Baha’i Women Upheld with Three Years and Eight Months Sentence on Appeal

The Court of Appeal in Razavi Khorasan Province has affirmed the three-year, eight-month sentence for each of Baha’i citizens Golnoosh Nasiri and Farideh Moradi.

According to a source close to these women, who confirmed the news to HRANA, the verdict includes three years for “membership in groups to act against national security” and eight months for “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

The initial judgment was issued by the Mashhad Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Hadi Mansouri, during a court session held on October 11, 2023.

Their investigation procedures took place in late August 2023, during which each was granted bail with five billion tomans, approximately equivalent to 100,000 dollars.

Baha’is are subjected to violations of their religious rights, comprising 82% of reports on infringements against religious minorities, according to HRA’s 2023 annual report.

The Baha’i faith is not recognized as a legitimate religion by Iranian authorities, leading to systematic and longstanding violations of the rights of Baha’is in the country. This includes the denial of their fundamental right to practice their religion, which constitutes a clear breach of both Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

Two Political Prisoners Face Execution in Zahedan Prison

Mohammad Zeineddine and Adham Narui, currently incarcerated in Zahedan Prison, are under the threat of execution following the confirmation of their death sentences by Iran’s Supreme Court in November 2023.

In March 2023, the Criminal Court of Zahedan sentenced Zeineddine and Narui to the death penalty for “enmity against God (Moharebeh) through armed action.” On November 20, 2023, this verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Security forces apprehended Zeineddine in September-October 2020 and Narui on May 25, 2021, in Lashar, Sistan and Baluchestan Province. After completing the interrogation process in a security detention facility, they were transferred to Zahedan Prison and are currently held in Ward 9.

Subsequently, they were accused of killing three security forces, an allegation they consistently denied throughout the trial.

A reliable source close to the family of one of the prisoners has confirmed to HRANA: “Mohammad and Adham are innocent, and the charges against them are unfounded. Earlier, during a confrontation with security forces in the Sirchah region, several relatives of Mohammad were killed, resulting in the death of three security personnel. In this confrontation, the individual who had shot at these three officers was also killed. However, these two individuals, who had no involvement in this incident, were arrested.”

The source further added that the families of these prisoners have been subjected to verbal insults by judicial officials during their inquiries about the well-being and condition of their sons.

Women’s Rights Advocate Tina Deljoo Commences Sentence in Lakan Prison, Rasht

On January 30, 2024, women’s rights advocate Tina Deljoo initiated her one-year sentence at Lakan Prison in Rasht.

The Revolutionary Court of Rasht imposed the sentence, alleging “propaganda against the regime,” citing Deljoo’s activities on her Instagram page as evidence during the trial.

Deljoo was initially arrested in Rasht and later released on bond from Lakan Prison, where she has now begun serving her sentence.

As per HRA’s annual report for 2023, 44 women were arrested for their involvement in activities related to women’s rights. Moreover, a total of 20 activists received sentences amounting to 182 months of imprisonment, coupled with fines totaling seventeen million six hundred thousand Iranian Rials. These sentences encompass 152 months of actual imprisonment and 30 months of suspended imprisonment, with appellate courts issuing 64 months of these sentences. Additionally, two individuals were sentenced to 222 lashes.

Political Prisoner Mohammad-Javad Vafaie at Risk of Death Penalty

Political prisoner Seyed Mohammad-Javad Vafaie, currently held in Vakilabad Prison, Mashhad, is facing the threat of execution. The Revolutionary Court of Mashhad handed down a death sentence after a retrial in July 2023.

Vafaie, a 28-year-old boxing coach, was arrested by security forces in Mashhad in March 2020 and subsequently incarcerated in Vakilabad Prison. In January 2020, Babak Paknia, Vafaie’s lawyer, revealed that his client had been convicted of “spreading corruption on earth through arson and intentional destruction of public property, including the penitentiary building.” However, the Supreme Court later overturned the initial verdict, leading to a retrial in another branch.

Despite the retrial, the Revolutionary Court once again sentenced him to death. Notably, following the verdict, Vafaie was granted a substantial bail, which he was unable to afford.

The reissuance of the death sentence after the retrial has raised serious concerns about the potential imminent execution of Mohammad-Javad Vafaie.

Execution of Three Inmates for Drug Offenses in Karaj

On January 29, 2024, authorities at the Central Prison of Karaj executed three individuals convicted of drug-related crimes.

HRANA has identified two of them as Ajamian and Jafari (first names unknown). These inmates had previously received death sentences for drug offenses. HRANA had reported their relocation to solitary confinement the day before.

No official sources or domestic media outlets within the country have provided coverage of these executions at the time of writing. The lack of official information raises concerns about transparency and accountability in the execution process.

The reports from the Department of Statistics and Publication of Human Rights Activists for the year 2023 reveal a concerning prevalence of executions for drug offenses in Iran, constituting 56.4% of the total executions. For a comprehensive examination of the details and statistics surrounding the executions in Iran, refer to HRANA’s report.

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Kamal Babaie’s Arrest in Isfahan Raises Concerns

On January 27, 2024, security forces apprehended Kamal Babaie in Isfahan, placing him in Dastgerd Prison.

According to a source close to Babaie’s family, he was arrested and confined to prison at a time when his physical well-being was reportedly not suitable for incarceration.

The motives behind Babaie’s arrest and the charges against him remain undisclosed. The circumstances surrounding his detention raise concerns about the transparency and justification of the arrest.

Supreme Court Rejects Retrial Plea for Death-Row Inmate Abbas Deris

The Supreme Court has dismissed Abbas Deris’s plea for a retrial. Deris, arrested during the 2019 nationwide protests (Aban Protests), faced a death sentence, with his arrest linked to charges of “enmity against God (Moharebeh).”

Despite significant flaws in the legal case and the initial verdict, the Supreme Court of Iran rejected the retrial request, as confirmed by Deris’s lawyer, Fereshteh Tabanian. The legal team has now invoked Article 477 of Iran’s Criminal Procedure Code, which allows for a retrial if a final verdict is deemed inconsistent with Islamic law.

Having initially filed the retrial request in July 2023 to Branch 9 of the Supreme Court, Deris saw a temporary suspension of the verdict. However, in the subsequent month, Tabanian announced that Branch 39 of the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence, disregarding the acknowledged flaws in the case.

Abbas Deris, currently incarcerated at Mahshahr Prison, was accused of firing shots at security forces during the protests, leading to the death of Police Captain Reza Sayyadi. His coerced confession during interrogation by the IRGC was later broadcast by Iran-state TV. However, during the trial, Deris admitted to participating in the protests but denied any involvement in shooting at security forces.

It is noteworthy that Deris’s brother, also a co-defendant, was acquitted of all charges. Both were arrested on December 8, 2019. Abbas Deris, aged approximately 49, is a father of three children.

Background on Aban Protests:

In November 2019, a surge in fuel prices triggered widespread protests across numerous cities in Iran. The Parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Commission reported 7,000 arrests during these protests. Human rights organizations documented hundreds of deaths at the hands of the security apparatus.

 

Four Political Prisoners on Death Row Executed

On January 29, 2024, a somber day unfolded at Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj as four political prisoners on death row—Mohsen Mazloum, Pezhman Fatehi, Vafa Azarbar, and Hazhir Faramarzi—were executed. The previous day, they were transferred from Evin Prison to Ghezel Hesar in anticipation of their impending execution.

Despite international efforts urging Iran’s regime to halt the execution, these prisoners met their fate. Masoud Shams-Nejad, their legal representative, expressed his dismay, stating, “My clients were executed this morning, notwithstanding the fact that both preliminary and final indictments had established that the defendants were arrested before the alleged operation. It’s retribution before the crime, an irony which has now a reality.”

On July 23, 2022, Iran Police Intelligence (FARAJA) arrested them in the Sumay-ye Beradust District of Urmia County. Tasnim, a security-institution-affiliated news agency, reported their arrest as part of “a network of Israeli spies.” The agency claimed they possessed operational and communication equipment, along with explosive materials, and had entered the country from the Kurdistan region with plans to carry out unprecedented terrorist operations in sensitive, secure locations.

Approximately 80 days after their arrest, Iran’s state TV aired their coerced confessions, accusing them of spying for foreign intelligence and stating they had been apprehended in sensitive sites in Isfahan.

Their lawyer had earlier decried the due process and conviction as unjust and unfair, asserting that he and his clients were denied their rights throughout the proceedings.

Human rights organizations had questioned the details of these individuals’ legal cases, including the credibility of the charges, evidence, legal proceedings, and the performance of security institutions. In recent weeks, prominent groups and figures emphasized that the Iranian regime had scapegoated them through a setup case, mirroring a precedent set by the regime.

Concerns Rise as Khaled Pirzadeh Hospitalized in Evin Prison

Political prisoner Khaled Pirzadeh has been hospitalized since January 19, 2024, due to a deteriorating health condition.

A reliable source close to Pirzadeh’s family confirmed the news, stating, “Last week, Pirzadeh was admitted to Loghman Hospital in Tehran due to heart arrhythmia. He is currently in the ICU with a bound chain on his ankle.”

Earlier this year, Pirzadeh was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court for “assembly and collusion against national security” and an additional eight months for “propaganda against the regime.”

In September 2023, security forces arrested Pirzadeh in Ahvaz, and he was subsequently transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. On October 15, he was moved to Ward 6 within the same prison.

It is noteworthy that Pirzadeh has a history of previous arrests and convictions related to his activism.

Farshad Dastmardi Receives Three-Year Sentence on Political Charges

Farshad Dastmardi, one of the detainees during the 2022 nationwide protests, has been sentenced to three years, seven months, and 16 days by the Criminal Court in Dehdasht.

Presiding over the case, Judge Taheri issued a three-year prison term for “disturbing public opinion and acting against national security” and seven months plus 16 days for “propaganda against the regime.”

Reportedly, this verdict was handed down without a formal trial, as shared by a source close to Taheri’s family.

Dastmardi was arrested by IRGC’s Intelligence agents in Dehdasht in August 2023 and later transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence’s facility in Yasuj. He was released on bail on January 21, 2024.

During the 2022 nationwide protests, he was also arrested by security forces and released on bail of one and a half billion tomans, approximately 30,000 dollars. This previous arrest further adds to the series of judicial confrontations Dastmardi has faced over time.