Iranian-American Citizen Emad Sharghi and Political Prisoner Reza Ghalandari Contract COVID-19 in Evin Prison

Imprisoned Iranian-American citizen Emad Sharghi and political prisoner Reza Ghalandari tested positive for COVID-19 in Evin Prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Sharghi’s family has previously expressed concerns about his health in case he contracts COVID-19, as he suffers from high blood pressure and cholesterol. He has been deprived of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In April of 2018, Sharghi was arrested by IRGC intelligence agents on the charge of espionage. After nine months in detention, he was released on bail. IRGC confiscated his passport as well as the passport of his wife, Bahareh Amidi, in order to prevent them from leaving the country.

An informed source told HRANA regarding Shargi’s arrest that “about 20 security agents— later it turned out that they were IRGC agents— raided his house in Tehran at night to arrest him and his wife. Mr. Sharghi was detained for nine months in Evin Prison awaiting his legal proceedings. Finally, he was temporarily released on bail”.

On November 30, 2020,  Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Salavati, sentenced him to 10 years in prison in a trial in absentia. He was charged with “espionage and collecting gathering military intelligence.” He was not summoned to attend the trial and was denied the right to defend himself.

In January of 2021, HRANA reported his arrest at the border area of Sardasht by IRGC intelligence agents during an attempt to flee the country.

He is currently spending his sentence in Salon 9 of Ward 8 in Evin Prison.

Ghalandari, age 40, is serving his sentence in the same ward. He was sentenced five years in prison on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. The verdict was upheld on appeal.

Political Prisoner Soheila Hijab Hospitalized for COVID-19

On February 24, imprisoned political prisoner Soheila Hijab was hospitalized outside of prison due to her critical health condition.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Hijab, who is imprisoned in the women’s ward of the Correctional Center of Kermanshah City was dispatched to a hospital due to her critical health condition.

An informed source told HRANA that she fainted in a cell and her fellow inmates carried her to prison healthcare. Later, her fellow inmates were told that she has been hospitalized in a hospital outside the prison. The lack of info about her latest condition has increased her family’s concerns.

Recently, she has contracted COVID-19 along with 13 other inmates in her ward. Despite the requirement for treatment, prison healthcare had been closed due to absence of physicians.

Hijab was arrested by security forces on June 1, 2019, and then released from Evin Prison in Tehran on a bail of 3 billion tomans on March 14, 2020.

Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 18 years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime”, “illegal assembly”, “incitement of public opinions to riot” and “organizing unlawful political groups”.

On May 23, 2020, the intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Guards arrested and transferred her to Gharchak Prison in Varamin City to serve her sentence. She was then transferred to Sanandaj Prison and then, on January 7, to the Correctional Center of Kermanshah City.

Baktash Abtin, Jailed Writer and Poet, Dies of COVID-19

On January 8, Baktash Abtin, a prisoner of conscience, writer and member of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA), died of COVID-19 in the hospital. On December 6, 2021, after showing severe COVID-19 symptoms, he was dispatched from Evin Prison to a hospital in Tehran. After a few days, he was sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as his condition deteriorated and his life was threatened.

In an open statement, IWA called the regime responsible for Abtin’s critical health condition by denying him adequate and on-time medical treatment and hospitalization.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Abtin was a poet, filmmaker and writer. The IWA expressed grave concern for his wellbeing, stating that “the regime is responsible for whatever happens to the imprisoned writers, especially Baktash Abtin. The regime has deliberately endangered the life of political prisoners. They have to be set free before it is too late, especially that we all know that they are innocent of any wrongdoing and deserve no punishment whatsoever”.

In reaction to his death, in a new statement, IWA called it a murder committed by the regime and stated:

“On December 3, with the onset of clear COVID-19 symptoms, Baktash Abtin went to Evin [Prison’s] healthcare. However, he did not receive any treatment. After three days, when his health condition worsened, prison officials had to dispatch him to a hospital overnight without informing his family.”

Abtin’s death prompted a wave of reactions from social media, news outlets and human rights organizations. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stated: “The writer and journalist had been unjustly sentenced to 6 years in prison and was in detention in hospital, ill with COVID-19 & deprived of the necessary care. RSF blames the high regime’s authorities for his death.”

Abtin was in Evin Prison where he contracted COVID-19. On May 15, 2019, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and 5 years on the charge of “assembly and collusion to act against the national security”. On September 26, 2020, along with two other IWA members, he was sent to Evin Prison to serve his sentence.

The IWA is an independent group of authors, poets, editors and translators based in Iran which was formed in May 1968 to fight against state censorship. The government has continuously persecuted members of the IWA after the 1979 revolution. In 1998, several IWA members, including opposition politicians Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari, and writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, were murdered.

Rahim Afravi Denied Leave after 22 Years Imprisonment

Political prisoner Rahim Afravi has not been allowed a single day of leave in his 22 years of imprisonment in Sheyban Prison in Ahvaz.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, he has faced serious medical neglect in this time, and suffers from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and pulmonary problems. Afravi recently contracted COVID-19, but was not dispatched to any medical center outside prison upon receiving a positive test.

53-year-old Rahim Afravi is married and the father of two children. In June 1999, security forces arrested Afravi when he was returning home from his workplace in the outskirts of Ahvaz City. Initially, the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death on a charge of “enmity against God” (Moharebeh) and “acting against national security”. On appeal, the verdict was reduced to 25 years imprisonment and exile to Jiroft Prison.

According to an informed source, while he was in exile jail in Jiroft, his mother passed away. Family visitations were few and far between because of the great distance between the jail and the residence place of his family. After 13 years imprisonment in exile, he was relocated to Karun and then to Sheyban prison in Ahvaz City.

In August of this year, his request for release on parole and leave on furlough was dismissed by Branch 12 of the Revolutionary Court of Ahvaz.

Inmates in Women’s Ward of Kachooie Prison Face Poor Conditions

Inmates in the Women’s Ward of Kachooie Prison in Karaj are being held in poor conditions, a new report reflects.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the Women’s Ward is composed of one quarantine section, four salons, one corridor and one kitchen, and houses between 50 and 60 inmates.

Due to an inadequate heating system to warm the wards on increasingly-cold days, many inmates of this ward have gotten sick. Moreover, these inmates have to cope with many additional issues such as a shut-down kindergarten, shortages of bathroom and sanitary services, and a poorly-equipped food store.

This ward has only three toilets and one bathroom for the over 50 inmates. The shared kitchen is small and unsuitable. The food store fails to supply any foods and other requirements.

Some of the inmates are living with their little kids. For unknown reasons, the kindergarten of this ward has been closed.

Despite the inmates’ repeated complaints and demands that the heating system be fixed, the most urgent of these issues as the temperature drops, prison officials have not yet addressed the issue.

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Arash Gangi Detained and Sent to Evin Prison to Endure 11 Year Sentence

On Monday, November 1, translator and board member of the Iranian Writers’ Association (IWA) Arash Gangi was sent to Evin Prison to endure his 11-year sentence.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, recently, PEN America in a statement condemned Arash Gangi’s summons and asked for the quashing of this “wildly disproportionate” sentence.

Gangi had been previously sentenced to eleven years in prison by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. Grounded on Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, a severest punishment of five years is enforceable.

Following the summons he received on October 16 of this year, Arash Gangi appeared at the Executive Unit of Evin prison and from there he was sent to Evin Prison.

On December 22, 2019, the security forces raided his house, and then arrested and transferred him to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is at the disposal of the intelligence ministry.  Security agents searched his house and confiscated some of his personal belongings during the arrest.

After a while, he was transferred from the Ward 209 to the public section of Evin Prison. On January 19, 2020, he was released on a bail of 450 million tomans until the end of legal proceedings.

In the first court session, on June 14, 2020, the judge increased the bail to 3 billion tomans, and hence he was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison until providing the new bail. He was released on bail on June 21, 2020.

In the second court session, which took place on November 29, 2020, only his attorney attended the court and Mr Ganji could not appear at the court due to having COVID-19 symptoms.

Ultimately, in December 2020, the court, headed by judge Mohammad-Reza Amoozad, sentenced Gangi to five years in prison on a charge of “assembly and collusion in purpose to act against national security”, one year on a charge of “propaganda against the regime” and five years on a charge of “membership in and collaboration with one of the ant-regime groups.”, for a total of 11 years imprisonment. In February 2021, this verdict was upheld by the court of appeals of Tehran.

According to Naser Zarafshan, Mr. Gangi’s lawyer, all these charges were invoked from his translation of a book under the title of “A Small Key Can Open A Big Door: The Rojava Revolution”, which is about Kurdistan upheavals in Syria.

The non-governmental organization IWA was founded by a group of intellectual writers in 1968, originally with the objective of promoting freedom of speech and fighting against censorship.

Although IWA was banned in 1981 by the Iranian authorities, a group of writers created a “consulting assembly” to revive the banned IWA in 1993. On September 8, 1996, 12 writers who had gathered to draft a new charter for the IWA were arrested, interrogated and warned not to hold further meetings for the advancement of the IWA. Since then, the members and board members of IWA have been subject to systematic persecution, long prison sentences and even targeted killing from 1988–98, when certain Iranian dissident intellectuals who had been critical of the Islamic Republic disappeared and their bodies found afterwards.

Political Prisoner Mojgan Kavousi Transferred Back to Evin Prison from Kachooie Prison

On Wednesday, October 13, political prisoner Mojgan Kavousi was sent back to Evin Prison from Kachooie Prison in Karaj.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Kavousi was relocated to Karaj police detention center a while ago, and from there to Kachooie Prison.

In a phone call with her family, Kavousi informed them about this relocation.  The reason for her transfer to Kachooie Prison is still unknown.

On July 26, 2021, Branch 28 of the appellate court in Mazandaran Province issued an order to transfer the political prisoner to a prison in Alborz Province for the remainder of her sentence.

“Due to  COVID-related restrictions making family visitation difficult, Mrs Kavousi asked for transferring to Noshahr where her family are living,” an informed source told HRANA. “On July 13, 2021, they transferred her to Noshahr but after spending one-night in police detention centre, they sent her back to Tehran. Considering that her family are residing in either Tehran or Noshahr, it is not clear why she should be transferred to a prison in Alborz Province.”

On November 20, 2019, Mojgan Kavousi was arrested by security forces amid nationwide protests in the mid-fall of the year, from her home in Noshahr. After being held three weeks in detention, she was sent to Noshahr Prison. On December 19, 2019, she was released on bail.

The Revolutionary Court in Noshahr sentenced her to 6 months on a charge of “the propaganda against the regime”, 33 months on a charge of “membership in opposition parties” and 30 months on a charge of “provoking to disturb the public order”. During the appeal process, the sentence was increased by seven months due to the influence of the prosecutor.

Mojgan Kavouci is a writer, researcher and follower of Yarsanism.

Civil Activist Arsham Rezai in Transferred to Quarantine Ward of Rajai Shahr Prison after Positive COVID-19 Test

HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has confirmed that yesterday, September 29, civil activist Arsham Rezai was relocated to the quarantine section of Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj after testing positive for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 surge in Iran’s prisons has been a major threat to the health and safety of their inmates, who frequently do not receive timely or adequate medical care from authorities.

Arsham Rezai was arrested on January 7 of 2019 by the regime’s intelligence and security forces. On November 13 of that year, he was released on bail for 2 billion Rial (approx. 8000 dollars).

On February 26, 2019, the Islamic Revolutionary court sentenced Mr. Rezai, without informing the defendant’s attorney that the court session was taking place, to eight years and six months imprisonment on the charges “propaganda against the regime”, ” collusion against national security”, and ” offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”. Grounded on Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, from the charges, the severest punishment of 5 years was enforceable.

To serve his sentence, on October 18, 2020, he was arrested and transferred to a solitary confinement cell in Rajai Shahr Prison. Finally, he was relocated to a public section of this prison on December 19 2020.

On January 20 of this year, on new charges, the revolutionary court sentenced him to an additional 15 months imprisonment (which was later reduced to 11 months on appeal) and 4 months penal labor.

Inmate Dies of COVID After Facing Medical Negligence in Qarchak Prison in Varamin

Today, Wednesday, September 22, Ms. Giti Haj Rahimi died of COVID in the quarantine section of Ward 9 of Qarchak Prison in Varamin after facing medical negligence from prison authorities.

According to HRANA, the news agency of the Human Rights Activists, Haj Rahimi had been convicted for financial crimes. HRANA has verified Ms. Haj Rahimi’s identity.

Ms. Haj Rahimi, who had been serving her sentence in Ward 6 of Qarchak Prison, was recently transferred to a solitary confinement cell for quarantine after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Ms. Haj Rahimi was also diabetic and had previously lost one of her fingers to this disease during her imprisonment.

Haj Rahimi’s death has not been announced by the Iranian media or official sources as of this writing.

Khaled Pirzadeh on a Hunger Strike in Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz

Political prisoner Khaled Pirzadeh has been on a hunger strike in Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz since Monday, August 23.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Pirzadeh is protesting the officials’ refusal of his request for parole, the non-observance of the principle of separation of crimes, and the violent treatment of his family by law enforcement officers when handing over the eviction order.

Khaled Pirzadeh, who was taken from the quarantine in the Greater Tehran Prison on July 14 and was transferred to the Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz, is being held in Ward 5 of this prison next to prisoners of violent crimes, which is a violation of the principle of separation of crimes. His COVID test also recently came out positive and he got transferred to the prison’s quarantine.

Khaled Pirzadeh has gone on hunger strikes several times, the last of which was on May 31, when he expressed in a note that he would continue his strike until his legal request was granted. He ended his strike on June 24, after he was promised to be sent to a sick leave connected to his release on parole. He returned to the Greater Tehran Prison on July 7 but authorities transferred the political prisoner to Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz rather than granting parole as they had promised.

“Yesterday, police officers went to Mr. Pirzadeh’s rented house and asked his family to evacuate, the officers’ treatment of his wife was insulting and they frightened Mr. Pirzadeh’s 10-year-old daughter,” a source familiar with Mr. Pirzadeh told HRANA. “Khaled Pirzadeh is being held in Ahvaz prison and his request for parole is not being accepted so that he can take care of his family more quickly.”

A video of this harsh treatment from the on-duty officers has reached HRANA. The footage is attached here