Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to extra 15 years of imprisonment despite being acquitted

Posted on: June 2nd, 2020

Saba Kord Afshari, a civil activist who is currently imprisoned in Evin Prison, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for “promoting corruption”, a charge of which she was previously acquitted. Her lawyer has expressed his concerns regarding her acquittal which was communicated to her in prison, emphasizing the unlawful proceedings of her case. Should this error in judgment fail to be remedied Ms. Kord Afshari, who is currently serving a nine-year sentence can face up to 24 years of imprisonment in total.

According to HRANA Saba Kord Afshari, a civil activist imprisoned in Evin Prison was informed of her acquittal from a 15-year sentenced on the charge of “spreading corruption”. Hossein Taj, Ms. Kord Afshari’s lawyer states: “On Tuesday, May 26, 2020, Saba Kord Afshari contacted me from Evin Prison and informed me that she was informed of re-announcement of her previous sentence of 15 years, from which she was acquitted in the appeals court. According to her, this was done through a letter issued by the execution division, although I was informed of her acquittal in person following her court at Branch 36 of the Court of Appeal. I was informed today that the content of her verdict of the appeals court (from which she was acquitted) has changed, and I intend to follow up with the intelligence department of the Judiciary system.”

Ms. Kord Afshari received this new verdict after she was issued an acquittal in writing on March 17, 2018, by the Evin Prosecutor’s Office on the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public.” On May 26, 2020, she received another notice by the Ershad Prosecutor’s Office in which she is sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public” 1 year and 6 months of imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime.” As well as “assembly and collusion with an intent to commit a crime against the national security.”

 

Arrest

Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for the first time on August 2, 2018, alongside 50 others, during a series of protests that occurred July-August 2018 against the deterioration of Iran’s economy as well as the corruption within the government. She was first transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin and later, in October 2018, to Evin prison’s women’s ward. In August 2018, she was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of “disrupting the public order” at Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court led by Judge Moghiseh. She was released on 14 February 2019 when Iran’s Supreme Leader pardoned a large number of prisoners in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

On June 2, 2019, Ms. Kord Afshari was rearrested by security forces at her home and was transferred to the Vozara Detention Center in Tehran. Her house was searched during this raid, and several items of her personal belongings including her mobile phone and laptop were also confiscated. This civil activist was charged only one day after her arrest in Branch 1 of the General and Revolutionary Court of Tehran’s 21st District Court (Ershad Prosecutor’s Office) and was transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin for interrogation for 11 days, on June 21st she was transferred from Qarchak to the IRGC Intelligence center of Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A and was once again returned to Qarchak Prison on July 2, 2019.

 

Trial

Saba Kord Afshari was transferred to Evin Prison on August 13, 2019, and her trial was held on August 19, 2018. Finally, on September 26, 2019, she was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided over by Judge Iman Afshari. Her sentences included 15 years of imprisonment on the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public” 1 year and 6 months in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the state” and 7 years and 6 months in prison on the charge of ” assembly and collusion with an intent to commit a crime against the national security”, which adds up to a total of 24 years in prison along with other social deprivations. Due to the number of crimes and previous records, each charge was added by one-half. This sentence was reduced to nine years in prison in December 2019 at Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeals, presided over by Judge Ahmad Zargar.

In accordance with Court of Appeals, Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months imprisonment on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and 7 years and 6 months in prison on charges of ” assembly and collusion with an intent to commit a crime against national security.”Based on Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that Ms. Kord Afshari should serve 7 years and six months in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion to commit a crime against the security of the country”. Hossein Taj, Ms. Kord Afshari’s lawyer, has previously stated: “The Court of Appeals acquitted Saba Kordafsari of a part of her charges and as a result, her sentence was reduced to 9 years, 7.5 of which are imposable by law. We also remain hopeful that the Judiciary system mitigates the sentences of Ms. Kord Afshari and other political prisoners.” Now, if the penal system fails to correct their violations, Ms. Kord Afshari, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence in Evin Prison, could face up to 24 years in prison.

It should be noted that Raheleh Ahmadi, a civil activist and Saba Kord Afshari’s mother, is also serving a 31-month prison term at Evin Prison alongside her daughter.

Saba Kord Afshari was born on July 7, 1998.

Domestic violence increased during coronavirus quarantines and stay-at-home orders

Posted on: April 5th, 2020

Mahmoud Aligoo, the head of the department of social harms of the State Welfare Organization reported an increase in the number of domestic violence and child abuse by assessing the number of calls made to the national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline. On April 1, 2020, Behzad Vahidnia, the head of counseling and psychology of the State Welfare Organization of Iran reported that the number of calls related to family conflicts during the quarantine times after coronavirus outbreak has been tripled.

Increasing awareness of families regarding how to treat women and girls especially in small cities and rural areas, teaching life skills from childhood, before marriage, after marriage, and before a child is born, researching on the methods to prevent domestic violence, and finally, revising the laws according to the current situations are some of the solutions to overcome violence against women.

Mr. Aligoo also pointed out that the increase in the number of child abuse and domestic violence during this time is because the Iranian middle-class families have been quarantining more seriously which resulted in heightened risk for domestic violence. Vahidinia added that approximately 60% of calls were related to family conflicts. Moreover, unemployment and financial hardship caused by coronavirus outbreak are important factors to the increased domestic violence. “if there are conflicts and mental conflicts, it is because of the poor economic situation in the society. People have to stay home because of the quarantine and thus, they are affected by the financial hardships, they are more in face-to-face contact with each other, there is a higher chance of quarrels, negligence, and emotional destructions and therefore, these factors will contribute in increasing domestic violence. Specifically, domestic violence against the elderly is a very important category of domestic violence” says Vahidinia.

Increase in violence against children

According to Shahrvand News Agency’s report quoting some of the children’s rights activists, there has been an increase in physical and verbal conflicts with children staying at home. Yasaman Dadvar who is responsible for the Sedaye Yar, the first hotline that offers counsel to children and teenagers, says that “quarantine has caused trouble for the families who were not ready for it. Small income and not having enough savings or the opportunity to work remotely has caused tensions in the families. To overcome such tensions, parents and children would need a set of skills but most of the families lack such skills. And this can lead to increased violence against children.”

In February 2019, Habibollah Masoudi Farbod, deputy of social affairs of the State’s Welfare Organization announced that during the year before, there were a million calls made to the national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline from which about 11 thousand calls were related to child abuse and about 10 thousand were related to violence against women.

According to the report compiled by HRANA in 2019, there were 1290 cases of child abuse, 31 cases of rape and sexual assault of children, 10 cases of children being murdered and 31 cases of child suicides.

Appeals Court Upheld Alieh Motalebzadeh’s Sentence

Posted on: October 17th, 2019

On October 14, 2019, the Branch 36 of Tehran’s appeals court upheld Alieh Motalebzadeh’s sentence of three years imprisonment. In 2016, Alieh Motalebzadeh, women’s rights activist, was sentenced to three years in prison by a  preliminary court. According to the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that she should serve two years in prison.

She was summoned to Evin Prison by a text message stating that she should show up in the next five days to start serving her time. She was sentenced to three years in prison in 2016 for the charges of “assembly and collision” and “propaganda against the state”.

Alieh Motalebzadeh was arrested on November 24, 2016 and was transferred to Evin Prison’s ward 209. On December 19, 2016, she was temporarily released on a 300-million-Toman (approx. 27 thousand dollars) bail after 25 days in prison. Motalebzadeh was a member of the“One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws” campaign and had been arrested multiple times.

Maryam Mohammadi and Asreen Darkaleh Were Released on Bail

Posted on: September 19th, 2019

On September 18, 2019 Maryam Mohammadi and Asreen Darkaleh, women’s rights activists, were temporarily released on bail.

Maryam Mohammadi was arrested on July 8, 2019 in Garmsar, Semnan Province by security forces and was transferred to a solitary confinement cell at the intelligence department’s detention center in Evin Prison known as the ward 209. She was transferred to women’s ward of Evin Prison after a month in solitary confinement on August 8, 2019. She is 52 years old and a mother to a 16- and a 22-year-old girl. She had been a political prisoner from 1981 to 1989 when she was 14 to 22 years old.

Asreen Darkaleh was born in 1983 and has an 18-year-old child. She was arrested on July 28, 2019 in Garmsar, Semnan Province by security forces and was transferred to a solitary confinement cell at the intelligence department’s detention center in Evin Prison known as the ward 209. She was transferred to women’s ward of Evin Prison a day after Maryam Mohammadi’s transfer. The two are cousins.

Earlier, they were summoned to the Evin Prison’s prosecutor’s office in June after security forces searched her residences and confiscated some of their belongings. They were transferred to Evin Prison in August. Among their charges are “promoting corruption and prostitution”, “establishing and membership in Nedaye Zanane Iran (Iranian women’s call) Group”, “assembly and collusion against the national security”, and “propaganda against the state” for which they are under prosecution at the Branch 2 of the Evin Prison’s prosecutor’s office.

These activists are members of association of Nedaye Zanane Iran (Iranian women’s call) which is a women’s NGO working to empower women and improve the lives of them in Iran. Mohammadi and Darkaleh were also arrested during the International Women’s Day ceremonies in Tehran on March 7, 2019. They gave speeches on subjects such as “women as the core opposition force” and “the 40th anniversary of women movement”.

Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 24-year prison term

Posted on: August 27th, 2019

Saba Kord Afshari, a detained women rights activist in Evin prison, was sentenced to 24-year prison term at the Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court led by judge Iman Afshari. Based on the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that Saba Kord Afshari should serve 15 years in prison.

Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for her involvement in women’s rights advocacy, including protesting against the compulsory Hijab. On 1 June 2019, she was arrested by security forces at her home in Tehran and transferred to Vozara detention Center. The police confiscated some of her belongings, such as her cell phone and her laptop. On 2 June 2019, she appeared before Branch 21 Revolutionary Court in Tehran where she received her formal chargers. She was charged with “gathering and collusion against national security” through supporting political prisoners, “’propaganda against the state’ through collaborating with opposition and subversive groups”, “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public”. She was then transferred to Qarchak prison in Varamin and was detained for a month of which she served 11 days in solitary confinement. She did not have access to an attorney from the time she was arrested until the day of trial. On 2 July 2019, she was transferred to a detention center of the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps(IRGC) for further interrogations.

Saba Kord Afshari was informed about her indictment on 7 August 2019 in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She was tried on August 19 at the Tehran Revolutionary Court as scheduled. She did not have access to a lawyer until the day of her trial on August 19th, 2019, when she met her lawyer in front of the Judge. She was transferred to the court blindfolded and in handcuffs by the officers of IRGC. On August 26, 2019, she was sentenced to 24-year prison term by Branch 26 Tehran Revolutionary Court led by judge Iman Afshari. She was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the charge of “promoting corruption and prostitution through appearing without a headscarf in public”, one and a half year in prison for the charge of “propaganda against the state”, and seven years and six months in prison for the charge of “gathering and collusion against national security”. It should be noted that she has had stomach disorders for a few years. Her anxiety attacks cause muscle contractions, which require urgent injections and oxygen therapy.

Saba Kord Afshari was arrested for the first time on 2 August 2018, alongside 50 others, during a series of protests that occurred July-August 2018 against the deterioration of Iran’s economy as well as the corruption within the government. She was first transferred to Qarchak prison in Varamin and later, in October 2018, to Evin prison’s women’s ward. In August 2018, she was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of “disrupting the public order” at the Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court led by Judge Moghiseh. She was released on 14 February 2019 when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned a large number of prisoners in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

On 1 June 2019, Saba Kord Afshari’s mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, was summoned to the prosecutor’s office where she was threatened that they had an arrest warrant for her if she did not cease her activities, and that it could be used at any time. Raheleh Ahmadi was arrested on 10 July 2019 on the charges of “propaganda against the state”, “collaborating with opposition and subversive groups”, “promoting corruption and prostitution”. These charges were related to her publishing of information on social media about the arrest of her daughter. On 13 July 2019 she was released on bail of 700 million Toman [approx. 58 thousand dollars]. Ms. Raheleh Ahmadi appeared for her trial on 4 August 2019 in Branch 21 Revolutionary Court in Tehran which was led by Judge Haji Moradi. She defended her action by stating that she published information on her daughter’s case because Iranian Media and the Judiciary refused to take any action to help her daughter. She has yet to receive a verdict on her case and was told to register on the Justice Department online portal for her summons, where she will be given the date to appear in court for her verdict.

Marzieh Amiri was sentenced to 10-year and six months prison term and 148 lashes

Posted on: August 24th, 2019

Marzieh Amiri, a journalist at Shargh newspaper, was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months in prison and 148 lashes by the Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court on August 24, 2019. She was arrested alongside several labor activists who had been arrested during a protest demonstration in Tehran on the International Labor Day.

On May 1, police arrested Marzieh Amiri while covering a Labor Day demonstration in front of the Iranian parliament building in Tehran. Police arrested several labor activists during the rally. She was detained and interrogated in ward 2-Alef of Evin Prison, which is under the supervision of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization. A week after, she was transferred to the solidarity confinement in ward 209 of the Evin Prison which is under administration of Ministry of Intelligence. Eventually, on June 8, 2019, she was transferred to women’s ward of the Evin Prison.

She received her indictment on July 3, 2019 when she was transferred to the Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She was charged with “assembly and collusion”, “propaganda against the state”, and “disrupting public order”.

She was tried on August 13, 2019, at the Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, led by judge Mohammad Moghiseh. Her sister, Samira Amiri, wrote on her personal page on social media that Marzieh was sentenced to 148 lashes and 10 and a half years in prison. Based on the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that Marzieh Amiri should serve six years in prison. Judge Moghiseh has denied her requests to set a bail and her temporary release for medical treatment although she suffered once from epileptic seizure in prison.

The Directive of Executive Plan in the Complimentary Act of Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution with Respect to Veil

Posted on: August 7th, 2019

The committee of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution prepared an directive to promote veil, prevent and enforced activities-necessary to combat clothing which opposes the norms of the Islamic Republic and was submitted to every judicial, security, cultural, and educational organizations as a form of a plan and solution in July 2018. HRANA gained access to the updated draft of this 26-page directive. A brief summary of it is presented in this report and the full text of the directive is accessible at the end of this report.

According to Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), the directive issued by the committee of Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution which includes executive strategies and planning was updated in July 2019. The aim of this directive is to impose a government-approved lifestyle to citizens and to prevent and reject all other unfavorable lifestyles.

The topics of “enforced dress code” in fashion production, cultural products, volunteer and law-enforcement organizations for “enjoining good and forbidding wrong”, education, wellbeing, employment, promoting actors, actresses, and athletes for advertisement, traffic, cyber space, nutrition, and many other personal issues are some of the topics in this 26-pages directive.

Publishing educational programs and textbooks to promote veil as the only valuable role model, supervision over girl schools, supervision on the production and importing toys are among the responsibilities of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Sciences must focus on segregating and separating women and men educational institutes, establishing women’s colleges, and must empower the security department of the universities to interfere and control the students.

According to this document, Ministry of Intelligence should use its research and executive teams to analyze and control inside Iran and monitor and confront foreign activities. Moreover, it should utilize its power to dominate recruitment for sensitive positions and monitor “unethical” activities of the embassies.

Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting are obliged to morally and financially support artists, writers, media products, fashion designers, clothes industry, publishers, and toys which promote veil and Islamic dress code. In the other part of this directive, the responsibilities of the armed forces such as police and Basij to enforce the Islamic dress code are explained. Another part of this directive is about conspicuous and inconspicuous supervision over citizens’ clothing in athletic environments, working spaces, and by Iranian Traffic Police.

The 26 pages document can be downloaded here.

A strict dress code has been enforced since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. Women are forbidden from exposing their hair, they must be covered in public from ankle to neck. In addition, wearing tight-fitting clothes that does not conceal the shape of body is forbidden and should be noted that men are not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.

Three women rights activists were sentenced to 55 years imprisonment

Posted on: August 2nd, 2019

Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz, detained civil rights activists of Qarchak prison in Varamin, were sentenced to 55 years and six months imprisonment, combined, on July 31, 2019.

At the branch 28 of Revolutionary Court, judge Moghiseh, sentenced them for “encourage and promote corruption by de-veiling” to 10 years in prison , for “propaganda against the state” to one year imprisonment and for “collusion and assembly to act against national security” to five years in prison. Moreover, Mojgan Keshavarz was sentenced to additional seven years and six months in prison for the charge of “blasphemy”. Lawyer of Aryani and Arabshahi, Amir Reissian, said to HRANA that their lawyers were not allowed to attend their interrogation and trials. Their trials were scheduled without any prior notice.

During the trial, judge Moghiseh insulted them and threatened them to more prison years in Qarchak prison. He added that their lawyers can not have access to their cases until the appeal’s court.

Yasaman Aryani and Monireh Arabshahi are a mother and daughter who were arrested in early April 2019 because of their civil activities including commemorating the international women’s day and have been detained in Qarchak prison ever since. Before being transferred to prison, Yasaman Aryani was detained for nine days in a solitary confinement cell in Vozara detention center where she was under interrogation and pressure to do a forced confession on her civil activities. She was also threatened that her friends and family members will be detained if she is not cooperating. Her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, was also arrested and was transferred to Qarchak prison. They have been resided in Ward five of this prison where the majority of the detainees are foreign citizens.

It has been claimed that her interrogation was on basis of the charges such as “to encourage and promote corruption by de-veiling”, “propaganda against the state” through civil activities and her activities regarding her opposition to the mandatory hijab and appearing in public without wearing a hijab during the international women’s day celebrations in the Tehran’s underground railway. Arabshahi’s charges, as they were announced by the Branch 21 of the General and Revolutionary Court of Tehran, are “to encourage and promote corruption by de-veiling”, “propaganda against the state” and “collusion and assembly to act against national security”. There has been no proof offered to verify such charges. Although a 500 million Tomans bail was set for the release of Monir Arabshahi, she is still being kept in the Qarchak prison.

Mojgan Keshavarz was arrested in her house on April 25, 2019 and was transferred to Qarchak prison on May 1.

They received their sentences on July 31, 2019 without the attendance of their lawyers. based on Article 134 of Iran’s Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered which means that they should serve 10 years in prison, each.

Increase in Domestic Violence in Tehran; More Than 16 Thousand Cases Were Filed

Posted on: July 25th, 2019

 

The head of the Medical Examiner’s Office of Tehran province, Masoud Ghadi pasha, announced that more than 16 thousand and 420 cases were reported to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Tehran has the sixth place in domestic violence in Iran. He added that the cases with injuries caused by fight was increased by 8.6 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. This numbers grows to 4.1 percent in the spring of 2019. Ghadi Pasha claimed that Tehran is a major hub to file a case with the Medical Examiner’s Office having 20 centers servicing the citizens and added that Tehran’s Medical Examiner’s Office conducts 19 per cent of all the Medical Examinations in the country. The Public Relation’s department of the Medical Examiner’s Office earlier announced that more than 153,000 cases of injuries in fight have filed a case this spring which shows an increase of 4.2 per cent compared to the same duration last year.

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.

Jailed for attending International Workers’ Day Demonstration; Neda Naji has her final trial

Posted on: July 12th, 2019

The final trial of Neda Naji was on July 08, 2019. She was arrested in the International Workers’ Day demonstration on May 1, 2019 along with 10 others. On June 15, 2019 she was transferred from Evin prison’s Ward 209 to the Qarchak prison in Varamin. She is charged with “assembly and collision”, “propaganda against the stat”, “disturbing the public order”, and “disobeying the order or the government officials”.

On July 6, her husband, Jamanl Ameli, wrote on his personal Twitter account that Naji was beaten twice in the prison by a prisoner and a prison official and she was transferred to the health ward in prison because of her blurred vision after the attack. He added that Naji and Atefeh Rangriz are in danger in Qarchak prison.

Naji and 10 other arrestees had participated in a protest in front of the parliament on May 1, 2019. A few of them were released but Neda Naji, Atefeh Rangriz, and Marzieh Amiri are still in prison. Anisha Asadollahi who was released on bail was arrested again on June 18 and was transferred to Evin prison’s Ward 209. Her case is in process at Court Branch 2 of Evin Prison Court. Moreover, Marzieh Amiri’s hearing was on July 3, 2019 and she charged with “assembly and collusion” and “disturbing public order” and the judge refused the request to release on bail.