Authorities Impassive in Sunni Prisoner’s 49th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In Rajai Shahr Prison, the effects of a 49-day-strong hunger strike have begun to take hold on Sunni prisoner Hamzeh Darvish: hypotension, a 29-pound weight loss, and chest and abdominal pains that have left him speechless.

A source close to Darvish’s family told HRANA that he would end his hunger strike on two conditions: that his reconsideration petition is tried in the Supreme Court, and he is granted legal representation. “No action has been taken on those demands yet,” the source said.

According to the source, Rajai Shahr Prosecution Representative Rostami deferred the reconsideration decision to the Ministry of Intelligence. Barring cooperation with them, Rostami reportedly said, Darvish’s sole recourse is “suicide.”

Hamzeh Darvish has not eaten since September 23rd. After announcing his hunger strike that day, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

Residing far from Karaj, Darvish’s family is rarely able to afford the transport costs to see him. Meanwhile, Rajai Shahr authorities have placed restrictions on his extra-prison contacts.

In response to a prior hunger strike — protesting a lack of due process in his judicial proceedings — Prison Director Gholamreza Ziaei, Rajai Shahr Deputy Vice President Esmaeili, and Security Director Zolfali beat Darvish black and blue, sent him to the quarantine ward for three weeks, then transferred him to the coroner’s office in handcuffs and shackles.

Hamzeh Darvish was reportedly lured to Syria by ISIS (Daesh) agents in 2014, where he was transferred to the Islamic State’s prison in Raqqa before fleeing to Iran. In hopes of remaining free by posting bail or pledging allegiance to Iran — after which he planned to earn a living as a quail farmer — he turned himself in to the Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published August 2017, in which he asked human rights advocacy groups for help.

He emphasized in his letter that his appeal request was essentially ignored and that Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code permits his release in year 15 of his 18-year sentence.

Impromptu Exile Transfer Prompts Abdolreza Ghanbari to Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Teacher and political prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari, who on October 13th of this year was taken to Evin Prison’s Ward 8 to serve the remainder of a once-dormant sentence, has reportedly declared hunger strike following his November 10th transfer to the Quarantine Ward of Rajai Shahr Prison.

Confirming news of Ghanbari’s current hunger strike to HRANA, a close source added that his most recent sentence made no mention of an exile order.

Ghanbari’s judicial ordeal has been rife with major upsets, as previously reported by HRANA. After being arrested at the school where he taught in 2009 for backing the “Ashura” protests tailing that year’s contentious presidential elections, he was interrogated for two months and found himself facing a death sentence: Judge Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15, convicting Ghanbari of “Moharebeh” [enmity against God]” through alleged ties to the opposition group People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), ruled to send him to the gallows.

Four suspenseful years later, the Supreme Court acquitted Ghanbari of the Moharebeh charge, effectively sparing his life. Branch 1 of Revolutionary Court settled his remaining charges with a 15-year prison sentence, which was later reduced to 10 years in appeals court.

After enduring more than 6 years of his 10-year prison term, he went free in the Spring of 2016 — only to be re-sentenced the following Fall to 15 years in prison, per reconsideration proceedings led by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court.

Ghanbari is currently detained in Rajai Shahr.

Furlough Granted to Bereaved Baha’i Prisoner Azita Rafizadeh

Posted on: November 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Authorities have granted a November 7th to November 10th furlough period to Baha’i prisoner Azita Rafizadeh, who will attend memorial services for her father, Seyed Yadollah Rafizadeh, who recently died in a car accident.

Azita Rafizadeh is serving a four-year sentence for her Baha’i affiliations, including the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, as well as a charge of acting against national security.

The furlough request of her spouse Peyman Koushk-Baghi, who is currently serving a five-year sentence on the same charges, was denied.

Former Civil Servant to Begin Prison Sentence

Posted on: November 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Former political prisoner and ex-public official Feizollah Arabsorkhi has been summoned to begin his one-year prison sentence within the next five days.

Arabsorkhi was tried on charges of “propaganda against the regime” by Judge Ahmadzadeh in August of 2015 and issued a two-year ban on civic activities in addition to his one-year prison term.

Arabsorkhi has speculated that the charges are a vindictive move from the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in response to his signature on a letter once published from prison.

In protest of the highly-contested Iranian presidential election of 2009, Arabsorkhi co-authored a letter with a number of political activists, interpreting a speech by security-judiciary agent Commander Moshfegh as evidence of corruption both before and after the ballots had been cast. Later arrested by the IRGC, he was convicted in Revolutionary Court Branch 15 of “propaganda against the regime” and “assembling and colluding against national security” in July of that year. He was released from Evin Prison in 2013 after completing his sentence.

Born September 23, 1958, Arabsorkhi holds a bachelor’s degree in social communications and membership in the reformist political group Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution. He has served both on the cabinet of Mir-Hossein Mousavi as general manager of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance security office, and in the Khatami administration [1997 – 2005] as deputy trade minister for the Ministry of Commerce.

Kurdistan Court Condemns Juvenile Offender with History of Mental Illness

Posted on: November 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Sanandaj prisoner Shayan Saeedpour, now 20, has been sentenced to death by Judge Vafayian in Branch 1 of Kurdistan Criminal Court for a murder he committed at age 17, at a time that he may have been under monitoring for a psychiatric condition.

A member of Saeedpour’s family told HRANA that the young man stands accused of murdering Soleyman Azadi in a scuffle on August 16, 2015, just two months shy of his 18th birthday. “Saeedpour said he was acting under the influence of bootleg alcohol and wasn’t in his right mind,” the source said.

Saeedpour turned himself over to police two days after the incident, accompanied by his father.

An appeals request submitted by Saeedpour’s lawyer is currently under review. “[…]Despite evidence and witness testimony, the coroner’s office has left the judiciary to determine whether or not he was intoxicated,” the attorney said. “…[He] was under the influence of alcohol and two witnesses have testified to the veracity of this claim.”

The attorney added that Saeedpour didn’t know the victim prior to the incident.

Saeedpour’s loved ones say he has a history of inflicting self-harm, impulse control disorder, and — since 2014 — consistent psychiatric oversight. According to his family, Saeedpour betrayed no indication of grasping what had transpired after Azadi was killed. The coroner’s office disagreed: as relayed by Saeedpour’s lawyer, they ruled he had “the mental maturity and capacity to distinguish right from wrong and to discern whether his action was criminal.”

Seeking a second opinion, the case investigator sent the case to the Kermanshah coroner, who concurred with the initial evaluation.

In addition to the death penalty, Saeedpour was sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking.

A close source shared with HRANA that Saeedpour was once a member of a traditional Iranian gym. Previously the bodybuilding champion in his province, he once placed third in a national tournament.

The punishment of children — particularly death sentences for minors caught up in skirmishes, crimes of passion, or the drug trade — remains one of the premier human rights battles in Iran.

Iran has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for the past 25 years. Article 37 of the Convention reads, “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age”. In 2017, at least four juvenile offenders were executed in Iran after their 18th birthday. Since the beginning of 2018, multiple child offenders have been executed or sentenced to death.

Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are among the few countries where offenders can be executed for crimes they committed as minors. In response to one of these executions in February of 2018, Human Rights Watch issued a statement urging Iranian authorities to “ …]immediately and unconditionally end the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by children under age 18, and move toward a complete ban on capital punishment.”

Identity of Leila Tajik’s co-Defendant Confirmed

Posted on: November 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- HRANA has identified Leila Tajik’s co-defendant and former spouse — sentenced to death on espionage charges, per a HRANA report dated October 11, 2018 — as Seyed Jamal Hajizavar, 47, a former staff member on the IRGC Aerospace Force.

In the same report, HRANA reported on Tajik’s sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment in exile for the same charges, ruled in Branch 4 of Tehran Military Court.

Pursuant to a joint case opened up against the two by the IRGC intelligence unit, the former couple was arrested September 5, 2017, and held in an IGRC outpost. Tajik was later transferred to the Evin Prison Women’s Ward on March 19, 2018.

Over the course of his 14-month detainment, reports of Hajizavar’s violent torture — including de-nailing and electric shock in so-called “death cells”– have been conspicuously absent from the state-run news media.

An informed source previously told HRANA, “their children, Sabah, 16, and Sahand, 19, are hurting over the breakup of their family, and are feeling additional pressures from IRGC agents.”

Evin Prison Women’s Ward Denies Medical Care to Baha’i Negin Ghadamian

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Despite the blessing of Prosecution Assistant Rostami, Baha’i prisoner Negin Ghadamian is being denied extra-prison dental care for a severe gum infection, jaw pain, and toothache.

Prison authorities, including clinic head Agha Khani, have opposed Ghadamian’s medical transfer, insisting her treatment take place inside the prison.

The swelling population of the Women’s Ward places prisoners in increased medical precarity, as authorities — apparently arbitrarily — have barred external medical transfers almost entirely. An informed source told HRANA that prison dentistry relies on limited equipment, delivers mediocre care, and sticks patients with steep fees.

HRANA published a report on September 30th detailing the living conditions in the Women’s Ward at Evin. “Evin Prison dentistry operates in less-than-sterile conditions and exposes patients to remarkably high risk for infections,” the report reads. “Cavity fillings are expensive there, putting patients out as much as 20 million rials (approximately $114 USD) or preventing them, for lack of means, from getting the fillings they need.”

Security agents first arrested Ghadamian on May 24, 2011, after which she went free on 50 million tomans [approximately $12,000 USD] bail. In March 2012, she was sentenced in absentia by Judge Moghiseh on charges of “acting against national security through membership in the illegal Baha’i organization.” She was arrested at the airport on December 17, 2017, to serve her sentence.

Urmia Authorities Turn Deaf Ear to Prisoner Fighting Infection

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- “What do you need an ear for?”, the Urmia Prison director said to Sadroldin Teymourpour, a prisoner complaining of an ear infection secondary to an assault by security agents.

Needless to say, Teymourpour’s request to be transferred to a hospital was not taken seriously.

Initially sentenced to death, Teymourpour is currently serving a commuted sentence of 30 years plus a 200-million toman [approximately $13,500 USD] fine.

Forcing ailing prisoners to make do with the short-staffed, underequipped prison clinic has led to multiple prisoner deaths. HRANA reported on a number of these fatal neglect cases in September 2018.

Two Months of Interrogations for Three Citizens, then Zahedan Prison

Posted on: November 5th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On Thursday, November 1, 2018, three prisoners from Sarbaz County in Sistan and Baluchestan Province were transferred from an Intelligence office to Zahedan Prison after two months of interrogations.

During the arrest, security forces reportedly opened fire on the men, injuring one of them who has yet to receive medical treatment. HRANA has identified these prisoners as Atahollah Shahbakhsh, 25, Salem Shahbakhsh, 23, and Javid Shahbakhsh, 27.

An informed source told HRANA that prison authorities transferred the men to different wards on Thursday: Javid Shahbakhsh to Ward 8, Salem Shahbakhsh to Ward 6, and Ataollah Shahbakhsh to Ward 5 and that a bullet wound on Salem Shahbakhsh’s left hand has gone untreated.

“These prisoners were beaten and tortured in the intelligence detention center for about two months,” the source said, adding that they faced charges of “acting against national security” and ” cooperation with opposition groups.”

Hand Amputation Raises Specter of Cruel and Unusual Punishments

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Morteza Esmaeilian, 37, a married father of two from Urmia, was arrested in 2013 on multiple counts of burglary. In 2015, Urmia General Court Branch 112 sentenced him to 15 years in prison and the amputation of the fingers on his right hand.

The Supreme Court rejected his appeal and upheld the sentence as written in Autumn of 2016. He requested a retrial as a final recourse, but it was denied by the judiciary in Summer of the following year.

An agent from the execution of sentences unit informed Esmaeili last week that his amputation was imminent.

HRANA reported on an Urmia Central prisoner facing a similar fate: Branch 1 of Juvenile Criminal Court ordered the amputation of four fingers off of Kasra Karami’s right hand, set to be carried out in the near future.

Amputation falls under punishments sanctioned by Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.”