Iran: At least 4 minors hanged last Persian year
By IranHRM Last updated Mar 27, 2018
By going ahead with juvenile executions Iranian authorities have failed to adhere to all of their obligations under international law.
Despite huge public and international opposition, Iran continued to juvenile executions and sentencing juveniles to death in the last Persian year.
Four minor offenders were executed after they reached 18 in the past (Persian) year. They have been identified as Alireza Tajiki, Amir Hossein Pourjafar, Ali Kazemi and Mahboubeh Mofidi. This is while Iran joined the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child 25 years ago, according to which the execution of child offenders is prohibited.
The UN human rights office has said Iran is the worst in the world when it comes to sentenc-ing minors to death — a crime under international law. Three minors were executed this Jan-uary, and 80 more remain on death row.
Alireza Tajiki, 15 years old
Alireza Tajiki was hanged in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz on August 10, 2017. He was arrested in 2012 in Fesa on charges of killing 16-year-old Ehsan Nisari and was then sentenced to death. According to reports, Alireza was kept in solitary confinement for 15 days after his arrest in the Shiraz Police Station without access to a lawyer or his family and confessed to the murder. The teenager had on several instances proclaimed his innocence in court but the court only accepted his initial confessions as evidence. According to Nasrin Sotudeh, one of his lawyers, there were other suspects in the case but the judges stopped the investigations into their involvement to condemn Alireza Tajiki to death.
Amir Hossein Pourjafar, 16 years old
Amir Hossein Pourjafar was executed on January 4, 2018. The teenager killed Setayesh in Varamin’s Kheiabad at the age of 16. The murder of Setayesh was covered extensively by the media… The rights of Amir Hossein as a suspect and his living conditions were overlooked in the incident and the media turned him into a beast that deserved no rights. But the issue that stands to be considered is that just as Setayesh was a child, Amir Hossein was also a child and the rights of a child have to be considered on both ends of the spectrum.
Ali Kazemi, 15 years old
Ali Kazemi was executed on January 30, 2018; He was a child offender who injured another person in a fight in which others were involved. The injuries led to the person’s death. He was hanged in the Central Bushehr Prison at the age of 22 and was only 15 at the time of the murder. According to reports, Ali survived the hanging and was rushed to the hospital. About an hour later, he passed away at the hospital.
Mahboubeh Mofidi, 17 years old
Mahboubeh Mofidi was executed on January 30, 2018. Mahboubeh, who was sentenced to death at the age of 17 for killing her husband, was hanged in Noshahr Prison. Reports indicate that Mahboubeh was not informed about the contents of the capsules (she used to kill her husband), which were rice pesticides, but during the second hearing in court, she changed her story upon the threats and insistence of her family.
Execution and Death in Custody
One Day after Being Arrested by the Police: Ali Poladi Died
Posted on: 25th March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – Ali Poladi from Chaloos, was arrested by security forces in this city and taken to the Detention Center of the Police intelligence office. The next morning his fami-ly was asked to attend the station to get Ali Poladi’s corpse. This caused conflicts between his relatives and one of Police intelligence officers. Law enforcement officials have not yet pro-vided a clear explanation for his death.
According to the report of Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran (HRANA), a person named “Ali Poladi” from the village of Gwiter of Marzan Abad was arrested on charge of “shooting” by police officers in the district of Chaloos on Monday, January 12.
After being arrested, the person was transferred to Chaloos police intelligence office.
His family who was trying to get information about the fate of their son, was informed that the 26-year-old man had died at the detention center and the family needed to take delivery of the body, in the morning of January 13.
In a conversation with HRANA’s reporter, Ali Poladi’s brother confirmed the news and said; “Ali had no particular illness and he was in complete health at the time of arrest.”
After the news of this young man’s death in the detention center of the Police Intelligence Office, some villagers, including Ali Polladi’s relatives, came to Chaloos City Police Intelli-gence Office. They believed that the young man was mistreated or possibly tortured to death.
It is said that in response to the pursuit of these people, an officer, “Captain Roozshad”, of-fended the family, causing a physical conflict between the attendants and the abovementioned officer.
Police forces have dispersed the protesting crowd. However, there is still no clear explanation as to the reason for the death of this person in the detention center.
It should be mentioned that in recent days, at least three other detainees, Sina Ghanbari (Evin – Tehran), Vahid Heidari (Arak police station) and Sarou Ghahremani (Sanandaj Intelligence Detention Center), died after being arrested.
Iran: 21-year-old woman to be sent to the gallows
By IranHRM On Mar 27, 2018
The death sentence for a young woman was confirmed by the Supreme Court, according to the state-run Aftab news agency.
The woman named Mojgan is charged with murdering her husband two years ago in July 2015 when she was 21.
Prior to this, the woman was acquitted of the murder charges and was sentenced to paying blood money for the charge of unintentional murder. The sentence was not upheld by the Su-preme Court, which sentenced her to death. She has been identified as 21-year-old Mojgan.
The court first exonerated her from the charge of premeditated murder and then sentenced her to pay blood money for committing non-deliberate murder. The Supreme Court, however, did not uphold the verdict and ultimately sentenced her to death.
At least 82 women have been executed in Iran under Hassan Rouhani. 11 of whome have been executed since January 2017.
In the latest case Mahboubeh Mofidi, 21, was executed on January 30, 2018 for a crime she committed at the age of 17.
She was sentenced to death at the age of 17 for killing her husband, was hanged in Noshahr Prison. Reports indicate that Mahboubeh was not informed about the contents of the capsules (she used to kill her husband), which were rice pesticides, but during the second hearing in court, she changed her story upon the threats and insistence of her family.
Attorney Blocked From Taking on Human Rights Cases in Iran Calls For Revision of “Flawed” Law
March 27, 2018
A lawyer representing the family of an Iranian Canadian academic who recently died in an Iranian prison has joined the growing list of attorneys in Iran who have criticized the judi-ciary’s decision to force citizens held on politically motivated charges to pick their lawyer from a list.
“Unfortunately, the law is flawed and we need to try to change it,”
attorney Arash Keykhosravi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 22, 2018.
“In several cases in recent months, my colleagues and I have been told that our names are not on the list, or they say our credentials need to be approved and eventually we have been re-jected,” he added.
“This is a problem in our laws and legislators should try to nullify or remove the exclusions in Article 48 because it’s preventing fairness in the judicial process,” said Keykhosravi.
In January 2018, judicial offices in several Iranian cities received lists of lawyers that have been allowed by the judicial branch to take on cases involving national security charges at the preliminary investigation stage.
Iran’s Constitution sets no limits or conditions on the right to legal counsel.
Article 35 states, “Both parties to a lawsuit have the right in all courts of law to select an at-torney, and if they are unable to do so, arrangements must be made to provide them with legal counsel.”
According to Article 48 of Iran’s Criminal Procedures Regulations, people have the right to ask for and have a meeting with a lawyer as soon as they are detained. However, the “Note to Article 48” makes exceptions: “In cases of crimes against internal or external security…during the investigation phase, the parties to the dispute are to select their attorneys from a list approved by the head of the judiciary.”
“We [lawyers] are unable to take on security cases, although I’ve noticed that many of these cases have nothing to do with national security because the country’s security has not been harmed or threatened,” Keykhosravi told CHRI.
“Many of these cases have been pointlessly labeled as security cases. This has roots in our history and authoritarian culture and the authorities have no tolerance for listening to opposing voices,” he added.
Keykhosravi’s clients include the families of Kavous Seyed-Emami and Mohammad Raji, two of the five victims who died in state custody in Iran between January and March 2018.
Keykhosravi has been blocked from officially representing human rights lawyer Mohammad Najafi, who is facing several national security charges for telling media outlets that local police were concealing the real cause of his client’s death in custody.
“In response to our inquiries regarding Mr. Najafi’s case, we were told that we are not on the judiciary’s list of authorized lawyers,” Payam Derafshan, Najaf’s other lawyer, told CHRI on March 10, 2018.
“The judicial authorities showed me a list of seven lawyers who have been approved to take these cases in Markazi Province,” he added. “Now we are requesting that the Parliament in-vestigate why, out of thousands of licensed lawyers, only seven have received approval?”
On March 12, 2018, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, the counsel of an imprisoned Telegram news channel administrator, also said he had been denied the right to defend his client due to the Note to Article 48.
“When I went to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, the presiding judge told me that he needs to check my credentials and later I was told that the judiciary chief had rejected me,” he said.
In March 2018, three human rights lawyers based in Iran explained to CHRI why the Note to Article 48 impedes justice in the Islamic Republic.
“It’s like telling someone you can get an operation from only three surgeons selected by us, not any of the thousands of other doctors in the city,” prominent human rights defender Na-srin Sotoudeh told CHRI.
“The judiciary chief’s [Sadegh Larijani’s] ill-conceived action is a dangerous precedent,” she added. “In a big province such as West Azerbaijan, where there are more than 3,000 lawyers, only 32 have been put on an approved list.”
Death row prisoner continues hunger protesting his death sentence despite innocence
By IranHRM On Mar 28, 2018
Death row prisoner Valliollah Taghizadeh, who has been detained for the past 12 years in the Central Tabriz Prison, has been on hunger strike since February 14 in protest to a violation of his rights.
Mr. Taghizadeh, who has lost 22 kilos, is suffering from a severe drop in blood pressure and refuses to being given IV medication. Since the onset of his hunger strike, it has been reported that none of the prison authorities have looked into his case and he has faced complete negli-gence from authorities… According to a person close to Mr. Taghizadeh, he has denied the murder charges brought against him.
“Valliollah says that he confessed to murder 11 years ago under torture and despite the fact that the person who has filed a suit against him knows that he is innocent and has not agreed to the sentence being carried out, the judge issued the death sentence based on his own know-ledge”, the source added…
Valliollah Taghizadeh, 41, is being kept in Section 9 in Tabriz Central Prison.
One Prisoner Executed in Rajai Shahr Prison
Posted on: 30th March, 2018
Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj, Tehran, Iran
HRANA News Agency – A prisoner was executed on charge of murder in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. Two other prisoners who were sentenced to death were returned to their wards by receiving a deadline from the plaintiffs.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), at least one prisoner was executed in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj on charge of murder, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.
Mohammad Karimi, 29, from Ward 1, Hall 1, was the prisoner who were executed.
Two other prisoners, who were simultaneously in solitary confinement with this prisoner, were returned to their wards by taking a deadline from the plaintiffs.
Hunger strike to protest torture in detention
UA: 67/18 Index: MDE 13/8150/2018 Iran Date: 29 March 2018
Eight detainees from Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish minority began a hunger strike on 27 March in protest against the torture and other ill-treatment to which they say they are subjected. One of the men, Abbas Dehghan, has allegedly been threatened with his wife being raped in front of him if he does not “confess”. The men require medical care for injuries sustained at the time of their arrest on 19 February.
Abbas Dehghan, Javad Khamis Abadi, Kianoush Abbaszadeh, Ahmad Mousavi, Nour Ali Mousavi, Mehdi Eskandari, Amir Labbaf, and Mir Sadegh began a hunger strike on 27 March in protest at their treatment in detention, which they allege involves torture. The men are held in Shapour detention centre in Tehran, run by the Investigation Unit of Iran’s police (Agahi), which is notorious for extracting “confessions” through torture. Commonly reported methods of torture include kicking and punching; beatings with plastic pipes, cables or whips; pro-longed binding; and various forms of suspension including one known as the “chicken kebab”, in which the person is suspended from a pole with their arms bent back and tied to their ankles and then flogged.
The men were arrested on 19 February 2018 for participating in a protest which turned violent after security forces resorted to beatings and the use of firearms, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, arresting over 300 people. The men were initially taken to Fashafouyeh prison near Tehran and then transferred to Shapour detention centre for interrogations and, in some cases, families were not informed about their whereabouts for several weeks. The au-thorities have said the men are not allowed to access their lawyers until the interrogations are complete. Information received by Amnesty International indicates that Abbas Dehghan is under pressure to “confess” that he killed a plain-clothes Basij militiaman by deliberately driving a car into him during the clashes following the 19 February protest. This accusation has been denied by members of the Dervish community who claim that he was shot by the police after being mistaken for a protester. Pictures of the dead militiaman published by state media show bullet marks on his body. According to information received by Amnesty Inter-national, Abbas Dehghan has been threatened with his wife being arrested and raped in front of him if he does not “confess”.
Please write immediately in Persian, English or your own language calling on the Iranian au-thorities to:
Release Abbas Dehghan, Javad Khamis Abadi, Kianoush Abbaszadeh, Ahmad Mousavi, Nour Ali Mousavi, Mehdi Eskandari, Amir Labbaf, and Mir Sadegh immediately and uncon-ditionally if they are held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of association and assembly;
Ensure that, while in detention, they are granted access to their lawyers, provided with any medical care they need, and protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
Order a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into allegations of torture and other ill- treatment in detention centres run by the Investigation Unit of Iran’s police (Agahi), and allow international monitors to conduct inspection visits;
Conduct an independent and effective investigation into the reports of the excessive use of force by security forces to suppress the protest held by Gonabadi Dervishes and bring those suspected of responsibility to account in fair trials.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10 MAY 2018 TO:
High Council for Human Rights Head of Agahi And copies to:
Mohammad Javad Larijani Mohammad Reza Moghimi President
Esfaniar Boulevard, Niayesh Intersection Vahdat Eslami Street, Molavi Street Hassan Rouhani
Vali Asr Avenue, Tehran, Iran Molavi Square, Tehran, Iran Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Salutation : Your Excellency Salutation: Mr. Moghimi Tehran, Iran
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
Several hundred Gonabadi Dervishes, both men and women, gathered outside the residence of their spiritual leader Noor Ali Tabandeh in an area of Tehran known as Golestan Haftom on the night of 19 February to protest against the authorities’ intensified persecution of their community and prevent the possible arrest of their leader. Those present at the protest re-ported that police and plain-clothes Basiji forces resorted to beatings with batons, electric cables and sharp objects, and the use of tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition to dis-perse the crowd, arresting over 300 people, including at least 60 women. Those present re-ported that security forces raided a nearby five-storey apartment building to which the prote-sters had escaped, released tear gas into the staircases of the building, formed a “tunnel” of batons and struck protesters repeatedly on their backs, heads and faces as they violently dragged them down the stairs and into police vans. Pictures and videos from the incident show protesters with lacerations and other wounds to their faces and bodies and bandaged heads and other body parts.
Amnesty International understands that about 170 of those arrested, many of whom had fallen unconscious, were transferred from the scene of the incident to hospital to undergo emergency treatments. In the days that followed, some of them were released while others were taken to Fashafouyeh prison near Tehran even though their medical treatment had not been completed. In the next several days, some detainees were transferred from there to solitary confinement in Evin prison or Shapour detention centre for interrogations. There are serious concerns that they are facing torture and other ill-treatment, including through the denial of medical care for their injuries, and are under pressure to “confess”. On 15 March, Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor stated that 20 indictments have so far been issued against Gonabadi Dervishes for national security and that number may increase to 100. The charges brought include those related to national security.
On 4 March, the family of one of the detainees, Mohammad Raji, was informed by the police that he had died from the injuries caused by repeated blows to his head. The details concern-ing the exact manner, place and time of death and all of the surrounding circumstances remain unclear. The authorities have only stated that he was fatally injured during the clashes and he died either during his transfer to hospital or after his admission to hospital. His family have emphasized that Mohammad Raji was injured but alive at the time of his arrest on 19 February and expressed outrage at the concealment of his fate and whereabouts for 15 days following the arrest, and the authorities’ refusal to clarify the sequence and timing of events that led to his death. In addition to the Basij militiaman, three police officers, Reza Emami, Mohammad Ali Bayrami and Reza Moradi Alamdar, were also left dead on 19 February after they were run over by a bus. On 19 March, a Dervish man, Mohammad Salas, was held responsible for the fatal incident and sentenced to death for intentional murder. He had denied the charge during his trial and argued that his act was not intentional. In his defence, he stated the accident was due to his poor eyesight, the disorienting effect of his injuries which included a fractured skull and a broken arm, and his panicked rush to escape the area to avoid further beatings. Prior to his trial, on 20 February, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) aired a video “confession” from Mohammad Salas that was filmed while he was lying on a hospital bed severely injured. This violates the presumption of innocence and raised concerns that the statement may have been taken in coercive circumstances.
Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran consider themselves Shi’a Muslims. However, because of their Sufi beliefs and practices, the authorities have persistently subjected them to discrimination, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention and attacks on their prayer houses. On 6 March 2018, the spiritual leader of Gonabadi Dervishes, Noor Ali Tabandeh, revealed in a video statement that the authorities were preventing him from leaving his house. He did not provide further information about his circumstances.
Iran: Prisoner beaten in Saravan Prison for extending medical furlough
By IranHRM Last updated Mar 29, 2018
Masoud Baluchi, a prisoner detained in Saravan Prison, was beaten by the head of the prison, Iraj Nourbakhsh, in front of other prisoners on Saturday March 24. The reason behind the beating was Baluchi’s three-day delay on his furlough. He has reportedly said that the reason for the delay was that he had gone to the doctor and had to wait for his visit.
According to an informed source, Nourbakhsh severely beat the prisoner with a belt. “He wanted to transfer him to quarantine but Massoud threatened that he would commit suicide, therefore, he was not taken to quarantine,” the informed source added. “Massoud is suffering from a neurological disease and had a letter from the doctor with him,” the source said.
11 women ill-treated and arbitrarily detained
UA: 68/18 Index: MDE 13/8149/2018 Iran Date: 29 March 2018
At least 11 women from Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish religious minority have been arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions, without access to their lawyers, since 20 February following the violent dispersal of a protest held by Gonabadi Derivshes in Tehran. Some urgently need medical care for injuries sustained from beatings at the time of their arrest.
On 19 February, security forces violently arrested at least 60 women from Iran’s persecuted Gonabadi Dervish community for participating in a protest in Tehran which turned violent after security forces resorted to beatings, firearm use, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. The women were taken to Vozara detention centre where they said they were sub-jected to intrusive body searches by female officers, intimidating interrogations, insults and yelling. In the following 24 hours, the authorities transferred 10 of the women to the quaran-tine section of Shahr-e Rey prison near Tehran and released the rest. Those transferred are Shokoufeh Yadollahi, Sepideh Moradi, Maryam Farisani, Nazila Nouri, Sima Entesari, Shima Entesari, Shahnaz Kiani, Maryam Barakouhi, Elham Ahmadi, and Avisha Jalaledin. After several days, an 11th woman, Sedigheh Safabakht, who was apparently held in Evin prison before, was also transferred to Shahr-e Rey prison. There are reports that some women are undergoing late-night interrogations involving verbal abuse and threats.
Shahr-e Rey prison is a disused chicken farm that holds hundreds of women convicted of vio-lent offences in conditions falling far below the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treat-ment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela
Rules). Common complaints include urine-stained floors, lack of ventilation, insufficient and filthy bathroom facilities, prevalence of contagious diseases, poor quality food containing small pieces of stone and salty water. In recent days, women prisoners have complained that fumes have escaped from the drainage system, filling their rooms with foul odours. As a re-sult, Shima Entesari, who suffers from asthma, has experienced severe breathing difficulties requiring supplemental oxygen. Additionally, eyewitnesses have said that security forces se-verely beat Shokoufeh Yadollahi at the time of her arrest, resulting in head injuries. The au-thorities have denied her access to medical care apparently after she refused to be transferred to hospital in handcuffs and leg cuffs. There are reports that several women are suffering from vaginal bleeding due to blows inflicted to their perineum at the time of arrest.
Please write immediately in Persian, English or your own language calling on the Iranian au-thorities to:
Release Shokoufeh Yadollahi, Sepideh Moradi, Maryam Farisani, Nazila Nouri, Sima Ente-sari, Shima Entesari, Shahnaz Kiani, Maryam Barakouhi, Elham Ahmadi, Avisha Jalaledin and Sedigheh Safabakht immediately and unconditionally as they are held for peacefully ex-ercising their rights to freedom of association and assembly;
Ensure that, pending their release, they are granted access to their lawyers, provided with any medical care they need, and protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
Take immediate steps to improve prison conditions at Shahr-e Rey prison in accordance with international law and standards, including the Nelson Mandela Rules, and allow international monitors to conduct inspection visits;
Conduct an independent and transparent investigation into reports of the excessive use of force by security forces to suppress the protest held by Gonabadi Dervishes and bring those suspected of responsibility to account in fair trials.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10 MAY 2018 TO:
High Council for Human Rights Head of Shahr-e Rey Prison And copies to:
Mohammad Javad Larijani Mehdi Mohammadi President
Esfaniar Boulevard, Niayesh Intersection Highway, Gharchak Hassan Rouhani
Vali Asr Avenue, Tehran, Iran Shahr-e Rey, Iran Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Salutation: Your Excellency Salutation: Mr. Mehdi Mohammadi Tehran, Iran
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salu-tation Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
Several hundred Gonabadi Dervishes, both men and women, gathered outside the residence of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh, in an area of Tehran known as Golestan Haftom on the night of 19 February to protest against the authorities’ intensified persecution of their community and to prevent the possible arrest of their leader. Those present at the protest re-ported that police and plain-clothes Basiji forces resorted to beatings with batons, electric cables and sharp objects, and the use of tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition to dis-perse the crowd, arresting over 300 people, including 60 women. Those present reported that security forces raided a nearby five-storey apartment building to which the protesters had es-caped, released tear gas into the staircases of the building, formed a “tunnel” of batons and struck protesters repeatedly on their backs, heads and faces as they violently dragged them down the stairs and into police vans. Pictures and videos from the incident show protesters with lacerations and other wounds to their faces and bodies and bandaged heads and other body parts.
Amnesty International understands that about 170 of those arrested, many of whom had fallen unconscious, were transferred from the scene of the incident to hospital to undergo emergency treatment. In the days that followed, some of them were released while others were taken to Fashafouyeh prison near Tehran even though their medical treatment had not been completed. Some detainees were subsequently transferred from there to solitary confinement in Evin prison or Shapour detention centre, both in Tehran, for interrogations. During this period, their families were kept in the dark about their fate and whereabouts. There are serious concerns that they are facing torture and other ill-treatment, including through the denial of medical care for their injuries, and are under pressure to “confess”. On 15 March, Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor stated that 20 indictments have so far been issued against Gonabadi Dervishes and that number may increase to 100.
On 4 March, the family of one of the detainees, Mohammad Raji, was informed by the police that he had died from the injuries caused by repeated blows to his head. The details concern-ing the exact manner, place and time of death remain unclear. The authorities have only stated that he was fatally injured during the clashes and he died either during his transfer to hospital or after his admission. His family have emphasized that he was injured but alive at the time of his arrest on 19 February and expressed outrage at the concealment of his fate and wherea-bouts for 15 days following the arrest, and the authorities’ refusal to clarify the sequence and timing of events that led to his death. In the clashes that occurred on 19 February, three police officers, Reza Emami, Mohammad Ali Bayrami and Reza Moradi Alamdar, and one Basij militiaman, Mohammad Hossein Haddadian, were also left dead. The officers were killed after they were run over by a bus. On 19 March, a Dervish man, Mohammad Salas, was held responsible for the fatal incident and sentenced to death for intentional murder. He had denied the charge during his trial and insisted that his act was not intentional. In his defence, he argued that the accident was due to his poor eyesight, the disorienting effect of his injuries, which included a fractured skull and a broken arm, and his panicked rush to escape the area to avoid further beatings. On 20 February, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) aired a video “confession” from Mohammad Salas that was filmed while he was lying on a hospital bed severely injured. This violated the presumption of innocence and raised concerns that the statement may have been taken in coercive circumstances.
Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran consider themselves Shi’a Muslims. However, because of their Sufi beliefs and practices, the authorities have persistently subjected them to discrimination, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention and attacks on their prayer houses. On 6 March 2018, the spiritual leader of Gonabadi Dervishes, Noor Ali Tabandeh, revealed in a video statement that the authorities were preventing him from leaving his home. He did not provide further information about his circumstances.
Name: Shokoufeh Yadollahi, Sepideh Moradi, Maryam Farisani, Nazila Nouri, Sima Entesari, Shima Entesari, Shahnaz Kiani, Maryam Barakouhi, Elham Ahmadi, Avisha Jalaledin and Sedigheh Safabakht
Iran: Father of political activist detained in Kermanshah
By IranHRM On Mar 25, 2018
The father of Sodna Rahimi, a political-religious activist was arrested in Kermanshah and was transferred to an unknown location. According to an informed source, intelligence forces raided and arrested Habibollah Rahimi without an arrest warrant. According to the source, the agents had warned the Kurd man about his son’s anti-government activities. There is no information available on his current whereabouts and condition.
Iran: Activist detained for publishing Azeri calendar
By IranHRM On Mar 25, 2018
Mehdi Ghamari Binisly, an Azeri activist who lives in Tehran, was arrested by security forces last week in relation to a case involving the publishing of an Azeri calendar. He has been taken to an unknown location. The calendar in question was in Turkish and various events, including the Mother Tongue Day and images of a number of political personalities were included in it.
Other reports indicate that the detention order for Behnam Nourmohammadi, who was ar-rested on March 13 for the same case, was extended by the prosecutor until April 30. Nour-mohammadi was previously arrested in 2012 along with 13 others for participating in the fu-neral of a former political activist in Khoy. He was charged with spreading propaganda against the government and was released some time later on bail.
Iran: No report on the fate of young Gonabadi Dervish protester, Kianoush Abbaszadeh
By IranHRM On Mar 29, 2018
After 24 days, there are no reports of the whereabouts of Kianoush Abbaszadeh, a Dervish Gonabadi protester who was arrested in Tehran’s 7th Golestan St.
When the prisoner’s relatives refer to the prison to visit Kianoush they were told that he was taken outside the prison three weeks ago and his name has not currently been in the list of inmates.
Recently intelligence agents of the Revolutionary Guards Corps have mentally tortured Ab-baszadeh’s mother, Dr. Nazila Nouri, who is detained in Qarchak Prison along with a number of other female Dervishes. She has been repeatedly informed of the bogus confessions that her son has made, being threatened that both of them will face heavy sentences. Agents have been trying to force her into making false confessions.
Before this, Kianoush Abbaszadeh’s family had no information on his condition in Shapour Police Station or Evin Prison’s Section 209 and only knew that the 21-year-old Dervish was being interrogated for days, tortured to make false confessions and that his life was in danger.
Kianoush Abbaszadeh made a minute-long call to his family on March 27, without even knowing where he had been detained.
A gathering on February 19, 2018, by Dervish Gonabadi protesters turned violent after police intervention. The Dervishes were protesting the detention of a Dervish Gonabadi and the lack of accountability by agents about where he was detained and charges made against him.
The State Security Force attacked the protesters, firing bird shots and tear gas and using ba-tons. At least three Dervish Gonabadi protesters were killed and more than 600 were arrested.
Many protesters were severely injured by anti-riot units using pellet guns. Reports indicate many injured protesters have been arrested in hospitals by intelligence agents.
70 women arrested during the Dervish Gonabadi protests were transferred to Qarchak Prison, south east of the capital.
Iran: Two women among those arrested in Ahwaz
Created: 31 March 2018
Thousands of women and men continued their protests in Khuzistan on Friday, March 30, 2018, against the state television program offending the Arab ethnic group residing in this oil-rich province in southwestern Iran. At least two women were identified among those arrested.
The peaceful protests took place in various cities and regions including Mahshahr, Shadegan and Ahwaz.
Instead of apologizing to the Arab people and responding to their demands, the clerical regime dispatched the State Security Force (SSF) and anti-riot units. Security forces attacked the peaceful protests of Arab Iranians using tear gas and fire arms and dealt violently with the participants. Dozens were wounded.
At least 40 got arrested in these protests where women actively participated in large numbers. Two women by the names of Ayesheh and Khadijeh Neassi are among those arrested.
Prisoners of Conscience
Human rights defender to resume hunger strike
FU UA: 142/16 Index: MDE 13/8131/2018 Iran Date: 27 March 2018
Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani went on hunger strike on 21 March, after the authorities denied his request for judicial review and blocked his leave for the Iranian New Year holidays. On 26 March he temporarily halted the strike but expressed his intent to resume it on 20 April. He has a number of health conditions, including digestive and intestinal complications. He is a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.
After pleas from over 3,700 lawyers, academics, civil society activists and others, Abdolfattah Soltani agreed on 26 March to temporarily halt his hunger strike until 20 April. The prominent human rights defender had begun a hunger strike on 21 March, the first day of the Iranian New Year (Norooz), after he learned that the Supreme Court had denied his request for judicial review for the third time without providing a written decision and that Tehran’s chief Prosecutor General had rejected his request for prison leave over the Norooz holidays without providing any written explanation and despite assurances given to his family that the request would be approved. Abdolfattah Soltani announced his hunger strike in a letter from inside prison on 20 March. The letter criticized the authorities’ unjust treatment of prisoners of con-science and other marginalized prisoners, and the unlawful influence that Ministry of Intelli-gence officials routinely exercise over prosecution and judicial authorities in order to deny prisoners of conscience the right to fair proceedings, prison leave, and conditional release.
Abdolfattah Soltani is serving a 13-year prison sentence on spurious national security-related charges entirely connected to his professional work and defence of human rights. In his court documents, his involvement with the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran, which was forcibly closed in 2008, is cited as evidence of “founding an illegal group”. His vocal opposi-tion against discrimination, torture and unfair trials and his participation in the establishment of a project to end the death penalty for minors are described as “anti-Islamic propaganda” and “psychological warfare against the system”. Since his imprisonment in September 2011, Abdolfattah Soltani has been held in poor conditions and without regular access to adequate medical care. He suffers from a number of health conditions, including digestive and intestinal complications, and high blood pressure. He also has a herniated disc in his back, and has been experiencing neck pains.
Please write immediately in Persian, English or your own language:
Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Abdolfattah Soltani immediately and uncondi-tionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association, including his work as a defence lawyer;
Urging them to ensure that he is immediately granted access to the adequate medical care he needs outside prison.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 8 MAY 2018 TO:
Head of the Judiciary Prosecutor General of Tehran
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani Abbas Ja’fari Dolat Abadi
c/o Public Relations Office Office of the General and Revolutionary
Number 4, Deadend of 1 Azizi Prosecutor
Above Pasteur Intersection Corner (Nabsh-e) of 15 Khordad Square
Vali Asr Street, Tehran, Iran Tehran, Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Deputy for Human Rights and International Affairs, Ministry of Justice
Number 1638, Below Vali Asr Square
Vali Asr Avenue, Tehran, Iran
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salu-tation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 142/16. Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/4280/2016/en/
Abdolfattah Soltani is a prominent and award-winning human rights lawyer and one of the founders of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran. He was awarded the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Award in 2012 and the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award in 2009. He was first arrested on 16 June 2009, during the unrest that followed the disputed presidential election, and held in Evin prison until 26 August 2009, when he was released on bail secured by property deeds of considerable value. During this detention period, his access to his family was limited to one visit and several telephone calls. Abdolfattah Soltani was rearrested by intelligence officials on 10 September 2011 when he was in a Revolutionary Court dealing with the case of a client. The intelligence officials escorted him to his home, where they confiscated computers, documents, bank cards, family photo albums, CDs and DVDs before taking him to Evin prison and detaining him in Section 209, which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence.
In November 2011, the Secretary General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, Mo-hammad Javad Larijani, told a press conference held at the UN in New York: “no lawyer is in prison because he is a lawyer or he is a defender of human rights, but because they are in-volved in activities which are against the security of the state, especially their relations with terrorist groups.”
In March 2012, Abdolfattah Soltani was informed that Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran had sentenced him to 18 years’ imprisonment on several charges, including “spreading propaganda against the system”, “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and “founding an illegal group”. His conviction and sentence were entirely due to his human rights work, which included being one of the founders of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran, and his peaceful activism against the death penalty in Iran. He was also convicted of “accepting an illegal prize and illegal earnings” related to his acceptance, via his wife Massoumeh Dehghan, of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. The court also barred him from practising law for 20 years. In June 2012, Branch 54 of the Appeal Court of Tehran reduced his sentence to 13 years’ imprisonment and reduced the length of the ban on him practising law to two years.
Amnesty International’s research consistently shows that Iran’s judiciary lacks independence and remains particularly susceptible to pressure from security and intelligence forces to convict human rights defenders and other dissidents and impose harsh sentences. The lack of in-dependence in the country’s criminal justice system also allows intelligence and security offi-cials to exercise unlawful influence and power over decision-making processes concerning prisoners’ access to adequate medical care, prison leave and conditional release. Intelligence and security officials also regularly target prisoners for reprisal when they speak out against human rights abuses from behind bars.
In line with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other international standards, Amnesty International considers a human rights defender to be someone who, indi-vidually or in association with others, acts to defend and/or promote human rights at the local, national, regional or international levels, without resorting to or advocating hatred, discrimi-nation or violence. Human rights defenders come from every walk of life; they may be jour-nalists, lawyers, health professionals, teachers, trade unionists, whistle-blowers, farmers, vic-tims, or relatives of victims, of human rights violations and abuses. They may conduct their human rights defence work as part of their professional role or as volunteers.
Eleven Detainees of Recent Protests Transferred Saghez Prison
Posted on: 21st March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – A number of detainees from recent protests in Saghez and suburbs were transferred from the Security Police detention to Saghez prison after the end of the in-vestigations. The number of detainees in this city is more than this number and the stages of their transfer to the Saghez prison is ongoing. There is at least seven women among detainees.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 11 detainees of recent protests were transferred to Saghez prison on January 7, 2018.
Those arrested by the police are the first series of the detainees whose interrogation has been completed and were sent to prison.
The reports indicate that an unknown number of detainees are still in the process of interroga-tion in other detention centers, such as the detention center of the intelligence ministry and IRGC.
Witnesses report the presence of at least seven women among detainees in the city.
The names of detainees will be reported in future reports.
A Report on the Latest Status of Mohammad Nazari in Urmia Prison
Posted on: 22nd March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – Mohammad Nazari is a political prisoner in Urmia Prison who was transferred there from Rajai shahr prison in Karaj in November 2017, due to protests against the prison conditions and the violation of prisoners’ rights. Despite medical problems, includ-ing kidney discomfort, he is still suffering from insufficient medical treatment due to absence of a doctor in the prison.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mohammad Nazari is being deprived of having access to medical services due to a shortage of personnel and the absence of a doctor in the prison clinic.
Mohammad Nazari is one of the oldest political prisoners in Iran who is serving his sentence in Urmia prison.
The prisoner who is serving his twenty-fourth year, has been on hunger strike for about 55 days to protest against the legal process in his case before being transferred to Urmia Prison.
An officer named Molazadeh conflicted with Mohammad Nazari who was held in prison clin-ic after the end of hunger strike.
The officer slapped Mohammad Nazari twice. Omar (Saeed) Faghihpour (in the 18th year of imprisonment) and Khalid Fereydouni (in the 17th year of imprisonment), protested against his action.
However, a case was filed against Khalid Fereydouni and Omar Faghihpour based on the clash with officials.
Then these three political prisoners were transferred to Urmia prison in West Azerbaijan prov-ince from the Karaj Rajai Shahr Prison.
Mohammad Nazari, son of Hamdollah, born in 1971, was arrested on charge of cooperating with one of Kurdish opposition parties in Bukan in 1994. He was sentenced to death while he refused the charges and announced that the false confessions were obtained under torture. That sentence was reduced to life imprisonment five years later.
Fifty Detainees of Recent Protests Transferred to Zahedan Prison
Posted on: 23rd March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – At least 50 detainees of recent protests were transferred to Zahedan prison from a security agency detention center, allegedly belonging to the Intelligence Minis-try, and then were transferred to the security detention center after being fingerprinted on January 10, 2018.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), at least 50 detainees were transferred to Zahedan prison in order to be fingerprinted and then were transferred to the Intelligence Ministry after being fingerprinted on January 10, 2018.
It is reported that all these people were transferred to the fingerprinting part of prison under security precautions, without being allowed to speak with other prisoners. They were again taken to a security detention center, allegedly belonging to Intelligence Ministry, after com-pleting the administrative process, registration and fingerprinting.
Zahedan was among the Iranian cities which along with dozens of other cities, witnessed mass protesters in the streets for several consecutive days.
In this connection, HRANA reported that three students named Amin Rezai, Omid Arsalan Pejman, and Yasin Mirzaei had been arrested in Zahedan.
Two Engineers of Hamedan Power Plant Were Arrested
Posted on: 24th March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – Two power engineers, named Jawad Ashrafi and Amin Ashrafi, were arrested by security forces at their workplace in Hamedan and were moved to an un-known location in the morning of January 11.
According to the report of Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Jawad and Amin Ashrafi, two engineers at Hamedan Power Plant were arrested by security forces.
A source close to the family of these people told HRANA’s Reporter: “Two engineers at the plant were arrested by security forces at their workplace without a warrant or explanation of the reason for arrest and were transferred to an unknown location, at 8:00 am of Thursday, January 11.”
Iran: Golrokh Iraee in bad physical conditions after 50 days
Created: 24 March 2018
After 50 days of hunger strike, physical condition of political prisoners Golrokh Iraee has badly deteriorated in Qarchak Prison in Varamin, Tehran Province.
Ms. Iraee has lost 20 kilograms and is suffering from various symptoms of hunger strike including kidney dysfunction and swelling of her legs.
Ms. Iraee has been on hunger strike since February 3, 2018, in protest to her unlawful exile from Evin Prison to Qarchak Prison, in violation of the principle of separation of prisoners of different categories, on January 24.
Four UN experts issued a statement on March 19, calling for immediate release of political prisoners Atena Daemi and Golrokh Iraee. They expressed alarm at the beating and mistreat-ment of the two prisoners. They said their efforts to have dialogue with the Iranian regime on the situation of Atena Daemi and Golrokh Iraee have proved to be futile. They said, “Their cases are illustrative of a continuing pattern of harassment, intimidation and imprisonment of those undertaking peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights and pris-oners of conscience, often through using vaguely worded or overly broad national security-related charges.”
Also on March 15, Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee (DROI) of the European Par-liament, Mr Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT), expressed alarm by the detention of two women human rights defenders in Iran. He said in his statement:
“I am gravely concerned by the detention and reported cruel, inhumane and degrading treat-ment of Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee at Shahr-e Rey prison. They are regarded as prisoners of conscience by credible human rights organisations. They are serving lengthy and unjust prison sentences that were handed down solely for their peaceful human rights work.
“Therefore, I urge the Iranian authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally.
“Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi should also be given urgent and adequate medical attention and care due to their fragile and deteriorating state of health as a result of their leng-thy hunger strike and ill-treatment, including previous harassment and physical attacks by other inmates and guards. I call on the prison administration and the relevant authorities to guarantee regular contacts with family members, including prison visits and phone calls. I also call on the authorities to take immediate steps to improve the detention conditions and facilities at Shahr-e Rey prison.”
Iranian Environmentalists Remain Detained Months After Arrests While Families Seek Answers
March 26, 2018
At Least 13 Environmentalists Have Been Detained in Iran Since January 2018
Seven environmentalists who were arrested in Tehran nearly two months ago remain in detention with no or extremely limited access to legal counsel while their families are being kept in the dark about any charges against them.
The detainees—Sam Rajabi, Niloufar Bayani, Morad Tahbaz (also holds American citizen-ship), Amir-Hossein Khaleghi, Taher Ghadirian, Houman Jowkar and Sepideh Kashani—are former and current staff members of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation (PHWF).
Its managing director, Iranian-Canadian sociologist Kavous Seyed-Emami, died in Evin Pris-on after he was arrested along with his PHWF colleagues in January 2018.
A source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 21 that all but one of the detainees have been denied visits by family members since their arrests on January 24.
The woman who was allowed one visit was only permitted to wave to her parents.
“Niloufar Bayani’s mother and father, who were called to [Evin] Prison to see their daughter, saw her for just a moment from a distance,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons. “Niloufar waved to them and left.”
“The detainees have only been permitted to make phone calls from time to time and only briefly talk about how they are,” added the source. “The authorities are not giving any an-swers to the families who have no one to turn to.”
CHRI has also learned that six other environmentalists arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have been detained in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas since late February 2018: Morteza Arianejad, Hassan Ragh, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, Alireza Farhadzadeh and Aref and Hassan Zare (brothers).
Farhadzadeh, a documentary filmmaker best known for his film, “Rooz-e Yooz” (The Day of the Cheetah), has not been heard from since his arrest.
“Alireza’s situation is more worrisome than the others because there has been no news of him since his arrest,” a source with knowledge about the cases told CHRI. “He has not made even one phone call.”
The source also pointed out that members of Iran’s Parliament (MPs) who had expressed in-terest in the cases after Seyed-Emami’s death in Evin Prison on February 9 have since made conflicting statements to the detainees’ families.
“The detainees’ relatives went to the office of MP Mohammad Aref two weeks ago. After hearing their statements, Aref only said that he would look into the matter,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security purposes.
“[MP] Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh said they will get out of prison soon. [MP] Mohammad Ka-zemi told the families, ‘These people are spies; you just don’t know it,’” added the source.
Judicial authorities have extended the detention order for the seven detainees in Tehran un-til March 25.
The detainees, who were arrested on January 24 and 25 by the IRGC, have been accused of spying on Iran’s missile sites under the guise of environmental preservation activities. No evidence has been presented to support these allegations.
Seyed-Emami was 63 when he died in Evin Prison on February 9. The authorities claim he committed suicide but no autopsy report has been issued almost two months after his death. Calls by his family and UN officials for an independent investigation have gone un-heeded in Iran.
Seyed-Emami’s two sons, Ramin and Mehran, left Iran for Canada on March 8, but their mother, Maryman Mombeini, was banned from boarding the plane with them.
The entire family holds Iranian and Canadian citizenship but Iran does not recognize dual nationality.
The Canadian government has demanded that Iran give Mombeini “the freedom to return home” as well as demanded “answers” from Iran on the “circumstances surrounding the death and detention of Seyed-Emami.”
Hundreds of Detainees of Recent Protests Transferred to Hamedan Prison
Posted on: 26th March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – At least 39 detainees of recent protests in Asadabad and Tuyserkan in Hamedan province, were transferred to Hamedan prison. These detainees are held in the quarantine of the central prison of Hamadan and many of them have been charged with se-rious allegations, including corruption on earth and Muharebeh.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), at least 39 de-tainees of recent protests in Asadabad and Tuyserkan in Hamedan province, were transferred to Hamadan prison.
They were transferred to the quarantine ward of Hamedan Prison after the end of the interro-gation at the security detention centers of Intelligence Ministry and IRGC.
Among them, 35 prisoners were arrested regarding recent protests in Asadabad and have been accused of “corruption on earth”.
In addition, four other prisoners were arrested regarding recent protest in Tuyserkan and have been accused of Muharebeh.
The popular protests in Hamadan province included the peaceful protests that had been drawn to violence and at least 3 to 6 people were killed in the Tuyserkan.
The allegations against 39 detainees are very serious and can lead to death sentences.
The reports also indicate that an unknown number of detainees are underway at the interroga-tion stage in other detention centers.
The names of the detainees will be notified in future reports.
The families of the detainees are under pressure from security institutions for not talking with human rights organizations and the media.
Iran: Woman taken hostage for husband’s activism
Created: 26 March 2018
After 20 days of detention in the Department of Intelligence of Sanandaj, Shetaw Faroughi, a woman from Marivan, was transferred to the Central Prison of Sanandaj, capital of the Iranian Kurdistan Province, on Saturday, March 24, 2018.
Mrs. Faroughi was arrested along with her two children on March 3, 2018, by intelligence agents at Tabriz Airport, upon return from Istanbul where she had visited her husband. They were taken to the detention center of the Department of Intelligence in Sanandaj.
Mrs. Faroughi’s children, Mohammad, 12, and Ala, 5, were released after three days.
Barzan Faroughi is a Sunni Kurdish activist who left Iran and took refuge in Turkey two years ago due to pressures and harassment of security agencies.
Mrs. Faroughi has to provide a bail bond of 200 million toumans to be temporarily released.
Iran: Prisoners forced to pay for Saravan Prison’s maintenance problems
By IranHRM On Mar 26, 2018
Saravan Prison officials are taking money from prisoners to fix maintenance problems in pris-on. According to an informed source, the prison cells are large and each cell has four lamps and usually only two laps work.
“Prisoners are unable to see clearly after the sun goes down,” the source added.
“Also the showers in Section 1 are out of order and two showers do not have doors and pris-oners use trash bags and cloth and sticks to make a makeshift door. Two of the restrooms also lack doors,” the source said.
“Prisoners have repeatedly asked Iraj Nourbakhsh, the head of the prison to fix these problems but prison officials say that prisoners have to pay for the problems to be fixed,” the source added.
Iran: Court of Appeal upholds prison sentence for Afshin Hossein Panahi
By IranHRM On Mar 26, 2018
Iranian Kurdistan’s Court of Appeal has upheld an eight-year prison sentence for Afshin Hossein Panahi on charges of “spreading propaganda against the establishment” and “coope-rating with an opposition Kurdish party through attending in a traditional ceremony.”
The political prisoner was arrested on June 26, 2017 in his brother’s home. He was later sentenced to eight years behind by the Branch I of the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj, headed by judge Saeedi.
Afshin Hossein Panahi who has a reputation as an environmental activist, had previously ar-rested in 2011 for pursuing his brother’s suspicious death, and had endured one year behind bars on the charge of “spreading propaganda against the establishment.”
Afshin Hossein Panahi’s brother, Ramin a 24-year-old member of the Komala opposition group, was arrested on 23 June 2017 after he took part in clashes with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the neighborhood of Shalman, in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, northwest Iran.
He was shot and sustained three bullet wounds. He was then transferred to the Sanandaj Intelligence Agency Detention Center. He has been sentenced to death on the charge of “enmity against God,” the accusation he denied.
After Ramin Hossein Panahi’s arrest, the Revolutionary Guards stormed his parents’ house in the village of Qeruchay, near Sanandaj, and arrested other members of his family.
Ahmad Hossein Panahi (brother-in-law) and Zobeyr Hossein Panahi (distant relative) were sentenced to 5 and 6 years behind bars, respectively.
In a June 2017 statement Amnesty International urged the Iranian authorities to release Hosse-in Panahi’s family members if they have been detained solely because of their family connec-tion with Ramin Hossein Panahi.
“The authorities must ensure that Ramin Hossein Panahi is promptly brought before a judge, as well as provided with immediate access to healthcare, protected from torture and other ill treatment, given access to an independent lawyer of his choosing, and granted a fair trial without resort to the death penalty,” the statement reads in part.
Three Cases Provide Glimpse Into Ongoing Denial of Medical Care to Po-litical Prisoners in Iran
March 28, 2018
Dozens of prisoners in Iran held on politically motivated charges are being denied medical treatment and leave despite visible symptoms of their deteriorating health, the Center for Hu-man Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
Political prisoners in Iran, including elderly inmates, are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care. The threat of withheld medical care has also been used as an intimidation tool against prisoners who have challenged the authorities or filed complaints.
Following are three cases of prisoners in Iran being subjected to unnecessary suffering as a result of the authorities’ refusal to allow them to receive medical treatment outside prison.
CHRI’s reviews of dozens of cases show that these are not isolated instances, but rather a few among many in a pattern of systematic state denial of full and timely medical care to prison-ers.
Education rights’ activist Vahed Kholousi has been in Rajaee Shahr Prison in the city of Karaj since September 13, 2015, after the Appeals Court upheld his five-year prison sentence for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.”
Kholoosi was a member of the Iranian Society Against Education Discrimination, created in 2009 by Baha’i students who were denied entry into Iranian universities because of their faith.
“Vahed has become very weak and thin,” his mother, Vahideh Eghdamian, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 22, 2018. “He has lost 26 kilos (57.3 lbs.) and we were hoping the authorities would at least let him go on medical leave so we could get him some treatment but unfortunately, they have not given permission.”
“They said the Revolutionary Guards are in charge of the case and they won’t approve it,” she added.
Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holi-day, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional pu-nishment.
In December 2017, a source told CHRI that Kholousi had fallen unconscious in his cell.
“In Vahed’s own words, he was dizzy when he woke up in the morning [on December 23, 2017],” said the source who requested anonymity for security reasons. “He drank some fruit juice and lied down and could not remember anything after that. This had never happened to him. He was completely healthy before going to prison.”
Added the source: “After Vahed became very ill and lost consciousness, he was first taken to the prison clinic where he was attached to a serum and then transferred to Imam Khomeini Hospital [in Tehran]. He was given a CAT Scan and blood test but the doctors could not tell what had happened to him. We don’t know how long he was unconscious or for what reason.”
Held in Tehran’s Evin Prison since September 2012, Alireza Golipour, 31, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for the charges of “spying for foreigners,” “sympathizing” with the banned Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK) organization, “insulting the supreme leader,” “disturbing public order” and “acting against national security.”
On February 27, 2018, he suffered a seizure amid ongoing heart problems, according to his lawyer, attorney Azita Gharehbeyglou.
“Mr. Golipour’s condition is getting worse day by day,” Gharehbeyglou told CHRI on March 23, 2018. “About a week ago, the family and I pressed the supervising judicial official, Mr. Rostami, and he agreed to send their own trusted doctor to examine him inside prison.”
In his report, the doctor said Mr. Golipour must come under special care since he’s unable to handle prison with his illnesses,” she said. “Mr. Rostami sent the doctor’s report to the Tehran prosecutor but he has not agreed to grant him medical leave.”
Arrested by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in September 2012, Golipour, 31, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for the charges of “spying for foreigners,” “sympathizing” with the banned Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK) organization, “insulting the supreme leader,” “disturbing public order” and “acting against national security.”
“After his seizure, and what the prison doctor described as a brush with a heart attack, we asked for his hospitalization and medical leave but they were going to send him to Taleghani Hospital, which specializes in digestive diseases rather than heart problems,” Gharehbeyglou told CHRI. “So Mr. Golipour refused to go there. We said, give him medical leave and we will take him to the hospital ourselves, but the authorities have not responded yet.”
“When Mr. Golipour called me on Thursday, March 22, he sounded very weak and really didn’t have the strength to talk. That’s how bad his condition is,” she added. “His cellmates have said that if something happens to Golipour, that would be testimony that the state killed him.”
Mohammad Saber Malek-Raeisi
A Baluchi Sunni Muslim imprisoned in 2009 for alleged crimes committed by his brother, Mohammad Saber Malek-Raeisi is suffering from serious injuries as a result of repeated beat-ings by guards during the four years he has been held in Ardabil Prison.
“My child’s health is in critical condition,” his mother, Golbibi Malek-Raeisi, told CHRI on March 23, 2018. “But the authorities say he can go on medical leave only if his brother turns himself in.”
Mohammad Saber’s older brother, Obeidolrahman Malek-Raeisi, is wanted by Iran’s Intelli-gence Ministry for allegedly cooperating with the militant group, Jundallah (Army of God).
Claiming to fight for the rights of Baluchi Sunni Muslims in southeastern Iran, Jundallah has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks on Iranian soil including a suicide bombing in Oc-tober 2009 that killed several members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the city of Sarbaz, Sistan and Baluchistan Province.
“Saber’s father is paralyzed and I’m old and sick,” Golbibi said. “I haven’t been able to visit him (in Ardabil Central Prison) for years. He was 15 when they took him to prison and he’s 24 now… He’s sick and doesn’t feel well but they are still keeping him in prison.”
“We don’t know what to do,” she added. “He was beaten in December  when he went on a hunger strike and since then he can’t see from one eye. He was tortured a lot. He’s sick.”
Past Cases and Fatalities
The case of former political prisoner Alireza Rajaee, who lost part of his face in August 2017 due to sinus cancer that was left untreated in Evin Prison, put the spotlight on the ongo-ing denial of medical care to political prisoners in Iran.
Three months later, in October 2017, labor activist Mohammad Jarrahi died from thyroid can-cer that was left untreated while he was held as a political prisoner in Tabriz Prison. Fellow labor activist Shahrokh Zamani had also died of a heart attack in September 2015 after being denied medical care in Rajaee Shahr Prison.
Political prisoner Omid Kokabee was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer in 2016 after years of repeatedly being denied treatment for his symptoms in Evin Prison.
A Number of Detainees Released from Khoy Prison
Posted on: 28th March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – On Saturday, January 27, 2018, a number of detainees of the recent protests in Khoy, including Shahriar Galawani, Abbas Kuchari, Majid Mohammadi and Mo-hammad Abazari, were released on the bail until the trial.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), on Saturday, January 27, 2018, a number of detainees in Khoy, were released on the bail until the trial.
Shahriar Galawani, Abbas Kuchari, Majid Mohammadi were released on the bail of 5 billion IRR and Mohammad Abazari was released on the bail of 3 billion IRR.
Milad Hajilo was another activist who was not released, despite putting a bail of 2 billion IRR.
Shahriar Galawani is a well-known cultural figure, author and translator in Khoy, who was arrested on Thursday, January 4, 2018 by security forces.
Abbas Kuchari, another activist from Khoy, calligrapher, was arrested on Thursday, January 1, 2018.
It is reported that several activists from Khoy have been released along with these individuals, but there are still a number of detainees in the quarantine of prison in Khoy.
Arif Soltanalizadeh and Ataf Soltanalizadeh were among the detainees whose statue is uncer-tain.
It should be recalled that a large number of people were arrested and interrogated in various cities in the recent protests.
During these protests, at least 25 people were killed across Iran, according to official sources, the protests were held in more than 80 cities and about 3,700 people were arrested.
Some of the detainees were released on the bail until the trial, and some have been transferred to jail.
Political prisoner in Kashan Prison under severe pressure despite illness
By IranHRM On Mar 28, 2018
According to reports, interrogators of the Ministry of Intelligence have intensified the abuse of political prisoner Alireza Varasteh, in addition to denying him medical treatment.
Despite the fact the Kashan Prison’s doctor has stressed that Alireza has to receive medical attention outside of prison, intelligence agents have denied him access to outside facilities. The 26-year-old political prisoner has also been placed in isolation and is prevented from being in contact with other prisoners.
According to reports, Alireza suffers from a severe psychiatric illness, which has deteriorated since his detention.
His medical records were referred to the Medical Commission after his family’s pursuits and the Commission confirmed that he should be released and receive medical treatment. But the Intelligence Agency has not agreed to this.
Political prisoner Alireza Varasteh was arrested for communicating with the families of the victims of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. After four months of detention, he was sentenced to 10 years of prison on various charges including being in contact with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).
Iran: Golrokh Iraee reported in alarming condition
Created: 29 March 2018
Golrokh Iraee’s health is in an alarming condition after 54 days of hunger strike.
Political prisoner and human rights defendant Golrokh Iraee has been on hunger strike since February 3, 2018, in protest to her unlawful transfer to Qarchak Prison.
She has lost more than 20 kilograms, suffers from plummeting blood pressure, dryness of tongue, and inflammation of legs. She is not able to walk.
Ms. Iraee has refused serum injections, saying previous promises by prison officials to follow up her case have not been delivered and she would not accept any more serum injections.
On the other hand, political prisoner Atena Daemi has caught a severe cold and suffers from high fever. One side of her face is numb and she has been told by prison doctors that she might have suffered a blow or shock during their violent transfer to the mothers’ ward on March 12, 2018, which has led to the paralysis of the nerves on one side of her face.
In another development, officials of the Greater Tehran Prison prevented Ms. Farangis Maz-loum from visiting her son, Soheil Arabi.
Monday, March 26, 2018, Ms. Mazloum went to visit her son in the Greater Tehran’s Prison for the first time in the New Persian Year, but was not allowed to do so.
Political prisoner Soheil Arabi ended his hunger strike after 55 days, on March 20, 2018, upon the request of his mother and mothers of other prisoners. His health condition has been re-ported critical and he does not receive any medical care.
Hunger striking political prisoner taken back to prison on wheelchair
By IranHRM On Mar 29, 2018
Hamidreza Amini, has been hospitalized in Khomeini Hospital since March 17 due to his critical health as a result of his dry hunger strike. The political prisoner, who was detained and jailed because of his internet activities, is also under pressure to make televised confessions.
On the morning of March 26, Hamidreza Amini was taken to Fashafuyeh hospital by security forces with bound hands and feet on a wheelchair. He was unable to walk and speak.
According to his family, who were in the hospital but were banned from visiting him, while being taken away, Hamidreza Amini said in a tone so that his family could hear that his doctor had not released him from the hospital due to his critical condition but that he was being taken back to prison upon the Prosecutor’s orders. He also said that the soldiers guarding him had verbally abused him.
It should be noted that on March 20, when his wife and two children intended to see him in the hospital for a few minutes, his guards severely beat him in front of his family.
Imprisoned Former Iranian VP Refusing Food and Water to Overturn Prison Sentence
March 30, 2018
Hamid Baghaei, who served as Iran’s vice president under former President Mahmoud Ah-madinejad, is in “serious condition” from refusing food for two weeks in Tehran’s Evin Prison, his lawyer informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Attorney Mehran Abdollahpour said Baghaei made a phone call from his cell on March 28, 2018, to say he had intensified his hunger strike by refusing to drink water and holds the judiciary responsible for “any consequences.”
Baghaei, who began serving a 15-year prison sentence for financial corruption charges on March 13, says he is innocent and has condemned his conviction as a political decision. He is demanding an immediate review, Abdollahpour told CHRI.
Baghaei served as former President Ahmadinejad’s VP for executive affairs from 2011-13. Ahmadinejad fell out of favor with Iran’s ruling elite during his second term for promoting his own version of Iranian nationalism and publicly criticizing powerful politicians, namely, Ju-diciary Chief Sadegh Larijani.
Ahmadinejad and Baghaei were disqualified from running in Iran’s May 2017 presidential elections.
On March 13, the Tehran Appeals Court upheld a 15-year prison sentence against Baghaei and ordered him to pay 430 billion rials (approximately $11.4 million USD) in fines. Baghaei was also sentenced to flogging.
The United Nations has declared flogging a cruel and inhumane punishment tantamount to torture.
A statement by the Tehran prosecutor’s office on March 15 claimed that the “most important” crime committed by Baghaei and other former senior officials under Ahmadinejad was the deposit of government funds into personal accounts for the construction of a private university as well as illegally benefitting from commercial deals on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf and other large state projects.
Before going to prison, Baghaei called the charges “baseless” and blamed Israel and the UK for his predicament.
“I am certain of this sad fact that I have become a victim of a well-calculated plot in line with the ominous aims of the Zionist regime and Britain,” he said in a statement on March 13.
“Nevertheless, I objected to the unjust preliminary sentence issued against me in absentia, without any hope for justice,” he added. “But during the appeal process, the judiciary under Chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani again held trials in secret in order to hide the truth from the people of Iran and shield the motives of those who worship foreigners.”
Iran: Marriage of seven-year-old girl children
Created: 29 March 2018
There are no laws in Iran absolutely prohibiting child marriages. They depend on the decision of judges who verify maturity of the children in question.
Fatemeh Daneshvar, a children’s rights activist, made comments in an interview on Wednesday, March 28, 2018: “We face numerous legal problems with regards to child marriage. We have not been able to pass any bills to raise the age of marriage. The age of marriage for girls is 13, but this still depends on the verdicts issued by judges. This means that a girl under 13 years of age can still be wedded. Social activists seek to change the law so that marriages under 13 years of age are totally abolished. Presently, however, we do not have any laws which would absolutely ban child marriages since the law depends on a judge’s decision on the maturity of the child in question in which case, the parents are allowed to force their daughter into marriage. For example, we have had child marriages of girls as young as seven, something that is neither moral nor right.”
Daneshvar also made comments on the sale of infants by their addicted mothers and said, “Hearing the news of selling infants for only 50,000 toumans ($13) is really tragic. No doubt, our laws are weak with regards to children. Those who sell their infants are mostly addicted mothers. The existing laws are not clear and transparent in preventing addicted mothers from keeping their children.” (The state-run Borna New website, March 28, 2018)
Iran: Child benefit deducted from salary of women heads of household
Created: 29 March 2018
Child benefit has been deducted from women’s salaries and only housewives with three child-ren can have insurance.
Speaking about the New Year’s budget and the Sixth Development Program, Zahra Sa’ii, spokeswoman for the parliamentary social committee, explained about insurance of housewives. She said, “Only housewives with three children can receive insurance. Because of the present economic conditions and limited resources of the government, only a limited number of housewives can receive insurance.”
Sa’ii added, “We sought to provide insurance for all housewives, similar to developed coun-tries where housewives enjoy certain rights. In light of the existing economic problems, how-ever, it was not possible to implement such a plan and the government did not afford the additional expenditure, so they prevented the implementation of this plan.”
In the same interview, Zahra Sa’ii also revealed that child benefit has been being deducted from the payrolls of women heads of household since Autumn 2017. The decision was im-plemented abruptly and the amount that had been previously paid to them were withdrawn at once from their accounts. (The state-run Salamat News website, March 28, 2018)
Parvaneh Salahshouri, head of the so-called women’s faction in the mullahs’ parliament, had previously asserted that the New Year’s budget increases poverty rather than decreasing it. She said more than 30 per cent of the credit for insurance of housewives with three children and more had been cut. (The state-run ISNA news agency – December 18, 2017)
There are 3.5 million women heads of household in Iran, most of who do not have any form of employment due to numerous obstacles for women’s education and employment. Only 180,000 of women heads of household are covered by the Welfare Organization and receive a monthly financial aid of 70,000 toumans (or $18 which is less than 10 per cent of the mini-mum wage). Women heads of household thus resort to unconventional means to earn for their families’ needs, including sale of their body parts.
Iran: Call for harsh crackdown on opponents of the compulsory veil
Created: 26 March 2018
A high-ranking clerical regime’s scholar declared, “Dealing with those who oppose the Hijab (veil) must be different from others.”
In a meeting on Saturday, March 24, 2018, with the State Security Force Commander, Hossein Ashtari, Nasser Makarem Shirazi pointed out that Hijab is not a secondary Islamic decree but has turned into a sign of Islam.
Makarem Shirazi added, “Dealing with this issue if undermined will deal a blow to the Islamic nature of the regime and undercut the Islamic aspect of the Islamic Republic; then the country will turn into a republic without Islam.”
To solve the regime’s predicament in dealing with the opponents of the compulsory veil, he said, “Negative debates over the compulsory nature of Hijab must be replaced by legal obliga-tion.”
He reiterated, “Every law brings about an obligation. Hijab is also an Islamic law emphasized in various verses (of the Quran). This law and obligation must be observed and overlooking it would have consequences similar to the breaching of any other law.”
Iran: Young woman sentenced to imprisonment in Tabriz
Created: 27 March 2018
A young woman, Roya Saghiri, 24 was tried and sentenced to nearly two years’ imprison-ment. Seven other protesters who had also participated in the December-January Iran uprising were also put on trial simultaneously.
Ms. Saghiri and another protester, Nariman Validokht, were tried by the 2nd Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Tabriz and sentenced to 23 months in jail for disseminating propaganda against the regime and insulting the mullahs’ leader.
Ms. Saghiri is also accused of “appearing in public without the religious Hijab (veil) by re-moving her scarf on the street.”
Ms. Saghiri was arrested at Sa’at Square of Tabriz on December 31, 2017, and has been de-tained since in the Women’s Ward of the Central Prison of Tabriz, capital of the northwestern Iranian Province of East Azerbaijan.
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has condemned the arrest of women for opposing the compulsory veil and calls for the immediate release of women who are detained and mistreated for removing their veil.
Second Iranian Woman Sentenced to Prison for Protesting Mandatory Hijab
March 28, 2018
University student will spend a year behind bars for “encouraging corruption”
Maryam Shariatmadari, one of the “Girls of Revolution Street” protesting against mandatory hijab for women in Iran, was sentenced to a year in prison on March 25, 2018 by Branch 1091 of the Tehran Criminal Court for “encouraging corruption by removing her hijab,” her lawyer informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“I’m utterly shocked that she has been sentenced to a year behind bars only because she pro-tested against forced hijab,” said human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh in an interview on March 26. “I would like to compare this ruling with the one against Saeed Tousi.”
Tousi, one of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s favorite Quran reciters, was cleared of sexual abuse against his underage students in January 2018, only after the supreme leader intervened, resulting in the dismissal of his four-year prison sentence.
“We have seen how cases similar to Saeed Tousi’s are dealt with in societies that use moral excuses to put greater restrictions on women and have greater respect for gentlemen,” Sotou-deh said. “I have had such cases in the past. There was the case of a young girl who was being taken advantage of by her father but the courts strangely ignored it. Now this same court sys-tem is issuing heavy and unexpected sentences against women for removing their headscarf.”
“I don’t think you can’t quell protests against mandatory hijab by imposing such unusual sen-tences outside legal and judicial frameworks,” she added. “Protests against the mandatory hijab are here to stay. The only way to deal with them is to pay attention.”
Shariatmadari, a 32-year-old computer science student at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, was arrested on February 25, 2018 after being injured when she was pushed by a policeman off a utility platform where she was waving her headscarf in protest against forced hijab.
She is the second woman sentenced to prison in recent weeks for demanding the right to choose what to wear in public.
On March 7, 2018, sociology student Narges Hosseini, 32, was sentenced to 24 months in prison — 21 months suspended for five years — for the charges of “encouraging people to engage in corruption by removing the hijab in public” and “committing a forbidden act in a public space.”
The sentence has been appealed, Sotoudeh told CHRI.
“Today [March 26] I, along with another lawyer, went to court and filed an appeal against this unexpected and unfair sentence against Narges Hosseini. We hope the court will pay attention to our arguments and confirm my client’s innocence,” the human rights lawyer said.
Sotoudeh, also represents Shaparak Shajarizadeh, another woman arrested for protesting against forced hijab. Her trial has not yet been held but she has been accused of charges simi-lar to those against Hosseini and Shariatmadari, the lawyer said.
The protesting women have been named the “Girls of Revolution Street” ever since Vida Mo-vahed stood on top of a utility box on a busy sidewalk on Enghelab (Revolution) St. in the center of Tehran and waved her white headscarf on a stick in late December 2017 as part of the “White Wednesdays” campaign. That campaign was launched by exiled journalist and civil rights activist Masih Alinejad to encourage Iranian women who oppose mandatory hijab.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, Iran’s supreme leader described demonstrations against the country’s compulsory hijab rule as “small and insignificant.”
“They [enemies of Iran] spent all that money and created all that propaganda to trick a few girls into taking off their scarves, but in the end, what they got from all that effort was small and insignificant,” said Khamenei.
The supreme leader continued: “But that’s not something I’m concerned about, as much as some of our own elite, which are raising the issue of the so-called forced hijab. These elite, which include journalists, pseudo-intellectuals and clerics, are going in the same direction as the enemy… I hope to God they are not doing so consciously.”
According to Article 638 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, “Anyone in public places and roads who openly commits a harām [sinful] act, in addition to the punishment provided for the act, shall be sentenced to two months’ imprisonment or up to 74 lashes; and if they commit an act that is not punishable but violates public prudency, they shall only be sentenced to 10 days to two months’ imprisonment or up to 74 lashes.”
Millions Of Women ‘Illiterate’ In Iran
March 31, 2018
The head of Iran’s Literacy Movement Organization (ILMO) says nearly 2 million women across the country are illiterate.
Citing Ali Baqirzadeh, state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported, “Nearly 1,800,000 women still suffer from illiteracy across Iran.”
According to Baqirzadeh, the total number of 10- to 49-year-olds who are illiterate in Iran is nearly 2.7 million.
However, Baqirzadeh maintained that the illiteracy gap between men and women in Iran has narrowed in recent years and said the current gap amounts to 12%.
The head of the ILMO said the percentage of illiterate women in Iran’s villages is much higher than in urban areas, while in some of the provinces the rate is above 30%.
The rate of illiteracy in Iran has never been reliably reported as different authorities present different statistics.
In summer 2017, Baqirzadeh told the IRGC-run Fars news agency that there were nearly 9 million totally illiterate persons living in Iran.
Earlier, Baqirzadeh had announced that efforts were under way to eradicate illiteracy by the end of the Fifth National Development Plan (2015).
“Improving literacy is not only a cultural and educational move but also impacts all sections of society,” he said.
Baqirzadeh had also noted a “meaningful link” between illiteracy and crime, saying that as the number of educated people increases, the crime rate declines.
According to UNESCO, illiteracy increases the likelihood of remaining in poverty. Complet-ing 12 years of school provides an 80 percent chance of earning an income high enough to escape the poverty cycle.
Adult illiteracy not only affects income and awareness of rights but also contributes to poor nutrition and health.
Freedom of Expression
Official Suggests Iran May Soon Block Access to Widely Used Telegram Messaging App
March 26, 2018
Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, the secretary of Iran’s Taskforce to Determine Instances of Crim-inal Content (TDICC).
A provocative comment by a high-level official in Iran has resulted in renewed fears among the public that the government may soon block access to the country’s most widely used private messaging app, Telegram.
“Twitter and YouTube will not be un-filtered,” Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, the secretary of the Taskforce to Determine Instances of Criminal Content (TDICC), the body in charge of censoring internet content, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) on March 16.
“In fact, on the eve of the Iranian new year [March 20, 2018], an unprecedented consensus has developed among officials to cut the enemy’s domination and influence on the country’s cyberspace,” he added.
Khorramabadi did not elaborate on his latter statement, but many Iranians took it to mean that Telegram—which has been the subject of ire by hardline officials for years—would also soon be blocked.
According to Telegram’s latest figures, the app has more than 40 million active users in Iran.
The internet and social media apps are heavily restricted and censored in Iran, with hardliners in the government viewing any form of internet freedom as a threat to the Islamic Republic.
Khorramabadi’s provocative statement follows recent, pivotal events in Iran relating to inter-net freedom. First, the country’s widespread December 2017 protests, in which access to Telegram was blocked for two weeks. Second, a comment by an official of the policy-making Supreme Cyber Council (SCC) describing Twitter, which has been blocked since 2009, as “an effective means of public diplomacy.”
“Twitter and YouTube have been filtered [blocked] by judicial order of judicial authorities and other authorities cannot interfere in matters decided by judicial authorities,” insisted Khorramabadi.
“The reason Twitter and YouTube have been filtered is that they do not comply with the laws of the country and to prevent the publication of millions of criminal content and block the paths to espionage and the domination of cyberspace by foreigners,” he added.
A day after Khorramabadi’s statements, Hamideh Zarabadi, a reformist member of Parliament (MP), told the Iranian Labor News Agency that the Telecommunications Ministry had “ap-proved” the decision to block Telegram.
“Based on reliable information I’ve received from the Telecommunications Ministry, the permanent filtering [blocking] of Telegram has been approved by the SCC,” he said. “Such comments are meant to prepare the public for the implementation of this decision.”
On March 18, Iran’s Parliament held a closed session in the presence of state officials to dis-cuss the role of the internet in Iran’s December 2017 protests. Afterwards, MP Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani denied that Telegram would be blocked.
“I can say for certain that no decision has been made about filtering Telegram so far,” he told ISNA on March 18. “Security and ethnical issues in cyberspace, especially on Telegram, are very important to us. But we can be strong and haggle with this company to make them agree to our demands.”
That same day, SCC secretary Abolhassan Firouzabadi criticized “domestic extremists”—judicial and security officials—for refusing to lift the ban on Facebook and Twitter, arguing that the ban has reduced officials’ abilities to present their viewpoints to an international au-dience. But Firouzabadi agreed with the hardline view that “the continuation of Telegram’s operation in Iran is not in our interest.”
“Domestic extremists have aided [Iran’s absence in international media outlets] by supporting efforts to close down Twitter and Facebook, etc,” he said. “But the channels on Telegram promote a kind of thuggery in the country. It’s a kind of one-way news dissemination. It’s sensationalist and seditious.
“We have no presence in international media,” added Firouzabadi.
Telegram, a Dubai-based company founded by Russian CEO Pavel Durov, has repeatedly refused to comply with demands by the Iranian government to base its servers in Iran. Doing so would make it much easier for the government to intercept messages and censor pages on the app.
Iranians Vent on Social Media
Khorramabadi’s suggestion that Telegram would soon be blocked resulted in a flurry of tweets by Iranian users.
“Regardless of whether his claims will lead to the filtering of Telegram or not, this choice of words by people like Mr. Khorramabadi is very annoying,” tweeted Amin Sirjani, a social affairs reporter for the Etemad newspaper, on March 16.
“They use certain phrases that they know will anger some parts of society,” he added. “They are being stubborn towards the people, to put it simply.”
While expressing concern over the possibility that Telegram could be blocked, technology freelance journalist Sadegh Zangeneh tweeted on March 16, “Alarm bells are sounding for Telegram.”
Twitter user Reza Kiani was more skeptical, “They [judicial officials] want to shut down Telegram again but they don’t have the government’s backing so they’re weaving fantasies.”
Censored Websites in Iran
Data published by Rotbenegar, operated by the Telecommunication Ministry’s Information Technology Research Center (ITRC), shows that Telegram is the fourth most accessed mobile app in Iran.
Investigations by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reveal that the webpage that appears when a website is blocked in Iran is meanwhile the sixth most accessed destination.
Whenever a user in Iran tries to access a blocked website, the attempt is logged as the IP ad-dress used by the servers of the state Telecommunications Infrastructure Company of Iran. The fact that that IP address is the sixth most accessed site in Iran indicates the magnitude of online content censored in the country.
The censorship of applications and websites in Iran—a long-standing policy of the Islamic Republic—has continued under President Hassan Rouhani despite ongoing declarations by him since his first election campaign in 2013 that he supports some forms of internet freedom.
“We will not be looking into filtering social media” said Rouhani on December 19, 2017, add-ing, “The [Telecommunication] Minister will promise the people right here that his finger will not touch the filtering button.”
Supreme Leader’s Comments on “Freedom” in Iran Ring Hollow For Victims of Rights Abuses
March 27, 2018
A former public defender that worked in Iran on cases involving human rights violations has spoken out against the Iranian supreme leader’s claim that citizens are free to criticize state policies.
“There is no freedom of expression or freedom after expression in Iran,” Mehrangiz Kar told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 26, 2018. “Mr. Khamenei is being deceptive and using the same tricks used by the judiciary to persecute people.”
“His target audience is the masses, not a great majority of people who are very much familiar with what goes on in the judicial system,” added the human rights defender.
Kar’s husband, writer and intellectual Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide in 2011 ten years after he was detained and tortured in Iran. Kar settled in the US in 2001.
“The truth is that when the judicial branch wants to make a case against someone who has said or written something against the country’s official policies or crossed some red line, it will charge him with acting against national security, propaganda against the state, insulting the sacred, spreading falsehoods, or disturbing public opinion.”
Citizens targeted by security forces in Iran are charged with national security crimes, which enable the judiciary to deprive the defendant of the due process rights afforded to Iranian citizens by the Constitution.
Activities that can result in national security charges in Iran include peacefully advocating for human rights, criticizing state policies and removing your headscarf in public if you are a woman.
Ignoring documented cases of Iranians being imprisoned simply for criticizing state policies, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently claimed citizens are free to express their opinions without repercussions.
“Today, no one in the Islamic Republic is pursued or pressured for holding thoughts and views against the state…” said Khamenei on March 21 during a speech in the city of Mash-had. “But freedom in the Islamic Republic, as in other places in the world, has a framework.”
Khamenei’s declaration excluded the fact that peaceful Iranian opposition leaders Mehdi Kar-roubi, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard have been held under house arrest in total isolation for more than seven years, since February 2011, without trial.
At the beginning of 2018, thousands of citizens were also arrested in Iran for protesting against economic and political state policies.
Dozens of political and civil rights advocates are meanwhile serving long prison sentences for their peaceful activism.
And in 1988, 11 years after Iran’s revolution, thousands of people were executed in the matter of months without trial for allegedly holding anti-state views.
But according to the supreme leader, those who point out these facts are “unfair” and abusing freedom in Iran.
“Some unfair people abuse freedom and say there’s no freedom in the country and then fo-reigners disseminate their statements in their propaganda,” said Khamenei. “Yet there is free-dom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of choice in the country.”
During an earlier speech, Khamenei tried to pin the recent protests on President Hassan Rou-hani, implying that the centrist cleric could do more to alleviate problems regarding economic and social justice problems in Iran.
“We are lagging behind in the area of justice, there’s no doubt about that,” said Khamenei on February 19. “We ourselves admit and accept this.”
He continued: “We must apologize to Almighty God and the dear people. We have problems in the area of justice and hopefully, with the efforts of our capable and faithful men and wom-en, we will progress in this area as well.”
Khamenei’s analysis of Iran’s economic problems failed to include the fact that labor rights activism in the country is seen as a national security offense; independent labor unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest and labor leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.
43 People Charged in Iran’s Kermanshah Province For Protesting Against the State
March 30, 2018
Forty-three people have been charged for protesting against the government in Kermanshah, the capital of Kermanshah Province in western Iran, in early January 2018.
The province’s Chief Prosecutor Mohammad Hossein Sadeghi told reporters on March 28 that many of the protesters had acted “emotionally” and under the influence of social media when they expressed frustration with the country’s economic problems.
Those who were arrested “broke the norms,” added Sagehi, indirectly referencing those who shouted slogans against the government and destroyed public property.
“The lack of sufficient progress should not become an excuse for some to undermine security by rioting and creating chaos,” he said.
At least 30 people were killed and more than 4000 arrested during the week-long, nationwide protests that began in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad on December 28, 2018.
On January 9, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed the demonstrations on foreign enemies while urging the authorities to assess whether detained protesters were enemies of the state or ignorant people in need of guidance.
“We should talk and enlighten students and others who entered the fray for emotional rea-sons,” said the ayatollah during a speech in the city of Qom. “But those who acted as pawns for hypocrites and killed people should be dealt with differently.”
The announcement of the charges in Kermanshah comes on the heels of the news on March 1 that cases had been opened against 41 Tehran University students for allegedly participating in protests in the capital city in early January.
“What we can do in terms of helping these students with their problem is to have talks with our dear colleagues in the judiciary so that they may treat them with the highest degree of Islamic mercy and that’s what’s being done right now,” said the university’s Deputy Chancel-lor for Cultural Affairs Majid Sarsangi.
In January 2018, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) published an in-depth report on the attempts by Iranian state forces to repress the protests by blocking access to social media throughout the country.
“During the unrest that swept through Iran on the eve of 2018, the authorities implemented major disruptions to internet access through slowdowns and the blocking of circumvention tools, blocked the Instagram social media platform and the Telegram messaging app heavily used by the protesters to mobilize the street protests, and briefly cut off Iranians’ access to the global internet on December 30, 2017, demonstrating a new level of technical sophistication,” said CHRI in its report.
Metal Band Member Sentenced to Six Years Prison in Iran Accused of Creating “Satanic Music”
March 30, 2018
Nikan Khosravi, a member of the Iranian metal band “Confession,” left Iran for Turkey to avoid being imprisoned for six years for producing metal music, he told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 29, 2018.
“The interrogators had translated my English lyrics [into Farsi] verse by verse and were asking questions about this and that word and told me I was a Satan worshipper and didn’t believe in God,” Khosravi told CHRI. “They really thought I was a bad person. They asked about who was giving me financial support and what were my connections.”
“They said my lyrics were political but I was 21 and wasn’t interested in and didn’t under-stand politics,” he said. “But when you live in Iran, from the day you are born, politics get mixed into your daily life and that’s why it entered my lyrics.”
Khosravi, 23, and fellow band member Arash Ilkhani, 24, were arrested by the Islamic Revo-lutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on November 9, 2015, days after the release of their second album, “In Pursuit Of Dreams.” They were accused of producing “satanic” music.
At the time, the band was using a music studio Khosravi built in his bedroom at his family’s home in Tehran. He and Ilkhani were also both studying English for translation purposes at nearby Roudehen Azad Islamic University.
All Iranian artists, including but not limited to painters, filmmakers, photographers and writ-ers, must receive permission from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to publish or promote their work in Iran.
Those who publicize their work without receiving a permit can be arrested and imprisoned on a variety of charges.
On March 17, 2017, Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Khosravi and Ilkhani to six years in prison each for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.”
Ilkhani is currently in Iran awaiting the Appeals Court’s ruling but Khosravi left the country soon after the preliminary verdict and is seeking asylum in another country through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey.
“I’m 24-years old. I have been living with fear and anxiety since our arrest,” Khosravi told CHRI. “After the court issued its verdict, I realized that I could go to prison for six years, or maybe a little less if the sentence got reduced on appeal, so I decided to leave Iran.”
“I thought I was going to be executed”
Describing his arrest, Khosravi said: “Seven or eight agents suddenly raided our home and started searching everywhere, including my room. They confiscated some of my belongings and then handcuffed me and took me with them.”
He continued: “They told me I was accused of insulting the prophet. They also arrested Arash [Ilkhani] on the street on his way home from university. We were interrogated separately by the IRGC for 10 days in Ward 2-A in Evin Prison. I was interrogated by four or five agents.”
“For a long time I thought I was going to be executed but with the help of my lawyer, the interrogators accepted that my lyrics did not contain anything insulting toward the prophet or his disciples,” Khosravi added. “I just had one song that was about the nature of God.”
Khosravi was released from detention in late November 2015 after posting bail set at 100 mil-lion tomans (approximately $26,500 USD). He was arrested again in February 2016 and held for another two months.
His trial was held during two sessions on September 18 and December 26, 2016.
“During the trial, the first question the judge asked was when I had started my alleged activi-ties against the state. It was as if he was certain I had engaged in anti-state activities,” Kho-sravi said. “I told him I didn’t care about the state. He asked why I had written and sang such lyrics.”
“During the second court session, Judge Moghisseh again asked what my intention was in singing such lyrics and to explain my connections,” he added. “The session did not last more than 15 minutes.”
Labor and Guilds’ Rights
Mokhtar Asadi’s Parole Was Rejected by the Court
Posted on: 31st March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – Mokhtar Asadi’s request for parole was refused. He is a member of the Kurdish Teachers’ Association, who is serving a one-year imprisonment in Evin prison on charges of propaganda against the regime.
According to the report of Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran (HRANA), the parole of Mokhtar Asadi, Trade Union activist who is serving his one year in Evin Prison, has been rejected.
Mokhtar Asadi was arrested in September last year when he went to the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to pursue his issued bail order.
This Kurdish teacher from Sanandaj was previously arrested by the security police in a major protest by the members of the teachers’ trade association in 2006 and a case was opened for him.
The Education Office of the Kurdistan province had extended the sentence of exile for Mokhtar Asadi, the Teachers’ Union activist, for the fifth year in a row, in December 2012, but the sentence was canceled by the Administrative Court of Justice.
After that, Mokhtar Asadi was arrested in 2010, after the series of arrests of Teachers’ Asso-ciation members, such as; Mahmoud Beheshti Langeroudi, Ali Akbar Baghani, Seyyed Mah-moud Bagheri and Esmail Abdi, and after a trial, he was sent to Ward 209 of Evin prison. Mr. Asadi was released on the bail, after 66 days of detention, and judge Salavati sentenced him to one year imprisonment in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on charge of propaganda against the regime.
Iran Poplin representatives dismissed for protesting not receiving wages
By IranHRM Last updated Mar 25, 2018
Four representatives of the “Iran Poplin” weaving company in Rasht, north of Iran have been dismissed for protesting not receiving wages for the past 3 months.
Workers of Iran Poplin Company protested recently protested against the nonpayment of their salaries in January, February and March 2018.
Iran Poplin Co. engages in manufacturing and exporting dyed and printed fabrics in Iran. It offers cotton, polyester cotton, and polyester viscose fiber made fabrics. The company also exports sheeting fabrics, bed linens, table cloths, shower curtains, and boxer and Bermuda shorts to Turkey and other countries. However, over the past four years, due to poor manage-ment, it has lost a large part of its customers.
At present, 300 workers are working in this industrial unit in Rasht, who, in addition to the salary of the last three months, should also receive awards and benefits for the end of the year.
One of the protesting workers said, “When we follow up on the payments, we are told by the factory officials that you will be paid after retirement. While about 20 retirees have been re-tired since two years ago, yet they have not received their retirement payments either.”
Some of the he workers of Iran Poplin company, were also arrested on Saturday March 10, while protesting the failure to receive their salary payment demands.
Iran: IRGC unit fires and kills another Kurdish porter
By IranHRM On Mar 28, 2018
IRGC unit on March 26, 2018, opened fire and killed a Kurdish porter by the name of Ibrahim Soleimani, father of five.
A video footage shows his colleagues desperately trying to save his life in Sardasht border area in West Azerbaijan Province.
At least three porters were also shot and wounded in the same area during the past few days as the IRGC unit opened fire on them.
Reports indicate that on Saturday March 24, a group of Kurd porters were ambushed by mili-tary forces on the border of Sardasht and a porter identified as 37-year-old Loqman Moham-madzadeh, was severely wounded in the thigh and stomach and was taken to Sardasht Hospital.
Other reports indicate that on Sunday March 18, another porter identified only by his first name as Mohammad from Oskook Village in Marivan, who was fleeing military forces, fell from a mountain ridge and was severely injured.
Tehran’s devastating policies and rampant corruption are forcing people into such difficult jobs at a high risk to their lives to earn a living for their families.
More than 68,000 porters are working in Iran’s border provinces, of which 16,000 to 18,000 are in Piranshahr and Sardasht, official statistics indicate.
Unofficial sources however estimate the actual number of porters to be around 350 to 500 thousand in border provinces.
Border porters include children, youths and the elderly. In addition to natural disasters such as avalanches and frostbite, or accidents like drowning in the river or falling into the valleys, they are constantly threatened by direct shooting of the regime’s security forces.
According to a recent study at least 46 porters and petty tradesmen have been shot dead and 58 wounded by the state forces only during the period spanning from March 2017 to March 2018.
Ethnic Minorities’ Rights
Kawan Mahmoudian Sentenced to 1 Year of Imprisonment
Posted on: 27th March, 2018
HRANA News Agency – Kawan Mahmoudian who had been arrested by the intelligence agents in Kamyaran and transferred to Sanandaj prison after being detained in solitary con-finement for two months, was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment on charge of “acting against national security through cooperating with a Kurdish opposition party” by the Revolutionary Court.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Kawan Mahmoudian, political prisoner in Sanandaj prison, was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment by branch 2 of Sanandaj Revolutionary Court.
He was charged with “acting against national security through cooperation with a Kurdish opposition party”. Accordingly, he was sentenced to one year of imprisonment at first stage of the trial.
Kawan Mahmoudian, from the village of Tengisar, was arrested on October 8, 2017.
26 arrested in major protest by Arab nationality residents in Ahwaz, Iran
By IranHRM Last updated Mar 30, 2018
Security forces on March 29, arrested 26 of Arab nationality residents peacefully protesting insult by the state TV in Ahwaz, capital of Khuzistan Province in south west Iran.
Thousands of people staged extensive protests in Ahwaz, on March 28 and 29, 2018, against racist presentation in the state-run television.
The protest was against a children’s program broadcast on the second day of the New Iranian Year by the state-run television, in which the presenter placed dolls with different folkloric costumes on the map of Iran where they belonged. But for southwestern Iran and Ahwaz, he placed a doll which did not have the Arab costume.
Security forces responded with tear gas to peaceful protesters who stood up to anti-riot units, saying their rally is completely peaceful.
Protesters resisted the security forces’ attacks and conflicts and clashes broke out in several cases.
Some received amateur footage clearly show anti-riot units imposing crackdown against people protesting state TV insult. Shots are heard.
Religious Minorities’ Rights
Shahab Dehghani, Baha’i Citizen, Released from Rajai Shahr Prison at the End of His Sentence
March 28, 2018
According to the HRANA news agency, the news wing of Human Rights Activists in Iran, Shahab Dehghani, a Baha’i citizen, was released from Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, upon the completion his four-year sentence. Mr. Dehghani was arrested in July 2012 during a massive security operation against Baha’is in Tehran. He reported to the Evin Prison to serve his four-year on May 24, 2014. The very next day, he was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj.
Shahab Dehghani was arrested on July 10, 2012, in a massive security operation against Baha’is in Tehran. Nearly 20 Baha’is, in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz, were arrested in this operation.
It is worth recalling that, earlier, the wife of Mr. Dehghani, Ms. Shams Mohajer, had been sentenced to one-year imprisonment by the Branch 28 of Tehran‘s Revolutionary Court, on charges of propaganda against the regime and illegal gathering. She was released after serving her one-year prison sentence.
“Coexistence Led to the Prisoners becoming Acquainted with the Baha’i Community and Our Beliefs”
March 29, 2018
By Ida Qajar
Vahid Tizfahm, together with Mahvash Sabet, Behrooz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Saeid Rezaie, Jamaloddin Khanjani, and Afif Naeimi, were members of the group called “Yaran-e-Iran”, which administered the affairs of the Baha’i minority community.
One day before the start of the new year 1397, Vahid Tizfahm, of the imprisoned Yaran-e-Iran, was released from prison to spend Naw-Rúz alongside his family. He is the last member of the Yaran to be released from prison.
Tizfahm, together with Mahvash Sabet, Behrooz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Saeid Rezaie, Jamaloddin Khanjani, and Afif Naeimi, were members of the group called “Yaran-e-Iran”, which administered the affairs of the Baha’i minority community. On March 5, 2008 Mahvash Sabet was arrested while on a trip to Mashad. The remaining six members were detained by security agents on May 14, 2008, at 7 a.m., and transferred to Evin prison. They were held incommunicado for weeks and were not allowed access to legal counsel for more than a year
Following his arrest and before trial, Vahid Tizfahm was confined in Evin Prison for 24 months. 112 days of that time were spent in solitary confinement, the most difficult four months for him. The rest of his time was spent in a room with five other Baha’is. His trial was held on August 7, 2010, presided over by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, who sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Tizfahm was tried on the charges of “promot-ing the Baha’i Faith”, “spying for Israel”, “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the regime.” These are the typical charges used against many Baha’is.
In November 2015, in accordance with the New Islamic Penal Code, Tizfahm’s 20-year sen-tence was reduced to ten years. According to this article, when the accused is facing multiple charges, the maximum sentence is applied.
Following the reduction of his sentence, Tizfahm was transferred to Rajai-Shahr prison, where he remained until his release. Rajai-Shahr is located in the Alborz Province, and was at the time a maximum-security prison, a place for the “dangerous” individuals. According to Iran’s Department of Prisons, Security and Corrections’ Regulations, and based on the principle of Segregation of Crimes, Tizfahm’s transfer to Rajai-Shahr was not legal.
According to Tizfahm, Evin prison is known as the black pit of the Iranian prisons.During his first two months at Evin, he was subjected to daily interrogations. Another two months of interrogation every few days by the Intelligence Ministry’s agents followed.
During these interrogations, which were accompanied by insults, humiliation and the occa-sional physical abuse, Tizfahm was pressured to answer the agents’ questions with the res-ponses they wanted. “We would try to resist and be independent in our responses,” relates Tizfahm. “We were facing restrictions, such as limited family visitation, and lack of access to books and reading material. All this, while we had not committed any crime. A different view or misunderstanding, a political approach to the issue of the Baha’is, and a security viewpoint toward this community was the reason for our arrest. But, I will always remember the restric-tions on the outdoor breaks allowed during this period”.
While in solitary confinement, and later while sharing a cell with the other Baha’i leaders, Tizfahm was denied time outdoors, which made his confinement much more difficult. The outdoors area itself only consisted of a roofed area of 20 square meters where, when allowed, they would spend only three hours, two or three times a week. This experience was common with all seven leaders of the Yaran while in prison. “Those who have experienced the 209 Area at Evin, have more or less had their share of these restrictions and the insulting treatment of the agents and analysts. Of course, there were also those who were carrying out their duty. Insults, humiliation, physical abuse and restrictions are all an integral part of the process of detention and interrogation”.
Of his encounters with the interrogators, the behavior of one of them stands out in Tizfahm’s memory, so much so that it also caused him psychological distress, “I was under pressure and interrogation, and at the time could not come up with an appropriate response. He would al-ways call me ‘the son of the executed one’”. (In 1982, Tizfahm was only nine years old when his father, Agahollah Tizfahm, was executed by the Regime for his Baha’i Faith.) “This was a terrible feeling, which would stress me out. To me my father is not “executed”, he is a martyr who sacrificed his life for his Faith, for Iran and for all of us”.
At the time when Vahid Tizfahm was arrested, his own son was eight years old, “Once again, history repeated itself for me, with my arrest. But my father’s martyrdom and execution never caused me to hold any grudge against those responsible. I made a vow to myself to substitute this grudge and hatred, which seemed only logical, with love and devotion to my country. In my view, those responsible for my father’s martyrdom, where ignorant towards the Baha’is. The reason was ignorance. I tried to, instead, increase the society’s awareness of the Baha’is. I left those responsible for that martyrdom to God, and chose a path of constructive resilience. I would stay and live in Iran, and with the help of my fellow-countrymen, will increase their knowledge and awareness of their own rights, as well as the rights of other minorities”.
Despite the negative experience of his 10 years in prison, Tizfahm has some positive take-aways. One of the days he spent in the General Ward at Rajai-Shahr, a man who was charged with kidnapping, came to Tizfahm and told him the Baha’is should not have been brought to that prison: “He said this is the society’s garbage can, and even in a garbage can if you search, you may find some treasures. He said you are all jewels that have been tossed in here. I know he was not an educated person, but he had this perception of our situation”.
But the best and the most enduring take-away for Tizfahm was his time in the section of Ra-jai-Shahr established for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. Tiizfahm and the other Baha’i community leaders were transferred there and coexisted with a segment of the Iranian civic society, “This was an opportunity for us, especially after the events of 2009, to share our imprisonment with journalists, political activists, conscientious objectors such as religious converts and partisan activists; highly intelligent, well-educated and deepened individuals. This coexistence enabled them to become acquainted with the Baha’i community and our beliefs. Our association with these friends was a blessing. Even though we are fellow-countrymen and live in the same society, they did not have a true knowledge of the Baha’i community. At least, we were able to familiarize them with it and we got to know them too. This was the best outcome of the years of imprisonment”.
Tizfahm relates how, throughout its history, the Baha’i community has suffered various injus-tices at the hand of Iran’s successive governments, but following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, these pressures become “systematic.” Arrests, imprisonment and execution of Baha’is were common under the nascent regime. Over the years, “Admission to universities, lack of access to employment in government agencies and confiscation of their properties, economic restric-tions and enormous difficulties for children in schools got to the point that a portion of the Baha’i community was forced to migrate. It was a very difficult period. Those who have re-mained in Iran endure. Every Baha’i family has experienced pressure and loss of rights in various aspects”.
It is Tizfahm’s belief that if the authorities in the Islamic Republic would view the rights of Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities with generosity, a little patience and in a more logical way, a better future can come about for Iran and Iranians: “My issue is the joining of the reli-gious minorities with the civic society and the rights of citizenship. If one day we get to a point in Iran, where the Baha’i community enjoys civic and citizenship rights, other Iranians at various levels will also achieve their citizenship rights. This is not impossible. The society needs change. A major change needs to happen in the government’s view of all minorities. We must also strive to achieve these civic and citizenship rights”.
Vahid Tizfahm shared his Naw-Rúz message to his fellow-countrymen to me:
“My greetings and congratulations to all Iranian citizens and dear Iranians for Naw-Rúz 1397. I am happy this year, after 10 years in prison, to be alongside my family, fellow-countrymen and coreligionists. As a Baha’i, I wish progress and prosperity for Iran. In my dreams and wishes, I have always wanted good health and happiness for Iranians. God willing, in the fu-ture, we can hand in hand, with the help of Baha’is and non-Baha’is, as only human beings and Iranians, bring about a prosperous, developed, democratic and dynamic country. This is my heart’s desire. I wish all Iranians a happy Naw-Rúz, with plenteous and colorful spreads”.
Iran: Member of Baha’i religious minority arrested after unwarranted raid
By IranHRM On Mar 30, 2018
Intelligence agents arrested a member of Baha’i religious minority Farajollah Bongaleh on March 28, 2018, after completely searching his home in an unwarranted raid.
Farajollah Bongaleh has been transferred to a detention center known as “Plaque 100.”
Baha’i faith is the largest non-Muslim religious minority with a population estimated more than 300,000. The Iranian regime has hurt many religious and political groups in Iran, but Baha’i community has borne an especially heavy burden.
Since 1981, the group was targeted by Iran’s security services and its religion followers have been deprived of many of their fundamental rights, including access to higher education and the right to work freely. They are barred from holding government jobs. Iranian regime has also made a familiar habit of shutting their businesses and confiscating their properties.
Their marriages are not recognized and their cemeteries and holy places have been desecrated.
Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa urging Iranians to avoid all dealings with members of the banned Baha’i community calling them as “deviant and misleading.”
According to Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, discrimina-tion against Baha’is is legally sanctioned by a lack of constitutional recognition. “Baha’is continue to be systematically discriminated, targeted, and deprived of the right to a livelih-ood,” Jahangiri said in her March 6 report.
“The Story of Four Prisoners”
March 30, 2018
By Nasser Sedghi
“The Story of Four Prisoners” – this is NOT a Hollywood Blockbuster movie!
This is a story of real life and unspeakable cruelty
This photo is taken a few days ago – just before the Persian new year (Naw-Ruz) – in front of the Rajaee Shahr Prinson in Karaj when one of the Baha’i prisoners, Mr Vahid Tizfahm, released after serving his unjust 10 Year prison sentence. Let us now introduce the prisoners: who they are, what they do, what was their crime, was there any legal ground for their imprisonment, how long was their prison term…?
From the photo Left to Right:
Mr Farhad Sedghi – 4 Year unjust prison term, from 2011 to 2015; Mr Afif Naeimi1 – 10 Year unjust prison term, from 2008 to 2018; Mr Vahid Tizfahm – 10 Year unjust prison term, from 2008 to 2018; Mr Ramin Zibaie – 4 Year unjust prison term; from 2011 to 2015.
Who they are and what they do / or did?
Mr Farhad Sedghi is a highly qualified accountant with over 35 years of experience in indus-trial accounting and finance, Farhad has a strong dedication to helping with youth education. Mr Afif Naeimi is an industrialist and business operator who was unable to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor because as a Baha’i he was denied access to a university education in Iran; he is passionate with voluntary work and helping others. Mr Vahid Tizfahm is an opto-metrist and business owner, as a Baha’i he was denied to enter university education, but later he studied sociology at the Advanced Baha’i Studies Institute; Vahid has a great dedication to youth empowerment and activities. Mr Ramin Zibaie is from the South of Iran; like all other young Baha’is he was denied to do his university studies, but he enrolled at the Baha’i Insti-tute for Higher Education (BIHE) and managed to finish his master in psychology; Ramin is very enthusiastic with helping other Baha’i youth with their higher education.
What was their crime and why such a lengthy prison term?
As there is no clergy in the Baha’i Faith, instead there is a “Baha’i Administration” to com-prise annually elected governing councils that operate at the national, regional and local levels as well as individuals and groups who are formally appointed to assist with various aspects of the community’s work and needs. This system of Baha’i administration was dissolved by the order of Iranian Islamic government in 1983 as part of ongoing persecution against Baha’is in that country.
In absence of a formal Baha’i administration, a seven members formed a group ‘Yaran’ to oversee the affairs of 300,000. Baha’i population in Iran. Mr Affif Naeimi and Mr Vahid Tiz-fahm were part of the seven Yaran group that coordinated education of children, the ad-vancement of women, upholding high personal moral standards, Baha’i funeral and marriages and other community related duties on a voluntary basis of service to the community. In 2008 all the seven members, including two female members, were arrested, and later sentenced to 10 Year unjust prison term for each of the seven members.
The arrest of Mr Farhad Sedghi and Mr Ramin Zibaie in 2011 was in relation to their in-volvement with the higher education of Baha’i youth in Iran.
Immediately after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, in 1979, Baha’i students were expelled from the Iranian universities and Baha’i professors, lecturers and faculty members dismissed from their positions.
In 1987, after failed attempts to persuade the government to admit qualified Baha’i students to Iranian universities and the fact that Denying people the right to education is a denial of their right to exist as free and productive human beings, the Baha’i community of Iran rallied its forces and expertise and established the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). Founded on the spirit of sacrifice and volunteerism, BIHE quickly grew to meet the pressing needs of its inherent community, and was soon able to provide its youth with a new means for access to higher education. Professors and researchers in Iran who had been discharged from their universities and colleges for no reason other than their membership of the Baha’i Faith dedicated themselves to the BIHE project that has evolved from a compensatory institution to a university with academic standards not only on par with the Iranian public university sys-tem, but also equalling the standards adopted by universities in the West.
Mr Farhad Sedghi and Mr Ramin Zibaie both, along with some 17 Baha’is from several cities across Iran that were part of the faculty members and administrators of the BIHE at the time of their arrest in 2011.
Charges that made against the prisoners and the crime that never committed.
Let us make one important thing quite clear that since establishment of the Islamic govern-ment in Iran in the past 39 years, there has been numerous baseless allegations and acquisitions against the Baha’is in Iran by the government and the ruling clerics, but they have been unable to produce a single evidence to support the Iranian authorities’ claim. Therefore, the ill-intention of the Iranian government to mobilise a Quiet Genocide of the Baha’is in Iran, based on religious intolerance, is a well-known fact. The Iranian state sponsored propaganda machine are nevertheless failing to convince the wider Iranian society or the international community to agree with their discriminatory and barbaric actions against the Baha’is. The Baha’i International Community highlights the following point:
“The Iranian Officials lacking any convincing explanation for their irrational conduct and unconcerned at the damage done by their narrow policies to the name and credibility of the country, find themselves unable even to give a plausible answer to why they are so apprehen-sive about the existence of a dynamic Baha’i Community in that land.”
The most common charges levelled against the Baha’is are pre-determined by the Iranian In-telligence Ministry officers and are lacking commonly acceptable evidences that to be legally binding. It also reflect the depth of animosity and prejudice directed towards the followers of the Baha’i Faith in that country: ‘managing a group that aims to disturbing national security’, ‘spreading propaganda against the Iranian regime’, ‘engaging in espionage’, ‘gathering classi-fied information’, ‘conspiring war against Islam’… , are a few charges to name it.
Baha’is have freely chosen this path of service – constructive resilience, none-violence action, proactive in extending warm fellowship to all citizens and much more – and have grown beyond having a “victim mentality”. They have demonstrated an exemplary constructive resi-lience in Iran under all kinds of cruelty and persecution which they have endured for the last 175 years. It is quite obvious that Baha’is in Iran do not voluntarily seek persecution in order to gain sympathy, though the Iranian government and clerics shamelessly, viciously and con-tinually air this nonsensical accusations against them.
The arrest, detention and imprisonment of Baha’is in Iran are part of an overall state-sponsored persecution in which the government and clerics desire to maintain an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among the Baha’is. They keep changing their tactics and accusations when they fail to see negative impacts on the strength of the Baha’is of Iran
How the Iranian Judiciary system Works in Relation to Baha’is.
Irrespective of the political and governing establishments in different countries around the world, the judiciary system is where people hope to find justice and fairness, and seek shelter against injustice. Unfortunately for Baha’is in Iran, that is far from the reality. To be perse-cuted and discriminated against by the government and clerics is hard enough, but to be treated unjustly by the judiciary system that should supposedly be an independent body for reinforcing the rule of law is even more heart-breaking and disappointing.
This is how the justice system works for Baha’is: In a systematic and orchestrated pattern, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence target individual Baha’is or a group of them _ say a business group, educators or young students _ and obtain a warrant under false accusations.
Commonly, Baha’is are accused of endangering national security, spying for foreign countries, acting against the government or against Islam, etc. They will then make a sweeping arrest along with confiscating their computers, books and other personal items such as photo albums _ in most cases to identify other people for further arrest. Initially, the accused individuals are kept in detention centres, at least for a few days, without any proper legal procedures being followed, and family members are not informed as to their whereabouts.
Such an arrest has already created turmoil for family members, who are unaware of the whe-reabouts of their loved ones or the reason for their arrest. The system is designed to create frustration and a worrying environment for Baha’is. The next stage is the questioning, interro-gation and filtering of the arrested people, in which some are released after payment of a heavy bail, which is another burden on a family’s financial situation: and some will be incar-cerated.
When it comes to dealing with Baha’is in the legal system, there are many violations of legal procedures. Iranian law requires that detainees be quickly and formally charged with a crime. For Baha’is there is evidence that it can take weeks or months for this procedure to be fol-lowed. In the case of the seven Baha’i leaders who are currently serving 10-year prison sen-tences (recently four of the seven Baha’i leaders were released after serving their 10 years of prison sentences), it took nine months before any word of charges against them was made.
Denial of legal counsel is another violation of legal procedure. Under the Iranian legal system, the accused have the right for a lawyer to be present during the investigation. This right is denied to Baha’is. The legal statues governing the operation of Iranian prisons restrict the holding of inmates in solitary confinement to not more than 20 days after their arrest. In the case of the seven Baha’i leaders, one was held for 175 days in solitary confinement, and the other six for 105 days.
The trials of Baha’is take place behind closed doors in the Revolutionary Court. Many of the legal teams who have taken it upon themselves to defend Baha’is in the Iranian court system in the past have been accused of orchestrating activities against national security, and had to flee the country or face prison sentences themselves. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for Baha’is to find a legal team to defend their legal rights. A typical closed-door trial and court procedures for accused Baha’is involves the presence of a judge, a court clerk, a representative of the Public Prosecutor, the accused person and _ if it is permitted _ a lawyer. The whole show is influenced and controlled by intelligence agents. The impartiality of the judge is ques-tionable, as he will interfere with the public prosecutor’s role, and will threaten the defence lawyer and the accused. The charges are fabricated, so the Baha’is will deny all the accusa-tions and try to provide a reasonable response in defending themselves. If the lawyer who is seated next to the accused tries to highlight actual legalities according to Iranian law in de-fending the case, they will face harsh and threatening words from the judge. The bravery of the accused Baha’i in defending themselves and rejecting the false charges will frustrate the judge: finally _ in a disrespectful manner _ the judge will question the accused. Are you a Baha’i? If the answer is yes, the judge with anger and hatred will say
“That makes you guilty of all the charges!” In most of the cases prison terms are predeter-mined and dictated by Intelligence agents as between one, five to ten years. The whole trial procedure normally takes between 10 and 20 minutes.
1. Mr Afif Naeimi’s 10 Year prison term is short of two months, and due to his serious illness his family providing medical treatment outside the prison, but he has to go back to prison for another two months when doctors permit him.
Concerns Grow over Iranian Christian Prisoner’s Health Condition
March 30, 2018
Christian prisoner Naser Navard-Goltapeh was arrested in 2016 along with three other Azerbaijani Christians and sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegal gathering and collusion against the Islamic regime through evangelism.
Mohabat News — Iranian Christian prisoner, Mr. Naser Navard-Goltapeh’s family have expressed their growing concern over his health as he is suffering from a severe case of gum infection which requires immediate medical attention.
One of his family members told Article 18 ministries in an interview, “if he does not receive immediate medical attention we are afraid he might lose all of his teeth.”
Mr. Navard-Goltapeh was admitted to the notorious Evin prison on January 20, 2018 to serve his 10 year sentence and is currently being held in ward 8 of the prison.
• Read more: Iranian Christian Convert Admitted to Prison to Serve Sentence
• Read more: Four Christians were sentenced to forty years prison terms in Iran
• Read more: Three Azerbaijani Christians Arrested in Iran Temporarily Released
• Read more: Iranian President Receives Letter for Freedom of Three Christian Prisoners
Mr. Navard-Goltapeh was arrested on June 24, 2016 in a private gathering with three believers from Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani believers arrested were identified as Eldar Gurbanov, Yusif Farhadov and Bahram Nasibov, members of the “Word of Life” church in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. All those arrested were held in solitary confinement for two months as they went through intense interrogation. They were all eventually convicted in court for “illegal gathering and collusion against the Islamic regime through evangelism”.
All four Christians, including Naser Navard-Goltapeh, were temporarily released on a heavy bail (approx. 35,000 USD) after four months in jail. All three Azerbaijani Christians forfeited their bail and returned to their own country, Azerbaijan, immediately after their release.
Naser Navard-Goltapeh, however, stayed in Iran and waited to appear in court where he was found guilty in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court.
Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh sentenced him to 10 years in prison for “Action against national security and establishing house churches”. The judge based his ruling on evidences produced by the Ministry of Intelligence. None of the referenced evidence was presented during the court session or given to Mr. Navard-Goltapeh’s attorney to review.
Mr. Navard-Goltapeh appealed the sentence. However, an appeals court upheld the 10 year term on November 12, 2017, making it final.