Authorities Impassive in Sunni Prisoner’s 49th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In Rajai Shahr Prison, the effects of a 49-day-strong hunger strike have begun to take hold on Sunni prisoner Hamzeh Darvish: hypotension, a 29-pound weight loss, and chest and abdominal pains that have left him speechless.

A source close to Darvish’s family told HRANA that he would end his hunger strike on two conditions: that his reconsideration petition is tried in the Supreme Court, and he is granted legal representation. “No action has been taken on those demands yet,” the source said.

According to the source, Rajai Shahr Prosecution Representative Rostami deferred the reconsideration decision to the Ministry of Intelligence. Barring cooperation with them, Rostami reportedly said, Darvish’s sole recourse is “suicide.”

Hamzeh Darvish has not eaten since September 23rd. After announcing his hunger strike that day, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

Residing far from Karaj, Darvish’s family is rarely able to afford the transport costs to see him. Meanwhile, Rajai Shahr authorities have placed restrictions on his extra-prison contacts.

In response to a prior hunger strike — protesting a lack of due process in his judicial proceedings — Prison Director Gholamreza Ziaei, Rajai Shahr Deputy Vice President Esmaeili, and Security Director Zolfali beat Darvish black and blue, sent him to the quarantine ward for three weeks, then transferred him to the coroner’s office in handcuffs and shackles.

Hamzeh Darvish was reportedly lured to Syria by ISIS (Daesh) agents in 2014, where he was transferred to the Islamic State’s prison in Raqqa before fleeing to Iran. In hopes of remaining free by posting bail or pledging allegiance to Iran — after which he planned to earn a living as a quail farmer — he turned himself in to the Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published August 2017, in which he asked human rights advocacy groups for help.

He emphasized in his letter that his appeal request was essentially ignored and that Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code permits his release in year 15 of his 18-year sentence.

Impromptu Exile Transfer Prompts Abdolreza Ghanbari to Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Teacher and political prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari, who on October 13th of this year was taken to Evin Prison’s Ward 8 to serve the remainder of a once-dormant sentence, has reportedly declared hunger strike following his November 10th transfer to the Quarantine Ward of Rajai Shahr Prison.

Confirming news of Ghanbari’s current hunger strike to HRANA, a close source added that his most recent sentence made no mention of an exile order.

Ghanbari’s judicial ordeal has been rife with major upsets, as previously reported by HRANA. After being arrested at the school where he taught in 2009 for backing the “Ashura” protests tailing that year’s contentious presidential elections, he was interrogated for two months and found himself facing a death sentence: Judge Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15, convicting Ghanbari of “Moharebeh” [enmity against God]” through alleged ties to the opposition group People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), ruled to send him to the gallows.

Four suspenseful years later, the Supreme Court acquitted Ghanbari of the Moharebeh charge, effectively sparing his life. Branch 1 of Revolutionary Court settled his remaining charges with a 15-year prison sentence, which was later reduced to 10 years in appeals court.

After enduring more than 6 years of his 10-year prison term, he went free in the Spring of 2016 — only to be re-sentenced the following Fall to 15 years in prison, per reconsideration proceedings led by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court.

Ghanbari is currently detained in Rajai Shahr.

18 Dervishes starving to death; prison warden says “So what?”

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In the past month alone, eighteen hunger striking Gonabadi Dervish prisoners in Iran have been beaten with batons, tased, and electrically shocked – and now, the prison’s warden has outwardly stated that it is not his concern if they die.

The prisoners were first beaten by prison guards at Great Tehran Penitentiary on August 29th, after they held a sit-in to protest the beating of female members of their religious minority in Gharchak Prison in Tehran’s east. After guards violently broke up the sit-in, 18 Dervishes were transferred to solitary confinement, and all 18 went on hunger strike in protest. To date, they have not had a single meal, or any food at all, in more than 30 days.

When some of their fellow cellmates expressed concerns about the physical conditions of some of the hunger strikers, the prison’s warden, known only as Farzadi, responded thusly: “So what if they die?”

According to Majzooban Noor, a news website that focuses on Dervish issues, the hunger strikers are suffering from vertigo and reduced blood pressure. Specifically, the physical condition of Mojtaba Biranvand has been described as critical. He had previously been sent to a clinic due to severe physical weakness. Refusing to break his hunger strike, he has rejected supplemental injections.

Abbas Dehghan, another hunger striker held in the same penitentiary, has only one kidney and is greatly suffering from the toll the strike has taken on him.

The August 29th attack targeted Dervishes in ward 3 of the prison. Eighteen Dervishes from Section 4 who protested the treatment of their fellow prisoners were also sent to solitary.

Previously, on September 1st, HRANA reported that three Dervishes had gone on hunger strike: Ali Bolboli, Salehodin Moradi and Mohammad Reza Darvishi. On September 2nd, Majzooban Noor added six more hunger strikers to the list: Abbas Dehghan, Ali Mohammad Shahi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Ali Karimi, Jafar Ahmadi, and Ebrahim Allahbakhshi, On Monday, three more people joined them: Heydar Teymoori, Majid Yarahmadi, and Saeed Soltanoor. On Tuesday, five more dervishes joined the hunger strike: Babak Taghian, Ehsan Malekmohammadi, Sekhavat Salimi, Reza Bavi and Akbar Dadashi. The last Dervish to join was Majid Rashidi.

The Dervishes demand the end to the house arrest of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. Their other demands include releasing female dervish prisoners from Gharchak Prison and reuniting all imprisoned dervishes in one single section of the GTP.

All of the Dervishes were arrested in relation to what has become known as the Golestan Haftom incident, named after the street on which it occurred. The incident occurred when a gathering of several hundred Gonabadi Dervishes was violently confronted by Iranian police and plainclothes members of the Revolutionary Guard’s Basij faction outside the residence of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. The Dervishes had gathered to prevent his possible arrest.

In the violence that followed, hundreds were injured and many arrested. Though Iranian judicial authorities estimate that around 300 people have been arrested in connection with Golestan Haftom, HRANA has thus far published the names of 324 arrestees and estimates that the actual number is considerably higher.qqqgonabado

Imprisoned Civil Rights Activist Farhad Meysami Enters 38th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: September 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The health condition of Farhad Meysami — who declared hunger strike the day after his arrest on July 31st in protest to his detention and the denial of his right to a lawyer of his choice — is in steady decline.

A source close to the matter told HRANA, “His blood pressure dropped very low on Saturday, September 8th. The doctor recommended he be treated in a hospital or the prison clinic, saying that his vital signs would remain unstable otherwise. He has lost 14 kilograms [30 pounds] since the start of his hunger strike, and weighs 64.5 kilograms [142 pounds] now.”

Suffering from intestinal colitis that he has been treating with medication for the past 18 years, Meysami has announced that his diet will be limited to that medicine, and will only end his hunger strike if Reza Khandan, the husband of imprisoned lawyer and human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh, is unconditionally released.

Meysami was arrested by security forces in his personal library on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, and during his interrogation was charged with “Collusion and conspiracy to threaten national security,” “Disseminating propaganda against the regime,” and “Insulting the hijab, an essential sacrament of Islam.” On Monday, September 3rd, Branch 7 of Evin Court added “Propagation of corruption and decadence” to his charging document.

Human Rights Watch previously issued a statement in which they mentioned Meysami’s ordeal, asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders and immediately release those who are being persecuted for their peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also appealed to Iranian authorities, opposing their crackdown on civil society and unlawful detention of lawyers and human rights activists including Farhad Meysami. They demanded these prisoners’ immediate release, and that authorities provide every detainee with access to a lawyer of their choice at the time of their arrest.

Charges Evolve against Hunger Striking Civil Rights Activist

Posted on: September 6th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Farhad Meysami, a civil rights activist who has been held in Evin Prison since July 31st and declared a hunger strike the next day, now faces a new charge: “Assembly and collusion to disturb national security.”

Meysami, who has lost a significant amount of weight and suffers from low blood pressure, announced that he will resort to a liquid-only hunger strike. He explained his strike was a protest of the arrest of Reza Khandan, husband of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, earlier this week, as well as the authorities’ interrogation and home searches of civil rights activists Mohammed Reza Farhadpour and Zhila Karamzadeh Makvandi.

A source close to Meysami told HRANA that “despite visits from officials who attempted to persuade him to end the strike, such as the Assistant Prosecutor, the prison ward director, the prosecutor’s representative, and Director General of the detention centre Mr. Chahrmahali, Meysami is determined to continue. He will only be ingesting his colitis medication, as he has been doing for past 18 years.”

The source added that Meysami “would only end his hunger strike if Reza Khandan is unconditionally released.”

The same source indicated that Meysami, who is being held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, was taken to Branch 7 of Evin Court on September 3, 2018, where he learned the charges and evidence against him had evolved. Court officials announced that day that he was being charged with “Assembly and collusion to disturb national security,” for– according to the investigator–a campaign Meysami was organizing with Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iranians living abroad. Other charges included “Propaganda against the regime,” brought in relation to a speech Meysami gave at Isfahan University and articles he had published. Meysami also faces the charge of “Propagation of corruption and decadence,” a charge thought to stem from his possession of a pin-back button that reads “I protest mandatory veiling.”

HRANA previously reported on Meysami’s arrest and interrogation ordeal. His interrogators have referred to him as a “Teacher of Civil Disobedience.”

Suffering from Cancer: Arash Sadeghi’s Medical Report in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: August 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Rajai Shahr prisoner Arash Sadeghi, who despite severe physical symptoms was repeatedly denied medical treatment, has been diagnosed with bone cancer, a source ​close to the matter ​told HRANA.

Sadeghi, a civil rights activist, received his diagnosis after finally being transferred to a hospital last week for medical testing on a tumor in his arm. Hospital officials confirmed the tumor to be malignant, identifying​ it as chondrosarcoma.

Hospital oncologists recommended Sadeghi be immediately admitted to the hospital for further exams, biopsies, and pre-op procedures, HRANA’s source revealed. The source added, “The tumor is located in his right arm under the clavicle and scapula. Doctors have stated that the removal of the tumor and subsequent examinations will determine whether or not further surgeries or [post-op preventive] chemotherapy will be necessary.”

Chondrosarcoma is the most prominent malignant bone cancer in youth, affecting an estimated 100 patients per year in Iran. In this type of cancer, malignant tumors are composed of cartilage-producing cells that may arise spontaneously or from pre-existing benign tumors, most commonly in the pelvic, hip, and shoulder regions. Its cause is still unknown.

Pain and swelling are the primary symptoms of this type of bone cancer in its advanced stages. Unresponsive to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, ​chondrosarcoma​ ​​is most often treated with surgical excision of the tumor and its marginal cells. Patient prognosis for this specific type of cancer has improved dramatically in recent years.

On July 21, HRANA reported on Sadeghi’s transfer to a hospital in Tehran under heavy security control. Upon his arrival, hospital officials refused to admit him, stating the doctor was not available to see him; he returned to the prison without receiving medical attention.

Subsequently, Amnesty International issued a statement demanding immediate action be taken to attend to the medical needs of Arash Sadeghi, as he had been diagnosed with a potentially malignant tumor in his elbow.

Arash Sadeghi was sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. In December 2016, Sadeghi staged a 72-day hunger strike to protest the continued imprisonment of his wife, Golrokh Iraee.

Nine Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Iran

Posted on: August 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In the last few weeks, a number of prisoners across the country have declared hunger strike. HRANA has prepared a bulletin on their cases, previously reported in detail.

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Lawyer and human rights activist

Nasrin Sotoudeh started a hunger strike on August 25th in protest to her arrest and the judicial pressures being placed on her family, relatives, and friends.
She published an open letter outlining her reasons for the strike.

Ramin Hossein Panahi
Political prisoner

Sentenced to death, Ramin Hossein Panahi was recently transferred to Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison and declared hunger strike on August 27th by sewing his lips together. He is protesting his sentence and multiple violations of his legal rights. His lawyers published a statement sharing the reasons behind the strike. According to them, his whereabouts have been unknown since his August 26th transfer out of Rajai Shahr.

Farhad Meysami
Civil rights activist

Farhad Meysami was arrested July 31st by security forces. He started a hunger strike August 1st, protesting his arrest and the constraints being placed on his choice of attorney. He was transferred from Evin’s Quarantine Ward to the General Ward on August 26th, where he is reportedly suffering from low blood pressure and drastic weight loss.

Namegh Deldel
Prisoner of conscience

Sunni prisoner Namegh Deldel from hall 21, Ward 7 of Rajai Shahr Prison has been suffering from an injury to his right leg. In protest of his restricted access to medical care, including the prison’s refusal to transfer him to an outside hospital, he has been on hunger strike for more than a month.

Farhad Ariai (Sahrapeyma)
Political prisoner

Farhad Ariai (Sahrapeyma), a political prisoner in the Workers’ Ward of Urmia Prison, is in the sixth year of his seven-year sentence. Eligible for early release per Article 134 on the serving of concurrent sentences, he declared hunger strike on August 15th when the court refused to review his request thereof. According to a credible source, Ariai was transferred to the quarantine ward immediately after starting his hunger strike.
Ariai also declared hunger strike last year when prison officials denied his request for furlough. In response to that strike, prison staff forcibly handcuffed and transferred him to the Workers’ Ward of the prison, where he remains to this day.

Seyed Ghassem Abasteh
Prisoner of conscience

Seyed Ghassem Abasteh, a Sunni prisoner in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, started a hunger strike on July 17th to protest his inadequate medical care and the prison’s denial of his access to a clinic. Despite developing asthenia and severe weight loss as of the fifteenth day of his strike, prison authorities continue to ignore his pleas.

His poor health condition has been repeatedly reported on, and in March, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His condition has deteriorated to the point that he struggles to speak and breathe.

Abasteh is married with two children. He was arrested in early 2010 and sent to solitary confinement in Urmia Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He spent eight months there before being transferred to Evin Prison, where he spent six months in the solitary cells of wards 240 and 209. After 14 months, he spent another 20 days in Ward 350 of Evin before finally being transferred to Rajai Shahr on April 8, 2012.

He faces charges such as “militant activity”, accused of backing Salafi groups. He denied such involvement, saying the charges are baseless.

He has been awaiting trial since his 2016 prison sentence from Judge Moghiseh was nullified. He has thus far spent eight years in prison without due process.

Saman Rahmani

Saman Rahmani, a prisoner in the Health Ward of Saqez Prison, is on the verge of losing his arms after suffering an injury, yet continues to be denied the rights of furlough and access to a clinic. He started a hunger strike on July 20th in protest.
“Rahmani was to be sent to Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison for care, but prison authorities changed their minds,” a credible source told HRANA.

When authorities promised him medical care earlier this year, he stopped the hunger strike he had started in June for the same reasons.

Farshid Nasseri
Prisoner of conscience

Sunni prisoner Farshid Nasseri of Rajai Shahr started a hunger strike on June 16th to demand his right to furlough. Twenty-eight days later, his condition had severely deteriorated. He suffers from back and neck problems, in addition to psychological issues stemming from his years spent in prison.

Verya Saed Moochashmi

On August 19th, on orders from a Ward chief penalizing their refusal to end their hunger strike, five prisoners from Ward 3 of Rajai Shahr were beaten and sent to solitary confinement. They were reportedly striking to protest issues with their respective legal cases.

HRANA understands these prisoners to be Verya Saed Moochashmi, Hossein Esmaeili, Saeed Moradpour, Mojtaba Kounani, and Alireza Kounani. As of yesterday, August 27, 2018, Moochashmi is the sole among the group to continue the strike.

In 1998, Moochashmi, then 17, was sentenced to death and 80 lashings when he was convicted of aiding and abetting murder. He has so far served 21 years in prison.

Nasrin Sotoudeh Starts Hunger Strike in Evin Prison

Posted on: August 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Nasrin Sotoudeh, prominent lawyer and human rights activist, who has been detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison since June 13th, started a hunger strike on Saturday, August 25th.

Sotoudeh has published an open letter to declare her hunger strike. The arrest and harassment of her family members and friends is the reason behind her protest, she says in the letter.

Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, published a note to confirm his wife’s hunger strike.

The full text of Nasrin Sotoudeh’s letter, translated by HRANA:

My fellow Iranians,

After I was arrested two months ago, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence undertook the unlawful action of arresting the esteemed citizen, Dr Farhad Meysami. They searched his house and that of his relatives and friends to discover evidence of protest against mandatory veiling.

After they failed to find anything in the house of my husband’s sister, they confiscated a satellite device [instead].

Since none of my correspondences to the authorities has been so far responded to, I have no choice but to embark on a hunger strike to protest against the arrests and judicial pressures brought upon my family, relatives and friends.

In the hope that law and justice will one day prevail in our beloved country, Iran.

Nasrin Sotoudeh
August 2018

<b> —- </b>

Nasrin Sotoudeh had recently refused to appear in court, despite a summons order issued by the authorities. She wrote an open letter to explain why.

According to a report published by HRANA on August 18th, Reza Khandan’s house and the house of other relatives and friends of the family were raided by the authorities.

<b> *** </b>

<h3> UPDATE: </h3> Nasrin Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike on October 3, 2018, her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi told HRANA.