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.

Elderly Turkish Citizen Declares Hunger Strike in Urmia Prison

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

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.

Rajai Shahr Prisoner Enters 38th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Rajai Shahr Prisoner Hamzeh Darvish, 24, a member of Iran’s Sunni religious minority, has been on hunger strike since September 23rd in protest of the Supreme Court’s denial of his retrial request.

A close source told HRANA that “Darvish is in a bad state. The prison officials are ignoring him in order to send the message that the strike will not get him anywhere. They’re not even acting as a go-between with the judiciary so that he can pursue his rights.”

Rajai Shahr authorities have shown brutal intolerance towards Darvish’s demonstrations of protest. Following the launch of his most recent hunger strike, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for three days.

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.

His family, living far away from Karaj, are rarely able to afford transport for a visit. Meanwhile, prison authorities have restricted his extra-prison contacts.

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 Iranian security forces. A short while later, however, he was back in custody facing an 18-year prison sentence.

The circumstances of his trial were criticized for their lack of transparency and due process. With the application of a legal provision that came into effect later, his multiple prison sentences were permitted to run concurrently, reducing his total sentence to 15 years.

Darvish told his story in an open letter published in August 2017, in which he appealed to human rights advocacy groups for help. In it, he describes his ties to ISIS as accidental, claiming he was hailed to Turkey by an ISIS-defecting Iranian friend who needed help returning home due to a wounded leg. When he hitched a ride to meet his friend in Turkey, Darvish said, the story was revealed to be a setup: his drivers instead took him to Syria and handed him over to Daesh.

According to his letter, Darvish spent some time as a forced laborer and was tortured severely after protesting ISIS suicide attacks on civilians. He was finally able to flee amid a transfer between medical facilities in Syria.

Karaj is the capital of Alborz province, located 30 miles west of Tehran.

Urmia Prisoners of Conscience End Weeklong Hunger Strike

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – A mass hunger strike of Urmia Central prisoners of conscience ended on its fifth day after prison authorities engaged to addressing prisoner complaints of rampant abuse.

Strikes were underway as of October 16th, when prisoners launched a protest against a violent raid of the Political Ward (Ward 12) by special forces that left a number of prisoners wounded.

Divided between Ward 12 and the Youth Ward’s prisoners of conscience, protesters declared that the restoration of their legal rights would put an end to the strike.

In a recently-issued statement, strikers asked inmates’ families to appear at the front gate of Urmia Central on October 21st to demand justice for those inside. The statement impelled the head of the prison to invite groups of strikers for a sit-down in the prosecutor’s’ office– an invitation they declined, a close source said.

During the hunger strike, at least one prisoner, Habib Amini, was sent to the prison clinic for treatment following a decline in his health.

Below is a translation of the aforementioned statement. Its signatories asked to remain anonymous. :

“Pursuant to the hunger strike of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience at Urmia Central Prison that began October 16, 2018, the families of these and other prisoners are asked to appear before the Central Prison of Urmia on Sunday, October 21st to demand restoration of the legal and Shari’a-granted rights of their children, in a show of support for their legal and judicial demands.

This protest is a declaration of dissent with the extraordinary oppression and discrimination faced by prisoners and their families in this city. In a state of material and psychological insecurity, prisoners here live under surmounting pressures. We hope that officials have the compassion to reduce this targeted oppression.

Finally, we ask that all sensible minds be moved by this news, and react with the same power they displayed over the three recently executed Kurdish political prisoners and the missile offensive on Kurdistan.”

*

The Ward-12 raid occurred on the evening of October 15th, when political prisoners came to the defense of one of their comrades who had been physically assaulted for arguing with prison personnel. In response to their objections, authorities and special forces, numbering more than 50 and armed with with batons, tasers, and tear gas, stormed the political ward and laid into the inmates there. That same night, authorities assaulted and injured a number of prisoners of conscience in the Youth Ward.

Kamal Hassan Ramazan, Ahmad Tamooie, Osman Mostafapour, and Touraj Esmaili were among the first prisoners beaten in response to their objections of a group assault on their wardmate Hamid Rahimi. Personnel identified only as “Eskandar” and “Rezaie” reportedly commandeered additional Urmia prisoners to deal blows to the four men, breaking bones and teeth, and cutting one of them with a sharp object.

Ramezan, Tamoo’i, Mostafapoor, and two more Ward-12 bystanders, Hassan Rastegari and Kamran Darvishi, were among those injured in the onslaught that followed. The latter two were transferred to solitary confinement; Rastegari has since been returned to Ward 12. “Hassan Rastegari was badly bruised all over,” the source said, adding that prison authorities then sicced fellow prisoners on political detainees for a second time.

Urmia Central Prison authorities have a history of ruling my corporal punishment. On October 8, 2018, prisoner Morteza Zohrali’s right arm was broken in a beating by prison officials; On September 23rd, Youth Ward inmate Javad “Arash” Shirzad was sent to an outside hospital for treatment of a concussion sustained at the hands of “Bayramzadeh,” the prison’s internal director; in July, Saeed Seyed Abbasi was beaten and sent to solitary confinement without treatment of his injuries, all for arriving late to the prison yard for recreation time; and in May, according to HRANA reports, prisoner Saeed Nouri, a former IRGC lieutenant, was beaten by two personnel in the internal director’s office.

Reports indicate that political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience are more vulnerable than others to the gamut of inmate abuses. HRANA previously reported on a September 18th raid on Ward 12 by special forces, where guards pilfered and destroyed the prisoners’ personal belongings, including food they had purchased themselves.

In Solidarity with Fellow Gonabadi Dervish Prisoners, Reza Sigarchi Forgoes Food, Medicine

Posted on: October 21st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In an act of protest, Reza Sigarchi, a Great Tehran Penitentiary prisoner of conscience and member of the * Gonabadi Dervish religious minority, announced Saturday, October 20th that he will be abstaining from both food and medicine.

Sigarchi’s strike is a demonstration of support for his fellow downtrodden Dervishes, according to Majzooban Noor, a website covering Dervish community news. He will reportedly not eat or ingest medicine until the following demands are met: lift the house arrest order on Dervish leader Noor Ali Tabandeh; release female Dervish prisoners; reunite separated Dervish prisoners into the same Ward; return Abbas Dehghan to Great Tehran Penitentiary.

Sigarchi, who suffers from heart disease, was hospitalized last week in Imam Khomeini Hospital where he underwent an angiography.

Five other Dervish prisoners in Great Tehran Penitentiary — Salehodin Moradi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Saeed Soltanpour, and Ali Mohammad Shahi — have been on hunger strike since a violent raid on their sit-in by prison guards on August 29th.

Hunger-striking Dervish Abbas Dehghan still hasn’t eaten since September 2nd. Dehghan reportedly spent one hour in Great Tehran Penitentiary post-trial before being transferred to Ward 2A of Evin Prison, under IRGC jurisdiction, where he has remained since.

All of the aforementioned prisoners were arrested amid the “Golestan Haftom” incident in February 2018, where Iranian police and plainclothes members of the IRGC’s Basij faction confronted hundreds of Gonabadi Dervishes who had rallied outside the home of their spiritual leader Noor Ali Tabandeh. The Dervish demonstrators sought to prevent the possible detainment of Tabandeh, who has reportedly been placed under extended house arrest by Iranian authorities.

Hundreds of Dervishes were beaten, wounded, and arrested during the Golestan Haftom incident. A similar attack occurred on January 24th after an intervention from security forces on the same street, heightening the sense of fear within the Dervish community.

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.

* There are various divisions among Dervishes in Iran. In this report, the term “Dervish” refers to Nematollahi Gonabadis, who declare themselves as followers of Twelver Shi’ism, Iran’s official state religion.

Maltreatment Results in Hunger Strike of 56 Urmia Prisoners

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Fifty-six youth and political prisoners declared the launch of a hunger strike on October 17th in defense of their ward mates, many of whom were recently victims of vicious assaults by authorities.

The strikers hail from Ward 12, designated for political prisoners, and the youth ward.

On October 15th, more than 50 special agents attacked Ward 12, breaking prisoners’ bones and teeth. Later the same day, Urmia guards enlisted common-criminal prisoners to wage an assault on 8 prisoners of conscience from the youth ward.

HRANA is in the process of confirming the names of the striking prisoners.

Open Letter: Hundreds of Doctors and Publishers Plead for the Release of Farhad Meysami

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Hundreds of medical doctors, publishers, bookshop owners, and university graduates wrote an open letter September 28th to raise their concerns about Farhad Meysami, a civil rights activist detained in Evin Prison who is in dire medical condition on this 57th day of his hunger strike. The letter pleads for Meysami’s release.

Meysami started his hunger strike one day after his July 31st arrest, in protest to authorities’ refusal to appoint the attorney of his choice.

He was taken to the prison clinic by violent force on September 26th, raising suspicions with close sources that authorities are deliberately isolating him from contacts with the outside.

Previously, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi and Esmaeil Abdi, two teachers imprisoned in Evin, asked for Meysami’s transfer to a hospital in their own open letter to judicial authorities.

The most recent open letter, representing the will of 1,400 doctors, publishers, bookshop owners, and university graduates, reflects the same concern for Meysami’s well-being.

“We know Dr. Farhmad Meysami’s character, disposition, and reputation of accountability, and we believe that he doesn’t belong in prison,” the letter says.

Meysami is noted in the letter as founder and manager of Andisheh Sazan, a publishing house in Iran.

“Meysami raised his criticisms in peaceful and non-violent ways,” the letter goes on. “Some of us don’t necessarily agree with him, but we don’t think this is a way to treat any dissident in this country, let alone a doctor and a publisher.”

The letter specifically implores the support of Culture Minister Abbas Salehi, Health Minister Hassan Ghazizade Hashemi, Parliamentary Health Committee Head Hosseinali Shahriari and Parliamentary Culture Committee Head Ahmad Mazani.

Their letter concludes with a verse from the Qur’an: “He who gives life to anyone has given life to all.”

Two Teachers Imprisoned at Evin Pen Statement of Support for Farhad Meysami

Posted on: September 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi and Esmail Abdi, two teachers imprisoned at Evin, have demanded in a letter to Judicial authorities that their ward mate Farhad Meysami–who is now in the 54th day of his hunger strike–be transferred to an outside treatment facility to avert an impending health crisis.

Meysami has dropped 30 pounds since he started starving himself on August 1st to protest both his detention and authorities’ refusal to appoint the lawyer of his choosing. In addition to his 18-year history of ulcerative colitis, Meysami experienced a steep drop in blood pressure on Saturday, September 8th, prompting the prison doctor to recommend more aggressive treatment. Notwithstanding the doctor’s orders, prison authorities refuse to clear his transfer to a different facility for treatment.

In a letter, Langroudi and Abdi, two imprisoned teachers held with Meysami in Ward 8 of Evin Prison, urge authorities to approve Meysami’s transfer to a medical treatment facility, to “prevent a possible calamity from occurring.”

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

“In the name of the God of wisdom and life,

Fifty days have passed since Dr. Farhad Meysami, civil activist and political prisoner, declared his hunger strike. His strike was a response to unjust legal proceedings, and authorities’ hindrance of his effective defense by refusing him the right to choose an attorney. He is now in a critically weakened condition. It is said that the doctors at Evin Prison insisted he be hospitalized, yet judicial authorities refuse to issue the order to have him transferred to a prison more materially equipped to treat him.

Because this civil activist suffers from ulcerative colitis and has lost 30 pounds over the course of his hunger strike, his blood pressure, pulse, and other vital signs have dipped into gravely abnormal ranges. As of last week he stopped accepting intravenous treatment, leaving us more concerned than ever that a calamitous outcome might be imminent.

We, the undersigned, thus put on guard the relevant judicial authorities, that they express their agreement to transfer Dr. Meysami to a proper hospital without delay, to prevent a possible calamity from occurring.

His ward-mates, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi and Esmail Abdi”

Prisoner of Conscience on Hunger Strike in Urmia

Posted on: August 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Ali Badrkhani, a prisoner of conscience detained in Urmia’s central prison (northwestern Iran), has been on hunger strike since Tuesday, August 7, 2018. Mr Badrkhani is protesting his transfer to a ward in the prison where 400 narcotics prisoners are held. Mr Badrkhani deems the transfer a violation of the principle of classification of the inmates based on the type of the offences.

A source told HRANA: “[Mr Badrkhani] launched the hunger strike right after his arrest to demand his transfer to the ward of political prisoners. Subsequently, the guards took him to the Prison Director’s office under the pretext of discussing his demands. However, once in the director’s office, he was handcuffed and forcibly transferred to the narcotics ward where he is currently held.” Consequently, Mr Badrkhani went on hunger strike again. Harassment due to the political nature of his charges by a prison official called Gharebaghi is reportedly another reason for his hunger strike.

Mr Badrkhani was previously arrested in winter 2015 and later released on bail. However, he was barred from continuing his education while in his last semester of completing his master’s program at the University of Tehran. He was sentenced to three years in prison for “Acting against national security”. Mr Badrkhani began srving his sentence in spring 2017.

Mr Badrkhani is a member of the Kurdish ethnic minority and has Irani-Iraqi citizenship. Among his publications are “Turkey, Democracy and Kurds”, ”Discussion of Idea”, ”Refugee of Love”, ”Kurdish Tales and Myths”