Twelve-Year-Old Son of Late Azerbaijani Activist Arrested

Posted on: October 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Araz Amani, the 12-year-old son of a renowned Azerbaijani activist who died under suspicious circumstances 10 years ago, was arrested on October 24th before his father’s commemoration service. Araz’s cousin on his father’s side, Amir Amani, was detained along with him.

Araz’s father Gholamreza Amani died in a car accident along with two of his brothers on October 24, 2008. Many Iranians consider his death suspicious, going as far as speculating that it was premeditated by Iranian authorities.

A source close to the Amani family told HRANA that the two cousins had gone to clean their fathers’ tombstones at the cemetery around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24th when they were detained by eight plainclothes officers. After being interrogated for hours, agents told Araz to call home to let them know he would not be released until Friday, October 26th at noon, i.e. after his late father’s ceremony had ended.

On a phone call to Araz’s mother Gounesh Amani the day before, security agents had advised her to cancel the ceremony. She refused.

As planned, Araz and Amir Amani were both released on October 26th from the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in Tabriz.

That same day, three other attendees — Sajad Afrouzian, Sadollah Sasani, and Ebrahim Ranjbar — were arrested for their participation in the ceremony. Afrouzian and Sasani were released the next day, while Ranjbar’s fate remains unknown.

Tabriz is the capital of the northwestern province of Eastern Azerbaijan, which borders the Republic of Azerbaijan and is home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.

Azerbaijanis Detained for Cultural Observances

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- A crackdown on Azerbaijani activists continued this past week when activist Reza Zarei was taken into custody by security forces, purportedly in connection to his newfound campaign promoting native [Azerbaijani] names.

Two Azerbaijani activists, Sajad Afrouzian and Sadollah Sasani, were released from a law enforcement detention center in Tabriz on Saturday, October 27th. One day prior, Afrouzian, Sasani, and Azerbaijani activist Ebrahim Ranjbar were arrested in front of Tabriz’s Maralan Cemetery after participating in a memorial service for Gholamreza Amani. As of the date of this report, no further information is available on Ranjbar’s whereabouts.

Gholamreza Amani was a renowned Azerbaijani activist who died in a car accident along with his two brothers on October 23, 2008. Public suspicions around the circumstances of his death — believed by some to be “premeditated murder”– have attracted heightened security presence to his memorial services since.

Coinciding the three aforementioned arrests was the detainment of Hakimeh Ahmadi, arrested in her home in the city of Marand, East Azerbaijan Province and transferred to an undisclosed location. No further information is currently available on her location or the charges against her.

Ahmadi was previously arrested this past September and released on a bail of one billion Rials [approximately $7,000 USD].

Tabriz is located in Azerbaijan province, in Iran’s northeast.

Iran: An Overview of Human Rights Abuses September – October 2018

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran between September 23rd and October 22, 2018, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

Domestic restrictions in Iran on independent human rights reporting make it difficult to capture the full extent of these issues on the ground. The following overview draws on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources, including other human rights associations operating outside Iran’s borders.

Summary

Human rights violations continued all across the country over the past month, and included, but were not limited to: executions, child abuse, mass arrests, violation of prisoners’ rights, violation of freedom of expression, labor abuses, and unchecked environmental pollution.

Death Penalty

Capital punishment remains the most egregious violation of human rights in Iran. On October 10th — the World Day against the Death Penalty — the Center of Statistics at HRAI published its annual report to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran. The report provides statistics about executions carried out in this country between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018.

More than 25 citizens, including a juvenile offender, were executed in the last month (between September 23rd and October 22, 2018). More than 20 individuals, including a juvenile offender, were sentenced to death. Four people were executed in public.

HRANA was able to identify or gather details about death row prisoners, including a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Arsalan Khodkam, the ex-spouse of Leila Tajik, Hedayat Abdollahpour and three individuals convicted of financial crimes. New details on the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were also reported during this period.

Freedom of Thought and Expression

Freedoms of thought and expression were also widely restricted over the past 30 days.

Arrests: Arrestees in this category included a Shiraz city council member, Ahmad Alinejad and his wife, at least 20 residents of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, writer and Mashad resident Abbas Vahedian, Zahra Majd in Isfahan, and six individuals involved in the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested in Nain (near Isfahan).

Convictions: Leila Mir-Ghaffari was sentenced to 2 years in prison, Ejlal Ghavami to 8 months, Hassan Abbasi to 35 months (five 7-months prison terms), an Arak resident to 1 year and 30 lashings, Hamidreza Amini to 11 years. Women who protested this past August were sentenced from 6 months to 1 year in prison, Mohammad Mahdavifar was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months, a dual-nationality defendant faces 8 years and 6 months in prison, Soheil Arabi faces 3 years in prison, 3 years in exile, and a fine; the prison sentence of Abdolreza Ghanbari was increased to 15 years, Alireza Moeinian was sentenced to 8 months in prison; a new 6-month sentence extended the prison term of Saeed Shirzad through 2020; six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were collectively sentenced to a total of 6 years in prison and 444 lashings, and a group of political activists in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province were sentenced to exile and prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 years.

Eleven civil activists, including Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, and Abbas Safari were sentenced to 3 years in prison and 74 lashings. Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou and Mohammad Torabi were sentenced to 1 year in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Kian Sadeghi faces 3 years in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Morteza Nazari was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, 2 years of exile, and a fine; Zahra Zare Seraji, on the same convictions, to 8 years in prison and a fine. Their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13 years in prison and exile.

Summons: Hamid Farrokhnezhad, Parastoo Salehi, a number of reformist political activists, Tehran city council member Kazem Imanzadeh, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, and Mohammad Najafi were all summoned by courts and the Ministry of Intelligence.

Censorship: The weekly magazines “Nabze Bazaar” and “Paytakht Kohan,” as well as the website “EntekhabKhabar,” were convicted in press court. Courts also issued indictments for the Chief Executive Officers of “Shargh” and “Shahrvand” newspapers for their reporting on sexual tourism. The National Front of Iran was prevented from holding its Central Council meeting in Tehran, a journalist was beaten by Qazvin municipal agents, and a Kurdish student was barred from education, presumably for his political affiliations.

Prisoners’ Rights
Prisoners are rarely protected from cruel and unusual punishments, and their rights to proper nutrition, hygiene, and medical treatment are systematically violated. A few of these victims are detailed below by category of violation.

Raids and beatings: Prison agents punched Arash Sadeghi on his cancer surgery site; Urmia prison authorities attacked political prisoners and injured them severely, inciting them to hunger strike by the dozens; another Urmia prisoner was assaulted; a prisoner was beaten and injured by Rajai Shahr Prison personnel; Bandar Abbas Prison authorities broke an inmate’s fingers; an Urmia prisoner suffered a TBI after a beating by authorities; and prisoners were forcefully undressed and beaten in Zahedan Prison.

Withholding of medical treatment: A prisoner died after being denied medical care in Zahedan Prison. Farhad Meysami, Arash Sadeghi, and a prisoner in Sanandaj were also denied medical treatment.

Going without: Dozens of Gachsaran prisoners launched protests and hunger strikes in opposition to prison conditions. Six Gonabadi Dervish prisoners continued in an ongoing hunger strike. Reza Sigarchi, also in an act of protest, refused food and medicine in Great Tehran Penitentiary, while 8 Gonabadi Dervishes at the same penitentiary and 8 Baha’i prisoners of Karaj disappeared off of the administrative radar for 30 days. Houshmand Alipour was denied access to an attorney. Three prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison were blocked from receiving visits, and the fate of sequestered labor activist and Sanandaj resident Zanyar Dabbaghian was still unknown.

Three prisoners attempted suicide in Zahedan, Urmia, and Saravan prisons. Local sources consistently impute prisoner suicides and suicide attempts to the violence and oppression of prison life.

Religious and Ethnic Minorities

Religious and ethnic minorities remained under threat and consistent judicial pressures this past month.

Baha’is: Eight Baha’i citizens were arrested in Baharestan (near Isfahan), four were arrested in Karaj, one of whom had his business forcibly shut down, and three were arrested in Shiraz.
[Some of these arrests reflect coordinated or group arrests, and linked articles will reflect that information overlap].
A Baha’i resident of Yazd who had been blocked from pursuing education was fired from work for their faith, and the parents of a Baha’i prisoner were temporarily detained following a search of the prisoner’s home.

Sunnis: Five Sunni scholars were sequestered for hours in the Zahedan-Khash road patrol office. Three Baluchi citizens, who are scholars of the Ghalamouei seminary, were arrested in Sirik County (southern Iran). Sunni scholars expressed outcry over the public statements of a soccer player they alleged to be disparaging of Sunni sanctities.

Six members of the Yamani Religious Group in Izeh County were also arrested, presumably for their beliefs.

Ethnic minorities: Arab citizens were arrested, and are still being arrested en masse in wake of the Ahvaz Parade Attack. HRANA is still in the process of confirming the identifies of the arrestees, which according to local reports number into the hundreds. Other arrests suspected to be ethnically discriminatory include Nasim Sadeghi, Mohammad Abdolmohammad-Zadeh, Mojtaba Parvin, Ebrahim Divazi, as well as residents of Ilam, Ahvaz, Marivan, Urmia, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Saqqez, Pevah, Oshnavieh, and Sardasht.

News emerged on the convictions of Abbas Lasani, Kiumars Eslami, Eghbal Ahmadpour, Keyvan Olyali, Hossein Ali Mohammadi Alvar, as well as defendants in Sanandaj, Urmia, Kamyaran, and two detainees of the Afrin battles in Syria. Turkic activist Javad Ahmadi Yekanli was summoned by county security police in the city of Khoy.

Children’s Rights

Children are among the most vulnerable to human rights abuses in Iran. Over the past month, four wrongful child deaths were reported in the cities of Tehran, Falavarjan (Isfahan Province), Qaem Shahr (Mazandaran province) and (Isfahan Province).

The national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline said that 30% of reports called into the center are flagging some form of “domestic violence,” 30% of which turn out to be child abuse cases. Of this 30%, 50% were related to educational negligence, 30% to physical abuse, 15% to psychological abuse, and 4% to sexual abuse of children.

Maryam Sedighi, deputy director of the social welfare department of Alborz Province, said that 12% of “123” social emergency calls made in Alborz — i.e. an average of 40 calls per month — are child abuse reports.

Reports indicate the rape of a young girl by her father in Tehran; a boxing coach accused of raping his teenage student; a father pouring boiling water over his 7-year-old daughter in Genaveh, Bushehr Province; and a teacher using corporal punishment on a pupil in Kazeroon, Fars Province.

Three juvenile suicides were also reported: one student in Rigan County, Kerman Province, and two teenage girls, aged 14 and 16, in the cities of Abadan and Sanandaj.

The Iranian education system allocates fewer and fewer resources to its pupils, and educational facilities across the country — particularly in rural or underprivileged areas — can be found in varying states of wear and disrepair. One pupil in Razan, Hamadan province was injured in the chest, neck, and shoulders when he was caught in falling debris of a school wall that suddenly collapsed. The Razan director of education said that he is currently stable, but will require surgery.

Elementary-school student Donya Veisi of Garmash village, Kurdistan Province, fell victim to her own school’s disrepair when one of the walls surrounding her school yard collapsed, killing her. Later — amid allegations that Donya had in fact been raped and killed — the Kurdistan Prosecutor verbally engaged to investigate the matter.

Women

The question of women’s rights at sporting events gained heightened public attention this past month when, under pressure from FIFA to permit their entry into stadiums, a select number of Iranian women (most of them family members of players and federation employees) were finally allowed to witness a kickoff in person (Iran vs. Bolivia). Authorities’ exclusive selection criteria were highly criticized.

Meanwhile, Shiraz-based activist Maryam Azad was arrested by security forces at a Tehran Airport as she was leaving the country for Turkey.

The managing director of the office of forensic medicine in Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province indicated that, of the 429 domestic violence crimes recorded in his office over the past 6 months, 404 were incidents of violence by husbands against their wives.

Additional cases of violence against women included a man’s murder of his ex-wife when he failed to meet “mehrieh” obligations [a type of alimony settlement], and the circumstances surrounding one woman’s decision to set herself on fire in Mashad.

Two women, long hounded by the judiciary for participating in a rally on International Women’s Day, were recently acquitted of their charges.

Laborers and Guilds

This past month was rythmed by strikes, sit-ins, and rallies organized by guilds and employees across sectors who demanded more secure working conditions.

Commercial Transport: This past month, truck drivers in Iran went on a nationwide strike for the third time [in 12 months]. Over the course of their 20-day strike, at least 261 striking drivers in 19 different provinces were arrested and threatened with heavy sentences, including the death penalty. Strikers’ demands did make significant headway: after years of guild activism, the High Council of Transportation Coordination approved a new freight transport measurement rate known as the tonne-kilometre (tkm) method, which was among the most pressing demands of truck drivers. Despite this partial victory, the fates of the 261 detained protesters are still unknown.

Education: Six Educator-Activists who participated in demonstrations May 10th were sentenced to 9 months in prison and 74 lashings. Also reported was the conviction of schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests. Five teachers were summoned by the Bureau of Public Places in Saqqez.

Following a call to strike by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), Iranian teachers staged sit-ins [on October 14th and 15th] to demand more liveable salaries and justice for their persecuted colleagues. Strike activity was recorded across the provinces of Kerman, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Kurdistan, Alborz, Hamadan, Fars, Zanjan, Qom, Mazandaran, Tehran, North Khorasan, Ilam, East and West Azerbaijan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Bushehr, Gilan and Hormozgan.

Merchants: Merchants went on strike against the many interconnected symptoms of Iran’s current recession, including unstable exchange rates, inflation, rising prices, and unemployment. Merchant strikes went on for two consecutive days in the cities of Karaj, Shahreza, Shahriar, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Tabriz and Sarab.

Two street vendors were reportedly beaten by municipal agents in Qazvin and Gorgan.

Health and Environment:

Five environmental activists arrested 8 months ago have been indicted with charges of “corruption on earth,” which can carry the death penalty.

Intelligence agents halted a group of environmental journalists, including Javad Heydarian, before they could board a flight to Germany for work. Their passports were confiscated.

Public concern over pollution and waste issues is ballooning, and [many citizens are critical of the government’s inaction in face of myriad threats to the public health].

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, Iranians surpass the worldwide average of daily waste production (300 grams) by a whopping 400 grams every day.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency of Miandoab (West Azerbaijan Province) announced that contamination of the Zarrinehroud River from the city’s sugar factory, coupled with poor ecological management of the river and its dam system, has caused thousands of fish to die in the river.

High levels of air pollution were reported this month in the cities of Kerman, Mahshahr, Ramshir, Rigan, and the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman.

Cultural Rights and Censorship

A number of photographers from Shiraz faced persecution for their instagram activity this month [which was cited as “improper”].

Two cultural directors from Sistan and Baluchestan province were summoned to the Intelligence office for attempting to host a peaceful community celebration.

Pending content modifications and the resolution of charges against the Home Video Entertainment Network, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned distribution of the network’s TV series “13 Shomali” (Northern 13), which previously aired on Saturdays.

Military and Law-Enforcement Power Abuses

Several citizens were killed as a result of power abuses and negligence by security forces this past month.

Police car chases, inappropriate shootings by border authorities, and authorities’ failure to warn civilians of road barriers led to 2 civilian injuries and 5 civilian deaths in Iranshahr (Sistan and Baluchestan Province), Jask (Hormozgan Province) and Azadshahr (Golestan Province) and Razavi Khorasan.

Security forces reportedly assaulted fuel vendors in Saravan (Sistan and Baluchestan Province).

More than a dozen “Kulbars” [laborers who make their living carrying goods across border areas] were wounded and killed across the country, namely in Sardasht (West Azerbaijan Province), Piranshahr (West Azarbaijan Province), Urmia (West Azerbaijan Province) Nowsud (Kermanshah Province), Marivan and Baneh (Kurdistan Province) and Ilam (Ilam province).

A prisoner in Urmia was sentenced to hand amputation, and a robbery convict was dealt 74 lashes in public in the Zeberkhan Rural District (Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province).

__________________________________________________________________________

The above-cited reports are only a few examples of dismally more widespread trends. Their mention in this overview by no means implies their significance over those incidents which went unreported, due to tight restrictions on investigative journalists on the ground.

Among available reports of human rights abuses, however, some are more oft-cited due to their sensitive nature or predominating presence in public opinion. It bears mention that all human rights abuses are worthy of the news coverage and social media activism that has come to the aid of so relatively few. Bearing in mind their roles as public opinion influencers, social media activists and human rights reporters must be wary not to underlie existing human rights abuses with unintentional discrimination in their reporting.

Motaleb Ahmadian, Political Prisoner Ailing with 22 Years to Go

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- A prisoner in his eighth year of a 30-year sentence is in urgent need of medical care.

Evin prisoner Motaleb Ahmadian, 31, suffers from orchitis [infection and inflammation of the testes]. The infection recently spread to his bladder, a close source revealed, adding that the diagnosis was confirmed during ultrasonography tests Ahmadian underwent while on transfer to Telaghani hospital. His illness requires treatments that would drain excess fluid from the infection sites; uncontrolled, an infection of this type could lead to cancer. He is currently on the prison doctor’s waiting list for a medical transfer to undergo surgery, which he must pay out of his own pocket at an estimated 20 million tomans [approximately $1,500 USD].

Ahmadian was convicted on multiple counts: Moharebeh [enmity against God] through membership in a Kurdish opposition group; illegal entry into the country while armed and supporting a military group; and aiding and abetting murder. The charges stem from armed clashes in Saghez in 2010 that resulted in the death of a policeman and a civilian.

In August 2018, Branch 1 of Kurdistan provincial criminal court sentenced Ahmadian to eight years in prison for “aiding and abetting murder” and ordered him to pay half of the murder victims’ “blood money” [a designated sum owed to the families of homicide victims]. He was given an additional year and fined 20 million tomans [approximately $1,500] USD] on assault charges. Initially ordered to serve his sentence in exile in the southern city of Minab, he was instead transferred from Sanandaj to Tehran’s Evin Prison for reasons that were not disclosed.

Ahmadian, a Baneh native, was originally arrested October 5, 2010, after which he spent 230 days in solitary confinement. On May 3, 201,6 he was transferred to Saghez Prison after another prisoner made statements linking him to a weapon that was found there. This charge held water for some time, despite the material implausibility of smuggling a weapon from Sanandaj, where Ahmadian was held, to Saghez, more than 120 miles away. He was eventually acquitted and transferred back to Sanandaj.

Further back, Ahmadian was fined 100,000 tomans [approximately $300 USD] and sentenced to a year in prison for illegal border crossings in 2008 and 2011.

Saghez, Sanandaj, and Baneh are located in the province of Kurdistan on Iran’s border with Iraq. It is home to Iran’s Kurdish minority.

Activist Maharam Kamrani Arrested in East Azerbaijan Province

Posted on: October 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Azerbaijani activist and medical doctor Maharam Kamrani was arrested Thursday, October 25th at his workplace in East Azerbaijan Province’s Ahar county.

Kamrani’s medical practice was raided by security forces who seized his computer, laptop, books, and other personal belongings. He was then sent home under tight security controls and interrogated for three hours in front of his children.

Neighbors were reportedly assaulted when they protested the presence of plainclothes and security agents around the perimeter of Kamrani’s house.

After the interrogation, Kamrani was sent to an undisclosed location. His whereabouts and the charges against him have yet to be confirmed.

Kamrani was previously arrested for taking part in street protests against the TV show “Fetileh,” believed by many to have portrayed Azerbaijanis in a derogatory light.

Arrest Surge Continues in Khuzestan Province

Posted on: October 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- In the past few days, a number of Ahwazi Arab citizens in the cities of Ahvaz, Susangerd, Shushtar, and Shadegan were arrested by security forces and transferred to undisclosed locations.

They are presumed to have been swept up in an ongoing arrest campaign initiated by authorities after the September 22nd shooting on a military parade in Ahvaz. HRANA previously published a list of 133 detainees in its recent update on this arrest sweep through Khuzestan province.

The most recent arrestees were identified as follows:

1. Anvar Ashouri, age 26, resident of Beyt-e Ashur village in Shadegan County.
2. Hussein Hamoudi (Sobhani), age 25, arrested by the intelligence office of Ahvaz on October 22nd.
3. Yahya Baravieh, arrested in Ahvaz on October 23rd.
4. Naji Salimi (Ka’abi), resident of Beyt-e Mahmood village of Shush County.
5. Yahya Salimi (Ka’abi), resident of Beyt-e Mahmood village in Shush Province.
6. Azim Shaverdi, resident of Shadegan County.
7. Ibrahim Shaverdi, age 31, resident of Shadegan County.
8. Khaled Albou Khanfar, resident of Shadegan County.
9. Ahmad Shaverdi , age 24, resident of Shadegan County.
10. Mahdi Shaverdi, age 17, resident of Shadegan County.
11. Adnan Khanafere, resident of Shadegan County.
12. Moslem Farajollah, resident of Shushtar city, married father of one, arrested on October 24th.
13. Mohammad Reza Jalali, age 26, resident of Kuye Abouzar in Susangerd County.
14. Rahim Aminpour (Heydari), resident of Goldasht in Ahvaz, arrested on October 24th.
15. Muhammad Saydavi, age 26, resident of Susangerd County, arrested on October 25th.
16. Mostafa Jalali, age 29, resident of Susangerd County, mechanic and married father of one, arrested on October 25th.
17. Mahdi Abidavi, age 25, resident of Susangerd County, arrested on October 25th.

As of the date of this report, no further information is available on these arrestees’ locations or the charges against them.

Four Activists Arrested in East Azerbaijan Province

Posted on: October 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Three Azerbaijani activists residing in Tabriz — Sajjad Afroozian, Ebrahim Ranjbar, and Sadollah Sasani — were arrested by security agents Friday, October 26th for participating in a memorial service for Gholamreza Amani. A fourth, Hakimeh Ahmadi, was arrested for undisclosed reasons in Marand.

Gholamreza Amani was a renowned Azerbaijani activist who died in a car accident along with his two brothers on October 23, 2008. Amid public suspicions around the circumstances of his death — believed by some to be a “premeditated murder” — security forces have kept an anxious eye and grip on the gatherings held in his memory.

A close source said security forces surrounded Maralan cemetery on Thursday, where Amani’s commemoration was scheduled to take place. Afroozian was among a number of activists contacted by security agents that day who threatened to detain them if they showed up.

Two of the arrested memorial attendees have been pursued by authorities in the past. Sasani was among a group of Azerbaijani activists arrested and interrogated in July 2017 during a gathering at Babak Fort. He was later released on a bail of 20 million tomans (approximately $5,000 USD). In one of his multiple run-ins with security agents and interrogators, Afroozian was violently apprehended in December 2016 in the city of Malekan and released the following February on a 50 million toman bond [approximately $12,000 USD].

Coinciding the three aforementioned arrests was the detainment of Hakimeh Ahmadi, arrested at her home in the city of Marand. Security agents reportedly roughhoused both her and husband, threatening them with a close-combat weapon. They offered no explanation for her arrest.

Ahmadi was previously arrested this past September and released on a 100 million toman bail [approximately $7,000 USD].

Afroozian, Ranjbar, Sasani, and Ahmadi have all been transferred to undisclosed locations.

Tabriz, Marand, and Malekan are located in the northeastern province of Azerbaijan, which borders the Republic of Azerbaijan and is home to Iran’s Azerbaijani minority.

Khuzestan Arrest Campaign: 133 Victims Identified, Public Demands Transparency

Posted on: October 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – HRANA has confirmed the names of 133 Ahwazi Arabs swept up in an arrest campaign, a purported search for accomplices of an armed attack on a September 22nd military parade that left 24 dead and 57 wounded.

Held in the southwestern border city of Ahvaz in observance of the Iran-Iraq war, the parade was tragically interrupted by the gunfire of four assailants who were promptly killed by authorities. Having since attributed the tragedy to ISIS, the Iranian authorities recently launched a retaliatory missile attack on an ISIS base in Iraq. Security forces, seemingly in a continued state of urgency, have continued to sequester citizens across the Khuzestan province on grounds they have yet to disclose.

With no available information on how these would-be suspects could be linked to the armed attack or to ISIS, locals wonder if arrestees are being targeted for other reasons entirely. That detained hail mostly from the cities of Ahvaz, Khorramshahr, Susangerd, and Abadan; many have had prior run-ins with authorities, several on account of their civic activism; and almost all are Ahwazi Arabs, one of Iran’s ethnic minorities.

In response to allegations that they may be using the parade attack as a pretext for purging the region of civic activism, Iranian authorities seemed to hedge.

“There are no civil or children’s rights activists among those arrested,” said Khuzestan provincial governor Gholamreza Shariati on October 22nd, without making mention of arrest numbers. “We are making concerted efforts to avoid trouble for civil and political activists, and they have not been a subject of discussion. One woman is among those detained, but we have not detained any children.”

Local activists, meanwhile, feel that their comrades have inexplicably come under a scrutiny bordering on persecution. Human rights activist Karim Dahimi cited his colleague, Susangerd civil rights activist Lamiya Hamadi, as an example: “She is not, in fact, a religious activist,” Dahimi said. “Gholamreza Shariati admitting her arrest only corroborates the fact that civil rights activists are among those detained.”

Dahimi also scoffed at the governor’s claim that only one woman had thus far been detained, countering with examples of women who were carted off shortly after their family members: Faez Afrawi, who was detained shortly after her son, is now being held in an undisclosed location, and the wife, sister, and mother of detainee Adnan Mazraia, who are also being held incommunicado.

Regarding Shariati’s claims that no children had been arrested, Dahimi said, “it ought to be noted that the entire families of the four attackers were detained on the day of the attack, including their children.”

Save for a few insinuations that some detainees have been transferred to Tehran, arrestees’ inquiring family members have been suffering in radio silence from authorities. “No one has been released since the attacks began in Khuzestan,” said Dahimi. “What’s more, we don’t know where they’re being kept, or what kind of condition they’re being kept in.”

Not long after the attack, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence announced it had taken 22 suspects into custody, broadcasting footage of blindfolded, unidentified detainees facing a wall. Now local sources estimate the number of those arrested has climbed well into the hundreds.

While arrest numbers rise and authorities play tactics close to the vest, public fears return to the possibility that security forces will coerce past offenders to “confess” to a role in the attack. In response to mounting public concern over scapegoating and discrimination, the Defenders of Human Rights Center, headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, issued the following statement on October 21st:

“[…]Although state organizations have yet to give a report on the number of detainees or the process of detention, according to the families of detainees, over 500 were arrested between September 23 and October 22 and are held in undisclosed locations. The detainees are deprived of the most basic legal rights, including the right to legal representation or the right to family visitation.

The Defenders of Human Rights Center condemns the recent arrests and any illegal action taken by the security officials and the IRGC. The Center announces that such blind arrests and security measures only result in further unrest and certainly cannot shut down the voice of the protestors. The only path to achieving peace inside Iran is through being responsive to citizens and delivering on delayed promises, as well as through combating administrative corruption, existing “red lines,” and releasing all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.”

Listed below are the identities of the 133 arrestees thus far confirmed by HRANA:

  1. Khaled Abidawi, of the Shekareh Kut-e Abdollah neighborhood
  2. Abu Shalan Saki, of Hoveyzeh
  3. Ahmad Bawi, of the Zahiriyeh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  4. Ahmad Timas, of the Shekareh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  5. Ahmad Hazbawi, of the Kut-e Abdollah neighborhood
  6. Ahmad Hamari, 29, holder of a bachelor’s degree, married, of the Mandali neighborhood of Ahvaz
  7. Ahmad Haidari, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  8. Ahmad Sawidi, of the Hujjiyeh village of Susangerd
  9. Ahmad Krushat, son of Kazim, of Ahvaz
  10. Osama TImas, 26, of the Shekareh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  11. Omid Bachari, of the Muwilhah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  12. Amir Afrawi, son of Fazel, of Albuafri village of Susangerd
  13. Jader Afrawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  14. Jasim Krushat, 45, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  15. Jafar Hazbawi, of the Kut Abdullah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  16. Jafar Abidawi, of the Goldasht neighborhood of Ahvaz
  17. Jamil Ahmadpour (al-Ha’i), of the Aziziyah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  18. Jamil Haydari, 33, of the Northern Kamplou neighborhood of the Lashkar district of Ahvaz
  19. Jamil Sylawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  20. Jawad Badawi, 26, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  21. Jawad Hashemi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  22. Hatam Sawari, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  23. Hassan Harbawi, of Susangerd
  24. Hussein Haidari, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  25. Hamdan Afrawi, son of Abbas, of the Albuafri village of Susangerd
  26. Khazal Abbas al-Tamimi (Fazeli), 30, of the Shayban village of Ahvaz
  27. Khalil Saylawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  28. Daniyal Adel Amjad, 43, married, of the Mash’ali neighborhood of Ahvaz
  29. Ramin Bechari, of the Muwilhah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  30. Riyaz Zahiri, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  31. Riyaz Shamusi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  32. Zamil Haydari, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  33. Sattar Kuti, of Hamidieh
  34. Samir Silawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  35. Sohrab Moqadam, of the Darvishiyya Kut Abdullah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  36. Seyed Jasim Rahmani (Musawi), 33, married with three children, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  37. Seyed Jalil Musawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  38. Seyed Hamud Rahmani (Musawi), of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  39. Seyed Sadeq Musawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  40. Seyed Qasim Musawi, of Ahvaz
  41. Shaker Sawari, of Ahvaz
  42. Shani Shamusi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  43. Sadeq Silawai, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  44. Adil Zahiri, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  45. Adil Afrawi, of Hamidiyeh
  46. Aref Ghazlawi, son of Hanun, of Ahvaz
  47. Aref Mughaynemi, 27, of the Hujjiyah village of Susangerd
  48. Aref Naseri, 30, son of Aydan, of Kut Abdullah, Majd Kuy, neighborhood of Ahvaz
  49. Abbas Badawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  50. Abbas Haydari, of the Shekareh district of Kut Abdullah
  51. Abbas Saki, son of Abdali Sharhan, of Howeyzeh
  52. Abbas Mughaynemi, 26, married, of the Hujjiyah village of Susangerd
  53. Abdulrahman Khasarji, 32, married, of the Kut Seyed Na’im neighborhood of Ahvaz
  54. Abdullah Siylawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  55. Adnan Sawari, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  56. Abdulrahman Haidari, 19, son of Qasim, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  57. Aziz Hamidawi, of the Muwailha neighborhood of Ahvaz
  58. Aqil Shamusi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  59. Alireza Daris, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  60. Ali Saki, son of Amruh, of Howeyzeh
  61. Ali Sawiydi, of the Hujjiyah village of Susangerd
  62. Ali Shajirat (Abu Faruq), of the Muwailha neighborhood of Ahvaz
  63. Ali Afrawi, son of Hamd, of the Albuafri village of Susangerd
  64. Ali Mansouri, of the Hamidiyah
  65. Ali Abaji, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  66. Ali Alhay (Hiyawi), of Ahvaz
  67. Ali Haydari, son of Shayi’, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  68. Ali Sawari, 23, son of Chasib, of the Aziziyah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  69. Ali Sawari, son of Ghazi, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  70. Ali Kuti, of Hamidiyeh
  71. Ali Mazbani, Nasr (Sawari), of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  72. Ali Mazraie, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  73. Issa Badawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  74. Fars Shamusi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  75. Fazel, Shamusi, of Ahvaz
  76. Sadiq Haydari, son of Jasim, 28, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  77. Farhan Shamusi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  78. Fahd Niysi, resident of Ahvaz
  79. Qasim Ka’bawi (Ka’abi), 24, of Hamidiyeh
  80. Karim Majdam Abu Mu’taz, of the Kut Abdullah neighborhood of Ahvaz
  81. Kazim Ghazlawi, son of Hanun, of Ahvaz
  82. Lami Shamusi, of Hamidiyeh
  83. Lamiya Hamadi, of Susangerd
  84. Majed Childawi, son of Sa’dun, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  85. Majed Haydari, 25, of the Northern Kamplou neighborhood of the Lashkar district of Ahvaz
  86. Majed Sawari, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  87. Maher Mas’udi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  88. Mohsen Badawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  89. Mahdi Sa’edi, of the Hamidiyeh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  90. Mohammad Sawari, son of Sabah, of the Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  91. Mohammad Amuri, 26, of Ahvaz
  92. Mohammad Mohammadi (Ahyat), 22, of Hamidiyeh
  93. Mohammad Mas’udi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  94. Mohammad Mo’men Timas, 55, of the Shekareh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  95. Mahmud Duraqi, of the Muwailha neighborhood of Ahvaz
  96. Mukhtar Mas’udi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  97. Murteza Bayt Shaykh Mohammad, son of Naser, 24, of the Hujjiyah village of Susangerd
  98. Murteza Mughaynemi, 22, of the Hujjiyah village of Susangerd
  99. Murteza Yassin, of Darvishiyya Kut Abdullah
  100. Mostafa Sawari, son of Sahi, of Shekareh Kut Abdullah
  101. Mahdi Kuti, of Hamidiyeh
  102. Mahdi Mazraie, of the Abu Hamiza neighborhood of Susangerd
  103. Musa Mazraie, of the Abu Hamiza neighborhood of Susangerd
  104. Milad Afrawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  105. Naiem Haydari, 24, of Ahvaz
  106. Nur Naysi, resident of Alawi neighborhood of Ahvaz
  107. Hadi Abidawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  108. Wali Amiri, of Kut Abdullah
  109. Yusef Khosraji, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  110. Ahmad Amin (Qays) Ghazi, writer, researcher and cultural activist, of the Mellat neighborhood of Ahvaz
  111. Khalid Siylawi, of the Mollashieh neighborhood of Ahvaz
  112. Sajjad Siylawi, of Ahvaz
  113. Seyed Sadiq Nazari (Abu Nabil), of the Al-i Safi neighborhood of Ahvaz]
  114. Ali Sawari, son of Sahi, of Kut Abdullah
  115. Fa’iz Afrawi, 30, married with one child, of the Albuafri village of Susangerd
  116. Zudiya Afrawi, 55, mother of Fa’iz Afrawi, of the Albuafri village of Susangerd
  117. Mohammad Ami Afrawi, married, of the Albuafri village of Susangerd
  118. Qaysiyya Afrawi, mother of Mohammad Amin Afrawi, 60, of the Albuafri village of Susangerd
  119. Adnan Mazraie, of Susangerd
  120. Wife of Adnan Mazra’i, of Susangerd
  121. Sister of Adnan Mazra’i, of Susangerd
  122. Mother of Adnan Mazra’i, of Susangerd
  123. Jalal Nabhani, of the Ameri neighborhood of Ahvaz
  124. Khalid Hazbawi, 40, of the Kut Abdullah, Majd Kuy, neighborhood of Ahvaz
  125. Mohammad Hazbawi, son of Abdulkarim, 30, of the Kut Abdullah, Majd Kuy, neighborhood of Ahvaz
  126. Reza Bitrani, 34, of the Kut Abdullah, Majd Kuy, neighborhood of Ahvaz
  127. Tariq Amiri, 24, of Kut Abdullah
  128. Jamal Mujdam, 35, of Kut Abdullah
  129. Hussein Subhani, 28 of the Khashayar neighborhood of Ahvaz
  130. Rashid Krushat, son of Haj Musa, of Ahvaz
  131. Hakim Krushat, son of Mannan, of Ahvaz
  132. Ali Mughaynimi, son of Saddam, of Susangerd
  133. Jawad Mahnapour (Afrawi), of the Albuafri village of Susangerd

Open Letter: Kurdish Citizen Fears for Imprisoned Brother’s Life

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On August 7th, Iranian state-sponsored television broadcast footage of what appeared to be a confession: two prisoners can be heard owning up to their part in an armed attack on the military base of Saqqez. One of these two men, Houshmand Alipour, is the subject of an open letter written by his brother Hejar, who sees this footage as a sham excuse to end his brother’s life.

Hejar has written in his brother’s defense before, asking human rights organizations in a recent open letter to address Iranian authorities’ restrictions on Alipour and his co-defendant’s visitations, extra-prison communications, and access to legal defense. Alipour, a Sardasht native, was detained August 3rd of this year alongside the prisoner seen beside him in the video, Mohammad Ostadghader. On charges of membership in Kurdish opposition parties, he has been confined to the Sanandaj Intelligence Office in circumstances increasingly dire.

A close source stated earlier this month that Alipour was being bounced between interrogation, intelligence detention, and Saqqez prosecution court, without the presence of a defense attorney and to the great confusion of his family. HRANA previously reported on authorities’ hindrance of Alipour’s defense proceedings as his October 4th investigation date drew near, only to be postponed.

In a prior statement, Amnesty International expressed concerns about Alipour and Ostadghader’s detention, particularly over their purported confession tapes. “The pair were held in an unknown location without access to their families or lawyers […],” the statement read. “The nature of the accusations against them and their forced televised ‘confessions’ may be a precursor to charges that incur the death penalty.”

Amnesty also detailed the plight of Ostadghader, who — as of the date of their statement — was denied medical since sustaining a gunshot wound at the time of his arrest.

The full text of Hejar’s second plea for his brother is below, translated into English by HRANA:

“Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader have thus far spent around three months in custody of the Islamic Republic. They are subjected to a variety of physical and psychological tortures. Their lives are at stake. Houshmand is a man 25 years young whose life is being squandered by the oppression of the Islamic Republic and its abuses of our family.

I want to narrate a part of Houshmand’s life here, for everyone to read. Houshmand was born in November of 1993 in Sardasht. He has a twin sister. He was born to a big family. Although there were ten of us children, our parents worked hard to make sure we wanted for nothing. Our father worked day and night, in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, all to provide for us.

The family Houshmand was born into is no stranger to oppression and injustice. Our father, Mostafa Allipour, is one of the better-known activists of the Sardasht region. Advocating to free the people and to better their lives bought him persecution from the Islamic Republic, which trailed him through the years with prison time and fines. My father always said, “Because we wanted fortune for all, much misfortune befell us [….]. The regime gave our family no respite.” Our mother, Ameneh Mowludian, bears the sufferings of the continued threats and pressures imposed on our family by the Islamic Republic. Our paternal uncle, Hossein Alipour, was executed in 1983 by the Islamic Republic. Our father’s paternal uncle Molla Ali Bijavi was executed in 1985 by Islamic Republic operatives, and the mercenaries of the Baʿthist regime in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Bearing witness to the insults and disdain that the government has always borne towards his family, Houshmand was haunted by anger and hatred. No matter how how hard he tried, he could never find peace.

In 2009, when he was only sixteen, he was arrested during a celebratory feast in Sardasht. Of his arrest, he said:

“Officers of the Islamic Republic attacked us with tear gas, batons, and pepper spray. I fell to the ground where they beat me and placed me under arrest. In their car, they tied my hands behind my back, blindfolded me, and transported me to the Intelligence Office. There they beat me savagely, insulted me, and spit obscenities at me. During the beatings and while I was blindfolded, they took my fingerprint as a ‘signature’ on documents, the contents of which I was wholly unaware. They forcibly extracted confessions in there.”

Houshmand is sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and 75 lashes. As a minor he spent time in the Juvenile detention center of Urmia before being transferred to the Juvenile Ward (1A). This is where he passed the days of his sentence and endured floggings.

After his release from prison, Houshmand Alipour was repeatedly summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence in connection to his family members’ politics. He eventually decided to flee to Iraq. He spent about four years in Iraqi Kurdistan, and even participated in the Kurdish war against ISIS, and incurred a few injuries in the process. A while later, following in the footsteps of his family members, he travelled to Turkey to seek asylum. His case file was registered at the UN Refugee office in Turkey. Upon his return to Iraq, where he went about working […] in the city of Baneh, Iranian Kurdistan, he was arrested alongside Mohammad Ostadghader.

The Islamic Republic pummeled and stifled the dreams of a young man, and we cannot stand by as they try to take his life. For this reason, I entreat all freedom-lovers and human rights organizations to do all in their power to rise up and save Houshmand’s life, to bring him back into the loving arms of his parents, sisters, and brothers.

Hejar Alipour,
20 October 2018”

Another Ahwazi Arab Citizen Arrested

Posted on: October 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) –On Friday, October 19th, local Intelligence agents arrested Ahwazi Arab citizen Qais Ghazi, 33, transferring him to an undisclosed location.

Describing Ghazi as an advocate for peaceful methods of protest, an informed source speculated to HRANA that he was being arrested under a flimsy guise of counterterrorism that authorities have used liberally since the September 22nd attack on an Ahvaz military parade.

“It seems that after arresting hundreds of Ahwazi Arab activists, the security apparatus is now targeting independent civil rights activists,” the source said. “This is despite the government’s announcement that Daesh [ISIS] claimed responsibility for the [parade attack]. They are using it as an excuse to crack down on Ahwazi Arab civil and cultural activists and intellectuals.”

At the time of this report, no further information was available on Ghazi’s whereabouts or the reasons behind his arrest.

On October 17, 2018, for reasons unknown, Ahwazi Arab citizens Sajjad Silavi and Seyed Sadegh Nazari were also arrested by intelligence agents before being transferred to an undisclosed location.

Since the Ahvaz parade tragedy, dozens of Ahwazi Arab citizens across Khuzestan province have been arrested and transferred to unknown locations. In recent reports, HRANA has covered the steady stream of arrests being reported by locals in the region.

Despite the urgency to hold the assailants accountable for wounding and killing civilians, including women and children, Iran’s security establishment is marred by a history of questionable investigative methods, raising public concern that innocent scapegoats may be subject to torturous interrogations and impugned for the attacks.

Ahvaz is the capital of Khuzestan province, located in Iran’s southwest.