Political Executions: Zanyar & Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein-Panahi Hanged to Death

Posted on: September 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein-Panahi, three Iranian political prisoners, were reportedly executed on the morning of Saturday, September 8th in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison.

Iran’s Fars news agency published a report on September 8th claiming these three men were “thugs who took military and terrorist measures in western Iran and brought insecurity and killed the loved ones of a number of families.”

On September 7th, families of Zanyar and Loghman Moradi had met them in solitary confinement cells, as requested by prison authorities.

Families of Zanyar and Loghman were contacted by authorities of Rajai Shahr on September 5th and asked to go to the prison, Zanyar’s brother told Hrana. “Loghman’s father and I were able to meet with them. Zanyar told us that they were sent to solitary confinement three days ago for unknown reasons…but they had guessed that it was for execution which is why they started a hunger strike that morning.”

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering the son of Marivan’s Friday prayer leader; a charge they have always denied.

On December 22, 2010, the two Kurdish family friends were sentenced to death by Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati. They were charged with membership in the banned leftist party Komele and murder of the son of Marivan’s Friday prayer leader on July 5, 2009. Both Zanyar and Loghman have repeatedly said their confessions to the crimes were extracted from them under duress.

Zanyar and Loghman had previously written an open letter, published in May 2017, detailing their case and the torture they had experienced.

Ramin Hossein-Panahi, too, was executed today in Rajai Shahr Prison, according to his lawyer, Hossein Ahmadiniaz.

Ramin’s family had not been contacted for a final visit, Ahmadiniaz told HRANA.

The legal team defending Hossein-Panahi had previously written a letter to the head of the Judiciary, asking for the execution order to stop on national security grounds.

Hossein-Panahi published a video on social media about ten days ago, insisting on his innocence and refuting the charges against him.

Families of Kurdish Death Row Political Prisoners Fear Their Imminent Execution

Posted on: September 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Family friends Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, two prisoners on death row in Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison of Karaj, were separately summoned from their respective wards on Wednesday, September 5th on the pretext of a meeting with the prison’s director. Instead, it is suspected that they have been transferred to a ward controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Hours after the transfer, the prison telephone system inexplicably went dead.

The circumstances of their transfer felt all the more dubious the next day when, according to one of the prisoners’ family members, their families received a strange phone call: “Thursday, September 7th, an individual identifying himself as a ‘prison official’ called [us] asking [that we] come to the prison for visit. We are en route to Rajai Shahr [30 miles west of Tehran] in hopes of obtaining an update on these two members of our family.”

While this “prison official” gave no indication that the prisoners were scheduled to be executed, [a history of community experience with such circumstances gives the family reason to suspect] that the invitation to visit may very well be their last. Nonetheless, the family stores hope in their continued efforts to commute the family friends’ sentences and stay their execution.

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi were sentenced to death on December 22, 2010, on charges of “Moharebeh” (“enmity against God”), both accused of membership in Komeleh, a Kurdish opposition group, and for involvement in the July 5, 2009 murder of a Friday prayer Imam. [While their charges of membership in a Kurdish opposition party were tried in a revolutionary court, the Supreme Court ruled to direct their case to criminal court because their convictions and sentences were ultimately based on murder charges.] Both defendants previously announced that their confessions to murder were extracted under duress, intimidation, and torture at the hands of their interrogators.

Their most recent trial took place more than four years ago in the criminal court of Tehran, which, citing insufficient evidence and incomplete investigation of the case, forwarded their dossier multiple times to the authorities of Marivan (in the Kurdistan province) requesting they address its flaws.

Without accounting for all of the said deficiencies, Marivan court sent back the case, which has yet to be retried. Given the lack of concrete evidence against them, both prisoners would presumably be acquitted in a retrial; yet despite repeated requests from the defendants’ families for follow-up, and notwithstanding the courts’ legal responsibility to prevent unreasonable delays in criminal procedure, judicial authorities remain mum on the prospect of when–or even if–the Moradis might anticipate a more complete review of their case. The prisoners thus wait in a state of suspense over their fate, a wait which has grown more fraught with mounting concerns for their health.

Human rights organizations have been vocal in their opposition to the lack of due process and appropriate legal procedure that judicial authorities have thus far displayed in the Moradi case.

In May 2017, the Moradis wrote an open letter (1) to draw public attention to their case, their ordeal, and what they allege are false accusations constructed against them by security organizations.

On July 18, 2018, Zanyar Moradi’s father was assassinated by three gunshots in Panjovin, an Iraqi Kurdistan town near the Iranian border. His history of political activity, coupled with previous attempts on his life, raised suspicions that Iranian security forces were involved in his death.

Ramin Hossein Panahi

Ramin Hossein Panahi is on death row for similar political charges, i.e. ties to an opposition group similar to that of the Moradis. Parallels between the two cases and a lack of phone contacts from Rajai Shahr where he is currently being held in solitary confinement have heightened fears that Hossein Panahi, too, faces imminent execution.

Earlier this week, the Islamic Republic Judiciary executed three political prisoners in Zahedan (in southeastern Iran, home to the Baloch minority) in vindictive response to armed clashes that broke out between Iranian security forces and an armed opposition group.

Two Saravan Residents Transferred to Zahedan Prison after a Month of Interrogation

Posted on: September 5th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After being read their charges, two residents of Saravan (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) who were previously arrested by security forces and transferred to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Detention Center, were transferred to Ward 1 of Zahedan Central Prison.

HRANA has confirmed the identities of the detainees as Najib Dehvari, 21, and Abdolshakur Sotoudeh, 22.

An informant confirmed the news to HRANA, adding, “Both were arrested and interrogated on charges of ‘Acting Against National Security’ in connection with a sound bomb that went off in front of Saravan’s Intelligence Ministry last month, which incurred no casualties.”

Although several others are likely to be arrested and transferred to prison in connection with this case, no further information is currently available.

On August 31, 2018, HRANA published a report on the transfer of Abubakr Rostami, another political prisoner on death row, from an IRGC detention center–where he was sequestered for two days–to the General Ward of Zahedan Prison. No information is available on the reasons for his transfer. *

Authorities Charge Reza Khandan, Husband of Imprisoned Civil Rights Activist Nasrin Sotoudeh

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) Reza Khandan, husband of imprisoned lawyer and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, had continued to speak out in defense of the causes championed by his wife. Today, September 4, 2018, he joins her in Evin Prison.

“Gathering and collusion against national security,” “Propaganda against the regime,” and “Promoting the removal of Hijab in society” are the accusations leveled at Khandan, who was arrested in his home by security forces earlier today before being charged in Branch 7 of the Evin Prosecutor’s Interrogation office. His bail has been set at 7 billion rials (approximately $53,000 USD).

Khandan’s arrest follows a court summons he received by phone, and disregarded, one day prior. He published a note detailing the incident:

“Someone called me on my cell today, saying they were from the Intelligence Ministry and saying I had to go there. No person or organization, other than judicial authorities, has the right to prosecute people, and even then, it has to be in writing,” Khandan said.

Khandan said that when he pointed out that the summons was illegitimate, the caller replied that Khandan would be arrested for non-compliance.

In a brief interview, Khandan’s lawyer Mohammad Moghimi enumerated pieces of evidence that authorities are using to build their case against his client, none of which he says can lawfully substantiate the charges: Khandan’s participation in a sit-in organized by his wife in front of the Iranian Bar Association office, his interviews with foreign media outlets, and pin-back buttons that were seized at his home.

On August 18, 2018, in a raid on Khandan’s home, security forces confiscated pin-back buttons reading “I am against forced veiling,” along with letters that Sotoudeh had written to him from prison. The same day, security forces proceeded to search the homes of Mohammadreza (Davoud) Farhadpour, Jila Karamzadeh Makvandi, and Khandan’s sister, whose name has yet to be confirmed by HRANA.

The day before Khandan’s arrest, the Ministry of Intelligence brought in Farhadpour and Makvandi for interrogation. They were subsequently transferred to Evin Court and charged in Branch 7 of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Farhadpour published a note confirming the news of his arrest and added that he crossed paths with civil rights activist Farhad Meysami while walking the corridors of Evin Court. Meysami was previously arrested in his home library on July 31, 2018, and has been on hunger strike since August 1st.

Appealing to “National Solidarity,” Hossein-Panahi’s Lawyers Plead for his Execution to be Stayed

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The legal team of Ramin Hossein-Panahi, a political prisoner on death row, wrote a letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary asking that their client’s execution be stayed, arguing that a retrial would instill a greater sense of national security in Iran.

The execution of Hossein-Panahi will lead to “hatred and division,” the lawyers said, while a gesture of mercy could unite the nation.

The lawyers sent a copy of this letter to HRANA. Below is the English translation of the letter:

Ayatollah Amoli Larijani
Exalted head of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran,

Pursuant to articles 3, 8, 10, 22, 34, 35, 37, 38 and 156, we would like to address your Excellency.

The Judiciary is intended to be a haven for the oppressed; this notion of protection is the foundation of all judicial sentences and decisions. Naturally, the ultimate goal of the judicial process should be the same.

Islam’s judicial approach obeys the same concept. The principle of justice requires patience– especially in matters where the Islamic government is the wronged party. In the enlightened law of Islam, especially during the time of Ali [the First Shiite Imam], patience was paramount in dealing with those accused of Baqi [literally ‘violation,’ used to denote participation in armed uprising], and not a single soul faced with such charges was ever put to death.

Now that we find ourselves in an era of stability for the Islamic Revolution, we anticipate those charged with Baqi today will be met with the same patience that was practiced during Ali’s governance. Our client, a 23-year-old man named Ramin Hossein-Panahi, unwillingly became involved in some questionable matters. He was passing through the country only to meet with his parents — his intentions were limited to the carrying out of family affairs — yet Branch One of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj convicted him of Baqi and sentenced him to death. The case evidence reveals this sentence, by law, to be unfounded. In this wide sea of our Islamic compassion, and by the insightful laws of the Islamic Republic, his sentence must be nullified.

It is also the case that the country and the region face threats to their stability; and that inspiring solidarity among all Iranian peoples is an urgent necessity; and that the statements of Ayatollah Khamenei, who urged us to strive for a national unity, all guide your excellency to put a stop to the execution of Ramin Hossein-Panahi and to order a retrial of his case. There is no doubt that the judicious wisdom of your excellency’s choice to stop this execution will go down in history, bring honor to your name, and contribute significantly to fostering security through national harmony, cooperation, and solidarity. Alternatively, the execution of this young man will breed hatred, division, and mistrust, repeating a tired protocol of capital punishment which has failed to see us through our problems and hurdles.

Islamic Iran needs compassion and unity. If your Excellency orders to stop this execution and give our client a retrial, those goals will have been served.

Once more, with respect,
Maziar Tatayi, Hossein Ahmadiniaz, Osman Mozayan.

****

HRANA has published extensively on Hossein-Panahi’s case.

In a video posted online about 10 days ago, Hossein-Panahi refuted the accusations brought against him by the Iranian security apparatus.

Political prisoner sentenced to lashings for late return from furlough

Posted on: September 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mohammad Amin Abdollahi will receive 74 lashes for surpassing the end date of his medical furlough from Birjand Prison.

A political prisoner serving an exile sentence in Birjand, Abdollahi was doled the lashing sentence pursuant to a new case brought by Judge Mohabbati of Birjand General Court, branch 104, when he failed to return from his furlough as scheduled.

At the time he was forced to return to Birjand Prison, Abdollahi was in the city of Bukan. He had been hospitalized for chronic kidney failure, suspect appendicitis, back pain, and vision problems, many of which were brought on by hunger strikes he staged in 2015.

The verdict of his furlough-violation case also stipulates that the Ward 101 detainee will be denied the right to further furlough for a period of six months. A source close to Abdollahi told HRANA that he has a pending request for conditional release that, as of last week and for unclear reasons, Iranian authorities have yet to address.

According to Article 547 of the Islamic Penal Code, any prisoner who escapes from a prison or detention center shall be sentenced to 74 lashes or three to six months’ imprisonment. Prisoners who are on furlough in accordance with prison regulations, and fail to return to the prison at the ordered time without a reasonable excuse, shall be regarded as fugitives and are subject to the same punishment.

Abdollahi, a citizen from East Kurdistan, was first arrested in 2005 and spent 15 months in legal suspense before being sentenced in Mahabad Revolutionary Court to 18 years’ imprisonment in exile in Tabas on a charge of “Moharebeh” (enmity against God), for “Collaboration with armed Kurdish opposition parties”, and for another charge of “Propaganda against the regime”.

First serving prison time in Urmia and Mahabad, he was then exiled to Tabas before being transferred to Birjand. After spending more than two months in Birjand’s quarantine ward, he was transferred to the general ward.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) explicitly prohibits cruel and unusual punishments such as lashings.

*Birjand and Tabas are both located in South Khorasan province

Prison Authorities Clamp Down on Ramin Hossein Panahi as Execution Draws Near

Posted on: September 1st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Ramin Hossein Panahi, a political prisoner on death row in Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison, waits shackled hand and foot in a solitary confinement cell.

Hossein Panahi stitched his lips together and went on hunger strike August 27, 2018, to protest his death sentence and the infringement on his basic rights by authorities. A source familiar with his situation told HRANA, “Rajai Shahr officials forcibly pulled the stitches from his lips and transferred him in handcuffs and shackles to solitary confinement in Ward 5, the known destination of prisoners whose execution is imminent.”

Hossein Panahi, who suffers from severe renal problems and other injuries, is unlikely to receive the medical attention he needs in his present state.

Hossein Panahi’s lawyers previously issued a statement announcing their client’s hunger strike and the motivations behind it, and asking judicial authorities to facilitate their client’s access to the legal rights of appeal and request for clemency.

Ramin Hossein Panahi was sentenced to death by Branch One of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj (Iranian Kurdistan) on a charge of “Acting against national security” on January 16, 2018. The sentence was upheld in mid-April by the Supreme Court before being forwarded to the Execution of Sentences Unit.

Hossein Panahi’s lawyer Hossein Ahmadiniaz reported in June that his request for a retrial had been denied.

Previously held in Sanandaj Prison (300 miles west of Tehran), Hossein Panahi was transferred to an unidentified location on August 13, 2018, before being transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison (30 miles west of Tehran) for reasons unknown.

IRGC Detainee Back in Zahedan Prison Custody

Posted on: August 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – On the evening of Thursday, August 30, 2018, Abubakr Rostami, a political prisoner on death row, was transferred to the General Ward of Zahedan Prison after being sequestered in an IRGC detention center for two days.

Rostami was originally taken from Zahedan’s Ward 4 into IRGC custody for reasons that HRANA has not yet been able to confirm.

Rostami was among a group of political Zahedan prisoners who addressed a letter to UN Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman, imploring him to advocate for political prisoners’ rights. Rehman is the UN’s designated expert on the human rights situation in Iran.

In an open letter co-written by Bandeh Chakerzehi and Sajjad Baluch — the two arrested with him on September 16, 2015 in Pakistan – Rostami proclaimed their innocence, stating the IRGC and Intelligence Agency exerted physical and mental torture on them on charges that were “bogus”.

In the letter, Rostami wrote of the trip to Pakistan he was planning in anticipation of making arrangements for continuing his studies [abroad]: “Due to border limitations, I was forced to travel through Pakistan to get to [another] foreign country, but I was arrested midway and handed over to the IRGC,” he wrote.

A second-year medical student at Zabol University of Medical Sciences, Rostami has spent the past three years in prison. In August 2017, along with Chakerzehi and Baluch who were on trial for the same case, he was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court of Zahedan on charges of “Moharebeh” (enmity against God) and “Acting Against National Security through Cooperation with Opposition Groups”. No further details on their case or charges were available.

*Zahedan is a county in the Sistan and Baluchestan province.

Ramin Hossein Panahi Sews Lips Shut, Declares Hunger Strike

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The lawyers of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish political prisoner who has been sentenced to death, announced on August 27th that he had sewn his lips together and begun a hunger strike in protest to the violation of his legal rights.

Hossein Panahi’s lawyers published a statement today explaining that their client has been denied the right to appeal and the right to amnesty, among others. According to the statement, Hossein Panahi had been transferred to Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison on August 13th for unidentified reasons and has been unreachable since his transfer out of Rajai Shahr.

One of Hossein Panahi’s lawyers, Hassan Ahmadiniaz, elaborated in the statement the four motivations behind his client’s hunger strike:

1- Deprivation of legal rights, including medical treatment outside the prison as requested by the authorities of the Sanandaj Central Prison clinic,

2- Unlawful cessation of his phone contacts and visitations with family and lawyers,

3- Deprivation of customary prisoners’ rights and access to prison facilities,

4- The unlawful and unjust nature of the sentence in light of the necessity to reassess his charges through the customary legal channels.

In their statement, Hossein Panahi’s lawyers appeal to articles 477 and 474 of the penal code, requesting that their client’s execution be stopped so that “legal avenues to appeal may be explored for his sentence, or the client may benefit from amnesty.”

Ahmadiniaz revealed in June 2018 that Hossein Panahi’s request for a retrial had been rejected.

Hossein Panahi was convicted of “Acting against national security by violating the rights of others” and sentenced to death by Branch One of Sanandaj’s Revolutionary Court. The Supreme Court confirmed this sentence in late March and forwarded it to the Enforcement Department.

The statement, signed by Ahmadiniaz, Maziar Tatayi, and Osman Mozayan, indicates that Hossein Panahi will continue his strike until his demands are met.

Civil Rights Activist Mohammad Davari Released on Bail

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Mohammad Davari, a 26-year-old civil rights activist from the city of Yasouj (southwestern Iran) who was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence forces on August 10, 2018, was released around noon local time on August 27th on a 200 million tomans (approximately $20,000 USD) bail pending the completion of the investigation into his case.

Earlier a source close to Davari’s family told HRANA: “Mr Davari was severely beaten in the chest and stomach areas during his interrogation at the Yasouj Intelligence office. As a result, he suffered from severe nausea which led to shortness of breath and consequently, on Monday, August 20th, Mr. Davari vomited blood. He asked twice for medical attention but the authorities refused to transfer him to the prison clinic or a hospital outside the prison.”

Mohammad Davari was held incommunicado in the Yasouj Intelligence office before he was transferred to Yasouj Central Prison. He was previously detained on March 5, 2018, for taking part in widespread popular protests in Iran. He was released eight days later on a 50 million tomans (approximately $10,000 USD) bail. The authorities reportedly told Davari’s family that he was arrested on the charge of “Acting against national security through disturbing the public peace of mind”.

Born in Dehdasht (150 km west of Yasouj), Davari is a Masters student of Political Science. He was arrested another time following the death of Hashemi Rafsanjani when he pulled down a banner bearing Rafsanjani’s photo. He was later released on bail.