New Details Emerge on Inhumane Treatment of Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Payam Derafshan

Saeed Dehghan has revealed more details about the arrest of his colleague, lawyer and human rights activist Payam Derafshan.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Dehghan claims in a note on his personal social media page that on June 7, 2020, 17 security agents raided Derafshan’s office and arrested him.

The post says, the agents took him to a so-called safe house and then, from there, to a solitary confinement cell in detention center No 2A. There they injected him with an unknown drug causing seizure and subsequent hospitalization.

“Not just a human rights activist, (Derafshan) was the secretary of the commission for the Protection of Lawyers, which is devoted to protects the lawyers who face security and judicial issues,” Derafshan’s note reads. “On June 7, 2020, 17 security forces raided his office, inspected the office and confiscated his personal computer and other documents…From the very time of arrest through the interrogation process, the interrogators of IRGC’s intelligence unit wanted to find out why he accepted Kavous Seyed-Emami’s case…They transferred him with a blindfold to a safe house rather than a detention centre. In addition to denying access to a phone call and informing his family and lawyer, his confinement in a dark cell without any windows in summertime put the maximum mental and corporeal pressure on him. Thereafter, they transferred him to detention centre No 2A, which is at the disposal of IRGC.  Being held in a cell with always-on-bright lamps, noisy ventilation and stinky toilet and long interrogation were making sleeping hard for him.”

When Mr. Derafshan complained about this situation, he was reportedly threatened with an electric shocker and then taken to prison healthcare where he was injected with an unknown drug. This injection caused a seizure, tongue biting and subsequent fainting and internal bleeding.

According to the note, they transferred him to the hospital the following day for surgery on his tongue. Thereafter, they extended the detention period and sent him back to the public ward of Evin Prison without providing any medical treatment for recovery time after surgery. When he got seizures again, they hospitalized him in a psychiatric hospital where he received electric shocks, which not only exacerbated his seizure problem, but also caused brain damage and consciousness disorders.

On July 6, 2020,  the Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Iman Afshari sentenced Payam Derafshan to two years and six months imprisonment on the charge of “the propaganda against the regime, spreading lies and disturbing public opinions and carrying illegal shocker and sprays”. He was exonerated on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”. The verdict was upheld on appeal but reduced to two years grounded on the applicability of “Punishment Reduction Law”.  After issuing the sentence, he was sent on furlough and after serving one-third of his term, he was released on probation to complete the treatment process.

In a previous case, Branch 1 of Karaj Revolutionary Court had sentenced him to two years imprisonment and two years occupational deprivation as a lawyer on the charge of “offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”. The imprisonment was reduced to one year on appeal. The conviction was held in suspension. It is unknown whether, after the last final conviction, this previous conviction will come out of suspension.

Payam Derafshan has been the lawyer of many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience such as Muhammad Najafi, Vida Movahed, Nasrin Sotoudeh,  Kavous Seyed-Emami’s family, Fatemeh Khishavand, Sekineh Parvaneh and a number of arrestees in the nationwide protests of November 2019.

Two Participants in July Protests in Khuzestan Arrested in Behbahan

Two participants in this July’s Protests in Khuzestan were arrested this weekend in Behbahan.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Gholam Tayebi and Muhammad Khalili were arrested by security forces and transferred to an unidentified location on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17, respectively.

In the company of the police of NAJA (Disciplinary Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran), security forces arrested the citizens separately in Behbahan City, where they were forced to flee from their home in Kurdistan Bozorg Village. After the wave of arrests from this village, they did not return home due to the prosecution. According to this report, Ali Tayebi, another resident of this village, has also been arrested.

An informed source told HRANA that most of the arrestees from this village in regards to July protests in Khuzestan are farmers–biggest victims of water resources mismanagement of the government. A while back, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad had informed about the delay in autumn planting due to lowering reservoir levels of dams in this area.

According to Summary Report from the Khuzestan Protests in 41 Cities published by HRANA, 171 people were arrested in the July protests. The protests erupted on July night 15, 2021 in Khuzestan province to outcry over water shortages and water supply mismanagement. These protests lasted two weeks spreading over 41 cities of the province. Reportedly, dozen people were killed and wounded and hundreds were arrested.

 

Sunni Prisoner Zaher Roozkhun Released on Bail

On Thursday, October 14, Sunni prisoner Zaher Roozkhun was released temporarily on bail until the end of criminal proceedings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, Mahabad resident Zaher Roozkhun was released on bail for 350 million tomans (approx. 13,000 US dollars). He has been denied access to lawyer and family visitation during the detention.

Roozkhun had been previously arrested by security forces before too on August 29, 2021. After completing the interrogation process, he was sent from a detention center in Urmia to Mahabad Prison.

As of writing this, the reason for his arrest and the charges is unknown.

 

Political Prisoner Arezoo Ghasemi Released on Leave from Evin Prison

On Wednesday, October 14, political prisoner Arezoo Ghasemi was released on furlough from Evin Prison in Tehran.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Ghasemi has been enduring her one and a half year prison sentence since August 9, 2020. On July 20 of this year, after testing positive for COVID-19, she was also granted furlough.

Arezoo Ghasemi was arrested by security forces amid nationwide protests in November 2019. She was released on bail until August 9, 2020, when she was sent to Evin Prison to serve her sentence.

The Branch 28 of the revolutionary court, headed by Judge Mohammad Moghayeseh sentenced her to three years imprisonment on a charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”. This sentence was subsequently reduced to one and a half years after applying the “Punishment Reduction Law”.

During the wave of protests of November 2019 in dozens of cities, which broke out initially in protest of an unprecedented fuel price surge, hundreds were killed and seven thousand were arrested by regime forces.

Since Ghasemi will have served out her term by the end of the furlough, she will not return to prison.

Political Prisoner Mojgan Kavousi Transferred Back to Evin Prison from Kachooie Prison

On Wednesday, October 13, political prisoner Mojgan Kavousi was sent back to Evin Prison from Kachooie Prison in Karaj.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Kavousi was relocated to Karaj police detention center a while ago, and from there to Kachooie Prison.

In a phone call with her family, Kavousi informed them about this relocation.  The reason for her transfer to Kachooie Prison is still unknown.

On July 26, 2021, Branch 28 of the appellate court in Mazandaran Province issued an order to transfer the political prisoner to a prison in Alborz Province for the remainder of her sentence.

“Due to  COVID-related restrictions making family visitation difficult, Mrs Kavousi asked for transferring to Noshahr where her family are living,” an informed source told HRANA. “On July 13, 2021, they transferred her to Noshahr but after spending one-night in police detention centre, they sent her back to Tehran. Considering that her family are residing in either Tehran or Noshahr, it is not clear why she should be transferred to a prison in Alborz Province.”

On November 20, 2019, Mojgan Kavousi was arrested by security forces amid nationwide protests in the mid-fall of the year, from her home in Noshahr. After being held three weeks in detention, she was sent to Noshahr Prison. On December 19, 2019, she was released on bail.

The Revolutionary Court in Noshahr sentenced her to 6 months on a charge of “the propaganda against the regime”, 33 months on a charge of “membership in opposition parties” and 30 months on a charge of “provoking to disturb the public order”. During the appeal process, the sentence was increased by seven months due to the influence of the prosecutor.

Mojgan Kavouci is a writer, researcher and follower of Yarsanism.

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Judiciary Announced Shahin Naseri’s Cause of Death as “Drug Poisoning”

In a recent news conference,  Judiciary spokesperson Zabihollah Khodaeyan claimed the Shahin Naseri’s death in prison was caused by ” drug poisoning”, without providing any details.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting IRNA, Shahin Naseri was an eyewitness to the torture of Navid Afkari. On September 21, 2021, he went to Prison healthcare of the Greater Tehran Prison for treatment, where he died mysteriously after 45 minutes.

“In the previous meeting, we said that forensic results have not yet been announced, ” Khodaeyan said in regard to Naseri’s death, “but recently forensic has detected drug poisoning as the cause of death.”

According to fellow inmates and friends close to Shahin Naseri, who had talked to him before his death, he did not express any depressive symptoms or any intention to commit suicide. Rather, he was concerned about his life and health due to the threats he had received in solitary confinement.

After testifying about the torture of Navid Afkari, he was exiled to the Greater Tehran Prison where he was held in solitary confinement for a while.

Two days after Shahin Naseri’s death, Public Relations of Tehran Prisons General Administration said in a statement,  “The inmate was urgently transferred to Prison healthcare, where he was under the resuscitation operation for 45 minutes, but despite the efforts of the medical staff, he died.”

In a voice message recorded before the death of Navid Afkari, Shahin Naseri reveals a part of tortures his fellow inmate has gone through.

“One day when they were taking me to the police station in Shiraz, in the corridor, I heard screams, begging and obscenities,” Naseri says in the recording.  “When I passed along the torture place, I saw that two undercover cops were beating on his face with batons.”

An informed source close to his family told HRANA that in coincide with the anniversary of Navid Afkari’s execution, they relocated him to an unknown location. Based on threats he had received from security forces, we thought he was transferred to a location of a security unit. But a few days ago, we found out that he was held somewhere in the Greater Tehran Prison. Since he did not have any acute background diseases, his death is quite suspicious.

“I heard clearly that they told him that you should write down and confess whatever we tell you,” Naseri added in the recorded message. “When I went to Security Court for testifying, I told the Branch Investigator about his torture. He said with slanderous words that ‘you are meddling in a security case. I will force the agents to file a complaint against you for these accusations. If you play with fire you are going to get burnt.'”

Navid Afkari was an Iranian wrestler who, despite serious ambiguities in his case and worldwide outcry to halt the execution, was executed on September 13, 2019, in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz.

Morteza Parhizgar Released on Probation from Vakilabad Prison

On Sunday night, October 10, political prisoner, Morteza Parhizgar was released on probation from Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Parhizgar was released after spending three years and nine-month in prison and receiving 74 lashes.

On December 30, 2017, Morteza Parhizgar was arrested by security forces amid protests across the country.

After nine months, in December 2018, Branch 131 of criminal court and Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, each in a separate case, sentenced him to nine years imprisonment and flogging of 74 whips. They convicted him  on the charges of ” offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”,  ” disrupting public order through participation in unlawful assemblies”, “assembly and collusion in the purpose of acting against national security”, ” propaganda against the regime “, “arson of police motorcycles in the purpose of opposing the regime.”

During the nationwide protests in December 2017, numerous citizens in various cities across the country were arrested and interrogated. At least 35 people were killed by police and five thousand were detained.

14 Political Prisoners Punitively Transferred to Locked-Door Ward of Greater Tehran Prison

Following a beating of political prisoners by a mob of fellow inmates of violent crimes in the Greater Tehran prison, the official authorities forced 14 of these political prisoners to relocate to a ward with locked doors and inadequate conditions.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, these political prisoners were housed in section 1, type 2 of the Greater Tehran prison. They were said that if they refuse to relocate, Special Prison Guards would take action to relocate them by force.

The inmates have been identified as Hossein Ghasghaie, Mehran Delfan-Azari, Meysam Gholoami, Hojatollah Rafei, Reza Salavati, Morteza Olangi, Shahab Soltanian, Dawood Abdollahi, Shapur Ehsani-rad, Pouya Ghobadi, Ismail Gerami, Akbar Bagheri, Alireza Farshi and Akbar Faraji.

The day after this incident, in response to this news, the head of state prisons and Security and Corrective Measures Organization, Muhammad Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi confirmed the news.

“In regard to inaccurate news of beating in the Greater Tehran prison, I would say that not intellectuals but criminals belong to the prison,” Haj-Mohammadi wrote on his personal page on social media. “Despite all controls, tensions and quarrels happen.”

On Friday, October 8, the above-mentioned prisoners were beaten by a mob of prisoners of violent crimes. Contrary to the laws of the prison, these political prisoners were being housed in the same ward as the prisoners of violent crimes. Reportedly, Pouya  Ghobadi and Akbar Bagheri were severely injured.

 

Civil Activist Sepideh Gholiyan Arrested by Security Forces in Ahvaz

Civil activist Sepideh Gholiyan, who has been on leave from Bushehr Prison since August 19, was recently arrested by security forces in Ahvaz from her sister’s home to serve the rest of her sentence.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, security police confiscated the cell phones of all family members during the arrest.

Confirming Gholiyan’s arrest, an informed source told HRANA, “Thirty male and female security forces entered her sister’s home, arrested Mrs. Gholiyan, and confiscated the cell phones of all family members.”

Before this arrest, on her personal page on social media, Gholiyan had informed that she had been summoned to Bushehr prison and commented “Ten days ago, they called me from Bushehr Prison that I have to return to there. I told them that I am supposed to go to Tehran where the Executive Branch of the Department of Justice would decide to which prison I had to be sent. Seemingly, they are searching to find somewhere worse than Bushehr Prison.”

On November 18, 2018, Sepideh Gholiyan was arrested along with at least 19 others, including members of the Assembly of Representatives of Haft-Tappeh’s workers, several workers’ activists and company personnel and managers by security police of NAJA in Shush city. She was released on bail on December 18, 2018.

After broadcasting her forced confession as well as some other workers’ activists, including Ismail-Bakhshi on national TV channel, they announced that the “confessions” were extracted under torture by security forces. Soon after this announcement, the security police arrested them.

On October 26, 2019, she was released on bail until the end of legal proceedings. On December 14, 2019, she was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by Tehran appellate court.

On June 21, 2020, she began serving her prison term in Evin prison. On March 10, 2021, she was exiled to Bushehr Prison, where she was held until being granted leave, and to where she is now being transferred back.

Supreme Court Confirms Shaker Behruz’s Death Sentence Despite Evidence Pointing Towards His Innocence

Branch 31 of the Supreme Court of Iran recently confirmed the death sentence of political prisoner Shaker Behruz, who is currently being held in Urmia Prison, despite a strong alibi pointing to his innocence.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Branch 31 of the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence of 33-year-old Shaker Behruz last Tuesday, October 5. The verdict was confirmed in spite of the alibi statements of 12 witnesses, all of whose testimonies the court refused to hear.

The indictment alleges that Behruz murdered a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

According to an informed source, security agents threatened the victim’s family’s, who was an IRGC member, to cut their allowance from the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, if they refused to accuse Behruz.

Another informed source close to the victim’s family also said that the family does not believe he is guilty and are ready to testify to his innocence.

Twelve eye-witnesses signed a statement expressing their readiness to testify that Mr. Behruz was in his shop when the crime was committed. Despite all the above, the court convicted the defendant without the presence of the family as accusers and hearing of eye-witnesses.