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.

On World Day Against Death Penalty, Women in Evin Prison Urge UN Special Rapporteur to Visit Iran

Posted on: October 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – From the walls of Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, political prisoners Maryam Akbari Monfared, Golrokh Irayee, and Atena Daemi wrote a letter dated October 10th — the World Day Against the Death Penalty — urging the United Nations Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman to come and witness Iranian human rights violations in person.

In observance of the same occasion, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) recently published its annual report on the death penalty, pending, and carried out since October 2017. According to this report, 256 executions were carried out in Iran between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018, a 50% decrease from last year due likely to newly-ratified laws precluding death-sentence rulings on drug-related cases. Due process is glaringly absent from the judicial processes leading up to executions in Iran.

Recently, another group of prisoners from Rajai Shahr in Karaj wrote to Rehman, requesting that members of the United Nations place on their dealings with Iranian authorities a condition: demonstrate further respect for human rights by abolishing the death penalty, which the prisoners called a “weapon of terror.”

The complete text of Akbari, Irayee, and Daemi’s letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

“To Mr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran,

As the World Day Against the Death Penalty approaches, we decided to report to you a summary of the countless instances of human rights violations that took place over the last decade in our country.

News agencies announced the elimination of the death penalty for drug-related offenses some time ago, yet killings on such accounts are still happening outside of the media spotlight. Drug dealing and homicide remain the judicial justification for a majority of the executions in Iran.

Current statistics — which you most certainly have seen — indicate that defendants, men & women alike, are sentenced to death every year on homicide and manslaughter charges, and lose their lives very soon after their convictions are delivered.

Alongside prisoners convicted on criminal charges, many prisoners of conscience and political prisoners have been executed by firing squad or in the gallows over the last four decades.

According to available documentation, these executions were at their peak in the first decade of the Islamic Republic (1978-1988). People were often executed without trial, their bodies piled in unmarked mass graves on the fringe of the city. (Meanwhile, those who oppose capital punishment have no license to speak, and are currently behind bars because of their dissent).

As the World Day Against the Death Penalty drew near, authorities carried out the execution sentence of Zaynab Sakavand, a 24-year-old woman who had spent many years in prison since being convicted as a minor. This was but one example among the thousands carried out over the past few years on charges of smuggling, theft, killing, […]. As long as the death sentence can be meted, its pool of victims will be populated by alleged offenders of this type, many of whom are victims of poverty and socioeconomic class struggle, or political and ideological activists who are victims of a corrupt system whose policies are rigged against them.

The current administration began selling in 2013 the well-known figurative promise to provide keys to unlock problems and free prisoners of politics and conscience. Yet executions [on these grounds] have pressed on. Sherko Moarefi, Ehsan Fattahian, and Gholamreza Khosravi were all executed shortly after the administration undertook its [“key”] project.

The summer of 2016 conjured memories of the 1980s. Prisoners of conscience (Sunni Kurds) were executed en masse, leading to the overnight evacuation of a Rajai Shahr Prison hall. Exactly one month before the World Day Against the Death Penalty, Ramin Hossein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi, and Loghman Moradi were executed without the slightest shred of evidence to support their conviction. Their bodies, like the bodies of Farzad Kamangar (the hanged teacher), were buried in an unknown location. They suffered the same fate as Roghiyeh Akbari Monfared, Mojtaba Mohseni, Mehrzad Pakzad, Abdolreza Akbari Monfared, the Behkish Family, and thousands of others who lost their lives in the mass executions of the 1980’s, many of whose names have been documented by the Committee for Enforced Disappearance of the United Nations.

Over the past few years, many Kurdish and Arab activists, as well as a number of ideological activists, have been arrested for subscribing to beliefs that countered those of the ruling body. They were accused of baseless crimes, and — with the ultimate intention of creating fear and repressing public unrest — were tortured, forced to implicate themselves by false confession, and hanged. Mohammad Salas was the most recent of these victims.

The Islamic Republic’s apology for the death sentence is its [supposed] role in preventing criminal recidivism and in setting an example for others. While experience has proven that execution is not and never will be an effective preventative measure, the Islamic Republic continues to argue for its necessity and consonance with Sharia law. This fact alone demonstrates their abuse of the religious spirit of Iranian society, with the intention of oppressing and deceiving the public mind. If Iranian authorities can actually produce reliable documentation in support of their position on these cases, which are only a few among countless cases like them in Iran, they should certainly welcome you in Tehran.

We the undersigned, political activists held at the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, on this World Day Against the Death Penalty, express our abhorrence of the executions that have already taken place in Iran, and request that you — Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Mr. Javaid Rehman — travel to Iran to investigate violations of human rights, and advocate for a wholesale abolition of the death sentence, regardless of the crimes it aims to punish, be they political, ideological, or criminal. Your arrival in Iran and plea for accountability from authorities will clarify many ambiguities. The Islamic Republic’s refusal to welcome you would demonstrate their determination to eliminate human beings in their death machine and would confirm the criminal scope of their actions. While we harbor no delusions that things will improve, since we view the current administration as beyond reform, we nevertheless wish for an immediate halt on capital-punishment verdicts, and for a change to Iran’s oppressive penal law.

Signed:

Maryam Akbari Monfared, Golrokh Irayee, and Atena Daemi
Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, October 2018”

About the authors: Maryam Akbari Monfared was detained on December 31, 2009 following a widespread Ashura demonstration during the holy month of Muharram. In June 2010, Judge Salavati sentenced her to 15 years’ imprisonment in Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court. She was convicted of enmity against god, gathering and colluding against national security, and propagating against the regime through working with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). She has denied these charges.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Irayee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. She was first held at an IRGC safe house for two days and then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, which is under IRGC jurisdiction. She was released on a bail of 800 million rials. On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Irayee again, without a warrant. Her husband Arash Sadeghi, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison, is currently in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, and has undergone operations for cancer. Irayee was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 2.5 years based on amnesty and Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code. She was convicted of insulting the sacred and gathering and collusion against the regime.

Atena Daemi was detained October 21, 2014, and was transferred to Evin’s Women’s Ward January 14, 2015 after spending 86 days in a solitary cell of Ward 2-A. On May 15, 2015, she was sentenced by Judge Moghiseh of Revolutionary Court Branch 28 to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime, and Insulting the supreme leader. On February 15, 2016, she was released on a bail of 5500 million rials. Her appeals court convened in July of 2016, and reduced her sentence to seven years. She learned of the appeals decision two months later. After being arrested again in her parents home on November 26, 2016, her sentence was reduced to five years, pursuant to article 134 of Islamic Penal Code.

Earlier this month, HRANA reported on verbal orders from an Evin Warden that barred these women from having visitors for three weeks.

Kept Apart for 9 Years: a Mother Wishes her Daughter “Happy Birthday” from Evin Prison

Posted on: October 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Evin political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared wished her daughter a happy 13th birthday in letter she wrote from behind bars, where she has spent every one of her daughter’s birthdays for the past nine years.

Monfared, along with fellow prisoners of conscience Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi, was recently punished with a three-week ban on family visits per verbal orders from the director of the Evin Prison Women’s Ward. All three were told they were being disciplined for protesting authorities’ attempts to unlawfully interrogate them this past September.

The full letter of Monafred’s letter to her daughter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

In the middle of a cold, rainy December night, they tore you from my arms. You were only three and a half years old, and you had your arms locked around my neck. You were in a deep, angelic sleep.

Nine years have passed since then. All these years, I have celebrated your birthday in the prison visiting room. All my cellmates have shared in my joy. Every year, I prepared for your birthday days ahead of time, as best I could. I have watched you grow from the other side of the visiting room glass, and I drew lines on the concrete for every year that you grew.

While I was in prison you started school, and then you were no longer a little girl. And now, this year, you’re turning 13. We spoke about our wishes a week ago on the phone: you asked me whether you could come for a visit the following week, on your birthday. “Why wouldn’t you?!” I replied. “Of course you can!” Little did I know that our rare joys were being watched with malice from afar.

Before you arrived Wednesday, the Ward Director Ms. Abdolhamidi told me I’d been banned from visits for three weeks. When you came, you jumped into my arms and told me, ‘Mom, it’s my birthday next week! I’ll come to visit you and it will just be you and me.’”

It was more than I could bear to tell you that our visit next week would be canceled. My heart burned with anger and loathing for [the authorities], who would rob even the smile off your face. Flames of rage are still burning inside me.

Tomorrow is your birthday. I’ve been talking to my friends about it all day. I close my eyes and travel back in time to Iran Hospital, October 8th, 2005.

It is 6 a.m., and I am sitting in the hospital lobby. It is 10 days past your due date, but looking back now, it seems you were stalling your arrival in this world, that you foresaw that you would be targeted by the storms of life. But finally, you came, and your very first cries at 12 p.m. brought a smile to my face. I still feel your beautiful face and your first cry, and sense the sweet feeling of taking you into my arms for the first time.

I opened my eyes and there you were, a beautiful doll in a pistachio-green blanket with snowflakes on it. The delight of breastfeeding you, the joy of when you first opened your eyes; the first steps you took towards a beautiful life and future, and the music of your first word.

My dear Nazanin: I was not with you on your 13th birthday. I know that by now you understand why we’re apart. I know that you’ve suffered a lot these past nine years. Yet, we have promised each other to smile until smiles light the faces of all of Iran’s children. We promised each other to cherish our brief visits, for all of the times that we miss being together. We have pledged together to vanquish a monster.

My dear Sara: our future is bright. I hope for the daybreak whose first morning rays will be freedom, when I will tousle your hair and embrace you without the pain and the stress of knowing our visit could end the next moment. Let us laugh until daybreak […]

Maryam Akbari Monfared
October 6, 2018
Evin Prison Women’s Ward

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Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested December 2009 during protests following Iran’s contentious election cycle of that year. In June 2010, Judge Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15 sentenced her to 15 years in prison on the charge of “moharebeh” (enmity against God), on the premise that she was a member of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK). Monfared denied the charge.

Two of Monfared’s brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 for membership in the MEK after being convicted in revolutionary courts. A younger brother and sister were also executed in 1988 as part of a mass execution of political prisoners.

Governance by Deprivation in Evin Prison: 3 in Women’s Ward Denied Visits for 3 Weeks

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On October 2nd, Evin authorities punished three prisoners with a 3-week ban on visitation.

The head of the Evin Women’s Ward dictated the disciplinary measure to prisoners Maryam Akbari Monfared, Golrokh Iraee, and Atena Daemi, reportedly after the three chanted slogans and got involved in a verbal altercation last September in the prison’s visitation room when they had resisted authorities’ attempts to unlawfully interrogate them. The prison’s disciplinary council condemned them to the three-week ban in absentia.

A source told HRANA that Monfared, Iraee, and Daemi got a “no” when they asked to be shown the ban order in writing. The warden offered the pretext that authorities were acting on a verbal order from Prison Chief Chaharmahali and the prosecutors.

Akbari Monfared is a mother of three daughters, two of whom are currently in college and one of whom is school-age. Though her visitation hours were recently slated to change in accordance with her children’s academic schedules, Prosecution Representative Rostami put a stop to the change. She hasn’t had a furlough day in all of her nine years in prison.

Daemi and Iraee got their own backlash from authorities when the prison chief ordered their bodies to be searched multiple times without cause, presumably in reprisal for their public reaction to the September 8th executions of political prisoners Hossein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi, and Loghman Moradi.

Profiles: the Women’s Section of Evin Prison

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The 17 prisoners held on political or security-related charges in the Women’s Ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison live with deplorable conditions, compromised hygiene, and paltry nutrition. The following is a brief exposé of their quality of life, followed by a snapshot of their individual case files.

Many of these prisoners are mothers pained by the distance from their children, a pain that is only exacerbated by the prison chief’s refusal to grant them access to the phone on days of the week that their children are home from school. While the prisoners were granted permission from prosecutors to open the Saturday-to-Wednesday phone schedule to any day of the week, the chief, who goes by “Chaharmahali,” has refused to loosen up the former protocol.

In another blatant disregard of court orders, prison authorities refuse to send prisoners to outside medical clinics even when prosecutors and deputy prosecutors order or grant permission for the transfers. Prison authorities justify their refusal by saying that the prison clinic has its own doctors, or will recruit them as necessary; yet prisoners needing help from a psychologist, eye doctor, or internal specialist wait months to be seen.

These women are effectively hindered from providing even the most basic care to themselves, as clinic authorities refuse to distribute basic medicine or first aid kits to inmates. Many–insulted by the stipulations from Khani, the clinic head, that they take all of their nightly medication in one supervised sitting–have quit their medications in protest, and are experiencing aggravated symptoms as a result.

Evin Prison dentistry operates in less-than-sterile conditions and exposes patients to remarkably high risk for infections. Cavity fillings are expensive there, putting patients out as much as 20 million rials (approximately $114 USD) or preventing them, for lack of means, from getting the fillings they need. Many of the Evin women have trouble footing the bill, as the now-unemployed breadwinners of their households or as the wives of men who are also behind bars.

Prison food rations are growing more pitiful by the day. Forty-day rations of dry food items that are distributed to prisoners are depleted without fail within half that time. In the last six months, meat and vegetables have been cut from the prisoners’ diets.

Hygiene and cleaning items are also in short supply. Most prisoners run out, and those who can’t afford the pricey prison shop simply do without.

Deputy prosecutor Rostami oversees political and security prisoners and recently took up his position in Evin’s prosecutorial office. While he has verbally engaged to welcome prisoner families into his office on Sundays and Tuesdays, complaints from these families suggest that he is chronically unavailable, impassive to their requests, and generally unaccountable. Complaints lead nowhere, families say; requests for furlough or conditional release are routinely ignored.

Prison authorities rarely visit the Women Section, and tend to either lose or ignore any letters from its inmates.

Who are the women of Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward?

1- Maryam Akbari Monfared (born 1975)

Convicted of enmity against god, gathering and colluding against national security and propagating against the regime through working with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), Monfared is serving a suspended sentence of 15 years.

Monfared was arrested December 31, 2009, following a widespread Ashura demonstration during the holy month of Muharram. She was tried the following May and sentenced by Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati. She denied the accusations against her.

Monfared has been shuffled around different penitentiaries over the course of her imprisonment, inducing the solitary cells of Ward 209, the Methadone Ward, the Women’s Ward, Rajai Shahr Prison, and Qarchak Prison in Varamin. After writing several letters to clerics, prison authorities, and Ahmad Shaheed, then the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, she was returned to Evin’s Women’s Ward and has remained there since.

Two of Maryam’s brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 for their connections to the MEK. Another younger brother and a sister were also executed during the 1988 massacre.

Maryam, a mother of two, has been barred from conditional release and has not received a single day of furlough since she began her sentence in 2009.

2- Zahra Zahtabchi (born 1969)

Zahra Zahtabchi was issued a 10-year suspended sentence for Baqi (violation) and enmity against god through support of the MEK.

Zahtabchi was arrested with her husband and daughter on October 16, 2013. She came to Evin’s Women’s Ward after spending 14 months in the solitary cells of Ward 209. On December 8, 2014, Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts sentenced her to 12 years in prison. The sentence was reduced to 10 years in appeals court.

Her two daughters are Narges, 22 and Mina, 15.

In 2016, three years after her arrest, she went on furlough for three days.

3- Fatemeh Mosana (born 1967)

Fatemeh Mosana was sentenced to 15 years for Baqi and enmity against god through support of the MEK in Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Ahmadzadeh. Her husband Hassan Sadeghi received the same sentence.

Mosana, Sadeghi, and their child were arrested January 28, 2013, by Intelligence Ministry forces. The child was released after six weeks.

Mosana spent 75 days in the solitary cells of Ward 209 before her transfer to the Women’s Ward.

On January 13, 2014, she was temporarily released on bail. Some of her family’s property, including Sadeghi’s shop and their personal house, was seized by the authorities.

On September 30, 2015, she was re-arrested and taken to the Women’s Ward. She has two children who currently live with their ailing grandmothers.

Mosana, who suffers from ulcerative colitis and severe nervous migraines, has never been granted furlough.

4- Narges Mohammadi (born 1972)

Narges Mohammadi is serving a 16-year sentence, compounded by a six-year sentence on a previous case.

Narges was first arrested in 2002 and then released on bail after a week. For that case, she received a one-year sentence.

In May 2010, she was arrested and held for weeks in the solitary cells of Evin’s Ward 209 before being released on a bail of 1 billion rials. In 2011, she was convicted of gathering and collusion against national security and propaganda against the regime, which carried a sentence of 11 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to six years in appeals court.

She started serving her sentence in 2012, which began with one month in solitary confinement and four months in exile in Zanjan. She was released due to health conditions before being re-arrested in 2015 to resume her sentence. At that point, authorities opened up a new case file against her, convicting her anew of gathering and collusion, and of propaganda against the regime, with the additional charge of establishing LEGAM, a campaign to abolish the death penalty. Collectively her charges earned her 16 years in prison, but by Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code, she should only serve 10 [i.e. the sentence corresponding to the heaviest among her multiple charges].

She has two children, and on the prosecutor’s orders is barred from having contact with her husband.

She suffers from pulmonary embolism and was granted a three-day furlough on September 29th.

5- Reyhaneh Haj Ebrahim Dabagh

Born in 1982, Reyhaneh Haj Ebrahim Dabagh is serving a 15-year exile imprisonment sentence, ruled by Judge Salavati in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on charges of enmity against god through support of the MEK, gathering and colluding, and propaganda against the regime.

Ebrahim Dabagh has been in prison since early 2010. She suffers from ulcerative colitis and has served exile time in Qarchak and Rajai Shahr prisons. Her husband Ahmad Daneshpour and her father-in-law Mohsen Daneshpour are awaiting trial in Evin’s Section 350. They are both said to have been sentenced to capital punishment.

After seven years in prison, Ebrahim Dabagh went on furlough for the first time in December 2016, and was briefly freed on bail. On August 15, 2018, she was sent back to Women’s Ward to serve the rest of her sentence.

6- Azita Rafizadeh (born 1980)

As part of a 2011 crackdown on the Baha’i academic community, security agents raided the homes of managers and professors at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), including Azita Rafizadeh’s. In the raid, her religious books, personal writings, and electronic devices were confiscated.

Rafizadeh was sentenced in 2014 to four years in prison on charges of acting against national security and membership in “the illegal Baha’i organization.” Her husband Peyman Kooshkbaghi was sentenced to five years in prison at the same time.

She presented hersef to Evin’s prosecutors in 2015 to begin her sentence. On February 28, 2018, her husband was detained without reason in Evin’s section 8 while trying to arrange a visit with her. Rafizade and Kooshkbaghi have a 10-year-old son name Bashir who in absence of his parents has been trusted to the care of another family.

7- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (born 1979)

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year suspended sentence on charges of gathering and collusion against national security.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at the airport while visiting Iran on holiday in 2016. After a day in IRGC’s detention center, she was transferred to Kerman prison, and two months later to Tehran, where Judge Salavati issued her prison sentence in July of that year. A few months later, she was sent to the Women’s Ward.

On August 23rd, she was granted a three-day furlough after two and a half years in prison. She has a four-year-old daughter.

8- Aras Amiri (born in 1986)

A student of London’s Kingston University, Amiri was arrested by Intelligence Ministry forces on March 14, 2018, and released two months later after posting a 5000 million rial bail. On September 7, 2018, she was summoned and subsequently arrested by Evin prosecutors, after which she was sent to the prison’s Women’s Ward. She has denied the “gathering and collusion against national security” accusations against her and is still awaiting trial.

9- Golrokh Ebrahimi Irayi (born 1980)

Irayi was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 2.5 years based on amnesty and Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code. She was convicted of insulting the sacred and gathering and collusion against the regime. Earlier this year, she was exiled to Varamin’s Qarchak prison, and was brought back to Evin after going on hunger strike.

On September 6, 2014, Golrokh was arrested along with her husband, Arash Sadeghi. She spent two days in an IRGC safe house and then 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, which is under IRGC jurisdiction. She was released on a bail of 800 million rials.

Judge Salavati sentenced her to six year in prison while she was undergoing surgery in the hospital.

On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested her without a warrant. Her husband Arash Sadeghi was also arrested and sentenced to 19 years in prison. He is currently in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison and has undergone operations for cancer.

Arash and Golrokh have been forbidden from seeing each other for the past 8 months.

10- Nasrin Sotoudeh (born 1963)

According to Sotoudeh’s lawyer, she has been sentenced to five years in prison for espionage (a charge that does not figure on her charge sheet), a complaint from Kashan prosecutorial interrogators, and an arrest order from Branch Two of Evin’s interrogators. She currently awaits trial.

Sotoudeh was first arrested September 2010 and sentenced to 11 year in prison, a 20-year ban from the bar association, and 20-year travel ban. Appeals court reduced these sentences to six years in prison and a 10-year ban from the bar. She was in Evin prison from 2010 to 2013 on charges of “acting against national security.” Upon her release, lawyer’s court banned her from the bar for three years, which she protested in 2014 by organizing a sit-in in front of the Bar Association. Because of her sit-in, her attorney privileges were reinstated.

On June 13th of this year she was arrested in her home and taken to Evin prison. Her husband Reza Khandan is being held in Evin’s Section Four. Two of her children, Mehrave and Nima, are currently in the care of family friends.

11- Negin Ghadamian (born 1983)

Ghadamian was sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence on a conviction of against national security through membership in “the illegal Baha’i organization.”

On May 24, 2011, Negin was arrested by security forces and released on a bail of 500 million rials. In February 2013, along with eight other Baha’i citizens, she was convicted in absentia of working with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education and sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Moghise. On December 16, 2017, she was arrested at the airport and sent to the Women’s Ward of Evin prison to serve her sentence.

12 – Masoumeh (Mino) Ghasemzade Malakshah (born 1976)

Malakshah and her ex-husband, Amir-Mehdi Tabasi were arrested in 2011 by the Intelligence Ministry agents. Both were detained and later released on bail on espionage charges after travelling to the Israeli embassy in Turkey and applying for residency in Israel. Both Malakshah and Tabasi were sentenced to 10 years, a sentence which was confirmed in appeals court in 2017.

Malakshah was taken to the Women’s Ward of Evin prison. Tabasi is detained in a different ward of same prison.

13- Ruqayya Haji Mashallah (born 1981)

Mashallah is awaiting trial on charges that are currently unclear.

Of Iranian origin, Mashallah is a citizen of Bahrain. She was arrested in May 2018 in Mashhad and taken to Evin’s Women’s Ward on June 27th of the same year. Her Bahraini husband has only been able to meet with her once since her arrest. She a mother to three children.

14- Leila Tajik (born 1973)

Tajik was arrested by IRGC’s Intelligence Department on September 5, 2017. She was taken to the Women’s Ward earlier this year after spending seven months in an IRGC safe house. Her husband, who is said to be a retired employee of IRGC’s Intelligence Department, is also under arrest. She awaits trial on charges of espionage.

Tajik and her spouse have two children aged 16 and 19.

15 – Atena (Fateme) Daemi (born 1988)

Daemi was arrested on October 21, 2014.

On May 15, 2015, Judge Moghise of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 14 year in prison on charges of collusion and gathering against national security, propaganda against the regime, and insulting the Supreme Leader. Her sentence was reduced to five years with application of Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code.

After her arrest and before her trial, she spent 86 days in the solitary cells of Section 2-A. On February 15, 2016, she was released on a bail of 5500 million rials. Her sentenced was reduced to seven years in appeals court in August of 2016.

Daemi was arrested in her father’s house that November, and cases against her two sisters and one of her brother-in-laws immediately followed. She went on hunger strike for 54 days until the charges against them were dropped. So far she has been acquitted of two case files that have been opened against her.

In January of this year, she was taken to Varamin’s Qarchak prison after being assaulted. On May 9th, she was taken back to Evin’s Women’s Ward. She has thus far been denied furlough and has yet to request parole.

16- Elham Barmaki (born 1968)

On December 28, 2011, Barmarki was arrested on the street and spent three months in the solitary cells of Section 209. She was then released on bail and was later acquitted.

On July 23, 2012, she was arrested again, this time spending 14 months Section 209 solitary cells. On September 29, 2013, she was transferred to the Women’s Ward.

In Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Moghise, Barmaki was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fines of 25,000 Euros, 70,000 USD, and 400 million rials. She has two children, Amir-Parviz and Anita, who both live abroad. She was released once on furlough in March 2017 for the Persian New Year. Her request for parole has been rejected.

17 – Sotoudeh Fazeli (born 1953)

Fazeli was arrested in early 2011 by the Intelligence Ministry. She spent 31 days in Evin’s Section 209 before being released on bail in 2011. Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Salavati, sentenced her to three years in prison on charges of “enmity against god by supporting the MEK.” She has been held in the Women’s Ward since June 29, 2016.

Fazeli suffers from eye and muscle problems, among other health conditions. She was released on a short furlough in 2016. Her requests for parole have been repeatedly rejected.

Since the beginning of the new Persian calendar year in 2018, 15 new prisoners have entered the Women’s Ward, including Zahra Zare, Negar Zarei, Mandana Azarmah, Akram Gholami, Aliyah Eghdamdoost, Akram Mirsane, Raha Fasayi, Parisa Rahmati, Batool Ezati and Arefe Aziz. A number of these women have been already released.

Political Prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared Joins Chorus of Eulogies for Executed Kurds

Posted on: September 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Maryam Akbari Monfared, a political prisoner held in the women ward’s of Evin Prison, has penned an open letter in response to the highly controversial September 8th executions of Kurdish political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

Monfared, whose own siblings have been executed, expressed her sympathy for the mothers and sisters of the executed prisoners and chastised the broken promises of both current president Hassan Rouhani and the past 40 years of Iran’s Islamic governance.

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

Maryam Akbari Monfared

It has been a week since that day, September 8th, 2018.
September is the month of blood in Iran: September 8th, 1978*, and September of 1981**.

September 8th: Everyone is worried. My ward mates and I have heart palpitations. We are in a swarm of contradictory news flashes. Some say the families were told the executions have stayed; someone else says that their families visited them yesterday for the last time.

And then comes the 8 p.m. news, broadcasting a speech from a figurehead of a government touting “prudence and hope.”*** I think to myself, “Hope is such a beautiful word!”. Rouhani promises to break the chains of injustice with a golden key and to sow new hopes in the souls of the nation. He campaigned as his predecessors did before him, riding the wave of the country’s emotional elan. The ink on the ballots was still wet when he changed his stripes. How despicable of him to preside over the nation’s highest rate of executions and civilian crackdowns in 30 years.

All eyes in the ward are transfixed on the TV screen and the news ticker running at the bottom. Ears in the ward are attuned to the speaker’s’ every word.

Finally, the 10:30 p.m. broadcast: “Three terrorists…”

That’s right. For 40 years, they sent this land’s youth to the gallows, lined them up before firing squads, sent them off wholesale to torture chambers and prisons. Then, brazenly, they speak of their actions under the guise of eliminating “terrorism” and other excuses of this ilk. The chariots of oppression, torture, and captivity have been riding unbridled for 40 years.

I don’t intend to re-narrate the crimes of the regime, for the vileness and cruelty of the establishment are readily apparent. The news is abuzz with sympathy and condolences. Perhaps now it is too late to add my own….but for a while, I was unable to muster the presence of mind to pen even a few lines to the mothers and sisters of these beloved men.

To my mothers and sisters: I know your pain very well. I can almost sense the unbearable, scalding pain in your hearts. I know the whispers of the warm lullabies you used to sing, even those lost in the wrinkled lines of your bodies or drowned out by screams in a faraway land. I know the bitter taste of those tears shed by poppy flowers.

I know that you are adding a page to what will be the proud and bright history of Iran’s fight for freedom. I wish to honor your motherhood, this exalted, humane quality, and to thank you for your endless, unabating kindness. Your name is a comforting breeze in the sky. Your familiar faces and your kind gaze bear the promise of life, love, and resistance. When the flames of injustice burn your cheeks, I will put out the flames by touching your cheek to my own, which is frozen in the grimace of injustice.

I am brimming with unspoken words. My tears and the lumps in my throat are bursting with the pain of oppression. But now is not the time to cry. We have to spread our screams all over like ashes. I will lean against your warm chest from behind these stony and cold prison walls. My heart is ablaze with pain, and the tip of the flames reach my throat. This is not only the fire of pain–it is also the fire of life. I wish to carry your tears and your anguish on my shoulder, to feel the burden of this responsibility for the rest of my life. My mothers! My sisters! We must harness the power of our collective pain to soothe the wounds of the Iranian freedom movement.

The vampire will not leave its throne of darkness unless we shake that throne and force it to flee. Let me hold your warm hands with my cold hands, and together, we will join the ranks of the justice movement for our loved ones. To bring to justice the ones responsible for these horrific crimes, we must join forces.

Maryam Akbari Monfared
Evin Prison
September 2018

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Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested amid the 2009 Green Movement protests, and in June 2010 was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge Salavati in Branch 15 of Revolutionary Court for “enmity against God and the Islamic government through membership in the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).” Monfared has denied these accusations.

Two of her brothers were executed in 1981 and 1984 by revolutionary courts for membership in the MEK. In the summer of 1988, two more of her siblings — a brother and a sister — were executed as part of a widespread massacre of political prisoners. In a letter to former UN Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed, Monfared quoted her sentencing Judge: “You [Monfared] are bearing the burden of your siblings’ [political activities].”

Monfared served the first two years of her sentence in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison on the western outskirts of Tehran. She was then transferred in May 2011 along with eight other female prisoners to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, southeast Tehran. Shaheed protested the transfer and shed light on the deplorable conditions at Gharchak. As a result, Monfared was then transferred to the Evin Prison women’s ward, where she is serving the remainder of her sentence.

* In the last months of the Shah’s reign preceding the revolution, September 8th, 1978 came to be known as “Black Friday” when soldiers opened fire on protesters assembled in Jaleh Square, killing many.
** Iran’s then-new Islamic government intensified its crackdown on the opposition in the summer of 1981, arresting and executing a countless number of people.
*** “Prudence and Hope” was Rouhani’s slogan during both of his presidential campaigns.

Women Prisoners of Conscience Respond to Executions of Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman & Zanyar Moradi

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Political and civil rights activists detained in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison in Tehran have released a statement in response to the execution of political prisoners Ramin Hossein Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

In a letter, Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Golrokh Ibrahim Iraee, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghademian expressed condolences to the families of the three Iranian Kurdish prisoners, who were hung to death September 8th amid dubious legal proceedings and international protest.

Barring the families from interring their sons’ bodies themselves, authorities commandeered the remains to be buried in an undisclosed location. According to Ramin’s brother Amjad Hossein Panahi, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Moradis and Panahi families with detention. To the surprise of all families involved, the executions were carried out in an undisclosed location in Tehran province.

Amnesty International, one of the human rights organizations who were aghast at the course of the young men’s case, called the executions an “outrage.” Voices of the Evin Prison Women’s Ward now join the wave of dissent against the outcome of their case.

During a visitation on Sunday, the authors of the statement, many of whom are being held as political prisoners themselves, joined the families in singing “Ode to the Bleeding Tulip” and “O Iran” to commemorate and honor the memories of Ramin Hossein-Panahi, Loghman Moradi, and Zanyar Moradi.

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

No words could contain the crushing weight of our sorrow.

These brave children of our country leave us a legacy of patience, freedom, and perseverance.

Their names are affixed to the helms of those fighting for freedom, and for those that seek it, the path has been laid by their resistance.

We wish solace for the families and cellmates of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein-Panahi. We wish solace for all the afflicted citizens of our land.

We bear your pain in our chests and we stand with you.

Narges Mohammadi, Nasrin Sotudeh, Golrokh Ibrahimi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Atena Daemi, Azita Rafizadeh, and Negin Ghadamian

Women’s Ward of Evin Prison

Women Prisoners of Conscience Write Letter of Condolence to Human Rights Lawyer

Posted on: August 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Following the sudden death of Homa Soltani, the 27-year-old daughter of imprisoned human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, a group of women prisoners of conscience in Tehran’s Evin Prison wrote a joint open letter to convey their condolences.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION
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Dear Mr Abdolfattah Soltani and Ms [Masoumeh] Dehghan [spouse of Mr Soltani and mother of Homa Soltani],

It is with great regret and sadness that we hear from our prison cells the heartbreaking news of your beloved daughter’s passing.

Enduring the pain of this loss while serving your eighth year of imprisonment will not be easy, Mr Soltani, as a bereft father and one of the most steadfast defenders of human rights and one of the most compassionate figures in this land – or for you, Ms Dehghan, a kind mother and companion and an aid to Iranian civil society.

We appreciate the scale of your suffering and bereavement. We wish patience and better days for you and your children, and demand Mr Soltani’s freedom from prison.

The list of signatories is as follows:

Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammadi, Atena Daemi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Azita Rafizadeh, Sima Kiani, Nazanin Zaghari and Negin Ghadamian.

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Abdolfatah Soltani was granted furlough to attend the funeral of his daughter, Homa Soltani, who died on August 3, 2018, at the age of 27 as a result of a heart attack.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Twitter in reaction to Homa Soltani’s death, and citing the human rights activities of Mr Soltani, asked “How much longer will Abdolfattah Soltani and his family be punished for defending human rights? The Iranian authorities must put an end to this injustice and release Abdolfattah Soltani immediately”.

On Sunday, August 5, 2018, Saeed Dehghan, Mr Soltani’s lawyer, wrote a letter to Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, citing the reason behind the arrest of his client was politically motivated and orchestrated by individuals such as Saeed Mortazavi (former Tehran Prosecutor General and Iran’s Prosecutor General Assistant who has been convicted of abetting the murder of a jailed protestor during the 2009 popular unrest. He has been sentenced to two years in prison). Mr Dehghan requested from Mr Rouhani to observe the law regarding the conditional release of his client.

Reza Akbari Monfared Released after Serving 5 Years and 6 Months

Posted on: April 5th, 2018

HRANA News Agency – Reza Akbari Monfared, political prisoner who had been sentenced to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment on charge of supporting the MEK, was released from RajaI Shahr prison, in Karaj at the end of his sentence.

According to the report of Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Reza Akbari Monfared has been released from Rajai Shahr prison in Kara, at the end of his sentence of 5 years and 6 months imprisonment. (more…)

The Latest List of the Prisoners in Women’s Ward of Evin Prison

Posted on: September 26th, 2017

HRANA News Agency – In women’s ward of Evin prison, there are many mothers who are imprisoned with political and security charges. They are being kept in an inappropriate condition and without having sufficient phone call time, and very limited visits. The condition of this ward resulted in spreading of women and different diseases among the prisoners.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), currently 23 female prisoners, mainly with political and security charges are being kept in women’s ward of Evin prison. (more…)