Longtime Political Prisoner Eulogizes Fallen Moradis: “Their slippers are still outside their cells”

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- For 10 years, Saeed Massouri, Iran’s oldest political prisoner, was detained in Rajai Shahr with Loghman and Zanyar Moradi, who were executed along with Ramin Hossein Panahi on September 8th, 2018 (1). In response to their hangings, Massouri has written a letter entitled “The Circle of Love and Rebellion.”

The full text of his letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

The Circle of Love and Rebellion

In prison, your cellmate and ward mates become your family. They are the one we depend on the most; they are the ones with whom we share the moments, the hours, and the many details of our lives. When I speak of three children, three friends, three brothers like Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin — especially Loghman and Zanyar, with whom I shared a ward for 10 years — I can barely stand the sound of my own breathing. I shared in their joy and sorrow, their court sessions and solitary confinement, their stress and anxiety, their deprivation and crisis, in each and every condition imposed on us by prison life. In their absence, the prison air is stifling and heavy.

I no longer hear the sound of Zanyar’s laugh; I no longer hear the passing jokes of Loghman as he comes down the hallway. Night falls, and I can no longer visit their cells and graze from their plates. My God… their slippers are still outside their cells, but they will never be back… to think of it all, I feel as though I were the one who’s been buried.

How I wish I could rip from my chest this heavy heart, so weighed down by forty years of injustice and oppression. I wish that by crying I could drain my own veins, tear by tear, and find solace. I wish I could show the whole world what they’re doing, taking our best, most precious youth and slaughtering them, watching their bodies swing from the noose with blank, demonic stares. Then they call the killings an exercise of their authority, ranting against an offensive, threatening that if they are hit once, they will strike back tenfold. Such is their formula for dealing with the populace: when the people, exasperated at the plunder of society, stage peaceful strikes or protests, rulers deem it a “hit” and hit back by killing ten prisoners. They hang them to avenge by terror, laying accusations of “criminal” and “mercenary” upon the dead. Our people know who our children are, despite it all, by the music of their hearts.

In truth, if these three young men, and men and women like them, were not here to pierce through the darkness by offering the light of their lives, the curse of oppression and injustice would be eternal. If it weren’t for their sacrifice, then we would have no recourse but to seek freedom, justice, and human rights beneath the cloaks of mullahs, the likes of Khatami (former President) and Rouhani (current President), and our defeat would be written.

This wretched, oblivious, and eternally delusional class don’t realize that the black-and-blue circles on the necks of the fallen are circles of love, an offering from the dead to the living. They are not unlike the crown of thorns that Jesus wore.

That same vivid contusion will be the axis of concentric rings of revolt and rebellion, waged by freedom fighters against all forms of injustice and oppression.

Saeed Massouri
September 12th, 2018 / Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison, Karaj

***********

Saeed Massouri was born in 1965. After studying in Norway, he was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in the city of Dezful (province of Khuzestan, southwestern Iran) upon returning to Iran in 2001. He spent 14 months in an Intelligence Office solitary cell in Ahwaz (capital of Khuzestan province) before being transferred to section 209 of Evin Prison. He was sentenced to death in 2002, but in an appeals court his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He is currently serving the 18th year of his sentence in the political prisoners’ ward of Rajai Shahr.

Iran: Update on Strike Arestees in Kurdistan

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Iranian authorities continue to detain members of the country’s Kurdish minority, in mounting tensions sparked by the September 8th execution of Kurdish political prisoners Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi.

Since September 11th, seventeen civil and political activists have been arrested by security forces in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj, Marivan, Oshnavieh, Sardasht, and Ravansar. At least twelve were released on bail in the past 24 hours, while the whereabouts or statuses of the others remain unknown.

Earlier this week, Kurdish activists and political parties rallied on social media for a general strike in response to the untimely deaths of Moradi, Moradi, and Panahi, who were hanged to death in dubious circumstances on September 8th, according to HRANA reports.

Security attentions have since zeroed in on Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan since merchants of these provinces went on strike to protest the young men’s hangings, protests which are being met by civic arrests and spray-painted threats onto the merchant’s shuttered shops.

The omnipresence of security forces in various Kurdish cities, particularly in the wake of the executions and IRGC’s recent missile attack on Kurdish political parties, has contributed to a growing sense of insecurity for Iranian Kurds.

There is still no update on the whereabouts of Jafar Rasoulpour, who was arrested on September 11th in Sardasht, West Azerbaijan Province, nor on Bagher Safari, age 60, who was taken away on Wednesday September 11th by security forces in Ravansar, Kermanshah.

Khaled Hosseini, Mozafar Salehania, and Mokhtar Zarei, who were arrested by security forces in Sanandaj and transferred to the Central Prison of this city on Tuesday and Wednesday, have reportedly been released on bail. Suran Daneshvar and Aram Fathi, two other activists arrested on Tuesday in Marivan, have been transferred to the detention center of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Eight other Marivan arrestees have since been released on bail: Moslem Bahrami, Mohammad Azkat, Dalir Roshan, Ahmad Tabireh, Nishervan Rezaei, Nooshirvan Khoshnazar, Aram Amani and Ahsan Partovi.

Oshnavieh resident Rashid Naserzadeh was also detained on Tuesday, and released on bail a few hours later.

On September 13th, HRANA reported on the arrest of 13 civil activists in the Iranian Kurdish cities of Marivan, Oshnavieh, Sardasht, and Ravansar in connection to the merchant strikes. That day, Soraya Khadri, a civil activist from Sanandaj and a member of Kurdistan’s Rojyar Charity Foundation, was arrested by security forces and transferred to an unknown location. Though the reason for her arrest has yet to be confirmed, it is suspected to be tied to the strike crackdown.

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were put on death row after Iranian authorities accused them of murdering the son of a Friday prayer leader in Marivan, a charge they have always denied. Censured by human rights organizations from the outset for its shoddy documentation and lack of evidence, the Moradi’s case was still incomplete at the time they were put to death.

The Moradis wrote an open letter, published in May 2017, detailing their ordeal along with case facts they alleged were constructed by the Ministry of Intelligence. The letter also described torture they experienced at the hands of authorities.

Ramin Hossein Panahi, the third executed Kurd, was tried and sentenced to death by Branch One of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj on a charge of “acting against national security by violating the rights of others” on January 16, 2018. His sentence was upheld in mid-April by the Supreme Court before being forwarded to the Execution of Sentences Unit.

Eventually, these three Kurdish political prisoners were executed on the morning of Saturday, September 8th, after having been transferred to solitary confinement in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison.

Zahedan Prisoner Hanged on Drug and Weapons Charges

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Arafi Reigi, a 32-year-old prisoner of Zahedan’s Ward 5, was hanged to death early this morning, September 15, 2018.

Reigi had been in prison for six years on charges of drug trafficking and armed clashes, and had always denied the latter charge. According to a confidential source, Reigi was summoned September 12th for a purported transfer to a Ministry of Intelligence detention center. “Instead,” said the source, “he was taken to solitary confinement to await execution.”

Amnesty International annual reports indicate that Iran has the highest rate of execution in the world per capita. The HRANA Statistics Center reported that between March 21, 2017 and March 18, 2018, at least 322 persons have been executed and 236 have received the death penalty in Iran. Among those executed, there were 4 juvenile offenders—under 18 years of age at the time of the offense—and 23 executions carried out in public. More than sixty percent of Iran’s executions are not publicized, and are considered “secret” executions.

Letter from Afshin Hossein Panahi Honors Executed Brother, Supporters

Posted on: September 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Following the execution of his brother Ramin, political prisoner Afshin Hossein Panahi has expressed his gratitude and solidarity in the form of a letter, addressed to an international community which continues to champion the memory and cause of his late sibling.

At an undisclosed location in Tehran province on September 8th, Ramin Hossein Panahi was hanged to death alongside Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, without notice to their respective families or lawyers, and pursuant to a legal process on which human rights organizations had already cried foul.

Once the brothers were hanged to death, their families received threatening messages from the Ministry of Intelligence and were refused the right to inter their bodies.

In the wake of these executions, residents and merchants of several Iranian cities where Iran’s Kurdish population is highest– particularly in the provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan –went on a general strike. In response, civil activists in the cities of Sanandaj, Marivan (Kurdistan), Oshnoviyeh, Sardasht (West Azerbaijan), and Ravansar (Kermanshah) have been taken into custody.

Seven political detainees at Evin Prison, including Atena Daemi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and Golrokh Iraee, have written letters to express their condolence to the families of Moradi, Moradi, and Panahi.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet responded to the executions in the following statement: “I deeply deplore the executions last week of three Iranian Kurdish prisoners despite the serious concerns raised by Special Procedures mandate holders that they were not afforded fair trials, and were subjected to torture.”

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, has also condemned these executions.

The full text of Afshin Hossein Panahi’s letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

A whisper echoes through the iron labyrinth
It sings, “endure! dawn is upon us!”

To the dear civil rights activists, and political parties and groups both inside and outside Iran,

I am thankful and grateful for your unfaltering efforts and support over the past year in trying to stay the execution of my innocent yet audacious brother.

I have a heavy heart and tearful eyes in my grief over the loss of Ramin, who died with dignity. He was proud to fight for the freedom of those who would *later rise in [his] defense and honor, those who have peacefully troubled the foundation of despotism.

Fettered in prison, I am no free man. Notwithstanding my innocence, and my faith in the righteousness of the freedom march, I suffer pains common to all Iranian civil and political activists, and my demands have become one with theirs. I demand my rights be realized, and I will not rest or falter until they are restored. I am infinitely thankful to those comrades who strive to raise the voice of Iran’s political hostages.
Let it be known that the strength of our pact and the spirit of our fight will prevail.

Afshin Hossein Panahi,
Sanandaj Central Prison

* Referring to the general strike in Kurdish areas of Iran

*************************

Afshin Hossein Panahi is a political activist who was arrested on June 26th, 2017 in his home. He was sentenced to eight and half years in prison by judge Saeedi of Branch one of Sanandaj Revolutionary Court on charges of “disseminating propaganda against the regime” and “collaboration with a Kurdish opposition group through participation in a Nowruz ceremony.” This sentence was upheld in appeals court. He was also arrested in 2011 for inquiring into the suspicious death of another one of his brothers, Ashraf Hossein Panahi. In that case, he was sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime.”

Tensions Mount over Unlawful Execution of Three Kurdish Political Prisoners

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Shock, sorrow, and censure over the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi continue to pour in from both international institutions and Iranian citizens in-country, further straining relations between Iranian authorities and the human rights activist community at large.

A number of Kurdish opposition groups have sounded the call to strike to Kurdish regions of Iran, inviting fellow Kurds to protest their comrades’ executions.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated, “I deeply deplore the executions last week of three Iranian Kurdish prisoners despite the serious concerns raised by Special Procedures mandate holders that they were not afforded fair trials, and were subjected to torture.” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, has also condemned these executions.

Imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi was among a number of imprisoned civil rights activists publishing separate letters expressing sorrow and outrage over the men’s deaths. Golrokh Iraee and Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, two more imprisoned activists, wrote and published their own messages of protest and sympathy, with Sotoudeh likening their executions to the *political massacres of 1988.

Some of these letters have reportedly incited blowback from prison authorities, who have subjected Daemi and Iraee to repeated non-routine body searches after their letters were published. When these women inquired about the reason for the searches, they learned the order for frisking had been issued by the Prison’s Director. A Prosecutor Assistant has since promised to investigate.

Excerpts from the letters of Sotoudeh and Iraee, translated into English by HRANA, are below.

Nasrin Sotoudeh:

“The judicial system has executed three Kurdish compatriots. Our Kurdish compatriots have been plagued by oppression for decades. The verdict and sentences of the Revolutionary Court, condemning these three compatriots to die, was the product of an unlawful process that runs counter to Human Rights principles and the laws of the Islamic Republic. In at least one of these trials, had due process been respected, the defendant may very well have been acquitted.

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were on hunger strike when they were hanged, another testament to the inherent brutality of the judicial system, who itself is supposed to protect us from violence.

I extend my condolences to our Kurdish compatriots, who have had a steadfast, crucial presence in the cultural promotion of Iran; to all Iranians; and, in particular, to the families of Moradi, Moradi, and Panahi. I hope that in heeding the diverse manifestations of Iran’s judicial violence, the urgent need to renounce all forms of it will become clear.”

Golrokh Iraee

“[Their death] invites the wrath of Kurdistan’s Children […] Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi, freedom fighters, Kurdistan’s immortal resistance, teachers of patience and persistence, have left behind a lesson in determination. They were hanged while on hunger strike, in protest of their mistreatment at the hands of authorities; they stood up to the monsters of despotism and reactionarism.

They unmasked those traitors who call themselves statesmen and rulers. Let it be known that the time for lip service has passed. To hold them accountable, we must act.”

****

After being hanged to death in an undisclosed location in Tehran on September 8th without notice to their lawyers, the bodies of the Moradis and Hossein Panahi were *confiscated by the Iranian authorities. The Ministry of Intelligence has since threatened the men’s surviving family members.

Ahmad Amouee, journalist and former prisoner of conscience, published an account of the Moradi and Moradi families’ visit to Tehran’s main cemetery, Behesht-e Zahra, where officials had summoned them to bid farewell to their sons’ bodies. Their final resting place remains unknown.

* In the summer of 1988, on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time, thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners were executed after inquisition-style interrogation sessions. Almost all of these prisoners had already been tried and were either serving their sentence or, having completed their sentence, were awaiting release. All were buried in unmarked, often secret, mass graves.

Prisoner of Conscience Atena Daemi Rebukes Authorities, Eulogizes Executed Kurds

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – From the walls of Evin Prison, detained civil rights activist Atena Daemi has written a letter in response to the executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi, three Iranian Kurdish political prisoners who were hanged to death in secret on Saturday, September 8th.

The executions of the Moradis and Panahi drew outrcry from human rights institutions internationally. The attorneys representing them called their convictions and executions — the latter which took place without the mandatory notice to, or presence of, their lawyers — legally ambiguous under both Iranian and international law. Caught unawares, none of the families were present during their sons’ final moments, as the executions were carried out at an undisclosed location in Tehran. The Ministry of Intelligence has since issued detention threats to the family members of the deceased men.

Condemning Iranian authorities for their treatment of the three men, and extending her condolences to their families, Atena Daemi’s letter joins the many voices of outrage over the course of the young mens’ fate. Daemi, imprisoned since 2014, is serving a seven-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” and “insulting the supreme leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] as well as the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.”

The text of Atena Daemi’s eulogy, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

They killed our loved ones, and claim with pride that in doing so they have administered justice.

The “justice” they refer to is not the one represented by Lady Justice holding a fair and balanced scale. It is instead a man — a man with a turban on his head [a cleric], whose forehead bears the mark of the clay which grazes his head during prayers. He is blindfolded, not as a sign of impartiality, but of blindness to the truth. In one hand is a rosary. In the other, a scale suspended by a noose.

These scales are so unbalanced that one tray is a speck in the heavens, while the other is laden with dead bodies dragging it deep into the ground. This “justice” they invoke has been neither seen nor heard in *40 years.

In this troubled time – a time of economic turbulence, poverty, and unemployment – what problem was solved by murdering these three beloved men? Has their killing soothed any of the ailments suffered by the Iranian people?

Your majesties– where is this mania taking you? By deceit and without warning, you led our loved ones to the killing fields. Even in the short lives granted them, you wouldn’t offer them peace. While they were still **hungry and thirsty, you cut their lives short. How it must have incensed you to your core to never see them falter. As you, dry-eyed, pitied them in their walk to the gallows to die for the ideals, their heads were held high, their steps steady…

How insolently you watch our loved ones draw their last breaths! It must burn you to hold them hostage from their families and brand them as terrorists, only to see them rise as steadfast symbols of democracy for the rest of us. For nine years, they showed friendship to inmates of different creeds and beliefs; they were endeared to their fellow prisoners, loved by us, and cherished by the Iranian people.

Before the start of religious months of Moharram and Safar(1) each year, you prepare yourself for mourning with a savage display. Drunk and armed with handguns, you launch into a monologue about Imam Hussein, who, lips dry from thirst, was beheaded by Yazid. What a repugnant contradiction–what abhorrent hypocrisy! You mirror Yazid’s troops, and for the past 40 years, you have tightened ropes around resolute throats, pulled the stool from beneath the feet of persistent and patient youth. You instigate sectarian war between Sunni and Shiites. Then, your pockets brimming with billions, you pretend to be mourning Hussain.

I am sure that you know your savage acts only dig you deeper into public contempt. Your path is one of self-annihilation. Today, you only dug your graves deeper. You did not kill Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin. You have only endeared them in our hearts, inspiring the world into mourning the true martyrs of our time.

You have tarnished Iran’s standing and dignity in the world. They see us as a terrorist country for the cutthroat, blood-thirsty, and rapacious actions of a select and powerful few. How long and how far will you continue on this road? Dream on about imposing war on your people: they will rise to the challenge again and again. Stop your killing machine. Lift your lead boots from the throats of Iran and Kurdistan.

How tightly you cling to your towering throne, oblivious to the fact that you could tumble from your high horses at any moment to the miry earth below. Throughout history, many who rode high thought of themselves as invincible, only to take refuge in sewage tunnels, where they were tracked down and punished for their crimes.

Iran is a pile of live embers cloaked in a thin layer of ash. Lest your actions arouse the flames that lie beneath.

We congratulate the steadfast families of these martyrs.

Atena Daemi – Evin Prison Women Ward
September 8th, 2018

(1) Months in the Islamic lunar calendar commemorated by Shiite Muslims in mourning of Imam Hussein, the 3rd Shiite Imam, who was killed in battle against Yazid (Imam Hussain has come to symbolize the force of Good while Yazid stands for Evil).

* The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded after the Iranian Revolution approximately 40 years ago
** Zanyar and Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein Panahi were all reportedly on hunger strike before they were executed.

Prisoner Hanged to Death Without Warning

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Kamal Ahmadnejad, a prisoner held on death row in Miandoab Prison in northwestern Iran, was precipitously executed in the early morning of Monday, September 10th, 2018.

Prison authorities carried out the execution without informing his family or granting them a final visit. Ahmadnejad, originally from Gamishgoli village near Miandoab, was abruptly transferred to Ward 2 of Miandoab Prison two weeks ago.

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Kurdistan reported that Ahmadnejad was executed in face of lingering questions about the coherence of his case. Arrested along with five others in December of 2015, he was the only defendant in the case to be sentenced to death. His co-defendants Halmat Abdullahi, Milad Abdi, Saeid Siahi, Soleyman Kori, and Mostafa Tahazadeh were each sentenced to fifteen years in prison, according to Maf News, an affiliate of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Kurdistan.

The six were charged with killing Hashem Zeinali, former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as “membership in a Kurdish opposition party.” Ahmadnejad’s family has alleged that he was forced to confess under the duress of torture.

According to their families, some of the defendants were not at the scene of the crime when the murder allegedly occurred, a discrepancy they said was raised during court proceedings.

The six were originally convicted on September 18, 2016.

Violence against Executed Kurdish Political Prisoners Follows them to the Grave, Continue to Haunt their Families

Posted on: September 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – “Loghman’s mother has scratched at her own face so much that she has claw marks across her cheeks,” writes former political prisoner Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, documenting a family’s anguish over the sudden loss of their son Loghman Moradi, who was executed without trial, or any official warning, on Saturday, September 8th. “Her daughter is helping her to stand, and together they are wailing.”

Amouee, a journalist and former political prisoner, writes as a witness to the tightly-controlled visits to the grave sites of Zanyar and Loghman Moradi in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, where their families were permitted to say final goodbyes on the condition that they refrain from screaming, wailing, or taking any pictures or video.

Pursuant to a dubious legal proceeding that drew outrage from human rights organizations across the world, both Moradi cousins, along with their co-defendant Ramin Hossein Panahi, were hanged to death in an undisclosed location in Tehran Province on Saturday.

Ramin’s brother Amjad reported to HRANA that the victims’ respective families have been threatened with detention by the Ministry of Intelligence. Ramin’s remains will not be handed over to his family for burial, Amjad said, but will instead meet the same fate as that of the Moradis, and of many political prisoners before them: interment by the government in secret location.

In an open letter, Atena Daemi and six other civil activists imprisoned at Evin have expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

Bahman Ahmadi Amouee wrote a report, excerpted above, from his observations of the victims’ grieving families during their final visitation to their graves. The text of Amouee’s letter, sourced from his website, is below, translated to English by HRANA:

“Loghman’s mother has scratched at her own face so much that she has claw marks across her cheeks. Her daughter is helping her to stand, and they are both wailing. She is engulfed in sorrow. I’m in disbelief that this broken girl is Loghman’s little sister. Across the way, her surviving brother hangs his head. They arrived only this morning from Marivan. The family, along with their attorneys, have been treading from room to room in the prosecutor’s office. As if they still cannot believe the news of Loghman and Zanyar’s execution, they say, ‘we won’t believe it until we see the bodies.’ If lore on such matters again proves true, there will be no viewing of the bodies, nor any information released about their burial site. And yet, hope lingers.

At 11 a.m., the family’s attorney Saleh Nikbakht announces that authorities have granted permission for the families to view the bodies in the preparation washroom of the mortuary. I hasten to make my way there. It appears I was faster than everyone else. It is noon, and a few other families are circulating, waiting for their own loved ones’ burials. Sounds of tears and lamentations fill the air. Every few minutes, an intercom pronounces the name of one of the bodies, requesting the family to come forward to identify it.

I asked myself if Zanyar and Loghman would be announced this way. Never would I have imagined coming to find them in a place like this. For two and a half years, we were together day and night. I remember Loghman’s laugh, his wide grin. He was a few years older than Zanyar, and more protective of him than a brother. Each time he would spread out the table cloth for meals, he would call out, ‘Dear Zanyar, come! Let us eat!’

I went to the census bureau of Behesht-e Zahra to see what I could find out. The person behind the computer told me their names weren’t in the system at all. They didn’t figure on the list of those buried in previous days, either. We’re being given the run-around once again, I thought. Distraught, Zanyar’s brother Diyar said, “we got a call from a blocked number–they said we need to go to Behesht-e Zahra.” Loghman and Zanyar’s cellmates are there, too. Everyone we ask says something different. Nikbakht goes into a room. After a few minutes, Diyar goes after him. Four security officers held a meeting with a handful of Behesht-e Zahra administrators; an hour passed. Finally they came out with the news: Zanyar and Loghman’s family members were granted permission to visit their bodies, on the condition that they do not take any pictures or recordings. Oh, and they weren’t going to be allowed to scream or wail when they got there, either.”

Hours go by; Behesht-e Zahra is now closed, all of its employees gone. The large mortuary washroom is so hollow that the slightest sound I’d make would reverberate across the room. I feel empty. I am sitting in a corner, waiting with Zanyar and Loghman’s former cellmates. For a moment, a thought crosses my mind; and if we’re being strung along again…? Loghman’s mother bursts outside, and playing herself on the ground beneath the burning sun. She is cold and racked with trembling, asking over and over to see her dead son.

They summon the immediate family members. We flood through a door. They stop us from advancing further. The windows are cloaked over with banners and cloth.

The families have been standing, choked, over the shrouded bodies of Loghman and Zanyar for half of an hour now. Loghman’s mother was finally able to see her son, covered in a burial cloth. But Zanyar’s mother is not here to do the same. His aunt, uncle, and brother go to see him instead.

A man dressed in a blue suit, his shirt buttoned up to the neck, is ordering people around the room; it seems he’s their boss. Saleh Nikbakht tells him, ‘since they have not been buried yet, won’t you allow us to take them to Loghman’s ancestral village, 25 miles from Marivan? The family has a hard time traveling to Tehran. We ask you to think of them as well.’

The man responds, ‘I have to take it up with the prosecutor. For now, they will stay in the morgue for a few days. If he approves your request, they will be transferred to the location you ask. If not, we will bury them here in Behesht-e Zahra and tell you the location of their grave.’ Wailing and crying burst forth again. The family exits. The summer sun sears into us, and the sounds of crying do not let up. The shrouded bodies are loaded into a pickup truck and taken away. Osman, Loghman’s father, looks defeated. His thin frame is even more haggard than before. He says through sobs, ‘What hurts is that I couldn’t do anything for them.’ Those who had so far been holding back tears are now bawling. Loghman’s sister is clawing at her own face now, howling out tears along with their mother. Their laments shift into Kurdish; all I can understand are the boys’ names.”

Outcry against Secret Executions of Zanyar & Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein Panahi

Posted on: September 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Three Kurdish political prisoners now lay buried in an undisclosed location after being executed in secret on September 8th on murder charges never proven in Tehran criminal court, sparking outrage from their families, attorneys, and the human rights community at large.

Without notifying their lawyers or loved ones, prison authorities hanged to death Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi, contravening [both Iranian and international law] by seizing and interring their bodies in a location yet unknown to their families, who were put on guard by the Ministry of Intelligence not to speak up about the incident. Hossein Panahi’s brother Amjad confirmed this to HRANA.

While initial reports by Iranian official sources indicated the executions took place in Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison in Karaj–the capital of Alborz province about 30 miles west of Tehran, where Hossein Panahi and the Moradis were last known to be held–the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office recently indicated in a statement that they were executed “in Tehran,” accusing the deceased men of violent crimes while withholding further details about their deaths or remains.

Hossein Panahi’s lawyer Hossein Ahmadiniaz stated that the execution of the three young men was not only abrupt– it was also unlawful on several counts.

“Based on an amendment to section 478 of Criminal Procedure Law, once a request for retrial has been submitted on behalf of defendants charged with offenses punishable by death, the execution of the sentence must be stayed. Moreover, once a request for clemency is registered with the Clemency & Forgiveness Commission, the execution must be immediately stayed.”

According to Ahmadiniaz, the transfer of the prisoners from Sanandaj [300 miles west of Tehran] to Karaj [on the western outskirts of Tehran], preventing Hossein Panahi’s legal team from conferencing with him, was enough in itself to establish authorities’ disregard of the law. Ahmadiniaz’s statements are backed by Saleh Nikbakht, the lawyer representing Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, who has published documents (pictured) demonstrating that the judiciary’s investigation into his client’s murder charges was far from complete.

Ahmadiniaz went on, “As Ramin’s Hossein Panahi’s legal team, we declare his innocence, and the unlawful and irreligious nature of the verdict and sentence against him […]. Panahi was subjected to an unfair procedure devoid of due process. He was the victim of a political trial. My heart goes out to Hossein Panahi’s family, and I offer them my condolences. I consider the execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi a firebrand of hatred and calamity, and condemn it in the strongest sense of the word.”

The families of Panahi and the Moradis had been abruptly called in for a visit with their imprisoned loved ones on September 7th, raising the specter of their imminent execution. That night, Nikbakht explains, he went to [Rajai Shahr Prison] where he stood guard from midnight to 6 a.m. alongside Loghman’s father, a number of other Moradi family members, and group of civil activists.

“The agents there first told us that [the prisoners] had been handed to Ministry of Intelligence authorities, and gave us no further information about their fate,” Ahmadiniaz related to HRANA. “We followed up on their indications by heading to the Alborz Intelligence Office, where we were told over an intercom that the Moradis were not there, and that we should go back to [Rajai Shahr]. Finally, a prison official emerged at around 4:30 a.m. to say that the prison isn’t the sentence executioner, and that they were unaware of the prisoners’ whereabouts as of their transfer to the Intelligence Ministry. With confidence, he told us that the execution had not taken place in that prison.”

Nikbakht also bemoaned misinformation being disseminated about his clients’ ordeal. “A news agency announced today [Saturday, September 8th] at 2:51 p.m. that these executions were carried out in the presence of the lawyers. This claim, at least in case of [the Moradis], is fundamentally false. I am their lawyer[…] and neither their families nor I had any knowledge of how or where the execution took place.”

An excerpt of Nikbakht’s defense statement, translated into English by HRANA, is below.

My clients had two cases–one on a charge of Moharebeh (enmity against God), for which a death sentence was handed down and confirmed [by the Supreme Court]. Their lawyer in this case was from Marivan [of Kurdistan Province in western Iran]. The second case involved the assassination of three Salafis in Marivan, which was being investigated in Branch 4 of Tehran Criminal Court. I took over the case in March 2013. In the first day of trial on July 23rd, 2014, I raised objections to the claim that my clients were responsible for the three murders in question. Some of my objections were as follows:

· Lack of a report detailing reconstruction of the crime scene
· Lack of evidence of their involvement in the murder
· Lack of a murder weapon
· Lack of efforts on the part of authorities to locate the murder weapon

In my clients’ case file, they were quoted as saying that they disposed of the murder weapon in Marivan lake. This section of the lake in question is 2 to 5 meters deep, a depth at which even a cursory search would have recovered the murder weapon. The only evidence against my clients was their confession. The defendants have protested the veracity of this confession. Specifically, after they were transferred from solitary confinement in Sanandaj and Evin prisons to Rajai Shahr’s [general ward], they wrote a detailed letter to the Head of the Judiciary explaining how their confessions had been extracted. There was no evidence to prove they had committed the murder. Branch 4 of Tehran Criminal Court (Previously Branch 74) sent the case to Branch 27 of Tehran Criminal Investigation, which, in turn, sent the case to Marivan Court, who were to complete the investigation. Following a few back and forths, I was told that neither new evidence nor the murder weapon had been found, and that they ultimately sent the case back to Tehran without addressing the flaws in the case.

There has been no new hearing since the discovery of flaws in the case during the first court session, and the charge of murdering three Salafis was never substantiated. On the day of the murder, Loghman, who was fingered as an accomplice, was working on a crane on a construction site in Sarvabad, 35 km [20 miles] from Marivan. He only returned to Marivan an hour and half after the murder occurred.

[…] What’s more, the right of the murder victims’ family supersedes that of God (and the state) in religious law. It was unlawful to execute them for “Moharebeh,” a crime against God [and state], before first addressing the death sentence for murder. The documents below are from the Judiciary’s electronic information center, and show the murder charges were still pending investigation and trial.”

International Reaction

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, released a statement in response to the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi. The full text of his statement is below.

“We are horrified by the news that the Iranian authorities have executed these men, despite widespread condemnation of their death sentences, and calls from UN human rights experts and other bodies to halt their executions.

The trials of all three men were grossly unfair. All were denied access to their lawyers and families after their arrest, and all said they were tortured into making “confessions”. In sentencing them to death despite these massive failings in due process, the Iranian authorities have once again demonstrated their brazen disregard for the right to life. We call on the international community to strongly condemn these executions and urge the Iranian authorities to respect their obligations under international law. The Iranian authorities must take steps to ensure that everyone has a fair trial, that torture and other ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited, and that the practice of forced ‘confessions’ is stopped once and for all. They must also immediately impose an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”

Political Executions: Zanyar & Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein-Panahi Hanged to Death

Posted on: September 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein-Panahi, three Iranian political prisoners, were reportedly executed on the morning of Saturday, September 8th in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison.

Iran’s Fars news agency published a report on September 8th claiming these three men were “thugs who took military and terrorist measures in western Iran and brought insecurity and killed the loved ones of a number of families.”

On September 7th, families of Zanyar and Loghman Moradi had met them in solitary confinement cells, as requested by prison authorities.

Families of Zanyar and Loghman were contacted by authorities of Rajai Shahr on September 5th and asked to go to the prison, Zanyar’s brother told Hrana. “Loghman’s father and I were able to meet with them. Zanyar told us that they were sent to solitary confinement three days ago for unknown reasons…but they had guessed that it was for execution which is why they started a hunger strike that morning.”

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering the son of Marivan’s Friday prayer leader; a charge they have always denied.

On December 22, 2010, the two Kurdish family friends were sentenced to death by Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati. They were charged with membership in the banned leftist party Komele and murder of the son of Marivan’s Friday prayer leader on July 5, 2009. Both Zanyar and Loghman have repeatedly said their confessions to the crimes were extracted from them under duress.

Zanyar and Loghman had previously written an open letter, published in May 2017, detailing their case and the torture they had experienced.

Ramin Hossein-Panahi, too, was executed today in Rajai Shahr Prison, according to his lawyer, Hossein Ahmadiniaz.

Ramin’s family had not been contacted for a final visit, Ahmadiniaz told HRANA.

The legal team defending Hossein-Panahi had previously written a letter to the head of the Judiciary, asking for the execution order to stop on national security grounds.

Hossein-Panahi published a video on social media about ten days ago, insisting on his innocence and refuting the charges against him.