Azerbaijani Activist Mohammad Khakpour Summoned to Ardabil Prosecutor’s Office

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Azerbaijani activist Mohammad Khakpour received a writ dated November 14th, ordering him under threat of arrest to appear at Branch 1 of the Ardabil Investigation and Prosecution Office within the next five days.

Khakpour was among a group of Ardabil residents arrested for their participation in Azerbaijani cultural gatherings last July. Marking the season of annual crackdowns on these gatherings — which in recent years have gravitated to Babak Fort — at least 80 Azerbaijani activists were arrested that month. Khakpour was held in custody for three days.

Fort Babak, a monument built during the pre-Islamic Sasanian period, is the namesake of Babak Khorramdin, who led an uprising against the Abbasid caliphate in 893. In recent years, it has become a place of symbolic gathering for Azerbaijani activists, especially during annual commemorations held in the first week of July.

CCTSI Rallies Teachers into Second Round of Strikes

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teacher Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) rallied educators across the country into a second round of general strikes November 13th, mobilizing in protest of the “Full-Time Teacher” bill, which continues to move forward despite significant pushback.

Strike activity was reported in several provinces, as teacher-activists and their allies staged sit-ins in the principal’s offices of their respective schools. “The goal of the sit-in,” a CCTSI statement read, “is to oblige our rulers to uphold the constitution by providing free, quality, and accessible education to students, and to stop their attack on the livelihood of teachers.”

CCTSI and their sympathizers voiced similar demands during a first round of strikes in October of this year.

Teachers made their demands known on handheld placards protesting low teacher salaries, environmental conditions unsuitable for learning, the Full-Time Teacher Bill, class discrimination in the education system, privatization, language discrimination, and the continued persecution of teacher-activists.

From Evin Prison, Vice President of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders Narges Mohammadi sent a message in support of the strikers:

“The children of this land learn “D E C E N C Y” from their teachers, and a teacher’s [decency] manifests in free expression and conscience.

The children of this land learn “P E A C E” and “F U L F I L L M E N T” from their teachers, and their teachers’ fulfillment lies in a humane, dignified life.

We support the teachers’ general strike of November 13 and 14, to free the fettered “T E A C H E R,” to elevate the teacher’s status, and preserve the right to peaceful protest.

Narges Mohammadi”

Masoud Kazemi and Hashem Khastar Released from Custody

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Journalist Masoud Kazemi was released on bail Sunday, November 11th. He was arrested in his home November 5th, one day after tweeting critical remarks about Iranian authorities. Kazemi is the editor-in-chief of Sedaye Parsi, a monthly political magazine.

Retired teacher and current union activist Hashem Khastar, who was arrested and sequestered in Mashhad’s Ibn Sina hospital psychiatric ward for unknown reasons October 23rd, was released November 10th. He has no history of mental illness.

Hashem Khastar

During his forced hospital admission, Khastar’s family and friends were arrested for gathering outside Ibn Sina to demand his release.

On June 21, 2018, Khastar was placed in a Security Police detention center on Abbas Abad (formerly Vozara) street for participating in silent teacher protests. In 2009, he was arrested in connection to widespread protests following that year’s Iranian presidential elections and was fined by Iranian courts for two letters he wrote from Vakilabad Prison. He was released, only to be arrested again later for refusing to pay the fine.

Journalist’s Death Attributed to Travel and Healthcare Restrictions

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Hamid Houshangi, former journalist and director at the state-run news agency, IRNA, passed away Thursday, November 8th of cancer. He was 70.

At the time of his death, Houshangi was facing a two-year prison sentence. In a note published September 2nd of this year, Houshangi drew attention to a writ in which he was summoned to serve the sentence despite his diagnosis.

The cancer diagnosis came at about the same time as his prison sentence — ruled by Judge Moghiseh on October 2, 2016 — for charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “gathering and colluding against national security.” The sentence was upheld a few months later by Judge Zargar of Appeals Court Branch 36.

Referred throughout his cancer treatment to resources that could only be obtained abroad, Houshangi never broke free of a two-year stalemate with judicial authorities who refused to let him seek care outside Iran.

Houshangi started his journalism career with Iranian national radio and television in 1973.

Former Civil Servant to Begin Prison Sentence

Posted on: November 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Former political prisoner and ex-public official Feizollah Arabsorkhi has been summoned to begin his one-year prison sentence within the next five days.

Arabsorkhi was tried on charges of “propaganda against the regime” by Judge Ahmadzadeh in August of 2015 and issued a two-year ban on civic activities in addition to his one-year prison term.

Arabsorkhi has speculated that the charges are a vindictive move from the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in response to his signature on a letter once published from prison.

In protest of the highly-contested Iranian presidential election of 2009, Arabsorkhi co-authored a letter with a number of political activists, interpreting a speech by security-judiciary agent Commander Moshfegh as evidence of corruption both before and after the ballots had been cast. Later arrested by the IRGC, he was convicted in Revolutionary Court Branch 15 of “propaganda against the regime” and “assembling and colluding against national security” in July of that year. He was released from Evin Prison in 2013 after completing his sentence.

Born September 23, 1958, Arabsorkhi holds a bachelor’s degree in social communications and membership in the reformist political group Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution. He has served both on the cabinet of Mir-Hossein Mousavi as general manager of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance security office, and in the Khatami administration [1997 – 2005] as deputy trade minister for the Ministry of Commerce.

Zanjan Revolutionary Court Acquits Civil Rights Activist Safiyeh Gharebaghi

Posted on: November 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – “I was acquitted!” wrote Safiyeh Gharebaghi, a Zanjan-based civil rights activist, on November 6th. That day, Judge Siyadi of Zanjan Revolutionary Court Branch 1 acquitted her of all charges, namely propaganda against the regime and gathering and conspiring against national security.

Quoting an excerpt of the court’s ruling, Gharebaghi said the verdict legitimized her right to dissent under Iranian law:

“‘[…]This court, considering the criticism of certain laws and procedures, even legal judgments, to be the incontrovertible right of every individual and legal entity, and considering that the crime’s spiritual basis was devoid of criminal intent, rejects the defendant’s charges and hereby announces its ruling to acquit.”

No verdict has yet been issued on Gharebaghi’s separate case in Zanjan General Court, where she faces charges of spreading lies and disrupting the public mind.

Gharebaghi was initially detained by the Zanjan Intelligence Office in 2017 on charges of propaganda against the regime in cyberspace, abetting sedition, and spreading lies. Her cited infractions included protesting gender inequality, voicing support of political prisoners and the sedition movement, and signing a condolence letter for the late father of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Reporter Vahid Ahang Released on Bail

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Vahid Ahang, a reporter jailed pursuant to a complaint filed by the Dishmok municipality, has been released after posting a bail of 50 million tomans [approximately $3,000 USD].

An informed source told HRANA that Ahang was arrested on October 31st and interrogated the same day from eight in the morning until noon. Judge Javad Parhizgar and his secretary were reportedly hostile towards him, refusing to accept Ahang’s bail even after the Dishmok mayor and county governor came forward to withdraw the complaint. Parhizgar was reportedly worn down by several follow-ups from Ahang’s family, the source said.

Ahang’s byline precedes previous reports of mistreatment from visitors to Judge Parhizgar’s office.

Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Released On Bail

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On November 6, 2018, women’s rights activist and sociology graduate Najmeh Vahedi, who was arrested in her home by security forces on September 1st, was released on bail pending trial.

Vahedi was one of many snared in the judiciary’s recently-revived sanctions on women’s rights activists. With her comrade Hoda Amid, Vahedi had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent. Later that month, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Last week, the voice of Amnesty International joined the outcry against the civil crackdowns, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Hashem Khastar’s Supporters Released from Custody

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Twelve individuals demonstrating their support of Hashem Khastar outside Ibn Sina Hospital in Mashhad were reportedly released a few hours after being taken into custody on Monday, November 5th, a close source said.

By arresting the demonstrators, intelligence agents were intercepting their protest of an increasingly curious hostage situation: Iranian authorities have kept Khastar cloistered in the hospital’s psychiatric ward since arresting him for unknown reasons on October 23rd.

Khastar’s detention caused a stir among his family members and fellow activists, eventually inspiring a social-media call for his supporters to gather outside Ibn Sina.

After arresting the 12 would-be protestors, a close source told HRANA, intelligence agents attempted to get their signatures on a set of legal documents, which they refused. “The intelligence officers then negotiated with Mr. Khastar’s wife,” the source continued. “Finally, promising that Mr. Khastar’s situation would be clarified within the next 24 hours, they released all 12 [of them].”

Khastar’s spouse Sadigeh Maleki Fard, his children Jahed and Ahmad Khastar, and his fellow teachers Hadi Lotfinia and Mohammad Yazdi were among those detained.

It has now been 14 days since the IRGC snatched the retired teacher and union activist from his home, sending him by ambulance into psychiatric “care” despite his clean bill of mental health. A source previously pointed HRANA to the circumstances of his arrest: “…His unlocked car and all its contents were abandoned in front of the gate to his orchard.”

A recent arrest during silent teacher protests on June 21, 2018, landed Khastar, 65, in a Security Police detention center on Abbas Abad (formerly Vozara) street. In 2009, he was arrested in connection to widespread protests following that year’s Iranian presidential elections and was fined by Iranian courts for two letters he wrote from Vakilabad Prison. He was released, then arrested again later for refusing to pay the fine.

Authorities Quash Show of Support for Sequestered Teacher Hashem Khastar

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The wife, children, and colleagues of teachers’ union activist Hashem Khastar, 65, who was forcibly hospitalized on October 23, 2018, in Mashhad, were detained by agents of the Intelligence Ministry on Monday, November 5th.

More than 10 of Khastar’s supporters were arrested while convening in front of Ebn-Sina hospital, where Khastar remains detained in the psychiatric ward despite having no history of mental illness. They have been transferred to the Intelligence Bureau of Mashhad.

HRANA has thus far been able to confirm the identities of five arrestees: Sadigheh Maleki Fard (Khastar’s wife), Jahed Khastar and Ahmad Khastar (Khastar’s sons), and colleagues “Mr. Lotfinia” and “Mr. Yazdi.”

According to a close source, authorities were quick to head off their show of solidarity. “Security agents were already present at the hospital prior to the protesters’ arrival and had blocked the roads leading up to it. Khastar’s family were arrested as soon as they arrived. Several other individuals — teachers and colleagues of Mr. Khastar — were arrested throughout the day until 5:30 PM.”

Arrestees were reportedly booked at the police station before being handed over to Ministry of Intelligence custody.

Mashhad is the capital of Razavi Khorasan province, located in Iran’s northeast.