NCRI Human Rights Center Weekly Bulletin March 30, 2020

Systematic violations of the right to life

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

Death sentence

Execution of Farzad Samadi may be carried out

Family of Mr. Farzad Samadi, the Sunni prisoner condemned to death who is in Rajaie-shahr prison in the city of Karaj were called for their last visit with him.

Mr. Samadi was arrested in Saghez and was subsequently handed down the death sentence by the Revolution Court of Sanandaj. Since about a year ago he was transferred to solitary confinement in Rajaie-shahr prison.

“A few days ago, Farzad called his family and asked them to visit him for the last time. But bus stations are closed due to coronavirus outbreak and his parents have not been able to find a bus to take them to Tehran [Karaj]. His parents are pretty old and travelling in the current conditions is dangerous for them. Nevertheless, they are still trying to find a way to get there. It is not clear why in the peak of coronavirus crisis in the country they want to carry out his execution,” a close friend to the family said. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Mar. 25, 2020)


Prison conditions

Teachers Guild protests denial of furlough to Mohammad HabibiIran’s Teachers Guild in Tehran issued a statement to protest rejection of a furlough for Mr. Mohammad Habibi.

“This refusal comes at a time that Mr. Mohammad Habibi’s life is in dire danger due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Great Tehran Prison and the fact that he already suffers from chronic lung disease. Two weeks ago prisoners affected by this virus in a cell in Hall-2 of the prison were removed from their cell,” the statement partly read.

Along with a number of other activists, Mr. Habibi was arrested on May 10, 2018 during a teachers’ protest and subsequently transferred to Great Tehran Prison.

He was tried at Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Ahmadzadeh. He was charged with collaborating to damage the national security for which he received seven and a half years in prison. He also received 18 months for propaganda against the regime, 18 months for disruption of public order, 74 lashes, and a 2 year prohibition in participating in political parties or political and social groups and leaving the country. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Mar. 19, 2020)

No medical leave for political prisoner Zainab Jalalian

In spite of spread of coronavirus at the country’s prisons, judicial authorities still oppose a medical furlough for Kurd political prisoner, Zainab Jalalian, confined at Khoy Prison.

Zainab Jalalian is the only female political prisoner serving life in prison. She is suffering from diseases in her eyes, mouth and stomach. She has been deprived of proper and adequate medical treatment time and again during her confinement.

Jalalian born in 1982 was arrested when 25 years old by Kermanshah’s intelligence bureau on March 10, 2008. In an only-a- few-minutes trial at fall, two years later, she was charged with ‘Moharebeh (waging war against God) for being a member of Pezhak Group’. The trial was behind closed door and she had no lawyer present at it. In that trial she was handed down the death sentence. The decree commuted to life in prison on November 20, 2011. (Campaign in Defense of Civil and Political Prisoners– Mar. 10, 2020)

Arbitrary arrests

Social arrests

2 arrested in Makou

Security chief of Makou reported the arrest of two. “In line with security measures, FATA (Cyber Police) experts monitoring the social media identified a page that insulted country’s officials and raised anxiety of the general public,” Mr. Hossein Shahriar stipulated adding, “The case was immediately handed down to the county FATA police force and they promptly arrested the cameraman and the person that made the insults in less than 24 hours with Makou’s court order.”

“The case was filed for the two and forwarded to relevant authorities and their Instagram page was blocked,” he said.

(ISNA state-run news agency – Mar. 21, 2020)

Security forces arrest 3 in Urmia and Marivan

On Friday, March 19, security forces apprehended a resident of Urmia County. The man was identified as Mansour Habibi.

On the same day, two residents of Kurdistan province by the names of Mohammad Obeidi and Reza Othmani were also arrested. Their arrest was conducted without any court order and included battering.

Up till now, there is no news about their whereabouts.(Human Rights Activists in Iran – Mar. 23, 2020)

Basic freedom and rights abused

4 admins of Telegram channels fined and imprisoned

Four residents of Shahroud County, admins of four Telegram channels have been fined and incarcerated. Messrs. Mehdi Ameri, Mostafa Sharif, Reza Zolfaghari and Mohammad-hossein Nademi were all condemned by county’s penal court.

Plaintiff was governor of Shahroud who accused the four of unwarranted criticism for the repeated cutoff of water in Shahroud.

Their channels in Telegram are Shahroud-news, Shahroud-channel, Jarchie and Society of Shahroud Virtual Activists. (Human Rights Activists in Iran – Mar. 24, 2020)

New police stations in Tehran

According to an act from 10 years ago, endorsed at Tehran’s City Council, 200 police stations are to be built to encompass more security measures.

Zoheiri the capital’s police chief for deterrence of crimes, criticized the shortage of police stations in Tehran and told Mizan news agency: “We don’t have enough police stations in Tehran and we are following up the issue so that more buildings and equipment be provided for that.”

He added: “We need 40 more police stations for Tehran. All governmental bodies must help that to come true. We have not achieved that yet.” (Mizan state-run news agency– Mar. 22, 2020)


2020 coronavirus outbreak in Iran

80% of people in Sistan and Baluchistan may catch coronavirus

It was the province’s representative who brought the issue up in the parliament.

“We should not forget that 80% of our people in this region leave under the poverty line and are apt to be inflicted by coronavirus. On the other hand, scarcity of water restricts them from frequently washing their hands,” Aliyar Mohammadi said adding, “Most of them also suffer from diabetics or coronary or lung problems caused by sand storms. All these factors are conducive to a rapid outbreak in this province.”

“Most people in this region are laborers and need to go to work to earn enough money to buy a piece of bread which in turn exposes them to the virus,” he stipulated.

(Eghtesad Online state-run website– Mar. 07, 2020)

Nowhere in the country is safe from virus: Health Ministry spokesman

The spokesman for the Health Ministry said that there is nowhere in the country that is safe from the coronavirus and it is wishful thinking that you can have a trip to a safe place.

“Today, after 25 days of studying the Covid-19 in the country, we declare that there are no immune places in the whole country from Covid-19. This virus is everywhere although the level of infection differs from one place to the next,” Mr. Kianoush Jahanpour emphasized. (Khabar Online state-run website – Mar. 23, 2020)

Doctors without Borders left baffled in Iran

Advisor to the Minister of Health in Tehran declared that there is no need for hospital beds from foreigners and that the presence of Doctors without Borders in Iran is cancelled. This comes on the heel of the Iranian ambassador in France announcing that the second consignment from Doctors without Borders has been dispatched to Iran and that a mobile hospital will be set up in Esfahan.

Mr. Alireza Wahabzadeh twitted: “We offer our gratitude to Doctors without Borders, but through implementing the national campaign to confront the coronavirus and employing the full medical capacity of the armed forces, we currently have no need for foreign forces to set up hospital beds in Iran and their presence in the country is not necessary.” (IRNA state-run news agency – Mar. 24, 2020)

Under-equipped health workers become victims of Iran’s COVID-19 outbreak

Dozens of Iranian health workers in under equipped hospitals across the country have passed away in Iran’s COVID-19 outbreak. Health workers, including doctors and nurses at the front lines of the fight against the deadly virus, lack basic protective equipment.

According to the head of the Industry and Mine Organization in Kerman, 41% of those infected with COVID-19 in the southeastern province are healthcare workers. Mehdi Hosseini Nejad said that the reason behind the high infection rate was a problem in “providing masks, alcohol and gloves” for healthcare workers in Iran’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Healthcare workers in Gilan, northern Iran, which has one of the highest COVID-19 fatality rates in the country, also face a severe shortage of protective gear and equipment.

On March 7, a member of the board of directors of the Mashhad Nursing Organization said that nurses in several hospitals did not have adequate protective gear.

“Nurses in some hospitals are faced with a lack of protective gear including medical gowns, N95 masks, gloves and disinfectants,” Javad Tavakoli told the state-run YJC website.

Reports indicate that on March 22, six doctors passed away in Amol, northern Iran. They have been identified as Seyed Mozafar Rabiei, Dr. Samadi, Dr. Nirouie, Dr. Ibrahim Nejad, Dr. Tusan, and Dr. Babazeh.

Four of the personnel at the Amol Medical Sciences University also passed away from the virus.

Iran’s Health Ministry announced COVID-19 fatalities today as close to 2,000 but according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, 10,900 people have died from the virus.

The Head of the Ministry of Health Information Center also said today that a person dies from COVID-19 every 12 minutes in Iran and that Tehran’s infection rate had increased by 13%.

Despite this, the regime has turned out COVID-19 aid from the US and rejected the aid of a team of volunteer doctors today from an international non-governmental group, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders.

The team wanted to set up a 50-bed inflatable hospital in the central city of Isfahan, one of the worst-hit areas in the epidemic.

An advisor to the Minister of Health, Alireza Vahhabzadeh, said on Tweeter that Iran did “not need hospitals established by foreigners”. (Iran News Wire – Mar. 24, 2020)

Coranavirus takes victim of three school children with especial needs

The head of especial (students) department of the Education ministry, Javad Hosseini, announced that because of corona virus spreading, so far three school children with especial needs have lost their lives. (IRNA state-run news agency – Mar. 25, 2020)

A number of welfare relief workers lose their lives to coronavirus, but they don’t say how many

Mohammad Nefrieh, chief of Committee for Prevention of Contagious Diseases in the Welfare Organization, confirmed the death of a number of their relief workers in various provinces in Iran.

Speaking to ILNA news agency on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Mr. Nefrieh said, “Given the fact that the toll of the deceased is announced by the Ministry of Health, we shall no longer make any announcements in this regard.”

He went on to add that the biggest challenge to this organization came in Kahrizak Center No. 1, located in Tehran, where a number of relief workers and personnel were infected.

According to Mr. Nefrieh, the number of personnel in relief centers throughout the country is 100,000. He judged working in relief centers as “risky” and stated that the allocated disinfectants are not given to them despite their follow ups with the authorities. (Iran International – Mar. 25, 2020)

5 Health Ministers, 17 medical experts warn Rouhani

Several current and former Ministers of Health together with prominent medical scholars advise president on how to bring coronavirus under control.

Excerpts from their letter follows:

“It is about a month since the Covid-19 outbreak in Iran. During this period, the spread and destruction of virus have spiked and we have not witnessed any reduction in cases anywhere. Dozens of our compatriots lose their lives every day and a huge number are under treatment, tests and hospitalized. Absent effective control, increase in the death toll and damages are inevitable.

“Based on scientific experience and proven practice in confronting coronavirus, and conclusions reached in examining the infected, we who are experts in our fields, including lung disease, general surgery, and infectious diseases have concluded that the most assured path to control and defeat this virus and save the country is to break the chain of contact between the healthy and the carriers.

“This translates into restricting movement and travel, lockdown of unessential businesses and shopping centers, and controlling entry to towns and cities. Continuing with the status quo of life and unnecessary movement will simply aggravate the situation.

“As medical experts in this realm, we vehemently advise immediate lockdown of all unessential businesses and departments for at least 15 days. Only centers and shops involved in the production and distribution of food and medicine should be allowed to function with outmost observance of highest health standards. All inessential inter-cities or inner city movements should be prohibited.“Honorable President, ignoring these suggestions would be playing with people’s lives. Any delay results in great damages and further loss of life.”(Mashregh News state-run website – Mar. 19, 2020)

Rouhani: There is no such thing as quarantine; not today, not during Nowruz

Hassan Rouhani opposed all quarantine and said: “There is no such thing as quarantine; not today nor during new year holidays; and services will be provided to people as usual.”

In the light of Sunday’s deliberations during [cabinet] meeting Rouhani stated: “We have no such thing as quarantine. Rumors circling in Tehran or some cities about lockdown of some shops or businesses are not true. There is no quarantine today, none during Nowruz, none before nor after; all are free in their activities and businesses.” (Assr-e-Iran state-run website – Mar. 15, 2020)

Harirchi: Every hour 43 Iranians are contracting coronavirus and 3 die from it

Deputy minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education said: “Every hour 43 Iranians contract coronavirus which shows how powerful the epidemic aspect of this virus is.”

Iraj Harrirchi added: “In addition the surveillance shows that unfortunately three people die in the country of this virus every hour, which is very concerning.”

“Nurses and doctors in medical centers are unfortunately affected by this virus too because people have no attention to preventing measures. In some cases, they have lost their lives which is unacceptable,” he stated. (IRNA state-run news agency – Mar. 18, 2020)

MP: people must try to save their own lives!

Soheila Jelodar Zadeh MP from Tehran says: “People must try to save themselves. They should not anticipate any help from the government because it has done what it could do. That’s it”. (Khabar Fori state-run website– Mar. 24, 2020)

Corona virus spread in prisons

77 former political prisoners letter to UN Special Rapporteur

In a letter to Mr. Javid Rahman, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 77 former political prisoners pleaded for action to save the lives and wellbeing of political prisoners in Iran.

“Military and security agencies in Iran, in reckless ignorance of the current situation, have kept the political prisoners in prisons, thus endangering their lives and exposing them to the contagious Covid-19 virus with no means to defend themselves. They continue to prioritize suppression of dissidents above all else,” the letter partially read.

The signatories stated that an immediate call for the unconditional release of the political prisoners and condemnation of the repressive policies of the judiciary and the regime would be of great value in saving the lives of the political prisoners from the coronavirus. (Campaign to Defend Political and Civil Prisoners – Mar. 22, 2020)

Saba Kordafshari and her mother Raheleh Ahmadi are refused furlough

Ms. Saba Kordafshari and her mother Raheleh Ahmadi, two civil activists kept in the women’s ward of Evin prison were denied furlough by the judiciary officials and prison officers. Despite the danger posed to political prisoners and civil activists by the coronavirus, they continue to be deprived of furloughs that may save their lives. (Campaign to Defend Political and Civil Prisoners – Mar. 21, 2020)

Father of political prisoner says her daughter’s life is in danger

Hossein Daemi, father to political prisoner Atena Daemi, posted the following message on Twitter after judiciary officials denied a lifesaving furlough to his daughter:

“The life of the prisoners is in danger. The risk of coronavirus threatens them. Our children are charged with the crime of defending our people and such noble human beings don’t belong in prisons.” (Campaign to Defend Political and Civil Prisoners – Mar. 21, 2020)

2 political prisoners infected by coronavirus in Ahvaz

Five cases of infection to coronavirus, including two political prisoners and three prison guards in Ahvaz Central Prison, were transferred to prison’s infirmary and quarantined there.

Prison officials have in turn returned all other sick prisoners in the infirmary to the general wards. Currently only the three guards are under treatment which has raised great anxiety among prisoners who feel threatened by the coronavirus. (Campaign in Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners – Mar. 21, 2020)

In 1 month of coronavirus crisis, 3 political prisoners have been condemned to death, while others have been sentenced to 245 years plus 928 lashes

Human rights reports in Iran indicate that since February 20, 2020, concurrent with the official admission of coronavirus outbreak in the country, political prisoners continue to be tried and sentenced with three receiving the death penalty.

In some cases, the political activist is condemned to forced labor in hospitals or for the paramilitary Basij force, washing corpses, reading Quran, hand-copying religious books, or doing research work on Islamic hijab.

Since the outbreak, at least 50 political prisoners throughout Iran have been sentenced by ordinary or revolutionary courts receiving an accumulative 245 years in prison and 928 lashes, reports said. Prison terms vary anywhere from 3 months to over 10 years.

Environmental activists, political party affiliates, students, reporters, writers, poets, human rights activists, and women activists are among those brought before the revolutionary courts. In some cases, mothers and youngsters, or members of a family received heavy sentences for participating in general protests. Those condemned to death were all in their twenties. (Iran International – Mar. 21, 2020)

A prisoner victim of coronavirus at Urmia Prison

On Tuesday morning March 25, 2020, a prisoner confined at ward 14 of Urmia Prison, being suspicious of contracting corona virus died from not receiving medical treatment. Hossein Javadi, 50, was confined at this prison for 18 years.

Another prisoner confirmed the news saying that the diseased cell-mates said that he did have coronavirus symptoms. The prison authorities said he died from heart failure. (Hengaw– Mar. 25, 2020)


Four arrested in Esfahan for posting news on coronavirus

The police chief of Esfahan said that four have been arrested in this province.

“In order to firmly confront those causing anxiety in the social media, security officers arrested four for posting misinformation regarding the coronavirus, after diligent surveillance and witty actions that led to their arrest in a special operation,” Mohammad-Hassan Esmaeili said. (IMNA Online state-run website– Mar. 22, 2020)

Cyber police ramp up surveillance

Mr. Hossein Amirlee, chief of FATA police force (Cyber Police) said: “In setting up a special workgroup to control news and information posted on social media on the outbreak of coronavirus in the country based on the expertise of FATA cyber police, we have identified 998 criminal cases in the cyberspace… leading to the identification of 974 culprits and filing of 316 cases. Moreover, 299 netizens deleted their criminal contents upon receiving our telephone warnings.” (Shafeghna state-run website – Mar. 24, 2020)

18 coronavirus related arrests in Semnan

Chief of intelligence and security in Semnan province reported the arrest of 18 on charges related to sanitary equipment and posted news in cyberspace regarding coronavirus.

Mr. Moussa Hosseini emphasized that in this critical period where the society is grappling with the coronavirus, security forces will forcefully and resolutely confront those causing anxiety in the society. (IRNA state-run news agency – Mar. 24, 2020)