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.

Tyranny on Prisoners of Conscience at Rajai Shahr

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- This past August, Rajai Shahr Prison authorities ordered the transfer of political prisoners to Ward 10, where prisoners’ already-tight rations on climate control, fresh air, and nutrition have reportedly been cut even slimmer.

It is a running suspicion that prison authorities seek to dismantle the political ward, breaking down these prisoners’ spirits so that they will be more amenable to being dispersed among different wards.

Ward 10 currently houses 18 prisoners charged with political and security-related crimes. Four more political prisoners are being held in lateral sections. Of these 22, seven are in need of medical care.

A cold chill is already creeping through the walls of the hillside prison, boding the incoming flu season from which political prisoners stand unprotected, a close source told HRANA. “The need for heating equipment is felt all across the prison, but on [Prison Head] Gholamreza Ziayi’s orders, the political prisoners can’t have access to heaters. While prisoners pay for heaters out of their own pockets, the director has forbidden their delivery or use in the political ward.” Prison authorities have reportedly even gone as far as banning heaters in common areas that political prisoners might flock to for refuge, i.e. the prison library, gym, or store.

A letter underlining the dire need for climate control addressed to Ziyai from a previous prosecution assistant responsible for overseeing prison affairs, did nothing to change his mind, the source said.

Political prisoners got the brunt of the opposite heat extreme this past summer when they were denied access to any form of a cooling system. While their repeated requests managed to obtain three refrigerators for the ward, Ziyai underlined that they would have access to more equipment and amenities if they requested to be transferred to different wards.

Political detainees have thus far held fast to regulations requiring prisoners charged with different offenses to be housed in separate wards. Their resistance against integrating with prisoners accused of petty theft, drug-related crimes, or violent offenses has contributed to continued daily frictions between authorities and their cohort.

Meanwhile, the assessment of food provided to these political prisoners is even more scathing than the Rajai Shahr usual. Sources say that prisoners eat vegetarian by default, limited to plain rice with soy or lentils at lunchtime. Though the dinner menu promises to be more substantial — bean or lentil stew, or Ash [a thick Iranian soup] — sources say that the dishes hardly live up to their names, and prisoners in the cohort are rarely, if ever, served produce.

Deprivation of fresh air is also being leveraged against them, sources say. The regular 2-to-5:30 recreation period previously enjoyed by political prisoners in mixed groups has been eliminated entirely since their transfer to Ward 10. “Fresh airtime has been denied [to them] on direct orders from Ziayi, despite the fact that the recreation area is empty between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”, an anonymous source said.

Warden and Internal Director Vali Ali Mohammadi has abdicated from addressing prisoners’ complaints, stating that he defers to the authority of Ziayi and his secretary/chauffeur. “In other words,” a source said, “the slightest request, like for food or stationary, has to pass by Ziayi and his secretary.”

Though seasoned in-group attrition tactics, authorities at Rajai Shahr have not shied away from more targeted brutality to get their point across. Multiple sources have reported aggressive body searches, harassment and verbal abuse of prisoners’ families, and the placement of arbitrary, extreme restrictions to wear down individual inmates. In one such instance, Supervising Prosecution Assistant Rostami placed a long-term prohibition on visits between Hassan Sadeghi and his imprisoned wife; in another, medical attention to the bone cancer and infected surgery site of Arash Sadeghi were repeatedly postponed and denied. Deprivations like Sadeghi’s may become more widespread: two weeks ago, an official prison order came into effect, invalidating all approved transfers of ailing prisoners to [outside] medical facilities.

The respective situations of a number of Rajai Shahr prisoners of conscience are compiled in the lists below

1. Majid Assadi, accused of assembly and collusion [against national security]. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 6 years. Anticipated release date: 2021. Has been incarcerated for two years without furlough.

2. Afshin Baimani, accused of Moharebeh [enmity against God] through cooperation with the MEK. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

3. Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, accused of being a MEK sympathizer, and of assembly and collusion against the regime. Arrested on 2016, sentenced to 11 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Has been incarcerated for two years without furlough.

4. Ebrahim Firouzi, accused of assembly and collusion and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 7 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

5. Abolghassem Fouladvand, accused of Moharebeh through supporting the MEK. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 15 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

6. Gol Mohammad Jonbeshi, accused of cooperation with the Taliban. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 3 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

7. Latif Hassani, accused of forming an illegal group to act against national security. Arrested in 2012, sentenced to 8 years. Anticipated release date: 2020.

8. Saeed Massouri, accused of Moharebeh through membership in the MEK. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

9. Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, accused of Moharebeh through support of the MEK. Arrested on 2007, sentenced to 22 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 11th year of incarceration without furlough.

10. Asghar Pashayi, accused of espionage. Arrested in 2008, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2018. Release pending his payment of a fine. Currently in 10th year of incarceration without furlough.

11. Farhang Pourmansouri, accused of hijacking a plane. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

12. Shahram Pourmansouri, accused of hijacking a plane. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

13. Houshang Rezaei, accused of Moharabeh through membership in Komele [Kurdish opposition group]. Arrested in 2010, sentenced to death. Currently in 8th year of incarceration without furlough.

14. Arash Sadeghi, accused of propaganda against the regime, assembly and collusion, insulting the supreme leader, and disseminating lies. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 11.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

15. Hassan Sadeghi, accused of Moharebeh through cooperation with the MEK. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 11.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

16. Hamzeh Savari, accused of moharebeh and acting against national security. Arrested in 2005, sentenced to life. Currently in 13th year of incarceration without furlough.

17. Payam Shakiba, accused of assembly and collusion against national security and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 11 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

18. Saeed Shirzad, accused of assembly and collusion against national security, damaging prison property, and disrupting prison order. Arrested in 2014, sentenced to 6.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2020. Currently in 4th year of incarceration without furlough.

Baha’is incarcerated in Ward 11:

1. Vahed Kholousi, accused of assembly and collusion against national security, Baha’i membership, activism, and proselytizing, propaganda against the regime, and activism in defense of Baha’i student rights. Arrested in 2015, sentenced to 5 years. Anticipated release date: 2020. Currently in 3rd year of incarceration without furlough.

2. Afshin Seyyed Ahmad, accused of assembly and collusion and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 3 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

3. Farhad Fahandoj, accused of Baha’i proselytizing and involvement in Baha’i associations. Arrested in 2012, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2022. Currently in 6th year of incarceration without furlough.

4. Afif Naimi, accused of assembly and collusion, blasphemy, and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2008, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2018.

Ailing prisoners deprived of medical care:

1. Majid Assadi: gastrointestinal disease, duodenal ulcers
2. Shahram Pourmansouri: herniated disc, syringomyelia requiring immediate surgery (per doctor)
3. Mohammad Banazadeh Amir Khizi: joint pain
4. Hassan Sadeghi: joint pain
5. Aboulghassem Fouldadvand: arterial plaque requiring hospitalization (per doctor)
6. Arash Sadeghi: chondrosarcoma, surgical site infection in the right arm
7. Saeed Shirzad: herniated disk, lower back spasm

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…)

The Supreme Court Upheld the Death Sentence of Shahram Ahmadi

Posted on: June 29th, 2016

HRANA News Agency – The request for a retrial by Shahram Ahmadi, Sunni prisoner of Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj who had been sentenced to death was rejected. Few days ago, the executive judge showed up in Sunni prisoners’ ward and told those whose death sentences had been upheld to prepare themselves for execution.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), on June 26, lawyer of Shahram Ahmadi, Sunni prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, was informed that the Supreme Court had rejected his retrial. (more…)

19 political prisoners on hunger strike in Rajai Shahr prison

Posted on: April 26th, 2014

HRANA News Agency – 19 political prisoners of Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj have gone on hunger strike in solidarity with the political prisoners of ward 350 of Evin prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Afshin Heyratian, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Saleh Kohandel, Said Masouri, Mohammad Ali Mansouri, Rasoul Badaghi, Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, Khaled Hardani, Hamid Reza Borhani, Batir Shahr Mohammadov, Misagh Yazdan Nejad and Naseh Yousefi have gone on hunger strike since the morning of April 23rd in solidarity with the political prisoners of ward 350 of Evin prison. (more…)

Political prisoners of Rajai Shahr Prison on hunger strike

Posted on: February 21st, 2014

HRANA News Agency – At least 8 political prisoners went on hunger strike after Shahrokh Zamani and Rasoul Badaghi were taken to the solitary.

 

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Rasoul Badaghi and Shahrokh Zamani, the 2 political prisoners of the ward 12 of Rajai Shahr prison had been taken to the solitaries after protesting to closing the library of the prison. (more…)

2 political prisoners in critical health condition

Posted on: February 11th, 2014

HRANA News Agency – Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi and Saleh Kohandel do not receive proper medical treatment although they are in critical health condition.

 

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi is the political prisoner in ward 12 of Rajai Shahr prison of Karaj who has broken his arm while helping another prisoner to go the prison clinic however he is getting proper medical treatment inside the prison, nor medical furlough. (more…)