Open Letter: Golrokh Iraee Champions the Healthcare Rights of her Ailing Husband

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Civil rights activist and Evin prisoner of conscience Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee has written an open letter to protest the IRGC’s continued medical blockade on her husband, Arash Sadeghi, who has been effectively deprived of chemotherapy since undergoing surgery for chondrosarcoma on September 12th.

The full text of Iraee’s letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Authorities have offered no explanation for blocking visits and phone calls between me and my husband Arash Sadeghi. Since December 2017, the only contact we’ve had is a two-hour visit. And that was five months ago.

I have heard many reports that Arash is faltering in his battle with cancer. Only two days after undergoing surgery for his condition, he was harried out of the hospital against medical advice by the Sarallah IRGC [based in Tehran and responsible for securing the capital city]. Mal-equipped to counter the progression of Arash’s disease, the Rajai Shahr Prison clinic abdicated responsibility for his post-surgery care. Despite an infection to his surgery site, authorities have denied his request to be transferred to a hospital.

Specialists have stressed that the next stages of Arash’s treatment will require chemotherapy, and the state physicians in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) prison have asserted their inability to administer or monitor this treatment. No action has been taken to hospitalize him so that his chemo can begin.

Arash has been detained multiple times. He lost his mother to a raid by regime agents. He was denied the right to continue his studies and has been stripped of his civil rights. Finally, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison without any proof or evidence [of a crime]. Now he faces the rancor and spite of the Sarallah IRGC.

Arash is being denied medical care, one of the most basic rights promised to prisoners in the laws of the Islamic Republic.

Throughout our prison terms, we never asked to be spared their spite, but this time Arash’s life is at stake. My worst fear has come true, and we are well past the tipping point; I don’t know to what extent Arash’s health can be restored.

In the present circumstances, laws that profess to protect prisoners are unveiled as masks of humanity, a farce for the international stage. Despotism can no longer contain the true motive of these laws, which rulers make no effort whatsoever to enforce.

We cannot expect humanity from those who have already proven devoid of it. What matters is the fleeting sands of time, the dissipating moment, the joy that seems a more distant dream each day.

I am certain that with each display of callousness towards his health, Arash will be all the more emboldened. He will do as he has done with every other injustice, coercion, and anguish: he will overcome.

I thank every friend and organization standing shoulder to shoulder with us, and am grateful for the dear comrades who have stood by Arash in Gohardasht. May conscience break dawn on the dark night of ignorance.

Golrokh Iraee
Evin Prison
November 12, 2018

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Golrokh Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. First held at an IRGC safe house for two days, she then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, under IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 800 million rials [approximately $19,000 USD].

On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Iraee again without a warrant. She was sentenced to six years in prison for blasphemy and “gathering and collusion against the regime.” She was later granted amnesty per Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code, which reduced her prison term to 2.5 years.

Iraee’s husband Arash Sadeghi is serving a 19-year sentence in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison.

Political Activist Nader Afshari Held Incommunicado

Posted on: August 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Nader Afshari, a political activist who was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on August 1, 2018, during the most recent wave of popular protests in the city of Karaj, continues to be held incommunicado.

Maryam Sabzeparvar, Mr Afshari’s mother, confirmed the news to HRANA: “…We had no news of Nader for six days following his arrest in Karaj’s Gohardasht. We looked everywhere, from security police and Intelligence offices to the Basij paramilitary base. Finally, on August 6th, Mr Ayoub Ebrahimian who presides over Branch 1 of the Karaj Revolutionary Court, told me that my son had been arrested by Intelligence Ministry security forces and is held in a “safe house” in Gohardasht. He told me Nader will be held there until the end of the interrogation sessions and will be possibly charged after the interrogations are concluded.”

According to Ms Sabzeparvar, her son was arrested last February and held in Ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, a section controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence, for 48 days. During this period Mr Afshari was reportedly under duress and experienced much abuse by the interrogators and prison officials. “We are very worried about the conditions he is being held right now, and we hope the events of his last arrest have not been repeated,” Ms Sabzevari said.

Nader Afshari was previously arrested on February 4, 2018, along with six other civil rights activists following the widespread protests in Iran.

According to Ms Sabzeparvar, Mr Afshari’s only contact with his family was a phone call which lasted a few seconds and during which he informed his family that he was fine.

UPDATE: Nader Afshari was released on August 14, 2018, on a 50 million Tomans (approximately $5,000 USD) bail, pending the completion of the investigations.

Open Letter: Arash Sadeghi Sounds Alarm of Renewed Assassination Campaign

Posted on: August 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – From Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison, civil rights activist Arash Sadeghi has written an open letter in response to the assassination of Eqbal Moradi, an Iraqi Kurdistan political activist and the father of political prisoner Zanyar Moradi. In his letter, Sadeghi traces the domestic and foreign assassination campaigns that Iran has been orchestrating since February 1979.

As previously reported by HRANA, the dead body of Eqbal Moradi was found near the Iran-Iraq border in Penjwen, Iraqi Kurdistan. The three bullet wounds on his body marked the last of many attempts on his life.

The full text of Sadeghi’s letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

“The campaign to eliminate critics inside and outside the country started in the month of February 1979. It claimed the lives of hundreds of people associated with the previous regime, in addition to Sunnis, Baha’is, dissidents, and members of revolutionary political groups that challenged the new regime’s leadership. It continued during the vast oppression of the 1980’s, and with the mass murder of political prisoners in the Summer of 1988. After the [Iran/Iraq] war ended, it continued with a string of assassinations (known as ‘Chain Murders’) targeting the regime’s detractors and opponents.

Many names can be found on the blacklist: Mohammad Mokhtari, Dariush Forouhar, Parvaneh Eskandari, Mohammad Jafar Pooyandeh, Ali Akbar Sirjani, Pirooz Davani, Hamid and Karoon Hajizadeh, Masoumeh Mossadegh, Zohreh Izadi, and dozens of other dissidents.

But assassinations didn’t reserve themselves for critics and dissidents within Iran. In the past four decades, they followed dozens of opposition figures to European countries.

Ashraf Pahlavi’s son Shahriar Shafiq was the first to go down, killed in Paris in December of 1979. He had been convicted in absentia of “corruption on earth” [a capital crime in Iran] by Sadeq Khalkhali [a notorious judge of the early revolutionary period].

Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou and Abdollah Ghaderi were assassinated in Vienna, Austria during a negotiation with diplomats of the Islamic Republic.

Gholam Keshavarz was killed in Cyprus; Sedigh Kamangar in Ranya, Iraq; and Kazem Rajavi in Switzerland.

Efat Ghazi [spouse of a prominent Kurdish activist and daughter of the President of Iran’s ephemeral Republic of Mahabad] was assassinated in Vasteras, Sweden.

Abdolrahman Boroumand and Shapour Bakhtiar were killed in France.

Fereydoun Farrokhzad was assassinated in Bonn, Germany.

Mohammad Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan, and Noori Dehkordi were assassinated in a restaurant called Mykonos in Berlin. Then there was the bombing of the Jewish community center in Argentina…

Based on the statements of German prosecutors, the foreign-soil murders — right up to the Mykonos killings — were led by the [Iranian] regime’s top political figures. And it was only after trial, and the diplomatic crisis with European countries, that the assassination campaign came to a brief pause.

The chain murders came right behind the 1988 [mass] executions. It was only in the Khatami era, with its relatively open media atmosphere, that the public was sensitized to these murders. Ultimately it was declared that the assassinations were the work of high-ranking security officials, chiefly Saeed Emami. From the autumn of 1998, the murders carried on into the early 2000’s.

The overseas assassination campaign is back up and running; once again the alarm bell is sounding, and the campaign is accelerating forward.

This time around, they targeted Eqbal Moradi. We heard the shocking and bitter news of Eqbal’s death – he is the father of Zanyar Moradi, a political prisoner sentenced to death. [Eqbal] Moradi was an active human rights defender in the city of Penjwen. He collaborated with several human rights organizations, including the international “No To Executions” campaign, and raised funds for political prisoners and their families.

Rare is the human rights activist who hasn’t heard of Eqbal Moradi. I got to know him years ago, and I saw what he did for his dear son, his nephew (Loghman Moradi), and for all political prisoners. When Zanyar was 19 he was taken hostage with his cousin Loghman, simply because the Iranian security apparatus held a grudge against his father.

Zanyar and Loqman were sentenced to die without a fair trial. It’s now been ten years since they’ve been in prison. A flagrant injustice in the trial of Zanyar (a man I consider to be a symbol of resistance and honor): when witnesses were ready to attest to both [him and his cousin’s] innocence, the judge — who is but a rubber-stamp for the security apparatus — refused to accept their testimonies, without giving any legal reasons.

A flagrant injustice: they are hostages to a sinister plot of the security apparatus. Now the father is gone, and his death sounds the alarm of a renewed assassination campaign through Iraqi Kurdistan.

Make no mistake, the renewal of the assignation campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan would be rooted in the regime’s grudge against the opposition; they see the elimination of critics as legitimate, an expedient protection of the regime and of religious law. In the past year, four more Kurdish activists have been assassinated in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to Ahmad Mawlana Abu Nahez — known as Ahmad Neysi — an Ahwazi activist who was assassinated in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, ever since the establishment of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), it has lacked a strong and independent government and suffered from partisan divisions. This, paired with the political-military presences in neighboring countries — especially the Islamic Republic, whose Hamzeh Base in Urmia [close to the border with Iraq] answers to the Quds Force, an operating arm of the assassination campaign abroad — has made Iraqi Kurdistan an easy target.

The silence of some countries in response to these assassination cases, or other countries’ official or unofficial endorsement of them, will empower Iran, with all of its human rights violations in-country, to eliminate dissidents abroad with greater ease.

This places a heavy burden on the officials of European countries.

In recent years, they’ve sent thousands of their own citizens to countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan to show their commitment to fighting state-sponsored terrorism and human rights violations.

If Western officials are serious about this commitment, they cannot rightly plead economic and trade interests as an excuse to turn a blind eye to operatives of this overseas assassination campaign, the very same people who eliminate dissidents within Iran’s borders. Any kind of silence or cooperation with the Islamic Republic enables domestic oppression and threatens the opposition abroad.

Arash Sadeghi
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Gohardasht [Rajai Shahr] Prison, Karaj

Report: New Wave of Mass Protests in Iran

Posted on: August 5th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) –  A new wave of widespread protests that began on Tuesday, continued across Iran through the week for six days. Protesters included merchants, shopkeepers and other citizens who gathered in objection to the worsening economic conditions in Iran. Their main concerns were centered around the issues of unemployment and the rising of prices and exchange rates. Rising prices, inflation, and unemployment have led to protests since December 2017.


First Day of Protests
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Protests in Isfahan on Shapur Jadid Street began with a strike by merchants and shopkeepers, which led to other citizens joining in on the protest. The gathering quickly turned violent when security forces attempted to disperse the crowd with tear gas and gunshots.

In Karaj, people gathered in Gohardasht Square to hold a protest rally. According to reports, many women participated. Some protesters were reportedly arrested by security and plainclothes forces and are currently held at a Basij-operated center in the Gohardasht neighborhood.

Second Day of Protests
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Protests in Rasht and Shiraz were accompanied by the heavy presence of security forces. Some of the videos from Shiraz indicate that a 7-year-old was shot with tear gas by police forces.

Protesters in these burned tires on the streets to counter the effects of tear gas and chanted slogans including “Our enemy is right here, they are lying claiming it’s the U.S.”, “Guns and tanks are no longer effective, mullahs should get lost,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon — I give my life only for Iran,” “The nation begs while *He acts like he’s God” and “Down with high prices”.

Mass protests also occurred in Isfahan and Karaj.

Third Day of Protests
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Protests were reported in twelve Iranian cities: Isfahan, Shahinshahr, Najafabad, Karaj, Mashhad, Shiraz, Sari, Tehran, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Qahderijan and Arak.

Peaceful protests turned violent in Isfahan and Shiraz when security, plainclothes and Basij forces shot at the protesters with guns and tear gas. In the videos from Thursday, protesters are seen throwing rocks at the Iranian authorities in response to the gunshots. Protesters are also seen starting fires in order to counter the effects of the tear gas.

Many protesters were reportedly arrested in Mashhad and Shiraz.

Fourth Day of Protests 
Friday, August 3, 2018

Protests occurred in five different cities: Karaj, Qahderijan, Tehran, Qazvin and Kermanshah.

Fifth Day of Protests 
Saturday, August 4, 2018

Since the early hours of Saturday, a strong presence of security forces had created an ambience of intimidation in many of the Iranian cities. Reports indicate that large protests were held in the central city of Qom, Karaj and Tehran.

People were heard chanting “Iranians, it is time to demand your rights from this regime”, “Down with the dictator”, “Don’t let fear conquer, we are all together”, “The nation begs while He acts like he’s God”.

Some reports claim that 50 of the female protesters were arrested in recent days and transferred to the quarantine ward in *Varamin’s Garchak Prison.

Many of the state-run media or news agencies with ties to the government have either denied the existence of protests or play them down as rallies incited by opposition or simply gatherings with strictly syndical demands.

The police forces in the cities of Mahdasht and Gohardasht (both located in the Alborz province) imposed restrictions on traffic and banned driving after 6PM in these areas.

Reports from sources close to security institutions, one person was shot dead in Karaj and at least 20 others were wounded.

Ali Hendiani, the director of the seminary in Eshtehard county, said: “Protesters threw stones at the seminary building and broke the prayer room’s windows…These people were dispersed by the anti-riot security forces, and the police have identified them and are on the search for them. Some have been arrested, and the mission to find the other protesters continues.”

Sixth Day of Protests 
Sunday, August 5, 2018

Despite the persistence of security measures and the heavy presence of security forces aimed at intimidating citizens, protests were held in the city of Kazerun (located in the Fars province).

There are reports that protesters attempted to rally in Shiraz (capital of the Fars province), Tehran, Karaj and Qom, but strong police presence prevented these rallies from taking shape.

 

Mobile Services Cut Off

Subscribers of Irancell, an Iranian telecommunication service provider, reported that mobile services in parts of central Tehran and the city of Zanjan were interrupted. Some of the clients of Operator Network, another cell phone service provider, reported that they received a message regarding a temporary and nation-wide interruption to their service. It is not yet clear whether this stoppage is part of the Iranian security apparatus’ attempt to control the protests. In previous protests, there was precedence in taking such measures to curb protests.

Protester Death

Reza Shakarami, General Prosecutor for the Alborz province, denied reports attributed to him about the death of a young man from Karaj during a night protest. “The shooting [leading to the protester’s death] and the circumstances surrounding it are under investigation. Any quote cited from me regarding the murder of the victim by the rioters or any other individual is denied,” he said. The victim referred to by Mr. Shakarami was identified on social media as Reza Otadi.

Salman Samani, the Interior Ministry spokesperson, has reacted to online invitations to assemble. “In the last month, dozens of invitations and calls to protest rising prices, inflation and living conditions have been widely distributed. The source of the majority of such calls is outside Iran, but the invitations have been reposted and shared by people inside Iran,” he said.

Reactions from Iranian Authorities

Ali Motahari, Member of Parliament for Tehran, told a state-run newspaper that the authorities are trying hard to resolve the issues [the protesters have voiced their concerns about], and if the people wait and be patient a few more months, the conditions will improve. He also blamed certain movements who made attempts for the Iran Nuclear Deal to fail and whose actions paved the way for a Trump presidency, the pretext to withdraw from the **Deal.

Meanwhile, Kheirollah Tarkhani, a security official in the Alborz province, stated: “We have been trying to appease the protesters and listen to them. However, we have realized that their protests are not about economic demands and are aimed at the political structure. The small, scattered protests are not the sum of the people’s economic grievances and demands.”

——
* Reference to Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei
** Gharchark is a women’s prison south east of Tehran; reports point to prisoners facing deplorable conditions in this prison (https://www.en-hrana.org/comprehensive-report-womens-ward-evin-prison)
*** Ali Motahari is implicitly referring to the Revolutionary Guards commanders and some hardliners whose interference in neighboring countries coupled with their push for an aggressive missile program created the conditions for Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka Iran Nuclear Deal)