Human Rights Center Weekly Bulletin October 21, 2019

Systematic violations of the right to life

Executions, arbitrary killings, deaths in custody, and death sentences


Execution of a prisoner in Bandar Abbas Central Prison

A prisoner was hanged this morning in Bandar Abbas Central Prison. He was identified as A.S. According to Ali Salehi, the chief justice of Hormozgan province, the convict was charged with rape. (ISNA state-run News Agency – Oct. 12, 2019)

Iran: Two Prisoners, including a Woman, Executed

Two prisoners, including a woman, were hanged at Rajai-Shahr prison last week.

According to IHR sources, on the morning of Wednesday, October 9, a man and a woman were hanged at Rajai-Shahr prison, near Tehran.

IHR sources could reveal the man’s name as Alireza Mehmandoust. However, the woman’s name is yet to be known. Both were sentenced to death for murder charges. (Iran Human Rights – Oct. 13, 2019)

Iran: Man Hanged for “Drug Charges”

Iran Human Rights (IHR); October 19, 2019: A man was hanged at the central prison of the Iranian city of Zanjan last Tuesday.

According to IHR sources, on the morning of Tuesday, October 15, prisoner Bahman Parvizi was hanged at Zanjan prison.

“Bahman was arrested along with two others five years ago for having 65 kilograms of drugs,” the source told IHR, “all three have been sentenced to death. Bahman’s execution is now carried out and two others are still in prison.” Of note, the source did not know the type of drug seized from them.

The above-mentioned execution has not yet been announced by Iranian media or authorities. (Iran Human Rights – Oct. 17, 2019)

Arbitrary killing

Two Border Porters Killed, Two Injured in Piranshahr, Paveh

Iranian border guards have shot dead two Kurdish border porters, known as Kolbar, and wounded two other Kolbars in Kotran Ghandil on October 14, local sources told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).

The KHRN has identified the Kolbars who lost their life as Abdolrahman Moradi and Sadegh Moradi from Ghabr Hossein village of Piranshahr. Likewise, another Kolbar Diako Sharifi was also wounded near the border area in Paveh on October 13, 2019. Earlier on October 9, a Kolbar known as Pajouhi was wounded by a landmine explosion near the village of Dezawar Paveh.

According to statistics compiled by the Iranian Statistics Centre, Iran’s Kurdistan has the highest inflation and unemployment rates in the entire country, which is why people of the border areas have chosen to work the risky Kolbari job on the border areas between Iraq and Iran. (Kurdistan Human Rights Network – Oct. 14, 2019)

Inhumane treatment and cruel punishments

Amputation, flogging, torture and humiliation

Kurdish Activist Sentenced to Six Months in Prison, 20 Lashes

A Kurdish civil rights activist was sentenced in absentia to six months in prison and 20 lashes by the branch 102 of Criminal Court of Marivan on charge of “disturbing public order” for participation in a protest rally against Turkish Army’s invasion of the Kurdish-Syrian Afrin city, a source told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) .

The Iranian security forces arrested Kurdish civil activist Arman Ghafouri along with ten other civil activists following a protest rally against the Turkish army’s raid on the Kurdish border of Syria (Rojava) on March 12, 2018 who was released two days later on a bail of five million tomans.

Ghafouri had also been arrested by the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on July 24, 2018 who was then taken to Marivan prison after 3 months of interrogation at the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Centre in Sanandaj.

Uncertainty over the situation of Ghafouri after his arrest had raised serious concerns about his death from torture. He was eventually released from the Marivan prison on bail until the end of his trial. (Kurdistan Human Rights Network – Oct. 10, 2019)


Prison conditions

Appeals Court Upheld Alieh Motalebzadeh’s Sentence

On October 14, 2019, the Branch 36 of Tehran’s appeals court upheld Alieh Motalebzadeh’s sentence of three years imprisonment. In 2016, Alieh Motalebzadeh, women’s rights activist, was sentenced to three years in prison by a preliminary court. According to the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that she should serve two years in prison.She was summoned to Evin Prison by a text message stating that she should show up in the next five days to start serving her time. She was sentenced to three years in prison in 2016 for the charges of “assembly and collision” and “propaganda against the state”.

Alieh Motalebzadeh was arrested on November 24, 2016 and was transferred to Evin Prison’s ward 209. On December 19, 2016, she was temporarily released on a 300-million-Toman (approx. 27 thousand dollars) bail after 25 days in prison. Motalebzadeh was a member of the“One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws” campaign and had been arrested multiple times. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Oct. 14, 2019)

Atefeh Rangriz begins her hunger strike in Qarchak prison

Atefeh Rangriz, the university student who was arrested on the International Workers’ Day, has begun her hunger strike in Qarchak Varamin prison. She was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison and 74 lashes.Rangriz began her hunger strike in protest to the unfair trial procedure and being repeatedly denied her basic rights in prison during the past five months. (iranintl – Oct. 17, 2019)

Kurdish political Prisoner Launched Hunger Strike in Yazd Prison

Kurdish political prisoner went on a hunger strike on 16 October at the central prison in Yazd in protest to the authoritie’s refusal to enforce the order of the Supreme Court regarding his 7-year imprisonment sentence, a source told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).

Political prisoner Ghader Mohammad Zadeh, who has been in prison for the past 14 years, was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment for “moharebeh” -waging war against God-, and he had also been sentenced to Qisas (retaliation in-kind) for “premeditated murder” in addition to seven years of imprisonment in account of the public aspect of the offence. The Qisas sentence was later reviewed by the Supreme Court which reduced Qisas sentence by payment of Diyah (Blood Money).

“Despite the nullification of the 7-year prison sentence on account of the public aspect of his offence, premeditated murder by the Supreme Court, the prisoner has been informed that he had to serve the 7-year prison sentence,” the KHRN has learned.

Mohammad Zadehwas finally transferred to the Yazd Central Prison to endure his 20 years of imprisonment with exile on April 7, 2019.

Mohammad Zadeh was arrested along with Mohammad Amin Abdollahi in 2005 by security forces in Bokan. These two political prisoners were taken to the Orumiyeh Central Prison after being detained in the solitary confinement cells of the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Centre in Mahabad and Orumiyeh cities. Finally, after 15 months of uncertainty about their situation, the two political prisoners went on trial at Branch 1 of Revolutionary Court in Mahabad on the charge of Moharebeh, as well as on charges of “membership in one of the opposition parties and murder of Iranian military officers.”

Mohammad Zadehhas been deprived of any furloughs and conditional release, and he had been on hunger strike twice for more than three weeks in March and May 2018 in protest to the transfer to the Labour and Safe ward. (Kurdistan Human Rights Network – Oct. 16, 2019)

Prison authorities in Rajai Shahr Prison have not allowed a political prisoner to receive proper medical treatment in a hospital outside the prison.

The political prisoner, Majid Assadi is suffering from various illnesses, including severe pain in his spine and digestive problems which have intensified as a result of prison authorities’ continued hindering of his medical process

Prison authorities are demanding that he wear prison clothing when sent to a hospital.

This is a method used by Iranian regime authorities to humiliate political prisoners when sent outside of their controlled facilities and into the public.

Assadi suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a rheumatism disease that affects the spine, according to physicians.

AS syndrome is considered a dangerous disease and Assadi needs to visit a hospital outside the prison every three months to control the illness. However, due to obstructions imposed by prison authorities and the regime’s judiciary, he has no access to physicians and specialized care.

In September 2019, a court hearing scheduled for Assadi was canceled for the second time following his refusal to wear prison uniforms during his transfer for the court procedures. Majid Assadi was also protesting illegal measures taken by prison authorities, according to reports obtained from inside Iran.

Prior to this, Assadi was summoned to a court affiliated to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on August 18. However, those hearings were also canceled due to his refusal to wear prison uniforms. Majid Assadi was also protesting the authorities’ insistence on him putting on handcuffs and chaining his feet.

Majid Assadi, 35, has been behind bars in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, since his arrest by Intelligence Ministry agents on February 18, 2017.

On November 27, 2018, Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years in prison and two years in exile in Borazjan, Bushehr Province on vague charges, such as “threatening national security through assembly and collusion,” and “propaganda against the state.

A translator at a private company, Assadi was previously sentenced to four years in prison in March 2010 for “assembly and collusion against national security” by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court. He completed the sentence on June 8, 2015. (Iran HRM– Oct. 14, 2019)

Prison sentences

Anti-death penalty activist gets 2 more years in prison

Jailed civil rights activist Atena Daemi was sentenced to an additional two years of prison despite being set to be released in less than a year. Atena Daemi has been jailed since 2016 on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the state” and was sentenced to overall five years in prison.

She received the additional two years for “disrupting prison order” and “insulting the founder and leader of the Islamic Republic” while in prison. The sentence was confirmed without being heard in a court of review.

In a tweet on October 8, her father Hossein Daemi confirmed the additional two year prison term.

“My daughter Atena has spent many years of her life and youth in prison and now that she was to be released in less than a year, she was one again sentenced to two years and one month of prison,” he tweeted.

Two days ago, the 31 year old civil rights activist wrote an open letter from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, for World Day against the Death Penalty, and criticized the Iranian regime’s “unjust” judicial policies. (Peykeiran – Oct. 09, 2019)

Appeals Court upholds Kiumars Marzban’s Sentence of 23-year and 9 Months Prison Term

On October 13, 2019, appeals court upheld Kiumars Marzban’s sentence of 23 years and nine months imprisonment. 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 preliminary 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.

His lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, confirmed the appeals court’s verdict and added that the appeals court hearing was convened without Marzban or his lawyer presence and without hearing his defense. Aghasi said: “We did not receive any response to our appeal statement. For instance, he was charged with “cooperating with a hostile state” while even Iranian authorities consider the organization that he wrote for as a nonprofit organization.”

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”. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Oct. 13, 2019)

Nahid Khodajoo Was Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

On October 14, 2019, Nahid Khodajo0 was sentenced to a 6-year prison term and 74 lashes by the Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court. Based on the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that she should serve five years in prison.

Nahid Khodajoo is a member of the board of directors of the Free Union of Iranian Workers. She was arrested along with several others during the protest gathering on the International Labor Day on May 1, 2019, in front of the parliament in Tehran. She was released on bail on June 3, 2019.

Her trial was on August 1, 2019 at the Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court and her final hearing was on August 10 at the Branch 4 of the Evin Prosecution Court. Her lawyer, Manijeh Mohammadi was present at her final hearing. In the incitement against her, she was sentenced to five years imprisonment on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” and one-year imprisonment on the charge of “disturbing public order”. According to the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that she should serve five years in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Oct. 14, 2019)

Basic freedom and rights abused

Lawmakers In Iran Want To Ban Teaching Of English In Public Schools

A large group of Iranian lawmakers have submitted a proposal in parliament to stop the teaching of English as a second language in public schools, citing remarks by the country’s Supreme Leader.

57 members of parliament are backing a draft law that if passed will bar the teaching of English in government schools and will be taught only in private institutions, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education.

The draft law also bans the hiring of English teachers by the ministry.

The law would also require universities to sign agreements of cooperation with countries whose languages are offered in courses to students. The purpose of this point is not clear. (Entekhab state-run News Agency – Oct. 08, 2019)

Matin Sotudeh, the Iranian TV and movie actress was summoned to the guidance court for what was described as her “unconventional attire” while attending a private movie premier.

The state-owned Fars News reported on Thursday that the actress was summoned to guidance court on Wednesday “as a result of numerous demands from people.”

Fars added that she has been released on bail.

Photos of the actress attending a movie premier drew criticism from the members of parliament.

In a State TV interview on Wednesday, MP Sadegh Tabatabaeinejad announced the formation of a new council under the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture to “review the attire and behavior of celebrities and political figures.”

“The presence of actors and their attire in private premiers and other events have drawn reactions from the people,” the MP said. “Recently, a council of figures or celebrities has been formed in the Ministry of Islamic Guidance which the Minister of Guidance presides over. The council had a meeting last week and they are supposed to pass some laws regarding these cases.”

The Minister of Islamic Guidance mentioned the issue in Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and said: “These individuals are also on TV shows, and the event was not a public one, so they didn’t need our permission for attending it.”

But the head of public relations at Cinema Organization announced on Wednesday: “We are preparing a guideline that public figures in arts, cinema, and sports who attend different events can follow and abide by them. The guideline will be finished by next week.”

These decisions by the Islamic Republic officials have caused an uproar in Iranian social media.

The regime already has laws in place that mandate women to wear hijabs, and the morality police in the streets will arrest women who are deemed as wearing “improper hijab.” (iranintl, Young Journalists state-run News Website, Fars state-run News Website, Fararu state-run News Website – Oct. 17, 2019)

Iran sentences Twitter activist to 3 years of prison

A Tehran appeals court confirmed the three year prison sentence for jailed Twitter activist Mehrdad Mohammadnejad. According to the Campaign in Defense of Political Prisoners, the 23 year old economy student was charged with “insulting officials and agents” and “spreading propaganda against” the regime.

The report said that Mehrdad Mohammadnejad is professional boxer and was detained due to his activities on Twitter.

According to an informed source, Mehrdad went to university three times a week and spent the rest of his week trying to make money for his tuition.

The source said he worked as a delivery boy for a restaurant in Tehran.

He was detained in his home on October 21, 2018 after agents of the intelligence agency raided his home in Shahriar, western Tehran.

On the day of his arrest, Mehrdad Mohammadnejad was to go to the restaurant at 12 pm. His mother asked him not to leave the house until then, so she could pick up his younger brother from school. When his mother got back, her home was ransacked and Mehrdad was nowhere to be found.

“His family did not know his whereabouts for a few days until Mehrdad called his elder brother and said that he was detained by the intelligence agency”, the source added.The agents came to his home in four cars and severely beat Mehrdad Mohammadnejad before detaining him.

They also confiscated tablets, cellphones, books and documents.

Mehrdad was taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison where he has been for the past year. (Campaign in Defense of Political Prisoners – Oct. 17, 2019)

Iranian Champion Seeks Asylum In France Calling His Country’s Officials Corrupt

Iran’s powerlifting silver medalist in Asia, Amir Mohammad Shahnavazi says, he has decided not to return to his country and will stay in France in protest to corruption.

In a video published on Shahnavazi’s Instagram account, he has argued that since several officials of the Islamic Republic are ”incompetent” and ”thieves”, ”eating away Iran, like leprosy,” he has decided not to return to his country.

Shahnavazi won the Asian silver medal for press lift in 83kg class junior category last year in the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking exclusively to Radio Farda, the young powerlifter from the province of Sistan&Baluchestan, southeast Iran, said that he had never received a reward and personally paid all the expenses for participating in international powerlifting events.

”I left Iran via Turkey, and after 27 days of hardship, illegally arrived in France, where I have decided to seek asylum, and stay,” Shahnavazi told Radio Farda.

Referring to powerlifting events, including Iran’s national championship, Shahnavazi says that while having money just enough to return to (my city) Zahedan, I was forced to sleep in the freezing streets of the cities where the powerlifting championships was held.

The Islamic Republic Weightlifting Federation, which powerlifting is a subdivision of, Shahnavazi laments, did not provide a dormitory for any of the powerlifters.

A veteran powerlifting champion, and the former coach of Iran’s national team, Majid Talkhaei, recently told Iran powerlifting website that the fate of his favorite sport is similar to Iran’s economy that has fallen victim to a number of illiterate people

Meanwhile, Iranian official news agency, IRNA, reported in 2017 that Shahnavazi won the Gold medal in the games hosted by the capital city, Tehran, and selected as the ”champion of the champions” to attend powerlifting world championship in Germany.

Another reason that has forced Shahnavazi, from the Baluch ethnic group in Iran to Iran is the widespread ethnic discrimination dominating the country.

”Even for wearing your Baluchi ethnic garment, you might confront problems,” Shahnavazi told Radio Farda, adding, ”Such d

member of Iranian national boxing team, Mobin Kahrazeh also suffered from it, before seeking refuge in Austria.”

Since the Islamic Republic authorities are “thieves and incompetent”, Shahnavazi maintains, ”Had I stayed in Iran, I would have ended up like many other Iranian athletes who are presently struggling with drug addiction and poverty.”

In the meantime, Shahnavazi insists that he has never been involved in political activities, noting, ”I still love my country, and I used to participate in the national games with the same love. I just left my country of birth to avoid my own destruction.” (Radio Farda – Oct. 17, 2019)

Religious and ethnic minorities

Three Baha’is Were Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment

Three Baha’i residents of Abadan and Ahvaz, Neda Sabeti (Azadi), Forough Farzaneh, and Noushin Afshar were each sentenced to a one-year prison term for the charge of “propaganda against the state” by the Revolutionary Court of Abadan. On May 6, 2019, they were arrested at their houses and were transferred to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz on May 30, 2019.

A closed source told HRANA that their case was opened by the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and during their interrogations, they were under pressure for forced confession. On May 6, 2019, they were arrested at their houses by six agents of the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Ahvaz and Abadan. They were released a week after on May 13 but were rearrested for an unknown reason on the same day. They were released on bail on May 30, 2019.

Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private. Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Oct. 11, 2019)

Violence against women

Enforcing the compulsory veil, “legal duty” for the State Security Force

Commander of Tehran’s State Security Force made a new announcement on the progress of the latest plan for enforcing the compulsory veil on Iranian women. He announced that 11 shopping malls in Tehran have been covered by the Nazer (Observer) 2 Plan.

Addressing a gathering of vice patrol agents on October 9, 2019, Hossein Rahimi declared, “The Greater Tehran has been divided to 12 patrolling blocks for the moral security patrols.”

Rahimi further explained, “Nazer 1 Plan is to monitor women who remove their veils inside their cars.” He added, “Right now, 11 major shopping malls in Tehran are under the SSF surveillance in the context of Nazer 2 Plan.”

(ISNA state-run News Website – Oct. 09, 2019)

In a related news, Tehran’s Public Security Police announced that more than 105,000 text messages had been sent to car owners to give them warnings in the context of Nazer 1 Plan. 137 of these cases have been filed with judicial authorities.

The SSF commander of Alborz Province, Abbas Ali Mohammadian, also announced that the plans for enforcing the compulsory veil will be implemented in apartment complexes.

“We have been ordered to counter and deal with removing the veil in apartment complexes,” he said, adding, “Enforcing the compulsory veil is the State Security Force’s legal duty.”

(Are Iran state-run News Website – Oct. 08, 2019)

Ban on women’s entrance to sports stadiums underlined for league games

Various Iranian officials once again underlined the ban on women’s entrance to sports stadiums.

Regarding the ban on women’s entrance to sports stadiums, Amir Mehdi Alavi, the spokesman for Iran’s Football Federation, declared, “Currently it is not possible for women to be present in league games. Representatives of the World Football Federation (FIFA) who had traveled to Tehran, said that only the national games are in their jurisdiction, and that they respect the laws enforced by countries regarding their premier league.”

A sports website in Toronto, the World of Sports, wrote that the next national game is going to be in March, so until then, women will not be allowed into stadiums.

(Khabar online state-run News Agency – Oct. 14, 2019)

Also addressing the ban on women’s entrance to sports stadiums, Koroush Bahadori, the general director of the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports in North Khorasan Province, said, “The permit for women’s entrance to sports stadiums is only for Tehran and not good for watching the games in other cities.”

Bahadori who was being interviewed by the official IRNA news agency added, “In light of the follow-ups done by FIFA, the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry issued permission for women’s entrance to stadiums only for the games of the national team. Under no circumstances are women allowed to enter the 19th of Mehr stadium in Bojnourd to watch the games of Atrak football team.”

(IRNA state-run News Agency – Oct. 14, 2019