A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 5, 2018

Posted on: December 6th, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 5th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). (more…)

Concessions from Prison Authorities Put an End to Abdolreza Ghanbari’s Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Prompted by his loved ones and a promise from authorities to transfer him back to Evin Prison, teacher and political prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari has begun eating again after five days of hunger strike.

Ghanbari had announced he was starving himself in protest of his forced transfer from Evin’s Ward 8 to Rajai Shahr Prison on November 10th. In a previous HRANA report on Ghanbari’s hunger strike, a close source remarked that the transfer seemed arbitrary.

In a note announcing the end of his strike, Ghanbari wrote, “moved by the words of my loved ones to end my hunger strike, I have relieved them of their worries. The persistence of my spouse and my attorney have ended in a promise from officials to return me to Evin, as per my request, as soon as possible.”

What was once a 10-year sentence for Ghanbari was increased to a 15-year term in September of 2017, per reconsideration proceedings led by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court. After presenting himself to the Evin Prosecutor’s Office on October 13th of this year, Ghanbari was escorted to Evin Prison’s Ward 8 by security forces.

Authorities Impassive in Sunni Prisoner’s 49th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In Rajai Shahr Prison, the effects of a 49-day-strong hunger strike have begun to take hold on Sunni prisoner Hamzeh Darvish: hypotension, a 29-pound weight loss, and chest and abdominal pains that have left him speechless.

A source close to Darvish’s family told HRANA that he would end his hunger strike on two conditions: that his reconsideration petition is tried in the Supreme Court, and he is granted legal representation. “No action has been taken on those demands yet,” the source said.

According to the source, Rajai Shahr Prosecution Representative Rostami deferred the reconsideration decision to the Ministry of Intelligence. Barring cooperation with them, Rostami reportedly said, Darvish’s sole recourse is “suicide.”

Hamzeh Darvish has not eaten since September 23rd. After announcing his hunger strike that day, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

Residing far from Karaj, Darvish’s family is rarely able to afford the transport costs to see him. Meanwhile, Rajai Shahr authorities have placed restrictions on his extra-prison contacts.

In response to a prior hunger strike — protesting a lack of due process in his judicial proceedings — Prison Director Gholamreza Ziaei, Rajai Shahr Deputy Vice President Esmaeili, and Security Director Zolfali beat Darvish black and blue, sent him to the quarantine ward for three weeks, then transferred him to the coroner’s office in handcuffs and shackles.

Hamzeh Darvish was reportedly lured to Syria by ISIS (Daesh) agents in 2014, where he was transferred to the Islamic State’s prison in Raqqa before fleeing to Iran. In hopes of remaining free by posting bail or pledging allegiance to Iran — after which he planned to earn a living as a quail farmer — he turned himself in to the Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published August 2017, in which he asked human rights advocacy groups for help.

He emphasized in his letter that his appeal request was essentially ignored and that Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code permits his release in year 15 of his 18-year sentence.

Impromptu Exile Transfer Prompts Abdolreza Ghanbari to Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Teacher and political prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari, who on October 13th of this year was taken to Evin Prison’s Ward 8 to serve the remainder of a once-dormant sentence, has reportedly declared hunger strike following his November 10th transfer to the Quarantine Ward of Rajai Shahr Prison.

Confirming news of Ghanbari’s current hunger strike to HRANA, a close source added that his most recent sentence made no mention of an exile order.

Ghanbari’s judicial ordeal has been rife with major upsets, as previously reported by HRANA. After being arrested at the school where he taught in 2009 for backing the “Ashura” protests tailing that year’s contentious presidential elections, he was interrogated for two months and found himself facing a death sentence: Judge Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15, convicting Ghanbari of “Moharebeh” [enmity against God]” through alleged ties to the opposition group People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), ruled to send him to the gallows.

Four suspenseful years later, the Supreme Court acquitted Ghanbari of the Moharebeh charge, effectively sparing his life. Branch 1 of Revolutionary Court settled his remaining charges with a 15-year prison sentence, which was later reduced to 10 years in appeals court.

After enduring more than 6 years of his 10-year prison term, he went free in the Spring of 2016 — only to be re-sentenced the following Fall to 15 years in prison, per reconsideration proceedings led by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court.

Ghanbari is currently detained in Rajai Shahr.

Elderly Turkish Citizen Declares Hunger Strike in Urmia Prison

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Dejected at the Judiciary’s broken promise to return him to his native Turkey, ailing 70-year-old prisoner Hatam Ertoghlu declared hunger strike November 9th.

Currently held in Urmia’s Ward 4-3, Ertoghlu has been behind bars for the past nine years on drug-related charges. According to a close source, he has had multiple hospital admissions for various ailments, not least of which was a heart attack.

“Last year, per court order, he gave prison authorities 12 million tomans [approximately $2,800 USD] to cover the fees for his transfer back to Turkey,” a close source said. “Yet despite the consent of Turkish authorities, that transfer never took place.”

Undeterred by his physical distress, old age, and cardiac disease, Ertoghlu is now starving himself in protest.

Ertoghlu initially faced a sentence of life in prison, which was commuted to 24 years in 2017.

Rajai Shahr Prisoner Enters 38th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Rajai Shahr Prisoner Hamzeh Darvish, 24, a member of Iran’s Sunni religious minority, has been on hunger strike since September 23rd in protest of the Supreme Court’s denial of his retrial request.

A close source told HRANA that “Darvish is in a bad state. The prison officials are ignoring him in order to send the message that the strike will not get him anywhere. They’re not even acting as a go-between with the judiciary so that he can pursue his rights.”

Rajai Shahr authorities have shown brutal intolerance towards Darvish’s demonstrations of protest. Following the launch of his most recent hunger strike, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

In response to a prior hunger strike — protesting a lack of due process in his judicial proceedings — Prison Director Gholamreza Ziaei, Rajai Shahr Deputy Vice President Esmaeili, and Security Director Zolfali beat Darvish black and blue, sent him to the quarantine ward for three weeks, then transferred him to the coroner’s office in handcuffs and shackles.

His family, living far away from Karaj, are rarely able to afford transport for a visit. Meanwhile, prison authorities have restricted his extra-prison contacts.

Hamzeh Darvish was reportedly lured to Syria by ISIS (Daesh) agents in 2014, where he was transferred to the Islamic State’s prison in Raqqa before fleeing to Iran. In hopes of remaining free by posting bail or pledging allegiance to Iran — after which he planned to earn a living as a quail farmer — he turned himself in to Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

The circumstances of his trial were criticized for their lack of transparency and due process. With the application of a legal provision that came into effect later, his multiple prison sentences were permitted to run concurrently, reducing his total sentence to 15 years.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published in August 2017, in which he appealed to human rights advocacy groups for help. In it, he describes his ties to ISIS as accidental, claiming he was hailed to Turkey by an ISIS-defecting Iranian friend who needed help returning home due to a wounded leg. When he hitched a ride to meet his friend in Turkey, Darvish said, the story was revealed to be a setup: his drivers instead took him to Syria and handed him over to Daesh.

According to his letter, Darvish spent some time as a forced laborer and was tortured severely after protesting ISIS suicide attacks on civilians. He was finally able to flee amid a transfer between medical facilities in Syria.

Karaj is the capital of Alborz province, located 30 miles west of Tehran.

Urmia Prisoners of Conscience End Weeklong Hunger Strike

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – A mass hunger strike of Urmia Central prisoners of conscience ended on its fifth day after prison authorities engaged to addressing prisoner complaints of rampant abuse.

Strikes were underway as of October 16th, when prisoners launched a protest against a violent raid of the Political Ward (Ward 12) by special forces that left a number of prisoners wounded.

Divided between Ward 12 and the Youth Ward’s prisoners of conscience, protesters declared that the restoration of their legal rights would put an end to the strike.

In a recently-issued statement, strikers asked inmates’ families to appear at the front gate of Urmia Central on October 21st to demand justice for those inside. The statement impelled the head of the prison to invite groups of strikers for a sit-down in the prosecutor’s’ office– an invitation they declined, a close source said.

During the hunger strike, at least one prisoner, Habib Amini, was sent to the prison clinic for treatment following a decline in his health.

Below is a translation of the aforementioned statement. Its signatories asked to remain anonymous. :

“Pursuant to the hunger strike of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience at Urmia Central Prison that began October 16, 2018, the families of these and other prisoners are asked to appear before the Central Prison of Urmia on Sunday, October 21st to demand restoration of the legal and Shari’a-granted rights of their children, in a show of support for their legal and judicial demands.

This protest is a declaration of dissent with the extraordinary oppression and discrimination faced by prisoners and their families in this city. In a state of material and psychological insecurity, prisoners here live under surmounting pressures. We hope that officials have the compassion to reduce this targeted oppression.

Finally, we ask that all sensible minds be moved by this news, and react with the same power they displayed over the three recently executed Kurdish political prisoners and the missile offensive on Kurdistan.”

*

The Ward-12 raid occurred on the evening of October 15th, when political prisoners came to the defense of one of their comrades who had been physically assaulted for arguing with prison personnel. In response to their objections, authorities and special forces, numbering more than 50 and armed with with batons, tasers, and tear gas, stormed the political ward and laid into the inmates there. That same night, authorities assaulted and injured a number of prisoners of conscience in the Youth Ward.

Kamal Hassan Ramazan, Ahmad Tamooie, Osman Mostafapour, and Touraj Esmaili were among the first prisoners beaten in response to their objections of a group assault on their wardmate Hamid Rahimi. Personnel identified only as “Eskandar” and “Rezaie” reportedly commandeered additional Urmia prisoners to deal blows to the four men, breaking bones and teeth, and cutting one of them with a sharp object.

Ramezan, Tamoo’i, Mostafapoor, and two more Ward-12 bystanders, Hassan Rastegari and Kamran Darvishi, were among those injured in the onslaught that followed. The latter two were transferred to solitary confinement; Rastegari has since been returned to Ward 12. “Hassan Rastegari was badly bruised all over,” the source said, adding that prison authorities then sicced fellow prisoners on political detainees for a second time.

Urmia Central Prison authorities have a history of ruling my corporal punishment. On October 8, 2018, prisoner Morteza Zohrali’s right arm was broken in a beating by prison officials; On September 23rd, Youth Ward inmate Javad “Arash” Shirzad was sent to an outside hospital for treatment of a concussion sustained at the hands of “Bayramzadeh,” the prison’s internal director; in July, Saeed Seyed Abbasi was beaten and sent to solitary confinement without treatment of his injuries, all for arriving late to the prison yard for recreation time; and in May, according to HRANA reports, prisoner Saeed Nouri, a former IRGC lieutenant, was beaten by two personnel in the internal director’s office.

Reports indicate that political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience are more vulnerable than others to the gamut of inmate abuses. HRANA previously reported on a September 18th raid on Ward 12 by special forces, where guards pilfered and destroyed the prisoners’ personal belongings, including food they had purchased themselves.

In Solidarity with Fellow Gonabadi Dervish Prisoners, Reza Sigarchi Forgoes Food, Medicine

Posted on: October 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In an act of protest, Reza Sigarchi, a Great Tehran Penitentiary prisoner of conscience and member of the * Gonabadi Dervish religious minority, announced Saturday, October 20th that he will be abstaining from both food and medicine.

Sigarchi’s strike is a demonstration of support for his fellow downtrodden Dervishes, according to Majzooban Noor, a website covering Dervish community news. He will reportedly not eat or ingest medicine until the following demands are met: lift the house arrest order on Dervish leader Noor Ali Tabandeh; release female Dervish prisoners; reunite separated Dervish prisoners into the same Ward; return Abbas Dehghan to Great Tehran Penitentiary.

Sigarchi, who suffers from heart disease, was hospitalized last week in Imam Khomeini Hospital where he underwent an angiography.

Five other Dervish prisoners in Great Tehran Penitentiary — Salehodin Moradi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Saeed Soltanpour, and Ali Mohammad Shahi — have been on hunger strike since a violent raid on their sit-in by prison guards on August 29th.

Hunger-striking Dervish Abbas Dehghan still hasn’t eaten since September 2nd. Dehghan reportedly spent one hour in Great Tehran Penitentiary post-trial before being transferred to Ward 2A of Evin Prison, under IRGC jurisdiction, where he has remained since.

All of the aforementioned prisoners were arrested amid the “Golestan Haftom” incident in February 2018, where Iranian police and plainclothes members of the IRGC’s Basij faction confronted hundreds of Gonabadi Dervishes who had rallied outside the home of their spiritual leader Noor Ali Tabandeh. The Dervish demonstrators sought to prevent the possible detainment of Tabandeh, who has reportedly been placed under extended house arrest by Iranian authorities.

Hundreds of Dervishes were beaten, wounded, and arrested during the Golestan Haftom incident. A similar attack occurred on January 24th after an intervention from security forces on the same street, heightening the sense of fear within the Dervish community.

Though Iranian judicial authorities estimate that around 300 people have been arrested in connection with Golestan Haftom, HRANA has thus far published the names of 324 arrestees and estimates that the actual number is considerably higher.

* There are various divisions among Dervishes in Iran. In this report, the term “Dervish” refers to Nematollahi Gonabadis, who declare themselves as followers of Twelver Shi’ism, Iran’s official state religion.

Open Letter: Reza Khandan Echoes Public Support of an Ailing Farhad Meysami

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Imprisoned civil rights activist Reza Khandan has published a letter calling attention to fellow activist Farhad Meysami’s mistreatment by prison authorities, who are reportedly unmoved by the steep decline of Meysami’s health since he declared hunger strike on August 1st.

Since forcibly taking Meysami to the prison clinic on September 26th, prison authorities have kept him in quarantine-like conditions, restricting all of his contacts with the outside. In protest of his arrest, as well as authorities’ refusal to appoint the lawyer of his choice, Meysami has already been on hunger strike for more than 75 days.

Medical doctors, publishers, bookshop owners, and university graduates numbering 1400 in all have published an open letter raising their own concerns over Meysami’s condition and pleading for his immediate release. The voices of two teachers incarcerated at Evin also got behind what has become a burgeoning public campaign for, at the very least, Meysami’s transfer to an outside medical facility.

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

Dear Compatriots,

Fellow human rights activists,

It has been 75 days since Dr. Farhad Mesyami started his difficult and worrisome hunger strike. Three weeks ago, he was forcibly transferred to the prison clinic from the general ward. Reportedly on orders from the prosecutor’s office, and with the cooperation of the clinic’s director, prison officials have repurposed the clinic into a security detention unit where patient spaces can be used as solitary confinement cells.

Currently, Farhad Meysami is being held in one of those rooms under tight security controls. In his frail state he has reportedly been subjected to inhumane treatment whereby, against his will and without the presence of family or a lawyer, he was strapped to a bed and given injections.

In these instances, we must hold accountable not only judiciary authorities but also the Ministry of Health and the President himself, who has sworn to protect the rights of the people.

Moreover, we must advocate that medical professionals be held accountable, those who have in an unprofessional and unprincipled manner taken action against the will of the patient, heeding any and all orders [from authorities], however unethical they may be.

Farhad Meysami’s health and life is at risk now more than ever, and it is urgent he is transferred to a hospital outside the prison for medical care.

Reza Khandan, October 14, 2018, Ward 4 of Evin Prison

****

Reza Khandan Khandan was arrested in his home by security forces on September 4, 2018, before being charged in Branch 7 of the Evin Prosecutor’s Interrogation office. He was summoned to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on October 5th but refused to attend as an act of protest against the unlawfully late subpoena.

Maltreatment Results in Hunger Strike of 56 Urmia Prisoners

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Fifty-six youth and political prisoners declared the launch of a hunger strike on October 17th in defense of their ward mates, many of whom were recently victims of vicious assaults by authorities.

The strikers hail from Ward 12, designated for political prisoners, and the youth ward.

On October 15th, more than 50 special agents attacked Ward 12, breaking prisoners’ bones and teeth. Later the same day, Urmia guards enlisted common-criminal prisoners to wage an assault on 8 prisoners of conscience from the youth ward.

HRANA is in the process of confirming the names of the striking prisoners.