It is Time that Iran be Held Accountable 

Posted on: November 10th, 2020

HRANA – Last month the world turned its attention to Iran for its seemingly arbitrary transfer of a detained British-Australian academic. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was detained in September 2018 and is serving a ten-year sentence, was moved from the notorious Evin Prison to an unspecified location. When Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) released the report, nearly every major media publication across the globe once again jumped to denounce her detention. Widespread speculation as to Moore-Gilbert’s whereabouts ensued. 

As a human rights professional who focuses on Iran, it was gratifying to see such a swift and appropriate response. However, what about the countless grave and horrific human rights violations that happen every day in this country? Violations that are so numerous that they have become seemingly rote. 

In the week following Moore-Gilbert’s transfer, peaceful protestors outside Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum were violently attacked by Regime Security Forces. In the month of October, at least 130 Iranians were arrested for activities related to their political or ideological beliefs; 83 of which involved the detention of individuals participating in peaceful gatherings related to the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. 

Iran carried out 19 hangings in the month of October alone, sentencing an additional 8 to that same fate throughout the month.

At least 12 members of the Baháʼí religious minority were barred from entering university based solely on their religious beliefs. One man received 80 lashes for converting to Christianity; a thief was sentenced to having his hand amputated.

Iranian courts tried more than 70 political cases which resulted in convictions that totaled 295 years in prison and 2,590 lashes.  A cleric was summoned to court for suggesting there was no problem with women riding a bicycle, an activity for which all women in the country are banned. Two women, sentenced to 33 months each for writing a letter requesting the resignation of the Supreme Leader, were summoned by authorities to begin serving their time. A teacher was sentenced to 45 lashes for drawing a cartoon.

This list is by no means exhaustive. 

These violations are not a secret. HRANA, the very source that initially reported on Moore-Gilbert’s move, reported and continues to report on the numerous human rights violations happening daily in Iran against Iranians, as well as dual and foreign nationals. There remains little to no response.

Detained British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert

Why is this? 

I do not have the answer to that question, but I do know the differences these cases bear. The violations listed above are against Iranian citizens; Moore-Gilbert is a foreigner. Her case is, therefore, more appealing to the press it garners a more widespread response – and outcry. 

 

I’m reminded of a quote from Howard Bakerville, a young American who famously became a martyr of Iran’s Constitutional Revolution; he once said, “The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and that is not a big difference.” Today I fear there are times, unacceptably so, that this is the difference between life and death, between respect for rights and deprivation thereof. Will the world only shine the light on Iran when a Westerner is tangled in its web? Under international human rights law, States have a duty to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of those within their jurisdiction. It’s time that Iran be held accountable to its own citizens just as it is to those dual and foreign nationals that find themselves trapped within the confines of a state where deprivation of fundamental human rights continues to be the norm. 

Moore-Gilbert has since been returned to Evin Prison. Her return, much like her move, was documented extensively. The reason for her move remains unknown.

 

Skylar Thompson

Skylar Thompson is a Senior Advocacy Coordinator with Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI). For inquiries please contact email: [email protected]

 

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 28, 2018

Posted on: December 28th, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 28th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) Zahra Abbasi, a 16-year-old pregnant girl, self-immolated and died in Dishmok city in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province. Five other women have self-immolated in Dishmok in the current year.

(2) During the last few days, 24 residents of Hendijan have been transferred to hospital for drinking contaminated water. They have been diagnosed with dysentery.

(3) Two Azerbaijani Turkic rights activists, Reza Jafarlou and Akbar Gholizadeh, who had been arrested on December 10th and detained in Urmia prison were released on bail. Three other activists, Oldouz Ghasemi, Amir Sattari, and Javad Ahmadi Yaekaneli were summoned to the Revolutionary Court in Naqadeh.

(4) Mohammad Saber Malek Reisi and Shir Ahmad Shirani, two political prisoners of Ardabil prison, who were returned to the prison after 12 days of interrogation, have been transferred to quarantine. They also have been barred from having visitors or phone calls.

(5) Seyed Mohammad Mohammadi, a political prisoner in the Evin prison, has served 14 months of his 2-year sentence. He was accused of ‘propaganda against the state’, ‘insulting the Supreme Leader’, and ‘insulting the authorities’.

(6) More than 40 students of an elementary school in Babol have been poisoned. Students with food poisoning symptoms have been hospitalized for treatment. The cause of the poisoning is unknown.

(7) Zahedan prisoners suffer from lack of access to adequate medical and mental health care, mistreatment by prisoners’ staff, malnutrition, quarantined when they complained about their situation, etc.

(8) Six firefighters were injured during an incident in Jey Industrial Zone in the central district of Isfahan

(9) Three protests and strikes have been organized on December 28, 2018. Nishabur public service workers, Farmers of Isfahan province, and staff of Islamic Azad University Meybod branch, requested their demands in separate protests.

Kept Apart for 9 Years: a Mother Wishes her Daughter “Happy Birthday” from Evin Prison

Posted on: October 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Evin political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared wished her daughter a happy 13th birthday in letter she wrote from behind bars, where she has spent every one of her daughter’s birthdays for the past nine years.

Monfared, along with fellow prisoners of conscience Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi, was recently punished with a three-week ban on family visits per verbal orders from the director of the Evin Prison Women’s Ward. All three were told they were being disciplined for protesting authorities’ attempts to unlawfully interrogate them this past September.

The full letter of Monafred’s letter to her daughter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

In the middle of a cold, rainy December night, they tore you from my arms. You were only three and a half years old, and you had your arms locked around my neck. You were in a deep, angelic sleep.

Nine years have passed since then. All these years, I have celebrated your birthday in the prison visiting room. All my cellmates have shared in my joy. Every year, I prepared for your birthday days ahead of time, as best I could. I have watched you grow from the other side of the visiting room glass, and I drew lines on the concrete for every year that you grew.

While I was in prison you started school, and then you were no longer a little girl. And now, this year, you’re turning 13. We spoke about our wishes a week ago on the phone: you asked me whether you could come for a visit the following week, on your birthday. “Why wouldn’t you?!” I replied. “Of course you can!” Little did I know that our rare joys were being watched with malice from afar.

Before you arrived Wednesday, the Ward Director Ms. Abdolhamidi told me I’d been banned from visits for three weeks. When you came, you jumped into my arms and told me, ‘Mom, it’s my birthday next week! I’ll come to visit you and it will just be you and me.’”

It was more than I could bear to tell you that our visit next week would be canceled. My heart burned with anger and loathing for [the authorities], who would rob even the smile off your face. Flames of rage are still burning inside me.

Tomorrow is your birthday. I’ve been talking to my friends about it all day. I close my eyes and travel back in time to Iran Hospital, October 8th, 2005.

It is 6 a.m., and I am sitting in the hospital lobby. It is 10 days past your due date, but looking back now, it seems you were stalling your arrival in this world, that you foresaw that you would be targeted by the storms of life. But finally, you came, and your very first cries at 12 p.m. brought a smile to my face. I still feel your beautiful face and your first cry, and sense the sweet feeling of taking you into my arms for the first time.

I opened my eyes and there you were, a beautiful doll in a pistachio-green blanket with snowflakes on it. The delight of breastfeeding you, the joy of when you first opened your eyes; the first steps you took towards a beautiful life and future, and the music of your first word.

My dear Nazanin: I was not with you on your 13th birthday. I know that by now you understand why we’re apart. I know that you’ve suffered a lot these past nine years. Yet, we have promised each other to smile until smiles light the faces of all of Iran’s children. We promised each other to cherish our brief visits, for all of the times that we miss being together. We have pledged together to vanquish a monster.

My dear Sara: our future is bright. I hope for the daybreak whose first morning rays will be freedom, when I will tousle your hair and embrace you without the pain and the stress of knowing our visit could end the next moment. Let us laugh until daybreak […]

Maryam Akbari Monfared
October 6, 2018
Evin Prison Women’s Ward

****
Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested December 2009 during protests following Iran’s contentious election cycle of that year. In June 2010, Judge Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15 sentenced her to 15 years in prison on the charge of “moharebeh” (enmity against God), on the premise that she was a member of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK). Monfared denied the charge.

Two of Monfared’s brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 for membership in the MEK after being convicted in revolutionary courts. A younger brother and sister were also executed in 1988 as part of a mass execution of political prisoners.

Update: Women’s Rights Activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi Transferred to Evin Prison

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

UPDATE:

Rezvaneh Mohammadi was released on bail on Saturday October 20, 2018.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Saturday, September 29th, women’s rights activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi was transferred to the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison at the end of her interrogation. She had been in custody in an undisclosed location since her arrest by security forces September 3rd.

Mohammadi is among a group of women’s and civil rights activists who in recent months have been pursued with renewed fervor by authorities. Najmeh Vahedi, Hoda Amid, and Maryam Azad, also women’s rights activists, have all been detained for unknown reasons during this period.

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. Previously, in a brief interview with HRANA, Vahedi’s brother Reza said, “In a one-minute phone conversation with my sister on Tuesday, September 4th, she was only able to tell us that she didn’t know her charges or why she had been arrested. We keep inquiring [with authorities], and are getting anxious because it’s been 11 days and we still don’t know what’s going on.”

More than 750 domestic and foreign civil activists issued a statement over the weekend in protest of the increasing pressures on Iranian women’s rights activists, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also voiced their opposition to this civil crackdown last month, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Update: Leila Tajik Spends 13 Months in Legal Suspense in Evin’s Women’s Ward

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Leila Tajik has now spent more than a year in the Evin Prison Women’s Ward, waiting for Iranian courts to decide her fate.

This 45-year-old prisoner was arrested along with her ex-husband in September of last year in a joint case opened by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) charging the two with espionage. Following the arrest, she was interrogated for seven months in an IRGC outpost.

An informed source told HRANA that her ex-husband, who formerly served on the IRGC, is still detained at the outpost. “Their children, Sabah, 16, and Sahand, 19, are hurting over the breakup of their family, and are feeling additional pressures from IRGC agents.”

Tajik and her ex-spouse reportedly filed divorce papers prior to their arrest. Both have been barred from appointing a defense lawyer of their choosing.

Banning the bail of Saied Abedini and threatening it’s provider

Posted on: February 17th, 2013

HRANA News Agency – The illegal Evin prosecutor banned the bail for Saied Abedini the Iranian-American pastor.

According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), also the islamic revolutionary guards interrogators threatened the person who tried to put bail to prevent this prisoner’s furlough.

Saied Abedini is the Iranian-American who is accused to establishing home-church in 2009 and after his arrival to Iran in 2012 has been arrested by islamic revolutionary guards Etela’at and transferred to ward 2A.

More than eighty US senators from both Democrat and Republican parties on Thursday February 14th wrote a letter to John Kerry the United States Secretary of States and asked him to try to do all what is needed for freedom of Saied Abedini the Iranian-American pastor.

Intelligence Agents in Evin Raided Ward 350

Posted on: September 21st, 2011

HRANA News Agency – Last week, a large number of intelligence agents in Evin Prison unexpectedly raided political prisoners’ Ward 350.During this raid, intelligence agents searched and damaged inmates’ personal belongings.Ward 350 in Evin Prison currently houses more than 160 political prisoners.

According to a report by Kaleme News, each prison cell in Ward 350 measures approximately 98 square feet and houses 16-20 prisoners.Fifteen intelligence agents raided these prison cells last week and violently searched through personal effects of prisoners and their basic supplies needed for daily life.

When visiting with their families, political prisoners reported that during this raid, their clothing and bedding were thrown out of the ward and searched thoroughly such that three days afterwards, inmates were still cleaning up the mayhem, destruction and confusion caused by this attack.Books were taken off the shelves or from underneath beds, were thrown in the middle of cells or into corridors and torn.These books were sent to prisoners gradually during the last two years at their families’ expenses.Some of the books were language training manuals or course materials used by imprisoned students.

Three weeks ago, it was reported that prison officials had permitted political prisoners to have a DVD player in their ward.Non political prisoners including those in Ward 7 and 8 have had a DVD player for years and have been able to watch movies purchased from the prison shop.During the most recent raid, intelligence agents seized the DVD player from Ward 350.

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