Iran: Actor’s Online Comments Incur Summons from Intelligence Ministry

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Renowned cinema and theater actor Hamid Farrokhnezhad was summoned Sunday, September 30th to the Ministry of Intelligence Office, presumably in relation to his cyber activities.

In a note, Farrokhnejad said he was being called to “to explain some issues,” elaborating that authorities wanted to follow up on critical comments and information he had published online about the state of the country.

Hamid Farrokhnejad, born in 1969 in Abadan, Southwestern Iran, is an actor, screenwriter, and director of cinema and theater productions. He obtained a degree in theatre direction from Tehran University’s College of Fine Arts.

Update: Women’s Rights Activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi Transferred to Evin Prison

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

UPDATE:

Rezvaneh Mohammadi was released on bail on Saturday October 20, 2018.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Saturday, September 29th, women’s rights activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi was transferred to the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison at the end of her interrogation. She had been in custody in an undisclosed location since her arrest by security forces September 3rd.

Mohammadi is among a group of women’s and civil rights activists who in recent months have been pursued with renewed fervor by authorities. Najmeh Vahedi, Hoda Amid, and Maryam Azad, also women’s rights activists, have all been detained for unknown reasons during this period.

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. Previously, in a brief interview with HRANA, Vahedi’s brother Reza said, “In a one-minute phone conversation with my sister on Tuesday, September 4th, she was only able to tell us that she didn’t know her charges or why she had been arrested. We keep inquiring [with authorities], and are getting anxious because it’s been 11 days and we still don’t know what’s going on.”

More than 750 domestic and foreign civil activists issued a statement over the weekend in protest of the increasing pressures on Iranian women’s rights activists, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also voiced their opposition to this civil crackdown last month, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Kurdish Student Massoud Karimi Barred from Education

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After placing among the nation’s top 20 on the competitive college entrance exam, Kurdish student Massoud Karimi, from the city of Javanrood in Kermanshah province, has been barred from continuing his studies due to a purported deficiency in his student file. Karimi was pursuing a master’s degree in political science.

A week before the examination results were released, Kermanshah’s Intelligence Office had summoned Karimi and interrogated him about his student activism, a source told HRANA. He was then told that he wouldn’t be allowed to study, so that “others could learn.”

After several follow-ups, the National Examination Office — which first claimed not to know the reason for Karimi’s disqualification — confirmed that he was rendered ineligible for political reasons.

Detained Political Activist Hamed Ayinehvand Spends 3 Months in Legal Limbo

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Hamed Ayinehvand, a detained journalist and political activist who was arrested June 28, 2018 by security forces from the Intelligence unit of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and transferred to the general ward (Ward 4, Hall 3) of Evin Prison, has been in a state of legal limbo for the past three months.

Despite the completion of both the investigation process and the judicial proceedings, the Prosecutor of Branch 7 of the Evin Prosecutor’s office has denied Ayinehvand bail. He has been charged with “propaganda against the regime through cyberspace activities.” He reportedly spent 44 days in solitary confinement between his arrest and his transfer to Evin’s general ward.

Hamed Ayinehvand is a political activist, journalist, and Ph.D. student of international relations at Islamic Azad University’s science and research department. He was disqualified as a candidate in Iran’s most recent Parliamentary election [via the controversial vetting process of Iran’s Guardian Council].

Journalist Kazem Imanzadeh Summoned to Court

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Kazem Imanzadeh, a journalist from Sanandaj, western Iran, was summoned by Branch 1 of Criminal Court on September 28, 2018.

An informed source told HRANA that Imanzadeh is facing charges of “spreading misinformation with intent to slander the regime,” “disturbing public opinion by disseminating false statements about the regime,” “publishing content to sow ethnic, racial, and religious divisions” and “insulting Islamic sanctities and imams.”

HRANA recently reported on the conviction of Sanandaj-based journalist Ejlal Ghavami, a human rights activist who was released on bail after being read his charges on August 20th, 2018. Ghavami was sentenced in absentia to eight months in prison by Branch 109 of the Sanandaj Criminal Court 2, for “spreading misinformation with intent to disturb public opinion.”

Journalist Ejlal Ghavami Sentenced to Prison Time in Absentia

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – In a note on September 26th, human rights activist and journalist Ejlal Ghavami announced the news of his most recent legal tensions with Iranian authorities: four days earlier, he had been sentenced in absentia to eight months in prison for “spreading lies with intent to cause confusion among the masses,” pursuant to the findings of Branch 2 of Investigations Court, located in the Beheshti Judicial Complex of Sanandaj.

Ghavami was read these charges on August 20th of this year by Branch 109 of Sanandaj Criminal Court No. 2, in western Iran, which cited Ghavami’s writings as evidence for the conviction. Shortly thereafter, he was released on bail.

Authorities were already pursuing Ghavami for his media activities on March 25th of this year, when the Sanandaj cyber police– in response to complaints about him from the Basij– interrogated him about anti-governmental Telegram channels and the widespread protests that overtook Iran in January. Pursuant to these investigations, Branch One of Kurdistan Investigations Court charged him with “communication and collaboration with anti-regime channels” and “spreading lies and illegal materials.”

Though Ghavami was previously tried and acquitted in a preliminary court of “propaganda against the regime,” “speaking to anti-regime media,” “spreading lies,” and “insulting the IRGC,” the prosecutor objected to his initial acquittal, and he has been summoned to face the same charges again, on November 18th in Branch Four of Kurdistan Province Appeals Court.

On June 9th, along with civil activists of Kurdistan province Hiva Rahimi and Ahmad Khaliqi, Ghavami was summoned to the intelligence office of the IRGC for unknown reasons.

In a statement issued on August 31st, Amnesty International condemned the draconian sentencing of Iranian journalists by authorities.

Azerbaijani Activist Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for Cultural Rally

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Kiumars Eslami, an Azerbaijani activist arrested during the July 4th Azerbaijani rallies at Babak Fort, has been sentenced to one year in prison by Judge Firooz Farahani Mazrae Jahan, on the charge of “propaganda against the regime.”

Babak Fort is a site in northwestern Iran, home to the country’s Azerbaijani minority group, that has gained popularity in recent years as an annual cultural rallying spot for Azerbaijani activists during the first week of July.

In justifying his verdict, the judge cited Eslami’s cultural and ‘separatist’ activities: “The defendant is one of the ethnic, separatist, and Pan-Turkic activists in Parsabad,” Jahan wrote. “In order to carry out this separatist activity, he prepares reports, translates Persian books into Turkish [In Persian, the Azerbaijani language is often referred to as Turkish], distorts them in cyberspace, and disseminates them to foreign networks associated with the opposition. He is a leader and a member of the sub-branches of the Pan-Turkic movement in Parsabad county.”

Another reason cited for Eslami’s conviction was his reference to Iran’s Azerbaijani provinces as “South Azerbaijan” in social media posts.

According to an informed source, the head of Parsabad’s intelligence office, known only as Hazrati, previously told Eslami that his case file would be closed if he announced on the news that he would cease his Azerbaijani-related activism and cut off contact with fellow activist Abbas Lasani, who was recently convicted of similar charges.

A native of Parsabad-e Moghan, also located in northwestern Iran, Eslami was previously held in Moghan Prison, where he reportedly sustained head wounds and bleeding during violent interrogations by Iranian authorities. He went on a nine-day hunger strike beginning July 28th to protest the prison conditions and his oppression in the judicial system. He was released on approximately $650 USD (120 million IRR) bail on August 9th.

53 Days into Solidarity Hunger Strike, Ailing Civil Rights Activist Farhad Meysami Stands His Ground

Posted on: September 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- In protest of the imprisonment of his comrade Reza Khandan, civil Rights Activist Farhad Meysami has now been starving himself for 53 consecutive days.

In a visit to the Evin Prison clinic September 22nd, according to a close source, doctors noted Meysami’s 42-pound weight loss and steep drop in blood pressure and urged him to be admitted to the clinic. Meysami refused, persistent in his requests to be transferred to an outside hospital.

Shortly thereafter, prison authorities, including the prison director, came to visit Meysami, who reiterated to them the sole condition in which he will end his hunger strike: the dropping of all charges against Reza Khandan.

Farhad Meysami was arrested in his personal study on July 31st. He was originally charged with “gathering and collusion aimed at disrupting national security,”; “propaganda against the regime”; and “insulting hijab, a necessary and sacred element of Islam.”

On September 3rd, however, Branch 7 of the Evin prosecutor’s interrogation department claimed that charges have since changed, with the last one replaced with “spreading corruption and prostitution.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both asked for Meysami’s release.

Ahwazi Arab Protestors Arrested in Oil-Rich Khuzestan Province

Posted on: September 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Several Ahwazi Arab residents of Susangerd, Dasht-e Azadegan (in the province of Khuzestan, southwestern Iran) were detained by security forces and transferred to an unknown location on September 19, 2018 after reportedly chanting protests during a Shiite religious ceremony.

An informed source told HRANA that security forces responded to a number of protesters who were chanting slogans against the regime’s policies and economic failures during local mourning ceremonies in observance of Muharram. Two of the arrested individuals have been identified as Ahma Sovidi and Fayez Afravi. The identities of their comrades have yet to be confirmed.

According to HRANA’s annual report, between March 2017 and March 2018, 6883 people were arrested in Iran for political reasons or for expressing their beliefs. 1281 of these were individual arrests (i.e. independent of coordinated raids or the crackdown of unified protests).

These include 66 media users, 14 environmental activists, 222 adherents to religious minorities (in addition to the Dervishes arrested during the Tehran Golestan Haftom incident in February 2017), 114 women’s rights activists, and 60 workers and labour activists.

Media Activist Hassan Shemshadi Caught in Bureaucratic Pitfalls

Posted on: September 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – In a September 18, 2018 session of the Computer Crimes Investigation Court, journalist and media activist Hassan Shemshadi was read charges on a case file for which he had already been summoned and charged twice.

Shemshadi’s ordeal with his current case file began when he was summoned to the Judicial Office of the Province of Sistan and Baluchistan for a social media post in which he stated that villagers on the outskirts of Zabul, in the throes of their poverty, were resorting to the consumption of cat and crow meat.

According to Shemshadi, this was his third summons in the last six months for the same complaint, and it indicated that his arrest warrant would be issued if he did not appear in the Computer Crimes Investigation Court within the next five days.

As indicated, Shemshadi appeared at the Computer Crimes Investigation Court of Tehran where a prosecution assistant told him that Zahedan Investigation Court had issued permission to “process his charges.”

“When I saw the case file number, I realized it was the same case file for which I had gone to Zahedan two months ago–the bail decision was even issued for it,” He said. “But the prosecution assistant said, ‘since I have not received anything to that effect from them, I’m bound by the law to arraign you. And you’re going to have to defend yourself.’”

Insisting that the same charges had already been processed two months ago, he was permitted to take up his complaint with the head of Investigation Court. “I explained the situation and offered him a copy of my numbered correspondence so he could check the system and see if I’m telling the truth or not.

Shemshadi said that the head of Investigation Court did just that, prepared a printout, signed it, sealed it, and sent it off to the court branch. “The prosecution assistant lady saw the printout and told me, ‘all set now! Good day!””

Hassan Shemshadi was born on October 23, 1969 in Khorramabad. He has collaborated with such networks as Radio and Television Broadcasting of Ghom, Khorram Abad, Central News Agency. He has also done reporting work in Syria and Iraq.