Juvenile Offender’s Death Sentence Revoked After 18 Years In Prison

The Supreme Court of Iran revoked the death sentence against Mohammad-Reza Haddadi who committed murder when he was 15 years old. The verdict was reduced, requiring Haddadi to pay Diyah (blood-money). Haddadi spent 18 years in prison and was sent to the gallows several times, but the executions were halted at the last moment.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Deutsche Welle Persian, the Supreme Court’s verdict statement clarifies that due to the passage of time, forensic medicine is not able to assess if the defendant was rational and mature at the time of the crime. Secondly, other defendants’ statements about the victim’s suffocation Haddadi are not conclusive enough to determine intention.

Moreover, the Supreme Court states that two other defendants have refuted their earlier statements and the Judges also doubted the intentionality of the homicide. Therefore, the verdict was reduced to paying a full Diyah (blood money).

In March of 2021, Haddadi wrote a letter to the then Head of the Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, and asked that his case be reviewed.

During the initial investigation and the first court session held on October 30, 2003, he confessed to the robbery and murder. However, eight days later, in a letter to the court, he claimed his confession was made due to the request of one of the other defendants, who asked him to confess to the killing in exchange for money. He had accepted the request based on the assumption that he is a minor and hence will not receive the death penalty.

Haddadi has been imprisoned for 18 years and suffers from severe renal failure and ulcers.

Victims of November 2019 Protests Call for Concrete Action Ahead of The Anniversary

NOVEMBER 15, 2019: A sudden and substantial hike in the cost of fuel sparks unrest across Iran. Individuals across the country pour into the streets in what soon becomes mass protests covering a reported 104 cities across Iran. 

 

As the anniversary of the November protests approaches, HRA has spoken with Iranians calling for concrete action against those responsible for violent crackdowns against protesters including arbitrary and incommunicado detention, illegal use of force, and torture among other serious violations. For nearly two years, perpetrators have, for the most part, enjoyed widespread impunity. Domestically, some have even seemingly been rewarded. Indeed, individuals such as now-President Ebrahim Raisi, a known and serious violator, have risen to top positions of power.

Soheila, a 45-year-old mother whose son was shot in the November 2019 protests, highlights the shortcomings of the judiciary in Iran, telling HRA, “I hope that accountability will mean that next time, my child, instead of taking to the streets, can work through established pathways to hold corrupt people accountable for their actions.”

November 2019 saw the deaths of several hundred Iranians  (227 were verified by HRA) in what is arguably a state-sanctioned arbitrary deprivation of life. In addition over 7,100 were arbitrarily detained, some remain detained today. Although the violations noted above have been extensively documented, little has been done to hold perpetrators accountable.

Figure 1: reported November 2019 protest points -black denotes locations where the killing of protester(s) were reported (Human Rights Activists in Iran)

 

Elika, 25, told HRA, “Without accountability for violations that occurred in November 2019, the cycle of repression and violence will not end. Those that intend to perpetrate future abuse [on us] need to see accountability. Maybe then they will take a moment to think before pulling the trigger.”  In a recent post in the Atlantic Council IranSource blog, Skylar Thompson, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator, stated similarly, “Without concrete action to fight the plague of impunity that covers Iran, these violent events will only continue to occur and the Iranian people will continue to suffer.”

Iran has proven unwilling to investigate and prosecute those responsible through domestic judicial frameworks. This unwillingness is paired with the fact that Iran’s judiciary is in no way impartial and is in fact led by the very perpetrators responsible for the noted violations. Unfortunately, violations of fair trial standards have become status quo.

When asked what accountability looks like to him, Hafez, 22, told HRA, “They should handcuff the perpetrators. […]. They should be prosecuted in a public court and imprisoned.” He continued, “Once handcuffed, perpetrators should have to look the victim’s mother in the face to calm her heart.” Nazanin, 32, told HRA that accountability, in her view “is [the Islamic Republic] honestly and openly admitting wrongdoing.”

HRA has identified 54 individual and seven institutional violators connected to the November 2019 protests. It Is noteworthy that a number of those violators have also been complicit in numerous additional acts of repression against protesters including in 1988, 2020 (protests over the shooting down of Ukrainian airliner), 2021 (protests over resource mis-management in Khuzestan), and many instances in between. This repeated action is a direct consequence of the lack of accountability.

The following section lists notable individuals responsible for repeated serious and widespread rights violations. Extensive and credible documentation is readily available. HRA calls on the international community to hear the pleas of Iranians like Hafez, Nazanin, and Elika and utilize available documentation to take concrete action against those responsible.

*For a more in-depth look at the listed violators visit www.spreadingjustice.org or select a name and be directed to a violator profile that includes several data points including an overview of violations, employment history, as well as additional evidentiary documentation. 

 

Government 

Mojtaba Raei
Special Governor, Najafabad City of Isfahan Province
Deputy Governor of Isfahan

Roham Bakhsh Habibi
Police commander of Fars Province

Lotfollah Dezhkam 
Representative of the Supreme Leader, Fars Province
Friday Imam of Shiraz

Leila Vaseghi
Governor of Quds City

Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
Ministry of Interior
Chairman of the Security Council
Deputy Leader of the Islamic Republic Police Force

Jamal Alami Nisi
Governor of Ahvaz and Chairman of the Ahvaz City Security Council

Masoumeh Khanfari
Governor of Karoun City

Nik-Mohammad Balouch-Zehi
Director General, Information and Communications Technology Department of Sistan and Baluchestan Province

Seyed-Vahid Haghanian aka “Vahid” or “Sardar (General) Vahid”
Executive and Special Affairs Deputy of the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader’s office

Saeed Jalili
Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council

 

Police 

Ali-akbar Javidan
Kermanshah Police Chief

Hossein Rahimi
Head of Tehran Police Forces

Hossein AshtariFard
Commander of the police force of the Islamic Republic

Gholamreza Jafari
From November 12, 2019 to now: Commander of the Hormozgan Police Force

Hassan Karami
Command of the Special Unit of the Police Force

Mohammad-Hossein Babakalani
Retired Police Force

Saeed Motaharizadeh 
North Khorasan Police Chief

Reza Papey
Police commander of Mahshahr City

Abdolreza Nazeri
Commander of the Kerman Police Force

Ruhollah Geravandi
Dezful Police Commander

Manouchehr Amanollahi 
Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Police Commander

 

IRGC

Kioumars Heydari
Brigadier General IRGC

Hossein Taeb
Former Head of the IRGC Intelligence Organization

Hassan Shahvarpour
Commander of the Khuzestan Provincial IRGC force (Valiasr IRGC base)

Masoud Khorramnia
Second Brigadier General (IRGC)
Commander-in-chief of West Azerbaijan province

Mohammad-Esmaeil Kowsari
Senior Commander, IRGC

Hossein Salami
Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC

Mohammad-Reza Yazdi
Senior Commander of IRGC

Gholamreza Soleimani Farsani
Commander of Sahib al-Zaman IRGC in Isfahan province

Gholam-hossein Gheibparvar
Commander of the Basij
Deputy Commander of the IRGC, Imam Ali’s HQ

Mousa Ghazanfar-Abadi
Former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunals of Tehran

 

Judiciary 

 

Dadkhoda Salari Manzari
Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Kerman City

Heydar Asiabi
Senior Judicial Official, Judiciary of the Islamic Republic

Alireza Aghajari
Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Pardis city, the former prosecutor of Mahshahr city

Peyman Samadi
Prisoner Supervisor in Ward 9, Evin Prison
Deputy Director of the 2nd Brigade in Fashafoyeh Prison

Mehdi Mohammadi
Deputy Prosecutor of Boroujerd

Hamid Golinejad
Head of Branch 101 of the 2nd Criminal Court of Urmia

Ali Esfahani
Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Isfahan Province

Ali Zare
General and Revolutionary prosecutor of Najafabad city in Isfahan province

Yahya Jafari 
Judicial Official, Judiciary of the Islamic Republic

Mohammad-javad Heshmati Mohazzab
Senior Judicial Official, Judiciary of the Islamic Republic

Mohammad-Hossein Sadeghi 
Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Kermanshah Province

Hamid Mohammadi
Head of Evin Prison

Mansour Mohammadi Khabbaz
Public and revolutionary prosecutor of Dezful

Abbas Hosseini-Pouya 

Public and Revolutionary prosecutor of Khuzestan Province

Hamid Asgaripour
Shahriar County Public Prosecutor and Revolution

Mahamad-Reza Amouzad Khalili
Judge, Head of Branch 24 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran

Seyed-Ahmad Zargar
Judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran

Iman Afshari
Judge, Head of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran

Mohammad Mahdi Mahmoodi
Deputy Chief Justice of the General and Revolutionary Courts of Shiraz
Head of the 2nd Criminal Court
Judge of Branch 101 of the 2nd Criminal Court of Shiraz

Ali Alghasi-Mehr
General prosecutor of Tehran

 

Media 

 

Hossein Shariatmadari
Kayhan Institute

Abdolali Ali-Asgari
Head of the Islamic Republic Broadcasting Organization (IRIB)

Ameneh-Sadat Zabihpour
Interrogator-Reporter

____________________________________________________

For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]

 

82 Executions in Iran Between April and July

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, in July, Iran executed a staggering 38 individuals for crimes related to drugs, murder, and sexual offenses. In the previous three months, an additional 44 individuals faced the same fate. All of these executions took place under the direction of president-elect Ebrahim Raisi, who will assume office on Friday.

Raisi, who has been colloquially referred to as the “Ayatollah of Massacre” for his role in the extra-judicial executions of political prisoners in 1988, continues to evade accountability for his endless violations of human rights.

According to Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson, “The impending Ebrahim Raisi presidency is a frightening illustration of the culture of impunity in the Islamic Republic of Iran; it shows that without international support for a meaningful pathway to accountability, Iranian citizens will continue to suffer at the hands of the regime.” She continued, “As Head of the Judiciary, Raisi presided over the highest number of executions per capita, and in addition has committed some of the most egregious crimes imaginable throughout his career, his impending position as President promises comparable ruthlessness”

In addition to the staggering number of executions, capital punishment sentencing is also on the rise [See figure 1]. In July alone, a total of 10 people were sentenced to death, compared with 6 in June, 3 in May, and 5 in April.

 

While the death penalty is not prohibited under international law,  in countries that have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence may only be legally imposed for ‘the most serious crimes’. According to HRC General Comment no. 36 on The Right to Life (GC 36), the phrase “the most serious crime” must be “read restrictively and apply only to crimes of extreme gravity”.

Iran’s judicial system interprets the phrase, to put it lightly, in a way that is less-than-restrictive.  Despite recent legal reforms, drug-related offenses accounted for the highest number of executions between April and July (48.8%).  GC 36 also establishes that “sexual offenses, while serious in nature, must never serve as a basis for the imposition of the death penalty”, but from April to July 2021, 4 individuals were executed in Iran on charges of a sexual offense.

 

 

One of the 10 executed in July was juvenile offender Baha al-din Ghasemzadeh. Juvenile executions are explicitly prohibited under international law, but they are an enduring practice within Iran’s criminal justice system. In fact, in a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, Secretary of the state-run High Council for Human Rights Majid Tafresh said that the Islamic Republic executes juvenile offenders “three to four times a year”, and claimed this should not be considered a human rights violation.

According to HRA’s Spreading Justice Project Manager, Parasto Azizi, “HRAs Spreading Justice team has documented several individuals including judges and prosecutors responsible for imposing the death penalty for crimes falling outside of those internationally recognized as most serious including illegally imposing the death penalty in cases involving juveniles.”

*In addition to the numbers analyzed in this report, on August 2nd, the day of publishing, two juvenile offenders were executed in Urmia Prison on drug-related charges.

 

Sydney Pen Association Demands Immediate Release of Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bazhan from Evin Prison

On Sunday, June 20, the Sydney Pen Association in Australia issued a statement in light of Ebrahim Ra’isi’s election as next President of the Islamic Republic.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Writers’ Association of Iran, the statement calls for the immediate release of Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bazhan, currently being held in Evin prison for their writings critical of the State. All three authors are members of the Writers’ Association of Iran, and each has published several books on Iranian history, sociology, and literature.

“The three authors need medical attention and authorities have not taken any of them to hospital,” the statement says.

In April, Baktash Abtin’s lawyer announced that his client had contracted COVID but had not received the necessary treatment. Reza Khandan Mahabadi suffers from osteoarthritis of the neck and Keyvan Bazhan has a thyroid disease. Penn Sydney was recently informed by inmates that another wave of coronavirus has spread to Evin Prison, further endangering the lives of its inmates.

The writers were first sentenced to imprisonment when now-president-elect Ebrahim Ra’isi was head of the judiciary on charges of propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security. They were also accused of attending the graves of disgruntled poets and writers and critics of the regime.

The prosecution cited the publication of a book on the history of the Writers’ Association of Iran, an institution that has criticized Iran’s past and present governments for decades, and the defendants were sentenced to a total of 18 years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran.

In January 2019, an appeals court in Tehran reduced the sentence to a total of 15 years and six months in prison. Baktash Abtin and Reza Khandan Mahabadi were sentenced to six years in prison each, and Keyvan Bazhan was sentenced to three years and six months.

Abtin, Khandan Mahabadi and Bazhan were arrested on October 26 of last year, after attending the Judgment Enforcement Unit of the Evin Court, and  were transferred to the infamous Evin Prison to serve out their sentences.

The statement cites a joint text by Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bajan, which was issued from inside the prison on June 6, 2021.

Below is an excerpt from their text:

 

We are addressing all writers and libertarians who have made “freedom of expression everywhere and for all” the focus of their human endeavors. This is the demand that the historical-global movement for freedom of expression has practically and always pursued. The Writers’ Association of Iran, of which we are three members, has been active as part of this movement for more than half a century; A movement that must be enhanced by its power and volume; Because apart from the daily threat of freedom of expression by the ruling powers, many people in the world are completely deprived of it; Including writers and people of Iran. We are currently in prison, and according to the sentence, we have to endure a total of 13 and a half years in prison because we are writers who oppose censorship and demand freedom of expression without exception. We are not the first prisoners and oppressed of this movement and we will not be the last until “freedom of expression everywhere and for everyone” is achieved.

 

Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bazhan

 

Bektash Abtin concluded in his story to Sydney Pen Association president Mark Isaac,  “Freedom is never given to anyone on a gold tray; it comes at a high price. In a country like Iran, death very easily finds intellectuals, libertarians and those who fight for freedom of expression. We are not worried about the trial and the prison and its difficulties, because we have made our decision.”

Ebrahim Raisi in Response to Questions About his Role in the 1988 Executions in Iran: “I Should be Praised and Admired”

In his first press conference since being announced as winner of Iran’s presidential election, Ebrahim Raisi was interviewed by Al Jazeera.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activist, Al Jazeera questioned the president elect about his role in the executions of the political prisoners in Summer 1988 in Iran, his inclusion on the human rights sanctions list, and the request for his trial by some human rights organizations.

In response, without claiming to have played a role in the 1988 executions, Raisi claimed that he has “always been a defender of the rights of the people, as a juristic”, and that “human rights has been at the axis of all (his) responsibilities”. He went on to state that he should be “praised and acclaimed” for this.

For the four decades of the Islamic Republic’s existence, Raisi has served in various positions in the judiciary against human rights and been responsible for the execution, imprisonment, torture, amputation to repression, justification of repression, violation of the rights of countless women, Bahai’s and others.

For his role in the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, in Tehran, he has been called the “Ayatollah of Massacre” by critics.

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Greengrocer Arrested After Stating that Ebrahim Raisi’s Campaign Extorted Money from Daily Markets

On June 14th, a greengrocer was arrested at his workplace in Ahvaz in Khuzestan Province after his comments on the recent actions of Ebrahim Raisi’s presidential campaign.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the grocer was arrested by security forces and transferred to an unknown location.

Recently, a video of the greengrocer was published on social media, in which he says that the election campaign of Ebrahim Raisi extorted money from greengrocers of a daily market under the pretext of helping the campaign.

As of this writing, the charges against him and his whereabouts are unknown.