The 1988 massacre in Iran
Iran: World turning blind eye to crisis of mass enforced disappearance
28 August 2019, 00:01 UTC https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/08/iran-world-turning-blind-eye-to-crisis-of-mass-enforced-disappearance/
The Iranian authorities’ continued failure to disclose the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret during Iran’s 1988 prison massacres has sparked a crisis that for decades has been largely overlooked by the international community, said Amnesty International in the lead-up to the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August.
Thousands of the victims’ deaths remain unregistered and, across the country, there are thousands of missing bodies buried in unidentified mass graves. For more than 30 years, the Iranian authorities have failed to officially acknowledge the existence of these mass graves and concealed their locations causing immeasurable suffering to families who are still seeking answers about their missing loved ones.
“The families of those secretly killed in the 1988 prison massacres are still living through a nightmare. They and many others in Iran are haunted by the thousands of missing bodies, which have cast a spectre over the country’s justice system to this day,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International.
“It is misguided to view the 1988 mass killings as historical events. The enforced disappearances are ongoing and, 30 years later, victims’ families continue to be tormented by anguish and uncertainty over the fate of their loved ones.”
Under international law, the crime of enforced disappearance continues until the state reveals the fate or whereabouts of the individual concerned and this requires, when the disappeared person is found to be dead, returning the remains of the victims to their families. Amnesty International’s December 2018 report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity concluded that by continuing to systematically conceal the fate and whereabouts of victims of the secret extrajudicial killings of 1988 in Iran, Iranian authorities are committing the ongoing crime against humanity of enforced disappearance.
The Iranian authorities have an obligation under international law to investigate these ongoing crimes and to provide victims with truth, justice and reparations. They should involve independent experts in exhuming and identifying the remains, including through DNA analysis, return the remains of deceased victims to their families and allow the families to conduct commemorations and dispose of those remains according to their own beliefs, religion or culture.
In any case of a death, the authorities have a duty to issue a death certificate, setting out accurately the date, location and cause of death. However, for victims of the secret extrajudicial killings of 1988 this has not happened in thousands of cases.
“Crimes against humanity are exactly what the term suggests: crimes so serious that they concern not only their victims, survivors and the state in question but also humanity as a whole,” said Philip Luther.
“UN member states must use every opportunity, including the upcoming review of Iran’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council in November, to press the Iranian government to identify mass graves and reveal the fate and whereabouts of all victims of these tragic events.”
Amnesty International has called for the UN to set up an independent investigation into the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances to establish the truth, enable prosecutions of those suspected of responsibility and ensure that survivors and families of victims receive reparations.
The Iranian authorities did not return the bodies of any of the victims of the extrajudicial killings of 1988 to families. They also refused to tell most families where the bodies were buried, in an apparent effort to eliminate all trace of the victims.
Amnesty International knows of only five cities – Ahvaz, Ardabil, Ilam, Mashhad and Rudsar – where the authorities eventually told some families verbally that their loved ones were buried in mass graves and revealed their locations. However, publicly and officially, the authorities have never acknowledged these or other known or suspected mass grave sites across the country, which have been subjected to desecration and destruction.
According to information obtained by Amnesty International, in several other cities, including Bandar Anzali, Esfahan, Hamedan, Masjed Soleiman, Shiraz, Semnan and Tehran, the authorities gave a few families the location of individual graves and allowed them to install headstones, but many fear that the authorities may have deceived them and that these graves may be empty.
In the case of Tehran, these concerns are reinforced by Amnesty International’s finding that 99% of the names on 335 gravestones at the Behest Zahra cemetery that the authorities have attributed to victims of the mass killings are not registered in the cemetery’s online burial registers; only three are registered.
There are reports that many of these individual gravestones were erected suddenly in late 1988 and early 1989 without any sign of prior digging or burial in the area. Some families and survivors suspect that the authorities identified these graves in an attempt to trivialize the number of those killed and show that the location of their remains was known. They fear that in fact these victims may have been buried in unmarked mass graves along with several thousand other victims.
In one case a family discovered in June 2017 that the ground beneath the headstone where they had believed their loved one was buried for decades was in fact empty and contained no bones or other remains.
A search of the online database of the Organization of Behesht Zahra, a state body, for the names of over 4,500 recorded victims, found that 99% of the names were not registered on this database. Letters sent in 2018 by Amnesty International to the National Organization for Civil Registration and the Organization of Behesht Zahra in Tehran, in which it requested explanations for these omissions, remain unanswered.
The huge number of missing names in the country’s online burial records and the fears that some of the graves may be empty raise serious concerns, making the investigation and exhumation of graves believed to contain the remains of the victims all the more crucial to the establishment of the truth about the fate of each victim and the whereabouts of their remains. Click here to view a video featuring victims’ family members describing the ongoing pain and trauma they endure. Amnesty International considers that the suffering inflicted on victims’ families violates the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment under international law.
Iran: Explanatory Note On Amnesty International’s Use Of The Term “Ex-trajudicial Executions” In Reference To 1988 Prison Massacres
28 August 2019 AI Index Number: MDE 13/0952/2019 https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1309522019ENGLISH.PDF
This explanatory note provides additional information on Amnesty International’s characterization of the 1988 prison massacres in Iran as “extrajudicial executions” in its December 2018 report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity. The note briefly discusses the terms “summary executions” and “extrajudicial executions” and their application to the 1988 prison massacres. It further addresses the criminal justice impli-cations of the characterization of the 1988 prison massacres as “extrajudicial executions”, including for judicial officials in Iran who were involved in the 1988 prison massacres.
This explanatory note is not a stand-alone document and should be read together with the re-port.
CHARACTERIZATION OF 1988 PRISON MASSACRES AS EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECU-TIONS
There has been an evolution in the terminology Amnesty International uses to characterize the 1988 prison massacres. Previously, the organization used only the term “summary execu-tions” to describe the killings. Following extensive research and legal analysis, it has, since 2016, used the term “extrajudicial executions”. As set out below, this development is signifi-cant from a criminal justice perspective. However, it is not intended to challenge the previous characterization of the 1988 prison massacres as “summary executions”.
There is no international treaty which defines the categories of “extrajudicial” and “summary” executions, and the distinctions between these terms and their use by intergovernmental or-ganizations, NGOs and others have sometimes been inconsistent.
Amnesty International defines “extrajudicial execution” as the unlawful and deliberate killing of a person carried out by order of a government or with its complicity or acquiescence.1 Typ-ically extrajudicial executions are carried out with no pretence of legality. However, Amnesty International considers that the term “extrajudicial execution” also includes cases when a per-son is killed by the state following summary and arbitrary proceedings that violate the most basic and fundamental judicial guarantees and therefore cannot in any meaningful sense be considered to be the outcome of a judicial process.
Amnesty International’s December 2018 report explained in detail why it reached the conclu-sion that the proceedings before the “death commissions” that led to the mass executions of 1988 did not comply with any due process standards or judicial guarantees and were so sum-mary and arbitrary that they could not be considered to constitute actual judicial proceedings.
The committees, which survivors refer to as “death commissions”, bore no resemblance to a court:
•They did not operate within existing legislation;
•They were not concerned with establishing the guilt or innocence of “defendants” regard-ing an internationally recognized criminal offence;
1For more information, see Amnesty International, 14-Point Program for the Prevention of Extrajudicial Executions (Index: POL 35/003/1993), 7 April 1993, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/pol35/003/1993/en/
•Prisoners were not told why they faced these questions or that their answers could con-demn them to death. Some in fact misunderstood the purpose of the session, believing that they were appearing before a pardon committee;
•Prisoners were not informed that they were condemned to death until shortly before their executions; sometimes they only learned about their impending fate when they were given a pen and piece of paper and told to write down their last wishes. Even then, they did not know when and how they would die until they were lined up before a firing squad or nooses were put around their necks; and
•There was no possibility of appeal at any point during the process.
Amnesty International therefore considered that the mass executions were both “summary” and “extrajudicial” in nature.
Amnesty International used primarily the term “extrajudicial execution” in this report to em-phasize, based on its factual and legal findings, its refutation of the untruthful claims of the Iranian authorities that the mass executions of 1988 followed trials that may have admittedly fallen short of some international fair trial standards (as many trials do around the world) but were, nevertheless, judicial proceedings.
Also, the organization deemed it important to express its legal conclusion that the mass execu-tions constituted crimes under international law in themselves, regardless of whether they formed part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population and therefore con-stituted crimes against humanity. Authoritative sources on international law have consistently used the term “extrajudicial execution” when making the argument that arbitrary deprivation of life can amount to crimes under international law.
SUSPECTS IN POSITIONS OF POWER
The characterization of the 1988 prison massacres as “extrajudicial executions” does not shift criminal responsibility away from members of the judiciary involved in the “death commis-sions”. On the contrary, their involvement in these commissions places them under suspicion of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law.
Amnesty International’s report explained in detail that judicial and prosecution officials par-ticipated in the deliberate unlawful killing of political dissidents in 1988, pursuant to at least one fatwa issued by Rouhollah Khomeini, the then Supreme Leader, which ordered that in each province, a three-man committee be established, comprised of judicial, prosecution and intelligence officials.
The report identified and analysed evidence indicating that the following officials participated in the “death commissions”:
•Alireza Avaei: He was tasked with participating in the Dezful “death commission” as the prosecutor general of
Dezful and is currently the minister of justice.
•Hossein Ali Nayyeri: He acted as the Shari’a judge in the Tehran “death commission”. He was promoted to the position of the deputy head of Iran’s Supreme Court in 1989 and re-
mained in this post until September 2013. He was subsequently appointed as the head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges, a position which he holds today.
•Ebrahim Raisi: He was the deputy prosecutor general of Tehran in 1988 and a member of the Tehran “death commission”. He was later the prosecutor general of Tehran between 1989 and 1994, the first deputy head of the judiciary from 2004 to 2014 and the country’s prosecu-tor general from 2014 to 2016.
•Mohammad Hossein Ahmadi: He was the Shari’a judge of Khuzestan province in 1988 and a member of the Khuzestan “death commission”. He is currently a member of the Assem-bly of Experts. For nearly a decade in the
2000s, he was also the head of the body in charge of selecting and appointing judges across the country.
•Mostafa Pour Mohammadi: He was the representative of the ministry of intelligence in the “death commission” in Tehran. He was later the minister of justice between 2013 and 2017.
Amnesty International has called for independent and impartial criminal investigations into these extrajudicial executions and for anyone against whom there is sufficient admissible evi-dence to be prosecuted in civilian courts in proceedings that conform to international fair trial standards and do not involve seeking or imposing the death penalty.
Given that there is no prospect for justice for victims of these crimes in Iran, Amnesty Inter-national has called for the UN to set up an independent investigation into the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances to establish the truth, enable prosecutions of those suspected of responsibility and ensure that survivors and families of victims receive repara-tion.
94th woman executed in Iran under Rouhani
On Aug 26, 2019 https://women.ncr-iran.org/2019/08/26/94th-woman-executed-in-iran-during-rouhanis-presidency/
On Sunday morning, August 25, 2019, a woman was executed in Mashhad Central Prison. This is the 94th woman executed during six years of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency. The Iranian regime has executed at least four women in July, alone. Including Maliheh Salehian from Miandoab who was hanged on July 16, 2019, on charges of murder in the central prison of Mahabad.
On July 17, 2019, another female prisoner, Zahra Safari Moghadam, 43, was hanged in the Prison of Nowshahr, in northern Iran. Two women identified as Arasteh Ranjbar and Nazdar Vatankhah who had already spent 15 years in prison on the charge of murder and complicity in murder, were hanged at the Central Prison of Urmia at dawn on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
More than 3,700 people have been executed in Iran in the past six years under Rouhani’s presidency. The woman executed in Mashhad Central Prison is the 94th victim of the clerical regime’s death penalties.
The Iranian regime is the world’s top record holder of per capita executions. It deploys the death penalty as a tool for maintaining its grab on power and for silencing a disgruntled populace the majority of whom live under the poverty line, while unemployment is rampant in the country and there is no freedom of speech.
Rule 61 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) reads, “When sentencing women offenders, courts shall have the power to consider mitigating factors such as lack of criminal history and relative non-severity and nature of the criminal conduct, in the light of women’s caretaking responsibilities and typical backgrounds.”
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran condemns the execution of the 94th woman hanged Sunday morning by the mullahs’ regime in Mashhad since she was a victim of misogynist laws and policies of the clerical regime and their destruction of the economy.
The NCRI Women’s Committee urges the international organization defending human rights and women’s rights to intervene and stop the death penalties in Iran.
Iran: Man Hanged for Drug Charges https://iranhr.net/en/articles/3911/
At least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019; in which 9 of them were sentenced to death for drug offenses.
Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 27, 2019: A prisoner was hanged for drug-related charges at the central prison of Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan province on Sunday. According to Mizan News Agency, on the morning of Sunday, August 25, a man was hanged at the southern Iranian city of Bandar Abbas Central Prison. His first name was Mentioned as Houshang.
“More than 7 tons of drugs are discovered from the cartel”, a Judiciary official told Mizan News that Houshang was a member of an international smuggling cartel.
At least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019; in which 9 of them were sentenced to death for drug offenses.
Iran: Woman Hanged at Mashhad Prison https://iranhr.net/en/articles/3914/
There is a lack of a classification of murder by degree in Iran which results in issuing a death sentence for any kind of murder regardless of intensity and intent.
Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 27, 2019: A woman was executed at Mashhad Central Prison last Sunday. According to Khorasan Daily, on the morning of Sunday, August 25, a woman was hanged
at Mashhad Central Prison, also known as Vakilabad prison. She was sentenced to death for killing her own two children four years ago.
Her father had told the court that she was seriously depressed and was under the influence of potent medication at the time of the crime.
At least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019; Only 37 of the executions have been announced by authorities or Iranian media. Iran Human Rights (IHR) could confirm 73 more through its sources. IHR only reports the unannounced executions if it could confirm those with two separate credible sources. Therefore, the actual number of executions may be even higher than reported.
There is a lack of a classification of murder by degree in Iran which results in issuing a death sentence for any kind of murder regardless of intensity and intent.
Iran: Man Hanged in Public https://iranhr.net/en/articles/3913/
UN human rights experts, including the former Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, had previously drawn particular attention to continued reports of public executions.
Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 27, 2019: A man was hanged in public in a forest park in northern Iran. According to IRNA, on the early morning of Monday, August 26, a man was hanged in public at Babolkenar Forest Park, Mazandaran province. He was sentenced to death for killing two people for robbing their cash. The prisoner was named as H, 25.
UN human rights experts, including the former Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, had previously drawn particular attention to continued reports of public executions. “a dehumanising effect on both the victim and those who witness the execution” and ultimately reinforced the “already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty,” UN experts said.
Iran: Eight Prisoners Transferred to Solitary Confinement for Execution https://iranhr.net/en/articles/3915/
“Their families were called to the last meeting with the prisoners Tuesday morning,” a source told IHR.
Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 27, 2019: At least eight prisoners have been transferred to the solitary confinement of Rajai-Shahr in the Iranian city of Karaj for execution.
According to IHR sources, At least eight prisoners have been transferred to the solitary confinement of Rajai-Shahr in the Iranian city of Karaj for execution. “Their families were called to the last meeting with the prisoners Tuesday morning,” a source told IHR. Executions are usually carried out on Wednesdays at Rajai-Shahr prison. Six of them were sentenced to death for murder charges. Their names are listed as Siavash Inanlou, Manouchehr Dehghan, Alireza Behrad, Ebrahim Yarmout-Oghli, Ahmad Ghareh-Balaei and Reza Mousavi Borghani. If they fail to win the consent of the plaintiffs, they would be executed. According to the Iranian Islamic Penal Code (IPC) murder is punishable by qisas which means “retribution in kind” or retaliation. In qisas cases, the plaintiff has the possibility to forgive or demand diya (blood money). In this way, the State effectively puts the responsibility of the death sentence for murder on the shoulders of the victim’s family. In many cases, the victim’s family are encouraged to put the rope is around the prisoner’s neck and even carry out the actual execution by pulling off the chair the prisoner is standing on. Two others were sentenced to death for drug-related charges. Their surname is Mirzaei. They were transferred from Ghezel-Hesar prison to Rajai-Shahr prison for execution.
Iran: Three Months From Arrest to Public Execution https://iranhr.net/en/articles/3918/
His death sentence had been issued and upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court in just three months, and it is unknown that he had a fair trial or not.
Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 27, 2019: According to the Iranian media, Hamidreza Derakhshandeh was hanged in public this morning. He was sentenced to death for the assassination of an Iranian cleric three months ago. According to the state-run news website Iran Online, Hamidreza Derakhshandeh, the man who assassinated the Imam of Friday Prayer in the Iranian city of Kazeroun, was hanged in public on Wednesday, August 28.
Hamidreza Derakhshandeh was sentenced to death for the assassination of the cleric who represented the Iranian Supreme Leader in Kazeroun. The assassination took place on May 29, 2019. In a recorded audio message published on social media, Hamid tells his intention for killing the cleric was the corruption of authorities which has led people to starvation.
His death sentence had been issued and upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court in just three https://iranhr.net/media/content/embedded/behrouz/2019/08/28/5.jpgmonths, and it is unknown that he had a fair trial or not. UN human rights experts have on several occasions condemned the Iranian authorities’ practice of public executions, calling it a practice which has “a dehumanising effect on both the victim and those who witness the execution”. The pictures of the public execution can be seen in this link: WARNING; Graphic Content
Iran: 8 Men Executed at One Prison in One Day https://iranhr.net/en/articles/3921/
IHR had previously warned about the imminent risk of their execution.
Iran Human Rights (IHR); August 30, 2019: Eight prisoners were executed at Rajai-Shahr prison Wednesday morning.
According to IHR sources, on the morning of Wednesday, August 28, at least eight people were executed at Rajai-Shahr prison of Karaj city, near Tehran.
Six of them were sentenced to death for murder charges. Their names are listed as Siavash Inanlou, Manouchehr Dehghan, Alireza Behrad, Ebrahim Yarmout-Oghli, Ahmad Ghareh-Balaei and Reza Mousavi Borghani.
Two others were sentenced to death for drug-related charges. Their surname is Mirzaei. They were transferred from Ghezel-Hesar prison to Rajai-Shahr prison for execution. IHR had previously warned about the imminent risk of their execution.
At least 110 people were executed in Iran in the first half of 2019; Only 37 of the executions have been announced by authorities or Iranian media. Iran Human Rights (IHR) could confirm 73 more through its sources. IHR only reports the unannounced executions if it could confirm those with two separate credible sources. Therefore, the actual number of executions may be even higher than reported.
Eight Prisoners Executed in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj
Posted on: 30th August, 2019 https://www.en-hrana.org/eight-prisoners-executed-in-rajai-shahr-prison-in-karaj
In the morning of August 28, at least eight prisoners who were sentenced to death earlier, were executed in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. On August 27, 2019, these prisoners alongside few others were transferred to solidarity confinement cells in Rajai Shahr prison to get prepared for execution for drug-related felony or murder felonies. They were identified as the following:
Alireza Behrad, Manouchehr Dehghani, Ebrahim Yarmout Oghli, Ahmad Ghare Balaei, Siavash Inanlou, and Reza Mousavi Baraghani who were prisoners of Rajai Shahr prison and were sentenced to death on the charge of murder. In addition, prisoners of Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj, Mahmoud Mirzai and his cousin, who were charged with “armed battery and drug trafficking” for possessing 22 kilograms of Morphine were executed.
Several other prisoners on the death row such as Mohsen Rezaeian and Alireza Aryai, who were sentenced to death earlier on the charge of murder, were returned to their wards by getting consent from the victim’s next of kin or been given more time. The status of Ali Gharaghaloui, the prisoner of ward 10 of Rajai Shahr prison, who was also transferred to the solidarity confinement cell is still unknown. The news of these executions has not been published by the Iranian media yet.
According to the international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. Based on 256 reports that have been registered by the Department of Statistics and Publication of Human Rights Activists Association in Iran, 195 death sentences and 236 people with death sentences were executed (including 13 executions in public) in Iran between January 1, 2018 and December 20, 2018. Six of them were juvenile offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. Secret executions of prisoners reported by the independent sources and the human rights association indicate that 72% of executions are carried out in secret or without any public notice.
Another Activist Calling For Iran Leader’s Resignation Arrested
August 28, 2019 https://en.radiofarda.com/a/another-activist-calling-for-iran-leader-s-resignation-arrested/30133668.html
Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb at his home near Tehran in August 2019. Behind him on the wall are photos of other imprisoned activists.
An outspoken labor rights advocate who recently called for the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down has been arrested at his home.
The intelligence agents stormed Esmaeil Ahmadi Ragheb’s (nicknamed Zartosht) house in the city of
ce agents stormed Esmaeil Ahmadi Ragheb’s (nicknamed Zartosht) house in the city of Shahriar, 39
24 miles) west of Tehran, breaking down the door on Tuesday, August 27, and took him away to an unknown detention center.
Ahmadi Ragheb recently sacked as a firefighter, is a signatory to an open letter published in mid-June calling on Khamenei to resign while also demanding essential changes in Iran’s Constitutional Law.
At least seven out of the fourteen signatories to the bold letter have been detained, so far.
Meanwhile, in early August, a group of fourteen female activists also issued a similar statement demanding equal rights for women and asking for Khamenei to step down and pave the way for a new constitution.
Seven out of the fourteen signatories to this letter, including have also been arrested, so far.
Ayatollah Khamenei has in the past stated publicly that people are free to criticize him, but often the slightest criticism or protest leads to arrests and in many cases jail terms.
Iran Arrests Religious Eulogists On Charges of ’Spying For Israel’
August 31, 2019 https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-arrests-religious-eulogists-on-charges-of-spying-for-israel-/30139652.html
A religious gathering in Iran to hear the sermon of a maddah or eulogist, or Shi’ite preacher. Observers say Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has mobilized maddahs as a powerful political tool to keep his base among believers. File photo
Chairman of the Iranian Eulogists Basij Organization says security forces have arrested ”A number of eulogists trained in Israel to dishonor Shiite Ashura ceremonies.”
Eulogists (preachers or maddahs in Persian) sing in religious gathering and ceremonies in Iran. The regime has been using eulogists, usually hardliners with strict faith in the government-approved brand of Shiism to suppress dissent and discredit the Islamic Republic’s critics. In recent years their songs are mainly in praise of Khamenei rather than Islamic saints.
Yousef Arjouni who broke the news as the Chairman of the Iranian Eulogists Basij Organization refused to give away any further details.
Three well-known eulogists were also arrested on charges of spying for Israel in 2017, but reports on Iranian social media disclosed that they were linked to a woman who worked for the French Embassy in Tehran.
A spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary has confirmed the arrest of two eulogists but refused to give any further details.
The month of Moharram which begins shortly, is the peak time for eulogists’ activities as it coincides with Ashura, the day the Shiites’ third Imam, Hussain, was “martyred” in Karbala, Iraq, in the year 680 AD. Shiites mourn his “martyrdom” on the 10th day of Moharram. The Karbala story is the most powerful ideological tool used by Shiite clerics and the Islamic Republic to motivate its followers and justify some of its policies.
At Least 13 Signers of Open Letters Urging Khamenei’s Resignation Are Arrested
August 29, 2019 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2019/08/at-least-13-signers-of-open-letters-urging-khameneis-resignation-are-arrested/
Demonstrating the Iranian authorities’ continued intolerance for peaceful dissent, two open letters written since June 2019 by 28 political and civil rights activists urging Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to step down have led to the arrest of at least 13 of the signers by the security establishment. No information regarding the charges, their status or whereabouts is as of yet available. The first letter on June 11, was signed by 14 political and civil rights activists in Tehran, Iran’s capital, and in Mashhad, one of the country’s most important religious centers and second largest city in Khorasan Razavi Province, calling on Khamenei to resign and demanding constitutional changes.
The letter said in part, “The time has come for the people, thinkers, and caring individuals to lead a national movement by setting aside conciliatory tendencies that have facilitated the destruction of our culture, civilization and national wealth and with all honesty step into the ring and demand fundamental changes to the Constitution and the resignation of the Leader who is unjustly extending his authority on a daily basis.”
It added: “There is not only a lack of will to be accountable to the Iranian people, but actually an insistence by the ruling regime to remain irreformable and wrongful under a singular dictatorship.” The letter was signed by Mohammad Nourizad (filmmaker and social media critic), Gohar Eshghi (the mother of Sattar Beheshti, a political blogger who died under torture in police custody), Abbas Vahedian Shahroudi (author and civil rights activist), Kamal Jafari Yazdi (professor of strategic management), Mohammad Mahdavifar (political poet), Hoorieh Farajzadeh (the sister of Shahram Farajzadeh, who was killed during Iran’s 2009 presidential election results protests), Javad La’l Mohammadi (teachers’ rights advocate), Reza Mehregan (civil rights activist), Mohammad Reza Bayat (civil rights activist), Mohammad Hossein Sepehri (teachers’ rights advocate), Hashem Khastar (teachers’ rights advocate), Mohammad Karimbeigi (the father of Mostafa Karimbeigi, a protester killed in 2009) and Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb (civil rights activist).
So far six of them have been arrested since the letter was published: Hashem Khastar, Mohammad Nourizad, Mohammad Hossein Sepehri, Hoorieh Farajzadeh, Javad La’al Mohammadi and Abbas Vahedian Shahroudi. Some of the signatories posted videos on social media explaining why they hoped for a different form of government. In one video message, teacher Mohammad Hossein Sepehri said, “If the regime shows tolerance toward us for signing this letter, it would be respecting our rights as citizens. But if it mistreats us, it would prove that the Ruler wants to enslave the people.”
On August 11, two months after he signed the letter, Kamal Jafari Yazdi’s 13-year prison sentence was upheld by the Appeals Court. He had been charged with “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “contact with anti-state organizations” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”
Yazdi, who is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), has to serve at least 10 years behind bars to become eligible for parole.
Letter from 14 Women Activists The second open letter, on August 9, was signed by “14 women activists in the fields of civil and women’s rights,” declaring support for the earlier letter and stating: “As vanguards seeking to free the country, we are determined to say no to the Islamic Republic and continue our struggle in a civil non-violent manner until we achieve all our demands.”
The signatories described the state as an “anti-women regime” and condemned “four decades of totalitarian Islamic rule, which has led to the inhuman exclusion of half of the population.”
It added: “We rise against this anti-woman regime that has wiped out our human values and demand a complete passage from the Islamic Republic and drafting of a new constitution for the establishment of a state in which women’s dignity, identity and equal rights are recognized in all areas.”
The letter was signed by Shahla Entesari (labor women’s rights activist), Nosrat Beheshti (retired teacher and women’s rights activist), Fereshteh Tasvibi (women’s rights activist), Parva Pachideh (author, poet and women’s rights activist), Giti Pourfazel (attorney and central committee member of the secular National Front party), Zahra Jamali (women’s rights activist), Shahla Jahanbin (women’s rights activist), Fatemeh Sepehri (women’s rights activist), Maryam Soleimani (women’s rights activist), Sousan Taherkhani (women’s rights activist), Farangis Mazloom (mother of prisoner of conscience Soheil Arabi), Narges Mansouri (labor and women’s rights activist), Ezzar Javadi Hessar (women’s rights activist) and Kimia Norouzi (women’s rights activist).
To date seven of the fourteen women have been arrested by the security forces: Shahla Entesari, Shahla Jahanbin, Fatemeh Sepehri, Narges Mansouri, Farangis Mazloom and Giti Pourfazel.
Giti Pourfazel, who was the lawyer for the late blogger Sattar Beheshti as well as US-based women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, said in an interview with Prague-based Radio Farda on August 25, “The goal is the same as the slogans in the beginning of the (1979) Revolution when we were seeking democracy, as the most important foundation for free thought and expression, which we have been denied for years. The people’s rights are really being trampled. They tricked the people with the word ‘republic’ and added ‘Islamic’ to it and then said now Islamic law has to be enforced.” The interview was aired a day after her arrest.
Official Reaction: the Signers are “Troublemakers”
On August 23, Hassan Jafari, the assistant governor for political, security and social affairs in Khorasan Razavi Province, confirmed the arrest of activists in the provincial capital, Mashhad, who had signed the first letter.
He accused them of being “troublemakers” working for “anti-state groups” but denied their arrest was due to their demand for Khamenei’s resignation.
“The reason those people were arrested in Mashhad last week was because of their contacts with foreign groups seeking the overthrow of the state. It had nothing to do with their letter to the Leader,” he said.
On August 11, the province’s director general for security affairs, Hossein Sherafati, mentioned the arrests without identifying the signatories by name.
“The people who had gathered illegally outside the Khorasan Razavi judiciary building were anti-revolutionaries with foreign connections who had come here from different provinces to
ignite protests and instigate the public against the Islamic Republic of Iran and create insecurity in Mashhad.”
Prisoners of Conscience
No Family Visits or Lawyer Allowed for Detained Anthropologist Kameel Ahmady Two Weeks Into Detention
August 29, 2019 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2019/08/no-family-visits-or-lawyer-allowed-for-detained-anthropologist-kameel-ahmady-two-weeks-into-detention/
Wife’s Requests for Charges and Medical Examination Go Unanswered
After more than two weeks in detention, Iranian-British social anthropologist Kameel Ahmady has not had any contact with his family except three phone calls, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
His wife, Shafagh Rahmani, told CHRI on August 28 that she has not been given permission to visit him in Tehran’s Evin Prison and that the authorities have refused to answer any questions about his health and why he is being held.
“It has been 17 days since his arrest (on August 11) and Kameel has called our home only three times and talked to me and our small son,” Rahmani said, adding that he was not able to give any information about his situation because their conversation was being monitored.
“I haven’t gotten a positive answer to my request to visit him despite many attempts to talk to the case investigator and the supervising judicial official in the prison,” she added.
Meanwhile, several lawyers chosen by Ahmady’s family to represent him have been rejected by the judiciary. “The lawyers we chose to represent Kameel have all been rejected by the case investigator,” Rahmani told CHRI. “They said those lawyers do not have the judiciary’s trust or approval.” In Iran, the Note to Article 48 of the country’s Criminal Procedures Regulations states that prisoners accused of national security-related crimes can only choose lawyers approved by the judiciary chief. National security-related charges are typically used in politically motivated cases.
Ahmady’s wife continued: “I also asked for a medical examination by a doctor in prison to make sure Kameel is healthy but I haven’t gotten a straight answer yet.”
Kameel Ahmady was an independent researcher focusing on politically sensitive issues including child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). His recent books include An Echo of Silence: A Comprehensive Research Study on Early Child Marriage in Iran (2017), and his book on the practice of “white marriages” in Iran (couples living together who are not legally married) was published in 2018.
Ahmady became a British citizen 25 years ago but during the past 15 years he has traveled to the UK only a few times, according to his wife.
There are currently several Iranian-British citizens and residents imprisoned in Iran, all after prosecutions lacking due process. On August 27, 2019, Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said that Iranian-British citizen Anousheh Ashouri, a businessman who has been imprisoned since 2017, had been sentenced to 12 years in prison allegedly for spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency and receiving 33,000 euros ($36,600 USD) in illicit funds.
On August 18, 2019, Iran’s Appeals Court upheld a 10-year prison sentence against British Council employee Aras Amiri for “forming and organizing a network for the purpose of overthrowing the Islamic Republic.” Nazanin Zaghari, a researcher for the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation (and mother of a toddler) was arrested in Tehran in 2016. She is serving a 10-year prison sentence on unspecific espionage charges. Kamal Foroughi, an energy consultant, was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to seven years in prison, also for “espionage.” He has not been released despite completing his sentence.
Prisoners in Iran’s Gharchak Prison for Women Protest Inhumane Living Conditions
August 30, 2019 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2019/08/prisoners-in-irans-gharchak-prison-for-women-protest-inhumane-living-conditions/
Prison Fails to Meet UN’s Minimum Standards for Treatment of Prisoners
Two hundred inmates in Ward 5 of Gharchak Prison for women in the Iranian city of Varamin have sent an open letter to the head of the State Prisons Organization in Tehran Province protesting the prison’s inhumane living conditions.
“Most of us…cannot afford to meet our basic needs such as food, drinking water, clothes and sanitary products,” said the August 17, 2019, Persian-language letter translated by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “Don’t we prisoners have basic rights?”
The letter noted that the signatories had begun refusing their lunch portions to protest the prison’s lack of accessible drinking water, inedible meals, insufficient sanitation and hygiene services, and unaffordable commissary items.
The State Prisons Organization (SPO) is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of prisoners and reports to the judiciary, but its chief Heshmatollah Hayatolgheyb refused to meet with the prisoners when he “inspected” the facility a month earlier, they noted in their letter.
“Do we not deserve proper treatment, peace and protection by the authorities?” wrote the prisoners. “These problems are invisible pressures that have forced some of our fellow inmates to beat themselves, consume fistfuls of pills to calm their minds, and work for others to make money… Every day we repeat this question: How are we going to afford to stay alive?”
Interviews conducted by CHRI have revealed that Gharchak prisoners are also being denied proper medical services and face violence perpetrated by prison authorities as well as other inmates.
Transsexual and lesbian prisoners are especially vulnerable to violence and discrimination in the prison.
In addition, incarcerated mothers and their children are not provided essential items or sufficient medical treatment, and prisoners do not have access to phones.
Iranian law requires prisoners to be separated based on the nature of their conviction, but political prisoners in Gharchak are being unlawfully held in the same wards as inmates convicted of violent crimes.
CHRI has interviewed several women who served time in Gharchak during the past three years. The following testimonies highlight the prison’s unbearable living conditions that continue to this day.
Lacking Temperature Moderation, Overcrowding
In June 2019, “Marzieh” told CHRI that several prisoners slept on the floor every night because there were never enough beds.
All of the women who provided testimonies for this article did so on the condition of anonymity to protect themselves from reprisals from the authorities for speaking publicly about their experiences.
“The wards inside Gharchak Prison are warehouses divided into several sections, with each section containing about 12 rooms that are approximately 9 sq. meters (97 sq. feet),” she said. “Each room has three, three-story bunk beds for nine prisoners, and usually two additional prisoners also sleep on the floor.”
“Usually, there are also three or four prisoners who sleep on the floor next to each room,” she noted. These conditions fall far below the UN’s minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners, which state:
“Where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself. If for special reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room.”
Political prisoners are also unlawfully held in wards with prisoners convicted of violent crimes, added Marzieh. In July 2015, the judiciary’s official news agency, Mizan, reported that the government had implemented a plan to separate prisoners who had been convicted of “light” crimes from those with “serious” convictions. However, in a February 2019 interview with the Majzooban Noor website, attorney Mohammad Moghimi said the authorities in Gharchak were not only ignoring this regulation, but also holding “suspects and convicts” together in shared spaces, thus increasing the threat of physical violence.
In January 2019, five imprisoned members of the Sufi Gonabadi Order, a persecuted religious minority in Iran, signed an open letter urging the prison’s director to separate them from inmates with contagious diseases and histories of violence, but their call was ignored.
Several former inmates also told CHRI that the prison’s large warehouse structure lacks sufficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology that could regulate the extreme temperatures inside the building during the winter and summer months.
“We got pneumonia during the winters and severe heatstroke in the summers,” former Gharchak prisoner Ghoncheh Ghavami recalled in April 2018.
The building’s air quality is also poorly ventilated and stuffy due to unregulated smoking and a consistent, putrid smell from the failing and unsanitary sewer system. Women’s rights activist and former Gharchak inmate Jila Baniyaghoob tweeted in June 2018 that a guard had told her, “we won’t fix it because we don’t have a budget, so don’t bother us” after she had complained.
The testimonies indicate violations of standards set by the United Nations for all member states. The UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state that all prison wards “shall meet all requirements of health, with due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”
It continues, “In all places where prisoners are required to live or work, (a) The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation; (b) Article light shall be provided sufficient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight.” It adds, “All parts of an institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all times.”
Unsafe Drinking Water and Poor Food Quality
“The water in Gharchak is so salty that prisoners have to buy bottled water from the store at triple the normal price,” said former Gharchak prisoner Shohreh Ebrahimi in an interview with the Majzooban Noor website in February 2019.
The water is salty due to the prison’s poor filtration system. The lack of accessible drinking water causes friction among the prisoners who can afford to buy expensive bottled water from the commissary and those who cannot.
Impoverished and lower-income prisoners are forced to work low-paying jobs from inside the prison to make enough money to buy essential goods from the store.
“We weren’t given anything; we had to buy everything,” said Maryam. “If your family didn’t give you money, you had to work.”
“Some prisoners’ families would extend help for the first couple of years but then they would not be able to afford it,” she added.
According to former Gharchak inmates who spoke to CHRI, prison meals meanwhile lack essential vitamins and nutrients, and are so poorly prepared that they’re usually inedible.
“You can’t imagine how bad it was. It made you vomit,” said “Maryam,” who was released from Gharchak in April 2019, in an interview with CHRI. “They made meat stew with soy instead of meat and didn’t add tomato paste. It made you sick just by smelling it.”
“We mostly ate bread with cheese or tuna,” she added.
“It was a horrible disaster. I’m not exaggerating,” said Marzieh.
“Lunch consisted of rice and lentils, soy with rice and tomatoes, macaroni or green stew without red meat, sometimes with a bit of chicken,” she added. “These meals were always repeated, sometimes three days in a row. For dinner, we had soup, beans or lentils.”
As these testimonies demonstrate, the nutritional standards at Gharchak are well below the requirements of both Iranian and international law.
The regulations contained in Iran’s State Prison Procedures are explicit. Article 93 states that prisoners are to be given “foods that have sufficient calories and vitamins,” and Article 95 stipulates that the “minimum menu includes: Bread, cheese, and tea for breakfast, lunch or dinner, fresh or dried vegetables, rice, potatoes, onions, legumes, various dairy products, eggs, and seasonal fruits each week, [and] the convicts will be served meat with their lunch or dinner at least three times per week.”
Additionally, Article 98 of the Procedures state that in all prisons “stores will be established and…their prices will be based on the fair going rate.
In the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, it states “Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.”
Unsanitary Living Conditions
Several former prisoners said they were denied the right to maintain basic hygiene due to insufficient toilet and bathing facilities.
Maryam,” who spent seven years in Gharchak, told CHRI, “For every 100 to 150 prisoners in each ward, there were 10 toilets but only three or four of them worked.”
She continued: “There were also only a few shower stalls that were used by turn. Sometimes we didn’t have enough hot water and it was rationed among all the prisoners. Suddenly you were told that your turn to shower is at five in the morning. Sometimes the situation was so deplorable that 100 inmates were waiting to take a shower in the same hour. Your turn to shower came every couple of days, sometimes once a week. There was a time when three or four of us had to take showers together in the same stall.”
“Marzieh” echoed Maryam’s testimony, adding:
“At the beginning of the month, each prisoner got one pack of sanitary pads, which recently was reduced to a pack every two months. This adds pressure on prisoners who don’t have much money [to buy supplies from the commissary] because the quality of the pads is so bad that they have to purchase other brands from the store. During all my time at Gharchak, I never saw a bar of soap.”
Denial of Medical Treatment
According to former inmates, access to the prison doctor was limited to once a month by appointment, and the authorities only allowed emergency visits to the prison’s clinic in extreme cases.
The UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state, “…Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”
Iran’s State Prison Regulations are also explicit regarding medical care: Article 118 states, “Examination, and when necessary treatment, of sick convicts is the responsibility of the prison or training facility.”
Yet the grossly inadequate nature of this “treatment” was described in the following testimonies.
“You had to be dying to get permission from the guards to see the doctor out of turn,” said Maryam. “But even seeing the doctor didn’t make much of a difference because he only gave
you ibuprofen regardless of whether you had cancer or a headache. That’s all they gave you. There was nothing else.”
Hospitalization was nearly impossible, she added.
“There was a case when one of the prisoners had cancer,” she said. “The authorities said they didn’t have the staff to transfer her to the hospital so they canceled her appointment.”
The authorities also denied prisoners medical treatment based on the nature of their convictions.
“I had a cellmate who had [vaginal] bleeding and the prison gynecologist prescribed tests and a biopsy in a hospital but the prison authorities refused to transfer her,” said former Gharchak prisoner “Fatemeh,” adding that her cellmate had been convicted of aiding a murder.
“It took about two years of letter writing to various judicial officials before she was transferred,” she added. “The doctors said she could have developed cancer if she had come later. Eventually, they had to remove her uterus.”
Marzieh told CHRI that unconscious prisoners were also denied timely care:
“One night one of the prisoners passed out and her cellmates pleaded with the prison staff to come and take her to the clinic,” said Marzieh. “But they said they would wait until morning. When they realized it was serious, they said they had to call for a nurse and if the nurse thought she should go to the clinic, they would permit it. Finally they allowed the poor girl to be physically carried to the clinic, but they said she could only go with a chador, even though she was unconscious.”
Iran is the world’s biggest jailer of women journalists
August 26, 2019 – Updated on August 27, 2019 https://rsf.org/en/news/iran-worlds-biggest-jailer-women-journalists
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed by a new wave of arrests and interrogations of women journalists since the start of August in Iran. The Islamic Republic is now the world’s biggest jailer of women journalists, with a total of ten currently held.
“Already one of the world’s five big-gest jail-ers of journal-ists, Iran is now holding more women in connection with their journalistic activities than any other country in the world,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan Desk.
“We call on Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, to intervene with the utmost urgency to obtain their release and to address the disastrous press freedom situation in this country.”
Here are portraits of the ten women journalists currently detained in Iran:
● Noushin Jafari: This photojournalist’s detention was confirmed by the judicial system’s spokesman, Gholam Hossein Esmaili, on 14 August. A specialist in covering theatre and cin-ema, she was arrested at her Tehran home on 3 August by Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents in civilian dress, who seized data storage devices and CDs. Pro-Revolutionary Guard trolls were the first to report her arrest and the charge brought against her: “insulting Islam’s sacred values” on Twitter. Her family has not heard from her since her arrest and still does not know where she is being held. She used to work for the “arts and literature” section of the daily newspaper Etemad and was previously arrested in February 2010, when she was held for 28 days. According to relatives, She is being pressured by Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents to make a confession.
●Marzieh Amiri: The revolutionary court’s 28th chamber refused to release her on bail on 13 August. A journalist with the daily newspaper Shargh, Amiri was arrested while reporting outside an intelligence police station in Tehran on 1 May. Her lawyer told the media that she is charged with “conspiracy and assembly against national security,” “anti-government propa-ganda” and “disturbing public order.”
According to her family, she has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and also 148 lashes.
● Assal Mohammadi: A student at the Islamic Azad University and member of the editorial board of the student newspaper Game, she was returned to prison by a Tehran court on 4 Au-gust. Initially arrested on 4 December 2018, she had been released on bail of 400 million to-mans (10,000 euros) but the bail amount was later raised to 1 billion tomans (212,000 euros). She appeared in court with Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane company workers, whose strike and pro-tests for more pay she had covered. ● Sanaz Allahyari and her fellow-journalist husband Amir Hossein Mohammadi Far – Mohammadi’s colleagues at Game – are also being held for covering this strike and the mis-treatment of the jailed workers. ● Farangis Mazloom: The mother of Soheil Arabi, the recipient of RSF’s 2017 Press Free-dom Prize in the citizen-journalist category, she was arrested by intelligence ministry agents on 22 July. Her only crime was informing the public about the conditions in which her im-prisoned son is being held and the inhuman and degrading treatment to which he is being sub-jected. ● Hengameh Shahidi. A reporter and editor of the Paineveste blog who has been held since 25 June 2018, she has been sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison for her revela-tions about the lack of justice within the Iranian judicial system and her criticism of its chief, Sadegh Amoli Larijan. ● Sepideh Moradi, Avisha Jalaledin and Shima Entesari: These three women, who worked for the Sufi community news website Majzooban Noor, have been held since Febru-ary 2018 and are serving five-year jail sentences in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. ● Narges Mohammadi: A journalist and human rights activist held since May 2015, she was sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison by a Tehran court. Under a 2015 law, which says a person convicted on several charges only serves the sentence applied to the most serious one, she will have to serve a 10-year term. Iran is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
Iran sentences journalist Marzieh Amiri to 10.5 years in prison, 148 lashes
August 26, 2019 12:45 PM ET https://cpj.org/2019/08/iran-sentences-journalist-marzieh-amiri-to-105-yea.php
Washington D.C., August 26, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today strongly condemned the Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Branch 28 Court’s sentencing of Shargh Daily economics reporter Marzieh Amiri to 10 and a half years in prison and 148 lashes.
”With this heavy sentence, Iranian authorities are escalating their threats against journalists who report on economic issues amid the country’s ongoing crisis,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. ”Marzieh Amiri’s reporting on the economic hardships of Iranian citizens is not a criminal act nor does it warrant this vindictive and violent response. She should be released immediately.”
CPJ could not determine the date of the sentence, the details of which were made public on August 24 in news reports and in tweets by Samira Amiri, the journalist’s sister. Judge Mohammad Moghiseh charged Amiri with “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public order,” according to those reports.
Amiri must serve a minimum of six years in prison if the verdict is upheld in the country’s appeals court system, according to her sister’s tweets. Amiri was arrested on May 1, while she was covering a Labor Day demonstration in front of the Iranian parliament building in Tehran, as CPJ reported at the time.
Zahra Jamali and Giti Pourfazel latest female detainees in Iran
On Aug 26, 2019 https://women.ncr-iran.org/2019/08/26/zahra-jamali-and-giti-pourfazel-among-latest-female-detainees-in-iran/
On Saturday night, August 24, 2019, Zahra Jamali, a civil activist living in Tehran, was arrested at her sister’s home by security forces and taken to an unknown location. Security forces also seized the personal belongings of Ms. Zahra Jamali, including her cellphone and laptop, during her arrest.
According to reports on August 19, 2019, Ms. Giti Pourfazel, a retired lawyer, was arrested by security forces and her fate remains unknown. Giti Pourfazel was previously arrested and released during a rally in protest November 2015.
According to news released on August 24, 2019, theater and cinema photographer, Noushin Jafari contacted her family on August 19, 2019. She was arrested outside her home on Saturday, August 3, 2019, by security forces. Gholamhossein Esmaili, the spokesman for the judicial system of Iran, confirmed the arrest and detention of Noushin Jafari on August 13, 2019, and said, “This person was not arrested for being a journalist, but for sacrilege and denigrating a religious mourning anniversary and propaganda against the state”.
In other news, despite a month after the arrest of Ms. Zahra Akbari-Nejad, the wife of political prisoner Abolghassem Fouladvand, no information is available on her fate. She was arrested on July 23, 2019, during a raid on her home by security forces and 48 hours after her arrest, in a brief and controlled telephone call to her relatives, Mrs. Akbari-Nejad announced that she is being held in Ward 4 of Evin Prison. She has various illnesses and according to doctors, in terms of her health, she is very vulnerable to stress and mental and physical pressures. Despite three months of the arbitrary detention of Zahra Mohammadi, director of Nojin Social and Cultural Association in Sanandaj, her fate remains unknown. Ms. Zahra Mohammadi was arrested on May 23, 2019, when agents of the Intelligence Department of Sanandaj raided her residence. On May 30, the family of Zahra Mohammadi was able to visit her after eight days. Nevertheless, they have no news of her since then.
Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 24-year prison term
Posted on: 27th August, 2019 https://www.en-hrana.org/saba-kord-afshari-was-sentenced-to-24-year-prison-term
Saba Kord Afshari, a detained women rights activist in Evin prison, was sentenced to 24-year prison term at the Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court led by judge Iman Afshari. Based on the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that Saba Kord Afshari should serve 15 years in prison.
Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for her involvement in women’s rights advocacy, including protesting against the compulsory Hijab. On 1 June 2019, she was arrested by security forces at her home in Tehran and transferred to Vozara detention Center. The police confiscated some of her belongings, such as her cell phone and her laptop. On 2 June 2019, she appeared before Branch 21 Revolutionary Court in Tehran where she received her formal chargers. She was charged with “gathering and collusion against national security” through supporting political prisoners, “’propaganda against the state’ through collaborating with opposition and subversive groups”, “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public”. She was then transferred to Qarchak prison in Varamin and was detained for a month of which she served 11 days in solitary confinement. She did not have access to an attorney from the time she was arrested until the day of trial. On 2 July 2019, she was transferred to a detention center of the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps(IRGC) for further interrogations.
Saba Kord Afshari was informed about her indictment on 7 August 2019 in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She was tried on August 19 at the Tehran Revolutionary Court as scheduled. She did not have access to a lawyer until the day of her trial on August 19th, 2019, when she met her lawyer in front of the Judge. She was transferred to the court blindfolded and in handcuffs by the officers of IRGC. On August 26, 2019, she was sentenced to 24-year prison term by Branch 26 Tehran Revolutionary Court led by judge Iman Afshari.
She was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public”, one and a half year in prison for the charge of “propaganda against the state”, and seven years and six months in prison for the charge of “gathering and collusion against national security”. It should be noted that she has had stomach disorders for a few years. Her anxiety attacks cause muscle contractions, which require urgent injections and oxygen therapy.
Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for the first time on 2 August 2018, alongside 50 others, during a series of protests that occurred July-August 2018 against the deterioration of Iran’s economy as well as the corruption within the government. She was first transferred to Qarchak prison in Varamin and later, in October 2018, to Evin prison’s women’s ward. In August 2018, she was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of “disrupting the public order” at the Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court led by Judge Moghiseh. She was released on 14 February 2019 when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned a large number of prisoners in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
On 1 June 2019, Saba Kord Afshari’s mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, was summoned to the prosecutor’s office where she was threatened that they had an arrest warrant for her if she did not cease her activities, and that it could be used at any time. Raheleh Ahmadi was arrested on 10 July 2019 on the charges of “propaganda against the state”, “collaborating with opposition and subversive groups”, “promoting corruption and prostitution”. These charges were related to her publishing of information on social media about the arrest of her daughter. On 13 July 2019 she was released on bail of 700 million Toman [approx. 58 thousand dollars]. Ms. Raheleh Ahmadi appeared for her trial on 4 August 2019 in Branch 21 Revolutionary Court in Tehran which was led by Judge Haji Moradi. She defended her action by stating that she published information on her daughter’s case because Iranian Media and the Judiciary refused to take any action to help her daughter. She has yet to receive a verdict on her case and was told to register on the Justice Department online portal for her summons, where she will be given the date to appear in court for her verdict.
Anti-Hijab Activist In Iran Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison
August 28, 2019 https://en.radiofarda.com/a/anti-hijab-activist-in-iran-sentenced-to-15-years-in-prison/30133081.html
Saba Kord Afshari ,protester and anti-hijab activist. Undated
The lawyer of an anti-compulsory hijab activist in Iran says his client has been sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison, with 15 years to be served.
Saba Kord Afshari, a young woman who was first arrested last year during anti-regime protests and was facing a conviction, was re-arrested in May for anti-hijab activities.
The defense attorney Hossein Taj announced in a tweet that Afshari received 15 years for her anti-hijab activism and another nine years for “illegal assembly” and “propaganda against the regime”.
The 15-years designated for Afshari to serve equals the 15 years she received for her anti-compulsory hijab activities.
There are no written laws in the Islamic Republic about compulsory hijab, but in practice headscarves and an Islamic dress code is enforced by a web of different law-enforcement agencies. There are special dress-code agents policing the streets, who are tasked to stop women and admonish or arrest them for infringement of unwritten hijab rules.
Afshari’s case will now go to an appeals court. Few similar court decisions are overturned in Iran. The ruling establishment has become more insistent on enforcing hijab, as hundreds of women have been openly defying the rules in public. Many record embarrassing videos of the morality police and publish them on social media.
Three other women in August were sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison for challenging compulsory hijab.
Women burn themselves to evade oppressive marriage laws in Iran
On Aug 28, 2019 https://women.ncr-iran.org/2019/08/28/women-burn-themselves-to-evade-oppressive-marriage-laws-in-iran/
The suicides of a young woman and a mother of four in matter of a week have focused attentions on the misogynist marriage laws in Iran.
A 16-year-old young woman by the name of Ziba set herself on fire to evade her family’s insistence that she marries an old man.
The state-run Khorasan daily published a report on August 26, 2019, saying that the young woman was being forced into this marriage by her step mother. According to this report, many parts of Ziba’s face and body got burned, but she has been released from hospital.
In another shocking report from Dehloran, a married woman by the name of Mandana Hosseini, with four sons, set herself ablaze to protest her husband’s second marriage. She died after four days in a medical center in Ilam on August 19, 2019, due to the extent burns. Based on the clerical regime’s oppressive marriage laws, men can have four wives. At the same time, they are authorized to divorce their wives without informing them.
The state-run daily Entekhab published a report in March 2019, citing Ali Kazemi, advisor to the legal deputy of the Judiciary Branch. According to Kazemi, “Between 5 to 600,000 children get married every year (in Iran) according to the officially-registered data. The main problem is that there are marriages taking place beyond those officially registered.” (The state-run daily Entekhab – March 4, 2019)
According to the marriage laws under the clerical regime, the legal age of marriage of girls is 13. Nevertheless, fathers are allowed to wed their daughters under this age, after obtaining the consent of a judge. The plan to increase the minimum age of marriage was rejected by the mullahs’ parliament in January 2019. In June, there were at least two reports on suicides of young women due to forcible marriage. Souma Khedri, 19, from Baneh, and Sara Esmaili, 17, from Piranshahr, committed suicide to evade forcible marriage due to lack of legal protection for women under the law.
New plan enforced to step up suppression of women for improper veiling
On Aug 29, 2019 https://women.ncr-iran.org/2019/08/29/new-plan-enforced-to-step-up-suppression-of-women-for-improper-veiling/
A new plan is going to be enforced across Iran beginning this week to further step up suppression of women for improper veiling. The acting commander of Police, Ayyoub Soleimani, said the new plan, called Nazer (Observer) 2, is going to be implemented.
The new plan is designed to put maximum pressure on women. According to the new plan, Police will be present in public places, major stores, and beaches to give warning to women who are considered improperly veiled according to the regime’s standards.
Soleimani said, “The plan is going to be implemented this week (beginning on Saturday), and in every place which is more public, our presence and monitoring will be more serious.”
The Iranian regime’s Police had already implemented the Nazer 1 plan to monitor women who remove their veils inside their cars.
Regarding the Nazer 1 plan, Soleimani said, “The degree of police success in this plan was over 80 percent in most provinces, and between 40 to 50 percent in Tehran.”
He added, “We were successful in (Nazer 1) meaning that we have cameras, eyes (spies) and police present everywhere in all public thoroughfares.”
Soleimani also stressed on the compulsory veil for women and on the need for implementation of Nazer 2 plan by citing the mullahs’ supreme leader Ali Khamenei as saying that Hijab (the veil) is a religious issue and all managers must order its observation in government offices. (The state-run IRNA news agency – August 28, 2019)
Earlier this year, talking about the plan to send text messages to car owners, Hossein Rahimi, commander of Tehran’s Police, stressed that the police are obliged by the law to deal with any illegal action. He added, “The police will identify and deal with vehicles whose passengers remove their veils.” (The state-run IRNA news agency – April 25, 2019) According to a survey published in July 2018 by the Research Center of the mullahs’ parliament, nearly 70 percent of Iranian women either do not believe in the compulsory veil or are among “the improperly veiled” and protest the compulsory veil in Iran. The report further confirms that Iranian women observe the veil only through coercion and harsh restrictions.
Iran Set to Start New Hijab Enforcement Plan Soon
August 29, 2019 https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-set-to-start-new-hijab-enforcement-plan-soon/30136320.html
Iranian women singing without hijab in the subway in Tehran, as a sign of protest. March 8, 2018
Having failed to stem growing public opposition to compulsory hijab enforcement through arrests and harsh prison sentences, the Islamic Republic police are set to implement a new plan.
Branded as ”Watch 2”, the new method will be enforced from next week (beginning Saturday, September 1), said the deputy police chief, Ayyoub Soleimani.
Based on the new plan, police officers will be deployed in public places, including supermarkets and beaches to ”verbally warn” women considered having ”bad hijab.”
In recent months, the country’s police have tried to implement another plan, branded as ”watch 1,” to confront women who ignore strict hijab and Islamic dress code while riding in vehicles.
”Watch 1 has been successful up to 80% in the provinces, and 40%-50% in the capital city, Tehran,” the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) General Soleimani maintained.
According to ”Watch 1”, if women are seen with ”loose hijab” driving or being passengers in vehicles, the police sends a text message to the owners of the cars, giving them 72 hours to present themselves to the ”Morality Police” headquarters and commit in writing that they will never repeat the offense.
If an owne who is warned ignores the written commitment, the vehicle will be held for a week. And if the offense is repeated for a third time, the police will confiscate the vehicle and present the owner to the judiciary.
Earlier on July 17, the Islamic Republic police chief IRGC General Hossein Ashtari had claimed that since implementing Watch 1 plan, 300,000 text messages had been relayed to the owners of vehicles who had violated compulsory hijab law.
However, only half of those cautioned cared to visit the Morality Police headquarters, Ashtari admitted at the time.
Meanwhile, the deputy Police Chief announced that another plan, named as Watch 3, that will control women’s dress factories and shops to prevent them from producing or selling ”non-Islamic” dresses.
Iranian women have been struggling against compulsory hijab since 1980, almost immediately after the Islamic revolution that led to the downfall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The struggle gained momentum in December 2017 when a woman climbed atop a utility box in Tehran’s busy Enqelab (Revolution) Street, taking off her headscarf and waving it on a stick.
Soon, dozens more followed the footsteps of the ”Girl of the Revolution Street” across the country, regardless of the consequences.
Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has advised law enforcement officers to ignore ”opposition by certain individuals and the media hype,” and enforce the Islamic dress code with full force.
Ten young women arrested for participating in parties in Sari
On Sep 1, 2019 https://women.ncr-iran.org/2019/09/01/ten-young-women-arrested-for-participating-in-parties-in-sari/
Ten young women and 25 young men were arrested over two nights in Sari, capital of Mazandaran Province in northern Iran.
The state-run Fars news agency reported that they had arrested the ten young women in three private parties in Sari over the (Persian) weekend, on Thursday, August 29, and Friday, August 30, 2019. Some of those arrested had joined the parties from nearby cities and towns. (The state-run Fars news agency – August 31, 2019)
Another 52 young women and men had been arrested in another party in Sari, on August 24, 2019. Twenty-three of them were young women and the rest were young men. Security forces arrested them under the pretext of wearing improper clothing. (The state-run Asriran website – August 24, 2019)
Also, on August 16, 2019, ten persons were arrested during a wedding ceremony in Jouybar. The hall where the ceremony had been held was also sealed. (The state-run ROKNA news agency – August 16, 2019) On July 30, 2019, an official of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Hamadan Province announced that they had arrested 20 women while “dismantling the assembly of a women’s network aimed at promoting a Western lifestyle.” Without mentioning the details of time, place and how the group was dismantled, the official stated, “the 20 detained women were dealt with.”
Ali Akbar Karimpour, the public relations officer for Hamadan’s Ansar-al Hossein Corps, told the state-run ISNA news agency that “Virtual and actual groups have networked to recruit women and girls in Hamadan to prepare them for special and anti-cultural events.” (The state-run ISNA News Agency – July 30, 2019)
These arrests are in line with the clerical regime’s policy of tightening repression in society to prevent social upheavals while it is struggling to deal with the paralyzing economic crisis, international isolation and growing discontent across the country.
Freedom of Expression
Kiumars Marzban Was Sentenced to 23-year and Nine Months Prison Term
Posted on: 25th August, 2019 https://www.en-hrana.org/kiumars-marzban-was-sentenced-to-23-year-and-nine-months-prison-term
On August 24, 2019, Kiumars Marzban, a detained 26-year-old writer and satirist, was sentenced to 23 years and nine months in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Based on the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that Kiumars Marzban should serve 11 years in prison.
Kiumars Marzban began his career making short films. He directed eight short film between 2005-2009. He left Iran in 2010 and while living in Malaysia, he hosted a comedy podcast called “Sangtab Radio”. He published few books such as short stories titled “kham bodam, pokhteh shodam, balk eh pasandideh shodam” (I was Raw, I Became Ripe and Pleasant) and “aziz jan” (My Dear).
Kioomars Marzban returned to Iran in 2017. On August 26, 2018, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps officers raided Marzban’s residence, arrested him, and confiscated his several personal items included laptop and cellphone. He is a prisoner at Evin Prison for a year now. His trial was scheduled for March 3, 2020 but it was held in late July 2019 at the Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for “cooperating with a hostile state”, seven years and six months in prison for blasphemy, a year and half imprisonment for “propaganda against the state”, three years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Leader and the Founder of the Revolution”, and nine months imprisonment for “insulting authorities”.
HRANA reached out to his lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, and he confirmed the news and that the sentence for 11 years imprisonment for “cooperating with a hostile state” will be implemented. He said “I requested appeal on behalf of my client, and due to the reform of the provisions in Article 450 of the criminal procedure law, according to which the appeals courts are canceled, it was delegated to the court. The charge of “cooperation with the hostile government of the United States of America” is not true for my client and the other charge “propaganda against the state” is based on this charge.”.
Iran Sentences Satirist Keyomars Marzban to 23 Years Imprisonment
August 26, 2019 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2019/08/iran-sentences-satirist-keyomars-marzban-to-23-years-imprisonment/
· Marzban’s Only “Crime” Was Working for Foreign Media Outlets
· He Must Serve 11 Years if Appeals Court Upholds Sentence Before Eligibility for Parole Satirist Keyomars Marzban has been sentenced to 23.3 years in prison in Iran for working for foreign media outlets, his lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aghasi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 25, 2019.
“My client is a satirist and author who wrote for some media outlets outside the country and the charges were based on the content of those writings,” Aghasi told CHRI.
Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran condemned the 28-year-old to 11 years in prison for peaceful activities under the charges of “contact with U.S. enemy state,” 7.6 years for “insulting the sacred,” three years for “insulting the supreme leader,” one year for “propaganda against the state” and nine months for “insulting officials.”
Salavati is notorious in Iran for issuing harsh sentences in politically sensitive cases. In interviews with CHRI, several Iran-based human rights lawyers criticized Salavati for ignoring arguments by the defense and bowing to the demands of the prosecution, especially in cases in which the arresting authority was the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) intelligence organization.
Marzban, 28, was also banned from leaving Iran or engaging in social media activities and journalism for two years. He was acquitted of the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security.”
If the Appeals Court upholds the sentences, Marzban would have to serve 11 years behind bars, according to Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which imposes the maximum punishment for the charge that carries the heaviest sentence in cases involving multiple convictions.
President Hassan Rouhani encouraged Iranians to return home when he assumed office in 2013, stating, “It is the natural right of every Iranian to visit his/her country. Do we have the right to deny Iranians the scent of their homeland?” Iran is also a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which in Article 4, states: No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country. Yet activists, journalists, businessmen, environmentalists, and even politicians have been arrested upon their return to Iran.
“My client was given one and a half times more than the maximum punishment for each conviction,” Aghasi told CHRI. “In court, I said that my client essentially does not agree with two of the charges [contact with U.S. enemy state and insulting the sacred.]”
“He has not made any insults against sacred [religious] matters and had no contact with the U.S. or U.S. government-linked organizations,” he added. “But the court did not accept our argument.”
The satirist was convicted of having contact with the “U.S. enemy state” even though Iran’s Foreign Ministry has stated that it’s not in a state of war with any country except Israel.
“Unfortunately, the Revolutionary Court does not accept [the Foreign Ministry’s position] and holds the view that the U.S. is an adversary, enemy state,” Aghasi said. On August 24, 2019, the state-funded Islamic Republic News Agency accused Marzban of having worked for the U.S. government-funded Radio Farda as well as the private London-based Manoto television station.
Agents of the IRGC’s intelligence organization arrested Marzban on August 26, 2018, about a year after he had returned to Iran to visit his ailing grandmother.
Until that time, he had been living in Malaysia since 2009 after having published online commentaries regarding the mass protests against Iran’s contested presidential election that year. Marzban did not have official foreign residency or citizenship.
“When he left Iran in 2009, he lived in Malaysia for a few years as well as a few months in the Republic of Georgia. He never traveled to the U.S.,” a source with knowledge of Marzban’s case told CHRI on September 2018.
Marzban was first tried in early March 2019. The second trial was in late July of that year and the preliminary sentence was issued the next month in August, according to Aghasi. In Malaysia, Marzban hosted a comedy podcast called “Sangetab Radio” (Twisted Stone Radio) and in 2014 published a book of short stories titled, Kham Bodam Pokhteh Shodam Balkeh Pasandideh Shodam (I was Raw, I Became Ripe and Pleasant).
In September 2018, the IRGC-affiliated Edalatkhahan (Justice Seekers) website, accused Marzban of traveling and working with the U.S.-government-funded Freedom House, which describes itself as “dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.”
Many judicial officials accept unsubstantiated reports by websites and commentators affiliated with Iran’s security and intelligence establishment as evidence. On April 17, Marzban had given an interview to the state-funded Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) about his experiences living abroad.
“Iranians have very limited hopes and dreams,” he said. “Their biggest dream is for the economic problems to be solved and all they think about is their daily affairs. But when I asked people in other countries about this, I realized that imagination and following your dreams is a very important thing.”
Journalist Sentenced to 10.5 Years Imprisonment for Covering Labor Day Rally
August 28, 2019 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2019/08/journalist-sentenced-to-10-5-years-imprisonment-for-covering-labor-day-rally/
Four months after being arrested while covering a Labor Day protest, Journalist Marzieh Amiri has been sentenced to 10.5 years in prison and 148 lashes by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh.
If upheld upon appeal, Amiri, a reporter for the reformist Shargh newspaper in Tehran, would have to serve at least six years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
Amiri, who is also a sociology student at the University of Tehran, was facing several charges for peacefully engaging in her profession including “assembly and collusion against national security,” “disturbing public order” and “propaganda against the state,” her lawyer, Arash Dowlatshahi, told the state-funded Dorna news agency on August 25, 2019.
“These verdicts against students, critics and journalists are not becoming of the judicial system, nor in the interest of our state,” Dowlatshahi said. “In fact, during interrogation, Ms. Amiri declared her belief in the state’s foundation and that her criticisms and objections were within its framework.”
Freedom of speech and the press is severely restricted in Iran, with journalists arrested and prosecuted each year for doing their jobs. At least seven members of the press including Amiri were prosecuted in 2019, according to investigations by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
On May 1, 2019, Amiri was covering a peaceful Labor Day rally in Baharestan Sq. near Iran’s Parliament building when she was arrested along with several others. Amiri and activistsNeda Naji,Atefeh Rangriz,Anisha Asadollahi were all charged with national security crimes.
“She was charged with ‘disturbing public order’ and then, because she had another open case, she was kept in detention and other charges were added on,” Dowlatshahi said.
After her trial on August 13, 2019, Dowlatshahi said his client was being prosecuted based on confessions she made under a “particular circumstance” during interrogation, implying she was forced to “confess” under the threat of torture.
Defense attorneys in Iran who choose to take on civil and human rights cases are also imprisoned for engaging in their profession, which is why many restrict what they say to press outlets.
“It appears that the issues raised against Ms. Amiri came from particular circumstances in the preliminary investigations when, unfortunately, she was denied legal counsel and therefore we asked the court to pay more attention to our defense,” Dowlatshahi told Ensaf news.
“The law says that statements from suspects are admissible only if they are taken under natural circumstances,” he added.
Despite suffering from epilepsy, Amiri was denied temporary release to receive medical treatment, according to Dowlatshahi.
Civil rights activists and critics of state policies have also been slapped with lengthy prison sentences in the past few months including Saba Kord-Afshari, who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for peacefully campaigning against the Islamic Republic’s forced hijab law, and satirist Keyomars Marzban, who was sentenced to 23.3 years for working for foreign media outlets.
Sentence Condemned on Social Media
Various social media users from Iran condemned the judiciary and intelligence establishment’s renewed crackdown on freedom of speech and expression. “Mr. [Ebrahim] Raisi, I hope you will not make the same mistake as [former Judiciary Chief] Sadegh Larijani by ignoring public opinion,” tweeted Saba Azarpeik, a political sociology Ph.D. student based in Iran.
“Marzieh Amiri is an economic affairs reporter who had gone to cover the Labor Day event when she was arrested,” she added. “Now she has to serve six years behind bars! That is the definition of injustice. Do you have an explanation or is this how the story goes?” Anonymous Persian-language user “Golden Bird” tweeted: “Thank God the news mentioned that Keyomars Marzban was a satirist and Marzieh Amiri was a reporter or else I would have thought the heavy sentences were because they were embezzlers, economic crooks or rapists.” Another Persian-language user, Atieh Amiri, wrote: “Yesterday I was thinking about [imprisoned councilman] Mehdi Hajati, [civil rights activist] Farhad Meysami, [human rights lawyer] Nasrin Sotoudeh and Marzieh Amiri and asking myself, Does the young generation know why these people are in prison? Have they ever heard their names?” Political science student Zahra Tohidi commented: “The 10-year prison sentence against Marzieh Amiri, [detained photographer] Nooshin Jafari’s tearful voice under pressure… are aimed at intimidating us. Yes, you’re really scary. Those who have no principles in gaining, protecting and displaying power are scary… But those at the center of power should be afraid of each other.”
People With Disabilities
Blind Man’s Life-Threatening Fall Highlights Iran’s Lacking Safety Measures for People With Disabilities
August 28, 2019 https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2019/08/blind-mans-life-threatening-fall-highlights-irans-lacking-safety-measures-for-people-with-disabilities/
Public transportation, roads, and buildings are frequently inaccessible in Iran, leading to increased accidents and isolation for people with disabilities.
News of severe injuries sustained by a blind man who fell from a pedestrian bridge in the southern Iranian city of Chabahar has sparked concerns over the city’s lack of accessible safety signs as well as renewed calls for urgent action by the government.
While walking on his usual daily route on August 6, 2019, Soali Nokari fell from a bridge and was hospitalized in the intensive care unit with severe hip and rib injuries.
If warning tape had been placed at the site of the accident to warn people with disabilities about ongoing construction on the bridge, Nokari would have been able to avoid the fall. According to the braille Iran Sepid newspaper, Mr. Nokari was well acquainted with his route and had crossed the pedestrian bridge daily.
However, due to the recent repairs the bridge was undergoing and the lack of accessible warning signs for the blind, he did not know that the bridge’s fencing had been removed and fell onto the street below.
“The contractor was neglectful in this project and did not install warning signs for blind citizens,” said Chabahar Mayor Mohammad Haqqani in an interview with Iran Sepid.
Haqqani promised that “all medical expenses would be covered from the contractor,” but failed to announce the implementation of measures that would prevent future accidents like this from happening.
People with disabilities sustain injuries on a regular basis in Iran due to the lack of preventive measures taken by the government and local municipalities to ensure safe and accessible infrastructure and public spaces. Many accidents go unreported, but in 2016 a blind man named Abbas Nobaghi almost died after falling from a pedestrian bridge that was under construction without any accessible warning signs in the city of Varamin.
According to local news reports, the municipality had demolished the pedestrian bridge Nobaghi crossed every day and installed barricade tape nearby but failed to ensure that it was detectable by blind people.
Unaware of the construction, Nobaghi climbed the stairs of the collapsing bridge as part of his daily routine and fell onto the street. With fractured ribs and heavy bleeding in his head, he was transferred to Tehran for urgent care.
“One wonders why the municipality did not consider any safety measures… Due to this negligence, some people in the community become second-class or lower citizens,” the deputy head of the Tehran Welfare Organization’s Rehabilitation Department Mohammad Reza Asadi told the state-funded Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).
The lack of accessibility in Iran’s infrastructure and public transport systems has not only led to lack of mobility and increased isolation for people with disabilities, but also severe physical injuries and death. As a result, people with disabilities who are simply seeking to exercise their right to independent living face serious risks on a daily basis.
According to the United Nations, people with disabilities have the right to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls on states parties including Iran to “take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation… and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.” Iran: People With Disabilities Face Discrimination and Abuse Article 2 of the Iranian Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled meanwhile states that “[all] ministries, public and revolutionary state organizations, institutions and companies are required to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities on an equal basis with others, in their design, production and construction of facilities, public spaces, routes and equipment.”
Although the Iranian government has taken some steps towards making infrastructure and transportation accessible—especially in Tehran and other major cities—significant shortcomings remain.
For example, many buses—particularly outside the capital—still lack ramps or lifts for wheelchairs, while many subway stations still don’t have braille signage or yellow detectable warning strips that ensure accessibility and the safety of people with visual disabilities. In a joint report by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) and Human Rights Watch, several interviewees stated that they regularly encountered serious difficulties when trying to access the subway in their cities.
Many people with physical disabilities in wheelchairs have no option but to use the subway to get around due it its low cost compared to private transportation. But most subways lack elevators, leaving wheelchair-inaccessible escalators as the only option. “I tried to avoid using escalators, but sometimes I had no other choice,” said “Hassan” in an interview with CHRI. “With my heavy electronic wheelchair and my heavy body, getting on the escalator was indeed a suicide [mission]. Once, I almost fell down. Had I not been lucky, I could have sustained a deadly injury.”
The Iranian government’s failure to meet minimum safety and accessibility standards reaches beyond the country’s public transport system; sidewalks are also a major problem.
Maliheh Naziri Sarkhanlou, a psychologist who lives with a physical disability, described her daily problems on Twitter: “Now that I want to go shopping, I have to review all the routes in my head to choose a path that is accessible. Sometimes I choose a path and halfway in, I see there is a metal rod or a ditch on the sidewalk. [So] I always have to go on the street, [with cars] beeping ‘go away, get on the sidewalk.’ I’m scared of going out.”
Blind lawyer Elham Youssefian responded to Naziri Sarkhanlu: “Many of us blind people would prefer to walk on the street rather than on the sidewalk. The street only poses the danger of car accidents, but the sidewalks are full of obstacles and holes, especially gas canisters and the handlebars of motorbikes that can’t be identified by white canes. You only become aware of their presence when they hit your arm or face.”
In recent years, the Iranian government has taken some major steps to improve its understanding of the inaccessibility of public spaces including by designing an online application called “Masiryab,” which, according to head of National Headquarters of Accessibility Ebrahim Kazemi Momensarayi, offers a guide to accessible places and routes. In addition, the National Headquarters of Accessibility has introduced the text-messaging “Ma’bar” system through which people can report inaccessibility issues in city passages and public buildings.
But the ongoing, preventable accidents suffered by people with disabilities due to lacking safety and accessibility standards reveals that these measures are insufficient.
To prevent further accidents, the Iranian government and local municipalities should prioritize the safety of citizens with disabilities as soon as possible and implement measures that would require existing and new construction sites to follow rules that would ensure accessibility for all Iranians.
Labor and Guilds’ Rights
Iran Sentences 10 Sugarcane Workers to Lashes For Protests
August 26, 2019 https://iran-hrm.com/index.php/2019/08/26/iran-sentences-10-sugarcane-workers-to-lashes-for-protests/
Nine workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory in the southwestern city of Shush were sentenced to eight months of prison and 30 lashes each, the state-run ILNA news agency reported today.
The sentences issued by the 102nd Branch of the Shush Criminal Court will be suspended until the end of the term set by the court.
The report said that the verdicts for 10 workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory was issued today. Nine workers were sentenced to prison and lashes while another worker was acquitted of the charges.
The workers stood trial on Wednesday, August 14. They are prosecuted for attending a one-hour protest gathering on May 9, to demand their rights.
According to the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Syndicate, one of the charges brought against the 10 workers is “Holding illegal gatherings to demand change of management and the release of Esmail Bakhshi”
The Syndicate also said that workers had been summoned for charges such as “publishing messages on the internet”. Earlier, seven more of the complex’s workers were tried and sentenced. According to the Haft Tapeh workers independent social media channel, the judge sentenced each of the accused to eight months suspended prison sentence, and 30 lashes.
The Iranian government does not recognize workers’ rights to organize even though they have months of unpaid wages and say that their basic demands have not been met.
Last November, workers of the Haft Tappeh factory held gatherings, streets marches and protests for more than 20 consecutive days. They were protesting not receiving their paychecks and the privatization of the factory.
The protests were suppressed after security forces arrested, summoned and tortured labor leaders and workers.
Many activists are still languishing in prison. Workers are banned from demanding their rights in Iran even while Iranian workers have lost more than 57% of their purchasing power according to recent studies and can barely provide their basic needs.
Founded half-a-century ago in the southern city of Shush, in Khuzestan Province, the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company is the oldest sugar factory in Iran. Some 5,600 workers are currently working at the company.
Since the privatization of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory in a questionable 2015 privatization deal, the condition of workers has worsened. They have said that since the transfer of ownership to the present owners, the company’s debts have increased, with the employer only thinking of reducing the permanent workforce.
Accusing the government of supporting the wealthy, the workers complain they have become poorer while the managers of the company have become richer.
Trade unionist Jafar Azimzadeh, the leading member of the Free Union of Workers in Iran, described the workers’ condition as “slavery.”
“The families of some workers have to buy bread on credit, because of unpaid salaries and if this situation continues, even bakeries will refuse to sell bread to the workers on credit,” he said, explaining the plight of workers who have not received their wages for months.
Under such financial strain, some workers have even reached the point of committing suicide.
Ali Naghdi was the latest instance whose dead body was found afloat in a canal on February 27. It was said that Naghdi committed suicide due to his debts as the company refused to pay his wages.
Haft Tappeh workers have always had to fight for their wages, pensions and rights in the past years.
In mid-August 2018, 500 workers protested not being paid for at least three months. Reports indicate that riot police attacked the striking workers with tear gas and beat the protesters. Five workers were also detained but were later released after being charged with “disrupting order”.
This was not an isolated case of persecution against these workers. Iranian officials have in the past also responded with force, arresting leaders and members of the Haft Tappeh Workers’ Syndicate.
At least 100 workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company have been summoned or detained only for speaking out and demanding their rights.
Labor activist Atefeh Rangriz sentenced to 11.5 years and 74 lashes
On Aug 31, 2019 https://women.ncr-iran.org/2019/08/31/labor-activist-atefeh-rangriz-sentenced-to-11-5-years-and-74-lashes/
Labor activist Atefeh Rangriz who is presently imprisoned in Qarchak Prison in Varamin was sentenced to 11 years and six months in jail and 74 lashes.
Atefeh Rangriz was tried on August 5, 2019, at Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, and her verdict was issued on August 31.
Labor activist Atefeh Rangriz was arrested along with a number of other labor activists during May 1, protests in Tehran. She is a resilient prisoner. In an open letter on August 15, 2019, she described the conditions in Qarchak Prison as “hell.” In this letter, labor activist Atefeh Rangriz wrote that each of the ten wards in Qarchak Prison accommodates between 120 to 150 inmates. Every 12 prisoners are held in a “cabin” only 8 square meters.
As the economic situation in Iran paves a downward spiral coupled with growing protests by people who have nothing to lose, the clerical regime is struggling to control the situation by greater number of executions and by issuing heavy sentences for civil and rights activists. In recent weeks, Nasrin Javadi, a retired worker of social security, was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 74 lashes for participating in the Labor Day protest. Journalist and student activist, Marzieh Amiri, was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail and 148 lashes, for taking part in the May Day protest in Tehran. Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 24 years in prison for protesting the compulsory veil and refusing to cooperate with the regime and make forced confessions. In another development, Parvin Mohammadi, vice president of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, was sentenced to one year in prison upon the verdict of the Court of Karaj which tried her on August 24, 2019. She is accused of “propaganda against the state.” She was arrested by security forces during a Labor Day gathering in Karaj on April 26, 2019.
Tehran Court Sentences May Day Demonstrators To Jail, Lashes
August 31, 2019 https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-tehran-court-sentences-may-day-demonstrators-to-jail-lashes-/30139672.html
File Photo – Atefeh Rangriz, researcher arrested and sentenced in Iran for participating in May 1, International Labor Day protest.
Human rights activists in Iran say a court in Tehran has condemned Atefeh Rangriz, a researcher arrested during Labor Day demonstrations on May 1, to 11 years in jail and 74 lashes.
Social media reports say the sentence was issued by notorious Judge Mohammad Mogheiseh at bench 28 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court and was handed to Rangriz’s defense lawyer.
Iranian Judiciary officials have still not reacted to the report.
Some 35 activists were arrested in a May Day demonstration in Tehran in front of the Iranian Parliament (Majles).
Some of those detained were released, but others including Atefeh Rangriz and Sharq newspaper reporter Marzieh Amiri were given jail sentences. Amiri is sentenced to 10 years in jail and 148 lashes.
Meanwhile the court sentenced two Tehran Bus Company employees Nasrin Javadi and Rasoul Taleb Moqaddam to two and a half years in jail each.
More than 80 labor unions around the world have protested against the sentences given to Iran’s Labor Day demonstrators.
Religious Minorities’ Rights
Home Inspection and Confiscation of Belongings of Former Member of Yaran
August 26, 2019 http://iranpresswatch.org/post/20399/home-inspection-confiscation-belongings-former-member-yaran/ Source: www.hra-news.org
According to HRANA, the news agency for Human Rights Activists in Iran, on Friday, August 9th, the home of Jamaluddin Khanjani, one of the former leaders of the Baha’i community of Iran, was searched by seven agents of the Ministry of Intelligence. After a
five-hour search of Mr. Khanjani’s home, they seized all his books, Baha’i pictures and some cash. Jamaluddin Khanjani was released from Rajai Shahr prison in March 2018 at the end of his sentence after serving a decade in prison.
Jamaluddin Khanjani was born in 1933 in ; later he became a resident of Tehran. He was arrested with six other Baha’i community leaders in May 2008 on charges of “community and collusion against national security”, “propaganda against the system” and “espionage”. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison by Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Moghiseh.
Mr. Khanjani’s sentence was reduced to a 10 years because he was suffering from many age-related illnesses. Security and judicial officials did not allow Mr. Khanjani to attend his wife’s funeral while serving his sentence. Mr. Khanjani spent his imprisonment without the possibility of a furlough and mostly remained in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj as an exile; he was finally released from prison at the end of his sentence on March 16, 2018.
Jamaluddin Khanjani was a successful factory owner who, after the Islamic Revolution of 1978, lost his business because he is a Baha’i. His brick factory, the first machine factory of its kind in Iran, employed hundreds of people before it was forced to close. Mr. Khanjani was later able to establish a farm with machinery on land owned by his family, but government officials imposed many restrictions on him and made it difficult for him to manage the farm. These restrictions were also extended to Mr. Khanjani’s children and relatives, such as denying them loans, closing their businesses, restricting their trade, and preventing them from traveling outside of Iran.
Mr. Khanjani is a former member of the Baha’i National Assembly of Iran in 1984, of which four out of nine members were executed by the Iranian government.
Baha’i citizens of Iran are denied freedom of religion, a systematic exclusion, in contravention of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to both of which Iran is a signatory, which state that everyone has a right to freedom of religion and to religious conversion based on personal belief, as well as the freedom to express it individually or collectively, in public or in private. According to unofficial sources in Iran, there are more than three hundred thousand Baha’is in the country; however, the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism ‒ it does not recognize the Baha’i Faith. For this reason, Baha’i rights in Iran have been systematically violated over a number of years.
Arrests of Three Baha’is
August 26, 2019 http://iranpresswatch.org/post/20401/arrests-bahais-across-iran/ Source: www.hra-news.org
HRANA, the news agency for Human Rights Activists in Iran, in three separate accounts reports of the arrest of three Baha’is across Iran. Farid Moghadam Ziraki of Birjand, Sohaila Haghighat of Shiraz, and Parisa Sobhanian Najafabadi of the village of Mehrabad Rud-i-Hen in Damavand were arrested by security forces on August 3 and August 10, 2019.
Farid Moghadam Ziraki, who had previously been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence office in Birjand and interrogated in 2017 and 2018, is accused by that office of being active in support of “the intensification of sanctions” and “membership in the misguided sect”, a term used for followers of the Baha’i Faith. Upon his arrest on August 3, 2019, Farid Moghadam Ziraki was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention center, and has only been able to make contact with his family once since then.
On August 10, 2019, Sohaila Haghighat of Shiraz was arrested and taken to an unknown location, following a raid of her home by seven masked members of Intelligence officers, who searched her home and confiscated some of her personal belongings, including computers, identification documents, bank IDs as well as her birth certificate and passport.
At the time of her arrest Ms. Haghighat was hosting a class, and all class participants were also interrogated and their personal information recorded.
Parisa Sobhanian Najafabadi, a resident of the village of Mehrabad Rud-i-Hen in Damavand in Tehran province, was arrested on August 10, 2019, following an early morning raid of her home by officers of the Ministry of Intelligence. The arrest followed a search of her home and the confiscation of her books and personal belongings.
As of the time of this reporting, no information is available about the reason for her arrest or her location.
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, two other Baha’is, Ruhollah Zibaie and Abolfazl Ansari, were arrested in Karaj. Media outlets close to the government claimed the reason for Ruhollah Zibaie’s arrest was his activity in support of “the intensification of sanctions”.
Baha’is in Iran are denied freedom of religion, a systematic exclusion, in contravention of article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to both of which Iran is a signatory, which state that everyone has a right to freedom of religion and to religious conversion based on personal belief, as well as the freedom to express it, individually or collectively, in public or in private.
According to unofficial sources in Iran, there are more than three hundred thousand Baha’is; however, the Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, and does not recognize the Baha’i Faith. For this reason, Baha’i rights in Iran have been systematically violated over a number of years.
Baha’is of Iran Suffer Most Egregious Forms of Persecution – UN Report
August 29, 2019 http://iranpresswatch.org/post/20406/bahais-iran-suffer-egregious-forms-persecution-un-report/ Source: www.bic.org
NEW YORK—28 August 2019—The Baha’is of Iran—the largest non Muslim religious minority in the country—have suffered the “most egregious forms of repression, persecution and victimization” over the last 40 years, notes Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adding that the Iranian authorties should ensure that all
religious minorities are recognized and able to enjoy the right to freedom of religion or belief.
In his report to the UN General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur outlines a series of human rights violations against the Baha’i community of Iran and other ethnic and religious minorities, and sets out a number of recommendations to the Iranian authorities.
“The absence of constitutional and legal recognition for non-recognized minorities entails denials of fundamental human rights for their followers. Left outside the national legal framework, unrecognized minority religious groups such as Baha’is, Christian converts, [and] Sufis…are the targets of discriminatory legislation and practices,” the report reads.
The report adds that the “constant threat of raids, arrests and detention or imprisonment…remain the main features of the country’s persecution of Baha’is”, and calls on the Iranian authorities to amend all articles in the Islamic Penal Code that discriminate on the basis of religion or belief.
“Given that the Baha’i Faith is regarded as a ‘misguided sect’ and Baha’i worship and religious practices are deemed heresy, they frequently face charges such as ‘breaching national security’, ‘propaganda against the holy regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran’ or ‘propaganda activities against the regime in the interests of the Baha’i sect,’” the report adds.
The report further outlines:
—Since 1979, more than 200 Baha’is have been executed, solely on the basis of their religious beliefs, with nearly half of them representing the elected members of the local and national Baha’i governing councils. Regarded by the Iranian authorities and by the Iranian criminal justice system as “unprotected infidels”, Baha’is have been murdered with impunity and violations of their human rights have not been investigated.
—A total of 95 Baha’is were reportedly arrested in 2018, compared with at least 84 in 2017 and 81 in 2016. This suggests that, while the number of such arbitrary arrests each year may fluctuate, the persecution is not subsiding.
—There have been more than 800 incidents of violations of economic rights of the Baha’is since 2013, including arbitrary shop closures, unfair dismissals from employment and the actual or threatened revocation of business licences.
—Baha’i cemeteries have been desecrated and Baha’is have not been allowed to bury their dead in accordance with their religious laws. Local cemeteries in Tehran and other major cities had been turned into parks and cultural buildings.
First-hand testimonies heard by the Special Rapporteur included accounts of Baha’is arrested by Iranian authorities on the basis of false accusations of spying for foreign states and “using their business to change Islamic culture”. The Special Rapporteur also called attention to the denial of access to higher education for Baha’is in the country.
The Baha’i International Community welcomes the publication of the report and calls on the Iranian authorities to implement the recommendations outlined therein.
“The Iranian authorities have repeatedly denied in UN fora and elsewhere that the Baha’is in Iran are persecuted on the basis of their religion. This latest and well documented report sheds light on the reality on the ground. It is our sincere hope that the Iranian government will finally take heed and redress an injustice that is in contradiction with Islamic principles and their human rights obligations. The numbers in the report are but a sampling of the true extent of the persecution which extends to deprive tens of thousands of Baha’is of university education in large numbers of families of a source of income. ” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
an the well-being of their fellow compatriots and their wider society. We look forward to the day when the senseless persecution against the Baha’is will have ceased and Baha’is and other minorities may live peacefully alongside their fellow citizens.