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.

Golrokh Iraee Calls Citizens to the Defense of Persecuted Activist Soheil Arabi

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a civil rights activist imprisoned at Evin, has written an open letter in response to the recent re-sentencing of Soheil Arabi, a prisoner of conscience in Great Tehran Penitentiary who has been held without furlough since November 7, 2013.

On new charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “disturbing the public mind,” Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26 sentenced Arabi to three more years of imprisonment and three years of exile on September 22, 2018. Cited as evidence against him were voice files he allegedly sent from inside the prison, in which he can be heard comparing Evin to a torture chamber.

In her letter, Iraee accuses authorities of using the exile sentence to banish dissidents like Arabi from public memory.

Golrokh Iraee pictured here with husband and fellow prisoner of conscience Arash Sadeghi

While behind bars on separate charges in June of this year, Arabi was issued a six-month prison sentence by Judge Moghiseh on charges of “blasphemy” and “propaganda against the regime.” The charges stemmed from a case file opened up against Arabi and his ex-spouse Nastaran Naimi, who was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for “blasphemy” and “aiding and abetting.”

Iraee’s letter warns the Iranian public that apathy towards the extension of Arabi’s detainment would be ignoring symptoms of a malaise for which all Iranian citizens are responsible.

The full text of her letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

“He has been behind bars for years without having committed a crime. He is held captive by a vengeful system that has no tolerance for dissenting views, that stifles them instead in bondage, with physical and mental tortures.

Soheil Arabi was first detained on a misunderstanding that devolved into a blasphemy charge. After spending years behind bars and nearing the end of a sentence that tore his family apart (after the immoral and inhumane pressures they submitted him to, to break his spirit), yet another case file emerges, yet another prison sentence is leveled against him. After compounding his suffering with a ban on visits from his daughter, they now want to do with him what they did with Arjang Davoudi and Gholamreza Kalbi: exile him to the middle of nowhere, remove him from public memory, and let his existence perish into the abyss.

After the hunger strikes and beatings he endured in prison, Soheil’s condition is worrisome indeed. It is fitting that we be reminded, after commemorating the World Day against the Death Penalty, of Soheil’s initial execution sentence. He was made to suffer for a long time under the threat of execution, and the [long-term] imprisonment to which his death penalty was commuted, yet we are still witnessing concerted efforts to annihilate him with continued torture and new case files extending his imprisonment.

This method of eliminating activists, protesters, and dissenters may be the current status quo of the judicial system, but it is critical we consider these actions as the red flags that they are, and that we increase public sensitivity and attract the attention of international organizations so that we can put a stop to the annihilation of political and ideological activists. Abandoning them in this state renders us guilty of spreading the disease of our judicial system, and condoning the repetition of such crimes.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, October 2018.

***

Golrokh Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. She was first held at an IRGC safe house for two days and then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, which is under IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 800 million rials. On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Iraee again, without a warrant. Her husband Arash Sadeghi, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison, is currently in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison and has undergone operations for cancer. Iraee was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 2.5 years based on amnesty and Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code. She was convicted of “insulting the sacred” and “gathering and collusion against the regime.”

Prison Authorities Withhold Medical Care from an Ailing Arash Sadeghi

Posted on: October 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Per orders from Assistant Prosecutor Rostami, who manages the political prisoners of Rajai Shahr, imprisoned civil rights activist and bone cancer patient Arash Sadeghi has been denied transfer to a hospital despite a severe infection to the surgical site on his arm.

A close source told HRANA that Sadeghi was recently sent to Imam Khomeini hospital after his infection and biopsy results were flagged for concern. “If the infection does not go away, it will lead to a bad outcome for him,” the source said. “Yet it’s been more than two weeks, and Rostami is still ordering that all political prisoners be denied transfers for outside medical treatment.”

Against the orders of his doctor, Sadeghi was returned to prison just three days after a September 12th surgery for chondrosarcoma at Imam Khomeini hospital. His surgical site would contract a severe infection soon after, prompting his return to the hospital September 22nd at noon. Despite his decline into critical condition, he was again returned to prison, reportedly due to the absence of an appropriate specialist to treat him.

Chondrosarcoma is the most prominent malignant bone cancer in youth, affecting an estimated 100 patients per year in Iran. In this type of cancer, malignant tumors are composed of cartilage-producing cells.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Wednesday, September 26, 2018, saying “The Iranian authorities are torturing jailed human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who has cancer, by deliberately depriving him of the specialist medical care health professionals have said he desperately requires.”

On July 21st of this year, HRANA reported on Sadeghi’s transfer to the hospital under tight security controls. Saying that the doctor was not present, hospital officials turned him away, postponed his scheduled treatment, and returned him to the prison.

Arash Sadeghi was sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment by Tehran Revolutionary Court. In December 2016, he staged a 72-day hunger strike to protest the continued imprisonment of his wife, Golrokh Iraee.

On World Day Against Death Penalty, Women in Evin Prison Urge UN Special Rapporteur to Visit Iran

Posted on: October 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – From the walls of Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, political prisoners Maryam Akbari Monfared, Golrokh Irayee, and Atena Daemi wrote a letter dated October 10th — the World Day Against the Death Penalty — urging the United Nations Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman to come and witness Iranian human rights violations in person.

In observance of the same occasion, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) recently published its annual report on the death penalty, pending, and carried out since October 2017. According to this report, 256 executions were carried out in Iran between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018, a 50% decrease from last year due likely to newly-ratified laws precluding death-sentence rulings on drug-related cases. Due process is glaringly absent from the judicial processes leading up to executions in Iran.

Recently, another group of prisoners from Rajai Shahr in Karaj wrote to Rehman, requesting that members of the United Nations place on their dealings with Iranian authorities a condition: demonstrate further respect for human rights by abolishing the death penalty, which the prisoners called a “weapon of terror.”

The complete text of Akbari, Irayee, and Daemi’s letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

“To Mr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran,

As the World Day Against the Death Penalty approaches, we decided to report to you a summary of the countless instances of human rights violations that took place over the last decade in our country.

News agencies announced the elimination of the death penalty for drug-related offenses some time ago, yet killings on such accounts are still happening outside of the media spotlight. Drug dealing and homicide remain the judicial justification for a majority of the executions in Iran.

Current statistics — which you most certainly have seen — indicate that defendants, men & women alike, are sentenced to death every year on homicide and manslaughter charges, and lose their lives very soon after their convictions are delivered.

Alongside prisoners convicted on criminal charges, many prisoners of conscience and political prisoners have been executed by firing squad or in the gallows over the last four decades.

According to available documentation, these executions were at their peak in the first decade of the Islamic Republic (1978-1988). People were often executed without trial, their bodies piled in unmarked mass graves on the fringe of the city. (Meanwhile, those who oppose capital punishment have no license to speak, and are currently behind bars because of their dissent).

As the World Day Against the Death Penalty drew near, authorities carried out the execution sentence of Zaynab Sakavand, a 24-year-old woman who had spent many years in prison since being convicted as a minor. This was but one example among the thousands carried out over the past few years on charges of smuggling, theft, killing, […]. As long as the death sentence can be meted, its pool of victims will be populated by alleged offenders of this type, many of whom are victims of poverty and socioeconomic class struggle, or political and ideological activists who are victims of a corrupt system whose policies are rigged against them.

The current administration began selling in 2013 the well-known figurative promise to provide keys to unlock problems and free prisoners of politics and conscience. Yet executions [on these grounds] have pressed on. Sherko Moarefi, Ehsan Fattahian, and Gholamreza Khosravi were all executed shortly after the administration undertook its [“key”] project.

The summer of 2016 conjured memories of the 1980s. Prisoners of conscience (Sunni Kurds) were executed en masse, leading to the overnight evacuation of a Rajai Shahr Prison hall. Exactly one month before the World Day Against the Death Penalty, Ramin Hossein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi, and Loghman Moradi were executed without the slightest shred of evidence to support their conviction. Their bodies, like the bodies of Farzad Kamangar (the hanged teacher), were buried in an unknown location. They suffered the same fate as Roghiyeh Akbari Monfared, Mojtaba Mohseni, Mehrzad Pakzad, Abdolreza Akbari Monfared, the Behkish Family, and thousands of others who lost their lives in the mass executions of the 1980’s, many of whose names have been documented by the Committee for Enforced Disappearance of the United Nations.

Over the past few years, many Kurdish and Arab activists, as well as a number of ideological activists, have been arrested for subscribing to beliefs that countered those of the ruling body. They were accused of baseless crimes, and — with the ultimate intention of creating fear and repressing public unrest — were tortured, forced to implicate themselves by false confession, and hanged. Mohammad Salas was the most recent of these victims.

The Islamic Republic’s apology for the death sentence is its [supposed] role in preventing criminal recidivism and in setting an example for others. While experience has proven that execution is not and never will be an effective preventative measure, the Islamic Republic continues to argue for its necessity and consonance with Sharia law. This fact alone demonstrates their abuse of the religious spirit of Iranian society, with the intention of oppressing and deceiving the public mind. If Iranian authorities can actually produce reliable documentation in support of their position on these cases, which are only a few among countless cases like them in Iran, they should certainly welcome you in Tehran.

We the undersigned, political activists held at the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, on this World Day Against the Death Penalty, express our abhorrence of the executions that have already taken place in Iran, and request that you — Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Mr. Javaid Rehman — travel to Iran to investigate violations of human rights, and advocate for a wholesale abolition of the death sentence, regardless of the crimes it aims to punish, be they political, ideological, or criminal. Your arrival in Iran and plea for accountability from authorities will clarify many ambiguities. The Islamic Republic’s refusal to welcome you would demonstrate their determination to eliminate human beings in their death machine and would confirm the criminal scope of their actions. While we harbor no delusions that things will improve, since we view the current administration as beyond reform, we nevertheless wish for an immediate halt on capital-punishment verdicts, and for a change to Iran’s oppressive penal law.

Signed:

Maryam Akbari Monfared, Golrokh Irayee, and Atena Daemi
Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, October 2018”

About the authors: Maryam Akbari Monfared was detained on December 31, 2009 following a widespread Ashura demonstration during the holy month of Muharram. In June 2010, Judge Salavati sentenced her to 15 years’ imprisonment in Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court. She was convicted of enmity against god, gathering and colluding against national security, and propagating against the regime through working with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). She has denied these charges.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Irayee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. She was first held at an IRGC safe house for two days and then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, which is under IRGC jurisdiction. She was released on a bail of 800 million rials. On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Irayee again, without a warrant. Her husband Arash Sadeghi, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison, is currently in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, and has undergone operations for cancer. Irayee was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 2.5 years based on amnesty and Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code. She was convicted of insulting the sacred and gathering and collusion against the regime.

Atena Daemi was detained October 21, 2014, and was transferred to Evin’s Women’s Ward January 14, 2015 after spending 86 days in a solitary cell of Ward 2-A. On May 15, 2015, she was sentenced by Judge Moghiseh of Revolutionary Court Branch 28 to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime, and Insulting the supreme leader. On February 15, 2016, she was released on a bail of 5500 million rials. Her appeals court convened in July of 2016, and reduced her sentence to seven years. She learned of the appeals decision two months later. After being arrested again in her parents home on November 26, 2016, her sentence was reduced to five years, pursuant to article 134 of Islamic Penal Code.

Earlier this month, HRANA reported on verbal orders from an Evin Warden that barred these women from having visitors for three weeks.