In a recent development, Sunni cleric Mohammad Khezr-Nejad has been sentenced to death by Branch 3 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court. The charges against him include “spreading corruption on earth” and “acting against national security,” as reported by Kurdpa.
Judge Reza Najafzadeh issued the ruling, finding Khezr-Nejad guilty of various offenses, such as “spreading corruption on earth,” “acting against national security through threatening the integrity or independence of the country,” and “propaganda against the regime.” Consequently, he has been handed a death sentence along with 16 years of imprisonment. Throughout the trial, Khezr-Nejad has consistently dismissed these charges as baseless.
The verdict was reached based on coerced confessions obtained from the defendant during interrogation, where he purportedly admitted to “leading protests in Bukan and association with anti-regime groups.” Khezr-Nejad has contested the authenticity of these confessions.
In response to the sentencing, Khezr-Nejad has reportedly filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal of West Azerbaijan province.
The cleric and his son were arrested on November 19, 2022, by security forces in Bukan and subsequently detained in Urmia Prison. The arrest occurred after Khezr-Nejad delivered a speech during the funeral of Asa’ad Rahimi, who lost his life during protests at the hands of regime forces. The arrest involved physical assault against Khezr-Nejad.
It’s worth noting that Khezr-Nejad has faced previous arrests and convictions due to his activism.
According to Kurdpa, Hassan Mardani has been handed a three-year prison sentence by the Criminal Court in Bukan, West Azerbaijan province.
Mardani was convicted on charges of “membership and collaboration with a political opposition party.”
Mardani, 65 years old, was arrested on August 10, 2023, and then was released on bail on October 8, 2023.
On November 15, Asrin Mohammadi was apprehended by security forces in Bukan and subsequently moved to an undisclosed location. Notably, her brother Shahriar Mohammadi was killed by regime forces during nationwide protests just last year.
Milad Mohammadi, Asrin’s brother, took to social media to disclose that 17 security agents arrested his sister at a printing shop in Bukan. He reported that Asrin endured physical abuse and injuries inflicted by special police forces during the arrest.
The grounds for Mohammadi’s arrest, the charges against her, and her current whereabouts remain shrouded in uncertainty.
It is worth noting that Shahriar Mohammadi, aged approximately 30, met a tragic end when he was fatally shot during the protests on November 18, 2022.
In a recent development reported by Kolbar News, on September 5, 2023, authorities from the Ministry of Intelligence in Bukan took into custody Ahmad Hassanzadeh (56) and Solmaz Hassanzadeh (29), the father and sister of the late Mohammad Hassanzadeh. Mohammad tragically was killed by regime forces during the nationwide protests in 2022.
They were reportedly arrested following an appearance at the Ministry of Intelligence office.
Mohammad Hassanzadeh, 28 years old at the time, met a fatal end when he was shot by government forces during the protests in Bukan on November 16, 2022.
In a related development, with the anniversary of the Mahsa Amini protests drawing near, security institutions have intensified their pressure on the families of victims, resulting in the detention of many.
Background on the 2022 Nationwide Protests
The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hijab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws, and structure of the regime. During the nationwide protests, thousands of people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students, and civil rights activists, were arrested.
According to reports from the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), on May 4, 2023, six inmates were executed in three different prisons in Iran. Four of the inmates were executed in Lakan prison in Rasht, while one was executed in Urmia and another in Khorramabad prison.
HRANA has identified one of the inmates executed in Rasht as Jalaledin Rahimian Azar, a 23-year-old resident of Mahabad who was convicted of murder. The other three inmates executed in Rasht were convicted of drug-related crimes.
Additionally, on the same day, Faramarz Shakhsi, a resident of Bukan, was executed in Urmia Prison. Also, Khorramabad Prison officials executed an inmate identified as Hamid Emami, convicted of murder.
In addition to these executions, on the same day, Faramarz Shakhsi, a resident of Bukan, was executed in Urmia prison and Hamid Emami, who had been convicted of murder, was executed in Khorramabad prison.
In recent days, the number of executions has surged in various prisons across the country, adding to the growing concern about the use of the death penalty in Iran’s justice system.
None of the official sources and media outlets inside the country has reported these executions at the time of writing.
In 2022, the Department of Statistics and Publication of Human Rights Activists in Iran registered 457 reports related to the death penalty. This included 92 death sentences, including the conviction of 6 people to public execution and 565 execution sentences were carried out, 2 of which have been carried out in public. Based on the announced identifications of some of the executed individuals, 501 were male and 11 were female. In addition, 5 juvenile offenders were executed in 2022, meaning they were under the age of 18 at the time they committed the crime.
The Bukan Criminal Court sentenced Ebrahim Janeh-Fard to two years in prison for political charges.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, Ebrahim Janeh-Fard, a resident of Bukan, was sentenced to two years in prison.
The Branch 110 of the Bukan Criminal Court reportedly notified Janeh-Fard that he has been convicted of “collaborating with an anti-regime political party.”
Janeh Fard was detained by security forces three years ago upon returning to Iran, and after completing the interrogation process, he was released on bail.
Security forces recently arrested Alan Daghdar and Siamak Hayasi in Bukan and took them to an undisclosed location.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, on April 18, 2023, Alan Daghdar was arrested in Bukan.
On April 19, Siamak Hayasi was also arrested in this city.
During the arrests, the agents reportedly did not show any arrest warrant. They also searched Hayasi’s house and seized some of his belongings.
The reason for these arrests, the location of their detention and the allegations are currently unknown.
On March 1, 2023, security forces arrested two brothers, Fattah and Mani Boland Gerami, in Bukan and took them to a detention facility in Urmia.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurpda, brothers Fattah and Mani Boland Gerami were arrested in Bukan, West Azerbaijan Province.
Security forces reportedly arrested these brothers without showing any arrest warrant.
The allegations against them are still unknown.
The Chief Justice of West Azerbaijan Province announced that four individuals were arrested in relation to killing Amir Sahabi, a Basij militia force in Bukan, amid recent nationwide protests.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Mizan, the judiciary’s news agency, four individuals were arrested in Bukan, West Azerbaijan Province.
Without disclosing their identities, this judicial official accused the detainees of “killing Amir Sahabi, a Basij militia force in Bukan”, during “unrest” in last November.
“There is sufficient evidence for their arrests as these four people have admitted that they were on spot at the time,” he claimed.
This report did not mention the detainees’ whereabouts and the allegations.
On February 11, 2023, security forces arrested journalist Siamand Mohtadi, a resident of Bukan, and took him to an undisclosed location.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, on February 11, 2023, Siamand Mohtadi was arrested by security forces.
He was reportedly arrested at his home. His whereabouts and the allegations are still unknown.