Rajai Shahr Political Prisoners Share Final Memories of Moradis and Hossein Panahi

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Almost one week after the hangings of Loghman Moradi, Zanyar Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi (1), their fellow prisoners have written a letter to condemn their execution and relate the events leading up to it.

Dated Wednesday, September 12th, 2018, the letter was written from the Rajai Shahr Prison grounds in Karaj, on the western outskirts of Tehran, where the men were last known to be held.

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

“The tragedy happened Saturday, September 8th. As of Wednesday the 6th, [the mens’] prison visits were stopped, and on different pretexts, their comings and going within the prison, even to the clinic, were restricted. First they called Zanyar, then Loghman, up to the [prison] director’s office. Up to that point, nothing seemed out of ordinary. We paid little attention to the silence of our adjacent ward, which was usually abuzz. Silence meant that inmates there had been denied their courtyard time. Up until 4 p.m. that day, the absence of Zanyar and Loghman did not strike us as abnormal. At 4:30 p.m., though, we started to worry. When looked at all together, the anomalies of that day felt like the pulse of something sinister.

Then we were told that a truck had collided with a telephone cable, resulting in a service outage; a story we had heard before at around the same time a criminal act was about to take place. Hearing it again concerned us even more. Our only hope was that flaws had been found in their case, and that it had just been transferred to the Sanandaj Prosecutor’s Office to assign jurisdiction. In other words, we were clinging to the hope that their criminal case was not yet closed. Little did we know that rulers with snakes on their shoulders (2) were hungry for young brains, and that the court and judiciary of Zahakis are blind to the rule of law and due process.

When the sun sets on a dictatorship, the execution and massacring of prisoners is due course. Such are the workings of fate.

Miserable are those who, in face of these murders, will retreat in fear. Should that happen, the criminals will only gain resolve in their misdeeds. Cowardice conveys to them that the people can, and will, abide crime. Blessed are those who accept Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin as their own children, children who were hanged in the prime of their youth to uproot the scaffolds and the gallows, to restore a clear skyline for the future.

Us prisoners and co-inmates of the fallen, we brace ourselves for this next, and hopefully last, wave of executions. What greater honor than to be among the last executed, to know that no young people after us will be forced to walk those gallow steps again.

If there were one single reason (although there are many) that this regime is incorrigible and will not be reformed under any circumstances, it is its killing of our nation’s noblest youth, like Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin.

And so to those delusional people who put us on guard of how things would “get worse” [should the regime be toppled], we have to ask: what situation could conceivably be worse than this?

As fellow inmates of these three courageous martyrs of the gallows, we condemn their executions as criminal acts, and extend our condolences to their families. We have faith that their spilled blood will rattle the gates and guide a fettered nation to the dawn of freedom and justice.

Arash Sadeghi, Ebrahim Firoozi, Payam Shakiba, Pirouz Mansouri, Saeed Shirzad, Saeed Masouri, Javad Fooladvand, Hassan Sadeghi, Majid Asadi, Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhzai

Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison
September 12th, 2018

Longtime Political Prisoner Eulogizes Fallen Moradis: “Their slippers are still outside their cells”

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- For 10 years, Saeed Massouri, Iran’s oldest political prisoner, was detained in Rajai Shahr with Loghman and Zanyar Moradi, who were executed along with Ramin Hossein Panahi on September 8th, 2018 (1). In response to their hangings, Massouri has written a letter entitled “The Circle of Love and Rebellion.”

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

The Circle of Love and Rebellion

In prison, your cellmate and ward mates become your family. They are the one we depend on the most; they are the ones with whom we share the moments, the hours, and the many details of our lives. When I speak of three children, three friends, three brothers like Zanyar, Loghman, and Ramin — especially Loghman and Zanyar, with whom I shared a ward for 10 years — I can barely stand the sound of my own breathing. I shared in their joy and sorrow, their court sessions and solitary confinement, their stress and anxiety, their deprivation and crisis, in each and every condition imposed on us by prison life. In their absence, the prison air is stifling and heavy.

I no longer hear the sound of Zanyar’s laugh; I no longer hear the passing jokes of Loghman as he comes down the hallway. Night falls, and I can no longer visit their cells and graze from their plates. My God… their slippers are still outside their cells, but they will never be back… to think of it all, I feel as though I were the one who’s been buried.

How I wish I could rip from my chest this heavy heart, so weighed down by forty years of injustice and oppression. I wish that by crying I could drain my own veins, tear by tear, and find solace. I wish I could show the whole world what they’re doing, taking our best, most precious youth and slaughtering them, watching their bodies swing from the noose with blank, demonic stares. Then they call the killings an exercise of their authority, ranting against an offensive, threatening that if they are hit once, they will strike back tenfold. Such is their formula for dealing with the populace: when the people, exasperated at the plunder of society, stage peaceful strikes or protests, rulers deem it a “hit” and hit back by killing ten prisoners. They hang them to avenge by terror, laying accusations of “criminal” and “mercenary” upon the dead. Our people know who our children are, despite it all, by the music of their hearts.

In truth, if these three young men, and men and women like them, were not here to pierce through the darkness by offering the light of their lives, the curse of oppression and injustice would be eternal. If it weren’t for their sacrifice, then we would have no recourse but to seek freedom, justice, and human rights beneath the cloaks of mullahs, the likes of Khatami (former President) and Rouhani (current President), and our defeat would be written.

This wretched, oblivious, and eternally delusional class don’t realize that the black-and-blue circles on the necks of the fallen are circles of love, an offering from the dead to the living. They are not unlike the crown of thorns that Jesus wore.

That same vivid contusion will be the axis of concentric rings of revolt and rebellion, waged by freedom fighters against all forms of injustice and oppression.

Saeed Massouri
September 12th, 2018 / Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison, Karaj

***********

Saeed Massouri was born in 1965. After studying in Norway, he was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in the city of Dezful (province of Khuzestan, southwestern Iran) upon returning to Iran in 2001. He spent 14 months in an Intelligence Office solitary cell in Ahwaz (capital of Khuzestan province) before being transferred to section 209 of Evin Prison. He was sentenced to death in 2002, but in an appeals court his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He is currently serving the 18th year of his sentence in the political prisoners’ ward of Rajai Shahr.

Prisoner Attempts Suicide to Escape Rajai Shahr Prison Mafia

Posted on: September 16th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Rajai Shahr prisoner and father of one Ali Ahmadi, 50, has been transferred to a hospital after attempting suicide by pill overdose. As of the date of this report, his medical status is unknown.

According to a close source, Ahmadi attempted suicide to escape the prospect of continuous harassment from the prison mafia, a group of inmates maneuvered by Ward 1 Head “Hassan Kord” (real name Hasan Gord) who physically assaulted him for refusing to pay them, and then got away with it.

“On Kord’s orders, they went to hector Ahmadi into paying two million tomans (approximately 150 USD). When he couldn’t make the payment, they beat him up. When Ahmadi reported the beating and extortion to Kord and the prison authorities, nothing came of it,” the source said.

Currently held in Ward 1 of Rajai Shahr, located in Karaj, Alborz province (30 miles west of Tehran), Ahamdi has spent 13 years in prison on murder charges, and over the course of his sentence has obtained *forgiveness from three out of four of his victim’s family members.

Rajai Shahr is among the most redoubtable prisons of Iran. Though it is classified as a criminal penitentiary with the National Prison Bureau, it has for many years served as an exile for both political and non-political prisoners.

Human rights organizations have published numerous reports on discriminative mistreatment of prisoners, as well as prison authorities’ blatant disregard of regulation by abetting organized crime, smuggling, premeditated murder, and the unlawful directives of security authorities. HRANA previously published an exposé of key players in Iran’s prison system, laying bare the systematic nature of prison corruption.

Ahmadi is not the first prisoner to attempt suicide under Kord’s despotism; HRANA has reported on a number of Rajai Shahr prisoners who declared hunger strike, self-mutilated, or attempted suicide in similar circumstances. In a brief conversation with HRANA, one prisoner revealed that Hassan Kord was behind the assaults of at least five prisoners in the first week of September 2018 alone.

Kord, who collaborates with multiple prison gangs including “Hani Kordeh,” has a history of instigating violent brawls among inmates that have led to prisoner deaths. He plays a central role in Rajai Shahr’s funneling of recalcitrant or quarreling prisoners into an institutional no-man’s-land known as the “bloody ring,” a particular hall of the prison where many were killed in March 2018.

In 2016, HRANA reported on the murder of prisoner Babak Ghyasi, who had allegedly not been amenable to the demands of Kord or his associates. Earlier this year, controversial prisoner Vahid Moradi was also killed in a ward under Kord’s management.

* In Islamic penal code, the family of a murder victim may freely choose between “Qesas” (eye-for-an-eye) punishment (i.e. the execution of the defendant) and a death row pardon, often in return for blood money. In this legal sense, “family” includes parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, but not the victim’s spouse. Often the defendant must obtain unanimous forgiveness from the victim’s legal family in order to be pardoned.

Labor Activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh Released on Bail

Posted on: September 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On September 11, 2018, labor activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was released on a bail of approximately $4,000 USD (400,000,000 Rials) and is awaiting trial.

Ebrahimzadeh was arrested by security forces near Kermanshah (western Iran) and transferred to the local detention center of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Friday, August 17, 2018.

On August 31st, Ebrahimzadeh’s case garnered international attention when a statement from Canadian Union of Postal Workers President Mike Palecek condemned his arrest and demanded his immediate release.

In a previous report, a source close to Ebrahimzadeh’s family told HRANA that he was apprehended “en route to assist survivors of the Kermanshah earthquake.”

Ebrahimzadeh, born in 1977 in Oshnavieh (West Azerbaijan province), has been detained several times since 2008 in cases related to his labor activism. In May 2017, HRANA announced his release from Rajai Shahr Prison after serving a seven-year sentence.

Rajai Shahr Warden Breaks Prisoner’s Wrist, Toes

Posted on: September 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison warden known as “Mr. Zalali” assaulted 28-year-old prisoner Reza Ghasemi for unknown reasons on Tuesday, September 4th, breaking his right wrist and toes of both feet, confining him to a wheelchair.

Ghasemi is being held in Ward 10 of Rajai Shahr (30 miles west of Tehran), where beating and mistreatment of prisoners is not without precedent: Behrouz Hosseini from ward 6 was severely beaten Saturday, July 7, 2018 by prison staff; Earlier, on May 16th, Sunni prisoner Hamzeh Darvish, who had previously been transferred to the Coroner’s Office for health problems attributed to his hunger strike, was beaten. Prior to his visit to the Coroner’s office, prison officials reportedly intimidated and threatened him, warning him not to make incriminating statements against them.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sloganeered against civil rights repressions, publishing a Civil Rights Charter and verbally pushing for the comprehensive implementation of its provisions. Article 64 of the charter reads, “anyone arrested, convicted, or imprisoned is entitled to their civil rights, including proper nutrition, clothing, health and medical care, educational and cultural services, religious worship and practices.” Thus far, though, Rouhani’s rhetoric has yet to materialize into concrete initiatives.

Authorities deny familial visit between cancer-afflicted prisoner of conscience and his detained wife

Posted on: September 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Arash Sadeghi and Golrokh Iraee, a husband-wife pair of civil rights activists currently serving time in separate prisons, have been denied the right to see each other despite Sadeghi’s recent diagnosis of chondrosarcoma.

Separated by about 30 miles–Sadeghi held in Rajai Shahr in Karaj, and Iraee in the women’s ward of Evin prison in Tehran–have been permitted one visit, in June 2018, arranged in the interest of persuading Iraee to end her hunger strike.

An informed source told HRANA that in the wake of Sadeghi’s recent diagnosis, “Mr. Rostami, the assistant prosecutor in charge of Evin political prisoners, consented to the couple’s visit. [Rajai Shahr Prison Director] Gholamreza Ziaei, however, has opposed Sadeghi’s transfer to Evin for such visit. He cited Sadeghi’s activism in prison as the reason for his objection.”

Sadeghi’s recent diagnosis of chondrosarcoma, a malignant bone and joint cancer, has only heightened his loved ones’ anxiety over an already-shaky prognosis: in addition to bone cancer, Sadeghi suffers from asthma, acute ulcerative colitis, arrhythmia, dilated cardiomyopathy, kidney shrinkage, severe wounds in his large and small intestine, and IBS. His regime of 20 daily medications includes mesalazine, sulfasalazine, warfarin, clopidogrel, propranolol, pantoprazole, suprastine, domperidone, and bismuth subcirate. He went on a 72-day hunger strike in October 2016 to protest his wife’s arrest and incarceration over a story she had written in a private journal, and has yet to fully recover from the physical fallout of long-term starvation.

Sadeghi is serving a 19-year prison sentence imposed by the Revolutionary Court, while Iraee began serving her six-year sentence on October 24th, 2016. Since the recent Iranian New Year, or “Nowruz” celebration in March, her sentence was reduced to two and a half years.

On the orders of Evin Prison Director Chaharmahali, Sadeghi was previously transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr as a punitive measure. Iranian law has provisions allowing for monthly inter-prison visits between kin who are detained within the jurisdictions of Tehran and Alborz Province.

Judiciary Bodies Withhold News of at Least Eight Executions

Posted on: September 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – At least eight death row prisoners in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison were executed in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

HRANA was able to confirm the identities of the executed prisoners as Reza Ghasemi; a man identified only as “Zolalzadeh”; Amir Amindokht; Seyed Mahmoud Hosseini; Mehdi Tajik; Akbar Salimi; Kazem Ebrahimkhani; and Shahab Taghizadeh. Most had been sentenced to death on murder charges and were granted a final visit with their families before being put to death.

Two more prisoners who were slated to be executed on the 5th–Aidin Shariatmadari and Gheble Ali Pazouki–were returned to their wards in the eleventh hour when the families of the victims agreed to *absolve them of their alleged crimes.

On September 4th, HRANA reported on the transfer of all ten of these prisoners to solitary confinement, the typical terminus for those facing imminent execution.

True to form, the judiciary bodies responsible for disseminating news on prisoner executions and terms thereof have yet to release information about this morning’s events.

An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions in Iran are not reported by the state or the Judiciary. These executions are referred to as “secret executions.”

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. Registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI indicates that in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed, and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the executions of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

* In the Islamic Penal Code, families of murder victims have the option of Qesas (an-eye-for-an-eye), the receipt of blood money in return for sparing the life of the accused.

Death Row Prisoners transferred to Solitary Confinement in Preparation for Execution

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – At least ten prisoners on death row in Rajai Shar (aka Gohardasht) Prison, in the city of Karaj (west of Tehran), have been transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their execution. Their families have been reportedly granted a final visit.

Most of the prisoners were sentenced to death on murder charges. Barring an official *pardon from the families of the victims, officials will proceed with their executions.

As of the date of this report, HRANA was able to confirm the identity of one of these prisoners, Shahab Taghizadeh. The remaining prisoners’ names are still being confirmed.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran has the highest rate of executions per capita in the world.

The HRANA Statistics Center reported that between March 21, 2017, and March 18, 2018, in Iran, at least 322 persons were executed and 236 were sentenced to death. Among those executed, there were four juvenile offenders—under 18 years of age at the time of the offense—and 23 executions carried out in public. Moreover, more than sixty percent of executions have not been publicized, and are considered “secret” executions.

* In the Islamic penal code, families of murder victims have the option of Qesas (an-eye-for-an-eye), the receipt of blood money in return for sparing the life of the accused.

Political Prisoners Pen Condolences in Wake of Deadly Forest Fire

Posted on: August 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Four political prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison (a.k.a Gohardasht), Karaj, have written an open letter to express compassion over the deaths of four environmental activists who lost their battle with the forest fires of Marivan, located in Kurdistan in western Iran.

The deceased activists — Sharif Bajour and Omid Kohnepoushi, both members of Chya Green Society, and Mohammad Pazhouhi and Rahmat Hakiminia, members of Marivan Environmental Office — were fighting wildfires near the Iraqi border in Salasi and Pileh. Marivan’s county governor revealed their cause of death to be asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation.

Two other activists, Mokhtar Aminejad and Mohammad Moradveisi, were injured in the same fire.

Below is the full text of their letter, translated into English by HRANA:

It is not my lot to die a natural death;

Better for the holy grail than in blissful sleep,

And on truth’s command, I welcome that death

which releases freedom from chains of darkness

It was with great shock and sorrow that we heard the news that Sharif Bajour and the others had perished; grief engulfed us like flames. We struggle to reconcile with the sad reality that the chestnut oaks of Zagros Mountain (1) have lost a dear friend.

Sharif Bajour, so appropriately named (2), leaves the Zagros bereft. He was a true friend to the mountains, plains, and forests of Kurdistan. Had he lived anywhere else on earth [but here], his death would have roused the lament of a nation. If the state-run media shrouds his death in silence, he remains an eternal hero in the hearts of the people. His loss leaves a void in the heart of his nation, who has seldom known so noble and gentle a soul as his. His new and creative path of resistance is his legacy.

Bajour’s resistance involved guarding the chestnut oaks of Zagros with his body and soul, biking for the cause of peace on earth, and staging a hunger strike outside the media spotlight.

As political prisoners of Gohardasht prison, we express our condolences to the families of this respectable man, as well as to the families of the other Zagros fire victims, whose names we regrettably do not know. We extend our deep sympathy to his friends and comrades from the Chya Green Association, to all those who care about the environment, and to the people of Kurdistan. They have lost some of the most honorable men of their time. Much like the fire that took their lives, the loss of these beloved souls has burned our spirit.

Arash Sadeghi,
Loghman Moradi,
Zanyar Moradi,
Saeed Shirzad

—-

(1) Mountain range in western Iran and scene of the fatal forest fire
(2) Sharif means “honorable” in Arabic

Rajai Shahr Executions Continue

Posted on: August 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – At least two death row prisoners in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison were executed in the early morning hours of Wednesday, August 29, 2018.

HRANA was able to confirm the identities of the executed prisoners: Mojtaba Asadi, who was detained in Ward 3, and Vahidollah Loghmani, age 54, reportedly from Afghanistan. Asadi was sentenced to death on a charge of murder, and Loghmani for a charge of armed drug trafficking.

HRANA was also able to confirm the identity of two prisoners from a group of at least five who were transferred to solitary confinement on Tuesday, August 28, pending execution: Mojtaba Asadi of Ward 3 and Shamsali Abdollahi of Ward 10.

When the plantiff in Abdollahi’s case permitted his execution to be delayed until further notice, he was returned to his prior Ward.

The fate of the two other prisoners is not yet known. If they were put to death, their executions have not been announced by the state-run media as of the time of this report.

An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions, called “secret executions,” are not disclosed by authorities. According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Figuring among these are the execution of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.