CCTSI Rallies Teachers into Second Round of Strikes

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teacher Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) rallied educators across the country into a second round of general strikes November 13th, mobilizing in protest of the “Full-Time Teacher” bill, which continues to move forward despite significant pushback.

Strike activity was reported in several provinces, as teacher-activists and their allies staged sit-ins in the principal’s offices of their respective schools. “The goal of the sit-in,” a CCTSI statement read, “is to oblige our rulers to uphold the constitution by providing free, quality, and accessible education to students, and to stop their attack on the livelihood of teachers.”

CCTSI and their sympathizers voiced similar demands during a first round of strikes in October of this year.

Teachers made their demands known on handheld placards protesting low teacher salaries, environmental conditions unsuitable for learning, the Full-Time Teacher Bill, class discrimination in the education system, privatization, language discrimination, and the continued persecution of teacher-activists.

From Evin Prison, Vice President of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders Narges Mohammadi sent a message in support of the strikers:

“The children of this land learn “D E C E N C Y” from their teachers, and a teacher’s [decency] manifests in free expression and conscience.

The children of this land learn “P E A C E” and “F U L F I L L M E N T” from their teachers, and their teachers’ fulfillment lies in a humane, dignified life.

We support the teachers’ general strike of November 13 and 14, to free the fettered “T E A C H E R,” to elevate the teacher’s status, and preserve the right to peaceful protest.

Narges Mohammadi”

Open Letter: Golrokh Iraee Champions the Healthcare Rights of her Ailing Husband

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Civil rights activist and Evin prisoner of conscience Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee has written an open letter to protest the IRGC’s continued medical blockade on her husband, Arash Sadeghi, who has been effectively deprived of chemotherapy since undergoing surgery for chondrosarcoma on September 12th.

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

Authorities have offered no explanation for blocking visits and phone calls between me and my husband Arash Sadeghi. Since December 2017, the only contact we’ve had is a two-hour visit. And that was five months ago.

I have heard many reports that Arash is faltering in his battle with cancer. Only two days after undergoing surgery for his condition, he was harried out of the hospital against medical advice by the Sarallah IRGC [based in Tehran and responsible for securing the capital city]. Mal-equipped to counter the progression of Arash’s disease, the Rajai Shahr Prison clinic abdicated responsibility for his post-surgery care. Despite an infection to his surgery site, authorities have denied his request to be transferred to a hospital.

Specialists have stressed that the next stages of Arash’s treatment will require chemotherapy, and the state physicians in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) prison have asserted their inability to administer or monitor this treatment. No action has been taken to hospitalize him so that his chemo can begin.

Arash has been detained multiple times. He lost his mother to a raid by regime agents. He was denied the right to continue his studies and has been stripped of his civil rights. Finally, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison without any proof or evidence [of a crime]. Now he faces the rancor and spite of the Sarallah IRGC.

Arash is being denied medical care, one of the most basic rights promised to prisoners in the laws of the Islamic Republic.

Throughout our prison terms, we never asked to be spared their spite, but this time Arash’s life is at stake. My worst fear has come true, and we are well past the tipping point; I don’t know to what extent Arash’s health can be restored.

In the present circumstances, laws that profess to protect prisoners are unveiled as masks of humanity, a farce for the international stage. Despotism can no longer contain the true motive of these laws, which rulers make no effort whatsoever to enforce.

We cannot expect humanity from those who have already proven devoid of it. What matters is the fleeting sands of time, the dissipating moment, the joy that seems a more distant dream each day.

I am certain that with each display of callousness towards his health, Arash will be all the more emboldened. He will do as he has done with every other injustice, coercion, and anguish: he will overcome.

I thank every friend and organization standing shoulder to shoulder with us, and am grateful for the dear comrades who have stood by Arash in Gohardasht. May conscience break dawn on the dark night of ignorance.

Golrokh Iraee
Evin Prison
November 12, 2018

____________________________________________________________________________________

Golrokh Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. First held at an IRGC safe house for two days, she then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, under IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 800 million rials [approximately $19,000 USD].

On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Iraee again without a warrant. She was sentenced to six years in prison for blasphemy and “gathering and collusion against the regime.” She was later granted amnesty per Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code, which reduced her prison term to 2.5 years.

Iraee’s husband Arash Sadeghi is serving a 19-year sentence in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison.

Open Letter: the Fabricated Case file of Political Prisoner Pirouz Mansouri

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, who has been a political prisoner at Rajai Shahr for eleven years, is further from freedom than he thought.

A new case file opened up against Mansouri, accusing him of “gathering and conspiring against the regime,” will prolong his 15-year prison sentence by another five years. Cited in court as evidence of this charge were records of his hunger strikes, instances of “aggravating other prisoners,” his declaration of support for Mohammad Ali Taheri, and a statement he issued condemning the execution of a Sunni prisoner.

In an effort to alert human rights defenders — particularly the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran — Mansouri has written an open letter detailing the circumstances of the new case file.

Full text of his letter below:

“Report of a Fabricated Casefile

I, Mohammad Ali Mansouri, have been serving a prison sentence since August 28, 2007 — i.e. for eleven years. In May of 2017, per a newly fabricated case file, I was imprisoned and interrogated in Ward 209 [Ministry of Intelligence jurisdiction] for a month. The new charge was built on my exchanges through [the messenger app] Telegram. Since I’ve been in prison, I haven’t been granted a single day of furlough. In the absence of any evidence, charges were dismissed, and the case was closed. Then, in October, I was interrogated once more, in connection to a new charge: propaganda against the regime. From behind bars.

In January, without any advance notice that would allow me to retain an attorney, I was tried by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. I was indicted on charges that were never mentioned during my interrogations. The trial was unconventional[…]even compared to the unlawful methods employed routinely.

Defenseless and without the presence of an attorney, I was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for propaganda against the regime and gathering and conspiring with intent to commit a crime.

Notwithstanding the impossibility of gathering and conspiring from within the prison, criminal intent alone carries a five-year term […]

I verbally protested the matter (as they saw no need to put my complaint in writing). I introduced Mr. Dorafshan as my attorney, and yet, in his absence, the appeals court settled on a three-year imprisonment sentence[…]

The sentence was issued without a supervising judge, without me, and in the sole presence of the court secretary. The court record was entirely verbal. It was in no way compliant with the Islamic Penal Code. It was never clarified how it was deemed feasible when a hearing never convened, a judge never appeared, the defendant was absent, and the defense itself never spoke, that an appeal request could be filed and that this file could result in a sentence?

I have related the entirety of these judicial proceedings in order to illustrate the workings of our judicial system […]

I write not for the people of my country, who know this story by their own flesh and bones, but for human rights organizations, especially the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. May they see the real face of our so-called independent judiciary, which is nothing but a sentence-printing machine run by the Ministry of Intelligence.

Mohammad Ali Mansouri, Rajai Shahr Prison,
November 2018”

Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri was arrested September 2007 for participating in the 19th-anniversary commemorations of political prisoners that were executed in 1986. Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati, sentenced him to 17 years of imprisonment on charges of “contacting and conspiring with the anti-regime Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization”. Added to that was an exile sentence to Karaj, in Rajai Shahr Prison, and a fine of 150 thousand tomans [approximately $80 USD]. The sentence was upheld in appeals court.

In July 2015, Mansouri’s daughter Iran Mansouri reported that a clemency program held on a religious holiday had reduced her father’s sentence by two years. His most recent case file has increased his remaining five-year term to a decade. He has yet to be granted furlough.

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”

Civil Activists Petition for Political Prisoner Payam Shakiba

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Dozens of civil activists issued a statement October 18th advocating for due process in the case of political prisoner Payam Shakiba.

Held in Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj since his arrest in February 2018, Shakiba was sentenced to 11 years in prison by Judge Ahmadzadeh. The sentence was later upheld in an appeals court.

Shakiba is a former member of the University of Zanjan’s Islamic Student Association, and prior to his persecution by authorities was a graduate student of political science at Allameh Tabatabai University.

The full text of the activists’ statement, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Payam Shakiba, a former member of the Islamic Student Association at the University of Zanjan, was first arrested in July 2008 along with several other students protesting against the [sexual] assault of a female student by a university vice-president. All of the protesters were convicted. Payam was released on bail after 40 days and sentenced one year later to a year in prison.

Upon completion of his compulsory military service, he was hired as a teacher in September 2010 at a semi-private school in Tehran. In November of that year, he went to prison to serve his sentence. After his release, the Ministry of Education halted his employment proceedings.

Mr. Shakiba passed the entrance exam for master’s programs in applied science at both a public institution and Azad University. However, the public university barred him from enrolling in the program, given his status as a “starred” student [i.e. a student whose file is marked with an asterisk to indicate previous disciplinary action for political activity]. He had no choice but to enroll in the Sciences and Research Branch at Azad University. In the final days of his first semester, however, he was expelled and banned from returning to his studies.

Payam, however, didn’t stop there: he took the entrance exam again in 2013 and was accepted to the political science program at Allameh Tabatabai University. He had spent years in the meantime earning his living in industrial workshops.

Payam Shakiba was arrested for a second time on February 19, 2017, on charges of “acting against national security by assembling and colluding against the regime.” After a search of his workplace in the industrial park of Golgoun, in Shahriar, he was transferred to solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Intelligence. During this time he was denied access to a lawyer or visitation from family members. When his interrogation period had finished, he was illegally exiled to Rajai Shahr prison where he spent 17 months in legal limbo. It was then that he was faced with a judicial conundrum: first the appeals court informed one of his lawyers that Shakiba’s 11-year sentence had been reduced to six; a week later, another one of his lawyers was summoned to court, where he learned that the 11-year sentence had been upheld, and that the five-year reduction was no longer valid.

A glance at the processing of Mr. Shakiba’s cases, and at his sentence as it stands, reveals a flagrant injustice and lack of due process. What kind of judicial system takes employment opportunity away from a student and future teacher because they protested a sexual assault? In what kind of fair process can an interrogator rule in lieu of a judge to reverse an already-appealed sentence? Why are the basic minimums of amenities and living space withheld from Payam Shakiba and from other political prisoners? Why don’t they have access to adequate hygiene and nutrition, or even to a cooling system in the summer?

It is common knowledge nowadays that these deprivations serve to break a prisoner’s spirit and resolve. Yet as we also know, our grand and unflappable Payam cannot be broken. Anyone close to him knows him as an altogether reasonable, kind, humble, generous person, courageous and defiant in the face of injustice.

We the undersigned protest the illegal arrest and incarceration of this student activist. We consider the trial unfair and believe that his human and civil rights have been disregarded at all stages of the legal process, through the interrogation and investigation to the preliminary and appeals court proceedings.

Blindfolding, solitary confinement, and denial of access to a lawyer are violations of a defendant’s rights. Furthermore, the objectivity of the preliminary trial was compromised by the interference of a Ministry of Intelligence representative. By a flagrant act of interference [by non-judiciary authorities], his sentence was increased on appeal.

As friends, civil activists, and fellow students of Payam Shakiba, we object to his sentence and the unfair process to which he was subjected.

We ask for the immediate, unconditional release of Payam Shakiba so that he may defend himself in a fair trial before a jury. This self-evident legal and human right cannot be denied and ignored for perpetuity.

We ask human rights organizations and activists to carry out their duty, regardless of their political allegiances. The writing off of certain political prisoners is tantamount to abetting the suppression of their voices, and those guilty of it should be held accountable before history.

Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Ahmad Zahedi Langroudi, Ahmad Mohammadi, Ahmad Madadi, Ahmad Mirzaei, Ahmad Yazdi, Arsalan Beigi, Esmaeil Sarahandi, Asghar Dehghan, Asghar, Bahram Mahmoudi, Abolfazl Samadi, Aboozar Beheshti, Ehsan Rezaei, Ahmad Ebrahimi, Ahmad Barani, Ahmad Biglari, Ahmad Jabbari, Aazam Yari, Afshin Pourjam, Afshin Hyrtyan, Akbar Amini Armaki, Akbar Naseri, Akbar Hashemi, Mohammad Ebrahimi, A. Nasirian, Elham Motalebi, Omid Madani, Amir Bagheri, Anwar Farajzadeh, Ulduz Hashemi, Ivaz Hashemi, Adindeh Beigi, Azar Gilani , Amanj Amini, Avat Razavi, Bahera Alamdari, Bahram Aghdasi, Behzad Delshad, Feshdeh Fereydouni, Bahman Golali, Bahman Nouri, Behnam Farzaneh, Bijan Najafi, Parsa Krmanjyan, Parvaneh Ghasemian, Parvun Tavakoli, Parvin Mohammadi, Parvin Nokhostin, Parisa Sarai, Soraya Ghobadi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Jafar Hosseinzadeh, Javad Lal Mohammad, Jahangir Kas Nzany, Habib Beigi, Hassan Elmi, Hassan Noorzad, Hossein Ramezani Sarajari, Hossein Shah Pari, Hossein Sadeghi, Hossein Mousavi, Hamid Reza Kamayebarf, Hamid Zanganeh, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Shabani, Hamid Azimi, Hamid Noori, Hooria Farajzadeh, Dariush Rezaei, Dariush Faraji, Rahele Farajzadeh Tarani , Raheleh Ghodsi, Rahman Beigi, Rahim Hosniyatabar, Rahim Zakeri, Rahim Shams, Rasoul Heshmati, Reza Ahmadi, Reza Hosseini, Reza Abbasi, Rouhollah Hedayati, Ruzbeh Ekradi, Roshan Hashemi, Romina Mohseni Rajai, Zahra Rahimi, Ziba Omidi, Zainab Sepehri, Zhaleh Rouhzad, Sarah Beheshti, Sarah Siahpour, Sarah Barakat, Saeed Rezaei, Saeed Naimi, Saeedeh Maasoumi, Samaneh Abedini, Sorna Hashemi, Soheil Siri, Soheila Dalwand, Siamak Farid, Siavash Montazeri, Sima Salmani, Simin Javandideh, Sharareh Aram, Shahrzad Ghadiri, Shahnaz Akmali, Shadi Mohammadi Shiva, Ameli Rad, Saber Molaei, Sadegh Rezaie, Sedighe Zeitouni, Soghari Noor, Salah Sorkhi, Taher Hamedi, Tahere Ghobadi, Abed Tavancheh, Aliyeh Aghdoost, Abbas Shahbazi, Abbas Safari, Abdul Rahman Azim, Aziz Qasemzadeh, Esmat Taa Ali Ebrahimi, Ali Ahmadi, Ali Asghar Zolghodar, Ali Bagheri, Ali Rangipour, Ali Zarei, Ali Samad, Ali Azimi, Ali Masoumi, Ali Mirfatah, Alireza Behdarvand, Alireza Firoozi, Alireza Ghadiri, Enayat Vosoughi, Gholamreza Maleki, Gholamreza Hezaveh, Fatehmeh Ahmadi, Faezeh Almasi, Farzin Rezaei Roshan, Forough Sami Nia, Forough Fereydouni, Farhad Salamatkhah, Farideh Moradkhani, Fahimeh Badkoobehi, Kaveh Mozaffari, Kiandokht Nikbakht, Keyvan Rezaei, Laleh Abbasi, Madeh Alavi, Mojtaba Asadi, Majid Hassani, Majid Rahmati, Majid Masoumi, Mahboobeh Farahzadi, Mohsen Omrani, Mohammad Azami, Mohammad Hossein Rafiei, Mohammad Saeed Ahmadi, Mohammad Karim Beigi, M Hamad Karimi, Mohammad Ali Rostami, Mahmoud Didani, Mahmoud Mojdehi, Morteza Asadi, Morteza Nazari, Marzieh Dorood, Marzieh Mahmoudi, Maryam Haghighi, Maryam Mohammadi, Masoud Hosseini, Masoud Heydariyan, Masoud Saki, Masoud Kouhi, Masoud Hashemi, Masoumeh Dehghan, Mansour Soleimani , Mansoureh Farahzadi, Manijeh Foruzandeh, Mehdi Rahmati, Mehdi Arabshahi, Mehrnoush Heidarzadeh, Mahshid Rouhani, Milad Janat, Minoo Keykhosrowi, Naser Rashidi, Nahid Ebrahimi, Narges Ahmadi, Narges Zafari, Nasrin Ahmadi, Nasrin Amiri, Nasrin Saifodini, Niloofar Kadokhodayi, Vahid Zandi, Vahsa Safi, Hagar Karami, Homayoun Panahi, Salah Azadi, Ali Jafari, Roozbeh Rezaei, Amir Hossein Sa’ad , Ali Abu Torabi, Maryam Qalychyha, Humayun Madani, Mir Hamid Salek, Azita Rezvan, Amir Hossein Saadat, Naveed Kamran, Jelveh Javaheri, Sepideh Saghafian, Forough Azizi, Sarah Hemmati, Laleh Mohammadi, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Nastaran Eshghi, Ali Reza Tarkashvand, Zohreh Asadpour, Abbas Shahbazi, Reza Ansari, Masoumeh Abbasian, Abbas Shahrabi, Alireza Kaviani, Morteza Zarrin, Mahsa Yazdani, Zahra Ghaeninejad, Ahmad Rezaei, Afshan Davari.

****

Rajai Shahr Prison is located in Karaj, approximately 30 miles west of Tehran.

The University of Zanjan is located in Zanjan, approximately 180 miles northwest of Tehran.

Open Letter: Reza Khandan Echoes Public Support of an Ailing Farhad Meysami

Posted on: October 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Imprisoned civil rights activist Reza Khandan has published a letter calling attention to fellow activist Farhad Meysami’s mistreatment by prison authorities, who are reportedly unmoved by the steep decline of Meysami’s health since he declared hunger strike on August 1st.

Since forcibly taking Meysami to the prison clinic on September 26th, prison authorities have kept him in quarantine-like conditions, restricting all of his contacts with the outside. In protest of his arrest, as well as authorities’ refusal to appoint the lawyer of his choice, Meysami has already been on hunger strike for more than 75 days.

Medical doctors, publishers, bookshop owners, and university graduates numbering 1400 in all have published an open letter raising their own concerns over Meysami’s condition and pleading for his immediate release. The voices of two teachers incarcerated at Evin also got behind what has become a burgeoning public campaign for, at the very least, Meysami’s transfer to an outside medical facility.

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

Dear Compatriots,

Fellow human rights activists,

It has been 75 days since Dr. Farhad Mesyami started his difficult and worrisome hunger strike. Three weeks ago, he was forcibly transferred to the prison clinic from the general ward. Reportedly on orders from the prosecutor’s office, and with the cooperation of the clinic’s director, prison officials have repurposed the clinic into a security detention unit where patient spaces can be used as solitary confinement cells.

Currently, Farhad Meysami is being held in one of those rooms under tight security controls. In his frail state he has reportedly been subjected to inhumane treatment whereby, against his will and without the presence of family or a lawyer, he was strapped to a bed and given injections.

In these instances, we must hold accountable not only judiciary authorities but also the Ministry of Health and the President himself, who has sworn to protect the rights of the people.

Moreover, we must advocate that medical professionals be held accountable, those who have in an unprofessional and unprincipled manner taken action against the will of the patient, heeding any and all orders [from authorities], however unethical they may be.

Farhad Meysami’s health and life is at risk now more than ever, and it is urgent he is transferred to a hospital outside the prison for medical care.

Reza Khandan, October 14, 2018, Ward 4 of Evin Prison

****

Reza Khandan Khandan was arrested in his home by security forces on September 4, 2018, before being charged in Branch 7 of the Evin Prosecutor’s Interrogation office. He was summoned to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on October 5th but refused to attend as an act of protest against the unlawfully late subpoena.

Teachers’ Association Sounds Call to General Strike on October 14th & 15th

Posted on: October 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) has issued a statement critical of the Ministry of Education, drawing public attention to a trend of paltry compensation for teachers.

The statement calls for teachers and other pedagogical staff to stage sit-ins in the administrative offices of schools this coming October 14th and October 15th [the work week in Iran runs from Saturday to Thursday]. It also asks teachers to sensitize students by explaining to them in advance the civic impetus behind the sit-ins to come.

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

Dear Iranian teachers,
Cherished students,
Esteemed parents,

Teachers both active and retired have been scraping by on painfully low wages for years. They protest cuts to school budget allocations and the unconstitutional shift of educational duties from the shoulders of schools to the shoulders of the people. Teachers have stood their ground in civic and community actions [on behalf of concerns] that officials never deign to acknowledge. No, it seems they are preoccupied with staying in power, defensively clutching their spoils. They think only of their own interests, those of their small inner circle, and those of some citizens in other countries.

Out-of-control inflation and climbing prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen significantly. What’s more, the cost of education is on the rise, and the Iranian government and parliament have failed to answer to teachers’ faltering quality of life and the ailing education system. The time has come for us to protest this systemic disorder.

All have come to feel that the Ministry of Education, as the face and custodian of this system encompassing millions of people, is without a practical program or vision for improving our educational infrastructure. Instead of attending to the quality of formation and to teachers’ livelihoods, the ministry opts increasingly for monetizing education and impoverishing teachers.

The Public Service Law, which was passed in 2007, has yet to be implemented 10 years later.

The bill on teacher ranking is postponed month after month.
The Teachers’ Savings Fund has been looted, and according to the Fund’s inquiry committee, 18 million tomans [approximately $1,200 USD] is missing from each teacher’s share.

Teacher’s salaries have not kept up with the rate of inflation, and in practice, a majority of teachers live below the poverty line. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer public schools, and those still in operation [depend on separate funding] to run.

The security apparatus and judiciary, rather than pursuing those responsible for corruption and the robbery of our society, prefer to threaten, exile, fire, and imprison teachers who express their needs and pursue justice.

On behalf of workers in the education system both active and retired, CCTSI has exhausted available paths for bettering our current conditions. Teachers have voiced their demands in meetings and letters to officials, published them in statements, launched them as campaigns, and hosted syndical rallies for them. But the regime and the government refuse to take even a single step towards addressing those issues.

Honorable People of Iran,
Imprudent Iranian officials,

We are going to stage sit-ins because teachers can’t go to class in these conditions. In any case, classes held in makeshift camps, overcrowded to the extreme, can hardly be put to any use.

For the reasons discussed above and the many others we have voiced before, CCTSI calls on educational staff of all levels across the country to stage sit-ins in the offices of their schools on Sunday, October 14 and Monday, October 15. We ask that they refuse to go to classes and that they raise students awareness on the factors compelling this initiative.

We ask the school principals to join in and to refrain from harsh treatment of our colleagues. We warn security offices and institutions not to retaliate against the teachers taking part in demonstrations. We have tasted detention and incarcerations, and some of our brave colleagues are still in chains today. We ask that you lay down your weapons of repression.

This October sit-ins are only the beginning: if we don’t see swift, constructive, and concrete changes to the pay slips of active and retired educational employees, and to per-capita funding of students, we will escalate our general strikes come November.

We ask our retired comrades to come visit their local colleagues carrying a flower. Employed colleagues who are off on [the strike days] must also join in, at a school close to their home or in the school where they work.
Teachers believe in the common right to a dignified life, and in access to free, fair, and quality education for all children.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran
October 10th, 2018

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

****
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.

Open Letter from Prisoners to UN Envoy: Death Penalty is a “Weapon of Terror”

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, a letter was published to the attention of Javaid Rehman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran. Its authors were reaching out from the walls of Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj, on the western outskirts of Tehran, to raise the specter of rising execution numbers and public hangings that still mar the face of the country.

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

Javaid Rehman
Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Dear Mr. Rehman,

The death penalty is not simply a social predicament for us Iranians; it is a living nightmare. We live it and re-live it in the faces of children who witness public hangings, and in the faces of prisoners on death row. In the past few weeks alone, our fellow prisoners Mohammad Salas, Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were executed. Our families used to see each other during weekly visits. This time around, the visit was transformed to a day of mourning – further proof that the death penalty, a medieval legacy of human societies, is a collective punishment. With all of the shock and mental anguish that their executions put our families through, one can only imagine how the families of the victims are feeling.

[The aftereffects of] the death penalty are not the lot of political prisoners alone; every death-row prisoner feels them. The whole of society bears their cruelty.  The efforts of Special Human Rights Rapporteurs, particularly the late Asma Jilani Jahangir [Rapporteur between 2016 and 2018], who helped abolish the death penalty for drug-related offenses, are admirable. However, the widespread nature of executions calls for more drastic and concrete measures. Especially in today’s Iran, capital punishment is not simply a legal apparatus, but also a political weapon of terror used to suppress citizens expressing discontent with Iran’s economic, political, and social conditions.

We political prisoners believe that Iranian people will not be freed from this inhumane punishment without a serious international intervention. In our view, the economic and diplomatic needs of the Iranian regime are the ideal starting place for negotiations with authorities to put an end to capital punishment. We beseech you, as the Special Rapporteur, to ask the international community to make their dealings and diplomatic ties with the Iranian regime contingent on abolishing the death penalty and respecting human rights principles in Ian.

We thank you, in advance, for your efforts.

Sincerely,

1- Mohammad Amirkhizi
2- Majid Asadi
3. Payam Shakiba
4- Hassan Sadeghi
5- Arash Sadeghi
6. Abul Qassim Pulat
7- Abraham Firoozi
8- Mohammad Ali Mansouri
9- Saeed Masoori

CC: World Coalition against the Death Penalty (www.worldcoalition.org)