Kurdistan Court Condemns Juvenile Offender with History of Mental Illness

Posted on: November 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Sanandaj prisoner Shayan Saeedpour, now 20, has been sentenced to death by Judge Vafayian in Branch 1 of Kurdistan Criminal Court for a murder he committed at age 17, at a time that he may have been under monitoring for a psychiatric condition.

A member of Saeedpour’s family told HRANA that the young man stands accused of murdering Soleyman Azadi in a scuffle on August 16, 2015, just two months shy of his 18th birthday. “Saeedpour said he was acting under the influence of bootleg alcohol and wasn’t in his right mind,” the source said.

Saeedpour turned himself over to police two days after the incident, accompanied by his father.

An appeals request submitted by Saeedpour’s lawyer is currently under review. “[…]Despite evidence and witness testimony, the coroner’s office has left the judiciary to determine whether or not he was intoxicated,” the attorney said. “…[He] was under the influence of alcohol and two witnesses have testified to the veracity of this claim.”

The attorney added that Saeedpour didn’t know the victim prior to the incident.

Saeedpour’s loved ones say he has a history of inflicting self-harm, impulse control disorder, and — since 2014 — consistent psychiatric oversight. According to his family, Saeedpour betrayed no indication of grasping what had transpired after Azadi was killed. The coroner’s office disagreed: as relayed by Saeedpour’s lawyer, they ruled he had “the mental maturity and capacity to distinguish right from wrong and to discern whether his action was criminal.”

Seeking a second opinion, the case investigator sent the case to the Kermanshah coroner, who concurred with the initial evaluation.

In addition to the death penalty, Saeedpour was sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking.

A close source shared with HRANA that Saeedpour was once a member of a traditional Iranian gym. Previously the bodybuilding champion in his province, he once placed third in a national tournament.

The punishment of children — particularly death sentences for minors caught up in skirmishes, crimes of passion, or the drug trade — remains one of the premier human rights battles in Iran.

Iran has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for the past 25 years. Article 37 of the Convention reads, “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age”. In 2017, at least four juvenile offenders were executed in Iran after their 18th birthday. Since the beginning of 2018, multiple child offenders have been executed or sentenced to death.

Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are among the few countries where offenders can be executed for crimes they committed as minors. In response to one of these executions in February of 2018, Human Rights Watch issued a statement urging Iranian authorities to “ …]immediately and unconditionally end the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by children under age 18, and move toward a complete ban on capital punishment.”

Prisoner Executed in Sirjan

Posted on: October 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- At dawn on Thursday, October 18th, Hossein Nosrat Abadi, 37, was hanged to death in Sirjan Prison.

Convicted of committing murder during a 2016 home burglary, Abadi was unable to obtain a death row pardon from the family of the victim.

By hanging Abadi in silence, authorities — particularly the judiciary — demonstrate a continued pattern of obfuscation on the topic of executions, in spite of their duties to inform the public.

The research of international human rights organizations indicates that Iran has the world’s highest rate of executions per capita. HRANA published its annual death penalty report on October 10th, the World Day against the Death Penalty.

Sirjan is located 600 miles southeast of Tehran.

World Day Against the Death Penalty: Iran Annual Report Oct ’17 – Oct ’18

Posted on: October 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has published its annual report, in efforts to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran.

HRANA’s Statistics Center relies on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources. It also incorporates disclosures to the media by judicial authorities announcing or confirming prisoner executions, and as such is exposed to a margin of error representing efforts by the Iranian authorities to omit, conceal, or restrict the collection of such data.

Between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018, the death penalty and executions have been the focus of 287 HRANA reports. Over this time period, the Iranian authorities issued the death penalty sentence to 240 individuals and have already carried out 256 executions; [that’s one hanging every 34 hours for a population about twice the size of California’s]. Six percent of the executions in Iran were carried out in public.

Females account for only three of the 256 HRANA-confirmed execution victims this year.

Five were under the age of 18 when they allegedly committed the crime they were charged with.

While execution numbers went down by 50% in comparison to the same time last year, Iranian courts have issued 7.4% more death sentences.

Public hangings and executions of women have gone down 54% and 50%, respectively.

The report includes a breakdown of executions by capital offense:

Drug and narcotic offenses: 6%
Murder: 72%
Rape: 9%
Political or security-related offenses: 7%
Armed robbery/offenses classified as “corruption on earth”: 6%

The chart below displays execution numbers by the province in which they took place.

Below is a distribution of execution information sources. The chart indicates that 68% of HRANA-confirmed executions were not announced by official Iranian sources. Undisclosed executions are referred to as “secret” executions.

At Least 3 Prisoners Hanged to Death in Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj

Posted on: October 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Early in the morning of October 3, 2018, at least three prisoners were hanged to death while seven others were granted temporary reprieve.

HRANA has confirmed the identities of those executed as Yasser Eslami and Mahmoud Akbari of Ward 1 and Omid Khosronejad of Ward 10. Eslami and Khosronejad, co-defendants in a murder case, spent four years in prison prior to their executions yesterday.

Mehdi Danesh from Ward 1 and Siroos Khodabandehlou from Ward 6 were among the seven prisoners whose execution was stayed.

HRANA previously reported on a mass transfer of prisoners to solitary confinement, the protocol for prisoners whose execution is imminent. All ten of the above prisoners were transferred to solitary cells on Sunday, September 30th.

By carrying out these hangings in silence, authorities — particularly the judiciary — demonstrate a continued pattern of obfuscation on the topic of prisoner sentencing and executions, in spite of their responsibilities of informing the public.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions in Iran are not reported by the state or the Judiciary. These executions are referred to as “secret executions.”

According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the executions of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

Birjand Prison Executes Four Afghan Nationals

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Six years ago, four Afghan nationals planned to use underground channels to migrate to Iran, where they had invested hopes of a better life. In the early morning hours of October 2, 2018, they were executed on charges of “armed drug trafficking,” a charge to which they reportedly confessed under the duress of torture.

Shah Mohammad Miran Zehi, Ahmad Shah Issa Zehi, Mohammad Miran Zehi, and Eid Mohammad Miran Zehi were married with children and had been in Birjand Central Prison for over six years.

In an open letter, the prisoners explained the circumstances in which they were detained and coerced to utter false confessions. Mohammad Miran Zehi wrote that they had filed into a Toyota set to take them to Birjand from Zabul when they got into a dispute with their driver near the village of Bandan [a tributary of Nahbandan on the Afghanistan-Southern Khorasan border]. Claiming he needed gas, he reportedly dropped the group off at a private residence and said he would be back.

“When [the driver] returned, he was flanked by authorities. They struck me in the head and took us to the Bandan police station. They subjected us to the cruelest forms of torture in there,” Mohammad Miran Zehi said.

Accusing them of transporting more than 300 pounds of opium and two Kalashnikov rifles, Bandar authorities used violence to press them to confess, going as far as pulling a toenail from Mohammad’s right foot.

The case file against the four was set into motion when they finally acceded to the torturers’ demands, “under the pressure, the fear for our lives, the inability to take it any longer, and hoping that maybe it would make them stop,” their letter explained.

The case file was then forwarded to judicial authorities and spent five years in suspense before Judges Nabavi and Seyfzadeh of Birjand Revolutionary Court Branch 2 issued the execution sentence on January 31, 2017. The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Shah Mohammad Miran Zehi, Ahmad Shah Issa Zehi, Mohammad Miran Zehi, and Eid Mohammad Miran Zehi; the death sentence of Saraj Gavkhur, a fifth defendant on the same case file, was commuted to 25 years’ imprisonment.

According to a close source, the group was made scapegoats for an armed conflict that had taken the life of a security agent days before their entry into Iran.

Birjand Central Prison is in the city of Birjand, capital of Southern Khorasan Province.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions in Iran are not reported by the state or the Judiciary. These executions are referred to as “secret executions.”

According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the executions of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

Iranian Authorities Execute Three Prisoners, Slate Four More for Gallows

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – State-run news agencies in Iran have yet to confirm the executions of three prisoners this morning, October 2nd, in Urmia: Salman Khan Alilou, Hassan Hajilou, and Zeinab Sekaanvand. Sekaanvand was executed for a crime she had allegedly committed as a minor.

Yesterday, Amnesty International released a statement expressing concern about Sekaanvand’s transfer to a solitary confinement cell, the protocol for prisoners whose death sentence is imminent. “The authorities must immediately quash Zeinab Sekaanvand’s conviction and grant her a fair retrial without recourse to the death penalty, and in accordance with principles of juvenile justice,” the statement read.

Sekaanvand, born June 22, 1994, was 17 when she was detained March 1, 2012, on accusations of killing her husband. Branch 2 of Urmia Criminal Court issued her a death sentence, which was confirmed in Branch 8 of the Supreme Court. Married in March of 2009 at the age of 15, Sekaanvand reportedly endured physical violence at the hands of her husband.

Having spent two years in Khoy Prison since her initial arrest, Sekaanvand was transferred to the Women’s Ward of Urmia prison after being issued the death sentence. Prison authorities would later approve her marriage to a fellow Urmia prisoner. She delivered a stillborn baby on Friday, October 1, [2016].

Yesterday, HRANA reported on the transfer of at least four prisoners — all of whom were reportedly charged with first-degree murder — to solitary cells in various detention centers across Urmia in preparation for their executions.

The same day, two more prisoners — Mousa Nomani from Ward 3-4 and Changiz Irani from the Psychotherapy Ward — were granted execution stays of one month and fifteen days, respectively, to attempt to obtain pardon from the families of their victims, which would exempt them from capital punishment.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions in Iran are not reported by the state or the Judiciary. These executions are referred to as “secret executions.”

According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the executions of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

Prisoner executed in Tonekabon on Murder Charges

Posted on: September 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A prisoner convicted of murder was executed in Iran’s northern city of Tonekabon on September 25th. On the eve of his execution, the Iranian authorities transferred him to solitary confinement per protocol for prisoners whose execution is imminent.

Majid Pili, 41, was from the northern city of Ramsar and had spent three years in Tonekabon Prison.

According to a credible source, Pili was convicted of murdering Majid Zabihi. Zabihi’s wife, Zahra Ghorbanpoor, was also arrested for the crime. The judge convicted Pili of murder and Ghorbanpoor of accessory to murder for which she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Iran’s Supreme Court confirmed Pili’s death sentence earlier this year.

According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the execution of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

After Attending Funeral of Executed Political Prisoner, Sunni Preacher Answers to Special Clerical Court

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Pursuant to a phone summons he received one week earlier, Sunni preacher and activist Hashem Hossein Panahi was arraigned in the Special Clerical Court of Hamedan (Western Iran) on Tuesday, September 18th, presumably for participating in the funeral of executed political prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi.

Hashem Hossein Panahi, who is also the Sunni Shariah judge and Mufti of Kurdistan province and a member of the office of Sheikh Hassan Amini, faces charges of “Propaganda Against the Regime” and “Disturbing the Public Opinion.”

A close source to Panahi told HRANA, “Hashem Hossein Panahi attended the funeral ceremony of the executed political prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi in Gharochay village, Kurdistan province. After paying his respects and delivering a speech at the service, the Kurdistan Ministry of Intelligence office filed a complaint against him in the Special Clerical Court.”

Panahi has denied the charges leveled against him, countering that his speech at the ceremony addressed prisoner rights in a more general sense, and included reference to prisoners’ rights to choose their own attorneys.

An instructor at the Imam Bokhari Religious School in Sanandaj, Panahi was sentenced to a six-month imprisonment sentence and thirty lashes by Special Clerical Court in 2013. He was also a former employee of the Judiciary who was dismissed in 2010 after 12 years of tenure due to his religious activism and vocal support of Sunni Muslims rights in Iran.

*Special Clerical Court is under the direct control of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and functions independently of Iran’s greater judicial framework.

Rajai Shahr Political Prisoners Share Final Memories of Moradis and Hossein Panahi

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Almost one week after the hangings of Loghman Moradi, Zanyar Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi (1), their fellow prisoners have written a letter to condemn their execution and relate the events leading up to it.

Dated Wednesday, September 12th, 2018, the letter was written from the Rajai Shahr Prison grounds in Karaj, on the western outskirts of Tehran, where the men were last known to be held.

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

“The tragedy happened Saturday, September 8th. As of Wednesday the 6th, [the mens’] prison visits were stopped, and on different pretexts, their comings and going within the prison, even to the clinic, were restricted. First they called Zanyar, then Loghman, up to the [prison] director’s office. Up to that point, nothing seemed out of ordinary. We paid little attention to the silence of our adjacent ward, which was usually abuzz. Silence meant that inmates there had been denied their courtyard time. Up until 4 p.m. that day, the absence of Zanyar and Loghman did not strike us as abnormal. At 4:30 p.m., though, we started to worry. When looked at all together, the anomalies of that day felt like the pulse of something sinister.

Then we were told that a truck had collided with a telephone cable, resulting in a service outage; a story we had heard before at around the same time a criminal act was about to take place. Hearing it again concerned us even more. Our only hope was that flaws had been found in their case, and that it had just been transferred to the Sanandaj Prosecutor’s Office to assign jurisdiction. In other words, we were clinging to the hope that their criminal case was not yet closed. Little did we know that rulers with snakes on their shoulders (2) were hungry for young brains, and that the court and judiciary of Zahakis are blind to the rule of law and due process.

When the sun sets on a dictatorship, the execution and massacring of prisoners is due course. Such are the workings of fate.

Miserable are those who, in face of these murders, will retreat in fear. Should that happen, the criminals will only gain resolve in their misdeeds. Cowardice conveys to them that the people can, and will, abide crime. Blessed are those who accept Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin as their own children, children who were hanged in the prime of their youth to uproot the scaffolds and the gallows, to restore a clear skyline for the future.

Us prisoners and co-inmates of the fallen, we brace ourselves for this next, and hopefully last, wave of executions. What greater honor than to be among the last executed, to know that no young people after us will be forced to walk those gallow steps again.

If there were one single reason (although there are many) that this regime is incorrigible and will not be reformed under any circumstances, it is its killing of our nation’s noblest youth, like Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin.

And so to those delusional people who put us on guard of how things would “get worse” [should the regime be toppled], we have to ask: what situation could conceivably be worse than this?

As fellow inmates of these three courageous martyrs of the gallows, we condemn their executions as criminal acts, and extend our condolences to their families. We have faith that their spilled blood will rattle the gates and guide a fettered nation to the dawn of freedom and justice.

Arash Sadeghi, Ebrahim Firoozi, Payam Shakiba, Pirouz Mansouri, Saeed Shirzad, Saeed Masouri, Javad Fooladvand, Hassan Sadeghi, Majid Asadi, Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhzai

Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison
September 12th, 2018

Longtime Political Prisoner Eulogizes Fallen Moradis: “Their slippers are still outside their cells”

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- For 10 years, Saeed Massouri, Iran’s oldest political prisoner, was detained in Rajai Shahr with Loghman and Zanyar Moradi, who were executed along with Ramin Hossein Panahi on September 8th, 2018 (1). In response to their hangings, Massouri has written a letter entitled “The Circle of Love and Rebellion.”

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

The Circle of Love and Rebellion

In prison, your cellmate and ward mates become your family. They are the one we depend on the most; they are the ones with whom we share the moments, the hours, and the many details of our lives. When I speak of three children, three friends, three brothers like Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin — especially Loghman and Zanyar, with whom I shared a ward for 10 years — I can barely stand the sound of my own breathing. I shared in their joy and sorrow, their court sessions and solitary confinement, their stress and anxiety, their deprivation and crisis, in each and every condition imposed on us by prison life. In their absence, the prison air is stifling and heavy.

I no longer hear the sound of Zanyar’s laugh; I no longer hear the passing jokes of Loghman as he comes down the hallway. Night falls, and I can no longer visit their cells and graze from their plates. My God… their slippers are still outside their cells, but they will never be back… to think of it all, I feel as though I were the one who’s been buried.

How I wish I could rip from my chest this heavy heart, so weighed down by forty years of injustice and oppression. I wish that by crying I could drain my own veins, tear by tear, and find solace. I wish I could show the whole world what they’re doing, taking our best, most precious youth and slaughtering them, watching their bodies swing from the noose with blank, demonic stares. Then they call the killings an exercise of their authority, ranting against an offensive, threatening that if they are hit once, they will strike back tenfold. Such is their formula for dealing with the populace: when the people, exasperated at the plunder of society, stage peaceful strikes or protests, rulers deem it a “hit” and hit back by killing ten prisoners. They hang them to avenge by terror, laying accusations of “criminal” and “mercenary” upon the dead. Our people know who our children are, despite it all, by the music of their hearts.

In truth, if these three young men, and men and women like them, were not here to pierce through the darkness by offering the light of their lives, the curse of oppression and injustice would be eternal. If it weren’t for their sacrifice, then we would have no recourse but to seek freedom, justice, and human rights beneath the cloaks of mullahs, the likes of Khatami (former President) and Rouhani (current President), and our defeat would be written.

This wretched, oblivious, and eternally delusional class don’t realize that the black-and-blue circles on the necks of the fallen are circles of love, an offering from the dead to the living. They are not unlike the crown of thorns that Jesus wore.

That same vivid contusion will be the axis of concentric rings of revolt and rebellion, waged by freedom fighters against all forms of injustice and oppression.

Saeed Massouri
September 12th, 2018 / Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison, Karaj

***********

Saeed Massouri was born in 1965. After studying in Norway, he was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in the city of Dezful (province of Khuzestan, southwestern Iran) upon returning to Iran in 2001. He spent 14 months in an Intelligence Office solitary cell in Ahwaz (capital of Khuzestan province) before being transferred to section 209 of Evin Prison. He was sentenced to death in 2002, but in an appeals court his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He is currently serving the 18th year of his sentence in the political prisoners’ ward of Rajai Shahr.