Update on the Condition of Political Prisoner Sarina Jahani in Evin Prison

Sarina Jahani, a political prisoner, is currently serving a two-year sentence at Evin Prison.

According to a source close to her family who informed HRANA, the Revolutionary Court in Shahriar convicted Jahani of “assembly and collusion against national security.” She began serving this prison term on February 6, 2024.

Twenty-year-old Jahani was apprehended by security forces in Shahriar on September 16, 2023, coinciding with the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. Initially held at Qarchak Prison in Varamin, she was later transferred to Evin Prison. On November 4, 2023, she was granted release on bail.

Journalist Ruhollah Nakhaei Begins Serving Two-Year Sentence Despite Pardon

Journalist Ruhollah Nakhaei has initiated his two-year sentence, despite being included in the “general commutation and pardon” directive issued in the winter of 2023, as stated by his lawyer, Parto Borhanpour.

Arrested during the 2022 nationwide protests, Nakhaei was convicted by Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court for “assembly and collusion against national security” (two years) and “propaganda against the regime” (seven months). The verdict, upheld on appeal, is now enforceable for two years, per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code.

About the 2022 Nationwide Protests

The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hejab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. During the nationwide protests, about 19600 people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students, and civil rights activists, were arrested.

Samad Pourshah Sentenced to Six Months in Yasuj

Samad Pourshah, a detainee from the 2022 nationwide protests, has been handed a six-month prison term by Judge Ghahremani of Branch 1, Revolutionary Court of Yasuj.

On February 14, the court issued the verdict, convicting Pourshah on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran.” Additionally, the following day, a separate legal case was addressed by the Yasuj criminal court, involving charges such as “insulting the prophet of Islam, insulting the Supreme Leader, blasphemy, propaganda against the regime, disseminating false information, and disturbing public opinions” against Pourshah.
It is important to highlight that charges such as insulting the Prophet of Islam may lead to severe punishment, even the death penalty, under Iran’s legal system.

Pourshah’s arrest by security forces in Yasuj dates back to September 16, 2022, coinciding with the death of Mahsa Amini.

Safa Aeli, Mahsa Amini’s Uncle, Sentenced to Imprisonment and Additional Penalties

Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Saqqez handed down a five-year, six-month prison term and additional penalties to Safa Aeli, maternal uncle of Mahsa Amini.

Aeli received a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence for charges related to “assisting in assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.” In addition, he has been prohibited from leaving the country for two years and mandated to write an article focusing on the topic of the deceased police and military forces.

Confirming this news, Aeli’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht informed HRANA that three years and six months of this sentence is enforceable. On September 5, 2023, security forces arrested Safa Aeli. He was released on bail from Saqqez Prison on October 17, 2023. He was denied access to a lawyer and family visits during his detention.

Background on the 2022 Nationwide Protests

The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hijab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws, and structure of the regime. During the nationwide protests, thousands of people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students, and civil rights activists, were arrested. Additional understanding can be acquired by examining the report provided by HRANA.

 

Female Journalists Elahe Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi Released from Evin Prison

Journalists Elahe Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi were granted release on bail from Evin Prison on January 14, 2024. They were detained for reporting on news surrounding the tragic death of Mahsa Amini.

Elnaz Mohammadi disclosed that her sister secured bail with 10 billion tomans, equivalent to approximately 200,000 dollars.

Hamedi, a correspondent for the daily newspaper Shargh, was apprehended at her residence in Tehran by security forces on September 22, 2022. She gained notoriety for being the first journalist to publish a photograph of Mahsa Amini in a coma. In December 2022, she was transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin.

Mohammadi, a reporter for the daily newspaper Ham-Mihan, faced arrest on September 29, 2022, following her coverage of the funeral of Mahsa Amini in Saqqez.

Following their arrests, Hamedi and Mohammadi were handed down sentences of 13 and 12 years, respectively, by the Tehran Revolutionary Court. Moreover, both journalists were prohibited from affiliating with political parties and groups, as well as engaging in journalism across media and the Internet.

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Journalist Nasrin Hassani Receives One-Year Prison Sentence for Alleged Propaganda against Regime

The Bojnurd Revolutionary Court has handed down a one-year prison sentence to journalist Nasrin Hassani after finding her guilty of “spreading propaganda against the regime.” The court cited her online posts and photo publications as evidence of this alleged offense.

This verdict follows a prior seven-month imprisonment issued by the Bojnurd Criminal Court for “disseminating false information,” coupled with an additional fine for non-compliance with public Hijab regulations.

Nasrin Hassani, the managing editor of the weekly newspaper Siahat-e Shargh, was officially indicted on September 3 of this year and subsequently released on bail.

Notably, Hassani had previously experienced legal consequences during the Mahsa Amini Protests in September 2022 when she was arrested by security forces. She was later released after a period of detention.

UNGA-78 Side Event Highlights The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in Iran

NEW YORK, NY – An event titled “One Year of ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’: The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran” hosted by HRA in partnership with OutRight International was held yesterday in New York, at Scandinavia House. The gathering, in the margins of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-78), addressed the ongoing human rights situation in Iran.

The event was a reminder of the challenges faced by minorities in Iran, especially in the wake of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests. The demonstrations, which began a year ago following the tragic death in detention of Zhina Mahsa Amini, have drawn attention to the Iranian authorities’ excessive use of force and rampant human rights violations.

Independent journalist, Deepa Parent, expertly moderated the session. Opening remarks were courageously delivered by Iranian human rights activists, who, despite the risks, provided virtual comments directly from within Iran.

Dr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, offered insightful keynote remarks that outlined the challenges and potential paths forward for improving human rights in the country.

Skylar Thompson, representing Human Rights Activists (HRA) presented three key areas the international community can urgently address the cycle of impunity in Iran including through continuing to support UN-led investigations including through the renewal of the FFMI mandate, the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran and steadfast support for resolutions on Iran. Second, she added the need for pursuing international pathways to justice notably through the use of universal jurisdiction in light of the unwillingness to investigate violations domestically. She concluded that the continued and united condemnation against violations of human rights and international law are essential because as she stated, “silence is complicity.”

Other panelists, including Simin Fahendej from the Baha’i International Community (BIC) and Awin Mostafazade from Kurdpa, provided rich context to the discussion, shedding light on the depth and breadth of discrimination that various minority groups encounter daily.

As the event concluded, the consensus was clear: the international community must redouble its efforts to address the plight of minorities in Iran. The event, which was open to the media, will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on all who attended.

Watch the event here:

Journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi Sentenced to a Combined 25 Years in Prison

The Tehran Revolutionary Court has issued sentences of 13 and 12 years to two female journalists, Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, respectively. In addition to their prison terms, they have been prohibited from participating in political groups and are subject to restrictions on their social media and media-related activities. These journalists are currently incarcerated in Evin Prison.

Judge Salavati, who presided over the case, sentenced Hamedi to seven years for “collaboration with an adversarial country, the USA,” five years for “assembly and collusion against national security,” and one year for “propaganda against the regime.” Mohammadi received six, five, and one-year sentences for the same charges, respectively.

Should the verdicts be upheld on appeal, the initial jail terms, specifically seven years for Hamedi and six years for Mohammadi, will be enforced.

Hamedi, a reporter for the daily newspaper Shargh, was arrested at her residence in Tehran on September 22, 2022, by security forces. She gained recognition as the first journalist to publish a picture of Mahsa Amini in a coma.

Mohammadi, a reporter for the daily newspaper Ham-Mihan, was arrested on September 29, 2022, after traveling to Saqqez and covering the funeral of Mahsa Amini.

Lawyer Saleh Nikbakht Receives One-Year Sentence and Social Media Restrictions

Saleh Nikbakht has been sentenced to one year in prison by the Tehran Revolutionary Court and faces restrictions on his social media activities.

Presided over by Judge Mohammad-Reza Amoozad, the Tehran Revolutionary Court delivered this verdict to Nikbakht for “spreading propaganda against the regime.” Additionally, he has been prohibited from engaging in social media activities for a duration of two years.

According to sources cited by HRANA, Nikbakht’s refusal to accept the forensic report concerning the cause of Mahsa Amini’s death was cited as evidence supporting this charge. Nikbakht, who served as Amini’s lawyer, found himself embroiled in this legal case following a complaint filed by the Ministry of Intelligence, primarily due to his interviews with media outlets outside Iran.

On March 11, 2023, Nikbakht was indicted at Evin Courthouse and subsequently released on bail.

Notably, Nikbakht has represented Mahsa Amini and several political prisoners, including Jafar Panahi, Eskandar Lotfi, and Masoud Nikkhah, in legal matters.

Bloody Friday Of Zahedan: A Convergence Of National Outrage And Baloch Repression

On the first anniversary of the Brutal crackdown on Baloch citizens, commonly referred to as the “Bloody Friday of Zahedan,” this report, presented by HRA’s Spreading Justice team, furnishes an overview and contextual information about the events. Additionally, it includes a list of regime officials implicated in the Zahedan Massacre.

Summary

It has been one year since Iranian authorities unleashed a brutal barrage of lethal force on Baloch citizens living in Zaheden. During the nationwide protests of 2022 in Iran sparked by the tragic death in detention of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, Zahedan witnessed a brutal crackdown on September 30, 2022. As protestors converged at the Great Mosalla of Zahedan after the Friday prayers, the Iranian security forces unleashed a barrage of live ammunition, metal pellets, and tear gas, resulting in significant casualties. This tragedy, now known as the “Bloody Friday of Zahedan,” has come to symbolize the Iranian authorities’ increasing disdain for the sanctity of human life and the broader struggles of the Baloch community in the country.

Baloch Persecution in Iran

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The Baloch community in Iran, primarily residing in the country’s southeastern region, including Sistan and Baluchestan, has faced longstanding socio-economic and political marginalization. As a Sunni Muslim minority in a predominantly Shiite nation, the Baloch people have often grappled with ethnic and religious discrimination.

  • Economic Disparities: Sistan and Baluchestan, despite being one of the country’s largest provinces, is also among the most impoverished. Basic amenities like water, electricity, and healthcare remain inaccessible to many. The unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average. The systemic economic deprivation has fueled grievances and driven a wedge between the Baloch populace and the central government.
  • Political Marginalization: The Balochs have limited representation in Iran’s political system. Policies decided in Tehran often overlook the unique needs and challenges of the Baloch community. The absence of substantial Baloch representation means their voice often goes unheard in policy-making corridors.
  • Religious Discrimination: As Sunni Muslims in the Shia-majority Iran and the Shia regime, the Baloch have faced religious discrimination. This is evident in their limited access to religious education, restrictions on building Sunni mosques, and harassment of Sunni clerics.
  • Cultural Suppression: The Iranian government’s policy towards minorities, including the Baloch, leans towards forced assimilation. Baloch traditions, languages, and customs often face suppression. The state’s educational system rarely offers courses in the Balochi language, thus slowly eroding the community’s linguistic heritage.
  • Human Rights Abuses: Arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture, and extrajudicial killings have been reported in the Baloch region. The region’s volatile security situation, partly due to its border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, is often used as a pretext for these violations.

Nationwide Protests in Iran

The death in detention of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini in September 2022, after a traumatic incident with Iran’s “morality” police, catalyzed a series of demonstrations. This 22-year-old’s fate swiftly became emblematic of broader frustrations with the Iranian regime’s repressive policies. Protests titled “Woman, Life, Freedom” or “Mahsa Amini” protests erupted outside Kasra Hospital in Tehran and rapidly swept across all 31 provinces, including Sistan and Baluchestan. While these protests were ignited by Mahsa’s death, their scope widened to challenge the ideological underpinnings of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Zahedan’s Bloody Friday: An In-depth Account

Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province, became the focal point of global attention on September 30, 2022, an event now seared into collective memory as “Bloody Friday.” Here, national grief over Mahsa Amini’s tragic death converged with regional anger due to the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old Baloch girl by a high-ranking police officer, Ebrahim Kouchakzai.

Bloody Friday Unfolds: On September 30, 2022, thousands gathered, their chants echoing a shared sentiment of a desire for justice and change. The vast expanse of the Great Mosalla of Zahedan became a sea of protestors, peacefully raising their concerns.

However, evident by the decision to block exit routes, and their elevated positions above the emerging crowds, security forces had preemptively planned a violent crackdown. As protestors congregated, security forces units took positions on strategic rooftops surrounding the Mosalla, the nearby Makki Mosque, and Police Station number 16 near the Mosalla. As the crowd’s momentum grew, security forces began indiscriminately firing tear gas canisters, live ammunition, and pallets upon the civilian population.

Protestors, including women, children, and the elderly, were caught in the open barrage. Many tried to flee, but the security forces shot the protesters from the rooftops surrounding the area. Blood stained the grounds of the Mosalla.

The Aftermath: The brutal crackdown lasted hours, but its impact will be felt for generations. Immediate reports were chaotic, with the numbers of the dead and injured fluctuating. However, reliable sources estimate that approximately 100 individuals were killed including at least 10 juveniles under the age of 18 with hundreds more injured. Some were trampled in the stampede attempting to escape, while others were direct victims of the gunfire.

In the immediate aftermath, Zahedan was in shock. But as the days progressed, the city, and indeed the wider Baloch community, rallied. This tragedy became a symbol, uniting various groups against what they saw as the unchecked brutality of the Iranian regime.

Despite the violence of Bloody Friday, the spirit of the protestors was not broken. In the weeks that followed, Zahedan saw more protests, namely after Friday prayers, signaling an ongoing resistance and a refusal to let the events of September 30 be forgotten.

Legacy of Bloody Friday

Zahedan’s Bloody Friday is more than just an event—it’s now a symbol of resistance against oppression in Iran and globally. The international community expressed horror and condemnation, with human rights organizations demanding a thorough and impartial investigation into the actions of the Iranian security forces. While tragic, the events of that day have solidified a call for change, justice, and an end to systemic and oppressive violence.

September 30th, 2022 saw a brutal display of excessive use of force against civilians that ultimately escalated to the use of lethal force.  It is evident there were no considerations of proportionality taken into account. The security forces’ decision to block exit routes additionally suggests heinous premeditation.

These actions constitute a clear violation of international human rights law. Iran, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is bound by its provisions. Article 6 of the ICCPR stipulates that “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their life.” Furthermore, Article 7 prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. It is well-established by the United Nations and other international bodies that these rights extend to police and other security forces.

In situations where a protest escalates to a point where the use of force may be necessary, security officers are still obligated to respect and preserve human life. Firearms should only be used in self-defence or in defence of others.

In response to the distressing reports of sexual assault and rape allegedly committed by security forces in this city, it is imperative that the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission, in line with its mandate, conducts a swift and thorough investigation into the sexual abuse of women and girls in the context of the protests. This mandate also urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights and to take all measures necessary to stop and prevent extrajudicial killings, other forms of arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including against peaceful protesters.

Conclusion

Zahedan’s Bloody Friday is a stark reminder of the intersection of broader national issues with specific regional grievances. As Iranians across the nation stood up to voice their discontent with the government’s oppressive policies, in Zahedan, the Baloch community, already marginalized, found their struggles magnified. Their calls for justice, both for Mahsa and their native daughter, met with bullets and gas, some lethal. As the world grapples with these events, it underscores the importance of understanding regional dynamics within broader national movements. The people of Zahedan, and by extension, the Baloch community, seek justice for the events of September 30 and an end to decades of systemic neglect and oppression.

The Imperative of Identifying Perpetrators: Ensuring Accountability in the Zahedan Massacre

The acts that transpired on Bloody Friday in Zahedan are not just isolated events; they are emblematic of deeper systemic issues related to governance, control, and the exercise of power. The violence unleashed upon protestors affronts fundamental human rights principles and international laws. Identifying the perpetrators is essential to uphold human rights and protect civil society’s very fabric. Here’s why:

1. Upholding Justice: Justice is a universal principle transcending borders and cultures. For the families of the victims and the injured, knowing who was responsible for the tragedy provides a sense of closure and a belief that their sufferings have been acknowledged. It is a step towards healing, both for individuals and the community at large.

2. Accountability and Deterrence: Holding those responsible accountable sends a clear message to other potential violators: that such acts will not go unpunished. This, in turn, serves as a deterrent, ensuring that such heinous acts are not repeated.

4. Promotion of Human Rights: The global community looks to human rights organizations as watchdogs and protectors of universal rights. Their proactive role in such incidents affirms their commitment to these ideals and strengthens the global human rights framework.

5. Creating Historical Record: A historical record is created by documenting the details and holding individuals accountable. This ensures that future generations know of past mistakes and that history doesn’t repeat itself. More so, while some perpetrators might be able to escape justice and remain safe within the current government, this historical record ensures that in the future, when the opportunity arises, their actions are not forgotten, and justice can be served.

Identifying the Perpetrators 

Several sources and witnesses have begun identifying critical actors involved in the Zahedan massacre. Some of the names mentioned include: (click on each name to read their full profile and involvement in human rights violations)

 

1. Hossein Modares Khiabani – Governor of Baluchestan at the time
2. Mohammad Karami – Governor of Sistan and Baluchestan province.
3. Abozar Mahdi Nakhai – The acting governor of Zahedan and governor of Zahedan county
4. Ali Shabani – deputy governor of Sistan and Baluchestan and special governor of Iranshahr city at the time
5. Saheb-Gol Salehi – Governor of Khash County
6. Salman Borhani – Governor of Bampur County
7. Mahmoud Saadati – Police Command of Zahedan
8. Ahmad Taheri – Police Command of Baluchestan at the time
9. Habib Razdar – Police command of Khash county
10. Alireza Sayad – Police Command of Bampour
11. Ali Sarhadi – Sistan and Baluchestan province chief of police deputy for intelligence and public security. According to Haal Vsh this person has personally been present in Police Station 16 near the Makki Mosque on September 30, 2022 when the massacre happened and encouraged the killing of people.
12. Ahmad Shafahi – Commander of Salman Revolutionary Guard Corps in Sistan and Baluchestan Province
13. Ahmad Maldar – Commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Saravan
14. Seyed Mohammad Azami – Deputy Operations Commander of Quds Base of IRGC Ground Forces. According to Haal Vsh, Mohammad Azami was personally present in the Makki Mosque on September 30, 2022, when the massacre happened and encouraged the killing of people.
15. Hamze Dehghan – Chief of Information Protection of Quds Corps in the province. (Haalvsh, 2023).
16. Morteza Jokar – Deputy Commander of the Provincial Police Force (Haalvsh, 2023).
17. Hossein Ghanbari – Head of the Second Branch of Shahid Nouri Judicial Complex (Zahedan General Court)
18. Majid Moalemzadeh Ansari – General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Chabahar at the time
19. Morteza Piri – The head of Zahedan Prison
20. Mehdi Shamsabadi – General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Sistan and Baluchestan
21. Ali Mostafavinia – Chief Justice of Sistan and Baluchestan
22. Mohammad Hossein Khosravi – General Directorate of Prisons in Sistan and Baluchestan Province
23. Abouzar Mohammadpour – The head of the protection and intelligence department of the prisons of Sistan and Baluchestan
24. Nik-Mohammad Balouch-Zehi – Information and Communications Technology department of Sistan and Baluchestan

 

This list is not comprehensive. HRA’s Spreading Justice database of Human Rights Perpetrators, together with its partners, remains dedicated to documenting the full list of individuals involved in the use of lethal force against civilians on September 30th, 2022. Should you have any information that may help in identifying those involved please contact: [email protected]