Rouhani 8 Years On: The Situation of Women’s Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Posted on: March 5th, 2021

HRANA – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Human Rights Activists in Iran highlights the situation of women’s rights in Iran during the 8 year term of President Hassan Rouhani. The following report includes an 8-year statistical overview of the most pressing human rights issues women are facing in the country. The report also introduces the brave women’s rights activists that are currently imprisoned or are facing imprisonment.

Women and girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran face widespread and systematic discrimination in areas touching nearly all corners of their lives. Discrimination against women is abundantly present in matters of family law, criminal law, education, employment, and social and cultural life. However, in the face of state-sanctioned discrimination, women in Iran are leading the charge, playing a primary role in defending their rights, standing up and demanding change; unfortunately, this is not without consequence.

Although many were hopeful, 8 years on, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has done little to improve the lives of women in Iran. In fact, from August 2013 to March 2021, there have been 72 cases of self-immolation, 3,048 suicides, 20 claims of workplace discrimination, 2 reported cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 553 honor killings, 33,210 child marriages (girls under the age of 18), and 460 reported acid attacks against women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) highlights some of the most pressing women’s rights issues today and throughout the 8-year Rouhani presidency, as well as the 22 Iranian women’s rights activists targeted over the past 8 years, who have faced harassment, torture, ill-treatment, arrest and arbitrary imprisonment for speaking out against the instruments of oppression working against them every day.

 

International Framework

 

The situation of women’s rights in Iran falls short of nearly all international human rights standards and obligations. While Iran is not a State party to The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), they remain obligated as a State party to other international mechanisms which protect against gender inequality and discrimination, including: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Despite these obligations, women and girls remain unequal in both law and practice and according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, Iran ranked 148 out of 153 countries, only coming in ahead of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.

 

Women’s Rights in Iran

 

Compulsory Veiling

Amidst wider social upheaval, compulsory veiling is one of the more well-known women’s rights issues in Iran. The Human Rights Council has stated that any laws regulating what women wear ‘violate [a] State’s obligation under the ICCPR’. Yet, in both law and practice women who choose not to abide by compulsory veiling laws face unrelenting punishment. Under law, women can be fined up to 500,000 rials and/or face up to 2 months in prison. In practice however, they are increasingly charged with crimes such as ‘moral corruption on Earth’, a charge which carries up to 10 years imprisonment. Imprisonment in any regard relating to compulsory garments is a violation of article 9 of the ICCPR.

Cultural Rights

 Article 15 of the ICESCR recognizes the ‘right of everyone to take part in cultural life’. Nonetheless, Iranian women are banned from both singing and dancing in public and although it is not written into the law it is customary that women are also prohibited from attending sporting events. While there have been few occurrences which allow for women’s access to sporting events, access remains segregated and largely unequal.  From 2013 to 2021, at least 147 women were denied entry to sports stadiums. Additionally, 4 female athletes were deprived of traveling outside of the country to compete due to unequal and discriminatory marriage and family laws. The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that ensuring the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of cultural rights is a mandatory and immediate obligation of State parties (general comment No.16 (2005), para. 16).

Marriage and Family

Inconsistent with obligations under the ICCPR, Iranian women face discrimination in almost all aspects of family life including in marriage, divorce, custody, and guardianship. The ICCPR also protects the freedom of movement, yet women in Iran face widespread limitations. While women under the age of 40 require the permission of their husbands to travel outside of the country, married women require permission from their husbands; in fact, married women are not permitted to apply for a passport without their husbands’ prior approval—they’ve also no say in their place of residence.

Under Iranian law women are viewed as subordinates to both their spouses and male family members. This affects a woman’s right to obtain her desired employment, as husbands have the right to prevent their wives from taking up certain employment should they deem it inappropriate (against “family values”). Additionally, wives are required, under law, to provide for a husband’s sexual needs; if they should not, a husband in all cases has the exclusive right to a divorce, without question, while women face unconscionable hurdles in the same respect. Should a divorce occur, the father becomes the lawful guardian of a child; in the case of a fathers passing, guardianship is passed to the paternal grandfather as stated in Iranian Civil Code.  The Human Rights Council has stated that inequality in marriage is a violation of Article 23.4 of the ICCPR. (HRC general comment no.  28) including in the dissolution of such and with regard to the issue of custody.

 The Right to Education

 According to the CEO of the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC), approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped and impoverished neighborhoods of Iran are deprived of receiving an education. In addition to being left out of school for societal reasons such as poverty, the lack of a birth certificate and the need to work in lieu of attending school are among contributing factors. Girls, in certain cases, are deliberately deprived of receiving an education. From 2013 to 2021, 4,142 female students were reportedly deprived of receiving an education due to early marriages, in certain cases as early as age 9, as well as a lack of permission from their male guardians to attend school. These numbers fly in the face of international standards as well as obligations under the CRC.

 

Women’s Rights Activists 

 

An overview

 Between August 3, 2013, and March 2, 2021, a total of 84 women’s rights activists were arrested, 8 of whom were men. Additionally, 22 were sentenced to a total of 1,627 months of imprisonment, 8,800,000 Tomans in fines, and 148 floggings. The courts in this regard, carry out sentencing in ways that fail to meet international fair trial standards.

The charges placed upon them by the judicial authorities include:

➡️ 11 charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security”

➡️ 12 Charges of “propaganda against the regime”

➡️ 6 charges of “Performing the ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting moral corruption through unveiling”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing vulgar content on the internet and being present in public without headscarf”

➡️ 1 charge of “spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

➡️ 2 charges of “Cooperating with the Hostile Government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

➡️ 1 charge of “disrupting public order, on the basis of participating in protest following the death of Farinaz Khosravani”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing false information online with the aim of disturbing the public mind”

➡️ 1 charge of “disturbing public peace and order”

➡️ 1 charge of “assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media.”

➡️ 1 charge of “Insulting Sanctities”

➡️ 1 charge of “being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

 

Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists from 2013-2021 from 2013-2021
Click on the image to enlarge the chart

 

Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists

Yasaman Ariyani and Monireh Arabshahi (mother and daughter)

Latest Arrest Dates:

Yasaman Ariyani: 10 April 2019

Monireh Arabshahi: 11 April 2019

Charges and Sentence:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“Inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

Both mother and daughter were Initially sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. Upon appeal, the sentence was reduced to 9 years and 7 months each. Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code allows for 5 years and 6 months imprisonment in this regard.

Condition: Doctors have indicated that Monire Arabshahi requires a lumbar disc surgery and thyroid biopsy; she has been denied access to medical care.

Prison: After arrest held at Gharchak Prison of Karaj on 13 August 2019 both women were transferred to Evin prisons Female’s Ward. On 21 October 2020 they were transferred to Kachoui of Karaj.

Yasmin Ariyani was transferred to solitary cell on Friday 13 November 2020, following a positive COVID-19 test.

 

Saba Kordafshari and Raheleh Ahmadi (mother and daughter) 

Latest Arrest Dates:

Saba Kordafshari: 1 June 2019

Raheleh Ahmadi: 10 July 2019

Charges and Sentence:

Saba Kordafshari:

“spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

“Propaganda against the Regime”

“Gathering and colluding against national security”

Raheleh Ahmadi:

“assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media”

“propaganda against the regime”

“inciting moral corruption through unveiling and posting it online” (acquitted)

Saba Kordafshari: – sentenced to a total of 24 years of imprisonment for the above-mentioned charges

Raheleh Ahmadi – sentenced to a total of 4 years and 2 months for the above-mentioned charges

Condition: On 24 December 2020, Ms. Ahmadi was transferred to a hospital to receive an MRI test, which indicated her spinal cord had been damaged due to stress and shock of the news that her daughter (Saba Kordafshari) was exiled to Gharchak prison of Varamin.

Prison: On Tuesday 26 January 2021 Saba Kordafshari was transferred from ward 8 of Gharchak Prison of Varamin to Ward 6, where she was beaten. She is currently housed alongside “violent crimes” prisoners.

 

Mojgan Keshavarz

Civil rights activists opposing compulsory veiling

Latest Arrest: Thursday 25 April 2019. She was arrested at her home.

Charges and Sentence:

Sentenced by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court of Tehran

“Assembly and collusion against national security” 3 years and 6 months imprisonment

“Propaganda against the regime” 7 months imprisonment.

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption” 5 years and 6 months imprisonment

“insulting the sanctities” received 3 years imprisonment.

Prison: On Saturday December 5th, 2020 she was transferred from the Women’s Political Prisoners Ward of Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin.

 

Alieh Motalebzadeh

Photographer and women’s rights activist

Arrest and Prison: Ms. Motalebzadeh was initially arrested on November 26th, 2016 through a phone call by the intelligence ministry. She was interrogated at Ward 209 of Evin Prison (under the control of the intelligence ministry) she was temporarily released on bail of 300 million Toman on December 19, 2016. On October 11th, 2020 she was arrested at the Sentence Execution Unit of Evin Prison to begin serving her sentence.

Charges:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“propaganda against the regime”.

Sentence: Tried at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in 2017 and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The sentence was upheld by Branch 36 of the Appeals Court of Tehran headed by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar.

 

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Human rights activists and lawyer

Latest arrest: June 13, 2018 at her home

Trial: Tried on December 30th, 2018, in absentia, by Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court

Charges:

“gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

“appearing at an interrogation branch without proper Islamic Hijab”

“disturbing public peace and order”

“publishing false information with the aim of disturbing public opinion”

being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

Sentence: 33 years imprisonment and 148 floggings

Condition:

– On Tuesday August 11, 2020, through a letter demanding the release of political prisoners Ms. Sotoudeh announced she was going on hunger strike.

– On September 19, 2020, following a heart condition she was transferred from Evin Prison to CCU units at Taleghani Hospital of Tehran.

– On Wednesday September 23rd, she returned to Evin Prison from the hospital.

Mr. Khandan (Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband) has stated that Ms. Sotoudeh did not receive the proper medical care during this time.

– On September 25th Ms. Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike.

* she was transferred from Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin on October 20th, 2020

Women’s rights activists at risk of imprisonment  

  1. cases awaiting review

Nahid Shaghaghi, Akram Nasirian, Maryam Mohammadi, and Asrin Darkaleh

Arrests

Akram Nasirian: April 29, 2019

Nahid Shaghayeghi: May 15, 2019

Maryam Mohammadi: July 8, 2019

Asrin Darkaleh: July 28, 2019

All four women were summoned to prison to begin serving their sentence on March 14, 2020

Charges and Sentence: Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Iman Afshari, sentenced each woman to 4 years and 2 months imprisonment.

“Gathering and Collusion against national security” each received 3 years imprisonment

“Propaganda against the Regime” each received 6 months imprisonment.

“Performing ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf” each received 8 months imprisonment.

 

  1. cases where the initial verdict has been issued

 

Banafsheh Jamali

Women’s rights activist

Arrest: In 2017 Ms. Jamali was arrested along with others during the 8th March, International Women’s Day Rally in Tehran, she was released sometime after the arrest.

Charges: “Propaganda against the Regime”

Sentence: 1 year of imprisonment, 4 million Toman fine

Banned from using smart electrical devices (smartphones)

Mandatory attendance at MAVA Counselling in Qom City

* the imprisonment has been suspended for 5 years

 

  1. cases awaiting sentence to be executed

Raha (Raheleh) Askari-Zadeh

Journalist, photographer, and women’s rights activist

Arrest: Raha was arrested on November 29th, 2018, at the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) while attempting to depart.

Charges: “assembly and collusion against the national security”

Sentence: Initially issued by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran and later upheld by the Appeals Court. 2 years imprisonment

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from Internet activities

2-year ban from activity in political or journalist groups

 

Najme Vahedi and Hoda Amid

Women’s rights activists

Arrest: On September 1, 2018, both women were arrested separately at their homes.

Charges: “Cooperating with the hostile government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

Sentence: Hoda Amid: 8 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the Internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from working as a lawyer

Najmeh Vahedi:7 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

 

For media inquiries please contact Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

 

Annual Report of Prosecuted Lawyers in Iran

Posted on: June 11th, 2019

 

The following is an overview of the prosecuted human rights lawyers in Iran in 2018. According to Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer, lack of judicial immunity, prosecuting defendant lawyers, and absence of union support for lawyers are some of the issues that put pressure on lawyers in Iran.

This report focuses on analyzing the situation of the lawyers who accepted cases with political, faith, or security chargers. These lawyers are in prison or are temporarily released on bail waiting for their trial.

Amir Salar Davoudi

On June 1, 2019, Amir Salar Davoudi, lawyer and civil rights activist, was sentenced to 111 lashes and 30 years in prison of which the highest penalty is 15 years imprisonment for the charge of “establishing a channel in the Telegram app”. Davoudi has been detained since November 2018 on the charges of “insulting officials”, “propaganda against the state”, “cooperating with enemy states through interviewing with Voice of America (VOA) television channel”, and “forming a group to overthrow the state”. He has been sentenced at the Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court to 30 years in prison for several charges which according to the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, he should serve the sentence for the charge with the highest penalty which is 15 years in prison on the charge of “establishing a channel in the Telegram group app”. He has decided not to appeal this sentence.

Davoudi who has been retained as counsel by several detainees held on politically motivated charges in Iran was arrested by security agents in his office on November 20, 2018. The security agents also searched Davoudi’s home and office and took away some of his personal belongings. He had been taken in for questioning on previous occasions and had been warned not to inform the public about his clients’ politically sensitive cases. The second session of his trial was held on May 4, 2018 at the Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer, was arrested on June 13, 2018 in her house. The Branch 38 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Sotoodeh to a five-year prison term and then the verdict was transferred to the Branch 36 of the Tehran’s appeals court. She is imprisoned in the Women Ward of Evin prison being accused for seven charges for her second case and is sentenced to 33 years and six months in prison and 148 lashes though only 12 years of this verdict is executable.

Mohammad Najafi

Mohammad Najafi, attorney and human rights activist was sentenced to 19 years imprisonments. He is serving his three years sentence in prison and faced 74 lashes and 16 more years imprisonment in January 2019 for his new charge of “spreading falsehood and disturbing public opinion”, “insulting the Supreme Leader”, “propaganda against the state”, “cooperating with enemy states through interviewing with Voice of America (VOA) television channel”.

On October 28, 2018, Najafi was arrested and transferred to Arak Prison to serve his sentences. He was previously detained along with 10 others for participating in the January protests in Shazand County. Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi of Arak Criminal Court No. 2, the Branch 102 sentenced Najafi to three years in prison and 74 lashes for “publishing lies with intent to disrupt the public opinion” and “disturbing the public peace.” The sentences were upheld in the Branch one of Markazi province Appeals Court.

Najafi got wind of his new “publishing lies” accusation via a writ he received on October 13th from the Branch 1 of Shazand Investigation and Prosecutions office, where he was interrogated and ultimately charged for it. He has additional charges pending investigation in the Revolutionary Court of Arak.

Najafi was previously detained for inquiring into the death of Vahid Heydari, who died in Police Detention Center amid the January protests. Najafi challenged Iranian judicial authorities who had claimed Heydari was a drug dealer that committed suicide while in custody. Najafi’s interviews with Heydari’s loved ones suggest that Heydari was a street peddler with no criminal record, whose autopsy report showed none of the typical markers of suicide but did indicate head injuries consistent with blunt-force trauma.

Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi accused security authorities of fabricating the grounds for Najafi’s case, arguing that Najafi had simply proven that Heydari was not a drug dealer.

Farhad Mohammadi

On January 2, 2019, Farhad Mohammadi, a Kurdish human rights lawyer and secretary of the National Unity Party in Kurdistan, was arrested in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province by security agents. The reasons for his arrest, his place of detention, and the charges pending against him are not yet known. He is also an environmental activist. His arrest warrant was extended on February 3, 2019.

Mostafa Daneshjoo

Mostafa Daneshjou, the detained lawyer of the Gonabadi Dervishes, was sentenced to eight years in prison on December 16, 2018 on charges of “membership in the Dervish cult,” “acting against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “disturbing the public opinion”.

Seven armed agents arrested Daneshjoo in his mother’s home on July 7, 2019, taking him to solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 where he was detained for 45 days. He was then sent to Ward 4, typically designated for convicts of financial crimes. He was arrested pursuant to a case filed against him in 2017 in Tehran’s Security Investigation Court, in connection to a violent clash that took place February 2018 near the Dervish spiritual leader’s residence in Golestan Avenue in Tehran.

He was denied medical care for his severe heart disease in January 2019.  Symptoms of Daneshjoo’s asthma were exacerbated by his stay in Evin Prison’s Ward 250 between 2011 and 2015. Despite orders from the assistant prosecutor to send Daneshjoo to a healthcare facility, Evin Prison authorities have barred his transfer.

Per a letter from the security office at Azad University, Daneshjoo’s alma mater, he has been barred from continuing his studies. Citing his defense of the Gonabadi Dervish religious minority, security authorities have revoked his permit to practice law.

Mostafa Tork Hamedani 

Mostafa Tork Hamedani, is an attorney who has been sentenced to six months imprisonment in Iran for allegedly slandering a former prosecutor on January 15. 2019. The preliminary sentence against him was 10 months in prison and 40 lashes but on January 15, 2019 his sentence was reduced to four months with the flogging sentence suspended for one year. He was released on January 21, 2019, in the process of pardoning prisoners with less than a year sentence.

Hamedani was prosecuted based on a lawsuit brought by former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, who accused Hamedani had made public accusations against him before Mortazavi was convicted in a financial case regarding corruption during the period Mortazavi headed the Iran’s Social Security Organization (SSO) between 2011to 2013.

Arash Keykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh Saadi

Attorneys, Arash Keykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, were arrested along several other lawyers and civil rights activists who gathered in front of the Iranian Parliament building to protest both the Caspian Sea Agreement and the Guardian Council’s vetting process on August 18, 2018. They were transferred to the Great Tehran Penitentiary after being charged at the Branch five of the Evin Prosecutor’s Office. Keykhosravi and Sholeh Saadi were released on bail on December 11 and December 4, 2018 respectively. They were sentenced to six years jail time on December 10, 2018 on the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security”. Their appeal request was sent to the Branch 34 Tehran appeals court.

Notably, Ghasem Shole-Saadi previously served two terms in the Islamic Consultative Assembly and was convicted of “insulting the Supreme Leader” via a letter he notoriously published in 2002. He has been imprisoned several times on charges from the Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the state”.

Keykhosravi has represented several high-profile human rights cases throughout his career, including the suspicious death of environmentalist Kavous Seyed-Emami in Tehran’s Evin Prison in February 2018.

Masoud Shams Nejad

Masoud Shamsnejad, lawyer and professor, was arrested on January 8, 2019 and transferred to the Ward 3-4 of Urmia Prison on January 17, 2019. The security guards raided his home and confiscated his belongings at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment by The Branch three of Urmia Revolutionary Court on February 10, 2019 on the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “membership in an opposition group”. He was under pressure for the cases he accepted to defend. After he requested for appeal, he was released on one billion Tomans bail on February 17, 2019.

Zeinab Taheri

Zeinab Taheri, is a lawyer who was charged with “publishing lies with intent to disturb the public opinion” and “propaganda against the state,” in an indictment prepared by the Prosecutor’s Office for Culture and Media that referred her case to The Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran.

Taheri was summoned and arrested on June 19, 2018 and then was transferred to the Qarchack Prison. She was arrested a day after her client, Mohammad Reza Salas Babajani, a Sufi dervish was executed on June 18, 2018. Salaj Babajani was executed for allegedly driving a bus that killed three members of the security forces near the house of a Dervish spiritual leader on 19 February 2018.

Taheri was released on bail on August 8, 2018. She had cases such as Mohammad Reza Salas Babajani, Mohammad Ali Taheri, and Ahmad Jalali.

Payam Derafshan and Farokh Forouzan

Lawyers, Payam Derafshan and Farokh Dorouzan were arrested on August 31,2018 and were released on bail on September 6, 2018. Derafshan was the lawyer of Mohammad Najafi and Kavous Seyed Emami. Forouzan was also a children’s rights activist.

Hoda Amid

Hoda Amid, attorney and women’s right activist, was arrested on September 1, 2018 by the security forces and was transferred to the Evin Prison. She was released on bail on November 4, 2018. It has been claimed that Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi had held a workshop for women on “Marriage Article (conditions stipulated in marriage certificate)”.

Hossein Ahmadi Niaz

Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, lawyer, was summoned to the Branch 106 of Criminal Court of Sanandaj on the charge of “publishing falsehood” and “disturbing public opinion” on January 15, 2019.

Last year, he was arrested after being referred to the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj on August 05, 2018 and was released on bail after a few hours.

Farzaneh Zeilabi

On February 8, 2019, Esmail Bakhshi’s lawyer, Farzaneh Zilabi, was summoned to the Branch three of the Revolutionary and Civil Court of the city of Shush to answer questions as a “knowledgeable person” about the case. She said on February 17, 2019 after going to court “I was summoned based on a report by the Justice Bureau’s Security Department and the summon was in connection with an interview during which the subject of Esmail Bakhshi’s torture was brought up. Considering the accusations in the report, such as “spreading falsehood” and “propaganda against the state”, I refused to answer questions that the report had directly addressed to me”. She explained that the case is ongoing, and, as Bakhshi’s lawyer, she was not able to divulge confidential information about her client to anyone. If she did, she would be both breaking the law and violating disciplinary codes of conduct. She added that she will stay Bakhshi’s lawyer.

Esmail Bakhshi, a labor activist, who spoke out about abuse and torture he suffered in detention.

Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei

Judge Salavati accused Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei with “spreading falsehood and disturbing public opinion” in the Branch 15 of Revolutionary Court of Tehran. Alizadeh Tabatabaei said on February 20, 2019 that this is following his complaint against Salavati in which Salavati had claimed that he never asked the accused in “Mola Tina” case to change their lawyer and I was spreading falsehood by saying that.

Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Released On Bail

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On November 6, 2018, women’s rights activist and sociology graduate Najmeh Vahedi, who was arrested in her home by security forces on September 1st, was released on bail pending trial.

Vahedi was one of many snared in the judiciary’s recently-revived sanctions on women’s rights activists. With her comrade Hoda Amid, Vahedi had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent. Later that month, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Last week, the voice of Amnesty International joined the outcry against the civil crackdowns, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Women’s Rights Activist Hoda Amid Released on Bail

Posted on: November 5th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Lawyer and women’s rights activist Hoda Amid was released on bail on the evening of Sunday, November 4th after being incarcerated for 65 days.

On September 29th, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, including Amid, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

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.

Iran, an open-air prison for lawyers: A report

Posted on: September 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – This past week has seen a sharp increase in the arrests of lawyers in Iran, many among them specialists in defending civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights activists.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi shed light on this trend in an exchange with HRANA, stating that Iranian officials and its judiciary aim to create a climate of intimidation in which citizens find it easier to turn a blind eye to government abuses of power.

“[Authorities] prefer no one dare protest [their] unlawful actions,” Ebadi said.

She went on to note that arrests of lawyers not only put innocent people behind bars, but they also leave the lawyer’s clients–often prisoners of conscience and other political detainees–defenseless.

Ebadi drew on historical context to explain that authorities of the early Islamic Republic recognized legal scholars and independent lawyers as “nuisances,” or impediments to illicit activity, from the outset. This wariness on the part of the Iranian authorities led an appointee of the Judiciary to close the Iranian Bar Association for 18 years.

When authorities finally sanctioned elections for the Bar Association’s new board of directors, their permission roughly coincided with the passing of a law mandating all members be pre-approved by a Judiciary-controlled organ called the Disciplinary Court of Judges. Ebadi cites this filtering as the reason behind the Bar Association’s lack of autonomy, as it is known to refrain from advocating for its arrested members.

The following is a list of legal practitioners affected by this recent wave of repression.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, lawyer and human rights activist

Nasrin Sotoudeh was among the first lawyers arrested on June 13th of this year. She was arrested in her home and subsequently taken to Evin Prison.

According to lawyer Payam Derafshan, who was arrested himself on August 31st and has since been released, Sotoudeh is being held on three counts: a five-year sentence for espionage, which does not figure on her formal charge sheet; a lawsuit brought by a prosecutorial interrogator in the central Iranian city of Kashan; and an arrest order issued by Branch 2 of the Interrogations Unit.

The prosecutorial interrogator recently doubled down on his accusations against Sotoudeh, presenting new charges of “helping to form house churches,” “inciting the organization of a referendum,” and “attempts to organize gatherings.”

Sotoudeh declared hunger strike on August 25th to protest both her arrest and the judicial pressures being placed upon her family, relatives, and friends.

Abdolfatah Soltani, lawyer, activist, and human rights defender

Soltani’s September 10, 2011 arrest was followed by a sentence of 18 years in prison and a 20-year ban from the Iranian bar association. According to an Iranian court, his trespasses include his acceptance of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, statements he made to the media about his casework, and his role as co-founder of the Center for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR).

Soltani’s prison sentence was reduced to 13 years in an appeals court. Pursuant to the principle of concurrent sentences per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, his sentence was reduced again to 10 years, and his 20-year Bar-association ban was reduced to two.

Years of enduring poor living conditions in prison, including being cut off from nutritious food and [potable] water, have taken a toll on Soltani: he now suffers from a host of health issues including broken teeth, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome, and [abnormal] blood pressure fluctuations.

The formal record of Soltani’s charges equates his human rights activities to “acting against national security.” Ten of the accusations being levelled against him are listed below:

1- Forming the illegal anti-security body CSHR
2- Giving interviews to counter-revolutionary media and foreign enemies
3- Acting against the regime on the pretext of human rights
4- Waging anti-regime psychological campaigns via published statements
5- Portraying Baha’i cult members as victims
6- Publishing human rights reports, all while cognizant of their adverse impact on Iranian national security and foreign politics and of their potential exploitation by the enemies of the revolution
7- Slandering the judiciary regarding testimonies extracted by torture and intimidation in prison
8- Disseminating disparaging news about the country and compromising public faith in the judiciary
9- Defending human rights cases and extremist clients on a pro bono basis
10-Anti-Islamic propagandizing and violating the principles of Islam by indiscriminately condemning execution sentences and implicitly rejecting the principle of Qesas [retribution] by calling it violent

While Soltani was in prison, his daughter Homa died of a heart attack on August 3rd at the age of 27. He was granted restricted furlough to attend her funeral.

Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi and Arash Kaykhosravi, lawyers and human rights activists

On August 18th, a number of protestors were detained during a public demonstration before Tehran’s Parliament building in protest to both the Caspian Sea treaty and the vetting of election candidates by the Guardian Council. Three lawyers–Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, Arash Kaykhosravi, and Masoud Javadieh–were among those detained.

Several arrestees were released within hours, and Javadieh was released on bail the following day. Sholeh-Saadi and Kaykhosravi, facing charges from Branch 5 of the Evin prosecutor’s office, were sent to Great Tehran Penitentiary.

On August 21st, Sholeh-Saadi and Kaykhosravi, were sent again to the Evin prosecutor’s office, shackled and in prison garb. They were read their charges (“gathering and collusion against national security”), issued a one-month arrest order, and returned to prison.

Sholeh-Saadi is a legal scholar and former member of parliament. He had previously been convicted and jailed for “insulting the Supreme Leader” in a letter he infamously published in 2002.

Kaykhosravi has taken on such high-profile cases as that of lawyer Mohammad Najafi and Kavous Seyed Emami, the university professor and environmental activist who died in Evin Prison on February 8th. Prison authorities claimed Emami had committed suicide.

Kaykhosravi has since been transferred to Evin Prison.

Payam Dorafshan and Farokh Forouzan, lawyers

Attorneys Payam Dorafshan and Farrokh Forouzan were arrested in the home of their imprisoned colleague Arash Kaykhosravi on August 31st.

Dorafshan was among a group of lawyers suing Bijan Ghasemzadeh, interrogator in Branch Two of the Culture and Media court, for his decision to ban the popular messaging app Telegram. Forouzan works in children’s rights.

Both have since been released. The reason for their arrest remains unclear.

Mohammad Najafi, lawyer and human rights activist

On July 29th, Branch 102 of the Second Criminal Court in the central Iranian city of Arak sentenced lawyer Mohammad Najafi and dozens of other citizens to prison terms for participating in January’s Shazand County protests.

Najafi was convicted of “disrupting order and public peace by taking part in illegal gatherings” and sentenced to one year in prison plus 74 lashes. Prior charges of “publishing false information to disrupt the public conscience” brought the prison sentence to a total of two years.

Najafi is among those investigating the death of a protestor in January’s Shazand protests. He publicly spoke out about the death of Vahid Heydari, a citizen who died while in the custody of authorities after being arrested in Arak.

Zaynab Taheri

Lawyer Zaynab Taheri was arrested on June 19th, one day after the execution of her client Mohammadreza Salas Babajani, a Sufi Dervish prisoner convicted of killing three police officers. She had publicly advocated for Babajani on social media.

She was arrested by the Culture and Media court and convicted of both “publishing falsehoods to disrupt the public conscience” and “propaganda against the regime.” She was released on bail August 8th.

On August 31st, the International Federation of Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, expressed concern over the harassment of Taheri by judicial authorities, asking Iranian officials to cease their harassment of her and other human rights defenders.

Taheri’s clients included Salas Babajani, Mohammad Ali Taheri, and Ahmadreza Jalali.

Hoda Amid, lawyer and women’s rights activist

On the morning of September 10th, security forces arrested Hoda Amid in her home along with Najmeh Vahedi, another women’s rights activist with a formal education in sociology who was with Amid at the time. Amid and Vahedi are known to have organized educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

The precise reason for Amid’s arrest and her current status remain unknown.

Three Women’s Rights Activists Detained in Three Days

Posted on: September 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Rezvaneh Mohammadi is the third women’s rights activist to be taken into custody by authorities in the past three days.

A source close to Mohammadi’s family told HRANA that she was arrested by security forces for unknown reasons on the evening of Monday, September 3, 2018.

Mohammadi’s arrest comes only two days after the arrests of activists Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid, an attorney, on September 1st. The two were reportedly arrested for hosting training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. At the time of this report, no further information was available on their conditions or the reasons behind their arrests.

Mohammadi, Vahedi, and Amid join a recent wave of citizens detained for their active and public defense of human rights. Lawyers Arash Kaykhosravi, Payam Dorafshan, Farrokh Forouzan, and Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi were detained in August. Dorafshan and Forouzan have since been released.

Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Detained

Posted on: September 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Women’s rights activist Najmeh Vahedi was arrested at her home by security forces on September 1, 2018. At the time of this report, no further information was available on her condition or the reasons behind her arrest.

HRANA previously reported on the case of Hoda Amid, an attorney and women’s rights activist, who was detained the same day.

Hoda Amid

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Vahedi and Amid’s arrests are part of a crackdown on lawyers and activists that has muscled up in recent months, including the arrest of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh on June 13th.

Attorney Crackdowns Persist as Hoda Amid is Taken into Custody

Posted on: September 2nd, 2018

UPDATE: Hoda Amid was released on bail on the evening of Sunday, November 4, 2018, after being incarcerated for 65 days.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Hoda Amid, attorney and women’s rights activist, was arrested by security forces in her home on Saturday, September 1, 2018. No further information is available on her condition or the reasons behind her arrest.

On Friday, HRANA reported the detention of two other attorneys, Farrokh Forouzan and Payam Dorafshan, at the Karaj home of imprisoned attorney Arash Kaykhosravi.

Following the detention of Kaykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, public attention has turned to the increasing political pressures being placed on Iranian legal practitioners, sparking widespread demonstrations across the country.

Kaykhosravi and Sholeh-Saadi were transferred to Evin Court, handcuffed and shackled in prison uniforms, on Tuesday August 21, 2018. They were returned to the Great Tehran Penitentiary after