant documents about this Shia Cleric, his medical condition and his case, in a detailed report.

Farhad Salmanpour Zaheer Returned to Evin Prison

Posted on: 11th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/farhad-salmanpour-zaheer-returned-evin-prison

HRANA News Agency – Farhad Salmanpour Zaheer, political prisoner in ward 8 of Evin prison, returned to the prison after a 13-day leave. In addition to 26 years imprisonment, he has been sentenced to 20 years in exile and social exclusion.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Farhad Salmanpour Zaheer, political prisoner in ward eight of Evin Prison, who had been sent to furlough on the bail of thirty billion IRR,

returned to prison after 13 days.

Farhad Salmanpour Zaheer was arrested in December 2009 and in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Salvati, was sentence to 26 years and 4 months imprisonment and was sentenced to 20 years in exile in the city of Shirvan.

 

Mr. Salmanpour was sentenced to 26 years imprisonment on charges of “acting against national security, disclosure of confidential documents related to the IRGC, propaganda against the regime and insulting the leadership” and exile to city of Shirvan after 20 years imprisonment, denial of the right to join the revolutionary institutions like the Basij and permanent dismissal from governmental service”.

Mr. Salmanpour’s sentence could be reduced to 12 years imprisonment and 2 years of exile by applying Article 134.

Also in the primary court’s sentence, Mr. Salmanpour had been deprived of furlough during his prison terms which was diagnosed illegal in later stages of the court proceedings and was removed.

Mr Salmanpour was sent to furlough on a bail of 30 billion IRR on July 17 for 10 days which was extended for other three days.

Iranian political prisoner Arzhang Davoodi on Day 28 of hunger strike

Saturday, 13 August 2016 09:52

http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/20888-iranian-political-prisoner-arzhang-davoodi-on-day-28-of-hunger-strike

NCRI – Iranian political prisoner Arzhang

Davoodi is on Day 28 of a hunger strike in Iran’s notorious Gohardasht (Rajai-Shahr) Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran.

His is reported to be a frail condition.

On July 17, Mr. Davoodi went on hunger strike and stopped taking his medications in Gohardasht Prison in protest to the deplorable situation of fellow inmates.

Having announced his hunger strike, Arzhang Davoodi wrote a statement about the inhumane conditions of the prisoners and the widespread corruption by the regime: ”I will not stop my hunger strike unless the prisoners’ condition improves. The prisoners’ condition must come under the spotlight by the international human rights bodies. The special rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council must insist on being allowed to visit the prisons in Iran and to inquire about the abnormal and inhuman conditions. The mullahs’ fabrications and accusations, the lawsuits and the spread of corruption, addiction and other serious issues such as incurable illnesses must be revealed.”

He addresses Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, and all lovers of human rights in all international forums:

”After years of imprisonment and illegal charges made by the mullahs, with this action I just want to raise the consciences of all human beings to the inhuman conditions of the prisoners. The brutal prison guards in different prisons such as Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) have made the prisons as a cemetery and slaughterhouse for our youths by importing goods and contrabands, including drugs. These drugs are the main sources of income for them in the prison system

and I am ashamed to express the consequences of such crimes and the circumstances that now prevail on the prisoners.”

Arzhang Davoudi added at the end of his statement: ”from Sunday July 17, 2016 I will go on medication strike and hunger strike so that the world devotes attention to the current situation. I anticipate that I will be threatened and transferred to solitary confinement by the head of the prison, Mohammad Mardani.”

Mr. Davoodi was arrested in 2003 and held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods during which he was tortured and denied access to a lawyer and his family.

He was sentenced, in March 2005, to 25 years’ imprisonment, reduced to 10 years on appeal, on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “establishing and directing an organization opposed to the government” for his peaceful activities, including directing a cultural education center, according to Amnesty International. In May 2014, he was sentenced to an additional two years’ imprisonment, on the charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader.”

Arzhang Davoodi was also sentenced to death for his political opinions and peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

He is believed to have been accused of having ties with the opposition People’s Mojahedin, or PMOI (MEK), merely because in prison he insisted on calling the PMOI by its official name, Mojahedin, rather than by the term used by the Iranian authorities, Monafeghin (hypocrites), according to a 2014 urgent action appeal by Amnesty International.

Women’s Rights

Iran: Women’s rights activists treated as ‘enemies of the state’ in renewed crackdown

10 August 2016, 19:15 UTC

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/08/iran-womens-rights-activists-treated-as-enemies-of-the-state-in-renewed-crackdown/

Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women’s rights activists in the country in the first half of this year, carrying out a series of harsh interrogations and increasingly likening any collective

initiative relating to women’s rights to criminal activity, Amnesty International said today. The organization’s research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women’s rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran’s February 2016 parliamentary election.

“It is utterly shameful that the Iranian authorities are treating peaceful activists who seek women’s equal participation in decision-making bodies as enemies of the state. Speaking up for women’s equality is not a crime. We are calling for an immediate end to this heightened harassment and intimidation, which is yet another blow for women’s rights in Iran,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

 

“Rather than addressing Iran’s disturbing record on women’s rights the Iranian authorities have once again opted for repression, accusing women’s rights activists of collusion in western-orchestrated plots in a bid to maintain their discriminatory practices towards women.”

The women summoned for interrogation were given no reason for the summonses they received, but once inside the interrogation room they were bombarded with accusations of espionage and collusion with “foreign-based currents seeking the overthrow of the Islamic Republic system”. Amnesty International understands that the Revolutionary Guards subjected the women to verbal abuse, including gender-related slurs. The activists were not allowed to be accompanied by their lawyers during the interrogations, which lasted in some cases up to eight hours.

Amnesty International understands that the interrogations focused, in particular, on two local initiatives: a website called “Feminist School”, which posts reports and articles on issues related to feminist theories and practices and the state of women’s rights in Iran and globally; and the Campaign to Change the Masculine Face of Parliament, launched ahead of the February 2016 parliamentary elections in Iran to push for the increased presence of pro-women’s rights candidates in parliament.

Members of both initiatives have been pressured to close or suspend their activities and practice heightened self-censorship. In its final statement, the Campaign to Change the Masculine Face of Parliament explained how its achievements in terms of generating a five-fold increase in the number of women seeking candidacy, highlighting the demands of women for equality, and naming and shaming candidates with a history of making sexist remarks, have attracted the wrath of security bodies, leading to repeated summons, threats, prolonged interrogations, and the opening of new national security-related cases against the campaign’s active members. The Feminist School website has not been updated since the middle of February 2016.

The latest target of this intensified crackdown is the renowned women’s rights magazine Zanan-e Emrooz (Today’s Women) which announced it was suspending its activities on 26 July.

“The Iranian authorities should be under no illusion that harassing women’s rights activists by carrying out interrogations and forcing them to close their publications silently will go unnoticed. They should be supporting women’s rights activists, not persecuting them,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

The renewed assault on those working on women’s rights has been manifested most extremely by the arbitrary arrest and detention, since 6 June, of Dr Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian national and prominent anthropology professor renowned for her decades of academic work on women’s issues. Except for one brief meeting with her lawyer, Dr Homa Hoodfar has been held largely incommunicado since her arrest and is currently held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

She had worked with WLUM (Women Living Under Muslim Laws), an international feminist network whose stated aim is to strengthen women’s struggles for equality and their rights in Muslim contexts.

 

Anti-Pollution Initiative Stymied by Ban on Women Riding Bicycles in Public

August 8, 2016 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/08/women-riding-bicycle-campaign/

Women’s rights activists and environmentalists joined forces in the city of Marivan, in Iran’s Kurdistan Province, after a local anti-pollution initiative encouraging people to ride bikes or walk instead of using their cars ran aground when security agents objected to women riding bicycles in public.

“The security forces and powerful people, such as the Friday prayer leader, have turned something as simple as cycling and environmental concerns into controversial issues,” Kaveh Ghoreishi, a reporter specializing in Kurdish affairs, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “They are treating citizens like criminals for cycling and arresting them. That’s why the people formed a group on Telegram [messaging service] and protested to the local governor and city council.”

“Despite all the threats, many women showed up at this Tuesday’s bike ride [on August 2, 2016 at Lake Zaribar] and protested by walking with their bikes alongside male bikers,” he added.

On June 13, 2016 Souran Hosseini, chairman of the Marivan City Council’s Cultural Committee, said residents should walk or ride bicycles instead of driving cars to reduce pollution. He also announced the formation of the “Lake Bike Riders” group to encourage cycling trips to nearby Lake Zaribar every Tuesday.

However, on Tuesday, July 26, security agents stopped and detained a number of women cyclers in the city. The women were released the same day after providing written pledges to not ride bicycles anymore.

“It is a sin for women to ride bicycles in public, and the officials, including the sports authority, should provide suitable covered areas for women [to ride bicycles],” said

Marivan’s Friday prayer leader Mamousta Mostafa Shirzadi in his sermon on July 29.

A group of concerned residents protested the ban by creating a public page on the popular messaging application Telegram. The page gathered some 1,400 signatures between July 31 to August 3 in support of women’s cycling before the owners shut it down.

In a letter addressed to local officials posted on the Telegram page, supporters of women cyclists said: “While in Tehran, the vice president for women’s affairs is fighting for gender equality. In Marivan, women are unlawfully banned from riding bicycles.”

Located 1.9 miles west of Marivan, Lake Zaribar (also known as Zrebar or Zerivar) is listed as an Environmental Heritage Site by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Foundation and is a major regional attraction. In recent years a sharp drop in the lake’s water level and a number of forest fires in the surrounding hills have worried environmentalists.

The city council’s initiative to organize “Car-Less Tuesdays” by encouraging bike rides to the lake was seen as an opportunity not only to reduce automobile pollution, but also to raise awareness about the lake. But with the ban on women cyclers, matters have taken a different turn.

Environmentalists Meet Women’s Rights Activists

The residents of Marivan have a distinguished record in promoting environmental issues. The Chya Green Society in particular has been one of the most successful environmental groups in the country. Established in Marivan in 2002, Chya has been recognized by Iran’s Environmental Protection Organization as one of the best groups of its kind in the country.

“We have been active in the environmental field for many years,” a Marivan activist, who asked for anonymity, told the Campaign. “We want people to be sensitive to the environment around them. Women are an important part of any environmental action because of their strong, nurturing role. Our work is not political, but when part of the political establishment tries to prevent people from taking positive action to protect the environment, naturally we will react and protest.”

The Chya Green Society, along with other local civil society groups, namely the Rownan Society, the Ghahjin Cultural and Artistic Group, the Marivan Cultural and Literary Group and the Ney Cultural and Literary Group, signed a joint letter supporting women cyclers.

“As representatives of cultural, social and environmental groups in Marivan, we support the right of all members of the public, women as well as men, to ride bicycles. We consider this a worthy athletic, cultural and social activity aimed at expanding communal sports. We also express our opposition to the actions by the police and security forces in banning women cyclers and arresting them and confiscating their bikes. We want there to be a more cultured and considered attitude towards these kinds of activities,” said the letter.

The letter also called on people, members of Parliament, and other officials to show more support for Marivan’s Car-Less Tuesdays initiative. Already, the city of Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province, has agreed to repeat the initiative.

Revolutionary Roadblocks

After the 1979 Iranian revolution, women were banned from participating in many sports under the banner of Sharia (Islamic) Law. In the first half of the 1980s, women’s sports went unmentioned by the country’s mass media outlets.

For many years after that, the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) television station touched on the topic only by airing brief reports about women’s sports— always without any images. The Islamic Republic’s ruling elite claimed they were concerned about women’s appearances and activities in public, and strictly enforced compliance with the compulsory hijab law.

Female athletes’ outfits became a particularly sensitive issue, so much so that Iranian authorities still prevent the country’s female athletes from participating in some international sports competitions.

The emergence of social media has provided Iranians with an opportunity to express their frustration with official policies towards women and sports; the campaign in support of women cyclers in Marivan is the latest example.

Many political and cultural obstacles nevertheless remain. Several senior Shia theologians in the holy city of Qom have issued religious decrees forbidding women from riding bicycles. Yet there is no legislation or mention against the activity in Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code.

“It is not forbidden for a girl to ride a bike in the courtyard inside her home, even for ten hours,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, the ultra-conservative Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad in a sermon on June 10, 2011. “But if this girl rides her bike in the alley, her dress and movements will corrupt society.”

Despite these roadblocks, women have been able to make some achievements in athletics. This year nine women succeeded in joining Iran’s Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro.

On April 16, 2016, a cycling track was built exclusively for women in the southeastern city of Yazd, despite opposition from security agencies and religious factions. Some of the more moderate figures in the Islamic Republic have meanwhile publicly spoken in favor of women’s sports, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council.

“Some backward elements think sports oppose women’s nature. This is inconsistent with Islamic thought,” said Rafsanjani in a speech on August 1, 2016.

President Hassan Rouhani has also spoken in favor of women’s participation in sports. “All officials should work together to provide the necessary grounds for our women, girls and sisters to participate in sports in a secure and healthy environment,” he said in a speech on March 15, 2016.

A Report about Nazila Hamidov’s Situation in Evin Prison

Posted on: 11th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/report-nazila-hamidovs-situation-evin-prison

HRANA News Agency – Nazila Hamidov, Iranian-

Azerbaijani citizen, who was arrested in January on charge of “espionage”, is currently being held in the women’s ward of Evin prison. This Christian convert is under temporary custody.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News

Agency in Iran (HRANA), Nazila Hamidov, Azerbaijani-Iranian citizen who had gone to Iran in January 2016 to attend the Iran, Turkmenistan,Tajikistan conference, was arrested in Tehran.

It is said that, Ms. Hamidov was held in solitary confinement for a month, in Evin prison and was subjected to abuse.

A close source to this prisoner by announcing this news told HRANA’s reporter: “Nazila Hamidov was arrested three months before the Newrooz celebration. The conference was held in Rudaki Hall in Tehran, and she was invited by the Embassy of Turkmenistan. Nazila’s family did not know that she was arrested, and were looking for her in hospitals and morgues. After a month of solitary confinement, her family was able to visit her. Nazila had been beaten so that a large number of stitches had torn her forehead. Her nose was broken.”

The informed source added: “She has been accused of spying, and it is not clear whether Nazila is under pressure also for being a Christian convert or not.”

This Iranian-Azerbaijani citizen is currently held in the women’s ward of Evin prison.

Freedom of Expression

Iranian journalist Issa Saharkhiz sentenced to three years in jail

https://cpj.org/2016/08/iranian-journalist-issa-saharkhiz-sentenced-to-thr.php

 

New York, August 10, 2016–A revolutionary court in

Tehran sentenced the prominent Iranian journalist Issa

Saharkhiz to three years in jail on August 8 for ”insulting

the Supreme Leader” and ”propagating against the state,” according to his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, and news reports.

Saharkhiz has 20 days to appeal, Tabatabaei told The Associated Press. The journalist, who contributed to the opposition news website Rooz Online, was sentenced to two years in prison on the insult charge, and one year for the propaganda charge, reports said. Saharkhiz, who has been in custody since November, faces further charges of insulting the head of the judiciary and insulting the former Iranian president.

Authorities have not publicly stated what activity led to the journalist’s arrest. His son Mehdi Saharkhiz told CPJ earlier this year that he believes his father was arrested because of his pre-election reporting and analysis.

In March, Mehdi Saharkhiz told CPJ that his father was on kidney and blood pressure medication, and in critical condition while in pretrial detention in Evin prison. He added that the Medical Examiner’s Office had ruled that Saharkhiz should be released on medical grounds. The journalist has been treated in hospital during his incarceration, his lawyer said this week. Tabatabaei said he is still seeking Saharkhiz’s release on medical grounds.

”Iranian authorities should ensure that Issa Saharkhiz receives robust medical attention and should not contest his appeal,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. ”The obscure handling of the legal charges and the poor treatment in prison reinforce our view that the case against Saharkhiz is politically motivated.”

In a change for Iran, a jury will hear the remaining charges that Saharkhiz faces, according to Iranian news reports. In June, the parliament defined a new category of offenses as political crimes which, unlike national security crimes, must be reviewed publicly and by a jury, according to news reports. According to Reuters, one of the law’s articles defines political crimes as actions ”committed to achieve reforms [that] are not intended to target the system.”

Iranian authorities arrested Saharkhiz in an apparent pre-election crackdown on November 2,

2015, the same day that three reformist journalists–Saman Sarfarzaee, Afarin Chitsaz, and Ehsan Mazandarani–were arrested. At the time Tasnim, a news agency closely associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and the conservative Rah-e Dana news website reported that the journalists were members of an ”infiltration network” with links to ”hostile Western countries.”

Saharkhiz, who previously served as deputy minister of culture, was imprisoned from 2009 to 2013 on charges of ”insulting the supreme leader” and ”propagating against the state,” according to CPJ research. Iran is consistently one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, with 19 jailed there at the time of CPJ’s last prison census in December 2015.

2 Activists Arrested in Dil Village of Gachsaran

Posted on: 8th August, 2016

https://hra-news.org/en/2-activists-arrested-dil-village-gachsaran

 

HRANA News Agency – Seyed Mohammad Miri and Ghasem Ghanbari, two political activists from the village of Dil, were arrested by the intelligence services, on July 31.

Hassan Bozorgzadeh, the third activist who was arrested from this village, was released after several hours of interrogation, however he was again summoned and interrogated in the next days.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News

Agency in Iran, Seyed Mohammad Miri (31, oil engineer), Hassan Bozorgzadeh (25, law student) and Ghasem Ghanbari (33, dealer), three activists from the village of Dil of Gachsaran city in Kohkiloyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, were arrested by Intelligence Office on Sunday July 31.

Mr. Hassan Bozorgzadeh was released after several hours of interrogation, but a day later was again summoned and interrogated.

There is still no news about the situation of Seyed Mohammad Miri and his cousin, Ghasem Ghanbari.

It should be mentioned that recently in the village, six political activists were sentenced to imprisonments for their peaceful activities.

4 Musicians Arrested in Tehran

Posted on: 11th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/4-musicians-arrested-tehran

HRANA News Agency – Ali Mobin, Arash Kamyab, Shahab Sharifi and Milad Yazdi, four musicians were arrested in Eastern Tehran, with “insulting manner” by the police, on Saturday July 24. On the other hand their families have no information about them at all.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News

Agency in Iran (HRANA), Ali Mobin, Arash Kamyab, Shahab Sharifi and Milad Yazdi were arrested in Narmak, in Eastern Tehran, by plain clothes agents and were taken to an unknown location.

A close source to these artists by announcing that their arrest was with “violence”, told HRANA’s reporter: “Their audio-visual equipment and musical instruments are also confiscated and by were taken away in vans.”

The source also said: “There is no information available regarding their status and whereabouts, and their families after going to Tehran Security Police did not yield any results.”

It should be noted that there is no news regarding the status of the other 8 people of Tehran who were active in providing music clips and were arrested in Tehran in June.

 

A close source to their families told HRANA’s reporter: “The relatives have expressed their concerns about their fate. Although the General Prosecutor of Tehran and General and Revolutionary Public Prosecutor’s Office, had said that their case was being treated at the office prosecutor of culture and media, but their status remains unclear.”

Over the last years and particularly in recent months, pressures and restrictions on artists and producers of art works in Iran have increased and in addition to cancellation and disturbing a large number of music concerts, even legal ones, a whole range of artists, poets and singers have been summoned, threatened and arrested.

Labor and Guilds’ Rights

Iranian activist speaks out against regime’s mock courts, executions

Saleh Hamid, Al-Arabiya Wednesday, 10 August 2016 http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2016/08/10/Iranian-activist-speaks-out-against-regime-s-mock-courts-executions.html

Prominent Iranian activist, member of the teachers’ union and former political prisoner Hashem Khastar, said that executions in Iran are carried out in mock courts that resemble “dark rooms” amid the absence of minimum of legal standards.

Khastar, who resides in Mashhad in northwestern Iran, and who was imprisoned three times for his political

and civil activities, said human rights’ conditions have deteriorated drastically and called on the civil society to work to stop executions, massacres and daily violations against activists and people from different social categories.

Khastar also condemned Tehran’s interference in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the region’s other countries and said “Arabs and Muslims must know that the Iranian people want to live with them in peace.”

Following are the excerpts from the interview with Al-Arabiya:

Q: Mr. Khastar, as an activist and a member of the teachers’ union who has been arrested several times for your activities, how do you evaluate the human rights situation in Iran?

A: It’s deteriorating a lot. The government in our country does not care about human rights at all. For example, the regime does not allow free elections at the teachers’ union or at non-governmental organizations here in Khorasan and other provinces, although these organizations were established 13 years ago when president Mohammed Khatami was in power. There aren’t even the simplest forms of freedom in Iran and the government does not grant citizens any of their basic rights. You may get arrested and imprisoned for organizing a simple cultural activity.

If you see me free now, it’s because they don’t want to create an uproar like what happened previously when I was detained by the intelligence apparatus. They’ve reached the conclusion that they should release me because keeping me in prison would cause them trouble in the international arena and on the media front. But if they do decide to imprison me again, nothing can stop them from doing so.

Q: The recent mass executions of 25 imprisoned Sunni Kurdish activists coincided with the anniversary of the elimination of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. In your opinion, why did the regime go back to the policy of mass executions?

A: All dictatorships across the world resort to murder and assassination as a means to spread terror and fear so that people do not take to the streets demanding their rights. These governments practice terrorism to silence their citizens and our country is not an exception. The elimination of political prisoners in 1988 was an unprecedented crime in the last 200 years of Iran’s history. It was a horrific massacre that made people wonder and ask what is this hardship that has plagued our country?

I condemn these mass executions which happened against our brothers from the Sunni sect and everyone condemns these executions that happened in mock courts that resemble dark rooms.

Q: Activists and human rights organizations say the intelligence fabricated accusations against these Sunni activists. What do you think of that?

A: I have said several times that the authorities in our country do not respect basic human rights and that Iranian ethnic groups, particularly Kurds, have been greatly persecuted. If certain activities happen in Shiite areas in the country, judicial rulings against the perpetrators are lenient while in Sunni areas, such as Kurdish ones, the rulings are strict and can range from many years in prison and can go as far as execution.

I was imprisoned with 12 Sunni preachers in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad and I witnessed how they were tried and sentenced to between two years and 10 years in prison on flimsy charges. When I got to know them and learnt about their cases, I found out that they haven’t committed any crime to be punished.

Q: Why do authorities focus more on activists from religious minorities and ethnicities when carrying out executions?

A: There is a direct relation between the rise of awareness among ethnic groups in terms of their rights, and the increase in executions against them. Meaning, the more aware these Iranian ethnicities are, the more the regime restrains them because it wants to keep the situation under its control, through imprisonment and executions. This is the truth in Iran.

Q: How influential was your activity as well as other activists’ work in exposing violations against prisoners and others?

Primarily, I think we must work as per our moral duties. We are not asking our friends or the Iranian people to risk their lives but I have several times said that if it hadn’t been for these activities which exposed these violations, the regime would have skinned us and displayed our bodies in schools to set us as an example to others. The work done by human rights activists and political activists makes the government pay a high price for its suppression and so we are trying not to be an easy target for the government.

I have done everything I can to defend those who fight for the sake of freedom, democracy and promotion of human rights in Iran so that the government does not easily crush them. When an activist is detained, we spread this news in media outlets so that the government cannot do whatever it wants against them, like what happened with the Sunni preachers. Silence and not spreading the news about their cases allowed security forces to persecute them, away from the public eye.

Q: How do you see the future of popular protests against poverty, unemployment and corruption and what about the regime’s negligence of people’s problems while being preoccupied with its interference in the countries in the region?

A: Civil activity among Iranians has become very strong. They do not harbor ill will towards others and want to be friends with the people in the region. We condemn our rulers’ interferences in Syria and their support of the Assad regime and we condemn their interferences in Yemen and Iraq.

The civil society in Iran has become strong and it will strengthen democracy. We want to build our country and also want to have ties of brotherhood and friendliness with neighboring countries.

Q: Are international condemnations enough to stop violations and executions in Iran? As a human rights’ activist, what’s your message to the international community?

A: There’s no doubt that condemning these executions is a very good thing but it’s not enough. The world must help the Iranian people. We don’t want to tell the outside world what to do but at the same time, we want the international community to choose the path which does not harm the people of Iran.

The Iranian people have reached a high degree of political awareness and they know the path they should take. They no longer buy the ruling regime’s tricks. They reject all these executions and detentions. For example, people held a massive reception for the families of the two teachers imprisoned on political charges but we did not spread any news about this out of fear the security forces will harass them. However, this courageous move by the people was greatly welcomed inside and outside Iran.

The Iranian people will choose paths that lead them to democracy and freedom at the lowest costs. We call on the world to support the demands of the people and to support them via the means they deem appropriate without any harm befalling the people. This will certainly be in the interest of stability in the region and the world.

The article first appeared in the Arabic-language Al Arabiya website on Aug. 9

Religious Minorities’ Rights

Prison Guard Raids Sunni Prisoners’ Ward in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: 11th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/prison-guard-raids-sunni-prisoners-ward-rajai-shahr-prison

HRANA News Agency – Sunni prisoners of hall 21 in ward 7 of Rajai Shahr prison have gone on hunger strike to protest against the execution of at least 20 Sunni prisoners. In a tense atmosphere in this prison, the prison guards attacked the prisoners and beat them, destructed and seized their property, and threatened them with further executions. Prison officials kept them handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded for nearly 7 hours in the sun and the heat in the prison yard.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), after the execution of at least 20 Sunni prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison, prisoners in hall 21 of ward 7 who are charged with the similar allegations but have not been sentenced to death, went on hunger strike.

On Thursday afternoon prison guards in the company of security forces raided the ward of these prisoners, and after beating them, handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded them and transferred them to the yard.

The security forces then began to search the ward and exercised deliberate and extensive destruction of their property, and even parts of the walls of the ward were demolished by security forces under the pretext of inspection.

Security forces kept them handcuffed and shackled in warm and sunny weather from 1 pm until around 7 pm, and while insulting and beating some of them, threatened them with imminent execution.

After security forces’ inspections, they isolated specifically Foad Rezazadeh and Marivan Karkuki and beat them more than the others.

It is to say that, these prisoners’ hunger strike still continues.

5 Survivors of Sunni Prisoners’ Executions Returned to the Ward

Posted on: 13th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/5-survivals-sunni-prisoners-executions-returned-ward

HRANA News Agency – Five of at least 36 Sunni prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj who had been transferred to solitary confinements on this prison’s Black Monday, were taken back to Hall 7. According to Tehran prosecutor who had claimed that 20 prisoners had been executed, the number of prisoners who had not been executed must be more than this, but still there is no news about the rest of them.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists

News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Farshid Naseri, Barzan Nasraollahzade, Seyed Jamal Seyed Mousavi, Farzad Shahnazari, and Teymoor Naderzadeh, five Sunni prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison, were taken back to Hall 7 of the Revolutionary Guards in Rajai Shahr prison 7 days after the Black Monday.

On Monday, August 1, at least 36 death row Sunni prisoners in Hall 10 of Rajai Shahr prison, were taken to solitary confinement in handcuffs, shackles and blindfolded under strict security measures and at least 20 of them were executed.

Despite revealing the identity of five of these prisoners who were not hanged, yet there is no information about the fate and identity of the other possible survivals.

Properties of Executed Sunni Prisoners Treated as “War Booty”

Posted on: 13th August, 2016 https://hra-news.org/en/properties-executed-sunni-prisoners-treated-war-booty

HRANA News Agency – The head of Rajai Shahr prison has allowed criminal prisoners to “loot” the personal properties of executed Sunni prisoners. In response to several survivals’ protests, the prison officials said “These are the remnants of those executed as ‘war booty’ and we are free to decide about them.” However, according to the law, the belongings of the executed prisoners, belong to their heirs.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), the head of ward 4 of Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj had opened the entrance door of Hall 10 (former hall of Sunni prisoners) where had been sealed by welding after the prisoners had been transferred for execution, and allowed the criminal prisoners to enter and loot the stuff of the executed prisoners.

Recently, five former prisoners of this hall who had been spared for execution, after a week of solitary confinement in the ward of the Revolutionary Guards returned to the ward. When the prisoners went to their previous ward to collect their belongings and their executed friends’ belongings [to return to their families], they realized the looting by ordinary prisoners with the permission of the head of the ward.

It is reported when these prisoners asked the reason for such intentional outlawry, Mr. Shojai, head of ward four responded: “These are ‘war booty’ and it is my right to do anything I want”tehran-central-prison-300