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.”

Rajai Shahr Prisoner Enters 38th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Rajai Shahr Prisoner Hamzeh Darvish, 24, a member of Iran’s Sunni religious minority, has been on hunger strike since September 23rd in protest of the Supreme Court’s denial of his retrial request.

A close source told HRANA that “Darvish is in a bad state. The prison officials are ignoring him in order to send the message that the strike will not get him anywhere. They’re not even acting as a go-between with the judiciary so that he can pursue his rights.”

Rajai Shahr authorities have shown brutal intolerance towards Darvish’s demonstrations of protest. Following the launch of his most recent hunger strike, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

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.

His family, living far away from Karaj, are rarely able to afford transport for a visit. Meanwhile, prison authorities have restricted his extra-prison contacts.

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 Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

The circumstances of his trial were criticized for their lack of transparency and due process. With the application of a legal provision that came into effect later, his multiple prison sentences were permitted to run concurrently, reducing his total sentence to 15 years.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published in August 2017, in which he appealed to human rights advocacy groups for help. In it, he describes his ties to ISIS as accidental, claiming he was hailed to Turkey by an ISIS-defecting Iranian friend who needed help returning home due to a wounded leg. When he hitched a ride to meet his friend in Turkey, Darvish said, the story was revealed to be a setup: his drivers instead took him to Syria and handed him over to Daesh.

According to his letter, Darvish spent some time as a forced laborer and was tortured severely after protesting ISIS suicide attacks on civilians. He was finally able to flee amid a transfer between medical facilities in Syria.

Karaj is the capital of Alborz province, located 30 miles west of Tehran.

Open Letter: the Fabricated Case file of Political Prisoner Pirouz Mansouri

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, who has been a political prisoner at Rajai Shahr for eleven years, is further from freedom than he thought.

A new case file opened up against Mansouri, accusing him of “gathering and conspiring against the regime,” will prolong his 15-year prison sentence by another five years. Cited in court as evidence of this charge were records of his hunger strikes, instances of “aggravating other prisoners,” his declaration of support for Mohammad Ali Taheri, and a statement he issued condemning the execution of a Sunni prisoner.

In an effort to alert human rights defenders — particularly the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran — Mansouri has written an open letter detailing the circumstances of the new case file.

Full text of his letter below:

“Report of a Fabricated Casefile

I, Mohammad Ali Mansouri, have been serving a prison sentence since August 28, 2007 — i.e. for eleven years. In May of 2017, per a newly fabricated case file, I was imprisoned and interrogated in Ward 209 [Ministry of Intelligence jurisdiction] for a month. The new charge was built on my exchanges through [the messenger app] Telegram. Since I’ve been in prison, I haven’t been granted a single day of furlough. In the absence of any evidence, charges were dismissed, and the case was closed. Then, in October, I was interrogated once more, in connection to a new charge: propaganda against the regime. From behind bars.

In January, without any advance notice that would allow me to retain an attorney, I was tried by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. I was indicted on charges that were never mentioned during my interrogations. The trial was unconventional[…]even compared to the unlawful methods employed routinely.

Defenseless and without the presence of an attorney, I was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for propaganda against the regime and gathering and conspiring with intent to commit a crime.

Notwithstanding the impossibility of gathering and conspiring from within the prison, criminal intent alone carries a five-year term […]

I verbally protested the matter (as they saw no need to put my complaint in writing). I introduced Mr. Dorafshan as my attorney, and yet, in his absence, the appeals court settled on a three-year imprisonment sentence[…]

The sentence was issued without a supervising judge, without me, and in the sole presence of the court secretary. The court record was entirely verbal. It was in no way compliant with the Islamic Penal Code. It was never clarified how it was deemed feasible when a hearing never convened, a judge never appeared, the defendant was absent, and the defense itself never spoke, that an appeal request could be filed and that this file could result in a sentence?

I have related the entirety of these judicial proceedings in order to illustrate the workings of our judicial system […]

I write not for the people of my country, who know this story by their own flesh and bones, but for human rights organizations, especially the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. May they see the real face of our so-called independent judiciary, which is nothing but a sentence-printing machine run by the Ministry of Intelligence.

Mohammad Ali Mansouri, Rajai Shahr Prison,
November 2018”

Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri was arrested September 2007 for participating in the 19th-anniversary commemorations of political prisoners that were executed in 1986. Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati, sentenced him to 17 years of imprisonment on charges of “contacting and conspiring with the anti-regime Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization”. Added to that was an exile sentence to Karaj, in Rajai Shahr Prison, and a fine of 150 thousand tomans [approximately $80 USD]. The sentence was upheld in appeals court.

In July 2015, Mansouri’s daughter Iran Mansouri reported that a clemency program held on a religious holiday had reduced her father’s sentence by two years. His most recent case file has increased his remaining five-year term to a decade. He has yet to be granted furlough.

Update on Kurdish Citizens in IRGC Intelligence Detention

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On October 28th and 29th, respectively, political prisoners Mohammad Ostadghader and Houshmand Alipour were permitted visits from their families for the first time since their arrest on August 3rd of this year.

On August 7th, Iranian national television broadcast footage of the young men confessing to an armed attack on a security post in Saqqez. Both stand charged of membership in a Kurdish opposition group, while their supporters assert that these “confessions” were violently coerced.

During the family’s visit earlier this week, security agents reportedly prevented Ostadghader and Alipour’s families from obtaining their signatures on attorney retainer forms.

No update is currently available on Alipour’s pending hearing in investigations court, which was scheduled for October 4th and later postponed.

Alipour’s brother Hejar published a letter earlier this month describing Houshmand’s judicial ordeal, writing, “The Islamic Republic pummeled and stifled the dreams of a young man, and we cannot stand by as they try to take his life.”

On September 10th, Amnesty International issued a statement that read: “On 3 August, Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, were arrested by security forces near Saqqez, Kurdistan province, on suspicion of taking part in an armed attack against a security base in that city. Mohammad Ostadghader was shot and injured during the arrest but has been denied medical care. The pair were held in an unknown location without access to their families or lawyers.”

Houshmand Alipour is from Sardasht, West Azerbaijan Province. Mohammad Ostadghader is from Saqqez, Kurdistan province, near the border with Iraq and home to Iran’s Kurdish minority.

Rajai Shahr Prison Authorities Embezzle Religious Offering

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- A prayer answered, a vow fulfilled — such is the faith behind the Nadhri (or Nazri) charity meal, a faith that’s now left many a Rajai Shahr prisoner burned.

Rajai Shahr Prisoner Director Gholamreza Ziaei capitalized recently on this mourning rite for the late Imam Hussein when he engaged, in exchange for individual prisoner donations of 2-3 million tomans [approximately $150-$200 USD], to undertake preparation and distribution of the Nazri meal.

Prisoners looking forward to tasting red meat again for the first time in months or years were disappointed on October 31st (i.e. Arba’een, last day of the mourning period) by a Nazri “feast” of yet another watery and meatless stew made from the prison pantry’s bottom-shelf usuals.

Ziaei reportedly collected a total of 70 million tomans [approximately $4,700] from prisoners for the meal. An informed source estimated the cost of the Rajai Shahr Nazri service at 20 million tomans [approximately $1,300].

Prior to Ziaei taking the helm of Rajai Shahr, prisoners were permitted to buy food from the prison store and share meals at their own expense among their fellow inmates and prisoner-soldiers. Ziaei has forbidden that practice.

A cumulation of damning reports depict Rajai Shahr Prison as a hotbed of corruption and human rights violations.

Rajai Shahr is located in Karaj, the capital of Alborz province, about 30 miles west of Tehran

Zahedan Central Prison: 6 Untimely Deaths in 7 Months

Posted on: October 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A 50-year-old man died within a day of his arrival to Zahedan Central Prison on October 27th due to untreated gastrointestinal issues.

He was reportedly suffering from severe diarrhea when he was transferred from quarantine to Ward 6. He received no medical care and died later that night.

HRANA is in the process of confirming the identity of this prisoner, the sixth in the past seven months to die in the custody of authorities at Zahedan Central Prison.

Despite a dearth of medical staff, supplies, and equipment, Zahedan Central has been reluctant to transfer prisoners to outside hospitals, even when that transfer is a matter of life or death.

[Counting from March 2018, the Iranian New Year], this deceased prisoner was preceded in death by the following five Zahedan inmates:

· Abdolnabi Saresi, died September 28th of an untreated illness
· Gholamreza Goul of Ward 6, died September 15
· Ramin Dokaleh of Ward 1, died May 31st
· Gholam Nab Reigi of Ward 5, died May 29th
· Nasir Zoraghi of Ward 8, died in May of untreated cardiac disease

Zahedan is the capital of the Southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and home to the Baloch ethnic minority.

Evin Prosecutor Gives Silent Treatment to Prisoner With Multiple Illnesses

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The condition of Evin prisoner Alireza Golipour has significantly declined over the course of his prison sentence, his lawyer Azita Gharebeygloo told HRANA.

Statements from the prison’s medical team — that effective treatment will not be viable inside the prison — were confirmed by the Medical Commission’s opinion that an extra-prison medical transfer is in order, Gharebeygloo said.

Less clear, however, is whether or not this urgency will resonate with the judiciary.

“The commission’s report was announced to the prosecutors, but they have yet to give us any response,” she said.

In an interview with HRANA this past March — when Golipour was suffering from epilepsy, heart disease, and a lymph node infection, all exacerbated by his hunger strike — his attorney was already pressing for him to receive specialized care.

On March 2nd, the head of Evin’s prison clinic assessed Golipour to be in critical condition after he suffered a mild heart attack and consented to a medical transfer on the condition that it be cleared by the prison’s supervisory prosecutor. The prosecutor has yet to consent.

A group of Evin prisoners later addressed a letter to prison authorities imploring them to arrange for Golipoor’s treatment.

Zahedan’s Political Prisoners Suffer Cold, Hunger, Harassment

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The political prisoners in Zahedan prison continue to endure mistreatment at the hands of personnel, the harassment of their families by authorities, malnutrition, medical negligence, arbitrary restriction on furlough, and the temperature extremes of an overcrowded prison without climate control.

Constructions and repairs on two wards have dragged on since last year and exacerbated overpopulation concerns at the prison, where many inmates spend nights on their floor.

A close source said that visiting-room personnel and the supervising judge’s office are not above disparaging prisoners’ visiting kin, and cited the judge’s secretary as having particularly hostile conduct toward guests. The visiting-room personnel reportedly condone a guest-inspection protocol that is forceful and intrusive enough to have dissuaded a number of family members from returning.

Dejected at the mistreatment of their family members, some prisoners suffer from mood disorders, declaring hunger strike or attempting suicide.

“Some of the prison staff, like Haji Keykhah, get promoted every year despite mistreatment of prisoners and histories of sexual misconduct,” one Zahedan prisoner, recently released after 20 years, told HRANA. “Khalili [former personnel] and Mohsen Khajeh are two authorities who instigate fights between prisoners and staff. Each has their own group of cronies who smuggle narcotics into the prison.”

Many inmates in the political ward are denied furlough despite being lawfully eligible to take it. Inspector Ghouchi, a prison quartermaster, reportedly uses the promise of furlough to extort desperate prisoners.

As winter closes in, a lack of heating equipment has made the life unbearable for prisoners, some of whom went to lengths to purchase their own heating units — only to have them confiscated by prison authorities, who repurposed them for their own use in administrative offices.

Any of Zahedan’s 3,000 inmates desiring medical care must get in line to see a generalist for the 20 minutes they swing by the prison each day. A psychiatrist visits twice monthly for an equally narrow time frame, while dentists or ophthalmologists aren’t brought in at all.

A recently-released prisoner who worked at the cafeteria and prison shop told HRANA that the cafeteria staffs its kitchen with prisoners paid between 100 and 200 tomans [approximately $6 and $12 USD] per month, “resulting in very poor-quality meals.” The prison shop, stocking only laundry detergent and dishwasher liquid, offers nothing to supplement a hungry prisoner’s diet.

Zahedan is the capital of the southeastern province of Sistan & Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan and is home to Iran’s Baloch minority.