Journalist & Human Rights Activist Ejlal Ghavami Summoned to Court in a New Case

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Ejlal Ghavami, journalist and human rights activist, was summoned to Branch 2 of the Sanandaj Revolutionary Court (western Iran) in a new case. “I will be tried on November 18th in relation to a previous case, this is another case,” Mr Ghavami said in a note.

Ejlal Ghavami was previously charged with “Propaganda against the regime”, “Speaking to anti-regime media”, “Disseminating lies” and “Insulting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)”. He was acquitted, but upon objections from the Prosecutor, his case was sent to an appeals court.

On June 9, 2018, Mr Ghavami was summoned to the Intelligence office of the IRGC along with Hiwa Rahimi and Ahmad Khalighi, two other civil rights activists from the Kurdistan province. Late last year, he was summoned to Branch 1 of Prosecutor’s office in the Kurdistan province after he was interrogated by the Iranian Cyber Police (FATA). Mr Ghavami was interrogated by FATA in Sanandaj and on Monday, March 25, 2018, he was charged with “Relation and cooperation with anti-regime channels” and “Disseminating lies and illegal contents”.

Appeals Court Date Set for Imprisoned Evangelical Activist

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Majid Reza Souzanchi, 34, Christian convert detained in Evin Prison, has received a summons order to appear before Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals court on December 11, 2018.

He was tried on April 25, 2018, along with Fatemeh Mohammadi for “Membership in Evangelical Groups and Evangelical Activities”, presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh. Mr Souzanchi was sentenced to five years in prison and Ms Mohammadi received a six-month prison sentence on charges of “Engaging in Evangelical activities” and “Acting against national security through propaganda against the regime”.

A source close to the defendants told HRANA that Mr Souzanchi suffered from broken ribs as a result of being beaten up twice during his interrogation by Intelligence Ministry agents. Souzanchi is also worried that his home was searched while he was in prison and some of his personal belongings and family photos were confiscated. He has written several letters [to the authorities] on the matter but has not received any response. In June, his prison cell was raided by agents who confiscated his personal belonging including a notebook in which he had written excerpts from the Bible.

Prison officials refer to Mr Souzanchi as “impure” and “Daeshi” (a member or ISIS). Mr Rostami, the Prosecutor’s representative, had told Mr Souzachi and Ms Mohammadi that “if we were in you Christians’ hands, you would have executed us”. Samad Hadipour, the investigator of Evin court’s Branch 3, referred to the church as a “casino”.

According to the Iranian Constitution, Christianity is a recognized religion. However, security apparatus in Iran are extremely sensitive toward Muslims converting to Christianity, and aggressively pursue evangelist activists.

Article 26 of the Iranian constitution guarantees religious minorities’ rights: “….recognized religious minorities’ associations are free [to exist]…and no one can be forced to participate in these associations or prevented from participating in one of them”.

Hassan Rouhani, Iranian President, during last year’s presidential election campaign stressed the importance of civil rights, and published a “Civil Rights Charter”. However, these promises have not been carried out.

Article 99 of the Charter states: “Citizens have the right to access facilities to participate in cultural life [of their choice], including the right to found associations, perform religious, cultural, and ethnic ceremonies as long as they respect the laws”.

Video Report: Baha’i Citizen Mehrdad Heyrani Temporarily Released from Evin Prison

Posted on: August 11th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Saturday, August 11, 2018, Baha’i citizen and Tehran native Mehrdad Heyrani, after three months of detention by Intelligence agents, was temporarily released on a bail of approximately $110,000 USD (1.2 billion rials), and awaits trial.

An informed source had previously told HRANA: “On Friday, May 11, 2018, Intelligence agents went to apprehend [Heyrani] in his home, but failed to do so since he was not there. After learning that he was at a friend’s house in Baghestan, Karaj (just west of Tehran), they travelled there, arrested him, escorted him back to his home, and transferred him to an unknown location after searching his residence and confiscating his personal belongings, such as his computer and religious books.”

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, while according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone is entitled to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to adopt and manifest the religion of their choice, be it individually, in groups, in public, or in private.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran’s Constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Consequently, the rights of Baha’is are systematically violated in Iran.

Dervish Woman Handed Prison Sentence on National Security Charges

Posted on: August 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) When 324 members of the Dervish Muslim minority [1] were arrested February 3, 2018, Sepideh Moradi was among them. According to Human Rights Watch, a sense of injustice over intensified government surveillance of their spiritual leader prompted Moradi and her comrades to organize a protest, which flagged them as threats in the eyes of authorities.

Sure enough, Dervish news agency Majzooban Noor reported that when a detained Moradi–in protest of a lack of due process and legal representation for Dervishes–refused to attend her trial on July 28th, she was sentenced in absentia by Judge Salavati and is now beginning a five-year sentence at Gharchak Varamin Prison [2] for “Collusion to Act against National Security.”

Salavati leaned on section 23 of the Islamic Penal Code to stiffen Moradi’s sentence with two-year bans on travel, membership in political groups and parties, and media or cyber activity. She had already been barred from pursuing her master’s degree in Computer Science on a prior charge.

“The accused is the daughter of Hamidreza Moradi, an extremist figure and one of the directors of the Majzooban Noor website,” her verdict read. “She was raised in a dogmatic Dervish family, and joined the Gonabadi Dervish sect under the influence of their deviant beliefs.”

Moradi and her fellow women Dervishes reportedly endured mistreatment and torture over the course of their interrogation and detention. At one point Moradi went on hunger strike to protest a violent raid conducted June 13th by the Special Guard Force of the prison. HRANA previously published the identities of these attackers.

She received medical care from an outside facility on July 25th after weeks of follow-ups; as of the date of this report, no further information was available on her health condition.

Tehran General Prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi announced on July 24th that 330 sentences had thus far been handed down in Dervish cases. He added: “In the cases of those 25 who refused to attend their court sessions in attempts to thwart trial proceedings, the court […] followed through with procedure. Their verdicts were delivered in person.”

[1] There are various divisions among Dervishes in Iran; those featured in this article are Nematollahi Gonabadis who consider themselves followers of Twelver Shia Islam, the official state religion in Iran. According to Human Rights Watch, Noor Ali Tabandeh, spiritual leader of the Nematollahi Gonabadi Dervish faith, published a video on March 8th stating that he is not allowed to leave his residence in Tehran.

[2] For more information on deplorable conditions in Gharchak prison, please refer to pages 18 to 20 of the following document compiled by UK Home Office:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/565834/CIG-Iran-Prison-Conditions-v1-February-2016.pdf

Status of Activist Molavi Nasser Rigi Still Unknown

Posted on: August 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – According to the Baluch Activists Campaign, though Sunni cleric Molavi Nasser Rigi was arrested by Revolutionary Guard agents more than three weeks ago, his whereabouts remain unknown.

Rigi is a civil rights activist and member of a charity called “School Ambassadors.” He was active in several social initiatives, including the collection signatures for a petition in support of the Iranshahr girls.

He was arrested July 15th in response to allegedly fake social media accounts created in his name, which indicate he is a member of “SAHAB” (Baluchistan Protest Coordinator organization) and responsible for torching the Pasteur Pharmacy in Iranshahr (in Sistan and Baluchestan province). He denied the accusations, demanding the arrest of those responsible for disseminating the misinformation.

Iranshahr residents previously held mass protests in response to the statements of Sunni Imam Molavi Tayeb, who announced after leading a Friday prayer that 41 girls from Iranshahr had been abducted and raped. Security forces detained many of the protesters, including Abdullah Bozorgzadeh.

Prisoners ordered to pay for eavesdropping equipment

Posted on: June 6th, 2013

HRANA News Agency – Authorities have ordered all inmates to pay for setting up eavesdropping equipment for the prison facility in Zahedan.

According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the authorities have threatened to cut off the phone system if prisoners refuse to pay for the equipment. (more…)