Increase in Arrests of Baha’i Citizens in Shiraz

Posted on: August 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Friday, August 17, 2018, Baha’i citizens Pezhman Shahriari, Dorna Esmaili, Hooman Esmaili, Kourosh Rouhani, Negar Misaghian and Mahboob Habibi were arrested by security forces and transferred to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in the city of Shiraz.

An informed source told HRANA: “Negar Misaghian and Dorna Esmaili were released hours after [their arrest].”

Unconfirmed reports from sources close to the security apparatus say at least 40 Baha’i citizens in Shiraz were arrested today, during a planned operation. HRANA is in the process of investigating this claim.

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.

Security Forces Storm the Residences of Civil Activists

Posted on: August 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – This morning, Saturday, August 18, 2018, security forces of the Ministry of Intelligence stormed the private residences of Reza Khandan, Mr Khandan’s sister, Mohammadreza (Davoud) Farhadpour and Jila Makvandi. The security forces produced inspection orders issued by Branch 7 of Evin Court, searched the residences thoroughly and confiscated a number of items belonging to the aforementioned individuals.

Reza Khandan, the husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, told HRANA, “This morning, Saturday, August 18, between 8 and 10 am, security forces of the Ministry of Intelligence entered our home and searched every inch of it. After that, they went to the home of Mr Mohammadreza (Davoud) Farhadpour and searched his home in its entirety as well. At the same time, in an unusual attempt, the security force went to my sister’s home and violently searched the entire place, going so far as individually inspecting every page of her child’s notebook. Two hours later, they arrived at our neighbor’s door and asked them a number of questions about us. It is likely that their invasion of my sister’s privacy is merely an attempt to further pressure my family; there simply is no other explanation for it. The security forces had in hand an order issued by the Branch 7 of Evin Court.”

Reza Khandan added, “The security forces were only looking for [lapel pins] which have ‘I opposed mandatory veiling’ [engraved on them]. They also took some of the letters that my wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh, had sent from prison.”

This morning, Jila Karamzadeh Makvandi reported of her home’s inspection in a post affixed with the inspection order. She wrote, “This morning at 10 am agents from the Ministry of Intelligence inspected our home using this order. The inspection was in regards to Dr Maysami’s books and the [lapel pins] with the engraving‘I oppose mandatory veiling.’”

Furthermore, in the order issued by Branch 7 of Evin Court and posted by Jila Karamzadeh Makvandi, in addition to the inspection of her residence, it is stated that Farhad Maysami is being held in solitary confinement.

Security Forces Arrest More Citizens in Ahvaz

Posted on: August 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Several citizens in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz were arrested by security forces in the aftermath of a football match between Esteghlal Ahvaz and Tehran’s Persepolis that took place on August 9th. After the match, fans chanted slogans against the Iranian authorities.

The arrestees, who are among the Arab citizens of Ahvaz, were reportedly arrested by security forces of the Intelligence Department of Ahvaz’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

HRANA was able to identify two of the arrestees as Imen Beit Sayah, 16, and Bashir Sorkhi. Mr Sorkhi was reportedly arrested on August 15th and taken to an unidentified location. Mr Sayah was arrested on August 9th and taken to an unidentified location.

Bashir Sorkhi (left) and 16-year-old Imen Beit Sayah (right)

After a week, the family of the arrestees still have no information about the whereabouts of their children.

On August 16th, HRANA had reported on the arrest of another Ahvazi citizen by security forces.

Baha’i Couple From Shiraz Arrested

Posted on: August 17th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Friday, August 17, 2018, Negar Misaghian and Mahboob Habibi, a Baha’i couple from Shiraz, were arrested by security forces and transferred to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in the same city.

Earlier this month, HRANA also reported on the court verdict for Rouhieh Nariman and Farzad Delaram, another Baha’i couple in Shiraz. Rouhieh Nariman was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, and her husband, Farzad Delaram, was sentenced to one year in prison by Branch 17 of the Shiraz Appeals Court.

Iranian Baha’i citizens 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, everyone is entitled to the right to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice either individually, in public or in private.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran’s Constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and denies recognizing the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

Azerbaijani Turkish Activists Arrested After Ceremony in Mount Sabalan

Posted on: August 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Security forces in Meshginshahr (northwestern Iran) reportedly arrested several Azerbaijani Turkish minority activists on Friday, August 10th after attacking their camp in Mount Sabalan.

The activists, who had reportedly planned to climb Mount Sabalan, were arrested while reading poetry in their camp. There is no information available at this time about their condition or the charges issued against them.

HRANA was able to confirm some of their names: Aidin Zakeri, Tohid Amir Amini, Saleh Pichganloo, Reza Ebrahimi, Rahim Nowrouzi, Mojtaba Parvin, Mostafa Parvin, Yousef Kari, Mehdi Houshmand, Babak Nikzad, Younes Shokri, Javad Shokri, Hossein Salavan, Mohammad Ghohoumzadeh, Rasoul Ghohoumzadeh, Ealman Mohammadpour, Aisouda Mohammadpour and Ahmad Mohammadpour.

According to eyewitnesses, some of the activists were beaten for resisting arrest. One of the detained activists informed his family in a phone call that they were all transferred to a detention center in Lahroud (near Meshginshahr).

Political Prisoner Farhad Ariai on Hunger Strike

Posted on: August 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Farhad Ariai Sahrapeyma, a political prisoner in the workers’ ward of the central prison of Urmia, who has served six years of a seven-year sentence, began a hunger strike on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

Mr Ariai, who is eligible for early release, began his hunger strike in protest to the court’s refusal to grant him early release and its lack of enforcement of Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code. Article 134 holds that people convicted of crimes should serve only the term of their most serious sentence instead of the sum total of all of their sentences.

According to an informed source, Mr. Ariai was immediately transferred to solitary confinement after beginning his hunger strike. Mr Ariai has previously gone on hunger strike. Last year, he began a hunger strike to protest his deprivation of furlough, after which guards forcefully handcuffed and transferred him to the workers’ ward in prison, where he has been held since.

Farhad Ariai Shahrapeyma was arrested in December 2012 and charged with “Cooperation with opposition groups” and “Propaganda against the regime”. He was sentenced to a seven-year prison term.

In January 2016, HRANA had published a list of 27 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who were held in the regular prison wards of Urmia central prison.

Death Row Prisoner Denied Medical Care in Sanandaj

Posted on: August 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Gholamreza (Shoresh) Morovati, imprisoned in Sanandaj Central Prison, has been denied access to medical care despite a serious injury to the tendons of his feet for more than two weeks. Mr Morovati injured his foot in a sporting accident in Saghez Prison, but instead of being transferred to the prison’s clinic, Iranian authorities moved him to solitary confinement. Eleven days later, Mr Morovati was reportedly transferred to Sanandaj Prison without receiving any medical care.

Gholamreza Morovati was sentenced to death on murder charges in connection to an armed robbery, he has been imprisoned for the past nine years. Last year, he was transferred from Rajai Shahr Prison to Saghez Prison after he had protested the unclear situation of his case.

Mr Morovati reportedly requested from the authorities to execute him as a result of not being able to tolerate prison conditions.

Political Activist Sentenced to 13-Year Prison Term

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Ruhollah Ahura Hedayati, a citizen from the city of Shazand (western Iran), who was previously arrested in October of last year and released on bail after two months, was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison after being charged with “Propaganda against the regime”, “Membership in groups aimed at undermining the security of the country”, “Blasphemy” and “Insulting religious beliefs and leadership.” Mr Hedayati was sentenced in the First Branch of the Shazand Revolutionary Court, presided by Hassan Hosseini. According to the ruling, in line with Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, only the most severe sentence should be served.

An informed source told HRANA that Mr Hedayati was charged with “Possession of two grams of a controlled substance”, which carried a cash fine of four million Rials (approximately $83 USD) and a sentence of fifty lashes.

According to the Court, the sentence was issued based on Mr Hedayati’s “clear” confession to attending the celebration of “Cyrus the Great Day” on October 28, 2016, in the city of Shiraz. According to the ruling, the evidence for Mr Hedayati’s presence at the celebration was based on videos and photos taken from the gathering at the tomb of Cyrus, a ruler of ancient Persia, and Mr. Hedayati’s own confessions to writing slogans on the walls and installations of a detention center and Intelligence office in Arak.

Three Reports of Misconduct toward Political Prisoners in Urmia

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Last week, HRANA received three confirmed reports of misconduct to three political prisoners in Urmia’s central prison. Azad Mohammadi and Hassan Peyghami were transferred from Ward 12 to the psychotherapy ward after reportedly engaging in a verbal dispute with a prison authority by the name of “Medadi”. Political prisoner Abdolrahman Fattahi was reportedly beaten by a prison guard by the name of Rasoul Ghanizadeh and two other prisoners. As a result of the attack, Mr Fattahi reportedly began a hunger strike in addition to filing a complaint against his attackers.

Azad Mohammadi was arrested in May 2016 and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Hassan Peyghami is reportedly facing a new charge of “Insulting the Supreme Leader”. A source close to Mr Peyghami told HRANA: “Hassan Peyghami got involved in a verbal dispute with a former IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) agent who is imprisoned for embezzlement and other financial offenses. [Mr Peyghami] may face new charges as a result of this.” On September 19, 2016, Mr Peyghami was sentenced to 30 months in prison by Branch 1 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Chabok, for the charge of “Acting against national security”. Mr Peyghami was reportedly arrested two years ago for the same charge and served a two-year prison exile sentence Urmia and Tabriz.

The misconduct of the authorities in Urmia’s central prison toward prisoners is not unprecedented. Prisoner Saeed Seyed Abbasi was also attacked and beaten by the head of the prison and transferred to solitary confinement and denied medical care. In April 2018, HRANA reported on an attack against Saeed Nouri, a former IRGC lieutenant, by two prison authorities.

Two New Cases Opened Against Nasrin Sotoudeh

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Payam Derafshan, the lawyer of prominent lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, has announced that two new case files have been opened against his client. Ms Sotoudeh is currently detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

According to a report by the state-run news agency IRNA, Mr Derafshan said: “My client was recently arrested after being convicted in absentia by Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.” According to Ms Sotoudeh’s lawyer, she was charged with “Propaganda against the regime” and “Insulting the Supreme Leader”, but despite this, Branch 28 issued a ruling on the charge of “Espionage”.

According to Payam Derafshan, Nasrin Sotoudeh is currently serving a five-year prison term on the charge of espionage, which is not mentioned in her indictment. Ms Sotoudeh was previously arrested in September 2010 and sentenced to an 11-year prison term, a 20-year ban from practicing law, and a 20-year travel ban. Her sentence was reduced by an appeals court to a six-year prison term and a 10-year ban from practicing law. Nasrin Sotoudeh was released from prison after serving three years. She was arrested again in June 2018.