A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 26, 2018

Posted on: December 26th, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 26th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) The forced closure of nine Baha’i-owned businesses in Omidiyeh which had shut their stores in honor of their religious holiday, are still going on after 23 days. According to the law, citizens may close their businesses for up to 15 days a year for no reason; however, this law is not applied to Baha’is.

(2) Five protests were organized on December 26, 2018. Members of the cooperative housing organization for employees of the Ministry of Agriculture-Jahad, workers of Damghan Agro-industry Company, families of arrested workers of National Steel Company of Ahvaz, workers of Mahabad municipality, and farmers in Isfahan expressed their demands in separate protests.

(3) Mohammad Hossein Sodagar, an Iranian Azerbaijani poet and journalist, was flogged 74 times in the city of Khoy. His charge was questioning Majid Moghaddam, a member of the city council about validity of his claimed degree.

(4) Two construction workers have been severely injured in Bushehr and Lorestan provinces because of unsafe labor practices.

(5) A woman was executed in Tehran. She was identified as Noushin, 25-years-old. She was accused of murdering a man, named Soheil, who repeatedly raped her and forced her into sex with his friends.

(6) The mayor of district 19 of Tehran has confirmed that more than 200 families still live in inactive old brick kilns in this area. These families do not have access to clean tap water, sewage, and natural gas for heating.

(7) Teachers’ Trade Association of Tehran condemned Mohammad Habibi’s sentence and requested a fair trial for syndicate activists. Habibi, the detained teacher’s rights activist, was sentenced to a ten-year prison term and 74 lashes.

(8) The chairman of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran confirmed that the historical monuments in Tehran continue to be demolished for unauthorized construction, such as Nasirodolleh House, Zahiroleslam House, and Yazdgerd House.

(9) A political prisoner, Nasrollah Lashani, was beaten and insulted in front of his wife and his 8-years-old son during a family visit. Lashani is accused of ‘propaganda against the state’ and sentenced to six years in prison.

(10) Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader who are detained on the charge of ‘membership in a Kurdish opposition group’ were transferred from Saghez prison to Sanandaj for their court session.

(11) Reportedly, 108 workers of Mahshahr Pipe Industrial Company and 100 workers of Kavosh Pressure Vessel Manufacturer have been laid off. In addition, 120 workers of Kishwood Industries have unpaid wages.

(12) Due to death of Hashemi Shahroudi, the Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, all concerts are cancelled on this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Today was announced as a national day of mourning.

(13) Mohammad Zamanzadeh, a Telegram activist, returned back to the Evin prison after a few days of furlough. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for blasphemy-related charges.

(14) Ahmad Hajebi, an authority in the Ministry of Health announced that The most suicides which result in death are among 15- to 29-year-olds. Moreover, there are 2 million and 800 thousand addicted to drugs.

(15) Saeed Shirzad, a political prisoner in Rajai-Shahr prison, has been refused urgent medical care despite doctors requested his transfer to hospital for his severe kidneys failure. While the prosecutor’s office has assured that he would receive treatment, prison authorities have prevented this transfer.

(16) A 39-years-old prisoner who was accused of murdering his father-in-law, was spared from the hangman’s noose by the forgiveness of the next of kin in Babol.

(17) Leili Khatami’s, a children’s rights activist, was arrested on November 10th in Zahedan and her family still are not informed of her place of detention. She was charged with ‘espionage’.

Update on Kurdish Citizens in IRGC Intelligence Detention

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On October 28th and 29th, respectively, political prisoners Mohammad Ostadghader and Houshmand Alipour were permitted visits from their families for the first time since their arrest on August 3rd of this year.

On August 7th, Iranian national television broadcast footage of the young men confessing to an armed attack on a security post in Saqqez. Both stand charged of membership in a Kurdish opposition group, while their supporters assert that these “confessions” were violently coerced.

During the family’s visit earlier this week, security agents reportedly prevented Ostadghader and Alipour’s families from obtaining their signatures on attorney retainer forms.

No update is currently available on Alipour’s pending hearing in investigations court, which was scheduled for October 4th and later postponed.

Alipour’s brother Hejar published a letter earlier this month describing Houshmand’s judicial ordeal, writing, “The Islamic Republic pummeled and stifled the dreams of a young man, and we cannot stand by as they try to take his life.”

On September 10th, Amnesty International issued a statement that read: “On 3 August, Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, were arrested by security forces near Saqqez, Kurdistan province, on suspicion of taking part in an armed attack against a security base in that city. Mohammad Ostadghader was shot and injured during the arrest but has been denied medical care. The pair were held in an unknown location without access to their families or lawyers.”

Houshmand Alipour is from Sardasht, West Azerbaijan Province. Mohammad Ostadghader is from Saqqez, Kurdistan province, near the border with Iraq and home to Iran’s Kurdish minority.

Open Letter: Kurdish Citizen Fears for Imprisoned Brother’s Life

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On August 7th, Iranian state-sponsored television broadcast footage of what appeared to be a confession: two prisoners can be heard owning up to their part in an armed attack on the military base of Saqqez. One of these two men, Houshmand Alipour, is the subject of an open letter written by his brother Hejar, who sees this footage as a sham excuse to end his brother’s life.

Hejar has written in his brother’s defense before, asking human rights organizations in a recent open letter to address Iranian authorities’ restrictions on Alipour and his co-defendant’s visitations, extra-prison communications, and access to legal defense. Alipour, a Sardasht native, was detained August 3rd of this year alongside the prisoner seen beside him in the video, Mohammad Ostadghader. On charges of membership in Kurdish opposition parties, he has been confined to the Sanandaj Intelligence Office in circumstances increasingly dire.

A close source stated earlier this month that Alipour was being bounced between interrogation, intelligence detention, and Saqqez prosecution court, without the presence of a defense attorney and to the great confusion of his family. HRANA previously reported on authorities’ hindrance of Alipour’s defense proceedings as his October 4th investigation date drew near, only to be postponed.

In a prior statement, Amnesty International expressed concerns about Alipour and Ostadghader’s detention, particularly over their purported confession tapes. “The pair were held in an unknown location without access to their families or lawyers […],” the statement read. “The nature of the accusations against them and their forced televised ‘confessions’ may be a precursor to charges that incur the death penalty.”

Amnesty also detailed the plight of Ostadghader, who — as of the date of their statement — was denied medical since sustaining a gunshot wound at the time of his arrest.

The full text of Hejar’s second plea for his brother is below, translated into English by HRANA:

“Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader have thus far spent around three months in custody of the Islamic Republic. They are subjected to a variety of physical and psychological tortures. Their lives are at stake. Houshmand is a man 25 years young whose life is being squandered by the oppression of the Islamic Republic and its abuses of our family.

I want to narrate a part of Houshmand’s life here, for everyone to read. Houshmand was born in November of 1993 in Sardasht. He has a twin sister. He was born to a big family. Although there were ten of us children, our parents worked hard to make sure we wanted for nothing. Our father worked day and night, in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, all to provide for us.

The family Houshmand was born into is no stranger to oppression and injustice. Our father, Mostafa Allipour, is one of the better-known activists of the Sardasht region. Advocating to free the people and to better their lives bought him persecution from the Islamic Republic, which trailed him through the years with prison time and fines. My father always said, “Because we wanted fortune for all, much misfortune befell us [….]. The regime gave our family no respite.” Our mother, Ameneh Mowludian, bears the sufferings of the continued threats and pressures imposed on our family by the Islamic Republic. Our paternal uncle, Hossein Alipour, was executed in 1983 by the Islamic Republic. Our father’s paternal uncle Molla Ali Bijavi was executed in 1985 by Islamic Republic operatives, and the mercenaries of the Baʿthist regime in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Bearing witness to the insults and disdain that the government has always borne towards his family, Houshmand was haunted by anger and hatred. No matter how how hard he tried, he could never find peace.

In 2009, when he was only sixteen, he was arrested during a celebratory feast in Sardasht. Of his arrest, he said:

“Officers of the Islamic Republic attacked us with tear gas, batons, and pepper spray. I fell to the ground where they beat me and placed me under arrest. In their car, they tied my hands behind my back, blindfolded me, and transported me to the Intelligence Office. There they beat me savagely, insulted me, and spit obscenities at me. During the beatings and while I was blindfolded, they took my fingerprint as a ‘signature’ on documents, the contents of which I was wholly unaware. They forcibly extracted confessions in there.”

Houshmand is sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and 75 lashes. As a minor he spent time in the Juvenile detention center of Urmia before being transferred to the Juvenile Ward (1A). This is where he passed the days of his sentence and endured floggings.

After his release from prison, Houshmand Alipour was repeatedly summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence in connection to his family members’ politics. He eventually decided to flee to Iraq. He spent about four years in Iraqi Kurdistan, and even participated in the Kurdish war against ISIS, and incurred a few injuries in the process. A while later, following in the footsteps of his family members, he travelled to Turkey to seek asylum. His case file was registered at the UN Refugee office in Turkey. Upon his return to Iraq, where he went about working […] in the city of Baneh, Iranian Kurdistan, he was arrested alongside Mohammad Ostadghader.

The Islamic Republic pummeled and stifled the dreams of a young man, and we cannot stand by as they try to take his life. For this reason, I entreat all freedom-lovers and human rights organizations to do all in their power to rise up and save Houshmand’s life, to bring him back into the loving arms of his parents, sisters, and brothers.

Hejar Alipour,
20 October 2018”

Political Prisoner Denied Access to an Attorney

Posted on: October 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On August 3rd of this year, Ministry of Intelligence forces arrested Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader, whose taped confessions were broadcast on national television. Since then, Alipour has been cut off from both the services of a lawyer and visits from his family. He stands accused of membership in Kurdish opposition groups.

A family-appointed attorney learned on a phone call with the Sanandaj Intelligence Office that Alipour’s October 4th investigation court date was postponed, an informed source told HRANA. The prosecutor investigator has already interrogated Alipour, who will spend two more weeks at the Intelligence Office. Alipour’s family and lawyer deny rumors that he has been executed, the source said.

Alipour’s brother Hejar added that while Alipour has had contact with his family over the phone, they remain anxious to see him in person, and are worried about his continued interrogation and detention in the absence of any legal defense.

HRANA previously published a letter from Hejar Alipour, in which he pleads his brother’s case.

Alipour is from Sardasht, western Iran.

Political Prisoner’s Brother Fights to Save Him from a Legal Crisis, or Worse

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Iranian citizens continue to speak out on behalf of their imprisoned loved ones and compatriots, and Hejar Alipour’s voice is the most recent to join the throng of support. In an open letter, Alipour defends the rights to family visitation, family contact, and attorney consultation for Mohammad Ostadghader and his own brother Houshmand Alipour, both of whom are imprisoned on charges of “membership in Kurdish Anti-regime Parties” and–if the fears of human rights organizations prove true–may be on track to the death penalty.

Four days after the August 3rd arrest of Alipour and Ostadghader by the Ministry of Intelligence, Iranian National Television broadcasted a recording of the two men confessing involvement in an attack on a Saghez security base. Both have been barred from contacting their families since the day of their arrest, with the exception of a short phone call from Alipour to his family September 1st, in which he said he had been coerced to confess under threat of torture.

Amnesty International recently published a press release expressing grave concern about the imprisonment and forced confessions of the two men: “Mohammad Ostadghader was shot and injured during the arrest but has been denied medical care,” the press release stated, adding that the prisoners have been held in an unknown location, out of reach from their families or lawyers. “[We are] concerned that the nature of the accusations against them and their forced televised confessions may be a precursor to charges that incur the death penalty.”

In defense of the rights of prisoners like his brother Houshmand, Hejar Alipour pleads their case to the international human rights community in the letter below, translated into English by HRANA:

“It has been two months since my brother Houshmand Alipour and his friend Mohammad Ostadghader were trapped by intelligence officers of the Islamic Republic at the Keh Li Khan Mountain Pass near the city of Baneh. Since then, we have had no news of or contact from my brother Houshmand, other than a few-minute-long phone call from him during which he told us that he is detained at the Intelligence Office of Sananadaj. The Intelligence officers lied to him, promising that they will allow him contact and visits with his family. Yet he continues to be banned from having visitors and has not had permission to contact the family. We retained two attorneys for Houshmand who went to the prison, the Judicial Office, and the Intelligence Office of Kurdistan province in order to make arrangements to represent him. However, the intelligence and security officers of the regime refused the meeting and turned them away.

The lives of Houshmand and Mohammad are in serious danger. Under torture, they have been forced to falsely implicate themselves, thus validating national security charges being levied against them. The Islamic Republic is bound to Islamic Penal Code, Shari’a law, and its own provisions, i.e. criminals’ and accused citizens’ rights to a fair trial, an attorney, and official legal visitation, at least within a number of days of arrest. In the case of Houshmand and Mohammad, the Islamic republic is not only violating its own principles and Islamic judicial proceedings but also denying defendants’ most basic rights by treating them inhumanely and employing physical violence and torture. The extraction of confessions under violent torture, the broadcasting of those confessions on August 7, 2017, the refusal to allow contact with attorneys or families, and denying visitation, are all violations of the basic rights of any prisoner, be they political or criminal; of rights set forth by the Islamic Republic […]

By international human rights standards, and even by the standards of the Islamic Republic, any mistreatment, or forced confession under torture, is an inhumane and criminal act. The Islamic Republic is not holding itself accountable to any principle of morality or humanity[…]. Considering the circumstances, and as the family of political prisoner Houshmand Alipour, we are concerned about the physical conditions of Houshmand and Mohammad, and of their restricted access to medical care. We hold the intelligence and judicial officials of the Islamic Republic responsible for any physical outcomes of the dangers they currently face.

We have announced the Campaign to Save the Life of Houshmand Alipour and ask all freedom-loving, humanitarian people of the world to join our campaign so that we can prevent the slow death or execution of these two prisoners by the Islamic Republic. On September 11, 2018, Amnesty International announced an urgent and accelerated campaign to save the lives of Houshmand and Mohammad, expressing its concern and demanding that authorities address the appalling state of deprivation that these two prisoners are in. This campaign was circulated to all international human right organizations, the European Union, the United Nations, and other institutions defending Human rights. In Canada, we were able to spread the word about my brother Houshmand’s case with the help of Amnesty International and Center for Victims of Torture, as well as through contacts with Canadian parliament and ministers. We ask the Canadian Government to immediately condemn the Islamic Republic’s violation of the most basic rights of these two prisoners, i.e. to visitation with the attorney and the family. Please join the Campaign to Save the Life of Houshmand Alipour, to save Houshmand and Mohammad’s lives. Help us lift their voices to the level of governments and human rights institutions. We thank all those who have already expressed their support and concern for the life of my brother.”

Two Arrested in Saqqez and Transported to Unknown Location

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The whereabouts of two people who were arrested in Saqqez about three weeks ago are still unknown.

Houshmand Alipour of Sardasht, West Azerbaijan Province, and Mohammad Ostadghader of Saqqez, Kurdistan Province, stand accused of “membership in Kurdish opposition parties.” They were taken to an unknown location after their arrest by Intelligence forces on August 3, 2018.

Security forces reportedly opened fire on the detainees during the arrest, injuring Ostadghader.

Since their detainment, they have been denied communication with their families and access to a lawyer.