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 a cardiac disease and high blood pressure. We have seen Narges four times in as many as years, as our poor health prevents us from traveling 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 2014.

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

Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Detained

Posted on: September 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Women’s rights activist Najmeh Vahedi was arrested at her home by security forces on September 1, 2018. At the time of this report, no further information was available on her condition or the reasons behind her arrest.

HRANA previously reported on the case of Hoda Amid, an attorney and women’s rights activist, who was detained the same day.

Hoda Amid

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Vahedi and Amid’s arrests are part of a crackdown on lawyers and activists that has muscled up in recent months, including the arrest of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh on June 13th.

Saga of the Iranshahr Girls: whereabouts of imprisoned activist still unknown

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The family of Abdollah Bozorgzadeh has been in the dark about his whereabouts for twenty days. The activist was arrested by plainclothes forces on June 17th after joining a peaceful gathering in support of the Iranshahr Girls.

The Iranshahr Girls are a group of 41 girls who have reputedly been raped in the southeastern city of Iranshahr. Their case attracted publicity after Sunni Imam Molavi Tayeb Molazehi spoke about them in his sermon at the end of Ramadan, in which he stated the girls had been raped by a group of men “of wealth and power”.

According to the Baluchi Activist Campaign, Bozorgzadeh spoke once with his family on the phone from a detention center run by the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was then transferred to the quarantine section of Zahedan Prison and has not been heard from since.

A day after his arrest, Bozorgzadeh was seen in the corridors of Iranshahr’s Revolutionary Court where he said he had been tortured.

In the days that followed, the head of the Judiciary of Sistan & Baluchestan province was asked in a news interview about the reasons for the arrest. He responded that the activist had been “disrupting order”, adding that Bozorgzadeh’s brother was “among the enemies of the regime”.

A short while after, IRGC’s intelligence department published footage that showed Bozorgzadeh among a group of six male and female teenagers.

Social media has been buzzing in support of Bozorgadeh and his fellow protesters who were arrested for gathering to advocate for the Iranshahr Girls. Many Friday-prayer imams have also asked for his release.

After the names of the Iranshahr girls’ rapists were published on social media, it became evident that they had the support of the IRGC and security apparatuses.

Exclusive: Prosecutor Declines to Investigate Rape Allegations against Parliament Member

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- An investigation into the rape of a 28-year-old woman by Iranian Parliament member Salman Khodadai was recently halted by the Prosecutor General who, citing “lack of jurisdiction,” has declined to examine the case further.

HRANA has reported extensively on multiple rape and sexual assault allegations against Khodadadi, a member of Iranian Parliament (aka Majlis) representing Malekan, northwestern Iran, who also chairs the Parliament’s Social Committee.

In her long ordeal to seek justice, the plaintiff, a Malekan resident, filed charges against Khodadadi with the Prosecutor General of Malekan County. The Prosecutor General has now issued the decision that it will not be prosecuting her case.

The young woman has contacted and filed complaints with several government bodies, including but not limited to the Parliament Member (MP) Conduct Supervision Committee, All-Party Womens’ Group, Iranian Parliament Security Office, Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Office of Malekan, Intelligence Office of Malekan, and the Justice Ministry and Prosecutor General of Malekan. Thus far none have replied to her inquiries, nor to her request for an investigation. In fact, not only is Salman Khodadadi still serving as MP and chair of the Iranian Parliament Social Committee, but his tenure as the head of the Tehran Boating Federation was also renewed in August for an additional four-year term.

The plaintiff has repeatedly contacted the Guardian Council (an appointed body which vets candidates for elections and ratifies laws passed by Parliament), who was initially responsive, promising to investigate and even assist in procuring her a lawyer. On subsequent contacts, however, she was rebuffed and told that she would have to find her own lawyer and pursue the case on her own through the Prosecutor’s office.

The reactions of the Guardian Council and Parliament Security Office raise concerns over these bodies’ ability to perform their functions without bias, as Khodadadi thus far remains immune to legal pursuit.

The stonewalling of the parliamentary security office and contradictions of the Guardian Council compelled the alleged victim to file a complaint with the General Prosecutor of Malekan, where she was interrogated for several hours by the Ministry of Intelligence and IRGC Intelligence agents. At the conclusion of her questioning, authorities agreed to launch an investigation on the condition that she refrain from speaking to the media. The Prosecutor agreed at that time to press charges against Khodadadi.

Despite all the promises and engagements secured through her multiple follow-ups, the Prosecutor’s office decided not to move forward, citing lack of jurisdiction.

The text of their decision reads:

“With regards to the accusation of rape, harassment, psychological abuse, threats, and insults which are the subject of the complaint filed by Ms….. daughter of …., the accused is nonetheless a Member of Parliament. Notwithstanding potential veracity of the charges, based on section 307 of the Criminal Procedure Code, an investigation into offenses committed by deputies is the jurisdiction of the Tehran Criminal Court. Consequently, this prosecution office recuses itself from prosecuting this case, in favor of the jurisdictional authority of the Tehran Criminal Court.”

Mehdi Ali Moradi
General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Malekan

The plaintiff sought the assistance of other parliamentarians, but to no avail. The SMS screen captures below show her correspondence with various MPs. Offering only a glimpse into their communications, the content of the messages indicate the plaintiff’s repeated attempts to plead her case with officials.

The first screenshot shows parts of her conversation with Mahmoud Sadeghi, an outspoken reformist MP, in which he advises her to contact the MP Conduct Supervision Committee.

After HRANA published an audio file of a conversation between Khodadadi and one of his alleged sexual assault victims, state-run news agency Etemad Online followed up in interviews on July 24th with two prominent officials: Parvaneh Salahshoori, head of the All-Party Womens’ MP Group, and Jamali Nobandegani, spokesperson for the PM Conduct Supervision Committee. In the report of these interviews, both denied ever receiving complaints against Khodadadi and added that in presence of any incriminating evidence would file a formal complaint.

The alleged victim proceeded to follow up with Salahshoori herself, providing her with further case documentation. Upon receipt of the documents, Salahshoori promised to follow up with the case and submit a correction to her statements made with Etemad Online. When the plaintiff checked in with Salahshoori five days later, she replied simply that she was “no longer with the All-Party Womens’ Group.”

Excerpts of their exchanges are below.

 

The plaintiff repeatedly contacted Ali Mottahari and Masoud Pezeshkian, who are Parliament deputy speakers that preside over the MPs’ Conduct Supervision Committee per internal Parliament protocol. In their most recent response to her, they indicate that the Committee will not be intervening in the case, and advised her to resolve the issue directly with Salman Khodadadi, her alleged sexual aggressor. This effectively discouraged her from pursuing the matter further.

The plaintiff had also confronted Tehran MP and Etemad Daily managing director Elyas Hazrati, requesting that he reveal the sources of his publication’s aforementioned report in which heavyweight interviewees denied the existence of her claims.

The Guardian Council, which has frequently come under the fire of media and public opinion for allegations of corruption in its vetting of parliamentary candidates, has recently published a documentary in collaboration with Fars News Agency — which has strong ties to the IRGC — to justify their screening process. Entitled “Very Confidential,” the documentary cites factors for disqualifying candidates, including criminal records and charges of rape, and features interviews with Guardian Council members who insist that the Council conducts its candidate background checks with the utmost scrutiny.

Salman Khodadadi has several times run and been elected as an MP, successfully passing the vetting process, despite a record of charges against him that include illicit sexual relations and rape.