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

Teacher Activist of Sound Mind Sequestered in Psych Ward

Posted on: October 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Retired teacher and current teacher’s union member Hashem Khastar, who has no history of mental illness, was arrested in front of his garden on the evening of Tuesday, October 23rd and dispatched by ambulance to Mashhad’s Ibn Sina Hospital Psychiatric Ward.

Khastar’s family were suspicious and worried, a close source said, when they came home Tuesday to find his car unlocked in front of the house. On a Wednesday phone call — his first contact with his family since the arrest — Khastar said that the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had arrested and admitted him to the hospital for reasons they wouldn’t disclose.

According to the source, Khastar’s family were initially forbidden by security agents from visiting him in the ward but were more recently able to obtain that permission through coordination with authorities. Khastar — who declared hunger strike earlier today, October 25th, demanding to see his wife — explained during her visit the details of his arrest: “They brought some articles of my clothing into the ambulance, took me straight to the hospital, and put shackles on my feet.”

It is rumored that this puzzling detainment was ordered by the prosecutor’s office. As of the date of this report, no further information is available on the reasons behind Khastar’s arrest.

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.

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

Activist Leila Mir-Ghaffari Gets Suspended Prison Sentence for Pointing at Picture

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On October 6th, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26 sentenced civil rights activist Leila Mir-Ghaffari to a two-year prison sentence, suspended over three years, for having pointed to a picture on the wall.

Mir-Ghaffari’s attorney Mohammad Hossein Aghasi explained to HRANA that her conviction of “insulting the supreme leader” hinged on a single moment: when she voiced criticism of foreign aid to Lebanon and Syria whilst pointing a “finger of blame” to a picture of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose image overlooks the entrance to almost every public building in Iran.

Mir-Ghaffari was initially detained on October 2nd for defending the “Girls of Revolution Street,” a movement that gained international attention through photographs of its defenders de-veiling in public places in protest of mandatory head coverings. Morality court ordered her to pay a fine of 32 million IRR [approximately $250 USD], and she was released on bail the next day.

On June 13, 2018, HRANA reported on a summons from the Tehran Appeals Court to review the sentencing of a number of civil activists, including Mir-Ghaffari, who had been issued 91 days’ imprisonment and 74 lashes each. Judge Farshid Dehghani presided over their preliminary trial on February 9, 2016, in Tehran Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 1060.

In November 2016, Mir-Ghaffari was arrested with 17 others for staging a peaceful gathering across from Evin Prison. Authorities sent the women protestors to Gharchak Prison and the men to Evin. Charged with “disrupting the public peace,” they were eventually released on bail of 500 million IRR [approximately $4000 USD]. Her co-arrestees were Reza Makeian (Malak), Hashem Zaynali, Simin Aivazadeh, Ehsan Khaybar, Abdulazim Arouji, Mohsen Haseli, Mohsen Shojaie, Azam Najafi, Parvin Soleymani, Sharmin Yamani, Sala Saie, Arshiya Rahmati, Massoud Hamidi, Ali Babaie, Esmaeil Hosseini, Farideh Tousi, and Zahra Moddareszadeh.

In Solidarity with Fellow Gonabadi Dervish Prisoners, Reza Sigarchi Forgoes Food, Medicine

Posted on: October 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In an act of protest, Reza Sigarchi, a Great Tehran Penitentiary prisoner of conscience and member of the * Gonabadi Dervish religious minority, announced Saturday, October 20th that he will be abstaining from both food and medicine.

Sigarchi’s strike is a demonstration of support for his fellow downtrodden Dervishes, according to Majzooban Noor, a website covering Dervish community news. He will reportedly not eat or ingest medicine until the following demands are met: lift the house arrest order on Dervish leader Noor Ali Tabandeh; release female Dervish prisoners; reunite separated Dervish prisoners into the same Ward; return Abbas Dehghan to Great Tehran Penitentiary.

Sigarchi, who suffers from heart disease, was hospitalized last week in Imam Khomeini Hospital where he underwent an angiography.

Five other Dervish prisoners in Great Tehran Penitentiary — Salehodin Moradi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Saeed Soltanpour, and Ali Mohammad Shahi — have been on hunger strike since a violent raid on their sit-in by prison guards on August 29th.

Hunger-striking Dervish Abbas Dehghan still hasn’t eaten since September 2nd. Dehghan reportedly spent one hour in Great Tehran Penitentiary post-trial before being transferred to Ward 2A of Evin Prison, under IRGC jurisdiction, where he has remained since.

All of the aforementioned prisoners were arrested amid the “Golestan Haftom” incident in February 2018, where Iranian police and plainclothes members of the IRGC’s Basij faction confronted hundreds of Gonabadi Dervishes who had rallied outside the home of their spiritual leader Noor Ali Tabandeh. The Dervish demonstrators sought to prevent the possible detainment of Tabandeh, who has reportedly been placed under extended house arrest by Iranian authorities.

Hundreds of Dervishes were beaten, wounded, and arrested during the Golestan Haftom incident. A similar attack occurred on January 24th after an intervention from security forces on the same street, heightening the sense of fear within the Dervish community.

Though Iranian judicial authorities estimate that around 300 people have been arrested in connection with Golestan Haftom, HRANA has thus far published the names of 324 arrestees and estimates that the actual number is considerably higher.

* There are various divisions among Dervishes in Iran. In this report, the term “Dervish” refers to Nematollahi Gonabadis, who declare themselves as followers of Twelver Shi’ism, Iran’s official state religion.

Appeals Court Finalizes Sentences for 11 January Protest co-Defendants

Posted on: October 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – In connection to the January protests, Branch 1 of Markazi Province Appeals Court confirmed the imprisonment-and-lashings sentence of four citizens, suspending similar sentences for seven co-defendants on the same case. The defendants were identified as Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, Abbas Safari, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou, Mohammad Torabi, and Kian Sadeghi.

The Prosecutor’s Office settled on a charge of “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering,” which according to HRANA reports incurred one year of imprisonment and 74 lashings per defendant in Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102, presided by Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi.

Their sentence allows for detention time already served to be counted towards their pending prison terms, a particular boon to Najafi, Bagheri, Safari, and Sadeghi who received two additional years of prison time for “publishing lies with intent to disrupt the public mind.” Bagheri’s prison term was further compounded by another six months for “insulting a police chief in cyberspace.”

Among the accused is attorney and human rights activist Mohammad Najafi, who said in a note, “Branch 1 of Markazi Province has upheld the initial verdict. The maximum punishment of three years in prison and 74 lashings […] remains unchanged for me and Messrs. Bagheri and Safari, while the sentences for the rest of those convicted, including my six clients, were suspended over five years.”

Discovery into these protestors’ case files began March 13, 2018, in Branch One of Arak Investigation Court, by which point all 11 had already been interrogated by the Intelligence Office. Ten of the eleven were present during discovery, where an investigator deliberated on charges from disrupting the peace to gathering and conspiring. Though all of the accused were detained amid the protest site in Shazand city where all of them are residents, authorities inexplicably forwarded their case to the judicial office of Arak. All denied the charges brought against them.

Independent of the January protests case file, Najafi, Bagheri, Safari, Ajilou, and Bakhshi all have individual cases pending in the Revolutionary Court of Arak.

After several delays due to the absence of a judge, Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102 tried Najafi June 9, 2018, in for his inquiries into the death of civilian Vahid Heydari, who passed away while in custody of Arak authorities amid the January protests. While Iranian judicial authorities had claimed Heydari was a drug dealer who committed suicide in Police Detention Center No. 12, Najafi’s field research concluded that Heydari was a peddler with no criminal record, whose autopsy report was suspicious for blunt-force trauma. When Najafi was arrested for his investigations, Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi spoke out in his defense.

A large number of participants in recent protests, referred to as the January protests, were detained and interrogated across the country. The protests resulted in the death of 25 individuals and the detention of around five thousand. Ministry of the Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli previously stated that public demonstrations “turned violent” in 40 of the 100 cities where the January protests broke out.

Civil Activists Petition for Political Prisoner Payam Shakiba

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Dozens of civil activists issued a statement October 18th advocating for due process in the case of political prisoner Payam Shakiba.

Held in Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj since his arrest in February 2018, Shakiba was sentenced to 11 years in prison by Judge Ahmadzadeh. The sentence was later upheld in an appeals court.

Shakiba is a former member of the University of Zanjan’s Islamic Student Association, and prior to his persecution by authorities was a graduate student of political science at Allameh Tabatabai University.

The full text of the activists’ statement, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Payam Shakiba, a former member of the Islamic Student Association at the University of Zanjan, was first arrested in July 2008 along with several other students protesting against the [sexual] assault of a female student by a university vice-president. All of the protesters were convicted. Payam was released on bail after 40 days and sentenced one year later to a year in prison.

Upon completion of his compulsory military service, he was hired as a teacher in September 2010 at a semi-private school in Tehran. In November of that year, he went to prison to serve his sentence. After his release, the Ministry of Education halted his employment proceedings.

Mr. Shakiba passed the entrance exam for master’s programs in applied science at both a public institution and Azad University. However, the public university barred him from enrolling in the program, given his status as a “starred” student [i.e. a student whose file is marked with an asterisk to indicate previous disciplinary action for political activity]. He had no choice but to enroll in the Sciences and Research Branch at Azad University. In the final days of his first semester, however, he was expelled and banned from returning to his studies.

Payam, however, didn’t stop there: he took the entrance exam again in 2013 and was accepted to the political science program at Allameh Tabatabai University. He had spent years in the meantime earning his living in industrial workshops.

Payam Shakiba was arrested for a second time on February 19, 2017, on charges of “acting against national security by assembling and colluding against the regime.” After a search of his workplace in the industrial park of Golgoun, in Shahriar, he was transferred to solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Intelligence. During this time he was denied access to a lawyer or visitation from family members. When his interrogation period had finished, he was illegally exiled to Rajai Shahr prison where he spent 17 months in legal limbo. It was then that he was faced with a judicial conundrum: first the appeals court informed one of his lawyers that Shakiba’s 11-year sentence had been reduced to six; a week later, another one of his lawyers was summoned to court, where he learned that the 11-year sentence had been upheld, and that the five-year reduction was no longer valid.

A glance at the processing of Mr. Shakiba’s cases, and at his sentence as it stands, reveals a flagrant injustice and lack of due process. What kind of judicial system takes employment opportunity away from a student and future teacher because they protested a sexual assault? In what kind of fair process can an interrogator rule in lieu of a judge to reverse an already-appealed sentence? Why are the basic minimums of amenities and living space withheld from Payam Shakiba and from other political prisoners? Why don’t they have access to adequate hygiene and nutrition, or even to a cooling system in the summer?

It is common knowledge nowadays that these deprivations serve to break a prisoner’s spirit and resolve. Yet as we also know, our grand and unflappable Payam cannot be broken. Anyone close to him knows him as an altogether reasonable, kind, humble, generous person, courageous and defiant in the face of injustice.

We the undersigned protest the illegal arrest and incarceration of this student activist. We consider the trial unfair and believe that his human and civil rights have been disregarded at all stages of the legal process, through the interrogation and investigation to the preliminary and appeals court proceedings.

Blindfolding, solitary confinement, and denial of access to a lawyer are violations of a defendant’s rights. Furthermore, the objectivity of the preliminary trial was compromised by the interference of a Ministry of Intelligence representative. By a flagrant act of interference [by non-judiciary authorities], his sentence was increased on appeal.

As friends, civil activists, and fellow students of Payam Shakiba, we object to his sentence and the unfair process to which he was subjected.

We ask for the immediate, unconditional release of Payam Shakiba so that he may defend himself in a fair trial before a jury. This self-evident legal and human right cannot be denied and ignored for perpetuity.

We ask human rights organizations and activists to carry out their duty, regardless of their political allegiances. The writing off of certain political prisoners is tantamount to abetting the suppression of their voices, and those guilty of it should be held accountable before history.

Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Ahmad Zahedi Langroudi, Ahmad Mohammadi, Ahmad Madadi, Ahmad Mirzaei, Ahmad Yazdi, Arsalan Beigi, Esmaeil Sarahandi, Asghar Dehghan, Asghar, Bahram Mahmoudi, Abolfazl Samadi, Aboozar Beheshti, Ehsan Rezaei, Ahmad Ebrahimi, Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Aazam Yari, Afshin Pourjam, Afshin Hyrtyan, Akbar Amini Armaki, Akbar Naseri, Akbar Hashemi, Mohammad Ebrahimi, A. Nasirian, Elham Motalebi, Omid Madani, Amir Bagheri, Anwar Farajzadeh, Ulduz Hashemi, Ivaz Hashemi, Adindeh Beigi, Azar Gilani , Amanj Amini, Avat Razavi, Bahera Alamdari, Bahram Aghdasi, Behzad Delshad, Feshdeh Fereydouni, Bahman Golali, Bahman Nouri, Behnam Farzaneh, Bijan Najafi, Parsa Krmanjyan, Parvaneh Ghasemian, Parvun Tavakoli, Parvin Mohammadi, Parvin Nokhostin, Parisa Sarai, Soraya Ghobadi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Jafar Hosseinzadeh, Javad Lal Mohammad, Jahangir Kas Nzany, Habib Beigi, Hassan Elmi, Hassan Noorzad, Hossein Ramezani Sarajari, Hossein Shah Pari, Hossein Sadeghi, Hossein Mousavi, Hamid Reza Kamayebarf, Hamid Zanganeh, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Azimi, Hamid Noori, Hooria Farajzadeh, Dariush Rezaei, Dariush Faraji, Rahele Farajzadeh Tarani , Raheleh Ghodsi, Rahman Beigi, Rahim Hosniyatabar, Rahim Zakeri, Rahim Shams, Rasoul Heshmati, Reza Ahmadi, Reza Hosseini, Reza Abbasi, Rouhollah Hedayati, Ruzbeh Ekradi, Roshan Hashemi, Romina Mohseni Rajai, Zahra Rahimi, Ziba Omidi, Zainab Sepehri, Zhaleh Rouhzad, Sarah Beheshti, Sarah Siahpour, Sarah Barakat, Saeed Rezaei, Saeed Naimi, Saeedeh Maasoumi, Samaneh Abedini, Sorna Hashemi, Soheil Siri, Soheila Dalwand, Siamak Farid, Siavash Montazeri, Sima Salmani, Simin Javandideh, Sharareh Aram, Shahrzad Ghadiri, Shahnaz Akmali, Shadi Mohammadi Shiva, Ameli Rad, Saber Molaei, Sadegh Rezaie, Sedighe Zeitouni, Soghari Noor, Salah Sorkhi, Taher Hamedi, Tahere Ghobadi, Abed Tavancheh, Aliyeh Aghdoost, Abbas Shahbazi, Abbas Safari, Abdul Rahman Azim, Aziz Qasemzadeh, Esmat Taa Ali Ebrahimi, Ali Ahmadi, Ali Asghar Zolghodar, Ali Bagheri, Ali Rangipour, Ali Zarei, Ali Samad, Ali Azimi, Ali Masoumi, Ali Mirfatah, Alireza Behdarvand, Alireza Firoozi, Alireza Ghadiri, Enayat Vosoughi, Gholamreza Maleki, Gholamreza Hezaveh, Fatehmeh Ahmadi, Faezeh Almasi, Farzin Rezaei Roshan, Forough Sami Nia, Forough Fereydouni, Farhad Salamatkhah, Farideh Moradkhani, Fahimeh Badkoobehi, Kaveh Mozaffari, Kiandokht Nikbakht, Keyvan Rezaei, Laleh Abbasi, Madeh Alavi, Mojtaba Asadi, Majid Hassani, Majid Rahmati, Majid Masoumi, Mahboobeh Farahzadi, Mohsen Omrani, Mohammad Azami, Mohammad Hossein Rafiei, Mohammad Saeed Ahmadi, Mohammad Karim Beigi, M Hamad Karimi, Mohammad Ali Rostami, Mahmoud Didani, Mahmoud Mojdehi, Morteza Asadi, Morteza Nazari, Marzieh Dorood, Marzieh Mahmoudi, Maryam Haghighi, Maryam Mohammadi, Masoud Hosseini, Masoud Heydariyan, Masoud Saki, Masoud Kouhi, Masoud Hashemi, Masoumeh Dehghan, Mansour Soleimani , Mansoureh Farahzadi, Manijeh Foruzandeh, Mehdi Rahmati, Mehdi Arabshahi, Mehrnoush Heidarzadeh, Mahshid Rouhani, Milad Janat, Minoo Keykhosrowi, Naser Rashidi, Nahid Ebrahimi, Narges Ahmadi, Narges Zafari, Nasrin Ahmadi, Nasrin Amiri, Nasrin Saifodini, Niloofar Kadokhodayi, Vahid Zandi, Vahsa Safi, Hagar Karami, Homayoun Panahi, Salah Azadi, Ali Jafari, Roozbeh Rezaei, Amir Hossein Sa’ad , Ali Abu Torabi, Maryam Qalychyha, Humayun Madani, Mir Hamid Salek, Azita Rezvan, Amir Hossein Saadat, Naveed Kamran, Jelveh Javaheri, Sepideh Saghafian, Forough Azizi, Sarah Hemmati, Laleh Mohammadi, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Nastaran Eshghi, Ali Reza Tarkashvand, Zohreh Asadpour, Abbas Shahbazi, Reza Ansari, Masoumeh Abbasian, Abbas Shahrabi, Alireza Kaviani, Morteza Zarrin, Mahsa Yazdani, Zahra Ghaeninejad, Ahmad Rezaei, Afshan Davari.

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Rajai Shahr Prison is located in Karaj, approximately 30 miles west of Tehran.

The University of Zanjan is located in Zanjan, approximately 180 miles northwest of Tehran.

Once-Buried Case Pulls Abdolreza Ghanbari Back to Evin Prison

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Teacher and former political prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari was arrested Saturday, October 13th, and transferred to Ward 8 of Evin Prison to serve the remainder of a recently-resurrected prison term.

Amid re-reviews and permutations of his case under a changing penal code, Ghanbari has been pulled through the judicial wringer since his initial arrest in 2009, when he was detained in his workplace amid widespread “Ashura” demonstrations following the contentious Iranian election cycle of that year.

In February 2010, after two months of interrogation, Judge Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15 sentenced him to death for “Moharebeh” [enmity against God],” through his alleged ties to the opposition group People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK).

Four years later, in June 2013, Ghanbari’s death sentence was reversed in Supreme Court and commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment by Revolutionary Court Branch 1.

When Article 186 of the Islamic Penal Code was eliminated, Ghanbari requested and obtained a retrial, which resulted in the suspension of his sentence. He was released March 16, 2016 after having served more than six years in prison.

The return to normal life was relatively short-lived, as a close source explained to HRANA: “In September 2017, his prison sentence was reviewed again by Branch 28 of [Tehran’s] Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Moghiseh, and increased from 10 years to 15 years in prison.”

Ghanbari’s new scheduled release date has yet to be confirmed by HRANA.

Accused of Posing “Security Risk,” Iranian Actress Barred from Limelight

Posted on: October 19th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After being interrogated twice for her social media publications, Iranian actress Parastoo Salehi says that Iranian security forces are barring her from making public appearances.

Salehi said that she was first interrogated on August 19 of this year, when she was summoned by the Iranian judiciary surveillance unit to explain her public commentary on Iran’s social and economic setbacks.

In a video she recently published online, Salehi said she was called again on October 2nd to the Ministry of Intelligence facility on Khajeh Abdollah Ansari street. “The public wasn’t to have knowledge of this meeting. But now I am being told again and again that I can’t appear in public for ‘security reasons.'”

Salehi questioned the intent behind Iranian authorities’ citation of “security reasons,” asking at the conclusion of her video, “How do I pose a security risk? Should I not act? Should I not speak? How can I get paid? How can I make a living?”

Salehi reported that she was being censured for using her public Instagram profile to decry issues such as embezzlement, the drop in value of the Iranian currency, political detainees, rape, child abuse, and the Caspian Sea agreement, a highly-contentious diplomatic agreement that was recently finalized.

Arak January Protestors Sentenced to Imprisonment and Lashings

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were sentenced to one year in prison and 74 lashes each for “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” in Arak’s Criminal Court No.2, Branch 102. The defendants’ sentences allow for detention already served to be counted towards their pending prison terms.

Lawyer and civil rights activist Mohammad Najafi told HRANA that, barring any new infractions, only one of the defendants will actually be serving his time. “One of [the defendants], grocer Hossein Agha Alidadi, did not appeal his initial sentence of one year in prison and 74 lashes, and that sentence was finalized. He had also been accused of espionage but was acquitted of that charge. Five others who requested an appeal had their sentences suspended by the Appeals Court of Markazi Province.”

As of the date of this report, the identities of those five others have yet to be confirmed.

In July of this year, 11 residents detained in Shazand city in connection to the January protests, including Mohammad Najafi, were tried and sentenced to imprisonment and lashings in Arak Criminal Court No.2, Branch 102, presided by Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) explicitly prohibits inhumane and degrading punishments like lashings.

Five thousand people were detained and interrogated across the country in connection to nationwide demonstrations in January 2018 that came to be referred to as the “January protests.” These economic protests led to skirmishes with police forces and the deaths of 25 individuals. Of the January protests, Ministry of the Interior Rahmani Fazli said, “A number of protests took place in 100 Iranian cities; in forty of those cities, the protests turned violent.”

Golrokh Iraee Calls Citizens to the Defense of Persecuted Activist Soheil Arabi

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a civil rights activist imprisoned at Evin, has written an open letter in response to the recent re-sentencing of Soheil Arabi, a prisoner of conscience in Great Tehran Penitentiary who has been held without furlough since November 7, 2013.

On new charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “disturbing the public mind,” Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26 sentenced Arabi to three more years of imprisonment and three years of exile on September 22, 2018. Cited as evidence against him were voice files he allegedly sent from inside the prison, in which he can be heard comparing Evin to a torture chamber.

In her letter, Iraee accuses authorities of using the exile sentence to banish dissidents like Arabi from public memory.

Golrokh Iraee pictured here with husband and fellow prisoner of conscience Arash Sadeghi

While behind bars on separate charges in June of this year, Arabi was issued a six-month prison sentence by Judge Moghiseh on charges of “blasphemy” and “propaganda against the regime.” The charges stemmed from a case file opened up against Arabi and his ex-spouse Nastaran Naimi, who was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for “blasphemy” and “aiding and abetting.”

Iraee’s letter warns the Iranian public that apathy towards the extension of Arabi’s detainment would be ignoring symptoms of a malaise for which all Iranian citizens are responsible.

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

“He has been behind bars for years without having committed a crime. He is held captive by a vengeful system that has no tolerance for dissenting views, that stifles them instead in bondage, with physical and mental tortures.

Soheil Arabi was first detained on a misunderstanding that devolved into a blasphemy charge. After spending years behind bars and nearing the end of a sentence that tore his family apart (after the immoral and inhumane pressures they submitted him to, to break his spirit), yet another case file emerges, yet another prison sentence is leveled against him. After compounding his suffering with a ban on visits from his daughter, they now want to do with him what they did with Arjang Davoudi and Gholamreza Kalbi: exile him to the middle of nowhere, remove him from public memory, and let his existence perish into the abyss.

After the hunger strikes and beatings he endured in prison, Soheil’s condition is worrisome indeed. It is fitting that we be reminded, after commemorating the World Day against the Death Penalty, of Soheil’s initial execution sentence. He was made to suffer for a long time under the threat of execution, and the [long-term] imprisonment to which his death penalty was commuted, yet we are still witnessing concerted efforts to annihilate him with continued torture and new case files extending his imprisonment.

This method of eliminating activists, protesters, and dissenters may be the current status quo of the judicial system, but it is critical we consider these actions as the red flags that they are, and that we increase public sensitivity and attract the attention of international organizations so that we can put a stop to the annihilation of political and ideological activists. Abandoning them in this state renders us guilty of spreading the disease of our judicial system, and condoning the repetition of such crimes.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, October 2018.

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Golrokh Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. She was first held at an IRGC safe house for two days and then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, which is under IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 800 million rials. On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Iraee again, without a warrant. Her husband Arash Sadeghi, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison, is currently in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison and has undergone operations for cancer. Iraee was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 2.5 years based on amnesty and Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code. She was convicted of “insulting the sacred” and “gathering and collusion against the regime.”