Coronavirus outbreak in Iranian prisons

Posted on: March 4th, 2020

On February 29, 2020, Ebrahim Raisi, the Chief Justice of Iran, issued a circular laying out policies to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in prisons.  This order mandates giving 15 -30 days furlough to prisoners with sentences less than five years. Another part of this order is about reducing entries into prisons, temporary releases, and public activities in prisons. In addition, this order mandates to increase alternative sentences and suspended prison terms instead of imprisonments.

Although the Chief Justice of Iran announced that the prisoners with less than five years prison term will be granted furlough, the prison authorities are not cooperative with political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to implement this regulation. As an example, Esmaeil Abdi and Negin Ghadamian were sentenced to five years imprisonment and after spending four and three years in prison respectively, they were not granted any furlough. Nazanin Zaghari’s husband reported that she is suspected to have Coronavirus. She is serving the 4th year of her five-year imprisonment sentence. Reportedly, three women were diagnosed with Coronavirus in Evin Prison.

The number of prisoners suspected of having coronavirus is increasing. Several prisoners suspected of having coronavirus were identified in Urmia, Khorramabad, Gorgan, Sanandaj, Qom, and other prisons.

 

A letter from political prisoner’s families

With the current spread of Coronavirus in prisons in Iran, some of the families of the political and security prisoners have written a letter to the judicial authorities on February 26, 2020, requesting furlough for prisoners until this crisis (Coronavirus) is over in the prisons. Considering the closed environment of the prison, malnutrition of the prisoners, shortage of medical care and facilities, high density of prisoners, and the occurrence of some cases suspected to be related to coronavirus has raised concerns of the families of prisoners.

The families of the following prisoners have signed this letter:

Mahmoud Beheshti Langeroudi, Esmaeil Abdi, Mohammad Habibi, Narges Mohammadi, Amir Salar Davoudi, Farhad Meisami, Roeen Otoufat, Jafar Azimzadeh, Shahnaz Akmali, Majid Azarpey, Atena Daemi, Sam Rajabi, Morad Tahbaz, Niloufar Bayani, Abdolreza Kouhpaieh, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Houman Jokar, Taher Ghadirian, Neda Naji, Mehrdad Mohammadnejad, Mohammad Abolhasani, Peyman Koushkbaghi, Aras Amiri, Jafar Fazel, and Alireza Golipour.

In some of the prisons, such as Khorramabad or Sanandaj Prisons, the prisoners asked the authorities to provide them with medical and hygiene necessities and to quarantine the prisoners who are suspected to be infected and have threatened that if this negligence is continuous, they will go on hunger strike. Other prisons such as Karaj, Tabriz, Evin and many other prisons across the country are also demanding similar precautions.

 

A death in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary

It should be noted that on the same day, a prisoner of Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary who had symptoms similar to that of Coronavirus passed away after the prison authorities delayed in transferring him to the hospital to receive proper medical care. His name was Hamid Reza and he was 44 years old. He was convicted of a financial felony who was serving his sentence in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary. He was initially diagnosed with symptoms of flu but after a few days, he started to cough and eventually passed away in the prion.

In addition, 60 prisoners of Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary who were working in the kitchen or service sector, were transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison. Moreover, 7 other prisoners in section 5 ward 2 have Coronavirus symptoms; they were kept in the medical ward without receiving medical care and were not transferred to the hospital.

 

Evin Prison and the violation of the Prisoners Classification Regulation

Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, Mohammad Rajabi, Milad Arsanjani, Jamil Ghahremani, and 15 other arrestees of the last November’s protests who were kept in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, were moved from their cell after an inmate was diagnosed with Coronavirus in their cell. Amir Hossein Moradi returned to prison on February 29, 2020, after spending a week in the hospital for another disease. He returned to his cell but after an hour he was transferred to the medical ward for his positive test results of Coronavirus. Although they were told that they will be transferred to Yaft Abad Hospital, they were transferred to ward 1 of this prison, which belongs to the prisoners who committed violent crimes. In June 2019, Alireza Shir Mohammadi, a political prisoner, was fatally stabbed in this ward by two other inmates of this ward who were charged with a drug felony. After this incident, the prison authorities moved other political prisoners from this ward to avoid future incidents. This is against prisoners’ segregation rule. According to a close source “section, 1 of the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary has 10 wards and one suite which had been used as an exile to punish the prisoners who get in the fight or carry drugs. Since 2018, the political prisoners have been transferred to this suite. This suite has limited facilities and does not even have access to prison commissaries. Their door should be locked all the time however, in the case of Mr. Shir Mohammadi, the warden intentionally did not lock the door which was illegal.

Alireza Shir Mohammadi, a 21-year-old political prisoner at the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary was murdered in prison on June 10, 2019. He was attacked by two other prisoners, who were later convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The prisoner in question was stabbed in the neck and stomach and died before arriving at the hospital. Shir Mohammad Ali was arrested on July 14, 2018, and was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “blasphemy”, “insulting the former and current Supreme Leaders”, and “propaganda against the state”.  He was detained in a solitary confinement cell for 36 days after being arrested. His bail was set at 80 million Tomans but the Revolutionary Court illegally rejected his release on bail. Throughout his prosecution process, he did not have access to an attorney because of his financial conditions. He was waiting for the decision of the appeal’s court when he was murdered. He protested his detention along with non-political prisoners and went on a hunger strike on March 14, 2019, which ended on April 16 after prison authorities accepted his demands. He also wrote open letters criticizing the “unsafe” and “inhumane” conditions of Greater Tehran’s Penitentiary Prison. He wrote an open letter five days into his hunger strike on March 18, 2019. In this letter, he explained the awful condition he was experiencing in prison. In addition, he claimed that he was denied regular social rights that any prisoner is entitled to have. However, his main request, reflected in this letter, was to be transferred to another prison (Evin prison). No judicial authorities or prison officials reacted to his open letter. 

A prisoner of ward 4 of Evin Prison was transferred to an unknown place for his positive test results of Coronavirus. He kept with several other prisoners and political prisoners of this ward who are on hunger strike and are more vulnerable to this disease.

 

Khorramabad and Ghezel Hesar Prisons

On March 1, 2020, the prisoners of Khorramabad Prison have started a sit-in to protest not being sent to furlough although Coronavirus has spread in this prison. There is a shortage of access to medical care and hygiene products for the diagnosis and treatment of Coronavirus. Several prisoners who have symptoms of this disease did not receive any treatment and were kept with other prisoners. Several prisoners who went on furlough were returned to prison. A close source to a family of a prisoner in this prison told HRANA that a sick inmate with severe coughs received neither medical care nor disinfecting substances and hygiene products such as alcohol, mask, and gloves.

Two prisoners of Qezelhesar Prison, Basat Ali Khazaei, and Gholamhossein Abolfavaei were moved to the quarantine section in the health ward due to having positive test results of Coronavirus. They were charged with drug felony and kept in a ward with 500 other inmates.

 

Rajai Shahr and Urmia Prisons

The prisoners are deprived of medical care, disinfecting substances, and hygiene products such as alcohol, mask, and gloves.  Payam Shakiba, Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, and Majid Asadi are serving their third year in prison. Arash Sadeghi, who is diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma (bone cancer), has had an infection in his right hand, digestion issues, and because of his weak immune system should be prioritized to be granted a furlough. Saeed Shirzad is spending the last months of his prison sentence.

On March 2, 2020, Mohammad Ghanbardoost, a political prisoner, was transferred to the hospital due to having symptoms of coronavirus disease. He kept with other political prisoners and may infected others. He was arrested on August 16, 2017, and was sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of “cooperating with Takfiri groups”.

Several Coronavirus suspected patients in Urmia Prison were transferred to hospitals outside the prison. One Urmia prisoner died in hospital, but prison authorities claimed that he was infected outside the prison.

 

Update on political prisoners temporary releases

On March 3, 2020, Mohammad Karimi granted a furlough and temporarily released until April 3, 2020. Mr. Karimi was sentenced to one-year imprisonment on the charge of “propaganda against the state” which was upheld by the appeals court. on July 3, 2020, he was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison to serve his sentence.

On March 2, 2020, Shahnaz Akmali, political prisoner, was granted a furlough and temporarily released until April 3, 2020. She was arrested on January 15, 2020. She was sentenced to one-year imprisonment and was banned from having any social media account, membership in any group, and leaving the country on the charge of “propaganda against the state”. An appeals court upheld her sentence without hearing either Ms. Akmali or her attorney. She is the mother of Mostafa Karim Beygi one of the people who was killed by security forces during green movement uprising in 2009.

On February 29, 2020, Reza Gholamhosseini, a political prisoner of Bandar Abbas Prison, was granted a furlough and temporarily released until April 3, 2020. He was arrested on September 25, 2019, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment on the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “insulting supreme leader”. His sentence was reduced to 18 months later because he did not request an appeal.

Mohsen Asadi University Professor Was Arrested

Posted on: September 22nd, 2019

Mohsen Asadi, a Yazd University professor, who was released on July 31, 2019 after finishing his sentence of a one-month prison term, was rearrested on September 14, 2019. Reportedly, the arrest is for a new case but the reason of the arrest is still unknown. He was transferred to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) detention center in Yazd on September 15, 2019. Earlier this year, he was arrested by security forces on May 26, 2019. He was transferred to Yazd Prison and was sentenced to one month imprisonment.

His brother, Majid Asadi, is a political prisoner in Rajai Shahr Prison. He is serving his sentence of six years  imprisonment since February 18, 2017 . He was charged with “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state”.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for January 25, 2019

Posted on: January 25th, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on January 25th, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) A 23-years-old Kulbar (Kurdish back carrier), Soran Mohammadi, was injured after the Iranian border patrol opened fire to a group of Kulbars near Sardasht city.

(2) A labor activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, has been detained for about a month and half, although a bond has been set for his bail.

(3) Majid Asadi, a prisoner in Rajaee Shahr in Karaj was denied urgent medical care. He is suffering from severe Gastrointestinal diseases such as Stomach ulcer and Herniated disc, and Ankylosing spondylitis which is a type of arthritis of the spine. He wrote an open letter about torture, mistreatment, humiliation and abuse in prison on January 16, 2019. He has been arrested in February 2017 and sentenced to six years prison term on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”.

(4) Eight Gonabadi Dervishes, Asghar Ganji Panahi, Mohammad Panahi, Pouya Ayazi, Omid Ghasemi, Sajjad Razmi, Bijan Soltani, Arash Moradi, and Saeed Arab were released from Great Tehran Penitentiary after finishing serving their one-year sentences. The group were among a larger cohort arrested and sentenced in Tehran Revolutionary Court for their participation in the Golestan Haftom incident in February of last year.

(5) Milad Heydari Hendijani was released from Shiraz’s Adelabad prison after finishing his prison term. He was accused of “insulting the Supreme leader”, and “propaganda against the state”.

(6) The laid off workers of Farsit Company in Doroud have held a protest to get their jobs back. The company was shut down in 2016 and recently 34 workers of it have been employed in a cast iron manufacturer.

(7) The head of the judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani, announced that: The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will be pardoned or reduce the sentences of a large number of convicts on the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution which is commemorated in Iran.

(8) The head of education in Golestan province said that “there are 72 ‘conex [shipping container] schools’ in the Golestan province.”

(9) The workers of Chouka Company in Shafa Rud have at least five months unpaid wages.

(10) A construction worker died in Tehran because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in the workplace. Iran ranked 102 in the workplace safety among other countries.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for January 16, 2019

Posted on: January 16th, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on January 16th, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) Morteza Parhizgar was sentenced to 74 lashes and nine years imprisonment on the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “insulting the president”. He was in prison for 11 months before his trial.

(2) More than five protests were held across the country. The workers of inter-city rail in Ahvaz, several teachers in Yazd, the farmers of Esfarvarin, the customers of SAIPA and Iran Khodro in Tehran and Urmia, and the workers of the maintenance contractor in oil, gas, petrochemical, refineries, water and energy (RAMPCO Group) in Assaluyeh, have organized separate protests.

(3) Six United Nations special rapporteurs requested Iranian authorities to prepare medical care for Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi. Their health conditions have been exacerbated in prison due to authorities’ refusal of medical care.

(4) Aryasb Bavand was sentenced to 22 years and six months prison term and Mahizadeh Poshtpanah has faced six years imprisonment. Their accusations are “Forming a group to act against the national security, propaganda against the state and insulting the Supreme Leader”.

(5) A worker of Iran National Steel Industrial Group (NSIG) in Ahvaz, Mohammad Reza Nematpour, was released today. Two other workers of NSIG are still in prison. More than 43 workers of NSIG have been arrested on December 16, 2018.

(6) A 29-year-old prisoner was executed on the charge of murder after spending six years in prison. He was hanged earlier today, in Babol. In 2018, at least 236 people have been executed and 195 people have been sentenced to death in Iran.

(7) Some 13 thousand children suffer from malnutrition in Sistan and Bauchestan province.

(8) A student transportation vehicle crashed leaving one dead and six injured students in Ekhtiarabad in the Kerman province.

(9) An accused individual in the Golestan province received an alternative sentencing to study and teach traffic laws to students. In the last 10 months, 3000 convicts received alternative sentences in the Golestan province.

(10) A lawyer, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, was summoned to the Sanandaj court on the charge of “publishing lies” and “disturbing public opinion”. Several lawyers were arrested or have been under pressure for the cases they accepted to defend.

(11) The court of Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activists, Olduz Ghasemi, Javad Ahmadi Yekanli, and Amir Sattari was in session today. They were charged with “propaganda against the state” for being present in an unlawful protest.

(12) Some 1.5 million students are studying at old and structurally unsafe schools. In the last six years, hazardous events occurred due to unsafe schools and led to 58 injuries and deaths. Moreover, 70 students died or had been injured in schools field trips.

(13) Majid Asadi, a prisoner in Rajaee Shahr in Karaj, wrote an open letter about torture, mistreatment, humiliation and abuse in prison. He has been arrested in February 2017 on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”. He is serving his six years sentence.

Open Letter: the Lesson of Imprisoned Teachers

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The September 23rd kickoff to this new Iranian school year underlines the absence of a number of Iranian teachers from the classroom, who instead of welcoming a new cohort of students are waiting for their judicial reckoning in prison.

Teachers across the country are serving long sentences or getting lashings for their political and union activism, case developments of which were previously reported by HRANA.

In an open letter titled “The Sound of Freedom,” political prisoner Majid Asadi of Ward 10 in Rajai Shahr Prison, located in Karaj, a northwest suburb of Tehran, pays tribute to these educators, taking from their plight a lesson for the country at large.

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

The Sound of Freedom

The bell rings on September 23rd, announcing the first day of classes. It resonates over empty classroom benches. Sara and Fatemeh are selling flowers at the crossroads. A week ago, they saw Ali and Kamran selling fortunes at the park. The class is quiet. No word from the teacher. The teacher is absent.

“Where is Narges?” somebody asks.

“Her father is in prison, so she won’t come to school this year,” a friend responds.

What proper class can go on without its teacher and students?

“Kids belong in the classroom; nothing should stop them from attending school,” the teacher used to say. When those kids couldn’t afford books and supplies: “They didn’t decide to stop coming one day. No, they didn’t choose poverty and misfortune.” That’s what the teachers would say, back then.

The bell rings on September 24th, the second day of classes. The bell summons kids to a class with no teacher. He has not yet returned. He never will. He won’t be teaching a single class period, because this year, the school bell rings in prison. The teacher transforms his cell into a classroom. He did not want the classroom benches to be empty. He will despair when he learns that Narges, Sara, and Fatemeh aren’t coming to school this year. He will be tormented when he understands that Ali and Kamran can no longer attend.

He will be upset to hear that his colleague nods off in his classes each day, because he stays up late working as the night janitor. Talk of his imprisoned fellow teachers upsets him even further.

“With the teacher in prison and the students wandering the streets, what of learning, of lessons, of school?”

The teachers and students ask these questions of each other.

A third bell rings. The sound of freedom: its reverberations bring the classroom to a frenzy.

Why is the teacher in prison? Why aren’t the students at school? Who put the teacher in jail? Could it be that they imprisoned the teacher so that the students wouldn’t come to school?

If that’s the case, maybe they should imprison the students too; or convert the school into a prison so that the students are not left without a teacher, and so they won’t have to fret over the cost of school supplies.

Neither the teacher nor the student chose poverty; neither the teacher nor the student chose prison.

The hand that wants to erect a prison in the place of a school — the one ready to exchange education and happiness for poverty — must be cut. And the teacher who set out to do so never returned. In that moment, he gave us a lesson.

The teacher told the students, “We shouldn’t have to live in fear all the time. Once we set about our mission, our fear will leave us.”

And so the teacher set about his mission — so that his fear would leave him, he left to put an end to poverty and prison, to set the school free. The homework for all classes this year is freedom.

This is the lesson the teacher has taught.

Majid Asadi
Gohardasht [Rajai Shahr] Prison
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Latest List of Political Prisoners in Hall 10 of Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: April 7th, 2018

HRANA News Agency – At least 30 political prisoners in Ward 10 in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, still continue to protest by refusing to accept the prison’s food. In protest against the unlawful deprivations and restrictions imposed on them, they demand the delivery of their lost and stolen personal stuff and equipment from the prison authorities. The Equipment of 35 rooms in prison is worth 3,85 billion IRR.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), 21 days after the beginning of the protest of political prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, by refusing to accept the prison’s food, and in spite of the prosecutor’s office’s promise to improve the situation, there has been no changes in the conditions of this place. (more…)

Majid Asadi, Payam Shakiba and Mohammad Amirkhizi Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison

Posted on: April 1st, 2018

HRANA News Agency _ Majid Asadi, Payam Shakiba, two former student activists and Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhzai have been sentenced to 28 years imprisonment and four years in exile by Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), three political prisoners have been detained since last year and gave their latest defences to Branch 6 of the Evin Prison on July 12, 2017. According to the verdict of Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Ahmadzadeh, they have been sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment for acting against the national security through gathering, collusion and propaganda against the regime. (more…)

Majid Asadi’s Physical Condition is Inappropriate in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj

Posted on: February 4th, 2018

HRANA News Agency – Majid Asadi’s physical condition is reported to be inappropriate in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. The prisoner who suffered from acute inflammation of the spine and the digestive tract, was transferred to the court in a very bad situation on November 5, 2017.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Majid Asadi has been suffering from continued nausea and pain in addition to a losing 8 kg weight in the last two weeks in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. (more…)

A Report on the Medical Situation of Political Prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: January 3rd, 2018

HRANA News Agency – Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj where in recent months has been the scene of the crisis caused by the pressures on the political prisoners and their mass strike, despite the passage of time, continues to face other challenges, such as lack of proper nutritional and medical treatment.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), almost 53 political prisoners at Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj have been transferred to new and security hall in July. There are the deprivations which have been imposed on prisoners in this hall where even the toilets are equipped with CCTV cameras. (more…)

A Comprehensive Report on the Latest Developments in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: September 2nd, 2017

HRANA News Agency – An estimated number of 50 political prisoners held in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj have been transferred to a new and security hall in recent weeks. There are the deprivations which have been imposed on prisoners in this hall where even the toilets are equipped with CCTV cameras. The situation has prompted political prisoners to protest. At least 16 prisoners are on hunger strike in a critical condition.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 53 political-security prisoners detained in hall 12 of Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj were transferred to a hall which was previously rebuilt and developed by security forces, with the presence of a large number of prison guards, without prior notice on July 30, 2017. The hall is equipped with a large number of surveillance cameras and surveillance devices, as well as the shields that separate it from the rest of the prison.The families of these prisoners in the wake of their concern about the fate of their relatives, had referred to the judicial authorities who are responsible for this issue but these efforts had not resulted. (more…)