Mohammad Najafi and Abbas Safari Arrested to Serve Their Sentences

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On the morning of October 28, 2018, attorney and human rights activist Mohammad Najafi and civil activist Abbas Safari were arrested and transferred to Arak Prison to serve their sentences the same evening.

Both men were previously detained along with nine others for participating in the January protests in Shazand County. Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi of Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102 sentenced both Najafi and Safari to three years in prison and 74 lashings for “publishing lies with intent to disrupt the public mind” and “disturbing the public peace.” The sentences were upheld in branch one of Markazi province Appeals Court.

Najafi got wind of his new “publishing lies” accusation via a writ he received October 13th from branch 1 of Shazand Investigation and Prosecutions office, where he was interrogated and ultimately charged for it.

Both Najafi and Safari have additional charges pending investigation in the Revolutionary Court of Arak.

Najafi was previously detained for inquiring into the death of civilian Vahid Heydari, who died in Police Detention Center No. 12 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.

Safari, age 41, married, unemployed, is a resident of Shazand County who until his arrest on Sunday had been free on bail.

Arak and Shazand are located in Markazi Province, south of Tehran.

Appeals Court Finalizes Sentences for 11 January Protest co-Defendants

Posted on: October 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – In connection to the January protests, Branch 1 of Markazi Province Appeals Court confirmed the imprisonment-and-lashings sentence of four citizens, suspending similar sentences for seven co-defendants on the same case. The defendants were identified as Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, Abbas Safari, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou, Mohammad Torabi, and Kian Sadeghi.

The Prosecutor’s Office settled on a charge of “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering,” which according to HRANA reports incurred one year of imprisonment and 74 lashings per defendant in Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102, presided by Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi.

Their sentence allows for detention time already served to be counted towards their pending prison terms, a particular boon to Najafi, Bagheri, Safari, and Sadeghi who received two additional years of prison time for “publishing lies with intent to disrupt the public mind.” Bagheri’s prison term was further compounded by another six months for “insulting a police chief in cyberspace.”

Among the accused is attorney and human rights activist Mohammad Najafi, who said in a note, “Branch 1 of Markazi Province has upheld the initial verdict. The maximum punishment of three years in prison and 74 lashings […] remains unchanged for me and Messrs. Bagheri and Safari, while the sentences for the rest of those convicted, including my six clients, were suspended over five years.”

Discovery into these protestors’ case files began March 13, 2018, in Branch One of Arak Investigation Court, by which point all 11 had already been interrogated by the Intelligence Office. Ten of the eleven were present during discovery, where an investigator deliberated on charges from disrupting the peace to gathering and conspiring. Though all of the accused were detained amid the protest site in Shazand city where all of them are residents, authorities inexplicably forwarded their case to the judicial office of Arak. All denied the charges brought against them.

Independent of the January protests case file, Najafi, Bagheri, Safari, Ajilou, and Bakhshi all have individual cases pending in the Revolutionary Court of Arak.

After several delays due to the absence of a judge, Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102 tried Najafi June 9, 2018, in for his inquiries into the death of civilian Vahid Heydari, who passed away while in custody of Arak authorities amid the January protests. While Iranian judicial authorities had claimed Heydari was a drug dealer who committed suicide in Police Detention Center No. 12, Najafi’s field research concluded that Heydari was a peddler with no criminal record, whose autopsy report was suspicious for blunt-force trauma. When Najafi was arrested for his investigations, Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi spoke out in his defense.

A large number of participants in recent protests, referred to as the January protests, were detained and interrogated across the country. The protests resulted in the death of 25 individuals and the detention of around five thousand. Ministry of the Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli previously stated that public demonstrations “turned violent” in 40 of the 100 cities where the January protests broke out.

Arak January Protestors Sentenced to Imprisonment and Lashings

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were sentenced to one year in prison and 74 lashes each for “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering” in Arak’s Criminal Court No.2, Branch 102. The defendants’ sentences allow for detention already served to be counted towards their pending prison terms.

Lawyer and civil rights activist Mohammad Najafi told HRANA that, barring any new infractions, only one of the defendants will actually be serving his time. “One of [the defendants], grocer Hossein Agha Alidadi, did not appeal his initial sentence of one year in prison and 74 lashes, and that sentence was finalized. He had also been accused of espionage but was acquitted of that charge. Five others who requested an appeal had their sentences suspended by the Appeals Court of Markazi Province.”

As of the date of this report, the identities of those five others have yet to be confirmed.

In July of this year, 11 residents detained in Shazand city in connection to the January protests, including Mohammad Najafi, were tried and sentenced to imprisonment and lashings in Arak Criminal Court No.2, Branch 102, presided by Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) explicitly prohibits inhumane and degrading punishments like lashings.

Five thousand people were detained and interrogated across the country in connection to nationwide demonstrations in January 2018 that came to be referred to as the “January protests.” These economic protests led to skirmishes with police forces and the deaths of 25 individuals. Of the January protests, Ministry of the Interior Rahmani Fazli said, “A number of protests took place in 100 Iranian cities; in forty of those cities, the protests turned violent.”

January Protestors: Appellate Court Reduces Sentence of Teacher Activist

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests and sentenced to six years in prison and a 2-year ban on travel and civic activities, has had his sentenced reduced to two years in an appeals court.

For his participation in the 2018 January protests, Mardani was arrested on February 17th, detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison, and convicted of propaganda against the regime and gathering and colluding to commit crimes against domestic security.

A source previously told HRANA that Mardani taught in Karaj schools, and was among a group of college classmates demonstrating solidarity with the January protestors by gathering together and blocking security forces from entering Tehran University.

Mardani started a hunger strike on April 24th to protest his arrest and chronically cliff-hanging case status. On May 21, he ended his strike after 27 days when judicial authorities promised to expedite his trial.

According to the source, an intervention from the Ministry of Education has effectively frozen Mardani’s payroll.

Four Sentenced to Prison for Political Activism

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Morteza Nazari Sedhi, a political prisoner in Ward 4 of Evin Prison, has been sentenced to prison together along with his wife Zahra Zare Seraji.

The Revolutionary Court of Baharestan County in Tehran Province sentenced both Sedhi and Seraji with forming an illegal group, disseminating lies in cyberspace, and propaganda against the regime. Among the evidence cited against them was their forming of online political groups, recruitment of participants in the January protests, membership in monarchist groups via a social messaging app called Telegram, a close source told HRANA.

Sedhi was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, two years of exile to Azna County in central Lorestan province, and a fine. Seraji got an eight-year sentence and a fine on the same convictions, while their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13-year prison terms.

All of the defendants will be required to learn sections of the Quran as part of their sentence.

Nazari Sedhi and Seraji were in a bad physical and psychological condition as of their sentencing, the source added.

Seraji had been previously released on a bail of 2 billion rials (approximately $48,000 USD).

January Protestors: 8 Months in Prison for Alireza Moeinian

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Civil rights activist and Tabriz resident Alireza Moeinian, who was among those detained amid the January protests, has been sentenced to 8 months in prison by Judge Ahrari of Tabriz Revolutionary Court Branch 2.

Initially arrested January 1st and detained in Evin Prison’s Ward 209, Moeinian was able to go free at end of his initial interrogation sessions by providing a salary slip as a surety bond in place of cash bail, an informed source told HRANA.

Later, on April 23rd, 2018, Branch 19 of the Tabriz Prosecutors’ office summoned him to read him his charges: propaganda against the regime and participation in an illegal gathering. His bail was set at 1 billion rials (approximately $10,000 USD).

A large number of participants in recent protests referred to as the “January protests”, were detained and interrogated across the country. The protests resulted in the death of 25 individuals and the detention of around five thousand.

Of the January protests, Ministry of the Interior Rahmani Fazli said, “A number of protests took place in 100 Iranian cities; in forty of those cities, the protests turned violent.”

Tabriz is located in northwestern Iran.

Appeals Court Convenes for 11 January Protest Detainees

Posted on: October 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On Wednesday, October 3rd, Branch One of Markazi Province Appeals Court convened to review the sentences of 11 defendants charged in relation to the nationwide protests that broke out in January of 2018.

Among the accused is attorney and human rights activist Mohammad Najafi, who stated that “economic problems” compelled him and his co-defendants to join the ranks of the January protestors. Najafi’s co-defendants are Ali Bagheri, Abbas Safari, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou, Mohammad Torabi, and Kian Sadeghi.

Discovery into these protestors’ case file began March 13, 2018 in Branch One of Arak Investigation Court, by which point all 11 had already been interrogated by the Intelligence Office. Ten of the eleven were present during discovery, where an investigator deliberated on charges from disrupting the peace to gathering and conspiring. Though all of the accused were detained amid the protest site in Shazand city where all of them are residents, authorities inexplicably forwarded their case to the judicial office of Arak. All denied the charges brought against them.

Investigation court settled on a charge of “disrupting public peace through participating in an illegal gathering,” which according to HRANA reports incurred them one year of imprisonment and 74 lashings each, per the ruling of Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi in Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102.

Their sentence allows for detention time already served to be counted towards their pending prison terms, a particular boon to Najafi, Bagheri, Safari, and Sadeghi who received two additional years of prison time for “publishing lies with intent to disrupt the public mind.” Bagheri’s prison term was further compounded by another six months for “insulting a police chief in cyberspace.”

Independent of the January protests case file, Najafi, Bagheri, Safari, Ajilou, and Bakhshi all have individual cases pending in the Revolutionary Court of Arak.

Najafi was previously detained for inquiring into the death of civilian Vahid Heydari, who passed away while in custody of Arak authorities amid the January protests in Police Detention Center No. 12. While Iranian judicial authorities had claimed Heydari was a drug dealer who committed suicide during his detainment, Najafi’s field research, including interviews with Heydari’s family and friends, concluded that Heydari was a peddler with no criminal record; what’s more, his autopsy revealed no physical marks suspect for suicide. Buried under security supervision, Heydari had head injuries consistent with blunt-force trauma.

The court tried Najafi for his inquiries on June 9, 2018, in Arak Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 102. His hearing had previously been delayed due to the absence of the judge.

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.

A large number of participants in recent protests, referred to as the January protests, were detained and interrogated across the country. The protests resulted in the death of 25 individuals and the detention of around five thousand.

Ministry of the Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli previously stated that public demonstrations “turned violent” in 40 of the 100 cities where the January protests broke out.

Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour Ends Hunger Strike after 16 Days

Posted on: September 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, political prisoner Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour agreed to end her 16-day hunger strike in exchange for verbal commitments from prison authorities to meet her demands for medical treatment.

Authorities at Nashtaroud Prison of Tonekabon, where Ahmadpour is being held, had previously dismissed her requests for more adequate anemia treatment. A source close to Ahmadpour told HRANA that the authorities have now pivoted, making promises to approve a hospital transfer and medication deliveries from her family. “In addition, they asked her to put in a request for conditional release, and promised to facilitate the processing of the request.”

Ahmadpour had lost 8 pounds by the 10th day of her strike when HRANA reported on prison authorities’ failure to address her deteriorating physical health.

Sentenced to 10 months in prison for her participation in the January protests, Ahmadpour began starving herself September 10th to protest her restricted access to resources, such as medical care and the telephone, and to revolt against prison authorities who reportedly threatened to open new charges against her as a form of coercion or harassment.

Per her treatment plan for anemia, Ahmadpour should receive seven units of blood every month. An informed source told HRANA that monthly blood infusions were also recommended for her as a preventative measure against leukemia. In the face of her diagnosis and supporting medical documentation, however, prison authorities had until now denied Ahmadpour’s requests for outside medication and refused to clear her for a medical transfer.

Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour is a 46-year-old resident of Tonekabon. A peddler by trade, she was arrested along with 14 other residents during widespread rallies that took place in January 2018 across Iran, known as the January Protests. The Revolutionary Court of Tonekabon sentenced eight of these arrestees to 28 months’ imprisonment, divided among the defendants. Branch 101 of Criminal Court No. 2 of Tonekabon, presided over by Judge Ebrahimi, also sentenced six of the arrestees to 24 collective months of prison time.

Ahmadpour was first sentenced May 2, 2018, in Branch 101 of Tonekabon Criminal Court No. 2 to serve a six-month prison sentence on a charge of “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.” On August 11, 2018, Tonekabon’s Revolutionary Court compounded the sentence with four months’ imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime.” As evidence against her, the court cited a combination of law enforcement reports and images and video taken during the January protests in Tonekabon.

January Protests: Third Day of Hunger Strike for Prisoner Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour

Posted on: September 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour, a political prisoner being held at Nashtaroud Prison of Tunekabon, has been on hunger strike for three days.

For her participation in the January protests in Tunekabon, Ahmadpour was sentenced in the city’s Revolutionary Court, and Branch 101 of its Penal Court, to 10 months in prison. She has been serving her sentence since August 14, 2018.

Ahmadpour declared hunger strike on Monday September 10, 2018 in protest to a lack of medical attention, authorities’ refusal to allow her access to the prison phone, and of prison authorities, who have reportedly threatened to develop a new case file against her.

An informed source elaborated to HRANA, “When they didn’t let Ahmadpour use the phone, it led to an argument. Instead of escalating the matter for handling by authorities, Mrs. Sha’bani the guard got involved, insulting the prisoner and threatening to get prison and security authorities to pursue further charges against her.”

One day after the incident, the guard told Ahmadpour that a new case file had been opened against her, charging her with blasphemy, even while the content of Ahmadpour’s altercation with Sha’bani was reportedly limited to their disagreement over use of the phone.

The source added, “Ahmadpour is anemic, and is supposed to receive seven units of blood every month. Due to her anemia, she has a high chance of developing leukemia and has to receive regular monthly injections as a preventative measure. Despite these conditions and supporting medical documentation, the prison authorities have not permitted her to be transferred to the hospital for her treatments.”

Mahin-Taj Ahmadpour is a 46-year-old resident of Tunekabon. A peddler by trade, she was arrested along with 14 other residents during the January 2018 countrywide rallies known as the January Protests. The Revolutionary Court of Tunekabon sentenced eight of these arrestees to 28 months’ imprisonment, divided among the defendants. Branch 101 of Criminal Court No. 2 of Tunekabon, presided by Judge Ebrahimi, also sentenced six of the arrestees to 24 collective months of prison time.

Ahmadpour was sentenced May 2, 2018 in Branch 101 of Tunekabon Criminal Court No. 2 to serve six-months prison sentence on a charge of “disrupting the public peace through participation in an illegal gathering.” On August 11, 2018, Tunekabon’s Revolutionary Court compounded the sentence with four months’ imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime.” As evidence against her, the court cited a combination of law enforcement reports and images and video taken during the January protests in Tunekabon.