Forty Seven Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Urmia Prison

On December 12, 47 political prisoners went on a hunger strike in Urmia Prison to protest against their relocation to a new ward with insufficient space and poor equipment.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, reporting information from a close relative of one of these inmates, the head of the prison announced that within two next weeks, they will be transferred to a newly built high-security ward. Daily time outside will be reduced to two hours.

In Iran’s prisons, hunger strikes are common among prisoners despite causing long-term physical and mental impairment. Hunger strikes are used as a last resort to achieve urgent demands such as unlawful long-term detention without trials, violations of prisoners’ rights and infringement in due process.

Report on the Latest Condition of Afkari Brothers in Adel-Abad Prison

Political prisoners Vahid and Habib Afkari have been held in the “Ebrat” ward in Adel-Abad Prison, Shiraz City, for about 15 months. This notorious ward is used mostly for punishing inmates or to house inmates on death row. 

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the brothers have been denied a phone call and access to adequate medical treatment.

Vahid and Habib Afkari are brothers of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, who was executed on September 12, 2020 in Adel-Abad Prison despite serious ambiguities in his case and worldwide outcry to halt the execution.

Navid Afkari and Vahid Afkari were arrested in September 2018, and Habib Afkari was arrested in December 2018. The arrests were in connection to nationwide protests in August 2018. The brothers were repeatedly beaten and tortured during interrogations.

In August 2020, Shiraz’s Revolutionary and Criminal Court sentenced Navid Afkari to execution, six years imprisonment and 74 lashes. The court sentenced Vahid Afkari to 54 years, six months in prison and 74 lashes, and Habib Afkari to 27 years and three months imprisonment and 74 lashes.

Their brother, Saeed Afkari, stated on social media that the legal due process to address the torture of their brothers has gone nowhere. In May of this year, a court session was held to address the Afakri’s complaint that they have been beaten, tortured, held for long-term in a solitary confinement cell, and threatened to death by two high-ranking officials. According to Saeed Afakri, his brother Vahid Afkari was not allowed to have access to documents during the court session.

Branch 38 of the Supreme Court of Iran rejected their request for a retrial. Saeed Dehghan, the Afakri brother’s lawyer at that time, wrote that, “even if the judge cared to take a short look at the documents, he would realize that with 24 contradictions and three false statements, there were substantial reasons for retrial”.

Arash Sadeghi freed from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on May 1, 2021, political prisoner Arash Sadeghi was freed from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. After serving 5 years and 6 months in prison, including his previous detention, Mr. Sadeghi was released under Article 12 of the law on reducing sentencing. Previously, he was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court to 15 years, of which 7 years and 6 months were enforceable with the application of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code. Since Mr. Sadeghi’s previous suspended sentence of 4 years had been served, only 7 years and six months of imprisonment remained enforceable after sum up of the issued sentences.

Despite the early release, Sadeghi’s time in prison has not been without cost. Until he was freed, Arash Sadeghi had been denied the right to visit and call his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Erayi, a political prisoner in Amol Prison. The couple had been prohibited from visiting, despite legal provisions for meetings between imprisoned family members residing in different prisons.  In 2017, Sadeghi went on a hunger strike for more than seventy days to protest her re-arrest, and the prolonged hunger strike caused irreparable damage to his physical health.

While in Rajai Shahr, Sadeghi also developed a malignant type of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. Sadeghi underwent surgery to combat the disease, but prison officials denied him access to the tri-annual post-surgery treatment recommended by physicians, leading to myriad complications. The lack of adequate treatment, coupled with the permanent physical damage from his 2017 hunger strike had devastating effects; Sadeghi’s chrondrosarcoma returned, and he needed to undergo an additional 30 sessions of radiotherapy and kinesiotherapy.

This is the most recent release of political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, who has spent the last decade serving a series of sentences for his human rights work. Sadeghi was first arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in July 2009 in front of Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran along with several students protesting the 2009 election results. He was released on bail 90 days later. In 2010 he was re-arrested and imprisoned in ward 350 of Elvin Prison for 15 months. Sadeghi was arrested yet again in 2014 by IRGC intelligenge, and released on a bail of 600 million tomans in March of 2015. Finally, and most recently, he was arrested in June 2016 and sent back to Elvin Prison, and then transferred to Rajai Shahr, where he  remained until his May 1st release.

Whether Sadeghi is able to recover from his time in prison remains to be seen, but a recent bone marrow scan test confirms promising signs in the body.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 6, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 6th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

Continue reading “A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 6, 2018”

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 5, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 5th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). Continue reading “A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 5, 2018”

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

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.

Elderly Turkish Citizen Declares Hunger Strike in Urmia Prison

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Dejected at the Judiciary’s broken promise to return him to his native Turkey, ailing 70-year-old prisoner Hatam Ertoghlu declared hunger strike November 9th.

Currently held in Urmia’s Ward 4-3, Ertoghlu has been behind bars for the past nine years on drug-related charges. According to a close source, he has had multiple hospital admissions for various ailments, not least of which was a heart attack.

“Last year, per court order, he gave prison authorities 12 million tomans [approximately $2,800 USD] to cover the fees for his transfer back to Turkey,” a close source said. “Yet despite the consent of Turkish authorities, that transfer never took place.”

Undeterred by his physical distress, old age, and cardiac disease, Ertoghlu is now starving himself in protest.

Ertoghlu initially faced a sentence of life in prison, which was commuted to 24 years in 2017.

Evin Prison Women’s Ward Denies Medical Care to Baha’i Negin Ghadamian

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Despite the blessing of Prosecution Assistant Rostami, Baha’i prisoner Negin Ghadamian is being denied extra-prison dental care for a severe gum infection, jaw pain, and toothache.

Prison authorities, including clinic head Agha Khani, have opposed Ghadamian’s medical transfer, insisting her treatment take place inside the prison.

The swelling population of the Women’s Ward places prisoners in increased medical precarity, as authorities — apparently arbitrarily — have barred external medical transfers almost entirely. An informed source told HRANA that prison dentistry relies on limited equipment, delivers mediocre care, and sticks patients with steep fees.

HRANA published a report on September 30th detailing the living conditions in the Women’s Ward at Evin. “Evin Prison dentistry operates in less-than-sterile conditions and exposes patients to remarkably high risk for infections,” the report reads. “Cavity fillings are expensive there, putting patients out as much as 20 million rials (approximately $114 USD) or preventing them, for lack of means, from getting the fillings they need.”

Security agents first arrested Ghadamian on May 24, 2011, after which she went free on 50 million tomans [approximately $12,000 USD] bail. In March 2012, she was sentenced in absentia by Judge Moghiseh on charges of “acting against national security through membership in the illegal Baha’i organization.” She was arrested at the airport on December 17, 2017, to serve her sentence.

Urmia Authorities Turn Deaf Ear to Prisoner Fighting Infection

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- “What do you need an ear for?”, the Urmia Prison director said to Sadroldin Teymourpour, a prisoner complaining of an ear infection secondary to an assault by security agents.

Needless to say, Teymourpour’s request to be transferred to a hospital was not taken seriously.

Initially sentenced to death, Teymourpour is currently serving a commuted sentence of 30 years plus a 200-million toman [approximately $13,500 USD] fine.

Forcing ailing prisoners to make do with the short-staffed, underequipped prison clinic has led to multiple prisoner deaths. HRANA reported on a number of these fatal neglect cases in September 2018.

Rajai Shahr Prison Authorities Embezzle Religious Offering

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- A prayer answered, a vow fulfilled — such is the faith behind the Nadhri (or Nazri) charity meal, a faith that’s now left many a Rajai Shahr prisoner burned.

Rajai Shahr Prisoner Director Gholamreza Ziaei capitalized recently on this mourning rite for the late Imam Hussein when he engaged, in exchange for individual prisoner donations of 2-3 million tomans [approximately $150-$200 USD], to undertake preparation and distribution of the Nazri meal.

Prisoners looking forward to tasting red meat again for the first time in months or years were disappointed on October 31st (i.e. Arba’een, last day of the mourning period) by a Nazri “feast” of yet another watery and meatless stew made from the prison pantry’s bottom-shelf usuals.

Ziaei reportedly collected a total of 70 million tomans [approximately $4,700] from prisoners for the meal. An informed source estimated the cost of the Rajai Shahr Nazri service at 20 million tomans [approximately $1,300].

Prior to Ziaei taking the helm of Rajai Shahr, prisoners were permitted to buy food from the prison store and share meals at their own expense among their fellow inmates and prisoner-soldiers. Ziaei has forbidden that practice.

A cumulation of damning reports depict Rajai Shahr Prison as a hotbed of corruption and human rights violations.

Rajai Shahr is located in Karaj, the capital of Alborz province, about 30 miles west of Tehran