Zanjan Revolutionary Court Acquits Civil Rights Activist Safiyeh Gharebaghi

Posted on: November 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – “I was acquitted!” wrote Safiyeh Gharebaghi, a Zanjan-based civil rights activist, on November 6th. That day, Judge Siyadi of Zanjan Revolutionary Court Branch 1 acquitted her of all charges, namely propaganda against the regime and gathering and conspiring against national security.

Quoting an excerpt of the court’s ruling, Gharebaghi said the verdict legitimized her right to dissent under Iranian law:

“‘[…]This court, considering the criticism of certain laws and procedures, even legal judgments, to be the incontrovertible right of every individual and legal entity, and considering that the crime’s spiritual basis was devoid of criminal intent, rejects the defendant’s charges and hereby announces its ruling to acquit.”

No verdict has yet been issued on Gharebaghi’s separate case in Zanjan General Court, where she faces charges of spreading lies and disrupting the public mind.

Gharebaghi was initially detained by the Zanjan Intelligence Office in 2017 on charges of propaganda against the regime in cyberspace, abetting sedition, and spreading lies. Her cited infractions included protesting gender inequality, voicing support of political prisoners and the sedition movement, and signing a condolence letter for the late father of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Lawyers Issue Statement of Warning to Citizens and Judiciary Alike

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – A group of 39 Iranian lawyers have issued an apologia of the social issues that pushed thousands of citizens to protest this year, urging authorities to safeguard the right to rebellion all while warning protesters of their potential to invite blowback.

Judicial authorities have been quick to brandish heavy sentences, arrests, and capital punishment against the rising swell of citizens who have less and less to gain from passivity in the deepening recession. In an environment of dwindling tolerance on both sides, the lawyers asked Iranian authorities to keep their retaliatory instincts in check.

“The right for civil protest and assembly is rooted in the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly which have been asserted in the constitution and numerous international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the letter reads.

The lawyers’ letter lauds the initiative of strikers across sectors — from the generalized January protests (“against the conditions of the country’s economy and management”) to the strikes declared by truckers, factory workers, teachers, shopkeepers, university students, and farmers. The protests of Kurdish ethnic minorities in Iran’s border regions also figured in the lawyers’ letter.

Likewise, the letter’s authors validated strikers’ demands, including a more regulated cost of living, more affordable part prices for truckers, payment of back wages for factory workers, more liveable teacher salaries and the protection of public education, increased government efforts to mitigate symptoms of the recession, increased tolerance of student self-expression, and government intervention in regions suffering the effects of drought, i.e. Isfahan and Khuzestan provinces.

More “respect for the rights of protesters” is in order, the letter insists, adding that authorities are responsible for implementing “fairness, justice, and peace,” and for avoiding violent methods of engaging with citizen uprisings.

The letter ends by praising civil protests and social movements as the precursors to democracy and progress in Iran. While reiterating the demand that judicial and security authorities temper their responses to civic rumblings, it places an additional burden on Iran’s disaffected citizens: “we declare our solidarity and support for protesting social groups, and call on them to avoid violent methods.”

Signatories:

Mostafa Ahmadian
Maziar Tatiaei
Mosleh Ghorbani
Behrouz Nalbandi
Saleh Nikbakht
Keyvan Azizi
Sajjad Khosravi
Ayat Abbas
Esfandiar Abnoos
Osman Mozayen
Ehsan Hassanpour
Esmaeil Rahimi
Ali Sakeni
Amir Ahmadi
Esmaeil Salaripour
Arash Fattahi Boukani
Massoud Shamsnejad
Arash Rajabi Kermanshahi
Behrouz Vafadar
Shalir Fotoohi-Sara
Asrin Khaledi
Heydar Khodamoradi
Farman Jafari
Amir Salar Davoudi
Behzad Hakimizadeh
Arash Kamangar
Abdollatif Valadbeigi
Abdolbaset Pourzadi
Hassan Ranjbar
Halimeh Khezri
Keyvan Mamepour
Massoud Javadieh
Mohammad Mogheimi
Narmin Hosseinikhah
Shatav Mobtadi
Sadegh Saed Mouchesh
Fouad Motevasel
Koroush Heydari
Kaveh Alizadeh

Civil Rights Activist Mehrnaz Haghighi Heads to Judiciary to Begin Prison Sentence

Posted on: September 28th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mehrnaz Haghighi, a civil rights activist and doctor from Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf coast, presented herself to the enforcement department of the Hormozgan Judiciary on Saturday, September 22nd, in order to serve her sentence. She was transferred to Bandar Abbas Prison later that day.

Haghighi was previously sentenced to six months in prison on a charge of “propaganda against the regime.” She was first arrested by intelligence agents in her home on February 19, 2017.

After being held in solitary confinement for a week, she was transferred to the women’s ward of Bandar Abbas Prison, located in the detention center of the city’s intelligence office. Haghighi was then transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison on April 12, 2017, before finally being released on bail from Evin on May 28th, 2017.

As of the date of this report, no further details were available on her case.

Charges Rack Up Against Mohammad Mahdavifar

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A four-year succession of court cases against civil rights activist Mohammad Mahdavifar continued on Sunday, September 2nd in Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of the defendant’s home city Aran va Bidgol (Isfahan Province), this time on charges of “Insulting the Iranian Leadership,” “Insulting the Founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini,” and “Propaganda Against the Regime.”

Present were presiding Judge Mousavi and Mahdavifar’s attorney Mohammad Najafi, who told a HRANA reporter: “The court convicted him using letters he addressed on his Telegram channel to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, as well as investigative reports on him from Kashan’s Intelligence Office and the Basij [a volunteer branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]. The court should reach a verdict in the coming days.”

Currently serving a two-year sentence in Isfahan Central Prison, Mahdavifar’s civic activities have thickened his rap sheet with Iranian authorities in recent years. He was arrested by security forces in Mashhad (Khorasan Razavi Province) on January 14, 2018 and remained detained until March, when the Criminal Court of Aran va Bidgol issued a sentence: two years’ imprisonment and an approximately $400 USD (40 million IRR) fine, for charges of “Publishing Misinformation with the Aim of Disturbing Public Opinion” and “Contact with Foreign Governments.” This verdict was upheld in Branch 16 of the Isfahan Court of Appeals. Later, on July 29, 2018, he was sentenced to another eight months in prison for “Aiding and Abetting in Spreading Misinformation” by Branch 101 of Criminal Court 2 of his local Judiciary.

Mahdavifar’s history with Iranian authorities goes back to 2014 when he was interrogated in Branch 2 of Aran va Bidgol Court for composing a politically-critical poem called “Alphabet” and reading it at the literary forums of Kashan. In 2015, he was sentenced to one and a half years’ imprisonment in Branch 105 of Criminal Court 2 on a charge of “Spreading Misinformation.” Branch 23 of the Appeals Court of Isfahan Province, presided by Hamid Reza Amani, reduced this sentence from 18 months to 10 months and an (approximately) $300 USD (3 million IRR) fine, by modifying the charge of “Spreading Misinformation” to “Propaganda Against the Regime.” Intelligence Forces would later arrest Mahdavifar in his home on September 19, 2016, and transfer him to solitary confinement in Isfahan prison, which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence. He spent 45 days there before being released.

A source close to Mahdavifar’s family previously told HRANA that Mohammad “is suffering from respiratory problems as a result of his exposure to chemical weapons during the Iran – Iraq war, yet is housed in Isfahan Central Prison’s general ward alongside people convicted of drug offenses.” While Iranian prison code stipulates that prisoners with certain religious beliefs and criminal records be kept apart for safety reasons, reports suggest that authorities often skirt this rule.

The source close to Mahdavifar’s family decried the unsuitable sanitary conditions of Ward 3, where Mohammad is currently being held. “Most inmates [there] smoke cigarettes and use drugs. He repeatedly requested to be transferred to another ward, but authorities haven’t followed up.”

Activist in Tabriz Sentenced to Six Months in Prison

Posted on: September 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Civil rights activist Amir Chamani has been sentenced to a six-month prison term on charges of “Propaganda against the regime” and “Cooperation with opposition groups.” Abbas Jamali, Chamani’s lawyer, confirmed news of the sentence to HRANA.

“I heard the sentence today [Saturday, September 1, 2018],” Jamali said, adding that among evidence cited against his client were notes and articles by Chamani which criticized the country’s economic and cultural conditions. “My client was also accused of insulting the supreme leader, but he was fortunately acquitted of this charge,” Jamali said.

Presiding over Chamani’s case was Judge Hamalbar of Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran, home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.

Abbas Jamali (left) and Amir Chamani (right)

Chamani had published a note last week announcing his upcoming trial.

Chamani has previously been pursued on similar charges. On July 5th, 2012, from Judge Hamlbar of Branch One of the Tabriz Revolutionary Court, Chamani received a sentenced of six months’ imprisonment for insulting both Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the late Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic. He received a three-month-and-one-day sentence for “propaganda against the regime” in the same trial.

In another instance, after turning himself in for charges of insulting the President, Chamani was sentenced on January 13, 2013, to 40 lashes by the Tabriz Criminal Court. He was dealt the lashes on June 5, 2013, just over a week before the 2013 Iranian Presidential elections, and was not released from custody until October 2nd of the same year.

Fifteen Days after Arrest, Farhad Meysami Still Held Incommunicado

Posted on: August 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On August 12th, Farhad Meysami’s mother, along with lawyer Arash Keykhosravi, went to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Evin Prison to inquire about his status and register Keykhosravi as Meysami’s attorney. Evin’s interrogation branch 7 denied the registration, referencing clause 48 of Iran’s Criminal Procedures Regulations.

HRANA reported on Meysami’s arrest by security forces in his home on the evening of July 31, 2018. He was transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison and has not been heard from since.

Keykhosravi confirmed that he was denied the right to represent Meysami on August 12th, adding that Meysami’s mother was frantically seeking answers after receiving a phone call in which sounds of her son’s torture, and supposed confession, could be heard. The interrogator at Branch 7 denied the call was made by prison authorities, and promised her a well-check phone call from her son.

Stating that there is no further information available about Meysami’s charges, Keykhosravi continued, “Many cases involving security charges have no security basis at all. When someone criticizes an issue or actively stands up against something, the government immediately treats it as a national-security case and deprives that person of their basic and fundamental rights. As it concerns Mr. Meysami, we suspect he was arrested for his criticism of the mandatory hijab, which affects neither domestic nor foreign security. Objections like these are the mere expression of differing ideas and perspectives. Elevating such cases into security accusations is a violation of people’s fundamental rights, including the right to choose a lawyer, which is revoked per clause 48 of the Criminal Procedures Regulations.”

According to clause 48 of the new Criminal Procedure, during the initial stages of investigation against those accused of political and national-security crimes, defendants must pick their attorney from a list of lawyers pre-approved by the judiciary. Citizens’ rights organizations claim that this law infringes on the rights of the accused.