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.

Neda Naji Was Sentenced to Five Years and Six Months Imprisonment

Posted on: December 5th, 2019

On December 4, 2019, the Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court headed by judge Mohammad Moghiseh sentenced Neda Naji to five years and six months in prison. Based on the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that Neda Naji should serve five years in prison.

The final trial of Neda Naji was on July 08, 2019. She was arrested in the demonstration for the International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2019 along with 10 others. On June 15, 2019 she was transferred from Evin Prison’s Ward 209 to Qarchak Prison in Varamin. She is charged with “assembly and collusion”, “propaganda against the state”, “disturbing the public order”, and “disobeying the order of government officials”.

On July 6, her husband, Jamal Ameli, wrote on his personal Twitter account that Naji was beaten twice in the prison by a prisoner and a prison official and she was transferred to the health ward in the prison because of her blurred vision after the attack. 

Although anyone who had been arrested in the demonstration for the International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2019 has been released on bail during the past few months, Neda Naji is still in prison.

Jailed for attending International Workers’ Day Demonstration; Neda Naji has her final trial

Posted on: July 12th, 2019

The final trial of Neda Naji was on July 08, 2019. She was arrested in the International Workers’ Day demonstration on May 1, 2019 along with 10 others. On June 15, 2019 she was transferred from Evin prison’s Ward 209 to the Qarchak prison in Varamin. She is charged with “assembly and collision”, “propaganda against the stat”, “disturbing the public order”, and “disobeying the order or the government officials”.

On July 6, her husband, Jamanl Ameli, wrote on his personal Twitter account that Naji was beaten twice in the prison by a prisoner and a prison official and she was transferred to the health ward in prison because of her blurred vision after the attack. He added that Naji and Atefeh Rangriz are in danger in Qarchak prison.

Naji and 10 other arrestees had participated in a protest in front of the parliament on May 1, 2019. A few of them were released but Neda Naji, Atefeh Rangriz, and Marzieh Amiri are still in prison. Anisha Asadollahi who was released on bail was arrested again on June 18 and was transferred to Evin prison’s Ward 209. Her case is in process at Court Branch 2 of Evin Prison Court. Moreover, Marzieh Amiri’s hearing was on July 3, 2019 and she charged with “assembly and collusion” and “disturbing public order” and the judge refused the request to release on bail.

Four Months Report of Workers’ Conditions in Iran

Posted on: June 20th, 2019

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is a four months overview of workers’ rights violations in Iran between February and May 2019, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

Domestic restrictions in Iran on independent human rights reporting make it difficult to capture the full extent of these issues on the ground. The following overview draws on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources, including other human rights associations operating outside of Iran’s borders.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in February 2019

Several workers were arrested and faced trial in February. Also, the purchasing power of workers was steadily decreased in this month. Abdolreza Azizi, a member of the Social Affairs Committee of the Iranian Parliament stated that workers have lost 70 percent of their purchasing power. Tens of workers died or were injured because of the lack of work safety and hundreds of them were laid off. Another ongoing problem for workers was having unpaid wages this month.

The unpaid wages were issues of concern for many of Iranian workers, for instance, workers of Borujerd Saman Tile, nurses of Azadi Hospital in Tehran, Abejdan (in Andika county) municipality workers, workers of Rasht, Sedeh, Ilam, Shadegan, and Parsabad-e-Moghan municipalities, workers of Jahan Vegetable Oil Factory, South Pars Gas Field workers, workers of the Saham-e-Edalat cooperative company, nurses of Namazi Hospital in Shiraz, technical workers of Iran Railways, workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry, Tehran subway, and Mashhad telecommunications had unpaid wages during this month.

Moreover, some of the workers in Iran Powder Metallurgy Complex, factories in Asaluyeh and Pars Saveh tire factory were fired or laid off this month. 500 workers of factories in Qazvin province were suspended and 800 workers were laid off in Asaluyeh as well. On the other hand, 52 workers died or were injured because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in their workplaces.

Three prominent labor activists, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Jafar Azimzadeh, and Parvin Mohammadi were detained. The request of temporary release on bail for Parvin Mohammadi was denied by the Branch 102 of Fardis’s Criminal Court. Esmail Bakhshi, the detained labor activist of Haft Tappeh, faced three new charges: “spreading lies”, “propaganda against the state”, and “insulting to authorities”. Esmail Bakhshi’s attorney, Farzaneh Zilabi was summoned to the Branch three of the Shush county’s Revolutionary and General prosecutor’s office. In the same month, officers of Shush prosecutor’s office physically attacked Bakhshi’s sister and handcuffed his mother. This happened when his family was following up on his lawsuit. Later the family of this labor activist were summoned to the court.

In February, the attorney of several workers of Arak HEPCO reported that the cases of seven workers of this company were transferred to the Revolutionary Court. In 2018, 15 workers were sentenced to prison and lashes after last year’s protests. The appellate session of Davood Razaei, a board member of the syndicate of workers of Tehran and suburbs bus company, was held in the Branch 36 of Tehran Appellate Court. He was sentenced to five years in prison by the Branch 26 of the Revolution Court. Eghbal Shabani, labor activist in Sanandaj was arrested and Zaniar Dabaghian, another labor activist from Sanandaj, was sentenced to one-year prison term. A journalist was arrested in Qazvin because of reporting workers’ news in this month.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in March 2019

Several workers and activists were arrests, summoned, sentenced, received lash sentences, and were fired during this month.  Because of the lack of work safety, many workers died or were injured. Also, it has been stated that tens of thousands of workers encountered financial hardship because of their unpaid wages.

47 workers died or were injured because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in their workplaces. The workers of Takestan Wire company, Ajand construction company, Chame Shir dam in Gachsaran, Travers technical buildings lines, Andimeshk municipality, Choghazanbil world heritage site, Kurdistan’s Zagros Steel Contractors, and Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry have unpaid wages in this month.

Ali Kashefi, chairman of Mashhad laundries union, reported that 50 businesses were closed, and their workers were unemployed; due to last year’s high inflation. Some of the waste collectors of Sadra municipality who already have three months of unpaid wages and were protesting for their unpaid wages were fired. At the middle of March, which is the Persian new year, chairman of the pioneers of labor union of workers society announced that at least 97300 workers had unpaid wages prior to the New Year’s Eve.

Jafar Azimzadeh, chairman of the Free Workers Union was sentences to 30 lashes. Parvin Mohammadi, vice president of this union was released on bail. Meanwhile, Esmail Bakhshi was transferred from Shush prison to Sheiban prison in Ahvaz.

Moreover, several citizens were arrested protesting against firing waste collectors of Sadra municipality. Rahim Khodabakhshi, general secretary of Shiraz University’s Arman union, Ehsan Ziaraty, head of Shiraz University’s Basij Student Organization, and Hamid Mohammadpour, former secretary of Arman union were among the detainees. Ebrahim Abbasmanjazi, one of the workers of Haft Tappeh was summoned to Shush’s prosecutor’s interrogating office by a notice. After interrogation and charging accusations, he was temporarily released.

The Banch 36 of Tehran’s Appeals Court sentenced Davood Razavi, member of Tehran ‌Bus Company’s workers’ labor union board, to five years in prison. According to the verdict, this decision is suspended for five years. Also, Maziar Seyyednejad, a labor activist who was arrested 3 months ago for workers’ protests in Khuzestan, was released from Sheiban prison of Ahvaz on bail until completion of the juristic process. He was treated terribly during his prison time.

Two other labor activists, Ghodratollah Jalalvand and Reza Amjadi, were arrested in this month by security officials and were moved to an unknown location. Reza Amjadi was released after a few days by bail until completion of the juristic process.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in April 2019

One of the most important news in this month was arresting and summon of labor activists and the security authorities’ pressure to prevent celebratory events for the international Labor Day. Tehran Bus Company’s workers’ union invited workers to protest by the Parliament building on May 1st. Some of the businesses were shut down and a lot of workers were laid off in this month, because of high inflation and rising costs of production.

105 workers died or were injured because of the lack of work safety. The worker of Oshnavieh municipality, Iran Powder Metallurgy factory, Ilam industrial slaughterhouse, Tehran Metro lines 1 and 4 services, Ahvaz Steel,Rasht and Sari municipalities, Cement production factory of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, Iranian railway company, Dehdasht hospital, Iran telecommunication company, and teachers of the schools outside Iran had unpaid wages this month. Chief executive officer of Hamshahri institute, the official news agency of Tehran municipality, stated that 104 of this institute’s personnel were laid off. 50 workers of Mojan engineering company, construction contractor of the central sewage treatment plant in the Bandar Emam petrochemical plant and 35 other workers in Keyvan food industries in Hamadan province were laid off.

Executive secretary of Mazandaran province worker’s house announced Neka Choob company was out of business and its workers were laid off. Tehran Bus Company’s workers’ union invited the workers to attend a protest by the Parliament on May 1st, in commemoration of the international Labor Day.

Amir Amirgholi, Sanaz Allahyari and Amirhosein Mohammadifar, members of “Gam”, a labor right defendant magazine, were detained. Thus, detention was one of the most important news on workers in April. Amir Amirgholi and Esmail Bakhshi were transferred from Ahvaz prisons to Evin prison in Tehran and their investigation trial was held in the Evin prosecutor’s office. Three labor activists, Ghaleb Hoseini, Mozafar Salehnia and Ahmad Taghizadeh, in the cities of Sanandaj and Urmiah were summoned by these cities ‘security authorities before labor’s day. Twelve labor activists in Jahannama Park of Karaj were arrested as well. Four of them, Parvin Mohammadi, Valeh Zamani, Alireza Saghafi, and Haleh Safarzadeh, were detained.

 

Monthly Report of Workers in Iran in May 2019

‏ The most important news in this month was the arrest of more than 50 labor activists and citizens on the international labor’s day celebration in May, by the Parliament. Meanwhile, hundreds of workers were laid off because of businesses’ shut down. In this month, Reza Shahabi attended the General Conference of Labor in Dijon/France.

106 workers died or were injured because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in their workplaces. On the other hand, more than 50 workers of “Navard Ivan” steel company who were working for more than 10 years in this factory, were laid off because of this factory being out of business. Also, more than 100 workers of Mahshahr Pipe Mill and Kurdistan Alborz tire, and 140 workers of Mahshahr petrochemical plant were laid off in this month. Meanwhile, 263 laid off workers of Asaluyeh South Pars, who had unpaid wages and premiums, wrote a letter to the minister of oil and demanded their rights. They wrote in their letter, that they “collect bread waste” for living.

‏In this month, Reza Shahabi attended the 52nd  Congress of the General Confederation of Labor in Dijon/France as the representative of the Tehran Bus Company’s workers’ union. He reported that Farahnaz Shiri, the first female bus driver in Tehran Bus Company was fired because of her gender. He also spoke about the problems and limitations of workers in this company.

‏Unpaid wages of the teachers around the country, workers of Ghoo vegetable oil company of Tehran, Ilam slaughterhouse, RSTC of Arak, Tabriz, and Shazand, Mahabad and Tabas municipalities, sugar beet farmers of Naghdeh sugar production company, coal mine workers of Malach Aram mine, physicians of Yazd University of Medical Sciences, and Karj Imam Khomeini hospital workers, wee one of the other problems which workers were encountering this month.

‏More than 50 people were arrested during the international labor day’s ceremony which was held by the Parliament. Despite release of some of the detainees by bail, some others like Marzie Amiri, Keyvan Samimi, Hasan Saidi, Atefe Rangriz, Nasrin Javadi, Nahid Khodaju, Neda Naji and Farhad Sheykhi were in custody, being in prions for about a month.

Representatives of labor unions of many countries around the world attending the 52nd Congress of the General Confederation of Labor in Dijon/France and Amnesty International, released two separated statements and demanded setting detainees of international Labor Day free without any conditions. Cases of labor activists, Esmail Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian, Amir Amirgholi, Sanaz Allahyari, Amirhossein Mohammadifar, Asal Mohammadi and Ali Nejati, were sent to the Tehran’s Revolution Court. Although a bond was set for the detainees, the head of Evin prosecutor’s office prevented their release on bail. In addition, two labor activists in Sanandaj, Tofigh Mohammadi and Eghbal Shabani, were sentenced to two years in prison. More than 10 workers of Haft Tappeh were arrested or summoned by security authorities. There exact number of these workers is not known. They were arrested or summoned because of protesting the Islamic Labor Council of Haft Tappeh. Eshagh Rouhi, a labor activist from Sanandaj who was arrested at the same time of international Labor Day, was unable to pay the set bail and was held in prison. The trial of labor activist, Maziar Seyyednejad, was held in this month by the Revolution Court of Ahvaz.