Iran: An Overview of Human Rights Abuses September – October 2018

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran between September 23rd and October 22, 2018, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

Domestic restrictions in Iran on independent human rights reporting make it difficult to capture the full extent of these issues on the ground. The following overview draws on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources, including other human rights associations operating outside Iran’s borders.

Summary

Human rights violations continued all across the country over the past month, and included, but were not limited to: executions, child abuse, mass arrests, violation of prisoners’ rights, violation of freedom of expression, labor abuses, and unchecked environmental pollution.

Death Penalty

Capital punishment remains the most egregious violation of human rights in Iran. On October 10th — the World Day against the Death Penalty — the Center of Statistics at HRAI published its annual report to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran. The report provides statistics about executions carried out in this country between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018.

More than 25 citizens, including a juvenile offender, were executed in the last month (between September 23rd and October 22, 2018). More than 20 individuals, including a juvenile offender, were sentenced to death. Four people were executed in public.

HRANA was able to identify or gather details about death row prisoners, including a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Arsalan Khodkam, the ex-spouse of Leila Tajik, Hedayat Abdollahpour and three individuals convicted of financial crimes. New details on the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were also reported during this period.

Freedom of Thought and Expression

Freedoms of thought and expression were also widely restricted over the past 30 days.

Arrests: Arrestees in this category included a Shiraz city council member, Ahmad Alinejad and his wife, at least 20 residents of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, writer and Mashad resident Abbas Vahedian, Zahra Majd in Isfahan, and six individuals involved in the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested in Nain (near Isfahan).

Convictions: Leila Mir-Ghaffari was sentenced to 2 years in prison, Ejlal Ghavami to 8 months, Hassan Abbasi to 35 months (five 7-months prison terms), an Arak resident to 1 year and 30 lashings, Hamidreza Amini to 11 years. Women who protested this past August were sentenced from 6 months to 1 year in prison, Mohammad Mahdavifar was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months, a dual-nationality defendant faces 8 years and 6 months in prison, Soheil Arabi faces 3 years in prison, 3 years in exile, and a fine; the prison sentence of Abdolreza Ghanbari was increased to 15 years, Alireza Moeinian was sentenced to 8 months in prison; a new 6-month sentence extended the prison term of Saeed Shirzad through 2020; six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were collectively sentenced to a total of 6 years in prison and 444 lashings, and a group of political activists in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province were sentenced to exile and prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 years.

Eleven civil activists, including Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, and Abbas Safari were sentenced to 3 years in prison and 74 lashings. Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou and Mohammad Torabi were sentenced to 1 year in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Kian Sadeghi faces 3 years in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Morteza Nazari was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, 2 years of exile, and a fine; Zahra Zare Seraji, on the same convictions, to 8 years in prison and a fine. Their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13 years in prison and exile.

Summons: Hamid Farrokhnezhad, Parastoo Salehi, a number of reformist political activists, Tehran city council member Kazem Imanzadeh, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, and Mohammad Najafi were all summoned by courts and the Ministry of Intelligence.

Censorship: The weekly magazines “Nabze Bazaar” and “Paytakht Kohan,” as well as the website “EntekhabKhabar,” were convicted in press court. Courts also issued indictments for the Chief Executive Officers of “Shargh” and “Shahrvand” newspapers for their reporting on sexual tourism. The National Front of Iran was prevented from holding its Central Council meeting in Tehran, a journalist was beaten by Qazvin municipal agents, and a Kurdish student was barred from education, presumably for his political affiliations.

Prisoners’ Rights
Prisoners are rarely protected from cruel and unusual punishments, and their rights to proper nutrition, hygiene, and medical treatment are systematically violated. A few of these victims are detailed below by category of violation.

Raids and beatings: Prison agents punched Arash Sadeghi on his cancer surgery site; Urmia prison authorities attacked political prisoners and injured them severely, inciting them to hunger strike by the dozens; another Urmia prisoner was assaulted; a prisoner was beaten and injured by Rajai Shahr Prison personnel; Bandar Abbas Prison authorities broke an inmate’s fingers; an Urmia prisoner suffered a TBI after a beating by authorities; and prisoners were forcefully undressed and beaten in Zahedan Prison.

Withholding of medical treatment: A prisoner died after being denied medical care in Zahedan Prison. Farhad Meysami, Arash Sadeghi, and a prisoner in Sanandaj were also denied medical treatment.

Going without: Dozens of Gachsaran prisoners launched protests and hunger strikes in opposition to prison conditions. Six Gonabadi Dervish prisoners continued in an ongoing hunger strike. Reza Sigarchi, also in an act of protest, refused food and medicine in Great Tehran Penitentiary, while 8 Gonabadi Dervishes at the same penitentiary and 8 Baha’i prisoners of Karaj disappeared off of the administrative radar for 30 days. Houshmand Alipour was denied access to an attorney. Three prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison were blocked from receiving visits, and the fate of sequestered labor activist and Sanandaj resident Zanyar Dabbaghian was still unknown.

Three prisoners attempted suicide in Zahedan, Urmia, and Saravan prisons. Local sources consistently impute prisoner suicides and suicide attempts to the violence and oppression of prison life.

Religious and Ethnic Minorities

Religious and ethnic minorities remained under threat and consistent judicial pressures this past month.

Baha’is: Eight Baha’i citizens were arrested in Baharestan (near Isfahan), four were arrested in Karaj, one of whom had his business forcibly shut down, and three were arrested in Shiraz.
[Some of these arrests reflect coordinated or group arrests, and linked articles will reflect that information overlap].
A Baha’i resident of Yazd who had been blocked from pursuing education was fired from work for their faith, and the parents of a Baha’i prisoner were temporarily detained following a search of the prisoner’s home.

Sunnis: Five Sunni scholars were sequestered for hours in the Zahedan-Khash road patrol office. Three Baluchi citizens, who are scholars of the Ghalamouei seminary, were arrested in Sirik County (southern Iran). Sunni scholars expressed outcry over the public statements of a soccer player they alleged to be disparaging of Sunni sanctities.

Six members of the Yamani Religious Group in Izeh County were also arrested, presumably for their beliefs.

Ethnic minorities: Arab citizens were arrested, and are still being arrested en masse in wake of the Ahvaz Parade Attack. HRANA is still in the process of confirming the identifies of the arrestees, which according to local reports number into the hundreds. Other arrests suspected to be ethnically discriminatory include Nasim Sadeghi, Mohammad Abdolmohammad-Zadeh, Mojtaba Parvin, Ebrahim Divazi, as well as residents of Ilam, Ahvaz, Marivan, Urmia, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Saqqez, Pevah, Oshnavieh, and Sardasht.

News emerged on the convictions of Abbas Lasani, Kiumars Eslami, Eghbal Ahmadpour, Keyvan Olyali, Hossein Ali Mohammadi Alvar, as well as defendants in Sanandaj, Urmia, Kamyaran, and two detainees of the Afrin battles in Syria. Turkic activist Javad Ahmadi Yekanli was summoned by county security police in the city of Khoy.

Children’s Rights

Children are among the most vulnerable to human rights abuses in Iran. Over the past month, four wrongful child deaths were reported in the cities of Tehran, Falavarjan (Isfahan Province), Qaem Shahr (Mazandaran province) and (Isfahan Province).

The national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline said that 30% of reports called into the center are flagging some form of “domestic violence,” 30% of which turn out to be child abuse cases. Of this 30%, 50% were related to educational negligence, 30% to physical abuse, 15% to psychological abuse, and 4% to sexual abuse of children.

Maryam Sedighi, deputy director of the social welfare department of Alborz Province, said that 12% of “123” social emergency calls made in Alborz — i.e. an average of 40 calls per month — are child abuse reports.

Reports indicate the rape of a young girl by her father in Tehran; a boxing coach accused of raping his teenage student; a father pouring boiling water over his 7-year-old daughter in Genaveh, Bushehr Province; and a teacher using corporal punishment on a pupil in Kazeroon, Fars Province.

Three juvenile suicides were also reported: one student in Rigan County, Kerman Province, and two teenage girls, aged 14 and 16, in the cities of Abadan and Sanandaj.

The Iranian education system allocates fewer and fewer resources to its pupils, and educational facilities across the country — particularly in rural or underprivileged areas — can be found in varying states of wear and disrepair. One pupil in Razan, Hamadan province was injured in the chest, neck, and shoulders when he was caught in falling debris of a school wall that suddenly collapsed. The Razan director of education said that he is currently stable, but will require surgery.

Elementary-school student Donya Veisi of Garmash village, Kurdistan Province, fell victim to her own school’s disrepair when one of the walls surrounding her school yard collapsed, killing her. Later — amid allegations that Donya had in fact been raped and killed — the Kurdistan Prosecutor verbally engaged to investigate the matter.

Women

The question of women’s rights at sporting events gained heightened public attention this past month when, under pressure from FIFA to permit their entry into stadiums, a select number of Iranian women (most of them family members of players and federation employees) were finally allowed to witness a kickoff in person (Iran vs. Bolivia). Authorities’ exclusive selection criteria were highly criticized.

Meanwhile, Shiraz-based activist Maryam Azad was arrested by security forces at a Tehran Airport as she was leaving the country for Turkey.

The managing director of the office of forensic medicine in Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province indicated that, of the 429 domestic violence crimes recorded in his office over the past 6 months, 404 were incidents of violence by husbands against their wives.

Additional cases of violence against women included a man’s murder of his ex-wife when he failed to meet “mehrieh” obligations [a type of alimony settlement], and the circumstances surrounding one woman’s decision to set herself on fire in Mashad.

Two women, long hounded by the judiciary for participating in a rally on International Women’s Day, were recently acquitted of their charges.

Laborers and Guilds

This past month was rythmed by strikes, sit-ins, and rallies organized by guilds and employees across sectors who demanded more secure working conditions.

Commercial Transport: This past month, truck drivers in Iran went on a nationwide strike for the third time [in 12 months]. Over the course of their 20-day strike, at least 261 striking drivers in 19 different provinces were arrested and threatened with heavy sentences, including the death penalty. Strikers’ demands did make significant headway: after years of guild activism, the High Council of Transportation Coordination approved a new freight transport measurement rate known as the tonne-kilometre (tkm) method, which was among the most pressing demands of truck drivers. Despite this partial victory, the fates of the 261 detained protesters are still unknown.

Education: Six Educator-Activists who participated in demonstrations May 10th were sentenced to 9 months in prison and 74 lashings. Also reported was the conviction of schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests. Five teachers were summoned by the Bureau of Public Places in Saqqez.

Following a call to strike by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), Iranian teachers staged sit-ins [on October 14th and 15th] to demand more liveable salaries and justice for their persecuted colleagues. Strike activity was recorded across the provinces of Kerman, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Kurdistan, Alborz, Hamadan, Fars, Zanjan, Qom, Mazandaran, Tehran, North Khorasan, Ilam, East and West Azerbaijan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Bushehr, Gilan and Hormozgan.

Merchants: Merchants went on strike against the many interconnected symptoms of Iran’s current recession, including unstable exchange rates, inflation, rising prices, and unemployment. Merchant strikes went on for two consecutive days in the cities of Karaj, Shahreza, Shahriar, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Tabriz and Sarab.

Two street vendors were reportedly beaten by municipal agents in Qazvin and Gorgan.

Health and Environment:

Five environmental activists arrested 8 months ago have been indicted with charges of “corruption on earth,” which can carry the death penalty.

Intelligence agents halted a group of environmental journalists, including Javad Heydarian, before they could board a flight to Germany for work. Their passports were confiscated.

Public concern over pollution and waste issues is ballooning, and [many citizens are critical of the government’s inaction in face of myriad threats to the public health].

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, Iranians surpass the worldwide average of daily waste production (300 grams) by a whopping 400 grams every day.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency of Miandoab (West Azerbaijan Province) announced that contamination of the Zarrinehroud River from the city’s sugar factory, coupled with poor ecological management of the river and its dam system, has caused thousands of fish to die in the river.

High levels of air pollution were reported this month in the cities of Kerman, Mahshahr, Ramshir, Rigan, and the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman.

Cultural Rights and Censorship

A number of photographers from Shiraz faced persecution for their instagram activity this month [which was cited as “improper”].

Two cultural directors from Sistan and Baluchestan province were summoned to the Intelligence office for attempting to host a peaceful community celebration.

Pending content modifications and the resolution of charges against the Home Video Entertainment Network, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned distribution of the network’s TV series “13 Shomali” (Northern 13), which previously aired on Saturdays.

Military and Law-Enforcement Power Abuses

Several citizens were killed as a result of power abuses and negligence by security forces this past month.

Police car chases, inappropriate shootings by border authorities, and authorities’ failure to warn civilians of road barriers led to 2 civilian injuries and 5 civilian deaths in Iranshahr (Sistan and Baluchestan Province), Jask (Hormozgan Province) and Azadshahr (Golestan Province) and Razavi Khorasan.

Security forces reportedly assaulted fuel vendors in Saravan (Sistan and Baluchestan Province).

More than a dozen “Kulbars” [laborers who make their living carrying goods across border areas] were wounded and killed across the country, namely in Sardasht (West Azerbaijan Province), Piranshahr (West Azarbaijan Province), Urmia (West Azerbaijan Province) Nowsud (Kermanshah Province), Marivan and Baneh (Kurdistan Province) and Ilam (Ilam province).

A prisoner in Urmia was sentenced to hand amputation, and a robbery convict was dealt 74 lashes in public in the Zeberkhan Rural District (Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province).

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The above-cited reports are only a few examples of dismally more widespread trends. Their mention in this overview by no means implies their significance over those incidents which went unreported, due to tight restrictions on investigative journalists on the ground.

Among available reports of human rights abuses, however, some are more oft-cited due to their sensitive nature or predominating presence in public opinion. It bears mention that all human rights abuses are worthy of the news coverage and social media activism that has come to the aid of so relatively few. Bearing in mind their roles as public opinion influencers, social media activists and human rights reporters must be wary not to underlie existing human rights abuses with unintentional discrimination in their reporting.

Fed-up Teachers Confront Rouhani by Post

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Iranian Teachers’ Organization has written a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to underline a number of the contentions that pushed teachers to strike in recent weeks.

The full text of their letter is below, translated into English by HRANA:

Dear Mr. Rouhani, President of Iran,

Teachers and school staff have been among the most vocal advocates of your administration, which has adopted a rhetoric of moderation and prudence. In your promise they have invested their hopes and labor, entrusting the helm of this country to you. Yet the educational system and its institutions have tumbled low on your list of priorities. Should this trend carry on, hope alone will not be viable.

How long?
How long will we be able to argue with peaceful, dignified means — through democratic and civic activism — that education is critical to the balanced and comprehensive advancement of our country?

How long must we emphasize that education is not second to a safe and healthy Iran, but rather its prerequisite?

How long must we belabor the fact written into the Educational Outlook, that the replacement of low-quality products with top-of-the-line imports is impossible in the realm of our country’s human resources?

How long are we doomed to argue patiently, host conferences, and author articles about teachers who, feeling that their very livelihoods are at stake, will no longer be able to educate our country’s children with ingenuity and sound minds?

How long must we remind you of the impact that the honorable work of teachers has on our workforce and families? How long will we have to shout about the systems in advanced countries, that have wisely grounded their progress and development in education, and ensured that their teachers are held in the same esteem as government ministers, security, and diplomats?

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know that many of our colleagues live under the poverty line?
Don’t you know that uncurbed inflation and price hikes have afflicted teachers’ lives and significantly diminished their purchasing power?
Have you any idea of the insurmountable challenge facing principals directing schools with this dwindling per capita funding?

What we know
We know that the government’s revenue has increased from the rise in oil sales and currency exchange rates.

We know that the government’s income has grown from taxes like the Value-added tax (VAT) that have been tacked onto the high cost of living.

We know that the law allows for salary and other benefit increases under extenuating circumstances.

If you are unaware of the problems and the solutions, woe are we; if you are aware but cannot, or will not do anything about them, woe to you.

It appears you believe everything is as it should be: teachers articulating their predicament with patience and humility, the exemplars of civic demonstration.

Yet we are certain that recent events, widespread protests, and teachers’ lowered thresholds of tolerance could spell ongoing protests and turmoil for our education system.

We pray that you take this warning seriously, and in coordination with parliament and the Ministry of Education will pass the necessary orders to find radical structural solutions to the host of issues flooding our education system, in order to prevent further damage to our beloved country.

Iranian Teachers’ Organization
October 19, 2018

*

The general teachers’ strikes that took place on October 14th and 15th across many provinces in Iran were the follow-up to a call to action from teachers’ associations protesting low wages, and for the release of imprisoned teachers like Mohammad Habibi, Esmaeil Abdi, and Mahmoud Beheshti Langeroudi.

Civil Activists Petition for Political Prisoner Payam Shakiba

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Dozens of civil activists issued a statement October 18th advocating for due process in the case of political prisoner Payam Shakiba.

Held in Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj since his arrest in February 2018, Shakiba was sentenced to 11 years in prison by Judge Ahmadzadeh. The sentence was later upheld in an appeals court.

Shakiba is a former member of the University of Zanjan’s Islamic Student Association, and prior to his persecution by authorities was a graduate student of political science at Allameh Tabatabai University.

The full text of the activists’ statement, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Payam Shakiba, a former member of the Islamic Student Association at the University of Zanjan, was first arrested in July 2008 along with several other students protesting against the [sexual] assault of a female student by a university vice-president. All of the protesters were convicted. Payam was released on bail after 40 days and sentenced one year later to a year in prison.

Upon completion of his compulsory military service, he was hired as a teacher in September 2010 at a semi-private school in Tehran. In November of that year, he went to prison to serve his sentence. After his release, the Ministry of Education halted his employment proceedings.

Mr. Shakiba passed the entrance exam for master’s programs in applied science at both a public institution and Azad University. However, the public university barred him from enrolling in the program, given his status as a “starred” student [i.e. a student whose file is marked with an asterisk to indicate previous disciplinary action for political activity]. He had no choice but to enroll in the Sciences and Research Branch at Azad University. In the final days of his first semester, however, he was expelled and banned from returning to his studies.

Payam, however, didn’t stop there: he took the entrance exam again in 2013 and was accepted to the political science program at Allameh Tabatabai University. He had spent years in the meantime earning his living in industrial workshops.

Payam Shakiba was arrested for a second time on February 19, 2017, on charges of “acting against national security by assembling and colluding against the regime.” After a search of his workplace in the industrial park of Golgoun, in Shahriar, he was transferred to solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Intelligence. During this time he was denied access to a lawyer or visitation from family members. When his interrogation period had finished, he was illegally exiled to Rajai Shahr prison where he spent 17 months in legal limbo. It was then that he was faced with a judicial conundrum: first the appeals court informed one of his lawyers that Shakiba’s 11-year sentence had been reduced to six; a week later, another one of his lawyers was summoned to court, where he learned that the 11-year sentence had been upheld, and that the five-year reduction was no longer valid.

A glance at the processing of Mr. Shakiba’s cases, and at his sentence as it stands, reveals a flagrant injustice and lack of due process. What kind of judicial system takes employment opportunity away from a student and future teacher because they protested a sexual assault? In what kind of fair process can an interrogator rule in lieu of a judge to reverse an already-appealed sentence? Why are the basic minimums of amenities and living space withheld from Payam Shakiba and from other political prisoners? Why don’t they have access to adequate hygiene and nutrition, or even to a cooling system in the summer?

It is common knowledge nowadays that these deprivations serve to break a prisoner’s spirit and resolve. Yet as we also know, our grand and unflappable Payam cannot be broken. Anyone close to him knows him as an altogether reasonable, kind, humble, generous person, courageous and defiant in the face of injustice.

We the undersigned protest the illegal arrest and incarceration of this student activist. We consider the trial unfair and believe that his human and civil rights have been disregarded at all stages of the legal process, through the interrogation and investigation to the preliminary and appeals court proceedings.

Blindfolding, solitary confinement, and denial of access to a lawyer are violations of a defendant’s rights. Furthermore, the objectivity of the preliminary trial was compromised by the interference of a Ministry of Intelligence representative. By a flagrant act of interference [by non-judiciary authorities], his sentence was increased on appeal.

As friends, civil activists, and fellow students of Payam Shakiba, we object to his sentence and the unfair process to which he was subjected.

We ask for the immediate, unconditional release of Payam Shakiba so that he may defend himself in a fair trial before a jury. This self-evident legal and human right cannot be denied and ignored for perpetuity.

We ask human rights organizations and activists to carry out their duty, regardless of their political allegiances. The writing off of certain political prisoners is tantamount to abetting the suppression of their voices, and those guilty of it should be held accountable before history.

Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Ahmad Zahedi Langroudi, Ahmad Mohammadi, Ahmad Madadi, Ahmad Mirzaei, Ahmad Yazdi, Arsalan Beigi, Esmaeil Sarahandi, Asghar Dehghan, Asghar, Bahram Mahmoudi, Abolfazl Samadi, Aboozar Beheshti, Ehsan Rezaei, Ahmad Ebrahimi, Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Aazam Yari, Afshin Pourjam, Afshin Hyrtyan, Akbar Amini Armaki, Akbar Naseri, Akbar Hashemi, Mohammad Ebrahimi, A. Nasirian, Elham Motalebi, Omid Madani, Amir Bagheri, Anwar Farajzadeh, Ulduz Hashemi, Ivaz Hashemi, Adindeh Beigi, Azar Gilani , Amanj Amini, Avat Razavi, Bahera Alamdari, Bahram Aghdasi, Behzad Delshad, Feshdeh Fereydouni, Bahman Golali, Bahman Nouri, Behnam Farzaneh, Bijan Najafi, Parsa Krmanjyan, Parvaneh Ghasemian, Parvun Tavakoli, Parvin Mohammadi, Parvin Nokhostin, Parisa Sarai, Soraya Ghobadi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Jafar Hosseinzadeh, Javad Lal Mohammad, Jahangir Kas Nzany, Habib Beigi, Hassan Elmi, Hassan Noorzad, Hossein Ramezani Sarajari, Hossein Shah Pari, Hossein Sadeghi, Hossein Mousavi, Hamid Reza Kamayebarf, Hamid Zanganeh, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Azimi, Hamid Noori, Hooria Farajzadeh, Dariush Rezaei, Dariush Faraji, Rahele Farajzadeh Tarani , Raheleh Ghodsi, Rahman Beigi, Rahim Hosniyatabar, Rahim Zakeri, Rahim Shams, Rasoul Heshmati, Reza Ahmadi, Reza Hosseini, Reza Abbasi, Rouhollah Hedayati, Ruzbeh Ekradi, Roshan Hashemi, Romina Mohseni Rajai, Zahra Rahimi, Ziba Omidi, Zainab Sepehri, Zhaleh Rouhzad, Sarah Beheshti, Sarah Siahpour, Sarah Barakat, Saeed Rezaei, Saeed Naimi, Saeedeh Maasoumi, Samaneh Abedini, Sorna Hashemi, Soheil Siri, Soheila Dalwand, Siamak Farid, Siavash Montazeri, Sima Salmani, Simin Javandideh, Sharareh Aram, Shahrzad Ghadiri, Shahnaz Akmali, Shadi Mohammadi Shiva, Ameli Rad, Saber Molaei, Sadegh Rezaie, Sedighe Zeitouni, Soghari Noor, Salah Sorkhi, Taher Hamedi, Tahere Ghobadi, Abed Tavancheh, Aliyeh Aghdoost, Abbas Shahbazi, Abbas Safari, Abdul Rahman Azim, Aziz Qasemzadeh, Esmat Taa Ali Ebrahimi, Ali Ahmadi, Ali Asghar Zolghodar, Ali Bagheri, Ali Rangipour, Ali Zarei, Ali Samad, Ali Azimi, Ali Masoumi, Ali Mirfatah, Alireza Behdarvand, Alireza Firoozi, Alireza Ghadiri, Enayat Vosoughi, Gholamreza Maleki, Gholamreza Hezaveh, Fatehmeh Ahmadi, Faezeh Almasi, Farzin Rezaei Roshan, Forough Sami Nia, Forough Fereydouni, Farhad Salamatkhah, Farideh Moradkhani, Fahimeh Badkoobehi, Kaveh Mozaffari, Kiandokht Nikbakht, Keyvan Rezaei, Laleh Abbasi, Madeh Alavi, Mojtaba Asadi, Majid Hassani, Majid Rahmati, Majid Masoumi, Mahboobeh Farahzadi, Mohsen Omrani, Mohammad Azami, Mohammad Hossein Rafiei, Mohammad Saeed Ahmadi, Mohammad Karim Beigi, M Hamad Karimi, Mohammad Ali Rostami, Mahmoud Didani, Mahmoud Mojdehi, Morteza Asadi, Morteza Nazari, Marzieh Dorood, Marzieh Mahmoudi, Maryam Haghighi, Maryam Mohammadi, Masoud Hosseini, Masoud Heydariyan, Masoud Saki, Masoud Kouhi, Masoud Hashemi, Masoumeh Dehghan, Mansour Soleimani , Mansoureh Farahzadi, Manijeh Foruzandeh, Mehdi Rahmati, Mehdi Arabshahi, Mehrnoush Heidarzadeh, Mahshid Rouhani, Milad Janat, Minoo Keykhosrowi, Naser Rashidi, Nahid Ebrahimi, Narges Ahmadi, Narges Zafari, Nasrin Ahmadi, Nasrin Amiri, Nasrin Saifodini, Niloofar Kadokhodayi, Vahid Zandi, Vahsa Safi, Hagar Karami, Homayoun Panahi, Salah Azadi, Ali Jafari, Roozbeh Rezaei, Amir Hossein Sa’ad , Ali Abu Torabi, Maryam Qalychyha, Humayun Madani, Mir Hamid Salek, Azita Rezvan, Amir Hossein Saadat, Naveed Kamran, Jelveh Javaheri, Sepideh Saghafian, Forough Azizi, Sarah Hemmati, Laleh Mohammadi, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Nastaran Eshghi, Ali Reza Tarkashvand, Zohreh Asadpour, Abbas Shahbazi, Reza Ansari, Masoumeh Abbasian, Abbas Shahrabi, Alireza Kaviani, Morteza Zarrin, Mahsa Yazdani, Zahra Ghaeninejad, Ahmad Rezaei, Afshan Davari.

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Rajai Shahr Prison is located in Karaj, approximately 30 miles west of Tehran.

The University of Zanjan is located in Zanjan, approximately 180 miles northwest of Tehran.

Teachers’ Association Sounds Call to General Strike on October 14th & 15th

Posted on: October 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) has issued a statement critical of the Ministry of Education, drawing public attention to a trend of paltry compensation for teachers.

The statement calls for teachers and other pedagogical staff to stage sit-ins in the administrative offices of schools this coming October 14th and October 15th [the work week in Iran runs from Saturday to Thursday]. It also asks teachers to sensitize students by explaining to them in advance the civic impetus behind the sit-ins to come.

The full text of their letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Dear Iranian teachers,
Cherished students,
Esteemed parents,

Teachers both active and retired have been scraping by on painfully low wages for years. They protest cuts to school budget allocations and the unconstitutional shift of educational duties from the shoulders of schools to the shoulders of the people. Teachers have stood their ground in civic and community actions [on behalf of concerns] that officials never deign to acknowledge. No, it seems they are preoccupied with staying in power, defensively clutching their spoils. They think only of their own interests, those of their small inner circle, and those of some citizens in other countries.

Out-of-control inflation and climbing prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen significantly. What’s more, the cost of education is on the rise, and the Iranian government and parliament have failed to answer to teachers’ faltering quality of life and the ailing education system. The time has come for us to protest this systemic disorder.

All have come to feel that the Ministry of Education, as the face and custodian of this system encompassing millions of people, is without a practical program or vision for improving our educational infrastructure. Instead of attending to the quality of formation and to teachers’ livelihoods, the ministry opts increasingly for monetizing education and impoverishing teachers.

The Public Service Law, which was passed in 2007, has yet to be implemented 10 years later.

The bill on teacher ranking is postponed month after month.
The Teachers’ Savings Fund has been looted, and according to the Fund’s inquiry committee, 18 million tomans [approximately $1,200 USD] is missing from each teacher’s share.

Teacher’s salaries have not kept up with the rate of inflation, and in practice, a majority of teachers live below the poverty line. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer public schools, and those still in operation [depend on separate funding] to run.

The security apparatus and judiciary, rather than pursuing those responsible for corruption and the robbery of our society, prefer to threaten, exile, fire, and imprison teachers who express their needs and pursue justice.

On behalf of workers in the education system both active and retired, CCTSI has exhausted available paths for bettering our current conditions. Teachers have voiced their demands in meetings and letters to officials, published them in statements, launched them as campaigns, and hosted syndical rallies for them. But the regime and the government refuse to take even a single step towards addressing those issues.

Honorable People of Iran,
Imprudent Iranian officials,

We are going to stage sit-ins because teachers can’t go to class in these conditions. In any case, classes held in makeshift camps, overcrowded to the extreme, can hardly be put to any use.

For the reasons discussed above and the many others we have voiced before, CCTSI calls on educational staff of all levels across the country to stage sit-ins in the offices of their schools on Sunday, October 14 and Monday, October 15. We ask that they refuse to go to classes and that they raise students awareness on the factors compelling this initiative.

We ask the school principals to join in and to refrain from harsh treatment of our colleagues. We warn security offices and institutions not to retaliate against the teachers taking part in demonstrations. We have tasted detention and incarcerations, and some of our brave colleagues are still in chains today. We ask that you lay down your weapons of repression.

This October sit-ins are only the beginning: if we don’t see swift, constructive, and concrete changes to the pay slips of active and retired educational employees, and to per-capita funding of students, we will escalate our general strikes come November.

We ask our retired comrades to come visit their local colleagues carrying a flower. Employed colleagues who are off on [the strike days] must also join in, at a school close to their home or in the school where they work.
Teachers believe in the common right to a dignified life, and in access to free, fair, and quality education for all children.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran
October 10th, 2018

January Protestors: Appellate Court Reduces Sentence of Teacher Activist

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests and sentenced to six years in prison and a 2-year ban on travel and civic activities, has had his sentenced reduced to two years in an appeals court.

For his participation in the 2018 January protests, Mardani was arrested on February 17th, detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison, and convicted of propaganda against the regime and gathering and colluding to commit crimes against domestic security.

A source previously told HRANA that Mardani taught in Karaj schools, and was among a group of college classmates demonstrating solidarity with the January protestors by gathering together and blocking security forces from entering Tehran University.

Mardani started a hunger strike on April 24th to protest his arrest and chronically cliff-hanging case status. On May 21, he ended his strike after 27 days when judicial authorities promised to expedite his trial.

According to the source, an intervention from the Ministry of Education has effectively frozen Mardani’s payroll.

Kurdish Student Massoud Karimi Barred from Education

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After placing among the nation’s top 20 on the competitive college entrance exam, Kurdish student Massoud Karimi, from the city of Javanrood in Kermanshah province, has been barred from continuing his studies due to a purported deficiency in his student file. Karimi was pursuing a master’s degree in political science.

A week before the examination results were released, Kermanshah’s Intelligence Office had summoned Karimi and interrogated him about his student activism, a source told HRANA. He was then told that he wouldn’t be allowed to study, so that “others could learn.”

After several follow-ups, the National Examination Office — which first claimed not to know the reason for Karimi’s disqualification — confirmed that he was rendered ineligible for political reasons.

Baha’i Student Shaghayegh Shoghi Expelled from University for Religious Beliefs

Posted on: September 28th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In her sixth semester of study at the Isfahan University of Technology, Baha’i student Shaghayegh Shoghi has been expelled for her religious beliefs.

While Shoghi is among the few Baha’i students to have made it past the systemic barriers blocking most Baha’i students from enrolling in the first place, she has been denied the right to continue to the culmination of her degree.

In the past two weeks, the following four Baha’i students have been expelled from their universities, denied the right to obtain degrees they have earned, or prohibited from furthering their studies:  Anahita Horr and Shaghayegh Zabihi Amrie, associate’s students of architectural drafting at Rasam non-profit University in Karaj on the western outskirts of Tehran; Nikan Shaydan Shidi, third-semester student of industrial mold-making at Tehran Technical University; and Misagh Aghsani, student at Payame Noor University in the northwestern city of Urmia.

Throughout the month of September, HRANA reported on 58 Baha’i students who were rendered ineligible to apply to college when their results on the 2018 National University Entrance Exam, known as “Konkur,” were flagged “deficiency on file” on the National Organization for Educational Testing website. 
 
In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is barred in this way from the university enrollment process.

UN special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran have continuously protested against the Iranian authorities’ anti-Baha’i policies and practices – in particular barring Baha’i students from university education – and deemed these practices as instances of the Iranian authorities violating their international commitments.

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.

Misagh Aghsani Becomes Latest Baha’i to be Denied Educational Opportunity

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Misagh Aghsani, a Baha’i student at Payam Noor University in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia, has become the latest member of Iran’s Baha’i religious minority to be denied access to education due to his faith.

An informed source confirmed the news to HRANA, adding that Aghsani, who is currently enrolled, “was barred from receiving his degree or advancing his studies.”

The source added that Aghsani’s father Fardin, who fought and was taken prisoner in the Iran-Iraq war, has suffered financial losses due to his faith.

“His business, along with that of Misagh’s 83-year-old grandfather Fereydoun Aghsani, was forcibly closed for the second time 14 months ago, because they are Baha’is,” the source said. “To make ends meet, the father and grandfather are forced to peddle in front of the sealed door of their store, in the cold of winter and heat of summer.”

In July, HRANA reported on the continued closure of Aghsani family businesses and those of 21 other Baha’is in cities across the country.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is either barred from higher education altogether or thwarted before culminating their degrees.

Baha’i students can be prevented from enrolling in college during the processing stage of results from the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Over the past few weeks, more than 51 Baha’i students were stopped short of applying to universities, purportedly due to “deficiencies” in their admissions files, announced via flags on their e-dossiers when checking their test results online. In its close coverage of these most recent cases, HRANA published specimens of the documentation used to block these Baha’i student files from further processing.

HRANA reported on circumstances similar to Aghsani’s on September 18th, when another Baha’i student, Nikan Shaydan Shidi, was expelled while pursuing an associate’s degree in industrial mold making from Tehran Technical University. On September 15th, HRANA reported on the expulsion of Baha’i architectural drafting student Shaghayegh Zabihi Amrie from a university in Karaj.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particularly in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the UN, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

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 freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, 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 does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

Iran: UK-Based Art Philosophy Student Detained on Charges of Threatening National Security

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Aras Amiri, an Iranian citizen and 10-year resident of the UK who was released on bail for national-security-related charges in March, was summoned to Evin Prison, read her charges, and transferred to the women’s ward on September 7, 2018.

Iranian intelligence officers apprehended the Kingston University graduate student on March 14, 2018, just prior to the Iranian New Year. She had been out of custody since posting a bond of $120,000 USD (500 million IRR) bail on May 21.

A source close to Amiri confirmed the news of her recent summons, and told HRANA that she is being pursued on charges of “action against national security.” “However,” the source added, “we are still in the dark about how she responded to that charge since the case file has yet to be sent to court.”

Prior to her arrest, Amiri–who studies the philosophy of art–was working to launch joint exhibition projects between Iranian and British artists, collaborating with bodies like the British Council and a UK-based charity with satellite offices worldwide. The British Council had its own office in Tehran until February of 2009, when security agents prompted the Council to cease its in-country operations by excessively questioning the employees there.

One of Amiri’s family members previously told the media that her cultural activities have been in concert and alignment with the various branches of the Iranian Ministry of Culture. During the ten years of her residence in the UK, she had repeatedly traveled to Iran without issue.

In recent years, a number of Iranian nationals residing outside of the country have been detained and imprisoned upon returning to Iran. Abbas Edalat, an Iranian-British dual citizen and professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Imperial College in London, was traveling to Iran for an educational workshop when he was detained and sent to Evin Prison in April 2018.

Expulsion of Baha’i University Student Nikan Shaydan

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Just shy of obtaining his associate’s degree in industrial mold making, Baha’i student Nikan Shaydan Shidi has been expelled from Tehran Technical University for refusing to denounce his faith.

An informed source told HRANA that Shidi was unceremoniously summoned at the end of his third term and asked, given his professed religion, “why he had registered at the university at all.”

“He was told that the university was no place for Baha’is and that the three terms he had spent there was three terms too many. They told him to change his professed religion at the registrar’s office if he wanted to carry on with his studies.”

According to the source, when Shaydan Shidi refused to do so, the security office summoned his father, but the two were unable to gain ground in negotiations with university officials. “No matter how hard [they] tried–writing letters to the education office of the university and visiting the dean–the university wouldn’t give him the necessary credentials to take his final exams. In the end, he was expelled.”

While Iranian Baha’is are routinely banned from pursuing higher education, some manage to surpass initial barriers to enrollment, only to be thwarted before culminating their degree. On September 15th, HRANA reported on the expulsion of Baha’i architectural design student Shaqayeq Zabihi Amrii from Rassam Private University of Karaj.

Baha’i students are often prevented from enrolling in college altogether during the processing of their results on the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Over the past few weeks, more than 51 Baha’i students were stopped short of applying to universities, purportedly due to “deficiencies” in their admissions files. In its close coverage of these most recent cases, HRANA published specimens of the documentation used to block these Baha’i student files from further processing.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is barred in this way from the university enrollment process.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particular in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the Rapporteur, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

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 freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, 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 does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.