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…)

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.

Azerbaijani Activist Nasim Sadeghi Arrested in Tabriz

Posted on: October 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Azerbaijani activist and Tabriz resident Nasim Sadeghi was arrested by security forces on her walk home October 21st. On a phone call with her child from an undisclosed location, she explained that she had been taken into custody.

Confirming the news of Sadeghi’s arrest, a close source told HRANA that security forces also confiscated her personal belongings, including her cell phone, computer, and books. No further information is available on her location or the charges against her.

On July 28, 2016, Sadeghi was among dozens apprehended for their participation in a public protest against controversial comments published in the newspaper Tarh-e No. The Prosecutor’s Interrogation Office of Tabriz Revolutionary Court Branch 7 accused her of acting against national security through propaganda against the regime, interrogating her for five days in the Intelligence Detention Center of Tabriz. She was released on a bail of 1 billion IRR (approximately $8000 USD) pending trial.

In June 2017, HRANA reported on Sadeghi’s summons to Branch 1 of Tabriz Revolutionary Court for continued judicial proceedings.

Still no Answers for Sequestered Baha’is of Karaj

Posted on: October 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Thirty days have passed since security forces first swept through Karaj and began arresting its Baha’i residents, sending eight of them to prison after inspections of their homes between September 16th and October 17th.

From the walls of Evin Prison, these eight await definitive answers to why, and for how long, they will have to stay there. They were previously identified as Parvan Manavi, Elham Salmanzadeh, Hooman Khoshnam, Payam Shabani, Peyman Manavi, Maryam Ghaffarmanesh, Jamileh Pakrou (Mohammad Hossein) and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

“The Baha’i detainees said over the phone that they had been transferred to Evin Prison […],” an informed source told HRANA. “Despite inquiries from their families, no information is currently available regarding their status.”

Parvan Manavi and Elham Salmanzadeh became the seventh and eighth Baha’is to be arrested in Karaj after authorities confiscated some of their books and personal belongings during a raid of their homes Tuesday, October 16th. Khoshnam and Shabani were arrested on September 25th and 26th of this year, and Peyman Manavi, Kianoush Salmanzadeh, Ghafarmanesh, and Pakrou were arrested September 16th.

The threat of arbitrary detainment loomed larger than ever over Iran’s Baha’i religious minority this past month, as Iran’s security and judiciary establishment whisked away a number of its members in a surge of arrests that has yet to be explained. HRANA also reported on the arrests of Baha’i citizens in the central cities of Shiraz and Isfahan over this time period.

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, in public, or in private.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. Iran’s constitution, however, recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

Open Letter: Atena Daemi Lauds the Emotional Labor of Iranian Mothers

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Atena Daemi, a civil rights activist imprisoned since October 21, 2014, has written an open letter to her mother marking her fourth year of incarceration.

In the note, Daemi describes the difficulties endured by her family — particularly her mother — who she characterizes as one of her most important sources of strength in recent years.

With fellow political prisoners Maryam Akbari Monfared and Golrokh Iraee, Daemi was punished October 3rd with a three-week ban on family visits, per verbal orders from the Women’s Warden at Evin. All three were told the ban served to punish them for refusing an unlawful interrogation this past September.

HRANA has translated the full text of Daemi’s letter below:

Four years ago to this day, I was on my way to work on a cold autumn morning. You had gone to buy fresh bread for us. I was running late, so I didn’t get to see you before dad and I left the house. Before we could reach the end of the alley, they blocked our way, arrested me, put me in another car, and returned to the house with dad, all 11 of them. I don’t know how you reacted when you saw them. After an hour, they brought me back home. I was shocked to see you. I was shocked by your screams at the agents.

“Go on and take my daughter too. You took all of these young people – and how far did that get you? You know what? Go ahead and kill my daughter too. You killed Sattar Beheshti [a blogger who died in prison in 2012] and all those other young people. And what came of it?”

They threatened to detain you too, and you shot back, “Take me! You’ve outdone yourselves putting mothers behind bars and bereaving them.”

I thought you would be scared, but you weren’t; I thought you would blame and reproach me, but you didn’t. In our own language, you told me to go– that this would be the first night I would spend away from home, but that you were still behind me, still with me, and that one day no child would be separated from their mother. That lifted a weight off my shoulders; it felt as though you had given me wings. I went, but you never left me for a moment; we were bonded more than ever, together, united.

I remember your face that day in the Revolutionary Court when I was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Giddily and sarcastically, you quipped, “14 years is nothing– we expected the death penalty!” I know you felt a quiver of fear, but you didn’t show it. Sixteen months later, I returned home and you were in good spirits, though you knew I wouldn’t be staying long. They came back for me nine months later. You weren’t in Tehran then. I called you to let you know they were taking me. You told me to put you on speakerphone so that they could hear you. You were screaming “What do you want from our children? What have they done? What did they ever ask of you? The day will come when us mothers will hold you accountable…”

After I went, they opened cases against your other two daughters, convicting them. You laughed and said that we should ask them to set up a family suite in the prison that would house us all!

I went on hunger strike. I will not forget the concern in your eyes, but your words, filled with hope and promise, only made me more steadfast. Your daughters were acquitted, and I stayed. They filed new cases and lawsuits against me, one after the other. Then, they dragged me to Gharchak Prison, beating me and insulting me. That following Thursday I called home. You were happy to hear my voice and asked how the prison administrators had come to be so charitable on a Thursday [the beginning of the weekend in Iran].

I laughed and said, “I’m calling you from Gharchak Prison.” You replied that it was only right that I see the women held in Gharchak as well. “Let’s see how far they want to go!” you said.

When I contacted you a few days later, you did not answer. I was told that you went to the Prosecutor’s office to see about my case. The more time passed without any news from you, the more worried I became. You finally replied after 7 p.m. and told me that they had detained you along with Hanieh [my sister]. You told me how they beat you both and shocked you with stun guns. My body trembled at that thought.

You told me they shocked your leg when you refused to get into their car. You said it didn’t hurt, that it felt like stinging nettles. I was trembling with anger, but you were laughing and said that you didn’t back down and gave them a piece of your mind.

My phone rights and visits were cut.

Then came your little girl’s wedding day– my sister Hanieh was getting married…

They did not let me go on furlough to come to the wedding. You came to visit me in Gharchak. Hanieh was restless but you calmed her down, telling her not to cry but to laugh and be joyous so that the authorities wouldn’t get the idea that their tactics can break [me]. I remember that you reminded her that Fariba Kamalabadi [Baha’i prisoner of conscience] hadn’t been granted furlough to attend her own daughter’s wedding. You asked me to distribute sweets to my cell and ward mates to celebrate my sister’s wedding inside the prison. What a memorable night that was!

I was returned to Evin Prison. Then we heard news of the execution of Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin. You went on a hunger strike, wore black, and came to visit me in tears. They had harassed me that day, but the three of us just held hands and sang a song for our fallen brothers. Again, they cut me off from family visits.

Mother, would you look at how pathetic and short-sighted they are? When Zanyar Moradi hadn’t seen his mother in nine years when he was killed, and they think they’re going to break me by withholding my visiting rights for a while? The pain of mothers never ends. If they think they can reform us, silence us, or make us remorseful with such childish measures, they are sorely mistaken. We won’t be disciplined; rather, we will carry on with more resolve than before.

It has been three weeks since we last saw each other. You’ve gone to visit with Ramin’s mother, Zanyar and Loghman’s families, and the family of Sharif, who died in the fire[Kurdish activist who died fighting wildfires in western Iran]. You visited Narges [Mohammadi] and the family of Homa [Soltanpour]. While we haven’t seen each other, you have embraced the pains and sorrows of fellow mothers.

Send my regards to all the mourning and bereaved mothers of Iran and tell them I shall call for justice for them as long as I live!

Atena Daemi
October 21, 2019
Evin Prison

___________________________________________________________________________

After her arrest on October 21, 2014, Atena Daemi spent 86 days in solitary confinement before being transferred to the Women’s Ward of Evin prison. In May 2015, Judge Moghiseh of Revolutionary Court Branch 28 sentenced her to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime, and insulting the supreme leader. She was released February 2017 on 5.5 billion IRR [approximately $140,000 USD] bail. Her sentence was then reduced to seven years on appeal. She was detained November 26, 2016 to serve her sentence, which since been reduced to five years.

Three Hundred Gachsaran Prisoners Break into Protest

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Around 300 prisoners in Gachsaran, in the southwestern province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, have launched protests and gone on hunger strike in opposition to patterns of injustice plaguing the quality of life in their region.

In phone calls to loved ones, several prisoners expressed discontent with the Gachsaran prosecutor’s unseemly behavior towards their families, the living conditions with which their families were faced, and authorities’ discriminatory treatment of prisoners, including their refusal to grant furlough to those who are eligible.

A source with two family members in the prison told HRANA that protestors were expressing their frustration and despair in very different ways. “During the protests, one prisoner, Hamed Pirayesh, cut his own ear and was subsequently transferred to solitary confinement. Today, another prisoner attempted suicide. Mir Mohammad Miri, an imprisoned political activist from Deyl village in Gachsaran county, is on his third day of hunger strike to protest the rejection of his furlough request.”

Miri was arrested July 21, 2018, to serve his sentence of lashings and two years in prison on charges of “insulting the supreme leader” and “propaganda against the regime.” The Gachsaran Revolutionary Court issued his verdict, which Branch 3 of the Appeals Court later upheld the sentence.

Soheil Arabi Sentenced to More Prison Time

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Pursuant to a new case brought against him by Judge Ahmadzadeh of Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26, Soheil Arabi, a prisoner of conscience in Great Tehran Penitentiary, was sentenced September 22nd to three years in prison, three years in exile, and a fine of approximately 40 million IRR [approximately $400 USD] on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “disturbing the public mind.” His lawyer did not learn of the verdict until eight days later.

A source close to Arabi told HRANA that the courts pursued new charges against him because of voicemail messages he left from prison; in one of these, he reportedly compared the Great Tehran Penitentiary to a torture chamber.

Arabi’s mother Farangis Mazloum told HRANA, “When I went to Great Tehran Penitentiary to see Soheil this morning, prison authorities told me that they had taken my son to court and that he is banned from having visitors,” she said.

Judge Moghiseh previously sentenced Arabi, along with his ex-wife Nastaran Naeimi, to prison time: six years for Arabi on charges of “blasphemy” and “propaganda against the regime,” and a year and a half for Naeimi, for “propaganda against the regime” and “aiding and abetting.”

Soheil Arabi, a 33-year-old photographer, was arrested by Sarallah-based agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on November 7, 2013, for comments he had posted on his Facebook page. Judge Siamak Modir Khorasani cited the Facebook posts as evidence of “insulting the prophet” — a charge that can incur capital punishment — in Branch 76 of Tehran’s Criminal Court.

Arabi’s lawyers subsequently appealed to Branch 36 of Supreme Court, pleading Article 263 of the Islamic Penal Code. While Article 262 recommends the death sentence for those who insult the prophet, Article 263 reduces the death sentence to 74 lashes for defendants whose statements “have been under coercion or mistake, or in a state of drunkenness, or anger or slip of the tongue, or without paying attention to the meaning of the words, or quoting someone else…”.

Unmoved by the Article-263 argument, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence, unlawfully adding to his case file the charge of “corruption on earth.”

A retrial request was later accepted in Supreme Court Branch 34, which acquitted him of “insulting the prophet” and commuted his death sentence to seven and a half years’ imprisonment, plus a two-year travel ban and two years of religious probation to evaluate his repentance upon his release.

Arabi had not seen the end of his legal troubles, however — in 2014, Branch 10 of Iran’s Court for Government Employees would sentence him to a 5 million IRR fine [approximately $50 USD] and 30 lashings for insulting the following three people with his Facebook posts: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Gholamali Haddad Adel, and the Director of Allameh Tabatabai University. That same year, Judge Abolghassem Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15 would sentence him to three years in prison for “insulting Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic” and “propaganda against the regime.” Branch 54 of Appeals Court upheld the latter sentence a short time later.

Arabi has been in prison without furlough since November 7, 2013.

Civil Rights Activist Mehrnaz Haghighi Conditionally Released

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mehrnaz Haghighi, a civil rights activist and doctor from Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf coast, was conditionally released on Monday, October 1st after meeting a minimum detention requirement for previous time spent in custody.

HRANA reported September 22nd on Haghighi’s transfer to Bandar Abbas Prison to serve her six-month sentence for “propaganda against the regime.”

Haghighi was first arrested by intelligence agents in her home on February 19, 2017. For a week after her arrest, she was held in solitary confinement in the city’s intelligence office before being transferred to the Women’s Ward of Bandar Abbas Prison. She was sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison on April 12, 2017, where she stayed until being released on bail May 28th, 2017.

Testimony: the Homeless Families of Tehran’s Public Parks

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Aside the commotion of families excitedly prepping their children for the back-to-school season, homeless daughters carry a burden of shame for their families. From parks across the city where they’ve taken up residence, many displaced parents anguish over whether school will even be an option for their children this year.

In order to attend school, nine-year-old Nazanin will have to cease the freelance fortune-telling that has bolstered the income of her family since four months ago, when they first took up residence in Tehran’s public Laleh Park.

Stressed over transport costs for her daughter’s school — which is located far from the park, near the family’s former home — Nazanin’s mother shared the bitter memory of a retired man who, happy that his daughter did not want a master’s degree, celebrated the end of her studies. “We can’t even afford Nazanin’s transportation cost,” she said, “but we will send her to school even if it means carrying her on our backs […] We want her to remain in that school.” Though Nazanin’s elementary school has waived her enrollment fees, her mother dreads registering Nazanin in another institution that may not be so forgiving.

For her part, Nazanin dresses like a boy and continues to aspire to be a schoolteacher. When asked what she wishes for, she said, “I wish we had a house so I could go to school.”

Nazanin’s mother is tearful throughout her interview as she recalls the chain of events that lost them their apartment. First, despite 17 years of tenure at the Water Management office, Nazanin’s father was suspended from work without pay. “We had a home, […]” she said, “but when his salary was cut and we were late in paying rent, by just a few days, our landlord seized our furniture and put on the street with a few blankets and pillows.”

Homeless families and their children have taken up residence in parks all across the capital city. While I was interviewing in one of them, another young fortune teller — a 12-year-old who also sells chewing gum — drew close to my cell phone so that her story would be on the record, too.

Declining to have her picture taken, she said she hoped authorities would be moved to act on behalf of her struggling family. After moving to Tehran 5 months ago from Iranshahr in Sistan and Baluchistan province to seek treatment for her father’s neurological condition and her mother’s eye problems, she took to selling fortunes all day to supplement her family’s income. One of five children aged 6 months, 6, 12, 13, and 15, she works to fund her brothers’ educations, her parents’ medical treatments, and food for the family. She wants to go to school, she said; come winter, she could stay warm in the classroom.

According to Article 73 of the Charter on Citizens’ Rights, ratified by Hassan Rouhani’s administration and published on http://president.ir/en, “Citizens have the right to take benefit of a safe house suitable to meet their own and their family’s requirements. The Government will pave grounds for the realization of this right by observing priorities and by taking into account the resources.”

Some families are still waiting for the promises of Article 73 to materialize. The inflamed skin of Nazanin’s family members is suspect for skin conditions, but they attribute the discoloration to the insects in the park. They sleep in the pergola, where foxes pass by at night; they bathe in the public bathrooms, where hygiene conditions are out of their control.

The vulnerability of a life exposed to the elements makes it difficult for the family to explore other avenues of income. “We bought a brazier to sell grilled corn, but while we were sleeping, someone stole it. We wanted to sell tea, but someone stole our flask. Even our cell phones have been stolen multiple times[…]Even during Muharram, we were embarrassed to take food offerings. Now that Nazanin is starting school again, she can’t sell fortunes anymore, and I don’t know what we’re going to do!”

Red in the eyes and face, Nazanin’s father gets up and walks away without saying a word, saving what dignity he has left.

Touching a metal necklace around her neck, Nazanin fills the silence. “If someone would buy it, I’d sell this too. I am embarrassed to sell fortunes and things like that. I only do it for my mother.”

Nazanin has developed an aggressive nervous condition from her long-term exposure to the coarse walks of life that wander the park.

“She comes and tells me, ‘so-and-so said these words to me,’ then laughs and asks me what they mean,” her mother said, adding that she has lost the ability to provide structure and discipline to her increasingly agitated daughter. “She doesn’t know what these vulgar terms mean, but she is slowly learning them.” Pained tears stopped her from telling me more.

Nazanin’s voice offers up another memory. “One time, a man and a woman took me from my parents to a place with a sign above the door that said ‘Social Security Organization.’ People there were turning in children for 300 thousand tomans [approximately $100 USD] […]I ran away from them […] I ran so much that for two days, I was shivering and asleep. I don’t want to be separated from my parents.”

Nazanin’s mother seemed tormented by grief over the joys of childhood that, since her arrival in Luleh, evade the young girl in her care. “When Nazanin comes back from school, wouldn’t she want to rest? Wouldn’t she want to be indoors, somewhere warm and cozy? Wouldn’t she want clean and ironed clothes, a bathroom to shower in? Where is she going to do her homework?…”