Barring Any New Charges, Activist Saeed Shirzad to be Released in 2020
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Rajai Shahr political prisoner Saeed Shirzad will remain in prison through 2020, according to HRANA reports.
His most recent convictions stem from a prison protest that broke out last August among a group of wardmates, including Shirzad, who protested their transfer to an enhanced-security ward under the jurisdiction of Iran’s security establishment. For Shirzad and his fellow prisoners Amir Ghaziani, Saeed Pourheidar, and Ebrahim Firoozi, the protests incurred charges of “destruction of prison property,” ruled in January of 2018 in in Tehran province’s Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 116.
Rather than add prison time for the latter charge, Branch 3 of the Evin Prison Prosecutor’s Office set them a bail of 700 million IRR (approximately $7,000 USD).
In April of that same year authorities gave Shirzad more grief for the protests, issuing him an additional six-month prison term in the same court for “disturbing prison order.”
The “disturbing public order” sentence, along with the enactment of a one-year suspended sentence pursuant to a 2012 arrest, will compound Shirzad’s current five-year sentence by an additional year, slating his release for 2020.
According to HRANA reports, Shirzad’s five-year sentence was ruled on charges of “assembling and colluding against national security,” in connection to civic activities including visits to the families of political prisoners. [Though he began serving this sentence four years ago, it was not finalized until 2017].
Since his arrest in the Tabriz refinery where he worked on June 2nd, 2014, Shirzad’s prison time has been fraught with both oppression and physical pain. On July 11th, 2018, HRANA reported on prison authorities’ refusal to comply with medical orders for more specialized treatment of Shirzad’s lumbar disc disease and spastic lower back inflammation. As authorities continued to reject his requests for the recommended medical transfer — even out of Shirzad’s own pocket — his condition has deteriorated, and he now relies on a walker. HRANA also covered Shirzad’s gestures of protest against his condition and treatment in the system, including hunger strike and sewing his mouth shut.
Due to multiple postponements of his court date, he was also subject to a judicial lag of 15 months between his June 2014 arrest and September 2015 trial in Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 15, presided by Judge Salavati. During that period he was detained without a conviction first in Evin, and then in Rajai Shahr Prison.
On April 15th, 2017 — a year and half after his already-delayed initial trial — his appeals session convened in Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court and ultimately ruled to uphold his 5-year prison sentence.
Shirzad’s rap sheet with authorities dates back to August 21, 2012, when he was arrested and given his one-year suspended sentence for assisting earthquake victims in Ahar, East Azerbaijan province, where he was reportedly involved in the operations of Sarand-based rescue camps. Though he was released on bail 19 days later, his more recent offenses — viewed as a kind of parole violation in the judicial system — kicked the suspended sentence into effect.
Rajai Shahr Prison, where Shirzad is currently held, is located in the northwestern Tehran suburb of Karaj.