Weekly report on Human Rights Violation in Iran 19 March 2017

At a Glance

Weekly report on Human Rights Violation in Iran

19 March 2017

International Condemnation of Violation of Human Rights in Iran

Human Rights Council A/HRC/34/40 13 March 2017

Twenty-fourth session

27 February-24 March 2017

Agenda item 2

Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner

for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the

High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran*

Report of the Secretary-General

Summary

The present report is submitted in accordance with General Assembly

resolution 71/204, which requested the Secretary-General to submit an interim

report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session. The report reflects

the patterns and trends in the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran

and provides information on the progress made in the implementation of resolution

71/204, including recommendations to improve implementation. In its resolution,

the General Assembly called upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran

to address the substantive concerns highlighted in the previous reports of the

Secretary-General and to respect fully its human rights obligations, in law and in

practice.

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/204, adopted on 19 December 2016, which requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Assembly at its seventy-second session and an interim report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session. The present interim report, covering the period from July to December 2016 provides information on progress made in the implementation of resolution 71/204, focusing on the concerns identified therein.

2. The report draws upon observations made by the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and various United Nations entities. It also refers to information from official State media and non-governmental organizations.

3. Since the most recent report of the Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly (A/71/374), the application of the death penalty, including in relation to juvenile offenders, has continued at a very high rate. A large number of human rights defenders, in particular women rights activists, journalists have continued to be arrested, detained and prosecuted for the mere and peaceful exercise of their profession or of their legitimate rights to freedoms of expression and association. Members of minority groups have continued to face persistent discrimination and persecution. Women’s rights remain a priority concern, particularly underage marriage, the underrepresentation of women in the labour force and in decision-making positions, and the harassment of women’s rights activists.

4. In December 2016, President Rouhani signed and declared the Citizen Rights Charter, and indicated that upholding citizens’ rights was a policy of his Government1. In his statement, he recognized the obligations of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to provide the conditions for the right to life, human dignity, and justice for all Iranians, including those living outside the country, regardless of ethnicity, religious belief, age and gender. The Secretary-General welcomes the Citizen Rights Charter and looks forward to the adoption of measures for the full realization of the rights it upholds.

5. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continued to engage constructively with the United Nations treaty bodies and will present its first periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities in March 2017. No improvement was however noticed in relation to cooperation with Special Procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who has yet to be allowed to visit the country.

II. Overview of the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

A. Death penalty

Use of the death penalty

6. While noting a decrease in the number of executions carried out in 2016 compared to 2015, the Secretary-General is alarmed at the number of individuals who were executed in Iran and of the death sentences handed down.

7. At least 530 persons, including nine women, are known to have been executed in 2016. According to non-governmental sources, this figure might be much higher.

As in previous years, the majority of these executions were related to drug offences2. According to an official news agency, on 23 November 2016, a Member of Parliament, Mr. Hassan Nourozi, indicated that about 5,000 prisoners aged between 20 and 30 years old, mostly first-time drug offenders, were on death row in Iran3.

8. Most of the cases involving capital punishment which Special procedures mandate holders dealt with over the past years reveal that due process guarantees were often violated in proceedings that fell short of international fair trial standards. United Nations human rights mechanisms have repeatedly and consistently expressed their great concern at this persistent trend and have urged the Government to end executions and institute a moratorium on the death penalty.

9. In his last report4, the Secretary-General’s predecessor indicated that he was encouraged by the increased recognition of the ineffectiveness of the death penalty to deter drug-related offences and the initiative of some parliamentarians to amend the mandatory death penalty for some of these offences. However, in the absence of progress towards adoption of such a bill and of a decision to institute a moratorium, executions of drug offenders continued at a high rate in 2016.

10. While taking note of the decision adopted in November 2016 by the Parliament to speed up the deliberations on the proposed amendments to the penal code, the Secretary-General remains concerned about the support reiterated by certain parts of the judiciary to the continuous enforcement of the death penalty for drug-related offences, and about the numerous arrests of anti-death penalty activists in 2016. In November, Ms. Atena Daemi, an anti-death penalty campaigner, was reportedly brutally taken away from her parents’ home to begin serving a seven-year prison sentence she received in relation to her activities against the death penalty. In its comments on the present report, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran informed that in January 2017, her conviction was reduced to five years in prison and that she now is serving her sentence in Evin prison.

11. Two mass executions were conducted in 2016. On 5 August alone, 20 people belonging to the Kurdish minority were executed for purported terrorism-related offences, although concerns had been expressed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the fairness of their trials. On 27 August, 12 individuals were hanged on drug-related charges. In their cases as well, basic international human rights fair trial standards and due process guarantees were reportedly disregarded5.

12. Capital punishment for drug-related offences does not comply with the “most serious crimes” requirement under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United Nations Human Rights Committee has defined as murder or intentional killing6. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, special procedure mandate holders of the Human Rights Council, and the Secretary-General have repeatedly reminded the Government of Iran that executions for drug-related offences constitute a violation of international law.

13. Several individuals were executed in 2016 after remaining on death row for a lengthy period of time, in some cases for over 15 years. In October, Mr. Nemat Rahmani was reportedly extradited to Iran and executed after serving 15 years of prison in Azerbaijan. In November, two men, Messrs. Shabaan Ranjbar and

Gholamhossein Beigi, were reportedly hanged after having spent 18 and 20 years in Khomain prison (Markazi province) and in Lakan prison (Gilan province), respectively. A juvenile offender, Mr. Amanj Vaisi, who was sentenced to death when he was 15 years old, has reportedly been kept on death row for ten years. The Secretary-General recalls that a prolonged period of time spent on death row causes anxiety and psychological suffering and has therefore been considered to amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

14. The Secretary-General remains alarmed at the dehumanizing, cruel, inhuman and degrading practice of public executions. Despite a 2008 circular banning this practice, the Government continued to justify its use, including for the alleged purpose of deterring drug related offences7. Thirty-three such executions were reportedly conducted in 2016. As in several past instances, children were present as spectators during some of these public executions. In July, the public execution of a prisoner in Sonqor County (Kermanshah province) took place in front of a crowd of people including children. In September, a prisoner was hanged in public at a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz, with at least one child watching the execution. In January 2016, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed serious concern about the impact on children of the continued practice of public executions.

15. The Secretary-General remains concerned about a number of death penalty cases with a political dimension. Several individuals were reportedly executed in political cases and non-violent economic crimes during the second half of 2016, following proceedings that reportedly did not comply with international norms regarding fair trial and due process provided for in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a State party. In August for instance, Mohammad Abdollahi, an alleged Kurdish militant was executed at Darya, Urmia’s central prison. Mr. Abdollahi was charged solely on the basis of an accusation that he was a ”supporter of a Kurdish opposition group“ and was sentenced to death for Moharebeh (enmity against God), although he reportedly never committed any armed or violent acts8. The above-mentioned execution of 20 people belonging to the Kurdish minority could also be considered an execution with a political dimension.

16. In light of these concerns, the Secretary-General reiterates his predecessor’s call on the Iranian authorities to abolish and/or restrict the use of the death penalty in law and practice.

Execution of juvenile offenders

17. International human rights instruments ratified by Iran impose an absolute ban on the execution of persons who were under 18 at the time of their offence, regardless of the circumstances and nature of the crime committed. Nevertheless, sentencing of children to death is still allowed under the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, and no progress was observed to implement the repeated recommendations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures mandate holders and, most recently, the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The minimum of criminal responsibility remains nine lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys, well below juvenile justice standards9.

18. Despite assurances by the Iranian authorities that the judiciary was endeavouring to prevent juvenile executions10, at least five young individuals who were below the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offence were executed in 2016.

Between 80 and 160 individuals convicted as children were reportedly on death row as of December 2016. Some of them, such as Alireza Tajiki, have reportedly spent ten years or more awaiting their execution. According to some non-governmental sources, this figure might be much higher.

19. In May 2016, Mr. Mehdi Rajai was reportedly executed along with 11 other individuals for a homicide he allegedly committed when he was 16 years old. In July, Mr. Hassan Afshar, aged 19 years, was hanged in Arak’s Prison, in Markazi Province, after his conviction in 2015 for allegedly raping another teenager. Hassan Afshar was sentenced to death only two months after his arrest, despite a commitment by the Office of the Head of the Judiciary that his case would be reviewed. He allegedly could not benefit from legal assistance and his family was reportedly not notified about his execution. In his last report, The Secretary-General’s predecessor highlighted that up to 60 per cent of executions were reportedly taking place without any prior announcement and, in many cases, without the family being informed11. Same-sex anal conduct being punished with the death penalty, partners are reportedly often compelled to describe their consensual sexual activity as rape in order to avoid this sentence.

20. Judgments imposing the death penalty on individuals under the age of 18 and the implementation of such judgments are incompatible with Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

21. The Secretary-General recalls that during its first universal periodic review, the Islamic Republic of Iran accepted a recommendation to consider the abolition of juvenile executions. The Secretary-General urges the Government to halt the execution of children in conflict with the law and to undertake a special review of the cases of persons on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18, with a view to commuting or quashing their death sentences altogether.

B. Torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment

22. The Secretary-General remains concerned about the persistent practice of torture and ill-treatment in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The judiciary continues to sentence people, contrary to international human rights standards, to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, such as amputation of limbs, blinding and flogging in accordance with provisions of the Penal Code.

Flogging, blinding and amputation

23. A wide range of acts considered crimes under the Penal Code are punishable by flogging, including the consumption of alcohol and drugs, petty drug dealing, theft, adultery, ”flouting” of public morals, illegitimate relationships, and mixing of the sexes in public. Children can also be sentenced to this type of ill-treatment. The Secretary-General does not share the view of the Government, which argues that “Islamic punishments are effective deterrent penalties and more humane in comparison with long imprisonments”.

24. Between May and December 2016, 35 students who were holding a graduation party near the city of Qazvin, a blogger and writer accused of spreading lies and disturbing public opinion”, a theater actor charged with “improper relations with the opposite sex”, and nine goldmine workers from the company Agh Dare, were reportedly subjected to flogging.

25. On 23 November 2016, Mr. Keywan Karimi, a prominent Kurdish filmmaker, was orally summoned to present himself to receive a flogging sentence of 223

lashes. He was sentenced in October 2015 to six years of imprisonment on the charge of “insulting Islamic sanctities” in connection with a music video clip the authorities found on his hard drive; and to 223 lashes on the charge of “illicit relations falling short of adultery” for “shaking hands” and “being under one roof” with a female friend “who had not covered her head and neck”. In their comments to the present report, the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran indicated that the whipping sentence against Mr. Karimi had been removed from the final verdict.

26. Official Iranian media, including ISNA, reported that in November 2016, in a prison near Tehran, authorities blinded a man from Qorveh (Kurdistan province). Three cases of forced blinding have been reported in 2015. In December 2016, finger amputation sentences for two men detained in Orumieh Prison on charges of robbery were carried out. Seventy other prisoners who were likely convicted of similar charges were allegedly forced to watch the sentence being carried out 12.

27. The Secretary-General recalls that flogging, blinding or amputation sentences violate the absolute prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment contained notably in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Secretary-General encourages the Government to review its position concerning the recommendations it received during Iran’s second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in relation to such practices, and to outlaw them as a matter of priority.

Access to adequate health care to people in detention

28. Since June 2016, an increasing number of cases of denial of medical care attributed to the Prosecutor’s Office or the prison administration have been reported. In many cases, denial, discontinuation and withholding of medication and treatment, as well as denial of release on medical grounds were reported as intentional acts to intimidate, punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them. Between July and December 2016, at least 15 such cases were reported13.

29. In April, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an Opinion on the arbitrary nature of the arrest and detention of Ms. Zeinab Jalalian and requested the authorities to immediately release her14. The Working Group observed that she had been denied transfer to a hospital for urgently needed eye surgery and that the Government had not refuted allegations that she was repeatedly tortured, deprived of adequate medical treatment and forced to receive injections. At the end of 2016, Ms. Jalalian was still in detention and had reportedly not yet received medical care.

30. In July, the Office of the Prosecutor reportedly refused to consider an alternative sentence for Mr. Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a blogger who had been sentenced to thirteen years of imprisonment for writings on his blog, although the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran had declared in a written statement that he was not fit to serve time in prison15.

31. In October, Ms. Akbari Monfared, who was serving a fifteen years prison sentence in relation to her alleged membership in the banned opposition group

known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, or MEK), was reportedly denied medical treatment after publishing a letter demanding justice for her brothers and sisters who were reportedly executed in 1988.

32. Several human rights defenders currently in detention, namely Ms. Narges Mohammadi, Mr. Arash Sadeghi and Mr. Ali Shariati, were also subjected to denial of medical treatment. At the time of writing this report, Mr. Sadeghi and Mr. Shariati were consequently still at risk of death or irreversible damage to their health. Several journalists were also subjected to denial of medical care, including Mr. Issa Sahrkhiz and Mr. Afarin Chitsaz.

33. The Secretary-General observes that depriving prisoners of medical care and putting their life at risk is a well-documented pattern in Iran. He recalls that prisoners’ access to health care is a right enshrined in both international and Iranian law and that depriving a prisoner of medical care often causes severe pain or suffering. When health care is denied as a form of punishment, intimidation or to extract a forced ‘confession’, it constitutes torture. The Secretary-General calls on the authorities to investigate all cases of denial of medical care, to take firm action against perpetrators, and to provide redress and rehabilitation to the victims.

Torture and ill-treatment upon arrest and in detention facilities

34. Other forms of ill-treatment of prisoners, such as the widespread use of solitary confinement and incommunicado detention, and the denial of the right to family visits (including contacts with children), continue to be reported. An analysis of the 33 communications sent by Special Procedures mandate holders to the Government of Iran in 2016 shows that half of the individuals covered by these communications were subjected to solitary confinement.

35. In June 2016, Ms. Narges Mohammadi, a prominent human rights activist who has been campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran and was sentenced to sixteen years of imprisonment in May, went on hunger strike for 20 days to regain access to her children. In December, Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker whose detention was considered arbitrary by the United Working Group on Arbitrary Detention16 in April, was reportedly pressured to choose between moving her two-year-old daughter into prison with her for up to three days a week or signing a document indicating that she renounced to her “right to be with her young daughter”17. She was also reportedly detained in isolation for two months upon arrest and on several occasions.

C. Situation of women

36. The Government of Iran has still not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Law and practices discriminating against women and girls, notably with regard to marriage, divorce, child custody, freedom of movement, nationality, employment and access to political functions, have remained in force, with no initiatives to repeal or amend them.

37. A crackdown on women’s rights activists was observed in 2016. Several women who had been involved in the 2015 campaign for increased representation of women in the parliamentary election in February 2016 were reportedly summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guard Corps, accused of espionage and threatened with imprisonment on charges related to national security18. Initiatives such as the website called “Feminist School” and the

“Campaign to Change the Masculine Face of Parliament”, launched ahead of the parliamentary elections, came to a halt following pressure on women’s rights defenders.

38. In October 2016, Ms. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist, started serving a six-year prison sentence on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities” for writing an unpublished story about stoning. Together with her husband, Mr. Arash Sadeghi, she was initially taken to a secret detention place. She was later transferred to Evin Prison under the control of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, where she was held for twenty days without access to her family, a lawyer or a court. She was reportedly subjected to long hours of interrogation while blindfolded and threatened with being sentenced to death. Her husband was reportedly subjected to torture by his interrogators. Ms. Iraee was eventually released on bail in December after her husband initiated a life-threatening hunger strike in protest against her imprisonment. In their comments on the present report, the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran informed that Ms. Ebrahimi Iraee was on leave from 2 to 6 February 2017 but as she did not return on time, she was arrested 15 days later and returned to the prison.

39. In November, Ms. Alieh Matlabzadeh, a photographer and women’s right activist19, was arrested upon return from a seminar on women’s empowerment in Georgia. Twenty other women’s rights activists, who participated in the same workshop, were reportedly questioned by the Intelligence Ministry. A few days later, Ms. Matlabzadeh was summoned to present herself and undergo interrogation at Evin Prison. At the time of writing this report, she had been released on bail and no information was available on the charges brought against her.

40. Ms. Bahareh Hedayat, another women rights activist, was released in September 2016 after serving a five-year prison term. In an Opinion issued in June 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention termed her detention was arbitrary and indicated that she had been detained in violation of her rights to freedom of expression and assembly and to a fair trial20.

41. At the end of 2016, Mr. Ali Shariati was still on hunger strike in protest against the five-year sentence he received on the charge of acting against national security after participating, in 2014, in a protest against acid attacks that had occurred in the city of Isfaha and had left at least seven women permanently disfigured. While Mr. Shariati remained detained at the end of 2016, the perpetrators of the attacks had not yet been apprehended.

42. The Secretary-General welcomes the appointment of a Deputy President for Women and Family Affairs as well as the increasing number of women in the Parliament. He also welcomes information transmitted by the Government that the plan for “comprehensive population and family excellence” which posed serious threats to women’s empowerment was withdrawn from the Parliament’s agenda in October. According to the World Economic Forum 2016 Global Gender Gap Index, Iran ranks 136 of 145 countries with respect to political empowerment. It also ranks 140 in terms of economic participation and opportunity, with only 17 per cent of women in the labour force. The Secretary-General welcomes the decision taken by President Rouhani in July 2016 to suspend the hiring exam for public sector jobs to investigate apparent discrimination against women in the job market21. However, progress seems unlikely in this field as long as legal provisions conditioning women’s employment on the consent of their husband are maintained (article 1117

of the Civil Code) and laws giving preference to men in the labour market are not reformed22.

43. Strict and discriminatory rules on the dress code for women and girls continued to be enforced and led to harassment, violence and imprisonment of women. In May, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was quoted in State-run media as reiterating the need to be harsh on the issue of women’s compulsory veiling, and indicating that a verbal prohibition would not suffice. In Tehran alone, 7,000 agents were reportedly deployed to monitor compliance with hijab rules. Women who appear without an Islamic hijab risk arrest and imprisonment of between ten days and two months, or a fine of up to 500,000 rials. A social media campaign launched in July 2016, showing Iranian men protesting against compulsory veiling and advocating for change, received considerable support from citizens in Iran. However, it did not lead to any initiative at the official level for the revocation of the compulsory dress code imposed on women and girls.

44. Women’s and girls’ freedom of movement was further restricted in 2016. In July, in the city of Marivan, a group of women was reportedly arrested for riding bicycles and made to sign pledges not to repeat this “violation”. The police told them a new Government directive had barred women from riding bicycles in public23. In September, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa banning women’s bicycling in public and was quoted in official media as saying that, “Riding a bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity”. In their comments on the present report, the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran informed that the Supreme Leader’s fatwa is related to those who voluntary emulate him in religious affairs, but that it is not binding, nor a governmental pronouncement.

45. At the same time, child marriage remains prevalent in Iran where the legal age of marriage for girls is only 13, with girls as young as nine years of age being married with the permission of a court. In December, Mohammad-Ali Pourmokhtar, a member of the Majlis Judicial and Legal Commission indicated that the marriage of about 12,000 to 13,000 children had been carried out unofficially and without registration24.

46. Child marriage is a violation of human rights that put girls at risk of physical, psychological, economic and sexual violence and can lead to a range of poor health and social outcomes and other negative consequences, including early pregnancy and high rates of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. Child marriage has also been increasingly recognized by international human rights bodies as a contemporary form of slavery. The Secretary-General is concerned that recommendations by international human rights mechanisms, most recently by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (in January 2016), have not led to the repealing of legal provisions authorizing child marriage and that the authorities continue to claim that marrying girls as young as 9 years old might be in their interest. The Secretary-General encourages the Supreme Leader and the Council of Guardians to clearly pronounce themselves against child marriage and to lead efforts towards the eradication of this harmful practice.

47. Women and girls are still prohibited from attending and participating in sport events. Between February and July, several women were prevented from attending the Beach Volleyball World Championship, Iran’s Premier League soccer season and the International Volleyball Federation’s World League Matches. In April,

women were excluded from Iran’s first international marathon and in November, the Iranian Wrestling Federation barred three female athletes from participating in a world wrestling competition.

D. Restrictions on freedoms of expression and of peaceful assembly

48. The continued crackdown on media professionals, the pervasive restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, including the closure of newspapers and magazines, and the ongoing monitoring, filtering and blocking of websites that carry political news and analysis remain of great concern. National security, espionage, propaganda against the system and insulting the Supreme Leader remain the most frequent charges invoked for the arrest and prosecution of journalists. At the end of the year, the three opposition figures linked to the Green Movement that gained popularity during the presidential elections of 2009, Messrs. Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, remained under house arrest without formal charges or trial.

49. Hundreds of websites remain blocked and the Government has continued to tighten its control over social media. In December, the cyber-police reportedly required Iranian-owned channels with more than 5,000 followers on the most popular messaging application, Telegram, to seek official registration. Authorities reportedly arrested 32 administrators of channels on the social media platform Telegram and accused them of “disturbing public order” and “spreading lies”.

50. The Secretary-General welcomes the release, in January 2016, of Mr. Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent who had spent 544 days in prison. However, at least six journalists, including Ms. Chitsaz Afarin, Ms. Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Mr. Saeed Pourheydar, Mr. Issa Saharkhiz, Mr. Saman Safarzaee, and Ms. Reihaneh Tabatabaie remained in prison at the end of 201625.

51. In June, Ghanoon newspaper reportedly announced its closure pursuant to an order by the Tehran Chief Prosecutor on grounds that the paper was “publishing falsehoods with the intent to cause public anxiety”. In October, the prosecutor ordered the lifting of the closure.

52. In August, two bills posing threats to press freedom were introduced, reportedly without media workers being consulted. One of these bills foresees the creation of a Media Affairs Commission, which would include members of intelligence agencies. This Commission is due to replace the independent Association of Iranian Journalists, which was closed down in 2009.

53. In September, the editor-in-chief of Memari News, Mr. Yashar Soltani, was reportedly arrested on charges including “spreading lies” after he reported on alleged corruption in Tehran’s municipal government. Mr. Sadra Mohaqeq, editor of the newspaper Shargh Daily, was also reportedly arrested in September and described in State-run media as ”a collaborator who worked for anti-revolutionary media outlets“ outside Iran. That same month, a revolutionary court in Tehran reduced a three-year prison sentence it had handed down on journalist Mr. Issa Saharkhiz to 21 months. Mr. Saharkhiz, who previously served as Deputy Minister of Culture, had been imprisoned from 2009 to 2013 on charges of ”insulting the Supreme Leader“ and ”propaganda against the state”. At the time of his arrest, he was contributing to the website Rooz Online. 54. In July, 92 student organizations reportedly wrote an open letter to President Rouhani and expressed concerns about threats and intimidation of students after the declaration by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on 18 June, on the risks of politicization of students and the responsibility of University officials, senior administrators and academics to ensure a climate favourable to the promotion of Islamic revolutionary principles on campus. Dozens of students expelled from universities for political reasons between 2005 and 2016 had not been allowed to resume their studies at the end of 2016.

55. The Secretary-General welcomes the statement made by President Rouhani in November about the necessity for news media to feel safe while doing their jobs26. He recalls that freedom of information and expression is of paramount importance for every society. He urges the authorities to promote and protect the right of individuals to express themselves freely, to refrain from adopting any new legislation which would further restrict freedom of expression, and to release all those who have been jailed for having peacefully expressed their opinions.

56. Human rights defenders, lawyers, students and women rights activists, journalists and trade unionists, however, have continued to face restrictions, arrest, conviction and imprisonment for exercising their rights to freedom of association.

57. More than 70 people were reportedly arrested in October 2016 at a peaceful gathering celebrating Cyrus the Great near the ancient city of Pasargadae in the central province of Fars. They were tried in mid-December without legal counsel and were sentenced to prison terms by a branch of the revolutionary court in the city of Shiraz on charges of ”propaganda against the state,“ ”disturbing public order” and ”assembly and collusion against national security”27.

58. In December, several people participating in peaceful gatherings were arrested. This included participants in a commemoration of the reported killing of two prominent writers in Emamzadeh Taher Cemetery in Kara28. Also in December, riot units of Tehran security police, plainclothes agents and the Revolutionary Guard Corps of “Sarallah Headquarters” reportedly brutally dispersed families, students and supporters of Mr. Mohammad Ali Taheri, who had peacefully gathered in front of Baqiyatallah hospital in Vanak where Mr. Taheri had reportedly been transferred after several days on hunger strike29. At least 15 people, including two women and a 16-year-old teenager were arrested, some of them after reportedly having been beaten violently.

E. Situation of human rights defenders and activists

59. The Secretary-General remains concerned at the shrinking space for human rights defenders, who continue to face harassment, intimidation, arrest and prosecution for defending rights and speaking up against violations and abuse. A large number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience were still detained at the end of 2016 and many others received prison sentences in 2016. In December, eight prisoners of conscience went on a life-threatening hunger strike to contest the legality of their detention.

60. In May, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights publicly reacted to the prison sentence pronounced by the revolutionary court in Tehran against Ms. Narges Mohammadi, a prominent anti-death penalty campaigner, and called on the Iranian authorities to release her. Ms. Mohammadi won the 2009 Alexander Langer award for her human rights activities, especially her efforts to end the death penalty for juvenile offenders. In 2016, she received the City of Paris medal for her peaceful activism. In October, 15 Iranian members of Parliament addressed a letter to Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, calling on him to reverse the ten-year prison sentence imposed against Ms. Mohammadi30.

61. Ms. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and her husband, Mr. Arash Sadeghi, also a human rights activist, were imprisoned in June and October 2016, starting prison sentences of six and fifteen years, respectively. Both were arrested in September 2014 and, upon arrest, were reportedly held in isolation and denied access to lawyers. Mr. Sadeghi was reportedly subjected to torture. During their trials, they were denied legal representation and could not defend themselves. Mr. Sadeghi was sentenced on charges including “spreading propaganda against the system”, “gathering and colluding against national security” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic”, while Ms. Iraee was condemned for “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. In December 2016, Mr. Sadeghi ended a 71-day hunger strike after his wife was released on bail. However, despite his critical medical condition he was reportedly denied specialized medical care outside the prison.

62. In November, Mr. Ahmad Montazeri, a 60-year-old cleric, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a clerical court in the city of Qom on charges of “acting against the national security” and “releasing a classified audio file”, and for “propaganda against the system”. In August, he had released an audio recording of a discussion dating back to 1988 in which his father, Mr. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, reportedly argues with leaders of the judiciary and condemns the execution of thousands of prisoners in 1988. The trial of Mr. Montazeri was reportedly held behind closed doors, and he was prevented from choosing his own lawyer. The Secretary-General’s predecessor expressed deep concern over the imprisonment of Mr. Montazeri and the apparent lack of investigation into the revelations contained in the audio recording31.

63. At the end of 2016, Mr. Saeed Shirzad, a children’s rights activist, was still hospitalized after spending more than one month on hunger strike while serving a five-year prison sentence. Mr. Shirzad’s sentence was issued in 2015 by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court for “assembly and collusion against national security” in connection with his activities in support of the children of political prisoners pursuing their education. In December, he reportedly sewed his lips shut and began a hunger strike to protest against the treatment of political prisoners at Rajaee Shahr Prison. Dozens of political detainees are reportedly being held in Ward 12 of this prison without basic sanitation and proper nutrition and without the possibility to regularly contact their families. At the time of writing this report, Mr. Shirzad was in serious medical condition, and there was no indication of the judiciary’s readiness to discuss his demands.

64. Several labour rights activists faced criminal prosecution in 2016, including Mr. Najbeh Salehzadeh, from Saqqez city, who was reportedly charged in June with sacrilege and insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran. Two other labour rights activists, Mr. Mahmood Salehi and wife, were prosecuted for propaganda against the regime at a Congress of Syndicates in France. Mr. Salehi was reportedly sentenced to nine years in prison.

65. Families of human rights defenders are also reportedly subjected to harassment. In July, the daughter of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer, was reportedly prevented from travelling abroad. Such a travel ban violates the right to freedom of movement and the ability to leave their country pursuant to article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Members of Ms. Sotoudeh’s family had previously faced similar restrictions in 2012.

66. Invoking charges related to national security against individuals for merely expressing their opinion or participating in peaceful assemblies not only endangers

their physical integrity but also undermines their work as human rights defenders and instils fear in society. The Secretary-General recalls that the ongoing harassment of and professional ban on human rights activists and lawyers, who are instrumental in representing their clients and safeguarding the rule of law, is a setback for the Islamic Republic of Iran as a whole.

67. The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the Iranian authorities to release political prisoners, including human rights defenders and lawyers, detained solely for legitimately and peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

F. Treatment of religious minorities

68. Members of religious and ethnic minorities continued to endure abuses and discrimination and face persecution, including arrest and imprisonment, expulsion from educational institutions, denial of economic opportunities, deprivation of the right to work, closure of businesses, and the destruction of religious sites, such as cemeteries and prayer centres.

69. As highlighted in the last report of the Secretary-General’s predecessor32, Baha’is have been considered by Special Procedure mandate holders as the most severely persecuted religious minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a joint press statement issued in June 2016, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed concern at speeches made in May and June by 169 religious, judiciary and political officials inciting to hatred against the Baha’i community and reflecting extreme intolerance against this community. The Special Rapporteurs also stressed that 72 Baha’is were in prison solely because of their religious beliefs and practices. During the period covered by this report, similar hate speech targeted the Baha’is, and numerous arrests and detentions took place.

70. In many previous reports, the Secretary-General’s predecessor expressed concern over the denial of access to university to members of the Baha’i community. In July 2016, the Court of Administrative Justice confirmed a decision of the Educational Measurement and Evaluation Organization “Sanjeh” denying Ms. Fanaian and Mr. Rahmani entry into university for the 2014-2015 academic year. In October, at least 129 Baha’i students who had satisfactorily completed their university entrance exam were reportedly excluded from admission.

71. The Secretary-General is concerned about the serious violations of the right to education, work and an adequate standard of living, which members of the Baha’i community continue to be exposed to. Between June and November 2016, at least 150 businesses owned by Baha’is across the country were shuttered by the authorities. The Secretary-General urges the authorities to repeal all legal provisions which allow discrimination against the Baha’is.

72. The continuous discrimination and persecution of other religious minorities also remains of concern. In December, five dervishes of the Sufi Gonabadi Order were arrested in the city of Dezful. They were reportedly initially arrested at an exhibition honouring Sacred Defence Week in September, and were formally charged in November with “disturbing public order,” “destruction of public property,” “insulting the sacred” and “insulting senior officials”.

73. In December, the largest Persian-speaking Protestant community in the country, Jama’at-e Rabbani announced that its ownership of Sharon Gardens, in the city of Karaj, had been confiscated. Charges of espionage were reportedly brought against this community, and in July 2015, Branch 3 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court

ordered the confiscation of its premises. This decision was upheld by the Appeals Court in August 2016.

74. The Secretary-General renews his predecessor’s call upon the Government to respect the right to freedom of religion and belief, to address all forms of discrimination in all spheres of life, to uphold and implement legislation that protects minority groups and individuals, and to ensure the release of all individuals imprisoned on the basis of their religion or belief.

G. Reprisals against activists cooperating with the United Nations

75. Allegations of reprisals against individuals because of their cooperation or contact with the United Nations human rights mechanisms or representatives remain a cause for great concern.

76. In a press statement issued in November 2016, several Special Procedures mandate holders urged the Government to end the harassment of a woman trying to learn the fate of her brother, Mr. Hossein Rahemipour, and his newborn daughter, who had disappeared from prison more than 30 years earlier. In June, the Working Group on Enforced of Involuntary Disappearances had reviewed the case of the alleged enforced disappearance of Mr. Rahemipour and transmitted it to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The experts indicated that the charges against Ms. Rahemipour might be in direct reprisal for her human rights activism in the search for her relatives and the exercise of her rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

77. The Secretary-General urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect individuals from all acts of reprisal, and to investigate and ensure accountability for all cases of intimidation and reprisal.

III. Cooperation with international human rights mechanisms and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

A. Cooperation with the United Nations human rights treaty system

78. The Secretary-General welcomes the cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the treaty bodies, which has improved in recent years. The Government’s first report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD/C/IRN/1) has been scheduled for consideration in March 2017. The Secretary-General also encourages the Government to submit its fourth report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been overdue since November 2014.

79. The Secretary-General encourages the Government to comply fully with the follow-up mechanisms of the treaty bodies and to provide the information sought by the committees on the implementation of recommendations made in their concluding observations. The Secretary-General renews his predecessor’s call on the Government to seize this opportunity to examine progress made in the application of the human rights treaties by way of accurate, regular and timely reporting.

B. Cooperation with special procedures

80. The Secretary-General welcomes the significant increase in the number of communications sent by the special procedures, which received a response from the

Islamic Republic of Iran. Of the 33 communications sent from January to December 2016, the Iranian authorities responded to 21. The majority of the communications addressed concerns with regard to cases of torture, executions, arbitrary arrest and the detention of journalists and human rights activists, the persecution of religious minorities, unfair trials, ill-treatment of prisoners, the denial of medical treatment to prisoners, and reprisals against individuals for their contact with United Nations human rights mechanisms.

81. The Secretary-General encourages the Government to show full cooperation with the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran by allowing her to visit the country. Although he repeatedly sought access to the Islamic Republic of Iran following his appointment in 2011, the previous mandate holder-was never invited by the authorities.

82. The Secretary-General welcomes the invitations extended to the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and to the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights for a country visit. These would be the first country visits by mandate holders since 2005, and would represent a step forward in the implementation of the standing invitation issued by the Government in 2002, to all thematic special procedures. It should be recalled that the Government had previously agreed in principle to visits by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. The Secretary-General also encourages the Government to positively respond to the requests for visits it received from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2015 and from the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in 2006.

C. Cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

83. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights continued to raise human rights concerns with Iranian officials, including in meetings with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Head of the High Council for Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, and visiting delegations. The High Commissioner also intervened with authorities on individual cases. The Secretary-General welcomes these exchanges and encourage the Government to pursue dialogue on the implementation of recommendations received during the second Universal Periodic Review cycle and to take advantage of technical cooperation programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner with a view to abolishing and/or restricting the use of the death penalty in law and practice.

D. United Nations Development Assistance Framework

84. The Secretary-General expects that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United Nations system will implement programming under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework from a human rights and a gender perspective consistent with human rights obligations. This is also consistent with the spirit of the Government’s commitment to human rights under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals contained therein.

IV. Recommendations

85. The Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by the continuing large number of executions, including of juveniles, and reiterate his predecessor’s call upon the Government to introduce a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and to prohibit and refrain from the execution of juvenile offenders in all circumstances.

86. The Secretary-General reiterates his predecessor’s concern about continued restrictions of public freedoms and the related persecution of civil society actors, the persistence of discrimination against women and minorities, and conditions of detention. The Secretary-General urges the Government to create space for human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists to safely and freely exercise their peaceful, legitimate activities, and to release political prisoners, including human rights defenders and lawyers, detained solely for legitimately exercising their right to freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

87. The Secretary-General encourages the Government to take practical steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in all spheres of life – civil, political, economic, social and cultural.

88. The Secretary-General urges the Government to take prompt steps to protect the rights of all persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and to remove and address all forms of discrimination against them.

89. The Secretary-General welcomes the engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran with United Nations human rights treaty bodies and urge the Government to follow up on the concluding observations of all treaty bodies. The Secretary-General also calls on the Government to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

90. The Secretary-General welcomes the invitation which the Government extended to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran and encourage it to cooperate fully with the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran by giving her access to the country. The Secretary-General also encourages Iran to engage constructively with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the follow-up to all recommendations of this and previous reports, as well as those of all Hunan Rights mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review.

To: Permanent representatives of member states of the Human Rights Council

16 March 2017, Index number: MDE 13/5892/2017 https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5892/2017/en/

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned cross-regional group of human rights civil society organizations call on your government to support the resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the

situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The country mandate has been a vital tool of promotion human rights in Iran since its establishment in 2011. It has proven effective at spotlighting the gravity of the situation in the country and provoking internal debate about some laws and practices that violate international human rights law and standards. Only through continued attention from the international community will these initial achievements translate into measurable reforms of law and practice that substantively improve the rights situation people in Iran face.

Despite diplomatic and trade openings since the implementation of the internationally agreed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, hopes that human rights improvements would follow have not yet materialized. Core issues of concern outlined by UN treaty bodies, special procedures and the UN SecretaryGeneral remain unaddressed. Iran has failed to co-operate with special procedures, and despite issuing a standing invitation to all Special Rapporteurs in 2002, it has allowed no country visits since 2005. Accordingly, it is essential that the Human Rights Council continues to treat human rights in Iran as a priority concern. Moreover, as Iran has a newly elected parliament, and an upcoming presidential election in May 2017 this is a crucial time for the international community to emphasize its concerns to the government.

Iran has maintained the highest per capita execution rate in the world for several years and, according to the Special Rapporteur, put to death at least 530 people in 2016. In January 2017 alone, the authorities executed at least 72 people. The majority of these executions took place after unfair trials and were for drug-related offences, which do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law. Some others were executed for vaguely worded offences such as “enmity against God”. Under Iranian law, activities that should not be criminalized at all, such as adultery, consensual same-sex sexual conduct and “insulting the Prophet”, remain punishable by death. In 2016, there were reports of at least two men being sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet”. Iran continues to execute individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. In the last two years, authorities executed at least nine juvenile offenders, including at least two in January 2017.

Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remains common, especially during interrogation. The authorities systematically failed to investigate allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and judges continue to use “confessions” obtained as a result of torture to convict defendants. Authorities frequently deny access to adequate medical care for political prisoners, in many cases as an intentional means of punishing them. Judicial authorities also continue to impose and carry out flogging, blinding, and amputation.

The Iranian authorities severely restrict the exercise of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. These restrictions include pervasive censorship of the press and internet, the criminalization of many forms of speech, arbitrary restrictions on civil society, and persecution for acts of religious worship by certain religious minorities. The authorities routinely use arbitrary detention to stifle and punish dissent. Those targeted include journalists, lawyers, political activists, student activists, trade unionists, artists, bloggers, and human rights defenders including women’s rights defenders, and LGBT rights activists who have simply been exercising rights protected under international law. In the past year, under the guise of national security offences, courts imposed increasingly harsh prison sentences on

these individuals for peaceful acts such as criticism of Iran’s human rights record on social media, communication with international human rights mechanisms, or organizing petitions.

Ethnic minority activists, including Arabs, Balochs, Kurds and Azerbaijani Turks, and members of religious minorities, such as Baha’is, Protestant Christians including Christian converts, Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslims and the Yarasan, also face similar patterns of abuse and restriction of their rights. They remain subject to entrenched discrimination that includes limits on their access to education, employment, adequate housing, political office, and the exercise of other cultural, civil and political rights.

Systematic discrimination and violence against women and girls in law and practice merit serious concern. Women, for example, do not have equal rights with men in marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, watching several live sporting events in stadiums, and protection from criminal harm. Married women cannot obtain a passport without the permission of their husband. Moreover, a husband can prevent his spouse pursuing an occupation he deems against family values or harmful to his or her reputation. The legal age of marriage for girls is 13 and fathers can apply for permission to arrange for their daughters to be married at an even younger age.

The authorities have consistently failed to adopt laws criminalizing sexual and other gender-based violence, including early and forced marriage, marital rape and domestic violence. Compulsory “veiling” (hijab) laws empower police and other security forces to target women for harassment, violence, and imprisonment, and to deny women equal enjoyment of their economic and social rights, including to education, employment and sports.

Since 2014, the Iranian Parliament has debated eight bills, passing five, that further curtail women’s rights by limiting access to health and family planning services and employment.

In the past six years, the Special Rapporteur’s actions have helped to trigger calls for reforms from inside the country, particularly with respect to the use of the death penalty for drug offences. The Special Rapporteur has also provided crucial support for the work and protection of Iranian human rights defenders and, in a number of cases, improvements in the treatment of individual detainees.

Renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate will send a powerful signal to the Iranian authorities that human rights violations and lack of accountability remain of concern, globally and for the Council, and that the international community expects meaningful and tangible improvements in that matter.

U.N. Rapporteur: We Are Concerned of Freedom of Speech in Iran

Wednesday, 15 March 2017 02:33 http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/22370-u-n-rapporteur-we-are-concerned-of-freedom-of-speech-in-iran

NCRI – Asma Jahangir, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in Human Rights in Iran criticized Tehran for the lack of freedom of speech.

“My concerns are that when people are arrested and threatened, they don’t talk and when they don’t enjoy freedom of speech, this is the result. Then we see they get jail the young and bloggers,” she said in an interview with VOA.

This interview was conducted after the 34th UN Human Rights Council session and Jahangir in her report referred to numerous human rights violations in Iran.

Jahangir also mentioned the issue of political prisoners as the second important issue of human rights violations in Iran, saying action against them is a message to other individuals that if you don’t agree with us you will be treated as such. This is unacceptable, she added.

Next come the issue of lawyers whom are chosen by lawyers, she said. The Bar Association is controlled by judges. Many lawyers are prevented from doing their work. Lawyers defending political prisoners or prisoners of conscience are imprisoned afterwards.

Jahangir went on to criticize Iran’s judiciary, saying it controls all actions. Everything depends on the judge’s ruling, who himself is not independent or unbiased. Therefore, there is no respect for due process. In her report Jahangir called on Iran to stop public executions and referred to the high number of executions, restrictions on freedom of speech, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and women.

Mullah’s regime reaction on UN human rights report

Iran calls on UN to end special human rights rapporteur’s mission

March 14, 2017 http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/411970/Iran-calls-on-UN-to-end-special-human-rights-rapporteur-s-mission

TEHRAN – On Tuesday, Tehran has asked the UN Human Rights Council to put an end to the mission of Asma Jahangir, the special human rights rapporteur, calling her report on the situation of human rights in Iran “politically motivated”.

“Given the noticeable human rights progress made in the Islamic Republic of Iran and its extensive and constructive interactions with the international human rights mechanisms, it is now time to end the special rapporteur’s mission in an appropriate way,” Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s Human Rights Council director for international affairs, told the annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

He also warned that the UNHRC’s “selective” and “politically tainted approach” towards certain countries would make cooperation between the two sides difficult.

On Sunday, Qaribabadi commented that Iran will declare its official position on the recent report by Jahangir.

At the 34th session of the Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Jahangir presented a 40-page report on human rights conditions in Iran, which accuses the country of numerous violations.

The UN rapporteur accused Iran of a range of violations, including executions of juveniles, imprisonment of religious minorities, and torture of political prisoners, accusations that Tehran rejects.

Last week Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said many of the countries initiating and supporting the approach at the Human Rights Council are themselves suffering from “countless human rights problems and have a gloomy and inhumane rights record”. He stressed that Tehran does not recognize the report.

Qassemi criticized Jahangir for turning a blind eye to Iran’s achievements in human rights, saying before the official release of the report Tehran had provided comprehensive explanations in response to the allegations, none of which had been considered in the report.

He added that Jahangir’s report, like her predecessors’ reports, has been prepared based on incorrect information and prejudices on the human rights situation in Iran.

The 1988 massacre in Iran

Statement

Iran: Repression of those seeking truth and justice for 1980s killings needs to stop

16 Mar 2017 https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/38675/en/iran:-repression-of-those-seeking-truth-and-justice-for-1980s-killings-needs-to-stop

The Iranian authorities should stop the harassment, intimidation and prosecution of human rights defenders seeking truth and justice on behalf of individuals who were summarily executed or forcibly disappeared during the 1980s and their families, said 20 human rights groups.

Over the past few months, several human rights defenders, including Mansoureh Behkish, Maryam Akbari-Monfared and Raheleh Rahemipour, have been subjected to harassment, reprisals or prosecution on vague national security-related charges for their peaceful efforts to learn the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. The persecution signals renewed efforts by the authorities to suppress the struggle that has been ongoing for over three decades to reveal the truth about the gross human rights violations that were perpetrated by the Iranian authorities during the 1980s, including the extrajudicial executions of several thousands in 1988 and their burial in unmarked mass graves.

The latest wave of persecution of those seeking truth and justice appears to have been triggered by the release in August 2016 of an audio recording of a meeting in 1988 in which senior officials are heard discussing and defending the details of their plans to carry out the 1988 mass executions.

The audio recording has sent shockwaves across the country and prompted the authorities to admit for the first time that the mass killings of 1988 were planned at the highest levels of government. Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was at that time the Deputy Supreme Leader, has since been sentenced to imprisonment for posting the audio file on his father’s website.

The undersigned human rights organizations are deeply concerned about these developments and call on the Iranian authorities to quash the convictions and sentences issued against Maryam Akbari-Monfared, Raheleh Rahemipour and Ahmad Montazeri; close the criminal case opened against Mansoureh Behkish; and immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Akbari-Monfared. The authorities should also ensure a safe and enabling environment in which it is possible for human rights defenders, including family members, to seek information about the mass killings, express themselves without any fear of persecution, and defend the rights to truth, justice and reparation, as a first step to ending impunity in Iran.

The undersigned human rights organizations urge the Iranian authorities to stop their attempts to silence human rights defenders and others seeking to shed light on past atrocities. Instead, they should respect their obligations under international human rights law to carry out thorough and impartial investigations into the serious human rights violations committed in the 1980s, including the 1988 extrajudicial executions, and ensure the rights to truth, justice and reparations for the victims and their families.

Cases of individuals targeted

Individuals who have been targeted in recent months for seeking truth and justice include human rights defenders Mansoureh Behkish, Maryam Akbari-Monfared and Raheleh Rahemipour, and the son of the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Ahmad Montazeri.

Mansoureh Behkish was informed on 29 October 2016 that she had been charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. The charges stem solely from her peaceful human rights work to seek truth and justice, including her work with the Mothers and Families of Khavaran, a group comprised of mothers and other family members of political prisoners summarily executed during the 1980s, and from holding commemorative gatherings at her home and going with other families to Khavaran, a deserted mass gravesite in the south of Tehran where Iranian authorities buried some of the thousands of political prisoners extrajudicially executed in the 1980s, including Mansoureh Behkish’s sister, four brothers and brother-in-law.

Maryam Akbari-Monfared has faced reprisals since October 2016, when she filed a formal complaint from inside prison requesting an official investigation into the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s, including her brother and sister; the location of the graves where their bodies were buried; and the identity of the perpetrators involved. Officials have cancelled her medical care arrangements for her rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid problems and restricted visits from her family, including her three children, in retaliation. The prosecution authorities have also threatened her with new charges. According to her family, the Associate Prosecutor of Evin prison has said: “What does she want to know? Those who executed her brothers and sister have either died or become elderly and her brothers and sister are probably buried in Khavaran… Such complaints are of no use. They would only make her conditions in prison more difficult and impede her release or access to [prison] leave.”

Maryam Akbari-Monfared is serving a 15-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison on several charges, including “enmity against God” (moharebeh), after a May 2010 sentencing. Amnesty International’s research indicates that her conviction was based on the fact that she had made several phone calls to her siblings, who are members of the banned opposition group known

as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), and had once visited them near the PMOI-run Camp Ashraf in Iraq. She has consistently denied her alleged membership in the PMOI. She was never provided with a written judgement, setting out the evidence and legal reasoning relied upon to convict her. Her husband has said that during her trial session, the judge told her “she was paying for the activities of her brother and sister with the PMOI”. Her appeals were dismissed in a summary fashion with no reasons provided. Her request for judicial review is currently pending before Iran’s Supreme Court.

Raheleh Rahemipour was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in January 2017 after Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted her of “spreading propaganda against the system” for her peaceful efforts to learn the truth about the whereabouts of her brother Hossein Rahemipour, who was summarily executed in 1984, and his baby daughter Golrou Rahemipour, who was forcibly disappeared 15 days after she was born in Evin prison. The prison authorities took the baby away, ostensibly for medical tests, but never returned her to her mother. The family was subsequently told that baby Golrou Rahemipour had died, but the authorities never provided a death certificate, information about her death, or where she had been buried.

The court verdict issued against Raheleh Rahemipour cites her media interviews, her participation in peaceful gatherings while holding a sign that read “You killed my brother! What did you do to his daughter?”, and her signature on a petition in support of demands for truth and justice for those summarily executed as “evidence” of acting against national security. In May 2016, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances sent a communication to the Iranian authorities with regard to the case of Raheleh Rahemipour’s brother and niece. The authorities had not responded by the end of February 2017. Raheleh Rahemipour remains at liberty, awaiting the outcome of her appeal.

Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment in November 2016 after the Special Court of Clergy convicted him of several charges including “spreading propaganda against the system” and “revealing plans, secrets or decisions regarding the state’s domestic or foreign policies… in a manner amounting to espionage”. The court ruled that in light of Ahmad Montazeri’s family history and lack of a criminal record, he only needs to serve six years of the sentence. Ahmad Montazeri’s conviction stems from the publication of the audio file on his father’s website, which the authorities said advanced the interests of the enemies of the Islamic Revolution, and the media interviews that he subsequently gave to media outlets based outside Iran. Ahmad Montazeri was imprisoned on 22 February 2017 to begin serving his sentence, but was granted temporary prison leave the next day. He was informed several days later that his prison sentence had been suspended.

Background

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was once in line to become the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s successor but he lost his status after he voiced strong opposition to the 1988 mass killings. In the audio file released by his son in August 2016, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri is heard saying: “The greatest crime committed in the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed at your hands and, in the future, your names will go down in history as criminals.”

Under international law, individuals against whom there is evidence of criminal responsibility for serious international crimes, including those with command responsibility, should be

prosecuted and tried before a court established by law and with all necessary procedural guarantees, in accordance with international fair trial standards.

If found guilty, they should be punished with appropriate penalties, which take into account the grave nature of the crimes but which do not include the death penalty or corporal punishments.

Signatories:

1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation

2. All Human Rights for All in Iran

3. Amnesty International

4. Article 19

5. Association des Chercheurs Iraniens – ACI

6. Association for the Human Rights of Azerbaijani People in Iran(AHRAZ)

7. Association of Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva – KMMK-G

8. Front Line Defenders

9. Human Rights Activists in Iran

10. Human Rights Watch

11. Insight Iran

12. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

13. Iran Human Rights

14. Justice for Iran

15. Kurdistan Human Rights Network

16. Small Media

17. The Baloch Activists Campaign

18. United4Iran

19. Universal Tolerance

20. Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)

Submission of a Resolution to U.S. Congress, Condemning the 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran

Saturday, 18 March 2017 14:09 http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/22389-submission-of-a-resolution-to-u-s-congress-condemning-the-1988-massacre-of-political-prisoners-in-iran

On March 9, 2017, Mr. McCaul submitted a resolution to the U.S. House of Representatives (for himself, Mr. Royce of California, Mr. Engel, Mrs. Comstock, Mr. McClintock, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Keating, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Young of Alaska, and Ms. Judy Chu of California) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

RESOLUTION

Condemning the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and calling for justice for the victims.

Whereas over a 4-month period in 1988, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran carried out the barbaric mass executions of thousands of political prisoners and many unrelated political groups;

Whereas according to a report by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the massacre was carried out pursuant to a fatwa, or religious decree, issued by then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, that targeted the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedeen-e- Khalq (MEK);

Whereas according to a November 2, 2007, report by Amnesty International, ”between 27 July 1988 and the end of that year, thousands of political prisoners [in Iran], including prisoners of conscience, were executed in prisons nationwide”;

Whereas the killings were carried out on the orders of a judge, an official from the Ministry of Intelligence, and a state prosecutor, known to the prisoners as ”Death Commissions” which undertook proceedings in a manner designed to eliminate the regime’s opponents;

Whereas those personally responsible for these mass executions include senior officials serving in the current Government of Iran;

Whereas prisoners were reportedly brought before the commissions and briefly questioned about their political affiliation, and any prisoner who refused to renounce his or her affiliation with groups perceived as enemies by the regime was then taken away for execution;

Whereas the victims included thousands of people, including teenagers and pregnant women, imprisoned merely for participating in peaceful street protests and for possessing political reading material, many of whom had already served or were currently serving prison sentences;

Whereas prisoners were executed in groups, some in mass hangings and others by firing squad, with their bodies disposed of in mass graves;

Whereas according to Amnesty International, ”the majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI, but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups . . . were also among the execution victims”;

Whereas later waves of executions targeted religious minorities, such as members of the Baha’i faith, many of whom were often subjected to brutal torture before they were killed;

Whereas the families of the executed were denied information about their loved ones and were prohibited from mourning them in public;

Whereas in a recently disclosed audiotape, the late Hussein Ali Montazeri, a grand ayatollah who served as Khomeini’s chief deputy, noted the regime’s efforts to target the MEK and said that the 1988 mass killings were ”the greatest crime committed during the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us”;

Whereas the current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was reportedly aware of, and later publicly condoned the massacre;

Whereas in violation of its international obligations, the Government of Iran continues to systematically perpetrate gross violations of the fundamental human rights of the Iranian people; and Whereas the November 2, 2007, report from Amnesty International concluded ”there should be no impunity for human rights violations, no matter where or when they took place. The 1988 executions should be subject to an independent impartial investigation, and all those responsible should be brought to justice, and receive appropriate penalties”: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the House of Representatives—

(1) condemns the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre, and for denying the evidence of this manifest set of crimes against humanity;

(2) urges the Administration and United States allies to publicly condemn the massacre, and pressure the Government of Iran to provide detailed information to the families of the victims about their loved ones and their final resting places;

(3) Urges the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran and the United Nations Human Rights Council to create a Commission of Inquiry to fully investigate the massacre and to gather evidence and identify the names and roles of specific perpetrators with a view towards bringing them to justice.

Execution

Southern Iran: Four Prisoners Hanged on Drug Charges https://iranhr.net/en/articles/2819/

Iranian official sources, including the media and the Judiciary, have not announced these four executions.

Iran Human Rights (MAR 15 2017): Three prisoners at Zahedan Central Prison and a prisoner at Chabahar Prison were hanged on drug related charges. Both prisons are located in Iran’s Sistan & Baluchestan province (southern Iran).

THREE PRISONERS HANGED

According to the Baloch Activists Campaign, three prisoners were hanged at Zahedan Central Prison on Sunday March 12 on drug related charges. The prisoners have been identified as Yar Mohammad Reigi, Ismael Reigi, and Rahim Reigi. Dozens of the family members of these prisoners reportedly gathered outside the prison the night before their executions calling on the Iranian authorities to stop their execution sentences.

ONE PRISONER HANGED

On Saturday March 11, a prisoner, identified as Manouchehr Abkhiz, was reportedly executed at Chahabar Prison on drug related charges.

Iranian official sources, including the media and the Judiciary, have not announced these four executions.

The increase in the execution of Sunni prisoners is believed to be as a result of an alleged confidential order given by Iran’s Judiciary Chief to ”accelerate the execution of Sunni prisoners”. Molana Abdul Hamid, a Sunni Friday Prayer Imam in Zahedan, has reportedly written a letter to Iran’s leader, Ali Khamenei, expressing worry about the Judiciary Chief’s alleged execution order and called for a follow up into the matter.

Northwestern Iran: Four Prisoners Hanged on Drug Charges https://iranhr.net/en/articles/2820/

The family of one of the prisoners who was executed are held in the same prison.

Iran Human Rights (MAR 15 2017): Four prisoners were reportedly hanged at Darya, Urmia’s central prison (West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran), on drug related charges.

According to the human rights news agency, HRANA, the executions were carried out on Tuesday March 14. The prisoners have been identified as Chengiz Badozadeh, Akram Hassanpour, Vahed Hamedi, and Kiumars Freydan (also known as Delawar).

According to the report by HRANA, Mr. Freydan was sentenced to death twice in two separate case files. In one of the files, he was charged with trafficking under 100 grams of narcotics, in the other, he was charged with trafficking under 500 grams of narcotics. One of his death sentences was reportedly commuted to life in prison. Mr. Freydan’s wife is reportedly currently held in the women’s ward of Urmia’s central prison on drug related charges. Mr. Freydan’s father, Effendi, was reportedly hanged by Iranian authorities in September 2016. Mr. Freydan’s brother is reportedly held in Ward 14 of Urmia’s central prison. Mr. Freydan’s mother was reportedly released from the same prison recently.

The recent wave of executions in Iran comes at the same time time that the Iranian Parliament is reportedly reviewing a proposed bill to limit the use of the death penalty for drug related offenses.

Iran: Three Prisoners Hanged https://iranhr.net/en/articles/2821/

He always insisted on his innocence and claimed the charges against him were false.

Iran Human Rights (MAR 19 2017): Iranian authorities have hanged a prisoner at Dizel Abad, Kermanshah’s central prison, and two prisoners at Choubindar, Qazvin’s central prison.

According to close sources, a prisoner was hanged at Kermanshah’s central prison on the morning of

Monday March 13. The prisoner has been identified as Mohammad Reza Samadi Nasb, sentenced to death on drug related charges.

”Mohammad Reza was arrested in 2013 on the charge of trafficking two kilograms of crystal meth, but he always insisted on his innocence and claimed the charges against him were false,” a source close to Mr. Samadi Nasb’s cas file tells Iran Human Rights.

According to a report by the state-run news agency, Rokna, two prisoners were hanged at Qazvin’s central prison on the morning of Tuesday March 14. The report identifies the prisoners as: Reza, 31 years of age, charged with possession of 400 grams of heroin and 890 grams of crystal meth; and Mehdi, charged with murder of a relative.

Urgent: Two Prisoners in Imminent Danger of Execution https://iranhr.net/en/articles/2824/

They were sentenced to death by Shiraz’s revolutionary court.

Two prisoners in Shiraz are in imminent danger of execution for drug related charges issued by Iran’s revolutionary courts.

Iran Human Rights (MAR 19 2017): Two prisoners at Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison who are on death row on drug related charges were reportedly transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their executions.

According to close sources, the prisoners are: Cyrus Abedi, 36 years of age, and Farajbakhsh Amrollahi.

”Cyrus and Faraj were both arrested in 2012 on the charge of possession of two kilograms of crystal meth and a small amount of opium. They were sentenced to death by Shiraz’s revolutionary court in the same case file,” a confirmed source tells Iran Human Rights.

Arbitrary Arrests

Predicting Her Arrest, Reformist Activist Wrote Letters Criticizing Rouhani’s Failure to Protect Citizens

March 16, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/predicting-her-arrest-reformist-wrote-letters-criticizing-rouhanis-failure-to-protect-citizens/ Hengameh Shahidi, a reformist senior member of the Etemad Melli (National Trust) opposition party, has decried her arrest as part of a crackdown by hardliners on reformists ahead of Iran’s upcoming presidential election. In two open letters, she also criticized President Hassan Rouhani, who will be running for re-

election on May 19, 2017, for failing to protect citizen’s rights.

Anticipating her arrest, which occurred on March 9, 2017, the former journalist had pre-composed two letters and arranged to have them published after she was detained. In the first letter, published on her Instagram page on March 11, Shahidi said she was being targeted “as part of a project to arrest political activists and journalists before the presidential election so that the designated candidate (of hardliner’s) could be guaranteed a victory, just like in the 2009 election.”

“You were supposed to be a breath of fresh air for reformists after the oppressive years under (President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, and not choke the air out of them to become president like he did,” she wrote in the second letter published on March 15.

Rouhani’s election in 2013 would not have been possible without the support of reformist leaders.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned that Shahidi, who lives in Tehran, was arrested by security agents in the city of Mashhad on her way to her grandmother’s funeral on March 9. In Evin Prison in Tehran she was taken to Ward 209, which is controlled by the Intelligence Ministry.

She informed her family during a short phone conversation on March 11 that she had been detained, but the charges against her, if any, remain unknown. Shahidi was a reporter for the reformist Norooz newspaper and an adviser to Mehdi Karroubi, the Etemad Melli party’s candidate in the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Karroubi, former presidential candidate Mir Hosseini Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard have been under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011 for challenging the validity of the 2009 election and leading mass street demonstrations that came to be known as the Green Movement.

In the March 15 letter, Shahidi called on Rouhani, as the head of the executive branch, to “stand against the pointless, fabricated cases brought against journalists and political, civil and social activists in the country.”

While poking fun at his law degree, she also pointed out Rouhani’s hypocritical stance of constantly touting his Citizen’s Rights Charter while extrajudicial arrests happen regularly under his watch. “Please tell us where in the charter does it say a suspect can be arrested without a written order?” she wrote. “Where does it say a suspect’s family members can be threatened and harassed?”

In the March 11 letter, Shahidi described the charter, which Rouhani signed in December 2016, as “only a deceptive slogan for international consumption” because in reality “all political suspects are sent to unlawful detention centers on security charges and humiliated in the worst way.”

She also discussed her recent expulsion from a staff position at a university south of Tehran: “Where in the charter does it say a university academic can be denied the right to teach and threatened with an acid attack and issued an arrest order by the parliamentary Committee of National Security Affairs and other agencies in order to silence her?” Shahidi was fired from her position as an international law instructor at the Varamin-Pishva Islamic Open University after teaching only two classes on the first day of the fall term on October 10, 2016. The day before Shahidi was sacked, a local hardline news site posted an article saying it was “regrettable” that someone who was convicted in connection with the 2009 “sedition” had been chosen “as a professor for shaping the future builders of Islamic Iran.”

Iranian officials have consistently referred to the peaceful protests that followed the disputed 2009 election as the “sedition.”

On June 30, 2009, soon after Karroubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard disputed the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad’s re-election, Shahidi was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Yahya Pirabbasi of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court for “propagating against the regime,” “acting against national security” and “insulting the president.”

In June 2012 she was granted conditional release on medical grounds.

In recent months, several journalists have been arrested for unknown reasons by the Intelligence Ministry or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization. Tahereh Riahi, the social affairs editor of the state-funded Borna News Agency, has been held in Evin Prison since December 27, 2016 without access to legal counsel.

Zeinab Karimian, a producer for the state-run “Salam Khorshid” (Hello Sun) television show and former reporter for the official Islamic Republic News Agency, was arrested by security agents on January 23, 2017. Very little information is known about her condition or case. Reformist journalist Ehsan Mazandarani was shocked with a Taser stun gun by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization on March 11 and taken to Evin Prison, less than a month after he completed his prison sentence for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.” Reformist political commentator Issa Saharkhiz and centrist commentator Afarin Chitsaz, a columnist for the Iran newspaper, the official publication of the Rouhani administration, have been imprisoned since November 2, 2015 after being arrested in the largest wave of arrests by the IRGC since 2009.

Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry and Khamenei’s IRGC Widen Crackdown Ahead of Election

March 16, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/increase-arrest-by-ministry-of-intelligence/

President Hassan Rouhani (right) sitting beside General Mohammad Ali Jafari (left), the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The number of arrests carried out by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, operating under the control of President Hassan Rouhani, increased in the last few months leading up to Iran’s May 2017 presidential election.

Research by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) indicates that since January 2017, the ministry has increasingly targeted civil and women’s rights advocates, journalists, dual nationals, ethnic and religious minorities, environmentalists, the administrators of social media pages, and relatives of protesters killed during the state’s crackdown on peaceful protestors following the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The increasing arrests may be the result of a growing rivalry between the Intelligence Ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization, which has also stepped up its arrests. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei set up the organization, which the office of the presidency has no control over, in 1997 after the election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami. Amid the protests against the contested presidential election in 2009, Khamenei expanded the organization’s powers.

Rouhani would not have been elected in 2013 without the support of reformists and civil society, both of which are being targeted by Khamenei’s security apparatus and that of a president they helped to elect.

While there are several possible explanations for why the Intelligence Ministry is stepping up its arrests at this particular time, the widening crackdown proves to the Iranian people that Rouhani—who will be seeking a second term on May 19—has failed to carry out his campaign promise of freeing political prisoners and loosening the Islamic Republic’s tight grip on civil society.

Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry: Protector or Aggressor? “A desirable Intelligence Ministry is the hopeful home of the oppressed,” Rouhani told the ministry’s staff on January 21, 2014, less than a year after his election. “Respecting the rights of citizens, as well as ethnic and religious minorities is an unavoidable necessity.”

“Your primary duty is to protect people’s dignity and privacy and preserve public trust at the highest level,” he said, emphasizing that his administration “believes in transparency and telling the truth to the people as our patrons.”

“We insist on the principle of plurality of views and tastes in society,” he added. “Supporting the rights of citizens is part of the ministry’s duties.”

The Intelligence Ministry’s record under Rouhani has not only shown a failure to realize that vision, but also a continuation of oppressive policies now being conducted in parallel with the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

When Mahmoud Alavi was introduced to Parliament as the new minister of intelligence on August 7, 2013, he told legislators that he would carry out his responsibilities in a manner that would “build public trust” while being “accountable to relevant authorities, watchdog agencies and public institutions.”

He added that he would “interact with the elite, academics, political parties, mass media organizations and lawful groups;” “avoid the creation of a security climate;” “restore the ministry’s duties within a lawful and natural framework in accordance with the Constitution;” “support and recognize criticism in political, social and cultural fields;” and “respect the rights of citizens, including ethnic and religious minorities.”

Alavi also promised that under his management, the Intelligence Ministry would “make an effort to rebuild the country’s political landscape in regards to human rights issues” and “withdraw from irregular missions that do not conform with the ministry’s stature.”

However, the Intelligence Ministry has arrested the following individuals for their peaceful activism and personal beliefs since December 2016. One activist predicted she would be arrested as part of a “campaign” by hardliners. Hengameh Shahidi: Before she was arrested in the Iranian city of Mashhad on March 8, 2017, the political activist said she was being targeted “as part of a project to arrest political activists and journalists before the presidential election so that the designated candidate (of the hardliners) would be guaranteed a victory, just like in the 2009 election.” In the hand-written letter, posted on March 13 on her Instagram page, Shahidi also said she would go on hunger strike as soon as she was taken into custody. Shahidi was an adviser to Mehdi Karroubi, a former presidential candidate and opposition leader who has been under house arrest since 2011. She was also a journalist for his party’s newspaper, Etemad Melli. Sepideh Ghoulian: The civil rights activist was arrested at her home in Ahwaz, Khuzestan Province, on February 24, 2017 and released on bail several days later. She has not been charged, but informed sources believe she was arrested because of her Instagram posts about child labor and environmental issues. Farzaneh Jalali: The civil rights activist was arrested on February 23, 2017 in the city of Kermanshah. In 2010 she was banned from continuing her graduate studies for having previously engaged in peaceful activism while she was an undergraduate at Tehran University. She was arrested on March 13, according to a post on her Facebook page. Mehrnaz Haghighi: The medical doctor and civil rights activist was arrested at his home in Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province, on February 19, 2017. No information is available about the charges, if any, have been issued against her. Mohammad Kab-Aomair: The seventeen-year-old ethnic Arab environmentalist was violently arrested on February 8, 2017 at his home in the city of Ahwaz. His left arm was broken while he was being arrested. Shahnaz Akmali: The mother of Mostafa Karim Beigi—who was killed by a bullet wound to the head in 2009 during what came to be known as the “Ashura protests”— was arrested on January 25, 2017. She was released on bail on February 19. Zeinab Karimian: The Rouhani supporter and former reporter for the state-funded Mehr News Agency was arrested on January 23, 2017. She has had limited contact with her family since being detained. Very little information is known about her condition or case. Saleh Deldam: The film director and producer was arrested in early January 2017 and charged with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state.” Tahereh Riahi: The social affairs editor of the state-funded Borna News Agency was arrested on December 27, 2016 and accused of “propaganda against the state.” “Cyrus Day” Fans: On October 28, 2016, more than 70 people were arrested for publicly celebrating the unofficial birthday of the founder of the Achaemenid Emperor. Some allegedly shouted slogans calling for an end to Iran’s theocratic government and a return to pre-Islamic values. Branch 1 of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from three months to eight years. Upon appeal in February 2017, many of the defendants had their sentences reduced to less than a year in prison or they were released for time served. Ahmadreza Jalali: The Iranian-born resident of Sweden was arrested in April 2016 after being invited by Tehran University to share his expertise on emergency and disaster medicine. He has been charged with “collaborating with enemy states.” Social Media Site admins: On January 20, 2017, the Intelligence Ministry announced the arrest of “anti-revolutionaries aiming to penetrate and organize online networks inside the country” through a channel they had created, called the “Immortal Guards,” on the popular Telegram messaging application.

By arresting individuals for their peaceful activities in cyberspace, the Intelligence Ministry is alienating Rouhani’s moderate and reformist supporters who are active online. Until recently, the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization or the Cyber Police (FATA) carried out most arrests of cyber activists. The Intelligence Ministry may have stepped up its role in this area to assuage hardliners who accuse the government of not doing enough to censor the internet. The publication of a forced confession of one of the alleged members of the Immortal Guards on February 2, 2017 on several far right websites also serves as a reminder that the ministry has no intention of abandoning the practice of extracting confessions under the threat of or actual torture.

The growing number of people arrested by the Intelligence Ministry for their peaceful political or civil activities is taking place despite Rouhani’s declaration on April 20, 2016 that “state agencies should not be controlling people whenever they feel like it.”

“You cannot limit people’s freedom with directives and the arbitrary taste of some individuals or organizations,” he said during a speech. “People’s freedoms cannot be

curtailed by anything other than the law. Not even the government or the judiciary can limit them.”

Intelligence Ministry vs. the IRGC

Towards the end of February 2017, Iranian media reports began hinting at the growing rivalry between the Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

On February 24, the acting commander of the organization, Gen. Mohammad Hossein Nejat, claimed that his agents “were able to arrest 15 terrorists who were planning sabotage and explosions at the rally (in Tehran) celebrating the anniversary of the revolution on February 11.”

Two days later, an “informed Intelligence Ministry official” denied Nejat’s statement.

“The team of terrorists that had entered the country to carry out operations against national security on February 11 was exclusively under the surveillance of the Intelligence Ministry from start to finish and they were arrested by the Intelligence Ministry,” said an unnamed official on February 26, according to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

“Despite the immense respect we have for our dear and exalted brother, Commander Nejat, we needed to clarify matters for the public,” added the official.

The official also said the Intelligence Ministry should be credited for the 2010 arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi, the former leader of the violent Baluchi Jundallah separatist organization, and for playing a leading role in the negotiations over the exchange of prisoners between Iran and the US in January 2016.

“The Supreme National Security Council asked the Intelligence Ministry to conduct the negotiations for the repatriation of one billion and 710 million USD from the US during the negotiations for the release of the prisoners,” he said.

“Every stage of the negotiations was carried out by a representative of the Intelligence Ministry with the cooperation of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the president’s Legal Affairs Office,” he said, adding that “no other agencies were involved in any of those three cases.” The next day, Nejat retorted: “The IRGC’s Intelligence Organization is in complete harmony with the Intelligence Ministry and we won’t complain if the press gives credit to the ministry for any of our activities.” He also claimed that Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was part of the US-Iran prisoner swap, was arrested by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, “which eventually led to the release of a portion of Iran’s assets” by the US.

“The IRGC’s Intelligence Organization is an active member the Intelligence Coordination Council, which convenes regularly under the chairmanship of the minister of intelligence, and if there are any differences of views, they will be discussed and resolved there,” he added. The Intelligence Coordination Council was formed by Article 2 of the law for the establishment of the Intelligence Ministry.

Its members include the intelligence minister, prosecutor general (representing the judiciary), minister of interior, the heads of the IRGC’s Intelligence Security Organization and Intelligence Organization, the heads of the army’s Intelligence Security Organization and Intelligence Organization, the head of the Police Intelligence Security Organization and the foreign minister.

The council’s mission includes “discussion about intelligence-related topics and operations, exchanges of views about how to delegate and pursue intelligence operations within the legal boundaries of each agency, and decisions on the responsibilities and powers of each agency within the law.”

It is also supposed to “coordinate parallel cases with the National Security Council” and “establish intelligence crisis groups in times of emergency.”

In October 2014, the Fars News Agency, which maintains close relations with the IRGC, reported that “the Intelligence Coordination Council had entered a new chapter,” adding that “based on available information, the council’s members had collaborated to establish common intelligence and security assessments on different topics.”

The report added that “one of the most important things the council did (in the Iranian year ending March 21, 2014) was assess the damaging and threatening aspects of cyberspace, the security situation in various parts of the country, and intelligence threats and operational intelligence exchanges while coordinating and following up on joint intelligence operations by members of the intelligence community.”

Increasing Arrests: Why Now?

The Intelligence Ministry has stepped up its arrests of peaceful activists and dissidents ahead of the May 2017 presidential election for three possible reasons.

First, a close examination of the decisions made by the National Intelligence Council during the Rouhani era indicates that some of them could have resulted from recommendations by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization or the prosecutor general as a representative of the judicial branch.

In other words, the Rouhani administration could be bending to the wishes of hardliners.

Second, hardline core members of the Intelligence Ministry may be initiating the arrests against the wishes of Alavi and Rouhani, both of whom promoted moderate agendas at the beginning of the president’s first term.

A similar power struggle occurred in 1998 under Khatami when his intelligence minister, Qorbanali Dorri Najafabadi, inherited an organization controlled by hardliners who were secretly assassinating dissident politicians and intellectuals. The action plan Alavi published when he became intelligence minister in 2013 stands out as the third possible explanation for the growing number of arrests.

In the document’s section on domestic security, Alavi describes a need to “revive the role of the ministry in the country’s intelligence community while cooperating and interacting with other agencies and preventing parallel actions.”

The most important intelligence agency operating in parallel with the Intelligence Ministry is the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

Rouhani and his intelligence minister may be initiating more arrests to prevent the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization from becoming more powerful and to reduce its dominating role in carrying out widespread arrests of political and civil rights activists.

However, if the Intelligence Ministry has stepped up arrests simply to compete with the IRGC for power, Rouhani will likely lose the crucial base of support he had among civil society during his first term.

That crucial voting bloc of opinion-influencers, including activists, university students, academics and artists, are now being repressed by two major security organizations under Rouhani’s watch.

Prisoners of Conscience

Opposition Leader Under Extrajudicial House Arrest for Six Years Denied Emergency Care

March 13, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/opposition-leader-under-extrajudicial-house-arrest-for-six-years-denied-fast-emergency-care/

An elderly opposition leader who has been kept under extrajudicial house arrest in Tehran since 2011 is being denied access to timely emergency medical services, his son told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). The Intelligence Ministry agents who are guarding former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi are only allowed to take the 79-year-old to a distant hospital run by the ministry should he require emergency medical care.

“Regarding the impact of six years of house arrest on someone of my father’s age, all I can say is that the regime will be held responsible if anything happens to him because of these restrictions,” said Taghi Karroubi. “The distance to the Intelligence Ministry’s hospital is too far.” He spoke to CHRI after the publication of a letter on March 8, 2017 by his mother, Fatemeh Karroubi, condemning the policy.

“The ministry’s security agents are still present inside our home and every basic domestic task is in their hands,” said Fatemeh Karroubi, who lives with her husband but is allowed to leave the house. “That’s not the definition of ‘house arrest.’”

“Ever since the house arrest began, we have been very worried about not being able to contact Tehran Emergency Center when necessary,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, this is the order given to the agents stationed at our home in violation of the most basic human rights.”

Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard were put under house arrest without trial on February 13, 2011 for publicly disputing the results of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election and leading peaceful mass demonstrations against the results. The widespread protests, which were violently repressed by the state, came to be known as the Green Movement.

The media have been instructed not to raise the issue of the house arrests, and the 2009 protests continue to be referred to as the “sedition” by authorities in Iran.

Constantly Monitored

Taghi Karroubi described his father’s living situation to CHRI, adding that Intelligence Ministry agents are based on the first floor of the house and that Mehdi Karroubi and his wife live on the second floor.

“The agents have to be aware of everything, even the purchase of the simplest of things for the house,” he said. “They have to see everything and approve it before it’s taken upstairs.”

“The upstairs’ phone is disconnected,” he continued. “My mother and father don’t have a mobile phone and so if anything happens, the agents have to be informed first.”

“Last week, my father’s blood pressure dropped sharply and he was sent to the Intelligence Ministry’s hospital upon the advice of doctors, and came back after a few hours,” he added. “As my mother said in her letter, the hospital is too far from our home.”

“By putting him under house arrest, the ruling establishment wants to cut my father off from the political and social currents of the country,” Taghi Karroubi told CHRI. “And it did so. The authorities have disconnected the phone and internet. They even cut off the satellite dish that my mother always used for listening to BBC news (banned in Iran).”

“They control all comings and goings,” he said. “My father is only allowed to go to the courtyard for a walk, but he doesn’t do that anymore since his knee operation.”

“When security agents are constantly present inside your home for six consecutive years, that’s not called a ‘house arrest’ anymore,” he said. “I don’t know what to call it. The agents can be stationed outside by the entrance gate, for instance, but they have been inside for six years controlling every personal affair.”

“We want the regime to be accountable,” he added. “If the authorities want to put someone in house arrest, they need a court order. They have to hold a trial.”

“My father, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard have been held all these years without a trial,” Mehdi Karroubi told CHRI. “They have asked to be tried in court many times.”

“It’s like the three are in a legal limbo,” he added. “It’s a situation without legal precedence and therefore you can’t seek justice for them through normal judicial channels.”

“The problem is that they are being punished without being sentenced in court (according to the wishes of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei),” he said. “But the law says no one is above the law, not even the supreme leader.”

Navid Kamran Prevented from Being Sent to the Hospital

Posted on: 13th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/navid-kamran-prevented-sent-hospital

HRANA News Agency – Navid Kamran, political prisoner in ward eight of Evin prison, who suffers from right leg and hand sensory and mobility problems, despite the initial coordination, was prevented from being sent to the hospital because he refused to wear a prison uniform.

According to the report of Human Rights News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Navid Kamran, civil activist who had been imprisoned in 2009, 2010, 2011, also had been arrested on September 6, 2014, along with Arash Sadeghi, Golrokh Irai, and Behnam Mousivand, by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Agents, at his workplace and was transferred to ward 2-A of the Revolutionary Guards in Evin prison, and was interrogated and persecuted. He was released on the bail temporarily.

Mr. Kamran was later tried along with his co-defendants in a court without a fair trial standards, and was sentenced to one year and a half imprisonment by Judge Salvati, for “propaganda against the regime” in 2015 which was reduced to one year in the appeal court.

This civil activist was arrested at his workplace to serve his imprisonment, by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence agents, on October 4, 2016, and was transferred to Evin prison.

Political Prisoners of Ward 7 in Evin Prison Protest against Lack of Medical Treatment

Posted on: 14th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/political-prisoners-of-ward-7-in-evin-prison-protest-against-lack-of-medical-treatment

HRANA News Agency – The prisoners of conscience in ward seven of Evin prison have struck to protest against the lack of medical attention for sick prisoners in this ward and signed a letter demanding the dismissal of the head of the infirmary of this ward. Among the ill prisoners in this ward, Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, and Sohail Arabi have been deprived of medical treatment and being sent to a hospital.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News

Agency in Iran (HRANA), several prisoners in ward seven of Evin prison, including Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian, Esmail Abdi, Soheil Arabi, Omid Alishenas, and Yousof Emadi, by writing a letter to the prison’s authorities have protested against “Ghasem Jafarnejad”, the head of ward seven’s infirmary, and have demanded his dismissal.

This protest and sit-in is for lack of appropriate medical care for the prisoners of this ward especially for Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, and also for Soheil Arabi.

Mehdi Rajabian suffers from MS, and severe kidney infection which has got worse during the last couple of weeks, and Hossein Rajabian suffers from kidney infection.

Also, Sohail Arabi had seizures recently, but after being transferred to prison infirmary, he was not sent to the hospital.

Dual National Speaks of Yearning for Family and Disillusionment with Iran in Letter Prison

March 15, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/dual-national-speaks-of-yearning-for-family-and-disillusionment-with-iran-in-letter-prison/ Iranian-British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, imprisoned in Iran since April 2016, has written a letter to her UK-based husband about the pain of being separated from their infant daughter, Gabriella “Gisoo” Ratcliffe, and disillusionment with her birth country of Iran.

“I turned 38 without you by my side and you turned 42 without me, while our dear Gisoo turned two-years-old without both of us,” she wrote in a letter from Evin Prison in Tehran, published on March 10, 2017 by the Defenders of Human Rights Center.

“When you’re only two-years-old, it’s very hard to bear the weight of such a difficult and significant experience that life puts on your small shoulders,” she added.

“The country we were once proud of (Iran) has robbed us both of seeing the golden years of our daughter’s life and accused me of committing (a crime) I have not done and shockingly condemned me to five years in prison, which I have to spend away from you and our dear Gisoo,” she wrote.

“Do you remember how I used to boast in detail to your friends and family about my country?” she added. “I’m still proud of the civilization and culture, but with all the pain and suffering I’m going through, I’m not sure when I will return after I leave one day.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe also said that the nine months she was forced to spend in solitary confinement before being transferred to the Women’s Ward in Evin Prison were worse than the excruciating physical pain of childbirth.

“The night before our Gisoo was born, I had so much pain that I thought I would die and never see our little girl,” she wrote. “I thought there’s no pain worse than giving birth until there came a moment in solitary confinement when I felt a level of pain I have never experienced before, a pain a thousand times more painful, excruciating and longer than childbirth. And of course, in the end, it did not bring joy.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) detained Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project coordinator for the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London, at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on April 3, 2016 as she was on her way back home following a brief holiday with family. Her daughter, whom she had brought along for the trip, was taken from her and sent to live with her grandparents in Tehran.

In September 2016, after prolonged periods of interrogation, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years imprisonment for unspecified “national security charges” in a trial egregiously lacking in due process.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family have repeatedly denied the charge and the authorities have not publicized any evidence to prove the accusation.

Abolqasem Salavati, a judge who is notorious for issuing harsh sentences in politicized cases, issued the sentence.

In interviews with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), several lawyers have criticized Salavati for ignoring arguments by the defense in court and bowing to the demands of the prosecution, especially in cases in which the arresting authority was the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s sentence against Zaghari-Ratcliffe in January 2017.

“Our Gisoo has grown taller. She now understands very well that her father and mother are not together,” wrote Zaghari-Ratcliffe. “Father is in London and mother is far away living in a room where we have been visiting each other all this time.”

“She has completely forgotten your language, but on the other hand, her Persian is so sweet,” she added. “Sometimes I wonder what language you communicate with each other.”

“The most painful part of this whole affair is that neither of us have witnessed our daughter grow up,” she wrote. “Neither of us.” At least nine other women who are mothers to young children are currently imprisoned in Iran after being tried in politically motivated cases without due process, including prominent human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, Baha’i rights leaders Mahvash Shahriari Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi and Fatemeh Mosanna, Baha’i teacher Azita Rafizadeh, Fahimeh A’raf, a follower of imprisoned spiritual leader Mohammad Ali Taheri, political prisoners Maryam Akbar Monfared and Sedigheh Moradi, and Elham Farahani, a citizen of Iran and Cyprus who was arrested in August 2012 on charges of “espionage” for the UK. The judiciary’s ongoing imprisonment of dual nationals, usually arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization or the Intelligence Ministry, contradicts President Hassan Rouhani’s repeated calls for expatriates to return to Iran.

The growing number of arrests also reflects hardliners’ efforts to prevent the engagement with the West that the Rouhani administration has sought to encourage. Iranian-American dual citizen Robin (Reza) Shahini, sentenced to 18 years in prison in October 2016, has been held since April 2016; Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, held since October 15, 2015 and his Iranian-American father, 80-year-old Bagher Namazi, held since February 2016, have both been sentenced to ten years in prison; British-Iranian dual national Roya Saberi Nobakht, held since October 2013, has been sentenced to seven years in prison; and Iranian-Austrian dual citizen Kamran Ghaderi, held since January 2016, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Iranian-American Karan Vafadari, held since July 2016, and Iranian-born Swedish resident Ahmadreza Jalili, held since April 2016, have not been sentenced yet.

6 Activists Began Serving in Gachsaran Prison

Posted on: 17th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/6-activists-began-serving-gachsaran-prison

HRANA News Agency – On January 30, 2017, six activists from Gachsaran village in Kohkiloyeh and Boyerahmad province, were imprisoned.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Mojtaba Pourhassan, Abbas Mohammad Sadegh Pour, Mehran Zaki, Ehsan Arshadi, Mohammadreza Mobaraki and Abdullah Alirezanejad, six civilians from Gachsaran village in Kohkiloyeh and Boyerahmad province submitted themselves to Gachsaran prison to serve their 2 years in prison sentence.

It should be noted that according to previous reports of HRANA on February 7, 2012, following mass graffiti (almost writing salons on walls) in Dill village, the condition of the village was monitored by native Basij forces and Intelligence Ministry.

The second round of graffiti was accompanied by slogans against Ayatollah Husseini and other officials, including Supreme Leader along with the presence of Ayatollah Husseini, representative of experts in the village.

After a couple of graffiti, announcements in connection with the “awareness and anti-oppression and 2009” in about hundred and fifty pages were distributed in one night in 2014.

On December 30, 2013, one of the activists of the village named Abbas Sadeqpour was arrested along with a taxi driver by intelligence officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

On January 4, 2014, seven other civilians from the village were arrested who were associated with Mr. Sadeghpour.

Their names and additional information which are verified by HRANA are as follows:

1. Hamid Mazaheri, staff of protection part of oil company, student in public relations

2. Abbas Sadeghpour, BA in Theology and MA in Law, PhD student in law

3. Mojtaba Pourhassan, BA in English, retired from Education Department

4. Mohammadreza Mubarak, BA in mechanics, starred student in 2009

5. Mehran Zakinezhad; BA in Management, unemployed

6. Ehsan Arshadi, BA in Accounting worker of oil company

7. Abdullah Alirezanezhad, diploma, unemployed

8. Hamid Bozorgzadeh, MA in industry

Finally, six of the detained citizens, Mojtaba Pourhassan, Abbas Mohammad Sadegh Pour, Mehran Zaki, Ehsan Arshadi, Mohammadreza Mobaraki and Abdullah Alirezanejad were sentenced to imprisonment and suspension provisions and prohibiting of membership in parties, groups and political factions.

According to the issued verdict by Gachsaran revolutionary court, each of them was sentenced by judge Yousef Ahmadi, to two years in prison on charge of insulting the supreme leader, one year in prison on charge of propaganda against the regime and deprivation from membership in political groups and parties.

Need to be mentioned, two activists in this case, with the names of Hamid Mazaheri and Hamid Bozorgzadeh, are still waiting to be tried.

Mehdi and Hussein Rajabian Deprived of Medical Treatment in Evin Prison

Posted on: 17th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/mehdi-hussein-rajabian-deprived-medical-treatment-evin-prison#more-18724

HRANA News Agency – The authorities continue to reject the medical furlough request of Mehdi and Hussein Rajabian, two artist brothers imprisoned in Evin prison who suffer from various diseases as well as complications after the hunger strike. Despite the progress of MS of Mehdi Rajabian, he has been given only painkillers so far. Hossein Rajabian also suffers from kidney disease and he, like his brother has been denied of medical furlough.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), despite the progress of Mehdi Rajabian’s MS, he is held in prison without treatment.

Not long ago, he requested medical furlough but was told that the officer responsible for his case opposed the request.

A source close to the prisoner told HRANA’s reporter, “Doctors at the clinic of the prison do not prescribe the appropriate medication for the disease of Mehdi except painkillers.”

Hossein Rajabian also suffers from kidney disease and he, like his brother has been denied of medical furlough.

HRANA had reported on December 30, 2016 that the doctors in Imam Khomeini Hospital confirmed that Mehdi Rajabian, imprisoned artist in Evin Prison is suffering from MS. Close relatives of Mr. Rajabian believe that the lack of medical treatment in prison was the cause of the disease.

A close source to the imprisoned artist by announcing the news told HRANA’s reporter: “Mr. Rajabian’s family and friends who were aware of his medical condition had already announced that if Mahdi’s medical problems would not been addressed, it would lead to MS. But they did not care and abandoned him without medication.”

The source explained: “Before going to prison, his doctor said he should be monitored. But in this prison term he was taken to the hospital just for an MRI and returned to prison. Nothing more.”

It is worth noting that Mehdi Rajabian who had been sent to furlough after a month of hunger strike, was returned to Evin prison without finishing his treatment. At the same time his brother Hossein Rajabian, who is also an artist and filmmaker, was on hunger strike in prison and suffers from infection and kidney pain.

Hossein Rajabi also was dispatched to 72 hours medical furlough on December 5, and end to his hunger strike. In the last week of the strike was severe kidney infection and pain.

These two imprisoned artist brothers in Evin prison who are punitively separated and kept in ward seven and ward eight of this prison, had gone on hunger strike from Friday, October 28.

Rajabian brothers have written a letter about what happened to them during the past few months in the prison, in the case of a protest hunger strike last month and “deception” by a judicial authority, denial of meeting with the lawyer and their other violated rights and asked all the artists in the world, to express a “peaceful reaction, in dignity of art” and do not leave them alone.

These two brother were tried in branch number 28 of the revolutionary court by judge Moghiseh and sentenced to 6 years in prison and fines on charge of sacrilege and propaganda against the regime.

These sentences were reduced in branch number 54 of court of appeal to three years and 200 million IRR fine.

Rajabian brothers submitted themselves to Evin prison on June 5 to serve their sentences.

Amnesty international demanded the cancellation of the sentences of these artists in a statement and announced that Hossain Rajabian, filmmaker and the two musicians, MehdiRajabian and Yousef Emadi were sentenced to imprisonments for their artistic activities and if imprisoned, they would be considered as prisoners of conscience.

Mehdi Rajabia, Hossain Rajabian and Yousef Emadi had been arrested in their office in Sari in October 2013. They were kept in an unknown location for 18 days, and went under harassment and tortures including electric shock, and then were transferred to ward 2-A of Evin prison.

After two months in solitary confinement and interrogation in ward 2-A, they were released on a bail of 2 billion IRR.

According to an informed source they were under pressure for TV confessions against themselves during interrogations, and the interrogator had threatened them that if they would not comply, they would be sentenced to lifetime prison.

These three artists were sentenced to 6 years in prison and fine, in the primary court, on charge of propaganda against the regime and blasphemy, in branch number 28 of the revolutionary court in December 2015.

An informed source told HRANA’s reporter, “The trial took few minutes and the presence of a lawyer was meaningless and there was no opportunity for any defense”.

The appeal court was held in January 2016 in branch number 54 by judge Babayi.

They were deprived of having lawyer throughout all of the process of their cases and even in the appeal court the judge has told them that having a lawyer was “meaningless” and they had to explain everything themselves. Despite their explanation that their confessions were taken under pressure, they were used as evidences against them.

Mohammad Amin Agushi Sent to Furlough from Tabriz Prison

Posted on: 17th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/mohammad-amin-agushi-sent-furlough-tabriz-prison

HRANA News Agency – Mohammad Amin Agushi was sent to furlough from Tabriz prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mohammad Amin Agushi, was sent to a 5-day furlough from Tabriz prison, on February 5.

Previously this news agency had reported that central pardon commission in Tehran had rejected the request of Mr. Agushi. This rejection was while, West Azerbaijan’s Pardon Commission (military court of Uremia) had approved the request.

Mohammad Amin Agushi was arrested on September 23, 2007 on charge of espionage and cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan. After 7 months and 20 days of interrogations in central prison of Uremia and in solitary confinement, in Ramazan base of the intelligent service, he was released after 8 months on a bail of 1500 million IRR by branch number 2 of military court of Uremia.

He was plead guilty in all charges by judge Hafez Ghafarri and judge Samimi in branch number 2 of military court of Uremia and transferred to central prison of Uremia. After 4 months and after 5 sessions he was sentenced to death by fire squad, by judge Hafiz Ghafari.

After appealing, his case was sent to the supreme court and processed in branch number 31 by judge Mohammad Salimi, and the death sentence was confirmed based on article 109 of the constitution.

In 2010 the retrial request was approved and the case was opened again and was processed in branch number 31, but this time the sentence was reduced to10 years prison in exile.

He was transferred to Zahedan prison in July 2012, and after one year and by the approval of prosecutor of military court, he was sent to furlough.

Iraj Mohammadi and Mohammad Amin Agushi were transferred to Tabriz prison from Zahedan, last March.

3 Activists from Gachsaran Sentenced to Imprisonment, Lashes and Fine

Posted on: 17th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/3-activists-gachsaran-sentenced-imprisonment-lashes-fine

HRANA News Agency – Seyed Mohammad Miri and Ghasem Ghanbari, two political activists from Gachsaran, have been sentenced to imprisonment, lashes and fines on charge of propaganda against the regime and insulting the supreme cleader. Another political activist from Gachsaran, with the name of Hasan Bozorgzadeh, has been sentenced to imprisonment on charge of association in insulting the supreme leader and Khomeini and being banned of membership in any political group for two years, as well.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the revolutionary court of Gachsaran in Kohkilooyeh-va-Booyer-Ahmad province sentenced three political activists with the names of Hasan Bozorgzadeh, Seyed Mohammad Miri, and Ghasem Ghanbari, to respectively, 6 months, three years and three years imprisonment, as well as, 2 million IRR fine and 30 lashes for each. Besides, the court order for being banned of membership in any political group for two years, based on part 4 of article 23 of Islamic Penal Act, has been issued as the complementary punishment.

These activists have been sentenced to 2 million IRR fine for using drugs and 30 lashes.

A close source to these citizens told HRANA’s reporter, “The allegation of using drugs is totally baseless, and we believe it is just for damaging the social figure of these political activists. These people are educated and healthy with liberal attitudes from well-known families”.

Although article 134 of the Islamic Penal Act has been applied by the order of judge and therefore a part of imprisonment sentence of Mohamad Miri and Ghasem Ghanbari was reduced to 2 years. However, due to having only one charge, this rule could not be applied.

HRANA had reported in August that Seyed Mohammad Miri (31 years old and petroleum engineer), Hasan Bozorgzadeh (25 years old and computer science student), and Ghasem Ghanbari (33 years old, vendor), three political activists from Dil village, a rural area of

Ghachsaran in Kohkilooyeh-va-Booyer-Ahmad province had been arrest by the intelligence service on Sunday July 31, 2016.

Need to be mentioned, Mojtaba Poorhasan, Abbas Mohammad Sadeghpoor, Mehran Zakinejad, Ehsan Arshadi, Mohammadreza Mobaraki and Abdullah Alizade, 6 other political activists of this village, submitted themselves to prison on January 29, in order to serve their 2 years of imprisonment sentences.

Dil village is a rural area of Ghachsaran in Kohkilooyeh-va-Booyer-Ahmad province and has a population of 2087 and 482 families, according to 2007’s census.

Ayatollah Nekounam Transferred to a Hospital in Tehran

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/ayatollah-nekounam-transferred-hospital-tehran

HRANA News Agency – Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nekounam, dissident cleric jailed in Saheli prison in Qom, was transferred to a hospital after being kept in the infirmary of the prison for 3 days. Although Mr. Nekounam had recently ended his 35-day hunger and medication strike, but his physical condition is still very bad.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nekounam, critic and independent Shiite Marja, following the “physical deterioration” caused by the effects of a stroke and 35-day hunger and medicine strike, was transferred to and “undisclosed hospital in Tehran” on January 31, 2017.

A source close to this prisoner, told HRANA’s reporter: “His general health condition has deteriorated severely, and despite the passage of several days from the end of his hunger and medication strike, his blood pressure is not coming down from 200.”

This source also said: “He was admitted in the prison’s infirmary, in Saheli prison, in the city of Qom, and received medical care for couple of days.”

Earlier, HRANA had reported that doctors treating him had informed the relevant authorities of the riskd of his further stroke and coma.

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.

6 Exiled Political Prisoners in Ardebil Prison under Additional Pressure

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/6-exiled-political-prisoners-ardebil-prison-additional-pressure

HRANA News Agency – Six political-security prisoners, including five Baluch and one Arab Ahvazi citizens, in Ardabil Central prison are enduring their imprisonment in exile. These people are among the prisoners, about whom less information has been published so far.

According to the report of Human Rights News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Ardebil prison is firmly under the control and supervision of the security forces.

Political-security prisons in this prison have little contact with the outside world, which in addition to the restrictions on phone calls has been caused by distant location of these individuals from their home towns and families.

In light of these prisoners’ lack of communication with the outside world, political-security prisoners in this prison have been targeted to numerous cases of ill-treatment, and have been beaten by the prison guards or by other prisoners at the instigation of or demand of prison officials.

The latest example of this abuse was done systematically about Mohammad Saber Malek Raeisi that led to his protesting hunger strike for several weeks.

At the moment, the identity of six political or security prisoners who have been exiled to Ardebil prison, including five Baluch civilians and one Arab citizen, have been established by HRANA as follows:

Ali Pazhgol son of Saleh/Born in 1991/Sentenced to 16 years imprisonment in exile/Arrested on December 14, 2010/Accused of acting against the national security through cooperation with Baluch opposition groups, (he has experienced 9 months solitary confinement at the Intelligence Office).

Nour Ahmad Hassan Zehi son of Mohammad/Born in 1986/Sentenced to 26 years imprisonment in exile/Arrested on March 15, 2011/Accused of acting against the national security through cooperation with Baluch opposition groups, (he has experienced 9 months solitary confinement at the Intelligence Office).

Abdulkarim Shah Bakhsh son of Mohammad/Born in 1961/Sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in exile/Arrest date unknown/Accused of acting against the national security through cooperation with Baluch opposition groups.

Maher Kabi son of Rahim/Born in 1992/Sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in exile/Arrested on February 7, 2012/ Accused of being a member of the Ahwazi Liberation Organization and his role in the April 15 protests in Ahvaz.

Shir Ahmad Shirani son of Chaker/Born in 1983/Sentenced to 22 years imprisonment in exile/ Arrested on June 3, 2010/Accused of acting against the national security.

Mohammad Saber Malek Raeisi son of Da’dali/Born in 1991/sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in exile/Arrested in September 2009/Accused of acting against the national security through cooperation with Baluch opposition groups, (he was arrested at the age of 17 and has experienced 2 years solitary confinement at the Intelligence Office).

It should be noted, three other Arab prisoners called; Shahab Abbasi, Hadi Albokhanfarnezhad and Sami Jadmavi, who had been sentenced to three years imprisonment in exile in Ardebil prison, by the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz, were held in this prison, but at the moment there is no new information about them.

Women’s Rights

Iran: Atena Daemi and sisters summoned

Created: 13 March 2017 http://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/3755-iran-atena-daemi-and-sisters-summoned

Civil and human rights activist Atena Daemi and her two sisters, Ensieh and Hanieh, were summoned Sunday, March 12, 2017, to the Quds Judiciary Branch to be informed of their charges.

A confidant of Daemi family said the reason for summoning them is a complaint filed by the IRGC Sarallah Corps that has levelled new charges against them. Ms. Daemi’s two sisters had been summoned once before on December 27, 2016, to the Prosecutor’s Office at Evin Prison. They were exonerated of their charges filed by the Revolutionary Guards Corps on February 15, 2017. Atena was also exonerated from her charges filed by the IRGC on February 22, 2017.

Iran: Farzaneh Jalali was freed on a heavy bail bond

Created: 14 March 2017 http://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/3764-iran-farzaneh-jalali-was-freed-on-a-heavy-bail-bond

Women’s rights activist Farzaneh Jalali was freed on Sunday, March 12, 2017, after 17 days of detention in the Intelligence Department of Kermanshah. She was released on a heavy bail of 300m toumans ($92,544). Security forces had arrested Farzaneh Jalali on February 23, 2017. She had been summoned to complete her administrative case, but was arrested before entering the office by plainclothes agents and transferred to prison.

Former Opposition Leader Aide Refusing Vital Medication During Hunger Strike to Protest Detainment

March 17, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/former-opposition-leader-aide-refusing-vital-medication-during-hunger-strike-to-protest-detainment/ Reformist activist and former political prisoner Hengameh Shahidi has started a hunger strike and is refusing to take vital prescription medication in protest against her detention, her mother informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“The authorities have not told us anything,” Nahid Kermanshahi told CHRI on March 15. “They didn’t send my daughter a summons or say what she is charged with.”

“I begged her and said she needs to take her pills because of her (heart) problem,” added Kermanshahi. “She said, ‘I’m not going to accept any of this because I haven’t done anything and so I’m going to continue my hunger strike.’” A former senior political aide to opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi—under extrajudicial house arrest since 2011—Shahidi was arrested by security agents on March 9, 2017 in the city of Mashhad and flown to Tehran. In Evin Prison she was transferred to Ward 209, which is run by the Intelligence Ministry.

“Two months ago, someone called me and said Hengameh has to appear at Branch 2 of the Media Court,” Kermanshahi told CHRI. “At the time, she was in Mashhad taking care of her grandmother’s funeral arrangements. They arrested her while she was staying at a relative’s house.”

“Between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, agents stormed in and took her,” she continued. “She was held for a day in Mashhad and then they brought her on a plane to Tehran. They took her to Branch 2 of the Media Court and then to Ward 209 in Evin.”

“We went to visit her on (March 14),” she added. “We had made an appointment through the Media Court. We went there with Hengameh’s daughter Parmis and her sister Bahar and we sat waiting in the prison courtyard from 2 to 6 p.m. But nothing happened. They didn’t bring Hengameh out. I got very worried because she has a heart condition and was previously hospitalized in the emergency room. I thought maybe something had happened to her.”

Continued Kermanshahi: “The next day I went to the Media Court and told them my child has heart problems. I told them that two or three months ago, doctors had even banned her from going on social media because of her condition. She had disconnected all her phones and didn’t get involved in anything.”

“I told the Media Court officials that we had waited in the prison yard and wanted to know why she wasn’t brought to us for a visit,” she added. “I cried and cried and said something must have happened to my child…I guessed she was sick in the clinic with some kind of problem. Or maybe they had transferred her to a medical center.”

“Mr. (Mostafa) Tork Hamadani is Hengameh’s lawyer,” Kermanshahi told CHRI. “The authorities have not approved him yet, but he told the court assistant to at least let me call her on the phone so that I could stop worrying as a mother does. They gave permission and she called us. She said she didn’t know what had happened the previous day and they had not told her that her family was waiting in the prison yard.”

“Then she said she’s on hunger strike and she’s not taking her pills,” she said. “I begged her and said she needs to take her pills because of her problem. She said, ‘I’m not going to accept any of this because I haven’t done anything and so I’m going to continue my hunger strike.’”

Hamadani told CHRI that Shahidi has been accused of an unspecified “security” crime and therefore the judiciary must approve his credentials before he can represent her.

Shahidi is one among several political activists and journalists who have been detained in a new wave of arrests carried out by the Intelligence Ministry or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ahead of Iran’s May 2017 presidential election.

A senior member of Karroubi’s reformist Etemad Melli (National Trust) party who also reported for the party’s newspaper, Shahidi has already served three years in prison (2009-12) for reporting on the state’s violent crackdown on the peaceful protests following Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election. In 2016 she was fired from an university-level teaching position after the institution caved in to pressure by the IRGC. Predicting her arrest, Shahidi had pre-written a letter, published on March 11 on her Instagram page, describing it “as part of a project to arrest political activists and journalists before the presidential election so that the designated candidate (of hardliner’s) could be guaranteed a victory, just like in the 2009 election.” Addressing President Hassan Rouhani, whom she had supported in the country’s 2013 election, she wrote in a second letter: “You were supposed to be a breath of fresh air for reformists after the oppressive years under (President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, and not choke the air out of them to become president like he did.”

Iran: 120 arrested at east Tehran night party

Friday, 17 March 2017 02:11 http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/22382-iran-120-arrested-at-east-tehran-night-party

NCRI – Reports indicate the Revolutionary Guards and state police in Iran arrested 120 people at a night party in east Tehran.

“A number of young men and women were arrested in an operation carried out in cooperation with the public prosecutor’s office,” said Heydar Fattahi, the public prosecutor of Pardis on Wednesday.

“These are considered cultural crimes. Young men and women who don’t have any relations with others of the opposite sex, being in specific areas until late into the night, and disturbing the localS’ peace,” he added.

“Invitations were sent out through social media,” Fattahi continued, adding such “night parties” are “cultural attacks staged by the enemy through social media.”

During the past few months state police have reported to be inspecting orchards and other areas in search of such mixed-gender parties considered forbidden by the reactionary mullahs’ regime.

There have also been an increasing number of arrests in various provinces on charges of taking part in “mixed-gender night parties.”

35 college students in Ghazvin, west of Tehran, were lashed last June for taking part in “missed-gender night parties.” These measures were met with numerous protests and criticism in Iran, and yet the mullahs’ public prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, said this ruling was completely “legal”, adding “evidence and documents” are available showing “a specific current directing” such parties.

Iran: 20 women arrested in Marivan

Created: 19 March 2017 http://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/3789-iran-20-women-arrested-in-marivan

Twenty environmental activists were arrested on March 18, 2017, by security forces in Marivan, Iranian Kurdistan. These women were protesting burial of waste in Marivan.

The mayor of Marivan had invited the activists to a meeting to respond to their demands but instead of meeting, they were arrested by security forces.

Freedom of Expression

Two journalists jailed in run-up to Iranian New Year

March 13, 2017 – Updated on March 16, 2017 https://rsf.org/en/news/two-journalists-jailed-run-iranian-new-year

In the run-up to the Iranian New Year on 20 March, when prisoners might have expected to be released, two journalists – Henghameh Shahidi and Ehssan Mazndarani – have been arrested and others have been threatened with arrest by the courts, the Revolutionary Guards and the ministry of intelligence.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its condemnation of the Iranian regime’s continuing harassment of journalists.

Henghameh Shahidi, who edits the blog Paineveste, was arrested at the home of her sister in the northeastern city of Mashhad on the orders of the office of the Tehran prosecutor for culture and media. In a letter published after her arrest, she said she had been the target of “threats from government organs.”

“I will go on hunger strike until my release or my death,” the letter added. Mostafa Turk Hamadani, a lawyer who is waiting to see if he will be allowed to defend her, said she had been transferred to Tehran and had been refused the right to receive visits. She is ill and has undergone two heart operations in the past, her mother, Nahid Kermanshahi, said.

Shahidi was originally arrested in June 2009 and was released in November of the same year on the orders of a Tehran revolutionary court on bail of 9 million toman (8,000 euros). After a ministry of intelligence summons in February 2010, a Tehran court sentenced her on appeal to six years in prison and a fine of 50,000 toman, but she was released on medical grounds in October 2010.

Violence was used by the Revolutionary Guards intelligence operatives who arrested Ehssan Mazandarani, the editor of the newspaper Farhikhteghan, yesterday, claiming that he should not have been released a month ago and that he had not fully served his sentence.

Mazandarani was freed on 9 February as a result of a decision that he had completed his two-year sentence. One of the victims of a wave of arrests in November 2015, he was originally given a seven-year jail sentence that was reduced to two years on appeal.

While in prison, he was hospitalized several times with heart and chest problems after a three-week hunger strike. His family says that, following yesterday’s arrest, he was taken to Tehran’s Evin prison, where he immediately began another hunger strike. Issa Saharkhiz, a well-known independent journalist who was one of the other victims of the November 2015 wave of arrests, was manhandled by prison guards during a search of his personal effects on 11 March. He has been held in hospital since March 2016 on medical grounds. His family members say they are concerned about his health.

RSF is also worried about Tahereh Riahi, the Borna news agency’s social affairs editor, who was arrested on 27 December. Still in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin prison and still denied the right to visits, she is said to be in very poor physical and psychological health. Ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Iran is one of the world’s five biggest prisons for media personnel, with a total of 30 journalists and citizen journalists detained.

Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2017

March 17, 2017 https://rsf.org/en/news/press-freedom-violations-recounted-real-time-january-2017

17.03.2017 – More journalists arrested

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) yet again condemns the persecution of journalists in Iran after at least three more were arrested in the past week. The latest victims include Morad Saghafi, the editor of the magazine Goft o Gu (“Dialogue” in Persian), who was arrested at his Tehran home yesterday and was taken to an unknown location. His lawyer, Hamed Zargar, said neither he nor Saghafi’s family have been told why he was arrested.

Meanwhile, Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, yesterday asked the minister of intelligence to explain why a military unit recently arrested 12 editors of pro-reform information pages on the instant messaging service Telegram.

Motahari also criticized the detention of Ehssan Mazandarani, the former editor of the newspaper Farhikhteghan, on 12 March (see RSF’s 13 March release). His wife, Malieh Hossieni, a journalist with the newspaper Farhikhteghana, was fired the day after his arrest.

Although banned, apps and social networks such as Telegram, Facebook and Twitter nowadays play an important role in providing Iranians with news and information. Telegram says it has more than 15 million users in Iran. According to the Kalameh news website, Ali Ahmadinia, the administrator of the Eslahat News (Reform News) channel on Telegram, was arrested on 14 March and was taken to an unknown location.

RSF is currently very concerned about the health of two journalists who have been on hunger strike since their arrest. One is Mazandarani, who was arrested on 12 March (see above). The other Henghameh Shahidi, who was arrested on 9 March.

15.03.2017 – Former editor gets six-month jail term

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the six-month prison sentence that has been passed on Hossein Karoubi, the former editor of Etemad Meli (a newspaper closed since August 2009) for circulating the open letter that his father, Mehdi Karoubi, wrote to President Hassan Rohani. In the April 2016 letter, published in mostly foreign-based media outlets and on social networks, Mehdi Karoubi asks to be tried before a public court “in order to present the evidence I possess about massive fraud during the 2005 and 2009 presidential elections and to show what has happened to young Iranians in the country’s legal and illegal detention centres.”

Etemad Melli’s owner and a former parliamentary speaker, Mehdi Karoubi has been under house arrest since February 2011, a fate he has shared with former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi (the owner of the closed newspaper Kalameh Sabaz) and Mousavi’s wife, the writer Zahra Rahnavard. Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who are both former presidential candidates, are being held illegally and are being denied their rights. Their state of health is very worrying.

RSF has meanwhile learned that Samna Safari, a journalist with the monthly Andisher Poya, was released on 11 March after the authorities determined that he had served his two-year jail sentence. Detained along with three other journalists in a wave of arrests in November 2015, he was sentenced by a revolutionary court in March 2016 to five years in prison for “anti-government propaganda activities.” This was reduced to two years on appeal.

28.02.2017 – City of Qom suspends newspaper

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the decision by the city of Qom’s public prosecutor to suspend the newspaper Shakheh Sabz on 26 February, a day after it ran a story criticizing the level of violence in one of its poorest districts, which it likened to a “jungle.” The suspension was ordered after 136 parliamentarians supported a resolution accusing the daily of “insulting the population of the Holy City of Qom.” The newspaper’s name means “Green Branch.”

22.02.2017 – Ahmad Montazeri returned to prison

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) firmly condemns progressive cleric Ahmad Montazeri’s arrest yesterday. The editor of the website of his late father, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, he was returned to prison after being summoned before a special court for clerics.

Tried behind closed doors and without a defence lawyer on 20 October, Montazeri was sentenced on 27 November to ten years in prison for endangering state security, ten years for publishing a “classified audio recording” and another year for anti-government “propaganda.” He was prosecuted for posting an old recording on the website on 9 August 2016 in which his father could be heard criticizing the wave of executions of political prisoners in the 1980s. For more information: Ahmad Montazeri gets 21-year jail term as part of bid to suppress history

17.02.2017 – Editor freed on completing jail term

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Ehssan Mazndarani – the editor of the newspaper Farhikhteghan and one of the victims of a wave of arrests in November 2015 – was released on 9 February. He had been given a seven-year jail sentence that was reduced to two years on appeal, His lawyer said he was freed as a result of a decision that he had completed his sentence. While in prison, he was hospitalized several times with heart and chest problems after a three-week hunger strike.

10.01.2017 – Website reporter flogged for getting facts wrong

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that Hossien Movahedi, a local news website reporter, was flogged last week in Najafabad, a city 450 km south of Tehran, for getting one of his facts wrong in a story about the confiscation of mopeds from female students at a technological secondary school in the city.

Movahedi reported on the Najafabad News website on 14 June 2016 that the police seized 35 mopeds when, according to the police, it was only eight. Although he apologized for his mistake and although the police were allowed to publish their version on the website, the police pressed charges against him and a Najafabad court sentenced him to 40 lashes for “publishing false information.” This inhuman and medieval sentence was carried out on 4 January.

Iran has yet to ratify the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

06.01.2016 – Woman journalist freed on completing one-year jail term

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has learned that Rihaneh Tabatabai, a journalist who has worked for several reformist newspapers, was released yesterday on completing a one-year jail term on charges of endangering national security and anti-government publicity. She was arrested on 12 January 2016 to begin serving the sentence, which was originally imposed in November 2014 and was confirmed by a Tehran appeal court a year later. The sentence also includes two-year ban on political and journalistic activity in the media and online following her release. In all, Tabatabai has been jailed four times since 2010 in connection with her journalistic activities.

Iranian journalists arrested ahead of elections

Published March 15, 2017 9:19 AM ET https://cpj.org/2017/03/iranian-journalists-arrested-ahead-of-elections.php#more

New York, March 15, 2017–Iranian authorities should immediately release Ehsan Mazandarani, Hengameh Shahidi, and all journalists jailed for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The arrests come ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May.

A guard stands in a hallway in the women’s section of Tehran’s Evin Prison, June 13, 2006. Journalist and activist Hengameh Shahidi was transferred to the prison last week. (Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazi)p

Security forces detained Mazandarani, a reporter for the reformist daily newspaper Etemad and the former editor of the daily newspaper Farhikhtegan, from his home in Tehran on March 12, according to media reports. The reasons for Mazandarani’s latest detention were not immediately clear, the reports said. The reformist website Kalame reported that Mazandarani phoned his family from Tehran’s Evin Prison to say he was beginning a hunger strike. The journalist was released from prison on February 11, having served 15 months of a two-year prison sentence on charges of ”propagandizing against the state” and ”collusion against national security.”

Security forces in the northern Iranian city of Mashhad on March 9 detained Hengameh Shahidi, who also contributes to Etemad and the news website Gooya, according to media reports, which said she had traveled to Mashhad to attend her grandmother’s funeral. Mostafa Turk Hamedani, Shahidi’s attorney, told the official ILNA news agency that he had requested permission to visit his client, but needed court approval first, because she is being charged with unspecified ”national security crimes.”

In addition to her work as a journalist, Shahidi is a member of the National Trust Party. In 2009, she was an adviser to opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under house arrest since 2011.

”Ehsan Mazandarani and Hengameh Shahidi are journalists, not criminals. They should be freed without delay,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. ”If Iran wishes the coming presidential elections to be seen as free and fair, it must release its hold on the media and allow journalists to work without fear of reprisal.”

In a separate incident, officers assaulted imprisoned journalist Issa Saharkhiz on his hospital bed in Tehran Heart Center on March 11, Mehdi Saharikhiz, the journalist’s son, told CPJ. Mehdi Saharikhiz told CPJ that two officers overturned his father’s bed as they searched underneath it.

”After my father protested, the officers physically assaulted him,” Saharkhiz said. Issa Saharkhiz was arrested in November 2015, three months before parliamentary elections. In September 2016, he was sentenced to 21 months in prison for ”insulting the Supreme Leader.”

Iran is scheduled to hold presidential elections in May. Iranian authorities have cracked down on independent or critical journalists ahead of past elections, CPJ research shows.

With New Arrests, Iran’s Election Season Starts

Journalists, Social Media Activists Behind Bars

March 18, 2017 1:00AM EDT Dispatches https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/18/new-arrests-irans-election-season-starts Tara Sepehri Far Iran Researcher @sepehrifar

Iran’s presidential elections, as well as those for town and village councils, are scheduled for May 19. Yet even before registration opens for candidates, a string of journalists have been arrested. If they have been arrested simply for speaking out peacefully, it would violate the right of free expression and possibly threaten the fairness of the elections.

This week, intelligence authorities ramped up detentions of peaceful critics, arresting journalists Hengameh Shahidi, Ehsan Mazandarani, and Morad Saghafi. Authorities told Mazandarani, who had been released from prison just a month earlier after serving his sentence for vaguely defined national security charges, that his release had been “a mistake.”

A woman lets her child cast her ballot during the parliamentary election, at a mosque in southern Tehran March 2, 2012.

More concerning, though, appears to be the arrest of administrators who manage popular news channels within Telegram, a messaging application widely used in Iran. These

administrators all ran channels linked to reformist groups, and some maintain channels with hundreds of thousands of followers. On March 15, Ali Motahari, a member of parliament from Tehran, told ISNA News agency that he had been informed about the arrests of some 12 Telegram channel administrators by a “military intelligence organization.” Motahari emphasized that he had asked the Minister of Intelligence to provide information about which agency arrested them. Mahmoud Sadeghi, another Tehran parliamentarian, tweeted on March 16 that he had been unsuccessful in finding information on who made the arrests. Sadeghi also shared a screenshot of a complaint he received from a constituent. She described how her husband was arrested by authorities who at first claimed to be representatives of the prosecutors’ office, but then showed an ID card from Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps – a branch of Iran’s military with broad power. Sadeghi called on President Hassan Rouhani and the judiciary’s head to not be bystanders when citizens’ rights are violated.

With widespread censorship and long-standing legal restrictions on free expression in Iran, Telegram has become a vital tool for activism and communication in Iran in recent years. For instance, in February 2016 parliamentary elections, Telegram served as a “must-have” application for politicians to engage with voters.

Arresting citizens for peacefully expressing their views is normally a violation of human rights, but in times like this, it can infringe not on only this fundamental freedom, but also genuine participation in the political process.

Statement

Iran: Arrests and Intimidation of Telegram Administrators and Journalists Ahead of the Elections

17 Mar 2017 https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/38678/en/iran:-arrests-and-intimidation-of-telegram-administrators-and-journalists-ahead-of-the-elections

ARTICLE 19 is concerned at the increasing crackdown against citizens using online platforms just two months before the presidential elections to be held on 19 May 2017.

The recent arrests and intimidation of administrators and journalists using the social media platform Telegram, risks silencing citizens who seek to exercise their right to expression and information during the election process.

“These arrests are extremely concerning, and indicate a purposeful restriction of the media space in the lead up to the May Presidential Elections. We especially urge the Iranian government to ensure all political voices have the platform to publish, share and receive information online without repercussions,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a hardline wing of Iran’s armed forces, accountable to the office of the Supreme Leader, arrested 12 administrators of channels supporting the reformist

political faction and the moderate President Hassan Rouhani. These arrests occurred early Tuesday 14 March, 2017, almost two months before the President elections.

Telegram gained notability during the 2016 Parliamentary elections, as a platform that aided significant gains for reformist and moderate members of parliament. The Revolutionary Guards have previously attempted to limit the free flow of information through Telegram, by pursuing arrests related to immoral or obscene content. However, this is the first time crackdowns have focussed explicitly on political affiliation.

The Telegram channels affected by the crackdown include Eslahtalaban News, Eslahaat News, Majmeye Eslahtalaban and Haamiyan Dolat amongst them.

Sources indicate these channels have either been deleted from Telegram and/or have not published anything since the arrests. Two individuals have so far been identified as the arrested administrators; Saeed Naghdy and Ali Ahmadian, both associated with reformist media and the administration of reformist channels. Ahmadian is believed to have run the Eslahaat News channel.

Crackdowns on press freedom and freedom of expression leading up to the May 2017 Presidential elections are noticeable outside the digital sphere. Reformist journalists such as Ehsan Mazandarani and Hengameh Shahidi are amongst those most recently arrested for their independent and critical reporting.

Ehsan Mazandarani, who was recently released from prison was re-arrested on Sunday by the intelligence units of the Revolutionary Guards at this home. The Prosecutor of Tehran said the reason for his re-arrest was the time that remained to be served for previous charges that required him to serve two years. However his wife and lawyer produced documents that proved Mazandarani had completed the two years and was released on the 11 February 2017.

Mazandarani told his family that he is on a dry hunger strike and some of his relatives were posting on social media that his wife Malihe Hosseini was fired from Farikhtegan Newspaper on Wednesday following his arrest.

“Citizens have a right to know and be informed of all political views ahead of this major election,” added Thomas Hughes. “We find these arrests especially unacceptable during the period of the Nowruz holidays, when government is not in session, and due process is not upheld in the run-up to the May 2017 Presidential elections”.

2 Journalists Sentenced to Lashes in Gilan Province

Posted on: 15th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/2-journalists-sentenced-lashes-gilan-province

HRANA News Agency – Mostafa Barari and Arash Shoa` Shargh, editors of two websites of “Gilan No” and ”Gilan Novin”, are sentenced by criminal court of Gilan province to respectively 114 and 40 lashes, following the complaints from a parliament member and on charge of spreading lies and publishing without having permission. This sentence was confirmed by the appeal court as well.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), judge Mehrani of branch number 105 of criminal court of Rasht sentenced editors of two websites of “Gilan No” and “Gilan Novin,” Mostafa Barari and Arash Shoa` Shargh to respectively 114 and 40 lashes on charge of spreading lies and publishing without permission, and also 10 million IRR.

According to this sentence, access to these websites are also going to be denied.

A close source to these journalists told HRANA’s reporter, “Mr. Barari did not request for appeal in the first 20 days. In fact, he did not receive the verdict and after that his request was not registered. Mr. Shoa` Shargh submitted his appeal request by his lawyer and it was processed in branch number 12 of appeal court of province. He was told that the sentence was confirmed but the court order is not yet received.”

This informed source continued, “In this law suit, Gholamali Jafarzadeh Imanabadi, parliament member from Rasht has sued editors of three websites of Khazar Online, Gilan Novin and Gilan No. During the interrogations they were together, but Khazar Online case was sent to another branch and was plead not guilty”.

Need to be mentioned, Arash Shoa` Shargh, has multiple arrests on his record for his previous journalism activities.

Mr. Shoa` Shargh had been detained three days from June 17, 2009 and 2 days in April 2011 for having interview with foreign media, and last time for a compliant from municipality and due to inability of putting bail, he had been detained for 4 days.

In the last arrest, he was released on the bail of 1 billion IRR and finally plead not guilty in branch number 1 of revolutionary court of Gilan by judge Darvish Goftar.

Memo to Tech and Social Media Companies: Allow Iranians Access to Online Tools

March 15, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/allow-iranians-access-to-online-tools-and-services/

March 15, 2017 —Major technology and social media companies should stop barring Iranians from buying or accessing personal communications tools and services that are not banned by any sanctions, and make immediately available to Iranians the full range of permissible items, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) and ASL19 said in a joint statement today.

Firms such as Apple, Twitter, Google, GoDaddy, Facebook, AMD, Norton, Comodo, Oracle and Adobe are denying Iranians the right to purchase or download tools and services that are legal, available to the rest of the world, and essential for allowing Iranians full and safe access to the global internet.

“Iranians not only face internet censorship and hacking from their government, but also the denial of the right to purchase and use perfectly legal software and services by private tech firms” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI.”

“These items are not under any sanctions and it is unfair and discriminatory to deny Iranian youth tools that are available to the rest of the world,” continued Ghaemi. “Tech firms are being complicit in denying the right to internet access in Iran.”

These restrictions have impeded Iranians’ access to information, directly endangered the security of journalists, activists and students in the country who face covert state monitoring and hacking, and impeded the growth and expansion of a new generation of Iranian developers and startups.

At least 35 companies offering high tech communications and software development tools have blocked their products (at least 61 items) from domestic use in Iran, according to research carried out by CHRI and ASL 19.

“Barring Iranian users from these tools and services that companies make available to everyone else around the world is not sanctions compliance; it’s voluntary and arbitrary behavior that is discriminatory,” said Ali Bangi, the Co-Director of ASL19.

“We have reminded tech companies again and again that their over-compliance with sanctions not only goes beyond the scope of the law, but also violates fundamental human rights and freedom of speech,” Bangi, added.

This access has been denied even though the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) explicitly exempted personal communications tools and services from sanctions against Iran, allowing Iranians to purchase software, mobile applications, cell phone hardware, personal computers, and others services under General License D-1 in February 2013.

Undermining Online Security

These restrictions harm the public in several areas, perhaps the most critical being security. Internet use is not only extremely restricted in Iran, the state covertly monitors and hacks accounts as well. Internet service providers are also forced to comply with “security” laws that expose their customers’ information and activities.

Online security is imperative because Iranians are vulnerable to prosecution and imprisonment for any online content disapproved of by the authorities. Yet software companies specializing in user security, including antivirus software producer Norton, have blocked Iranians from purchasing their products. These products are not only authorized under General License D-1 (Annex Item 6), but several companies, including Avast, have been able to make their services available in Iran without further problems.

The ability of Iranians to safely host content abroad is also critical, because any content hosted in Iran is vulnerable to state intrusion. Yet some of the largest internet companies, including GoDaddy and Google AppEngine, have banned users in Iranians from purchasing its web hosting services. As a result, Iranians have no choice but to turn to domestic hosting companies that expose them to hacking and cyber attacks by security agencies.

The most basic way to protect online activity and communication is by enabling encrypted web traffic on websites. Yet companies that sell the certificates required to support encryption, including Comodo and GoDaddy, do not offer this security resource to Iranian web administrators or for .IR domains, thereby exposing users in Iran to surveillance by security agencies. Other services such as Let’s Encrypt allow Iranians to use their services.

Iranians also need to access and update basic software. Yet several developers of common internet plugins and desktop software restrict access to update features and block downloads for users in Iran.

For example, access to Oracle’s Java and Adobe’s Flash is blocked, even though these items are commonly shipped with systems or required for certain applications. As a result, Iranians are unable to retrieve security fixes, enabling malicious actors to compromise their computers for surveillance or fraud. Such restrictions by Oracle and Adobe ignore the D-1 authorizations as well as an Interpretative Guidance statement by OFAC in which the office specifically named their products.

Handicapping Start-up Companies and Job Creation

The internet has provided space for a young generation of entrepreneurs to create their own communications platforms and participate in the global economy, and Iranian startups have attracted international attention for their creativity and the inclusiveness of the community. Yet developers are often denied access to common development software, operating systems, databases, open source projects, application markets and other platforms.

For example, Google’s Android development products are restricted, despite the platform’s popularity in the country, as is Oracle’s database software. Many of the items fall within General License D-1, and for products not covered by D-1, companies can apply for specific licenses to make them available.

Hampering Civil Society and Human Rights

Social network giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Ads will also not allow anyone to place advertisements in Iran— even though placing ads in specific geographies is routine. Yet blocking the ability to reach the Iranian public undermines civil society. For example, human rights groups cannot share and advertise posts on these networks to inform Iranians about rights abuses, and groups promoting free speech are prevented from sharing educational information on security and privacy techniques, because Iran is not offered as an option for targeted broadcasts.

The internet continues to be one of the primary means by which Iranians can express themselves and communicate free from state control and repression. CHRI and ASL19 urge tech companies to stop aiding the Iranian government in its efforts to restrict Iranians’ access to the global internet and monitor their online activities.

Restrictions that go beyond sanctions compliance have no reasonable justification. For any personal communication tools and services not already permitted under by the D-1 General Export License, the U.S. Department of Treasury has long offered companies authorization processes to provide such items—and has in fact clearly communicated that protecting access to information is a priority for the US Government.

“If companies have compliance concerns, they should seek clarity with OFAC, rather than throw up their hands and abandon their users,” said Ghaemi, adding that, “By doing so, these firms will uphold the letter of the law and the universal right to information access and privacy.”

Kianoosh Sajari Arrested after Returning to Iran

Posted on: 17th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/kianoosh-sajari-arrested-returning-iran

HRANA News Agency – Kianoosh Sajari, blogger and human rights activist who was living in US, has been arrested few weeks after returning to Iran in October. He is still in limbo and in an undecided condition under the arrest of security forces.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Kianoosh Sanjari, blogger and human rights activist who was residing in US has been arrested in October for unknown reasons.

Few weeks after his return to Iran, security forces summoned and then arrested him. Despite passing more than 2 months from his arrest and given promises regarding facilitation of his temporary release, his condition is not changed and he is detained in the intelligent service detention centre.

Family and people close to him, decided to remain silent about his condition.

Need to be mentioned that Kianoosh Sanjari (bon in 1982 in Tehran) is civil rights activist, and blogger, who resided in US. He has multiple arrests on his record.

Mr. Sanjari was arrested for the first time, during the students’ rally in protest to Salam Newspaper shut down, when he was 17 years old.

This civil rights activist was arrested during the clashes between security forces and followers of Ayatollah Kazemeini Broujerdi, on October 8, 2006, too.

Mehdi Khaz`ali Arrested and Transferred to Evin Prison

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/mehdi-khazali-arrested-transferred-evin-prison

HRANA News Agency – Mehdi Khaz`ali was arrested in his office and transferred to ward 350 in Evin prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mehdi Khaz`ali was arrested in front of Hayan publisher office, by the order from Shahid Moghadasi court (Evin) and then transferred to ward 350 (general ward) on Sunday February 13.

Yet, there is no information about the reason of this arrest.

Need to be mentioned, Mehdi Khaz`ali who was one the critics of Mahmood Ahmadinejad after 2009’s presidential election, had publicly criticized Islamic Republic many times and had been arrested several times.

Sina Qalandari Acquitted in the Court of Appeal

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/sina-qalandari-acquitted-court-appeal

HRANA News Agency – Sina Qalandari, 30-year-old journalist from Kuhdasht who had been sentenced to two years imprisonment, due to releasing information regarding the elections in the region, which was “in his absence in the courtroom” and without having the opportunity to defend himself was acquitted in the appeal court. While this citizen is in an undecided condition in another case with the theme of “setting the regional forest on fire” based on a complaint by Natural Resources Department, head of this department has raised a new complaint to the governor, regarding this journalist’s letter to the Province Governor.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), in October last year, Sina Qalandari, journalist from Kuhdasht, was sentenced by Branch 3 of the Criminal Court in Lorestan province, to three years imprisonment of sixth grade.

This Journalist’s charge in this case had been mentioned as: “spreading lies by computer systems in cyberspace”. The warrant was issued while he was not present in the court.

Later on, an appeal court was held due to his objection and Mr. Qalandari was acquitted based on this court’s decision.

Sina Qalandari has another case with the theme of “setting regional forest on fire”, based on the complaint by the Natural Resources Department, but the status of the case is still pending.

He was arrested after being summoned to investigation office, but because of severe weakness and illnesses, he was taken to the hospital on August 30, 2016, and the next day was released temporarily on the bail, but he was still in the hospital. Mr. Qalandari was acquitted during the investigation by the interrogator, but due to unknown reasons, the prosecutor had issued his temporary detention order.

A source close to Mr. Qalandari told HRANA’s reporter: “On Tuesday the head of the Natural Resources Department of the province had sued Sina because of his reports and articles regarding the incident of wildfires in the province and the death of one of the local peasants. However, he was fully exonerated by the court, but prosecutor had prevented his release for unknown reasons”.

This informed source, about this detained journalist’s illness, added: “Sina’s disease is a kidney stone problem and the night before being summoned he was admitted in the hospital because of his kidney problem. However at the detention center he had got extreme fatigue

because he had not eaten since morning and he was not given anything in the detention center, so that he was transferred to the hospital”.

Sina Ghalandari was born in 1985 in Koohdasht city in Lorestan province. He handles a channel called “Radio Telegram of Lorestan”.

It should be mentioned that this Koohdashti journalist was held in the central prison of Lorestan for 9 days in March this year due to a complaint made by the governor because of asking him about the rumors of “throwing the Quran” by him.

Labor and Guilds’ Rights

Teachers Hold Rallies Across Iran for Labor and Education Rights

March 14, 2017 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/03/teachers-hold-rallies-across-iran-for-labor-and-education-rights/

Teachers held rallies in several Iranian cities on March 9, 2017 demanding livable wages and improved educational resources for students. “The rallies were held in front of the Ministry of Education offices in provincial capitals in collaboration with several teachers’ organizations, and they included employed and retired teachers,” a member of the Iranian Teacher’s Trade Association told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Demonstrations were held in the capital of Tehran and other cities including Shiraz, Tabriz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Ahvaz, Rasht, Bandar Abbas, Ardebil, Khorramabad, Ahvazi, Sari, Shahroud and Kish Island in the Persian Gulf.

In some cities, police and security forces tried to prevent the protesters from taking pictures or carrying banners, but there were no reports of arrests, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.

The source said the rallies were held to protest low wages and lacking benefits for teachers, the decreasing quality of education, increasing school fees that make “free education” no longer free for Iranian children, and the ongoing harassment, arrests and imprisonment of teachers active in the labor movement. At many of the rallies, teachers displayed placards of prominent labor activist Esmail Abdi, the former secretary general of the Iranian Teacher’s Trade Association who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security.”

Formed in the late 1990s under the reformist administration of President Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian Teacher’s Trade Association is the largest teachers’ union in the

country. Many of its members have served or are currently serving time in prison for their peaceful labor activities. In addition to Abdi, who is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, Akbar Baghani, another senior member of the association, has been exiled to Zabol, in East Azerbaijan Province.

Several teachers are also currently on parole after having provided large security deposits.

CHRI’s investigations reveal that since the spring of 2009, dozens of teachers and members of the Iranian Teacher’s Trade Association were arrested for their non-violent civil or political activities and sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 15 years in prison.

Teachers released from prison are meanwhile prevented from returning to work. In some cases, schools are told by security agencies not to re-hire them. Judges are pressured not to listen to complaints from former teachers who want to work again, and administrators are scared to hire back formerly imprisoned teachers for fear of official retaliation.

Information about the Islamic Republic’s repression of teacher’s rights is mainly limited to what relatives or friends—who are willing to face harassment by security agencies for speaking out—share with the public and the media. The actual number of arrests and incidents of intimidation and harassment is likely higher.

The ongoing arrests and imprisonment of teachers reflects a broader and consistent denial of labor rights in Iran. Professional organizations face severe restrictions, strikers are often arrested and risk losing their job, and labor leaders face arrest and long prison sentences.

Mahmood Salehi’s Appeal Court Session Postponed

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/mahmood-salehis-appeal-court-session-postponed

HRANA News Agency – Appeal court session of Mahmood Salehi, labour activist who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison, was cancelled due to absence of prosecutor’s representative and it was postponed to the next month.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), appeal court session of Mahmod Salehi, labour activist, was cancelled.

The date of appeal court session was announced to Mahmood Salehi in a phone call and he was summoned to branch number 4 of appeal court of Kurdistan province, on Thursday February 2nd.

Need to be reminded that Mahmood Salehi is a labour activist who was sentenced to 9 year of imprisonment on charge of establishing opposing groups and propaganda against the regime, in August 2015.

The sentence was issued while Mahmood Salehi had to be in Saqqez hospital for his kidneys’ treatment two times a week. According to close sources to Mahmood Salehi, the reason of

severe condition of the illness is being deprived of medical treatment during the time that he was detained in August 2015.

Ethnic Minorities’ Rights

Mohammad Saber Malek Raisi Transferred to the Hospital

Posted on: 16th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/mohammad-saber-malek-raisi-transferred-hospital

HRANA News Agency – On January 29, 2017, Mohammad Saber Malek Raisi, Baloch political prisoner who is serving his 15 years in prison sentence in exile in Ardebil prison, was transferred to a specialized hospital for tests and was returned to prison after the examinations. He recently ended his hunger strike and was interrogated because of writing letters to the UN Special Rapporteur.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), doctors of Fatemi Hospital in Ardebil examined Mohammad Saber Malek Raisi because of hemorrhoid disease and have prescribed medication for one month. The prison should undergo a surgery if he would not recover after a month.

He was interrogated because of writing letters to the Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur.

A close source to him told HRANA’s reporters that the authorities’ promise about the demands of the hunger strike had not been fulfilled yet.

Mehdi Kokhian Restarted His Hunger Strike by Sewing His Lips

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/mehdi-kokhian-restarted-hunger-strike-sewing-lips

HRANA News Agency – Mehdi Kokhian activist from Malakan, has gone on hunger strike by sewing his lips again in Maragheh prison, to protest against breach in promises made by the authorities. This political prisoner has symbolically sewed his ears as well to “avoid hearing the officials’ insults”.

A close source to Mr. Kokhian told HRANA’s reporter: “Mehdi again has gone on hunger strike and has sewed his mouth and ears on January 31, and he has said that he sewed his ears to avoid hearing their insults”.

The source went on saying: “Unfortunately, the intelligence officers have gone many times to Mehdi’s home and have created fear and terror for the residents of the home. During this time, Mehdi has had stomach bleeding for three times, his kidney has got infection and that he had already stomach problems which have got worse. It had been agreed that Mehdi would be released on a bail of 1 billion, but the prosecutor, Peyman Mohammadpour, has violated what he had said and increased the bail to 3 billion. Mehdi has started his strike by sewing his mouth and ears. He said, ‘I will achieve my demand or die here.’”

Mehdi Kokhian and Karim Chaichian were arrested at their houses by security forces of Malekan, on December 19, 2016. The officers searched their houses and attempted to seize these two civilians’ personal electronics and communication belongings.

Mehdi Kokhian and Karim Chaichian had gone on hunger strike since their transfer from Malekan Police to Maragheh prison on December 21, 2016.

Karim Chaichian was released from Maragheh prison on December 25, 2016 but Mr. Kokhian was transferred to the solitary confinement of the Intelligence Office, while he was still on hunger strike.

It has been reported previously that Mehdi Kokhian had been beaten in detention centre of the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Office in Tabriz.

Finally, Mehdi Kokhian was transferred from detention centre of the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Office in Tabriz to Maragheh prison on January 22, 2017. A bail of 1 billion IRR had been issued for him. When this transfer was done, Mr. Kokhian had ended his hunger strike in this detention centre on an unknown date.

Religious Minorities’ Rights

Iran: A woman was arrested in Shahr-e Ray

Created: 13 March 2017 http://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/3754-iran-a-woman-was-arrested-in-shahr-e-ray

Sima Kiani was arrested by security forces on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Shahr-e Ray, a Tehran suburb. She was transferred to an unknown location.

Security forces inspected Ms. Kiani’s house and confiscated many of her personal belongings.

Ms. Kiani believes in the Bahaii faith.

2 Christians Held in Limbo in Evin Prison for 6 Months

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/2-christians-held-limbo-evin-prison-6-months

HRANA News Agency – Hadi Asghari and Amin Afshar Naderi, two Christian converts, have been held in an undecided condition in ward 4 of Evin prison, from about six months ago, and have not even been summoned for investigations. On the other hand, Mr. Asgari who has got kidney infection as a consequence of cold weather because he was denied to get his clothing, has not received any medical treatments.

A source close to the families of these two Christian converts has told HRANA: “Hadi Asghari and Amin Afshar Naderi, have been held in an undecided condition for more than six months, and even have not been interrogated. They have said if their situation would not be made clear they would go on hunger strike. Hadi Asghari has got infection on his both kidneys because of the cold weather. Nothing has been done so far, regarding his treatment.”

HRANA had previously reported that Mr. Asgari had been interrogated for three months in ward 209 of Evin Prison, and had been kept in solitary confinements. He had been deprived of contacting his family and informing them of his situation, for the first 47 days.

The Christian convert, who has been transferred to ward 4 of Evin Prison, has been deprived of getting his personal belongings and clothing from his family, and had been given clothing and stuff by the other prisoners.

Mr. Asgari has been spending his six months of detention in an undecided condition, and has had no trials so far.

It should be noted that Mr. Asgari was arrested along with 4 other Christians and new converts, named; Ramyyl Bet Tamarz, Amin Afshar Naderi, Mohammad Dehnavi and Amir Saman Dashti, in a private garden in Firoozkooh during worship. They were transferred to Evin prison, on August 26, 2016.

A Baha’i Student Expelled from the University

Posted on: 19th March, 2017 https://www.en-hrana.org/bahai-student-expelled-university

HRANA News Agency – Sogol Kazemi Bahnamiri, a Baha’i student who was studying in the fifth semester of engineering Urban Development at the non-profit University of Mashhad, was excluded from the final exams. This Baha’i student pursues from the Assessment Organization and the Ministry of Science officials were left unanswered.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Sogol Kazemi Bahnamiri, born in 1996, passed the exam in 2014, with student reference number 9721230972, and in the fall of 2014 began her higher education in the field of civil engineering at the non-profit University of Mashhad.

Ms. Kazemi was denied to access the University’s website while during her fifth semester final exams on January 23, 2017, without any notice, and there is no result of her efforts to resolve the issue.

The Baha’i student in the first phase referred the issue to the University Teaching Management. While, the head of this department stating that he was unaware of the nature of the problem, he replied: “We have been contacted and told by the Assessment Organization to close your portal, no more explanations were given and you need to contact Assessment Organization to fix the problem”.

Ms. Kazemi attended the Assessment Organization on January 28. Chairman of the selection of students stated that he was unaware of the closure of her “Portal” and said: “If we wanted to fire you, we would not accept you from the beginning!”

She attended the Ministry of Science, but nobody took the responsibility there, either.

A source close to Ms. Kazemi’s family told HRANA’s reporter: “Conversation with authorities showed that they completely were aware of the issue. Oppression of Baha’is in Iran is not going to end; only the form of it changes. Sogol, like all her friends in this Holy Land, is derived of her smallest right; education. With the hopes of implementation of the civil rights in the constitution and achieving equal opportunities for all Iranians, we will continue to pursue our right to education”.

 
 

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