Jailed for attending International Workers’ Day Demonstration; Neda Naji has her final trial

Posted on: July 12th, 2019

The final trial of Neda Naji was on July 08, 2019. She was arrested on International Workers’ Day demonstration on May 1, 2019 along with 10 others. On June 15, 2019 she was transferred from Evin prison’s Ward 209 to the Qarchak prison in Varamin. She is charged with “assembly and collision”, “propaganda against the stat”, “disturbing the public order”, and “disobeying the order or the government officials”.

On July 6, her husband, Jamanl Ameli, wrote on his personal Twitter account that Naji was beaten twice in the prison by a prisoner and a prison official and she was transferred to the health ward in prison because of her blurred vision after the attack. He added that Naji and Atefeh Rangriz are in danger in Qarchak prison.

Naji and 10 other arrestees had participated in a protest in front of the parliament on May 1, 2019. A few of them were released but Neda Naji, Atefeh Rangriz, and Marzieh Amiri are still in prison. Anisha Asadollahi who was released on bail was arrested again on June 18 and was transferred to Evin prison’s Ward 209. Her case is in process at Court Branch 2 of Evin Prison Court. Moreover, Marzieh Amiri’s hearing was on July 3, 2019 and she charged with “assembly and collusion” and “disturbing public order” and the judge refused the request to release on bail.

Four Months Report of Workers’ Conditions in Iran

Posted on: June 20th, 2019

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is a four months overview of workers’ rights violations in Iran between February and May 2019, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

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

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in February 2019

Several workers were arrested and faced trial in February. Also, the purchasing power of workers was steadily decreased in this month. Abdolreza Azizi, a member of the Social Affairs Committee of the Iranian Parliament stated that workers have lost 70 percent of their purchasing power. Tens of workers died or were injured because of the lack of work safety and hundreds of them were laid off. Another ongoing problem for workers was having unpaid wages this month.

The unpaid wages were issues of concern for many of Iranian workers, for instance, workers of Borujerd Saman Tile, nurses of Azadi Hospital in Tehran, Abejdan (in Andika county) municipality workers, workers of Rasht, Sedeh, Ilam, Shadegan, and Parsabad-e-Moghan municipalities, workers of Jahan Vegetable Oil Factory, South Pars Gas Field workers, workers of the Saham-e-Edalat cooperative company, nurses of Namazi Hospital in Shiraz, technical workers of Iran Railways, workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry, Tehran subway, and Mashhad telecommunications had unpaid wages during this month.

Moreover, some of the workers in Iran Powder Metallurgy Complex, factories in Asaluyeh and Pars Saveh tire factory were fired or laid off this month. 500 workers of factories in Qazvin province were suspended and 800 workers were laid off in Asaluyeh as well. On the other hand, 52 workers died or were injured because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in their workplaces.

Three prominent labor activists, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Jafar Azimzadeh, and Parvin Mohammadi were detained. The request of temporary release on bail for Parvin Mohammadi was denied by the Branch 102 of Fardis’s Criminal Court. Esmail Bakhshi, the detained labor activist of Haft Tappeh, faced three new charges: “spreading lies”, “propaganda against the state”, and “insulting to authorities”. Esmail Bakhshi’s attorney, Farzaneh Zilabi was summoned to the Branch three of the Shush county’s Revolutionary and General prosecutor’s office. In the same month, officers of Shush prosecutor’s office physically attacked Bakhshi’s sister and handcuffed his mother. This happened when his family was following up on his lawsuit. Later the family of this labor activist were summoned to the court.

In February, the attorney of several workers of Arak HEPCO reported that the cases of seven workers of this company were transferred to the Revolutionary Court. In 2018, 15 workers were sentenced to prison and lashes after last year’s protests. The appellate session of Davood Razaei, a board member of the syndicate of workers of Tehran and suburbs bus company, was held in the Branch 36 of Tehran Appellate Court. He was sentenced to five years in prison by the Branch 26 of the Revolution Court. Eghbal Shabani, labor activist in Sanandaj was arrested and Zaniar Dabaghian, another labor activist from Sanandaj, was sentenced to one-year prison term. A journalist was arrested in Qazvin because of reporting workers’ news in this month.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in March 2019

Several workers and activists were arrests, summoned, sentenced, received lash sentences, and were fired during this month.  Because of the lack of work safety, many workers died or were injured. Also, it has been stated that tens of thousands of workers encountered financial hardship because of their unpaid wages.

47 workers died or were injured because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in their workplaces. The workers of Takestan Wire company, Ajand construction company, Chame Shir dam in Gachsaran, Travers technical buildings lines, Andimeshk municipality, Choghazanbil world heritage site, Kurdistan’s Zagros Steel Contractors, and Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry have unpaid wages in this month.

Ali Kashefi, chairman of Mashhad laundries union, reported that 50 businesses were closed, and their workers were unemployed; due to last year’s high inflation. Some of the waste collectors of Sadra municipality who already have three months of unpaid wages and were protesting for their unpaid wages were fired. At the middle of March, which is the Persian new year, chairman of the pioneers of labor union of workers society announced that at least 97300 workers had unpaid wages prior to the New Year’s Eve.

Jafar Azimzadeh, chairman of the Free Workers Union was sentences to 30 lashes. Parvin Mohammadi, vice president of this union was released on bail. Meanwhile, Esmail Bakhshi was transferred from Shush prison to Sheiban prison in Ahvaz.

Moreover, several citizens were arrested protesting against firing waste collectors of Sadra municipality. Rahim Khodabakhshi, general secretary of Shiraz University’s Arman union, Ehsan Ziaraty, head of Shiraz University’s Basij Student Organization, and Hamid Mohammadpour, former secretary of Arman union were among the detainees. Ebrahim Abbasmanjazi, one of the workers of Haft Tappeh was summoned to Shush’s prosecutor’s interrogating office by a notice. After interrogation and charging accusations, he was temporarily released.

The Banch 36 of Tehran’s Appeals Court sentenced Davood Razavi, member of Tehran ‌Bus Company’s workers’ labor union board, to five years in prison. According to the verdict, this decision is suspended for five years. Also, Maziar Seyyednejad, a labor activist who was arrested 3 months ago for workers’ protests in Khuzestan, was released from Sheiban prison of Ahvaz on bail until completion of the juristic process. He was treated terribly during his prison time.

Two other labor activists, Ghodratollah Jalalvand and Reza Amjadi, were arrested in this month by security officials and were moved to an unknown location. Reza Amjadi was released after a few days by bail until completion of the juristic process.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in April 2019

One of the most important news in this month was arresting and summon of labor activists and the security authorities’ pressure to prevent celebratory events for the international Labor Day. Tehran Bus Company’s workers’ union invited workers to protest by the Parliament building on May 1st. Some of the businesses were shut down and a lot of workers were laid off in this month, because of high inflation and rising costs of production.

105 workers died or were injured because of the lack of work safety. The worker of Oshnavieh municipality, Iran Powder Metallurgy factory, Ilam industrial slaughterhouse, Tehran Metro lines 1 and 4 services, Ahvaz Steel,Rasht and Sari municipalities, Cement production factory of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, Iranian railway company, Dehdasht hospital, Iran telecommunication company, and teachers of the schools outside Iran had unpaid wages this month. Chief executive officer of Hamshahri institute, the official news agency of Tehran municipality, stated that 104 of this institute’s personnel were laid off. 50 workers of Mojan engineering company, construction contractor of the central sewage treatment plant in the Bandar Emam petrochemical plant and 35 other workers in Keyvan food industries in Hamadan province were laid off.

Executive secretary of Mazandaran province worker’s house announced Neka Choob company was out of business and its workers were laid off. Tehran Bus Company’s workers’ union invited the workers to attend a protest by the Parliament on May 1st, in commemoration of the international Labor Day.

Amir Amirgholi, Sanaz Allahyari and Amirhosein Mohammadifar, members of “Gam”, a labor right defendant magazine, were detained. Thus, detention was one of the most important news on workers in April. Amir Amirgholi and Esmail Bakhshi were transferred from Ahvaz prisons to Evin prison in Tehran and their investigation trial was held in the Evin prosecutor’s office. Three labor activists, Ghaleb Hoseini, Mozafar Salehnia and Ahmad Taghizadeh, in the cities of Sanandaj and Urmiah were summoned by these cities ‘security authorities before labor’s day. Twelve labor activists in Jahannama Park of Karaj were arrested as well. Four of them, Parvin Mohammadi, Valeh Zamani, Alireza Saghafi, and Haleh Safarzadeh, were detained.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in May 2019

‏ The most important news in this month was the arrest of more than 50 labor activists and citizens on the international labor’s day celebration in May, by the Parliament. Meanwhile, hundreds of workers were laid off because of businesses’ shut down. In this month, Reza Shahabi attended the General Conference of Labor in Dijon/France.

106 workers died or were injured because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in their workplaces. On the other hand, more than 50 workers of “Navard Ivan” steel company who were working for more than 10 years in this factory, were laid off because of this factory being out of business. Also, more than 100 workers of Mahshahr Pipe Mill and Kurdistan Alborz tire, and 140 workers of Mahshahr petrochemical plant were laid off in this month. Meanwhile, 263 laid off workers of Asaluyeh South Pars, who had unpaid wages and premiums, wrote a letter to the minister of oil and demanded their rights. They wrote in their letter, that they “collect bread waste” for living.

‏In this month, Reza Shahabi attended the 52nd  Congress of the General Confederation of Labor in Dijon/France as the representative of the Tehran Bus Company’s workers’ union. He reported that Farahnaz Shiri, the first female bus driver in Tehran Bus Company was fired because of her gender. He also spoke about the problems and limitations of workers in this company.

‏Unpaid wages of the teachers around the country, workers of Ghoo vegetable oil company of Tehran, Ilam slaughterhouse, RSTC of Arak, Tabriz, and Shazand, Mahabad and Tabas municipalities, sugar beet farmers of Naghdeh sugar production company, coal mine workers of Malach Aram mine, physicians of Yazd University of Medical Sciences, and Karj Imam Khomeini hospital workers, wee one of the other problems which workers were encountering this month.

‏More than 50 people were arrested during the international labor day’s ceremony which was held by the Parliament. Despite release of some of the detainees by bail, some others like Marzie Amiri, Keyvan Samimi, Hasan Saidi, Atefe Rangriz, Nasrin Javadi, Nahid Khodaju, Neda Naji and Farhad Sheykhi were in custody, being in prions for about a month.

Representatives of labor unions of many countries around the world attending the 52nd Congress of the General Confederation of Labor in Dijon/France and Amnesty International, released two separated statements and demanded setting detainees of international Labor Day free without any conditions. Cases of labor activists, Esmail Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian, Amir Amirgholi, Sanaz Allahyari, Amirhossein Mohammadifar, Asal Mohammadi and Ali Nejati, were sent to the Tehran’s Revolution Court. Although a bond was set for the detainees, the head of Evin prosecutor’s office prevented their release on bail. In addition, two labor activists in Sanandaj, Tofigh Mohammadi and Eghbal Shabani, were sentenced to two years in prison. More than 10 workers of Haft Tappeh were arrested or summoned by security authorities. There exact number of these workers is not known. They were arrested or summoned because of protesting the Islamic Labor Council of Haft Tappeh. Eshagh Rouhi, a labor activist from Sanandaj who was arrested at the same time of international Labor Day, was unable to pay the set bail and was held in prison. The trial of labor activist, Maziar Seyyednejad, was held in this month by the Revolution Court of Ahvaz.

 

Four Kulbars were killed or injured by police shot

Posted on: May 31st, 2019

In the past two days, two Kulbars, 23 years old Sina Mam-Hamidi and 55 years old Naser Olian were injured in Marivan and Urmia and two others, Khaled Salimi and Akam Bardel were killed by patrol police in Piranshahr.

In 2018, 48 Kulbars were killed and 104 had been injured by police patrol in the west and north west of Iran. According to this report, 300 other citizens (beside Kulbars) in 11 provinces were injured or killed by military forces.

Kulbars (carriers) are labors who are carrying goods across borders for living. The majority of Kulbars are working in West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah and Kurdistan provinces. Kulbars are carrying goods across the borders from unofficial locations, in lieu of a very low amount of money.

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”

Iran Update: Reports of Persecuted Baha’is October 24 – November 11

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) -Baha’i citizens of Iran have continued to face persecution this month, in the form of grave desecrations, business shutdowns, and interference by authorities in their places of employment. Meanwhile, one Baha’i prisoner has returned to prison after a furlough release.

Grave Desecration

Four days after her October 24th burial, the body of Shamsi Aghdasi Azamian, a Baha’i resident of Gilavand village near the city of Damavand, was found in the nearby rural outskirts of Jaban.

According to a close source, security forces called Azamian’s son that same day, informing him that her remains had been found and instructing him to rebury them in Tehran.

Security forces had previously forbidden Baha’i Gilavand residents from burying their dead locally, ordering instead that all deceased Baha’is be interred in the capital city, 50 miles west by mountain pass. Though Azamian’s son initially refused — citing Baha’i religious custom to lay believers to rest no more than one hour away from their place of death — the family ultimately complied under pressure from security forces.

Earlier this year, Iranian authorities issued a court order to lock down a Baha’i cemetery in the city of Kerman. Baha’is in Sanandaj, Ahvaz, Tabriz, and Sangesar have also been prevented from burying their loved ones in local cemeteries, and in the cases of Sangesar and Sanandaj, some Baha’i burial sites have been reported destroyed.

As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the desecration of Azamian’s grave.

Shutdown of Baha’i Businesses

Iranian Authorities have shut down the small businesses of five Baha’i Ahvaz residents and two Baha’i Abadan residents as of November 5th.

The businesses — which had been temporarily closed, in observance of Baha’i religious holidays — were court-ordered to remain sealed off to the public. Their owners were identified as Ahvaz residents Vargha Derakhsan, Behrouz Zohdi, Jahanbakhsh Afsharzadeh, Feizollah Ghanavatian, Sohrab Derakhsan, and brothers Arman Azadi and Aram Azadi of Abadan.

Having run their business for the past 38 years, the Azadi brothers had already experienced a forced shutdown on July 12, 2018. After a 14-day tug-of-war with security forces, the prosecutor’s office, and other municipal authorities, they managed to re-open their store on July 26th, only to be shut down again this month.

Despite trade union regulations protecting business owners from arbitrary closures, Baha’i citizens regularly face unexplained restrictions on their commercial activity. And while Iranian businesses are legally permitted to close up shop for a maximum of 15 days per year — for any reason — some have been forced to stay closed after briefly pausing their operations for Baha’i holidays.

On December 3, 2017, Rouhani aide Shahindokht Molaverdi said that Iranian authorities were looking into a legislative solution to this issue.

HRANA reported on the forced closure of 11 Baha’i-owned business in Ahvaz in July of this year, and previously published a story on the same trend in Abadan.

Baha’i Prisoner Back in Rajai Shahr After Furlough

Afshin Seyed Ahmad, a Baha’i political prisoner serving a three-year sentence for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime,” returned to prison on November 11th after eight days of furlough.

This was Ahmad’s first furlough release since beginning his sentence June 28, 2016, in Evin Prison. He has since been transferred to Rajai Shahr.

Ahmad previously spent 20 days in solitary confinement after a November 2012 arrest.

Educational Institution Shut Down

Two educational institutions in the city of Shiraz have been shut down by court order for employing recently-arrested Baha’i citizens Nora Pourmoradian and Elaheh Samizadeh.

HRANA reported on Pourmoradian and Samizadeh’s release on October 10th after spending more than three weeks in custody. The two were working in the field of music education for children.

A close source backed speculation that the institution’s shutdown was prompted by Pourmoradian and Samizadeh’s employment there.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Baha’i citizens of Iran are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.

Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.

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.

Labor Activists’ Appeals Look Bleak

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Labor activist Ebrahim Madadi’s prison sentence of five years and three months has been upheld in Branch 36 of Tehran Revolutionary Appeals Court.

If the outcome of Madadi’s appeal has come clear, the case of his co-defendant Davoud Razavi is less so: the absence of a judge has delayed the appeals hearing that was scheduled to review his own five-year prison sentence on October 31st of this year.

Madadi and Razavi were arrested April 28, 2014, for labor activism, detained in Evin prison, and released 22 days later on 1 billion IRR [approximately $25,000 USD] bail. Their initial trial was held in Branch 26 of Revolutionary Court.

Madadi is the vice president of the Greater Tehran Bus Drivers’ Syndicate and a longtime labor activist. Saleh Nikbakht, the attorney for both men, told HRANA that authorities have historically founded their allegations against Madadi on his syndical activities– so many manifestations, she said, of their intolerance of syndicates like the Bus Drivers’ Union. Egregious in the eyes of the judiciary, the attorney said, was Madadi’s distribution of sweets at a bus terminal on International Workers’ Day (May 1st) 2014, and his 2015 lobbying at the Labor Ministry for a higher minimum wage. Madadi served a 3-year prison sentence, also connected to his labor activism, that ended April 18, 2012.

Likewise, Revolutionary Court cited Razavi’s participation in the minimum-wage demonstrations as evidence of “collusion and assembly to act against national security.” The publishing of photos from these demonstrations was tantamount to anti-regime propaganda, they said; rallying fellow citizens to attend an International Labour Organization conference was endorsing “the labor opposition movement outside of Iran” (the ILO is an official UN agency). The court offered no other evidence connecting Razavi to a criminal offense.

In a statement dated April 2017, Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities “to immediately and unconditionally release those imprisoned for their peaceful trade union work, and quash the harsh prison sentences […] and allow workers to hold peaceful gatherings, including on International Workers’ Day, and to exercise their right to form and join independent trade unions to improve their living situations.”

Madadi, a sexagenarian, suffers from diabetes, prostate inflammation, and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Secondary to a stroke, he has gone deaf in one ear and suffered partial hearing loss in the other.

Arak HEPCO Strikers Sentenced to Suspended Imprisonment and Lashings

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Fifteen workers from the Heavy Equipment Production Company (HEPCO) in Arak who staged rallies in protest of delayed wages in May 2018 have been sentenced to one year in prison and 74 lashings each for “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.”

Judge Akbar Rezvani of Arak Criminal Court No. 2 Branch 106 recently issued the sentences, which will be suspended over five years.

HRANA previously reported the identities of the defendants: Majid Latifi, Behrouz Hassanvand, Hamidreza Ahmadi, Amir Hooshang Poorfarzanegan, Morteza Azizi, Hadi Fazeli, Abolfazl Karimi, Farid Koodani, Majid Yahyaei, Amir Fattahpour, Yaser Gholi, Amir Farid Afshar, Mehdi Abedi, Ali Maleki, and Behrouz Velashjerdi.

Some of the protestors’ prison terms were compounded by additional charges: Fazeli, Afshar, and Karimi stand threatened by a year and six months’ additional prison time; Hassanvand also faces an additional year in prison [should he re-offend within the five-year suspension period].

Judge Rezvani also added six more months onto the sentences of [Latifi, Ahmadi, Poorfarzanegan, Koodani, Fattahpour, Gholi and Velashjerdi], charging them with “aiding in disrupting public peace.”

The collective verdict acknowledged economic hardship as a motivating factor in the strikers’ offenses, thus justifying a suspended sentence based on Articles 46 [“Suspension and Execution of Punishment”] and 38 [“Mitigating Factors”] of the Islamic Penal Code.

HRANA previously reported on ten striking workers who received subpoenas, quoting one HEPCO worker who saw the irony in the court summons, saying that strikers had already exhausted all other avenues of communicating their needs. “They have previously voiced their guild’s demands in letters to governmental and judiciary establishments such as the provincial governments, the local satellite office of the Supreme Leader, county governments, and security establishments.”

Below is an excerpt of the strikers’ verdict sheet:

1. Majid Latifi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” and six months in prison for “abetting and inciting workers of HEPCO to assemble and disrupt public peace, inducing propaganda against the regime.”

2. Behrouz Hassanvand, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering, producing sensationalized rhetoric for biased individuals, displaying insolence toward police officers [thereby] inducing conflict and disruption to public peace,” and one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime.”

3. Hamidreza Ahmadi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace by participating in rallies and rhetoric for biased individuals” and six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace through inciting workers to propagandize against the regime.”

4. Amir Hooshang Poorfarzanegan, sentenced to six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace through inciting workers to attend the gathering,” one year in prison for “disrupting public peace [thereby] inducing propaganda against the regime,” and 74 lashings for “aiding in disrupting public peace.”

5. Morteza Azizi, represented by attorney Seyed Saeed Mirmohammadi, was sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” and six months in prison for “leading an illegal gathering of workers inducing propaganda against the regime.”

6. Hadi Fazeli, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering,” six months in prison for “aiding in inciting workers to disrupt public peace” and one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime via voice, video, and text broadcasts.”

7. Abolfazl Karimi, represented by attorneys Seyed Farhad Bathaei and Fatemeh Karimi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering,” six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace through inciting workers to attend a gathering inducing disruption of public peace,” and one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime through the printing, publishing, and display of protest banners.”

8. Farid Koodani, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” and six months in prison for “aiding in disruption of public peace inducing propaganda against the regime.”

9. Majid Yahyaei, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.”

10. Amir Fattahpour, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” and six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace through inciting workers to attend a gathering inducing propaganda against the regime.”

11. Yaser Gholi, represented by attorney Seyed Saeed Mirmohammadi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” and six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace through planning worker gatherings in the Tehran Privatization Organization[…] inciting workers to attend a gathering inducing disruption of public peace, and propaganda against the regime.”

12. Amir Farid Afshar, represented by attorney Seyed Saeed Mirmohammadi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering,” six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace through inciting workers and biased individuals to disrupt public peace” and one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime through the creation of the HEPCO Telegram channel.”

13. Mehdi Abedi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.”

14. Ali Maleki, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.”

15. Behrouz Velashjerdi, sentenced to one year and 74 lashings for “disrupting public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” and six months in prison for “aiding in disrupting public peace by inciting workers to a commotion in cyberspace.”

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

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

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

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

Summary

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

Death Penalty

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

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

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

Freedom of Thought and Expression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Religious and Ethnic Minorities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Children’s Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women

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

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

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

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

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

Laborers and Guilds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health and Environment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultural Rights and Censorship

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

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

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

Military and Law-Enforcement Power Abuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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