Journalists at Tehran-Municipality-Owned Newspaper Asked Probing Personal Questions by New Management

Following turnover in the Tehran-Municipality-owned Hamshahri newspaper’s managerial board, the extension of staff members’ contracts is being influenced by answers they give to a set of probing personal questions about their lifestyle and beliefs.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Fararu, employees are being asked questions such as “Why haven’t you married?” and “Why didn’t you vote in the election?”.

“It seems to be very serious,” journalist Mohsen Zohuri, commented. “They held an inquisition meeting for the journalists of Hamshahri and asked the question like ‘Why don’t you go to Congregational prayer?’, ‘Did you vote on such and such election?’, ‘How many chapters of Quran have you memorized?’, “Why did you get divorced?’ or ‘Why haven’t you married?’ ”

Changes in management in Tehran Municipality led to the appointment of a new director at Hamshahri newspaper. The new director has reportedly spearheaded this new procedure for extending contracts, and it is being applied to even the publication’s most tenured reporters.

“The new management in Hamshahri newspaper has set an inquisition meeting for its well-experienced and professional journalists,” a member of the Board of Directors of the Journalists’ Guild Association wrote on his personal page on social media. “They have to answer the irrelevant questions which means nothing but spying on personal lives and has nothing whatsoever to do with their occupation. I hope someone comes forward to explain that.”

 

Eight Street Booksellers Arrested by Security Police of NAJA

On Saturday, October 2, Tehran’s Security Police of NAJA arrested eight street booksellers for allegedly selling illegal books.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting IBNA, the police confiscated some of the books.

One of the members of the Workgroup for Protecting the Rights of Publishers and Booksellers called these detained booksellers “distributors of illegal and smuggled books”.

The member claimed that part of these confiscated books is the works of the supporters of the restoration of the monarchy in Iran as well as illegal books and unpermitted hard copies of bestselling books.

Ghasem Bahrami still Detained in Unknown Location

Sixteen days after his arrest in Mashhad, the whereabouts and situation of critical poet Ghasem Bahrami remain unknown.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Mr. Bahrami was arrested by security forces on September 15, and then transferred to an unidentified location where he has since been held incommunicado.

Bahrami is known for expressing political views through his poetry. There is still no concrete information about the reason for his arrest or the charges against him, but is said that his arrest is related to the publicizing of videos and lyrics retrieved from his poems.

Rapper Known for his Protest Songs Arrested in Isfahan

On Monday, September 13, Tomaj Salehi, a rapper known for his protest songs, was arrested by security forces at his home in Isfahan.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, 12 security forces came to the artist’s house in 4 cars, searched his house during his arrest, and confiscated a number of his belongings.

Mr. Salehi had previously warned on his Twitter account that he might be arrested.

As of this writing, no information is available on the charges against him or where he is being held.

Six Afghans Sentenced to Death in Tehran

Six men were recently sentenced to death on charges of rape by Branch 7 of the First Criminal Court in Tehran.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Rokna, these men are citizens of Afghanistan.

In addition to the death penalty, two men were sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing the victim’s cell phone.

Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per capita, according to international organizations. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) reported that between January 1 and December 20 of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed.

One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death. According to the same report, more than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary, which human rights organizations call “secret” executions.

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79 Citizens Arrested for Promoting Emergence of a New Mysticism in Gilan Province

Maleki, the commander of the Gilan police force, recently announced the arrest of 79 citizens in one of the province’s forests.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Rokna, the citizens were arrested for what Maleki called “promoting emerging mysticism”.

“79 members of a tourist tour, including 27 women and 52 men, were arrested on charges of promoting false mysticism by holding superstitious rituals in the unsafe environment of a remote forest area,” he said.

Intrusion into citizens’ privacy and interference in their personal affairs are among the criticisms leveled at Iran’s judicial and disciplinary system.

“After receiving news about individuals who use cyberspace trying to propagate and promote emerging false mysticism through fraud,” Maleki continued, “receiving money, and setting up illegal tourist tours by holding superstitious rituals, the investigation of the issue was put on the agenda of the police.”

14-Year-Old Mobina Murdered in Lorestan in what Islamic Penal Code Classifies as “Honor Killing”

On Monday, August 30, 14-year-old Mobina, who was from the Suri area of Lorestan Province was murdered by a family member in what is classified under Islamic Law as an “honor killing”.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Rokna, Mobina was the victim of a child marriage who was married to a young cleric in her village. She was murdered after relatives presumed she had an affair.

Under Islamic Law, in murder cases where the (usually-female) victim has been accused of  “disgracing the family’s honor”, exemptions and sentence reductions are frequently granted to the murderers.

“The murder happened due to family disputes, and the accused has been identified and arrested,” said the Lorestan police chief. “He is one of the relatives of the victim.”

“Honor crimes” or “honor killings” are acts of assault or murder, usually towards women and usually committed by male relatives.

The scope of the ways “disgracing family honor” can be defined is extremely broad; women can be accused for being victims of rape, getting a divorce (even from an abusive husband), committing adultery, or even just having sexual relations before marriage.

Man Acquitted for a Murder that was Ordered by his Father with Consent of Victim’s Father

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Rokna, a man in Tehran who had killed a young man at the request of father was acquitted of severe punishments with the consent of the victim’s father.

Under the laws of the Islamic Republic, the father, as the “rightful parent”, is spared serious punishment in the event of murder or complicity in the murder of their child. This issue has long been criticized by critics of the current laws in the country. In some cases, fathers have committed murders after finding out that a father is safe from severe punishment for the murder of their own child in Iran.

On this subject, the former head of the Tehran Criminal Court stated, “According to the Islamic Penal Code, the mother will be punished more severely than the murderer father under the heading of ‘complicity in murder of child’. Based on Article 127 of the Islamic Penal Code, fathers will be sentenced to between 3 and 10 years imprisonment while it is 15 years for the mothers.

Maryam Ebrahimvand Arrested by Security Forces in Tehran

On the morning of Sunday, August 22, Maryam Ebrahimvand, a director, filmmaker, and former prisoner, was arrested by security forces and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, she was released after a couple of hours interrogation.

According to a close source to Ms. Ebrahimvand, she had gone to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to seek permission for her confiscated films, and was arrested in front of the Ministry’s building in Tehran.

“A few months ago,” the source told HRANA, “Ms. Ebrahimvand was told by the Ministry of Guidance that after receiving a letter working ban from the IRGC,  it is not possible to grant permission for her films.”

Ms. Ebrahimvand had previously been detained and convicted. IRGC intelligence agents arrested Ms. Ebrahimvand in September 2016. After 35 days, she was released on  a bail of 300 million Tomans from the IRGC Intelligence Detention Center, Ward 2A, Evin Prison.

Nearly two years later, in July 2018, Ms. Ebrahimvand was arrested again after being summoned to Branch 4 of the Culture and Media Court. She was transferred to Ward 2A of the IRGC, and then was transferred to prison a month after interrogations ended, while a bail of 10 billion Tomans was issued for her.

Ms. Ebrahimvand, who had been detained in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison from July 2018, was sentenced by Branch 1059 of the Government Employees’ Court to ten years in prison in November of last year on charges of “making a vulgar film”, “insulting the President”, and “spreading lies against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”.

In the second part of her case, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced her to 6 months in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” and in the final verdict, she was sentenced to a total of ten years and six months in prison.

Ms. Ebrahimvand was finally informed of her release in June of this year after appearing before the Culture and Media Court.

Maryam Ebrahimvand is a writer, film director, and producer of “Comedy of Love”, “We Are All Alone”, and “Girls’ Boarding House”.

Father Legally Bars 12-year-old Daughter From Attending World Equestrian Championship Abroad

12-year-old athlete Sara Pour-Azima was barred from participating in the World Equestrian Championships because her father legally banned her from leaving the country.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Pour-Azima was scheduled to leave for Russia his week with the rest of her team.

Mehrdad Mehravin, the lawyer of Sara’s mother, said the young athlete’s parents are currently embroiled in a legal battle regarding alimony, and that the father’s move to ban Sara from travel was part of an ongoing dispute with Sara’s mother. Sara reportedly found out that she had been barred from travel to the Championships upon arriving at the airport.

Given the importance of the trip in the athlete’s success and future, legal action was taken to obtain permission from the prosecutor so that Sarah could travel, but legal authorities did not ultimately issue an allowance for her to leave the country.

In Iran, before getting married, women need the legal permission of a father or paternal grandfather to leave the country, and the permission of a husband after marriage.