First six months of Ebrahim Raisi as Justiciary Chief of Iran; 1000 years of prison sentences and 1500 lashes for activists

Posted on: September 13th, 2019

Ebrahim Raisi is a former Custodian and Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi from 2016 to 2019 and a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 executions which were series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners across the country. He succeeded Sadegh Larijani as the Judiciary Chief (the head of judicial system of Iran) in 2019. Being appointed as the Judiciary Chief by the Supreme leader, Ebrahim Raisi claimed that he wants the Iranian people to taste “the sweet flavor of justice” by reforming the judicial system to bring more justice and fairness. Six months after being appointed to the new position, the verdicts of political prisoners indicate that the pressure is increased on the civil rights activists and opposition groups in Iran. During six months of Ebrahim Raisi in office, political activists were sentenced to 1,027 years in prison and 1428 lashes.  Therefore, the verdicts targeting civil rights activists and opposition groups were increased by 119% compared to a similar time period during his predecessor, Sadegh Larijani, who was in office for nine and half years. Although Larijani faced massive demonstrations such as uprisings across the country in January 2017 and August 2018, protests in the Khuzestan province, and Dervishes protests which Raisi has not faced any yet.

Statistics Comparison of Verdicts with the Former Judiciary Chief

The following is a summary of verdicts between March 8, 2019 to September 8, 2019 which was gathered and analyzed by the Department of Statistics and Publication of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI): According to statistics, during this period, both sentences against political and civil activists or years of sentences were increased. 211 political or civil activists including advocates of freedom of expression, women rights activists, syndicates activists, students, ethnicity rights activists, labor rights activists, minority rights advocates, and religion activists were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court across the country to 1027 and six months of imprisonment, 418 million and 350 thousand Tomans of fines, and 428 lashes. Out of these numbers, 966 years and 8 months in prison sentences and 30 years and 10 months are suspended prison sentences. In comparison to the same period when Larijani was the Judiciary Chief, March 8 to September 8, 2018, 278 political and civil activists were sentenced to 468 years and one month in prison, 254 million Tomans fines, and 891 lashes. This comparison is based on the numbers of individual cases but mass sentences for the arrestees of uprisings such as 232 verdicts of Gonabadi dervishes in the case of so-called “Golestan Haftom” have been excluded. Overall, these statistics indicated that although the number of arrestees has been decreased in Raisi’s term but the average number of verdicts in comparison to the same period in the Larijani’s term has been increased.

The Names of 211 Activists Who Were Sentenced to Prison Term or Lashes During Ebrahim Raeissi’s term

Kiumars Marzban, Shima Babai Zeydi, Dariush Abdar, Mahmood Masoumi, Behnam Mousavand, Saeed Eghbali, Mojgan Lali, Saeed Seyfi Jahan, Shaghayegh Makai, Nader Afshari, Anoushah Ashouri, Ali Johari, Marzieh Amiri, Ishaq Rouhi, Mohammad Saber Malek Raeissi, Shir Ahmad Shirani, Kamal Jafari Yazdi, Aras Amiri, Nejat Bahrami, Sadegh Zibaklam, Hamed Ayenehvand, Roozbeh Meshkinkhat, Mohammad Reza Aghajari, Nima Saffar, Khalil Karimi, Mehdi Moghadari, Golraki Ebrahimi Irai, Athena Daemi, Mohammad Reza Khatami, Mohammad Potaiesh, Khadijeh (Leila) Mirghafari, Reza Makian (Malek), Hashem Zeinali, Simin Eyvazzadeh, Ehsan Kheybar, Abdul Azim Arouji, Mohsen Haseli, Mohsen Shojai, Azam Najafi, Parvin Soleimani, Sharmin Yomni, Sara Saei, Arshia Rahmati, Masoud Hamidi, Ali Babai, Ismail Hosseini Koohkamarai, Farideh Toosi, Zahra Modarreszadeh, Amir Mahdi Jalayeri, Mohammad Najafi, Javad Lari, Rahim Mohammadpour, Masoud Kazemi, Sahar Kazemi, Amir Salar Davoodi, Milad Mohammad Hosseini, Abdollah Ghasimpour, Mohammad Hossein Ghasempour, Alireza Habibi, Baktash Abtin, Reza Khand Mahabadi, Keyvan Bajan, Yousef Salahshour, Davood Mahmoodi, Mohammad Asri, Siavash Rezaian, Najaf Mehdipour, Behrooz Zare, Ata’ollah Ahsani, Abbas Nouri Shadkam, Ali Bagheri, Masoud Ajloo, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Kianoush Ghahramani, Nariman Noroozi, Rezvaneh Ahmad Khanbeigi, Amir Mahdi Sedighara, Ali Amin Amlashi, Barzan Mohammadi, Arsham Rezai, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Michael White, Abolfazl Ghadyani, Nader Fotourehchi, Farhad Sheykhi, Mardas Taheri, Aliyeh Eghdam Doost, Rasoul Bodaghi, Esmail Gerami, Javad Zolnouri, Hossein Gholami, Rahman Abed, Asghar Amirzadegani, Hamid Reza Rahmati, Eghbal Shabani, Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Bahman Kord, Sina Darvish Omran, Ali Mozafari, Leila Hosseinzadeh, Mojtaba Dadashi, Mohammad Rasoulof, Hossein Janati, Omid Asadi, Sahand Moali, Mohammad Mirzai, Bapir Barzeh, Shirko Ali Mohammadi, Keyvan Nejadrasoul, Tohid Amir Amini, Kianoush Aslani, Abbas Lesani, Mobinollah Veysi, Mojtaba Parvin, Kazem Safabakhsh, Rahim Gholami, Jafar Rostami, Aref Mohammadi, Peyman Mirzazadeh, Samko Jafari, Behzad Shahsavar, Siamand Shahsavar, Salman Afra, Shaker Maravi, Khaled Hosseini, Rasoul Taleb Moghadam, Hasan Saeedi, Hossein Ansari Zadeh, Feisal Saalebi, Saab Zahiri, Adel Samaei, Esmail Jaadeleh, Bani Naami, Omid Azadi, Rostam Abdollah Zadeh, Ali Bani Sadeh, Nasrin Javadi, Tofigh Mahmoudi, Davood Razavi, Amanollah Balochi, Farough Izadi Nia, Moein Mohammadi, Sheida Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Malaki, Simin Mohammadi, Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Malaki, Bahman Salehi, Sofia Mombini, Negin Tadrisi, Kheirollah Bakhshi, Shabnam Issa Khani, Shahryar Khodapanah, Farzad Bahadori, Kambiz Misaghi, Monika Alizadeh, Mino Riazati, Asadollah Jaberi, Ehteram Sheykhi, Emad Jaberi, Farideh Jaberi, Farokhlegha aramarzi, Pooneh Nasheri, Saba Kord Afshari, Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, Mojgan Keshavarz, Vida Movahed, Matin Amiri, Maryam Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, Edris Kasravi, Taher Sufi, Haleh Safarzadeh, Alireza Saghafi, Yousef Jalil, Fatemeh Bakhtari, Zaman Fadai, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Mohsen Haghshenas, Nahid Khodakarami, Raheleh Rahimipour, Alireza Kafai, Mohammad Dorosti, Salar Taher Afshar, Oldoz Ghasemi, Jafar Azimzadeh, Hossein Habibi, Hossein Ghadyani, Mir Mousa Ziagari, Sajad Shahiri, Jafar Pekand , Hamid Balkhkanloo, Ghafour Barham, Vali Nasiri, Sahar Khodayari, Amin Seybar, Esmael Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian, Amir Amirgholi, Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, Sanaz Allahyari, Asal Mohammadi, Mohammad Khanifar.

It should be noted that in addition to aforementioned names, several other activists such as detained environmentalists, arrestees of the International Labor Day’s protest, Baha’i citizens, and supporters of opposition groups are waiting for their verdicts. Based on the outcome of the first six months of Raisi as the Chief Justice of Iran, the continuous increase of the verdicts in the following six months is predictable. On the other hand, according to several lawyers, Raisi is trying to implement a rule in which the appeal’s courts will be in session only after obtaining permissions from the Supreme Leader. Thus, appeals courts will acknowledge the primary verdict without reserving a chance for lawyers and convict to defend.

Ebrahim Raisi’s Background

In 1981, 20-year old Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as the prosecutor of Karaj. Later in 1985, he was appointed as the Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran. He was a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 political prisoners’ executions across the country. Raisi was appointed as Tehran’s prosecutor from 1989 to 1994. In 1994-1995, he was appointed as the head of the General Inspection Office. From 2004 until 2014, Raisi served as the First Deputy Chief Justice of Iran. He was later appointed as the Attorney-General of Iran in 2014-2016. He has also served as the Special Clerical Court prosecutor since 2012. He became the Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi on 7 March 2016 after the death of his predecessor Abbas Vaez-Tabasi. He is the second person to serve this office from 1979.  Raisi ran a presidential campaign in February 2017 but after losing the presidential election, he was appointed by Ali Khamenei as a member of Expediency Discernment Council.

The 1988 executions of the Iranian political prisoners were a series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners, starting on 19 July 1988 and lasting for approximately five months. The majority of those who were killed were supporters of the Mujahedin Khalgh but supporters of other leftist factions such as Communist party were executed as well. The killings have been described as a political purge without precedent in the modern Iranian history, both in terms of scope and coverup. Different sources put the number of victims between 2500 and 30000. Most of the people who were executed had already served their sentences in prison. Hussein-Ali Montazeri, deputy of Supreme Leader of Iran between 1985-1989, named Ebrahim Raisi as one of the people who was in administration of the executions which according to Montazeri, was implemented by a four-men commission, later known as the “death committee”. According to Montazeri, the commission consisted of Ebrahim Raisi, Hossein Ali Nayyeri, Morteza Eshraghi, and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi.

Harassed by Authorities, Christian Former Prisoner Stages Sit-in Across From Evin

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Fatemeh Mohammadi, a Christian convert who was released from Evin Prison earlier this year, has staged a sit-in across from her former prison to protest what she referred to as the prison authorities’ “campaign of verbal harassment” against her.

Mohammadi was initially detained last November, and sentenced to six months in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. She was released from Evin Prison’s women’s ward after completing her sentence. Now, she claims authorities are contacting her family to insult and harass them.

“After I was released from Evin Prison, I was contacted by the prison’s interrogation team,” Mohammadi told HRANA. “They called me all sorts of vulgar words. Last night, September 26th, 2018, Evin Prison again called my home. The person on the phone said [unpleasant] things to my family and told them, ‘It is best that you stop your daughter from her activities as the path she is on leads to corruption.’”

She said she was prompted to begin her protest when her home was contacted once again on Thursday, September 27th, 2018.

“They repeated their words,” Mohammadi said. “Afterwards, I went to Evin to find out what was wrong, but no one offered an explanation. For this reason, I am protesting and staging a sit-in across from Evin Prison, and will continue to do so until they process my complaint.”

Mohammadi previously published a letter in which she spoke of the anguish she endured during her interrogation.

Last November, Mohammadi was detained in Tehran and transferred to Evin prison along with Majid Reza Suzanchi Kashani, another recent Christian convert. On April 7th, 2018, Mohammadi, who was 19 years old at the time, was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh, to six months’ imprisonment on charges of “membership in proselytizing groups,” “christian activity,” and “acting against national security through propaganda against the regime.”

Per Iranian law, Mohammadi’s sentence should have been reduced by a quarter when she consented to the verdict; however, she served a month and a half longer than anticipated per the law. She was released May 14th, 2018.

Appeals Court Date Set for Imprisoned Evangelical Activist

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Majid Reza Souzanchi, 34, Christian convert detained in Evin Prison, has received a summons order to appear before Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals court on December 11, 2018.

He was tried on April 25, 2018, along with Fatemeh Mohammadi for “Membership in Evangelical Groups and Evangelical Activities”, presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh. Mr Souzanchi was sentenced to five years in prison and Ms Mohammadi received a six-month prison sentence on charges of “Engaging in Evangelical activities” and “Acting against national security through propaganda against the regime”.

A source close to the defendants told HRANA that Mr Souzanchi suffered from broken ribs as a result of being beaten up twice during his interrogation by Intelligence Ministry agents. Souzanchi is also worried that his home was searched while he was in prison and some of his personal belongings and family photos were confiscated. He has written several letters [to the authorities] on the matter but has not received any response. In June, his prison cell was raided by agents who confiscated his personal belonging including a notebook in which he had written excerpts from the Bible.

Prison officials refer to Mr Souzanchi as “impure” and “Daeshi” (a member or ISIS). Mr Rostami, the Prosecutor’s representative, had told Mr Souzachi and Ms Mohammadi that “if we were in you Christians’ hands, you would have executed us”. Samad Hadipour, the investigator of Evin court’s Branch 3, referred to the church as a “casino”.

According to the Iranian Constitution, Christianity is a recognized religion. However, security apparatus in Iran are extremely sensitive toward Muslims converting to Christianity, and aggressively pursue evangelist activists.

Article 26 of the Iranian constitution guarantees religious minorities’ rights: “….recognized religious minorities’ associations are free [to exist]…and no one can be forced to participate in these associations or prevented from participating in one of them”.

Hassan Rouhani, Iranian President, during last year’s presidential election campaign stressed the importance of civil rights, and published a “Civil Rights Charter”. However, these promises have not been carried out.

Article 99 of the Charter states: “Citizens have the right to access facilities to participate in cultural life [of their choice], including the right to found associations, perform religious, cultural, and ethnic ceremonies as long as they respect the laws”.

Immoral treatment of Women Prisoners of Conscience by Iranian Authorities

Posted on: June 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Fatemeh Mohammadi, 19, is a new Christian convert who was arrested in November 2017 and subsequently sentenced to six months in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Ms. Mohammadi was recently released after serving her sentence in the women’s ward of Evin Prison. In an open letter, she talks about the pains and suffering she had to endure during the interrogation period. Ms. Mohammadi explains in her letter the ways she was insulted, mistreated, and felt unsafe due to her gender.

HRANA has received the full text of Fatemeh Mohammadi’s letter:

In all the interrogation sessions the interrogators asked me [whether I have had] sexual relations. In the second interrogation session, one of them said: “We have asked Haj Agha(1) to come and speak to you.” [I was blindfolded, but] from the speaking manner of Haj Agha, I believe he was a cleric. The first question he asked me was: “Have you ever had any relations with anyone?” “What kind of relations?” I replied. “Bad, immoral relations,” He said. I got very frustrated and said: “I have never been involved in any relationship; you are slandering me. What you are doing is not right or moral.” The man replied: “There is evidence that you have done so.” He was speaking in a calm and emotionless manner.  I told him while crying: “How could there be evidence when I haven’t done anything? I don’t know what type of evidence you have forged against me.”

In other questioning sessions, they asked me: “What were you and the other person doing exactly in your sexual relations?” No matter how much I insisted that I have never had a sexual relationship, they would not accept it. While asking these questions they instructed me: “Remove your blindfold, turn to us and answer our questions in detail.” I told them: “It is difficult for me to speak about such topics.” They responded: “Then write it down.” Without waiting for my reply, they placed interrogation papers in front of me. “Writing is even harder than speaking,” I said. They stood up next to me and kicked my chair so that I would get scared and give in. I was under duress until the last moment of interrogation to write down what they asked me to.

Another interrogator, whose voice was different than the previous interrogators and who was the only one who did not instruct me to remove my blindfold, asked his colleague to hand me the paper in order for me to write down an explanation. I could not take it anymore and started to scream. They kicked me out of the questioning room and returned me to solitary confinement. I have to point out that in all the interrogation sessions, an interrogator would always sit very close to me.

A few days before my arrest, one of my close friends asked me to read her favourite prayer poem to her. I sent her the poem as a voice file. This was one of my last chats. As a result, when the interrogators were inspecting my Telegram account, they found this chat very quickly, and played the audio file in the small room filled with interrogators. One of them laughed and imitated my reading of the poem. They all laughed at me. They called me by my first name in a very improper and offensive manner, laughing loudly each time. The sound of the laughter of one of them made me think he was choking. I was feeling very sick during that session, and felt an excruciating pain in my chest; I could barely breathe and started to cough incessantly.

They attempted to force me to [falsely] confess to illicit sexual relations with men. At times, they pursued a line of questioning that would lead them to that conclusion. Their entire objective was to make this accusation stick and force me to make up a story about sexual relations for them to read and enjoy. I could not imagine any other motivation for their actions, because sexual relations had nothing to do with my case.  

They had told Mr. Davood Souzanchi, who was also arrested as a new Christian convert: “Did you know that Fatemeh had illicit sexual relations?” And then they would tell me: “Did you know Davood has had illicit relations with women?”

These harassments were not limited to us. They stopped at nothing, even accusing my mother of sexual affairs. They mentioned [my mother] to Mr. Souzanchi as well. When my mother discovered this, she was extremely upset.

On the first night of my arrest, I was taken to Ward 209 of Evin Prison where the women prison guards forced me to undress completely while they watched me. I successfully resisted. They even took my elastic hair band, and as a result, my hair was unruly. When they were taking me for interrogation, I was forced to wear loose pants, an overcoat, a large headcover (2), a chador, slippers, and blindfolds. The headcover they had given me was too large for my head, and my hair kept sticking out in an unruly manner. When I exited the car, an interrogator yelled at me: “Tuck your hair back in. You are making me mad. You don’t want to see me angry.” However, the headcover was too large, and my hair kept falling out. The [interrogators] screamed at me repeatedly. It was frustrating to see them so sensitive about my hair sticking out of my headcover when they had asked me to remove my blindfold and stare at them while they asked me about illicit sexual relations. I was bewildered.

When the sleeves of my overcoat would pull up and my hands & arms were exposed, the interrogator would ask me to pull my sleeves down. Since I had delicate hands, he kept staring at them.

In another session, they asked me about Christianity’s view on relationships between men and women: “Did you know such and such person [from the Christian community] had relations with other members of the community?” They were constantly resorting to character assassination against the Christian community.  

When I was in prison, I launched a dry hunger strike, despite my weak physical condition, in order to object to the insults against me and my written request for a copy of the [Bible] being rejected. On the second day of my hunger strike, my heart was in poor condition. Upon my and my inmates’ insistence, the prison officials agreed to take me to the prison’s clinic. They decided to perform ECG (electrocardiography).  When I entered the room, a man came toward me, but I did not cooperate, because it was difficult for me to accept that a man was going to perform the test on me. The shift doctor, Mr. Mortazavi, argued with me and kicked me out of the clinic. He then wrote a false report depicting me as immoral and responsible for this ordeal. A woman agent signed the report despite witnessing the entire incident.

Another noteworthy point is that in Ward 209 the shower time is 30 minutes. If an inmate takes even one minute longer than that, a woman prison warden would open the shower door without warning and start arguing and staring at the prisoners. No matter how much I asked them to stop staring, they would continue. When I protested against this practice, they told me: “Since [the prison guards] are women, there is no problem.” They were oblivious to the fact that personal space should be respected regardless if a person is a man, woman, child, or blind.

Fatemeh Mohammadi

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HRANA has previously reported that Fatemeh Mohammadi and Majid Reza (Davood) Souzanchi, two new Christian converts, were arrested in Tehran in November 2017 and taken to Evin Prison.

They were first tried in April 2018 by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh. In this court session, Fatemeh Mohammadi was sentenced to six months in prison on the charges of “Membership in evangelical groups”, “Engaging in Christian activities” and “Acting against national security through propagating against the regime”. Majid Reza Souzanchi, 34, was sentenced to five years in prison on the charges of “Membership in evangelical groups” and “Engaging in evangelical activities”.

A source close to these two individuals told HRANA: “Ms. Mohammadi was only accused of membership in evangelical groups and evangelicalism at the time of arraignment. However, during legal questioning, the investigator, Mr. Samad Hadipour, insulted Ms. Mohammadi’s beliefs, and she defended them in response. That is when Hadipour called her an insurgent against the regime and added the charge of ‘Acting against national security through propagating against the regime’ to her case.”

In April 2018, the second day of their trial was held in the presence of Hossein Taj, Mr. Souzanchi’s lawyer, and Ms. Shadi Halimi and Mr. Behzadi, Ms. Mohammadi’s lawyers. Mr. Souzanchi’s and Ms. Mohammadi’s sentences were issued to their families in May.

Since Ms. Mohammadi did not appeal her sentence, one fourth of her sentence was commuted according to the law. Considering the reduction in her sentence, Ms. Mohammadi spent a month and a half longer than her sentence in prison. Ms. Mohammadi was released from prison on May 13, 2018, the same day her sentence was issued.


1) Haj Agha is a term used to address a religious man especially one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
2) The headcover referred to here, Maghna’a, is a triangular piece covering the hair, the neck and part of the chest.
3) There is a legal questioning/interrogation phase in the Islamic Republic’s legal process which is distinct from the interrogation of prisoners while they are in prison. The former is part of the legal system while the latter is led by self proclaimed “experts” of the Iranian regime’s security apparatus. To differentiate, we used “investigator” as the legal party and “interrogator” as the security agents who engage in interrogation during the detention period.

Two Detained Christians Still Held in Evin Prison

Posted on: April 28th, 2018

HRANA News Agency – Majid Reza Souzanchi Kashani and Fatemeh Mohammadi, two Iranian Christians living in Tehran, are still in an unknown condition, after several months of detention.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Majid Reza Souzanchi and Fatemeh Mohammadi, two Iranian Christians, who were arrested by the agents of Ministry of Intelligence on November 18, last year, are still being held in Evin Prison. (more…)