Anemic Political Prisoner Denied Medical Treatment on 10th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On the shore of the Caspian Sea in the city of Tonekabon, authorities at Nashtaroud Prison are still withholding medical care from political prisoner Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour, who has now been on hunger strike for ten days.

Sentenced to 10 months in prison for her participation in the January protests, Ahmadpour has been on hunger strike since September 10th, in protest of her restricted access to both medical care and the prison telephone.
Her strike is also a revolt against prison authorities who, as a form of coercion or harassment, reportedly threatened to open new charges against her.

An informed source told HRANA that prison officials have displayed apathy toward Ahmadpour’s anxiety about her condition. “On Thursday, September 13th, Ms. Ahmadpour felt sick and asked prison authorities for a transfer to an outside hospital, or to allow her family to bring medications to her, but the authorities ignored her pleas,” the source said.

Concerned at her frail state and steep drop in blood pressure, Ahmadpour’s ward mates brought her to authorities again in hopes of obtaining her treatment. A few hours later, the ward mates learned she had instead been transferred to solitary confinement.

“They said that she would be held there until she broke her hunger strike,”  the source said. “She was sent back to the ward last night, without having been treated, and still on strike.”

Per her treatment plan for anemia, Ahmadpour should receive seven units of blood every month. An informed told HRANA that monthly blood infusions were also recommended for her as a preventative measure against leukemia. Despite her diagnosis and supporting medical documentation, however, prison authorities are adamant about denying her requests for a medical transfer.

Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour is a 46-year-old resident of Tonekabon. A peddler by trade, she was arrested along with 14 other residents during widespread rallies that took place in January 2018 across Iran, known as the January Protests. The Revolutionary Court of Tonekabon sentenced eight of these arrestees to 28 months’ imprisonment, divided among the defendants. Branch 101 of Criminal Court No. 2 of Tonekabon, presided over by Judge Ebrahimi, also sentenced six of the arrestees to 24 collective months of prison time.

Ahmadpour was first sentenced May 2, 2018, in Branch 101 of Tonekabon Criminal Court No. 2 to serve a six-month prison sentence on a charge of “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.” On August 11, 2018, Tunekabon’s Revolutionary Court compounded the sentence with four months’ imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime.” As evidence against her, the court cited a combination of law enforcement reports and images and video taken during the January protests in Tonekabon.

HRANA previously reported on Ms. Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour’s third day of hunger strike in Nashtaroud Prison.

Political Prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared Joins Chorus of Eulogies for Executed Kurds

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Maryam Akbari Monfared, a political prisoner held in the women ward’s of Evin Prison, has penned an open letter in response to the highly controversial September 8th executions of Kurdish political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

Monfared, whose own siblings have been executed, expressed her sympathy for the mothers and sisters of the executed prisoners and chastised the broken promises of both current president Hassan Rouhani and the past 40 years of Iran’s Islamic governance.

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

Maryam Akbari Monfared

It has been a week since that day, September 8th, 2018.
September is the month of blood in Iran: September 8th, 1978*, and September of 1981**.

September 8th: Everyone is worried. My ward mates and I have heart palpitations. We are in a swarm of contradictory news flashes. Some say the families were told the executions have stayed; someone else says that their families visited them yesterday for the last time.

And then comes the 8 p.m. news, broadcasting a speech from a figurehead of a government touting “prudence and hope.”*** I think to myself, “Hope is such a beautiful word!”. Rouhani promises to break the chains of injustice with a golden key and to sow new hopes in the souls of the nation. He campaigned as his predecessors did before him, riding the wave of the country’s emotional elan. The ink on the ballots was still wet when he changed his stripes. How despicable of him to preside over the nation’s highest rate of executions and civilian crackdowns in 30 years.

All eyes in the ward are transfixed on the TV screen and the news ticker running at the bottom. Ears in the ward are attuned to the speaker’s’ every word.

Finally, the 10:30 p.m. broadcast: “Three terrorists…”

That’s right. For 40 years, they sent this land’s youth to the gallows, lined them up before firing squads, sent them off wholesale to torture chambers and prisons. Then, brazenly, they speak of their actions under the guise of eliminating “terrorism” and other excuses of this ilk. The chariots of oppression, torture, and captivity have been riding unbridled for 40 years.

I don’t intend to re-narrate the crimes of the regime, for the vileness and cruelty of the establishment are readily apparent. The news is abuzz with sympathy and condolences. Perhaps now it is too late to add my own….but for a while, I was unable to muster the presence of mind to pen even a few lines to the mothers and sisters of these beloved men.

To my mothers and sisters: I know your pain very well. I can almost sense the unbearable, scalding pain in your hearts. I know the whispers of the warm lullabies you used to sing, even those lost in the wrinkled lines of your bodies or drowned out by screams in a faraway land. I know the bitter taste of those tears shed by poppy flowers.

I know that you are adding a page to what will be the proud and bright history of Iran’s fight for freedom. I wish to honor your motherhood, this exalted, humane quality, and to thank you for your endless, unabating kindness. Your name is a comforting breeze in the sky. Your familiar faces and your kind gaze bear the promise of life, love, and resistance. When the flames of injustice burn your cheeks, I will put out the flames by touching your cheek to my own, which is frozen in the grimace of injustice.

I am brimming with unspoken words. My tears and the lumps in my throat are bursting with the pain of oppression. But now is not the time to cry. We have to spread our screams all over like ashes. I will lean against your warm chest from behind these stony and cold prison walls. My heart is ablaze with pain, and the tip of the flames reach my throat. This is not only the fire of pain–it is also the fire of life. I wish to carry your tears and your anguish on my shoulder, to feel the burden of this responsibility for the rest of my life. My mothers! My sisters! We must harness the power of our collective pain to soothe the wounds of the Iranian freedom movement.

The vampire will not leave its throne of darkness unless we shake that throne and force it to flee. Let me hold your warm hands with my cold hands, and together, we will join the ranks of the justice movement for our loved ones. To bring to justice the ones responsible for these horrific crimes, we must join forces.

Maryam Akbari Monfared
Evin Prison
September 2018

************************

Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested amid the 2009 Green Movement protests, and in June 2010 was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge Salavati in Branch 15 of Revolutionary Court for “enmity against God and the Islamic government through membership in the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).” Monfared has denied these accusations.

Two of her brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 by revolutionary courts for membership in the MEK. In the summer of 1988, two more of her siblings — a brother and a sister — were executed as part of a widespread massacre of political prisoners. In a letter to former UN Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed, Monfared quoted her sentencing Judge: “You [Monfared] are bearing the burden of your siblings’ [political activities].”

Monfared served the first two years of her sentence in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison on the western outskirts of Tehran. She was then transferred in May 2011 along with eight other female prisoners to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, southeast Tehran. Shaheed protested the transfer and shed light on the deplorable conditions at Gharchak. As a result, Monfared was then transferred to the Evin Prison women’s ward, where she is serving the remainder of her sentence.

* In the last months of the Shah’s reign preceding the revolution, September 8th, 1978 came to be known as “Black Friday” when soldiers opened fire on protesters assembled in Jaleh Square, killing many.
** Iran’s then-new Islamic government intensified its crackdown on the opposition in the summer of 1981, arresting and executing a countless number of people.
*** “Prudence and Hope” was Rouhani’s slogan during both of his presidential campaigns.

Crackdown on Women’s Rights Activists Continues: Najmeh Vahedi held on ghost charges for 11 days running

Posted on: September 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Since women’s rights activist Najmeh Vahedi was arrested 11 days ago, her family has been struggling to learn more about the reasons behind her arrest on September 1st.

In a brief interview with HRANA, Najmeh’s brother Reza said, “In a one-minute phone conversation with my sister on Tuesday September 4th, she was only able to tell us that she didn’t know her charges or why she had been arrested. We keep inquiring [with authorities], and are getting anxious because it’s been 11 days and we still don’t know what’s going on.”

Najmeh Vahedi earned a BS in sociology from Tehran Allameh University and an MS in sociology from Tehran Alzahra University. She is now in her third semester of Women’s Studies at Tehran Allameh Tabatabai University.

On September 3, 2018, HRANA published a report on the detention of this women’s rights activist by security forces at her home.

Over the past few weeks, civil rights activists–especially women’s rights activists–have been pursued by authorities with a renewed fervor. Women’s rights activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi and women’s rights activist and attorney Hoda Amid were among those detained recently.

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. At the time of this report, no further information was available on their respective charges, nor on the conditions facing them in custody.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also voiced their opposition to this civil crackdown last week, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Tensions Mount over Unlawful Execution of Three Kurdish Political Prisoners

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Shock, sorrow, and censure over the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi continue to pour in from both international institutions and Iranian citizens in-country, further straining relations between Iranian authorities and the human rights activist community at large.

A number of Kurdish opposition groups have sounded the call to strike to Kurdish regions of Iran, inviting fellow Kurds to protest their comrades’ executions.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated, “I deeply deplore the executions last week of three Iranian Kurdish prisoners despite the serious concerns raised by Special Procedures mandate holders that they were not afforded fair trials, and were subjected to torture.” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, has also condemned these executions.

Imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi was among a number of imprisoned civil rights activists publishing separate letters expressing sorrow and outrage over the men’s deaths. Golrokh Iraee and Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, two more imprisoned activists, wrote and published their own messages of protest and sympathy, with Sotoudeh likening their executions to the *political massacres of 1988.

Some of these letters have reportedly incited blowback from prison authorities, who have subjected Daemi and Iraee to repeated non-routine body searches after their letters were published. When these women inquired about the reason for the searches, they learned the order for frisking had been issued by the Prison’s Director. A Prosecutor Assistant has since promised to investigate.

Excerpts from the letters of Sotoudeh and Iraee, translated into English by HRANA, are below.

Nasrin Sotoudeh:

“The judicial system has executed three Kurdish compatriots. Our Kurdish compatriots have been plagued by oppression for decades. The verdict and sentences of the Revolutionary Court, condemning these three compatriots to die, was the product of an unlawful process that runs counter to Human Rights principles and the laws of the Islamic Republic. In at least one of these trials, had due process been respected, the defendant may very well have been acquitted.

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were on hunger strike when they were hanged, another testament to the inherent brutality of the judicial system, who itself is supposed to protect us from violence.

I extend my condolences to our Kurdish compatriots, who have had a steadfast, crucial presence in the cultural promotion of Iran; to all Iranians; and, in particular, to the families of Moradi, Moradi, and Panahi. I hope that in heeding the diverse manifestations of Iran’s judicial violence, the urgent need to renounce all forms of it will become clear.”

Golrokh Iraee

“[Their death] invites the wrath of Kurdistan’s Children […] Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi, freedom fighters, Kurdistan’s immortal resistance, teachers of patience and persistence, have left behind a lesson in determination. They were hanged while on hunger strike, in protest of their mistreatment at the hands of authorities; they stood up to the monsters of despotism and reactionarism.

They unmasked those traitors who call themselves statesmen and rulers. Let it be known that the time for lip service has passed. To hold them accountable, we must act.”

****

After being hanged to death in an undisclosed location in Tehran on September 8th without notice to their lawyers, the bodies of the Moradis and Hossein Panahi were *confiscated by the Iranian authorities. The Ministry of Intelligence has since threatened the men’s surviving family members.

Ahmad Amouee, journalist and former prisoner of conscience, published an account of the Moradi and Moradi families’ visit to Tehran’s main cemetery, Behesht-e Zahra, where officials had summoned them to bid farewell to their sons’ bodies. Their final resting place remains unknown.

* In the summer of 1988, on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time, thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners were executed after inquisition-style interrogation sessions. Almost all of these prisoners had already been tried and were either serving their sentence or, having completed their sentence, were awaiting release. All were buried in unmarked, often secret, mass graves.

Mother of Narges Mohammadi Pleads with Prison Officials: “Give her one hour at her father’s side”

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Currently imprisoned at Evin, civil rights activist and Vice President of Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) Narges Mohammadi is being championed by her mother, Ozra Bazargan. Worried that her daughter might never see her ailing father again, Bazargan pleads Mohammadi’s case for temporary release in a letter addressed to Tehran’s Prosecutor General.

The text of Bazargan’s letter, sourced from DHRC and translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Dear Mr. Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran Prosecutor General,

Why won’t you agree to Narges’s furlough? How far will you take this injustice against my daughter?

We are in the fourth autumn of our family’s separation. Narges’s father, who is 85 years old, suffers from cardiac disease and high blood pressure. We have seen Narges four times in as many as years, as our poor health prevents us from travelling to Tehran where our beloved daughter is held. The Evin Prison officials can attest to this.

Last year, Narges’s father suffered from three horrific heart attacks. Fearing she would never again see her father alive, Narges was ready to make the trip to see her him in the ICU–with guards present–for only an hour. And officials wouldn’t even grant her that.

Narges is being kept from her two children, her husband, and her father, all while looters, embezzlers, and society’s high crooks walk free, sit comfortably at home, or– if they’re in prison– enjoy perks from the Judiciary and security forces. An intolerable discrimination underlies this.

We have witnessed the temporary release of prisoners whose lives were affected by tragic events. The last of these was Abdolfatta Soltani [who was only granted furlough in the wake of his daughter’s sudden death]. I fear that my daughter will have to wait for a tragedy, too.

My daughter did not deserve a ruthless 22-year prison sentence at the age of 44. I cannot bear to think of it, let alone of the conditions she’s in: bereft of seeing her loved ones, deprived of medical care, cut off from the cures to her many ailments. I hear that my daughter struggles with aches and pains that she is keeping from us, to spare us the worry. You and your assistants, on the other hand–you know about her pain firsthand. I am told that she suffers through days without getting care. In tears–in cries–I lift my grief to heaven and I ask God for justice.

As a mother and a member of a family of activists, I am weary of the fight against oppression. I condemn this injustice and cruelty oppressing my daughter. I request that authorities consider the length of my daughter’s long sentence, and grant her this furlough. And if you still are resolute on restricting my daughter, send guards along. Give her one hour at her father’s side, so that he might find peace at the sight of his beloved daughter.
Ozra Bazargan
Narges Mohammadi’s mother

* According to her lawyer Mohamoud Behzadirad, Narges Mohammadi has served 6 years and 4 months of her prison sentence, and has 3 years, 8 months left ahead. “She is eligible for conditional release, but the request for that release has yet to be approved,” Behzadirad said.

HRANA reported August 13th, 2018 on Mohammadi’s transfer to Imam Khomeini hospital following a deterioration in her health condition, one week after prison officials had barred her from seeing a neurologist. Earlier, on June 30th, she spent almost a week away from prison while undergoing eye surgery.

Mohammadi  was issued a 16-year prison sentence in 2016, 10 years of which were for her role in LAGAM (the Step-by-Step Campaign to Abolish Death Penalty in Iran). The court equated her LAGAM affiliations with “association with the aim to threaten national security.”  Mohammadi later stated that her trial judge had displayed an openly hostile attitude towards her, and seemed adamant about backing the charges against her from the Ministry of Intelligence. She also stated that the judge likened her campaigns against the death penalty as attempts to warp divine law.

The other 6 years of Mohammadi’s sentence were on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “disseminating propaganda against the regime,” both in connection to her peaceful civic activities, including: interviews with the media about human rights violations, participating in peaceful assemblies before prisons, supporting the families of death row detainees, contacting fellow human rights activist and Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, participation in peaceful assemblies in protest of acid attacks, and meeting with Catherine Ashton (at the time the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security policy) in 2013.

Branch 26 of Appeals Court upheld Mohammadi sentence in October 2016. In May 2017, her request for retrial in Supreme Court was denied.

Prisoner of Conscience Atena Daemi Rebukes Authorities, Eulogizes Executed Kurds

Posted on: September 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – From the walls of Evin Prison, detained civil rights activist Atena Daemi has written a letter in response to the executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi, three Iranian Kurdish political prisoners who were hanged to death in secret on Saturday, September 8th.

The executions of the Moradis and Panahi drew outrcry from human rights institutions internationally. The attorneys representing them called their convictions and executions — the latter which took place without the mandatory notice to, or presence of, their lawyers — legally ambiguous under both Iranian and international law. Caught unawares, none of the families were present during their sons’ final moments, as the executions were carried out at an undisclosed location in Tehran. The Ministry of Intelligence has since issued detention threats to the family members of the deceased men.

Condemning Iranian authorities for their treatment of the three men, and extending her condolences to their families, Atena Daemi’s letter joins the many voices of outrage over the course of the young mens’ fate. Daemi, imprisoned since 2014, is serving a seven-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” and “insulting the supreme leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] as well as the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.”

The text of Atena Daemi’s eulogy, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

They killed our loved ones, and claim with pride that in doing so they have administered justice.

The “justice” they refer to is not the one represented by Lady Justice holding a fair and balanced scale. It is instead a man — a man with a turban on his head [a cleric], whose forehead bears the mark of the clay which grazes his head during prayers. He is blindfolded, not as a sign of impartiality, but of blindness to the truth. In one hand is a rosary. In the other, a scale suspended by a noose.

These scales are so unbalanced that one tray is a speck in the heavens, while the other is laden with dead bodies dragging it deep into the ground. This “justice” they invoke has been neither seen nor heard in *40 years.

In this troubled time – a time of economic turbulence, poverty, and unemployment – what problem was solved by murdering these three beloved men? Has their killing soothed any of the ailments suffered by the Iranian people?

Your majesties– where is this mania taking you? By deceit and without warning, you led our loved ones to the killing fields. Even in the short lives granted them, you wouldn’t offer them peace. While they were still **hungry and thirsty, you cut their lives short. How it must have incensed you to your core to never see them falter. As you, dry-eyed, pitied them in their walk to the gallows to die for the ideals, their heads were held high, their steps steady…

How insolently you watch our loved ones draw their last breaths! It must burn you to hold them hostage from their families and brand them as terrorists, only to see them rise as steadfast symbols of democracy for the rest of us. For nine years, they showed friendship to inmates of different creeds and beliefs; they were endeared to their fellow prisoners, loved by us, and cherished by the Iranian people.

Before the start of religious months of Moharram and Safar(1) each year, you prepare yourself for mourning with a savage display. Drunk and armed with handguns, you launch into a monologue about Imam Hussein, who, lips dry from thirst, was beheaded by Yazid. What a repugnant contradiction–what abhorrent hypocrisy! You mirror Yazid’s troops, and for the past 40 years, you have tightened ropes around resolute throats, pulled the stool from beneath the feet of persistent and patient youth. You instigate sectarian war between Sunni and Shiites. Then, your pockets brimming with billions, you pretend to be mourning Hussain.

I am sure that you know your savage acts only dig you deeper into public contempt. Your path is one of self-annihilation. Today, you only dug your graves deeper. You did not kill Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin. You have only endeared them in our hearts, inspiring the world into mourning the true martyrs of our time.

You have tarnished Iran’s standing and dignity in the world. They see us as a terrorist country for the cutthroat, blood-thirsty, and rapacious actions of a select and powerful few. How long and how far will you continue on this road? Dream on about imposing war on your people: they will rise to the challenge again and again. Stop your killing machine. Lift your lead boots from the throats of Iran and Kurdistan.

How tightly you cling to your towering throne, oblivious to the fact that you could tumble from your high horses at any moment to the miry earth below. Throughout history, many who rode high thought of themselves as invincible, only to take refuge in sewage tunnels, where they were tracked down and punished for their crimes.

Iran is a pile of live embers cloaked in a thin layer of ash. Lest your actions arouse the flames that lie beneath.

We congratulate the steadfast families of these martyrs.

Atena Daemi – Evin Prison Women Ward
September 8th, 2018

(1) Months in the Islamic lunar calendar commemorated by Shiite Muslims in mourning of Imam Hussein, the 3rd Shiite Imam, who was killed in battle against Yazid (Imam Hussain has come to symbolize the force of Good while Yazid stands for Evil).

* The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded after the Iranian Revolution approximately 40 years ago
** Zanyar and Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein Panahi were all reportedly on hunger strike before they were executed.

Women Prisoners of Conscience Respond to Executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman & Zanyar Moradi

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Political and civil rights activists detained in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison in Tehran have released a statement in response to the execution of political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

In a letter, Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Golrokh Ibrahim Iraee, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghademian expressed condolences to the families of the three Iranian Kurdish prisoners, who were hung to death September 8th amid dubious legal proceedings and international protest.

Barring the families from interring their sons’ bodies themselves, authorities commandeered the remains to be buried in an undisclosed location. According to Ramin’s brother Amjad Hossein Panahi, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Moradis and Panahi families with detention. To the surprise of all families involved, the executions were carried out in an undisclosed location in Tehran province.

Amnesty International, one of the human rights organizations who were aghast at the course of the young men’s case, called the executions an “outrage.” Voices of the Evin Prison Women’s Ward now join the wave of dissent against the outcome of their case.

During a visitation on Sunday, the authors of the statement, many of whom are being held as political prisoners themselves, joined the families in singing “Ode to the Bleeding Tulip” and “O Iran” to commemorate and honor the memories of Ramin Hossein-Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

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

No words could contain the crushing weight of our sorrow.

These brave children of our country leave us a legacy of patience, freedom, and perseverance.

Their names are affixed to the helms of those fighting for freedom, and for those that seek it, the path has been laid by their resistance.

We wish solace for the families and cellmates of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein-Panahi. We wish solace for all the afflicted citizens of our land.

We bear your pain in our chests and we stand with you.

Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotudeh, Golrokh Ibrahimi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghadamian

Women’s Ward of Evin Prison

Activist in Iranshahr Girls Case Released on Bail

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Abdollah Bozorgzadeh, a civil rights activist who was arrested June 17, 2018 for joining a peaceful gathering in support of the Iranshahr Girls, has been released on a bail of 1,200,000,000 Rials (approximately $12,000 USD).

Upon his arrest, Bozorgzadeh was transferred to a Zahedan detention center run by the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Iranshahr Girls are a group of 41 girls who were reportedly raped in the southeastern city of Iranshahr. Their case attracted public attention when Sunni Imam Molavi Tayeb Molazehi spoke about them during a sermon at the end of Ramadan, stating the girls had been raped by a group of men “of wealth and power.” The sermon ignited street rallies and social media campaigns against authorities’ failure to prosecute the men accused of the rape.

In July of this year, the IRGC reported the arrest of a number of foreign media heads, releasing video-recorded confessions from Abdollah Bozorgzadeh and six other protester-arrestees.

More than 100 well-known civil and human rights activists have spoken out against the Iranian security apparatus, issued a statement calling for Bozorgzadeh’s immediate release, and demanded an investigation to identify and punish those responsible for the rape. Amnesty International called for Bozorgzadeh’s release in a statement released July 4th.

* Iranshahr is located in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, southeastern Iran. Most of the residents of this city are members of the Sunni religious minority.

Three Women’s Rights Activists Detained in Three Days

Posted on: September 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Rezvaneh Mohammadi is the third women’s rights activist to be taken into custody by authorities in the past three days.

A source close to Mohammadi’s family told HRANA that she was arrested by security forces for unknown reasons on the evening of Monday, September 3, 2018.

Mohammadi’s arrest comes only two days after the arrests of activists Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid, an attorney, on September 1st. The two were reportedly arrested for hosting training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. At the time of this report, no further information was available on their conditions or the reasons behind their arrests.

Mohammadi, Vahedi, and Amid join a recent wave of citizens detained for their active and public defense of human rights. Lawyers Arash Kaykhosravi, Payam Dorafshan, Farrokh Forouzan, and Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi were detained in August. Dorafshan and Forouzan have since been released.

Nasrin Sotoudeh’s charges: A closer look

Posted on: September 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Human rights lawyer and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is entering the second week of her hunger strike, has been imprisoned since June 14th, 2018 in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Sotoudeh’s temporary detention warrant has been renewed twice in this 86-day stretch. She did not post the bail granted to her and remains in custody in the Evin Prison women’s ward. Her husband Reza Khandan, who had been publicly supporting her on social media, was arrested himself on September 4th.

Summary of Current Proceedings

According to lawyer Payam Dorafshan, who himself was imprisoned from August 31st until his release on September 6th, Sotoudeh is being held on three counts:

· A five-year sentence on an espionage charge that didn’t figure in her indictment
· An unspecified charge from a court investigator in Kashan (a city located in central Iran)
· An arrest warrant by Branch 2 of the Interrogations Unit

Sources close to Sotoudeh believe she has been arrested for carrying out her responsibilities as an attorney by defending the rights of those charged for protesting mandatory veiling.

Sotoudeh’s husband Khandan revealed in July that his wife was deprived the right to appoint her own legal counsel. Her attorney of choice was rejected by judicial authorities on the basis of a new law which, in cases of those accused of national security crimes, restricts defendants to choose a lawyer from a pre-approved list.

In late July, Sotoudeh was served a charge for which she has already been doled a five-year prison sentence: membership in LEGAM, a Persian abbreviation for the Step-by-Step Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty in Iran.

In a letter from prison, Sotoudeh then announced that she refused to go to court, an action which, according to Khandan, provoked judicial authorities to bring new charges against her.

An investigator– together with the Assistant Prosecutor and the Evin Prison Director of the Execution of Sentences — visited Sotoudeh’s prison ward on August 25th to “complete the case.” Over the course of their visit, the investigator leveled three new accusations against Sotoudeh: assisting in the foundation of Christian house churches, incitement to hold referendums, and attempts to hold gatherings and sit-ins.

Following the visit, Sotoudeh wrote an open letter to announce her hunger strike, decrying both her own arrest and the pressures that judiciary authorities are reportedly placing on her family, relatives, and friends, e.g. the arrest of civil rights activist Farhad Meysami and the search of her own home as well as those of activists Mohammad Reza Farhadpour, Zhila Karamzadeh Makvandi, and her sister-in-law.

Her temporary detention warrant was renewed the second time on September 1st. Three days later, her husband Reza Khandan was arrested in his home by security forces after refusing to respond to a telephone court summons, allegedly from the Intelligence Bureau, that he had exposed as unlawful on his social media account.

Khandan was later charged in Branch 7 of Evin Prison Court with “Collusion against National Security,” “Propaganda against the regime,” and “Propagation of unveiling in public”. With a bail set at 700 million IRR (approximately $50,000 USD), he joined his wife in Evin Prison, albeit in a different ward. The couples’ children are now without a guardian.

International Reaction

Sotoudeh’s arrest in June incited lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi to write a protest letter to Javaid Rehman, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, asking him to use all the legal means at his disposal to fight for Sotoudeh’s release.

Amnesty International issued a statement July 5th declaring that Sotoudeh was being persecuted “in connection with her work as a lawyer defending women who have peacefully protested against compulsory veiling (hijab). She is a prisoner of conscience.”

On September 4th, 2018, after the arrest of her husband and the announcement of her hunger strike, Amnesty International issued another statement:
“The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release both Nasrin Sotoudeh and Reza Khandan…The international community, including the EU, must do everything in their power to expedite the release of these two human rights defenders.”

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, was emphatic in his defense of Sotoudeh, stating, “first the authorities jail Nasrin Sotoudeh on bogus charges, then harass, intimidate, and threaten her family and friends, and now arrest her husband. These callous actions illustrate the lengths to which Iranian authorities will go to silence human rights lawyers, even targeting their families” (2).

Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Background

Nasrin Sotoudeh Langroudi was born on June 9th, 1963 in Tehran, Iran. She is a legal expert, licensed lawyer, and social activist with a master’s degree in International Law. She has actively participated in several civic campaigns and associations, such as the Defenders of Human Rights Center, One Million Signatures Campaign to Change Discriminatory Laws Against Women, the Step-by-Step Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the Child Rights’ Protection Association. She has represented many victims of child abuse, as well as human and women’s rights activists and juvenile offenders facing the death penalty. Sotoudeh has frequently been lauded as a human rights champion and is a recipient of the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

With her husband Reza Khandan, she has a daughter, Mehraveh, and one son, Nima.

Sotoudeh was previously arrested in August 2010, when she was issued an 11-year prison sentence, 20-year travel ban, and 20-year ban from practicing law. She appealed the sentence to six years in prison with a 10-year ban on practicing law. She spent September 4th, 2010 to September 18th, 2013 in Evin Prison on charges of “Acting against national security.” Immediately upon her release, her licence to practice law was revoked for three years. In response, she staged a sit-in before the Iranian Bar Association building. Joined in support by several other lawyers, the sit-in resulted in the restoration of her licence.