Concessions from Prison Authorities Put an End to Abdolreza Ghanbari’s Hunger Strike

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Prompted by his loved ones and a promise from authorities to transfer him back to Evin Prison, teacher and political prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari has begun eating again after five days of hunger strike.

Ghanbari had announced he was starving himself in protest of his forced transfer from Evin’s Ward 8 to Rajai Shahr Prison on November 10th. In a previous HRANA report on Ghanbari’s hunger strike, a close source remarked that the transfer seemed arbitrary.

In a note announcing the end of his strike, Ghanbari wrote, “moved by the words of my loved ones to end my hunger strike, I have relieved them of their worries. The persistence of my spouse and my attorney have ended in a promise from officials to return me to Evin, as per my request, as soon as possible.”

What was once a 10-year sentence for Ghanbari was increased to a 15-year term in September of 2017, per reconsideration proceedings led by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court. After presenting himself to the Evin Prosecutor’s Office on October 13th of this year, Ghanbari was escorted to Evin Prison’s Ward 8 by security forces.

Iran Update: Reports of Persecuted Baha’is October 24 – November 11

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) -Baha’i citizens of Iran have continued to face persecution this month, in the form of grave desecrations, business shutdowns, and interference by authorities in their places of employment. Meanwhile, one Baha’i prisoner has returned to prison after a furlough release.

Grave Desecration

Four days after her October 24th burial, the body of Shamsi Aghdasi Azamian, a Baha’i resident of Gilavand village near the city of Damavand, was found in the nearby rural outskirts of Jaban.

According to a close source, security forces called Azamian’s son that same day, informing him that her remains had been found and instructing him to rebury them in Tehran.

Security forces had previously forbidden Baha’i Gilavand residents from burying their dead locally, ordering instead that all deceased Baha’is be interred in the capital city, 50 miles west by mountain pass. Though Azamian’s son initially refused — citing Baha’i religious custom to lay believers to rest no more than one hour away from their place of death — the family ultimately complied under pressure from security forces.

Earlier this year, Iranian authorities issued a court order to lock down a Baha’i cemetery in the city of Kerman. Baha’is in Sanandaj, Ahvaz, Tabriz, and Sangesar have also been prevented from burying their loved ones in local cemeteries, and in the cases of Sangesar and Sanandaj, some Baha’i burial sites have been reported destroyed.

As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the desecration of Azamian’s grave.

Shutdown of Baha’i Businesses

Iranian Authorities have shut down the small businesses of five Baha’i Ahvaz residents and two Baha’i Abadan residents as of November 5th.

The businesses — which had been temporarily closed, in observance of Baha’i religious holidays — were court-ordered to remain sealed off to the public. Their owners were identified as Ahvaz residents Vargha Derakhsan, Behrouz Zohdi, Jahanbakhsh Afsharzadeh, Feizollah Ghanavatian, Sohrab Derakhsan, and brothers Arman Azadi and Aram Azadi of Abadan.

Having run their business for the past 38 years, the Azadi brothers had already experienced a forced shutdown on July 12, 2018. After a 14-day tug-of-war with security forces, the prosecutor’s office, and other municipal authorities, they managed to re-open their store on July 26th, only to be shut down again this month.

Despite trade union regulations protecting business owners from arbitrary closures, Baha’i citizens regularly face unexplained restrictions on their commercial activity. And while Iranian businesses are legally permitted to close up shop for a maximum of 15 days per year — for any reason — some have been forced to stay closed after briefly pausing their operations for Baha’i holidays.

On December 3, 2017, Rouhani aide Shahindokht Molaverdi said that Iranian authorities were looking into a legislative solution to this issue.

HRANA reported on the forced closure of 11 Baha’i-owned business in Ahvaz in July of this year, and previously published a story on the same trend in Abadan.

Baha’i Prisoner Back in Rajai Shahr After Furlough

Afshin Seyed Ahmad, a Baha’i political prisoner serving a three-year sentence for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime,” returned to prison on November 11th after eight days of furlough.

This was Ahmad’s first furlough release since beginning his sentence June 28, 2016, in Evin Prison. He has since been transferred to Rajai Shahr.

Ahmad previously spent 20 days in solitary confinement after a November 2012 arrest.

Educational Institution Shut Down

Two educational institutions in the city of Shiraz have been shut down by court order for employing recently-arrested Baha’i citizens Nora Pourmoradian and Elaheh Samizadeh.

HRANA reported on Pourmoradian and Samizadeh’s release on October 10th after spending more than three weeks in custody. The two were working in the field of music education for children.

A close source backed speculation that the institution’s shutdown was prompted by Pourmoradian and Samizadeh’s employment there.

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Baha’i citizens of Iran 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, all people are entitled to freedom of religion, belief, and changes thereof, as well as the right to express and practice those beliefs as individuals or collectives, in public or in private.

Though unofficial sources estimate the Baha’i population of Iran at more than 300,000, Iran’s Constitution officially recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, and does not acknowledge the Baha’i faith as an official religion. As a result, the rights of Baha’is in Iran are systematically violated.

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

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

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

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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.

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.

Open Letter: the Fabricated Case file of Political Prisoner Pirouz Mansouri

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, who has been a political prisoner at Rajai Shahr for eleven years, is further from freedom than he thought.

A new case file opened up against Mansouri, accusing him of “gathering and conspiring against the regime,” will prolong his 15-year prison sentence by another five years. Cited in court as evidence of this charge were records of his hunger strikes, instances of “aggravating other prisoners,” his declaration of support for Mohammad Ali Taheri, and a statement he issued condemning the execution of a Sunni prisoner.

In an effort to alert human rights defenders — particularly the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran — Mansouri has written an open letter detailing the circumstances of the new case file.

Full text of his letter below:

“Report of a Fabricated Casefile

I, Mohammad Ali Mansouri, have been serving a prison sentence since August 28, 2007 — i.e. for eleven years. In May of 2017, per a newly fabricated case file, I was imprisoned and interrogated in Ward 209 [Ministry of Intelligence jurisdiction] for a month. The new charge was built on my exchanges through [the messenger app] Telegram. Since I’ve been in prison, I haven’t been granted a single day of furlough. In the absence of any evidence, charges were dismissed, and the case was closed. Then, in October, I was interrogated once more, in connection to a new charge: propaganda against the regime. From behind bars.

In January, without any advance notice that would allow me to retain an attorney, I was tried by Judge Moghiseh in Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. I was indicted on charges that were never mentioned during my interrogations. The trial was unconventional[…]even compared to the unlawful methods employed routinely.

Defenseless and without the presence of an attorney, I was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for propaganda against the regime and gathering and conspiring with intent to commit a crime.

Notwithstanding the impossibility of gathering and conspiring from within the prison, criminal intent alone carries a five-year term […]

I verbally protested the matter (as they saw no need to put my complaint in writing). I introduced Mr. Dorafshan as my attorney, and yet, in his absence, the appeals court settled on a three-year imprisonment sentence[…]

The sentence was issued without a supervising judge, without me, and in the sole presence of the court secretary. The court record was entirely verbal. It was in no way compliant with the Islamic Penal Code. It was never clarified how it was deemed feasible when a hearing never convened, a judge never appeared, the defendant was absent, and the defense itself never spoke, that an appeal request could be filed and that this file could result in a sentence?

I have related the entirety of these judicial proceedings in order to illustrate the workings of our judicial system […]

I write not for the people of my country, who know this story by their own flesh and bones, but for human rights organizations, especially the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. May they see the real face of our so-called independent judiciary, which is nothing but a sentence-printing machine run by the Ministry of Intelligence.

Mohammad Ali Mansouri, Rajai Shahr Prison,
November 2018”

Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri was arrested September 2007 for participating in the 19th-anniversary commemorations of political prisoners that were executed in 1986. Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati, sentenced him to 17 years of imprisonment on charges of “contacting and conspiring with the anti-regime Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization”. Added to that was an exile sentence to Karaj, in Rajai Shahr Prison, and a fine of 150 thousand tomans [approximately $80 USD]. The sentence was upheld in appeals court.

In July 2015, Mansouri’s daughter Iran Mansouri reported that a clemency program held on a religious holiday had reduced her father’s sentence by two years. His most recent case file has increased his remaining five-year term to a decade. He has yet to be granted furlough.

Rajai Shahr Prison Authorities Embezzle Religious Offering

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

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

Iran: An Overview of Human Rights Abuses September – October 2018

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran between September 23rd and October 22, 2018, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

Domestic restrictions in Iran on independent human rights reporting make it difficult to capture the full extent of these issues on the ground. The following overview draws on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources, including other human rights associations operating outside Iran’s borders.

Summary

Human rights violations continued all across the country over the past month, and included, but were not limited to: executions, child abuse, mass arrests, violation of prisoners’ rights, violation of freedom of expression, labor abuses, and unchecked environmental pollution.

Death Penalty

Capital punishment remains the most egregious violation of human rights in Iran. On October 10th — the World Day against the Death Penalty — the Center of Statistics at HRAI published its annual report to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran. The report provides statistics about executions carried out in this country between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018.

More than 25 citizens, including a juvenile offender, were executed in the last month (between September 23rd and October 22, 2018). More than 20 individuals, including a juvenile offender, were sentenced to death. Four people were executed in public.

HRANA was able to identify or gather details about death row prisoners, including a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Arsalan Khodkam, the ex-spouse of Leila Tajik, Hedayat Abdollahpour and three individuals convicted of financial crimes. New details on the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were also reported during this period.

Freedom of Thought and Expression

Freedoms of thought and expression were also widely restricted over the past 30 days.

Arrests: Arrestees in this category included a Shiraz city council member, Ahmad Alinejad and his wife, at least 20 residents of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, writer and Mashad resident Abbas Vahedian, Zahra Majd in Isfahan, and six individuals involved in the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested in Nain (near Isfahan).

Convictions: Leila Mir-Ghaffari was sentenced to 2 years in prison, Ejlal Ghavami to 8 months, Hassan Abbasi to 35 months (five 7-months prison terms), an Arak resident to 1 year and 30 lashings, Hamidreza Amini to 11 years. Women who protested this past August were sentenced from 6 months to 1 year in prison, Mohammad Mahdavifar was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months, a dual-nationality defendant faces 8 years and 6 months in prison, Soheil Arabi faces 3 years in prison, 3 years in exile, and a fine; the prison sentence of Abdolreza Ghanbari was increased to 15 years, Alireza Moeinian was sentenced to 8 months in prison; a new 6-month sentence extended the prison term of Saeed Shirzad through 2020; six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were collectively sentenced to a total of 6 years in prison and 444 lashings, and a group of political activists in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province were sentenced to exile and prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 years.

Eleven civil activists, including Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, and Abbas Safari were sentenced to 3 years in prison and 74 lashings. Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou and Mohammad Torabi were sentenced to 1 year in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Kian Sadeghi faces 3 years in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Morteza Nazari was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, 2 years of exile, and a fine; Zahra Zare Seraji, on the same convictions, to 8 years in prison and a fine. Their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13 years in prison and exile.

Summons: Hamid Farrokhnezhad, Parastoo Salehi, a number of reformist political activists, Tehran city council member Kazem Imanzadeh, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, and Mohammad Najafi were all summoned by courts and the Ministry of Intelligence.

Censorship: The weekly magazines “Nabze Bazaar” and “Paytakht Kohan,” as well as the website “EntekhabKhabar,” were convicted in press court. Courts also issued indictments for the Chief Executive Officers of “Shargh” and “Shahrvand” newspapers for their reporting on sexual tourism. The National Front of Iran was prevented from holding its Central Council meeting in Tehran, a journalist was beaten by Qazvin municipal agents, and a Kurdish student was barred from education, presumably for his political affiliations.

Prisoners’ Rights
Prisoners are rarely protected from cruel and unusual punishments, and their rights to proper nutrition, hygiene, and medical treatment are systematically violated. A few of these victims are detailed below by category of violation.

Raids and beatings: Prison agents punched Arash Sadeghi on his cancer surgery site; Urmia prison authorities attacked political prisoners and injured them severely, inciting them to hunger strike by the dozens; another Urmia prisoner was assaulted; a prisoner was beaten and injured by Rajai Shahr Prison personnel; Bandar Abbas Prison authorities broke an inmate’s fingers; an Urmia prisoner suffered a TBI after a beating by authorities; and prisoners were forcefully undressed and beaten in Zahedan Prison.

Withholding of medical treatment: A prisoner died after being denied medical care in Zahedan Prison. Farhad Meysami, Arash Sadeghi, and a prisoner in Sanandaj were also denied medical treatment.

Going without: Dozens of Gachsaran prisoners launched protests and hunger strikes in opposition to prison conditions. Six Gonabadi Dervish prisoners continued in an ongoing hunger strike. Reza Sigarchi, also in an act of protest, refused food and medicine in Great Tehran Penitentiary, while 8 Gonabadi Dervishes at the same penitentiary and 8 Baha’i prisoners of Karaj disappeared off of the administrative radar for 30 days. Houshmand Alipour was denied access to an attorney. Three prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison were blocked from receiving visits, and the fate of sequestered labor activist and Sanandaj resident Zanyar Dabbaghian was still unknown.

Three prisoners attempted suicide in Zahedan, Urmia, and Saravan prisons. Local sources consistently impute prisoner suicides and suicide attempts to the violence and oppression of prison life.

Religious and Ethnic Minorities

Religious and ethnic minorities remained under threat and consistent judicial pressures this past month.

Baha’is: Eight Baha’i citizens were arrested in Baharestan (near Isfahan), four were arrested in Karaj, one of whom had his business forcibly shut down, and three were arrested in Shiraz.
[Some of these arrests reflect coordinated or group arrests, and linked articles will reflect that information overlap].
A Baha’i resident of Yazd who had been blocked from pursuing education was fired from work for their faith, and the parents of a Baha’i prisoner were temporarily detained following a search of the prisoner’s home.

Sunnis: Five Sunni scholars were sequestered for hours in the Zahedan-Khash road patrol office. Three Baluchi citizens, who are scholars of the Ghalamouei seminary, were arrested in Sirik County (southern Iran). Sunni scholars expressed outcry over the public statements of a soccer player they alleged to be disparaging of Sunni sanctities.

Six members of the Yamani Religious Group in Izeh County were also arrested, presumably for their beliefs.

Ethnic minorities: Arab citizens were arrested, and are still being arrested en masse in wake of the Ahvaz Parade Attack. HRANA is still in the process of confirming the identifies of the arrestees, which according to local reports number into the hundreds. Other arrests suspected to be ethnically discriminatory include Nasim Sadeghi, Mohammad Abdolmohammad-Zadeh, Mojtaba Parvin, Ebrahim Divazi, as well as residents of Ilam, Ahvaz, Marivan, Urmia, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Saqqez, Pevah, Oshnavieh, and Sardasht.

News emerged on the convictions of Abbas Lasani, Kiumars Eslami, Eghbal Ahmadpour, Keyvan Olyali, Hossein Ali Mohammadi Alvar, as well as defendants in Sanandaj, Urmia, Kamyaran, and two detainees of the Afrin battles in Syria. Turkic activist Javad Ahmadi Yekanli was summoned by county security police in the city of Khoy.

Children’s Rights

Children are among the most vulnerable to human rights abuses in Iran. Over the past month, four wrongful child deaths were reported in the cities of Tehran, Falavarjan (Isfahan Province), Qaem Shahr (Mazandaran province) and (Isfahan Province).

The national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline said that 30% of reports called into the center are flagging some form of “domestic violence,” 30% of which turn out to be child abuse cases. Of this 30%, 50% were related to educational negligence, 30% to physical abuse, 15% to psychological abuse, and 4% to sexual abuse of children.

Maryam Sedighi, deputy director of the social welfare department of Alborz Province, said that 12% of “123” social emergency calls made in Alborz — i.e. an average of 40 calls per month — are child abuse reports.

Reports indicate the rape of a young girl by her father in Tehran; a boxing coach accused of raping his teenage student; a father pouring boiling water over his 7-year-old daughter in Genaveh, Bushehr Province; and a teacher using corporal punishment on a pupil in Kazeroon, Fars Province.

Three juvenile suicides were also reported: one student in Rigan County, Kerman Province, and two teenage girls, aged 14 and 16, in the cities of Abadan and Sanandaj.

The Iranian education system allocates fewer and fewer resources to its pupils, and educational facilities across the country — particularly in rural or underprivileged areas — can be found in varying states of wear and disrepair. One pupil in Razan, Hamadan province was injured in the chest, neck, and shoulders when he was caught in falling debris of a school wall that suddenly collapsed. The Razan director of education said that he is currently stable, but will require surgery.

Elementary-school student Donya Veisi of Garmash village, Kurdistan Province, fell victim to her own school’s disrepair when one of the walls surrounding her school yard collapsed, killing her. Later — amid allegations that Donya had in fact been raped and killed — the Kurdistan Prosecutor verbally engaged to investigate the matter.

Women

The question of women’s rights at sporting events gained heightened public attention this past month when, under pressure from FIFA to permit their entry into stadiums, a select number of Iranian women (most of them family members of players and federation employees) were finally allowed to witness a kickoff in person (Iran vs. Bolivia). Authorities’ exclusive selection criteria were highly criticized.

Meanwhile, Shiraz-based activist Maryam Azad was arrested by security forces at a Tehran Airport as she was leaving the country for Turkey.

The managing director of the office of forensic medicine in Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province indicated that, of the 429 domestic violence crimes recorded in his office over the past 6 months, 404 were incidents of violence by husbands against their wives.

Additional cases of violence against women included a man’s murder of his ex-wife when he failed to meet “mehrieh” obligations [a type of alimony settlement], and the circumstances surrounding one woman’s decision to set herself on fire in Mashad.

Two women, long hounded by the judiciary for participating in a rally on International Women’s Day, were recently acquitted of their charges.

Laborers and Guilds

This past month was rythmed by strikes, sit-ins, and rallies organized by guilds and employees across sectors who demanded more secure working conditions.

Commercial Transport: This past month, truck drivers in Iran went on a nationwide strike for the third time [in 12 months]. Over the course of their 20-day strike, at least 261 striking drivers in 19 different provinces were arrested and threatened with heavy sentences, including the death penalty. Strikers’ demands did make significant headway: after years of guild activism, the High Council of Transportation Coordination approved a new freight transport measurement rate known as the tonne-kilometre (tkm) method, which was among the most pressing demands of truck drivers. Despite this partial victory, the fates of the 261 detained protesters are still unknown.

Education: Six Educator-Activists who participated in demonstrations May 10th were sentenced to 9 months in prison and 74 lashings. Also reported was the conviction of schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests. Five teachers were summoned by the Bureau of Public Places in Saqqez.

Following a call to strike by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), Iranian teachers staged sit-ins [on October 14th and 15th] to demand more liveable salaries and justice for their persecuted colleagues. Strike activity was recorded across the provinces of Kerman, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Kurdistan, Alborz, Hamadan, Fars, Zanjan, Qom, Mazandaran, Tehran, North Khorasan, Ilam, East and West Azerbaijan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Bushehr, Gilan and Hormozgan.

Merchants: Merchants went on strike against the many interconnected symptoms of Iran’s current recession, including unstable exchange rates, inflation, rising prices, and unemployment. Merchant strikes went on for two consecutive days in the cities of Karaj, Shahreza, Shahriar, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Tabriz and Sarab.

Two street vendors were reportedly beaten by municipal agents in Qazvin and Gorgan.

Health and Environment:

Five environmental activists arrested 8 months ago have been indicted with charges of “corruption on earth,” which can carry the death penalty.

Intelligence agents halted a group of environmental journalists, including Javad Heydarian, before they could board a flight to Germany for work. Their passports were confiscated.

Public concern over pollution and waste issues is ballooning, and [many citizens are critical of the government’s inaction in face of myriad threats to the public health].

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, Iranians surpass the worldwide average of daily waste production (300 grams) by a whopping 400 grams every day.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency of Miandoab (West Azerbaijan Province) announced that contamination of the Zarrinehroud River from the city’s sugar factory, coupled with poor ecological management of the river and its dam system, has caused thousands of fish to die in the river.

High levels of air pollution were reported this month in the cities of Kerman, Mahshahr, Ramshir, Rigan, and the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman.

Cultural Rights and Censorship

A number of photographers from Shiraz faced persecution for their instagram activity this month [which was cited as “improper”].

Two cultural directors from Sistan and Baluchestan province were summoned to the Intelligence office for attempting to host a peaceful community celebration.

Pending content modifications and the resolution of charges against the Home Video Entertainment Network, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned distribution of the network’s TV series “13 Shomali” (Northern 13), which previously aired on Saturdays.

Military and Law-Enforcement Power Abuses

Several citizens were killed as a result of power abuses and negligence by security forces this past month.

Police car chases, inappropriate shootings by border authorities, and authorities’ failure to warn civilians of road barriers led to 2 civilian injuries and 5 civilian deaths in Iranshahr (Sistan and Baluchestan Province), Jask (Hormozgan Province) and Azadshahr (Golestan Province) and Razavi Khorasan.

Security forces reportedly assaulted fuel vendors in Saravan (Sistan and Baluchestan Province).

More than a dozen “Kulbars” [laborers who make their living carrying goods across border areas] were wounded and killed across the country, namely in Sardasht (West Azerbaijan Province), Piranshahr (West Azarbaijan Province), Urmia (West Azerbaijan Province) Nowsud (Kermanshah Province), Marivan and Baneh (Kurdistan Province) and Ilam (Ilam province).

A prisoner in Urmia was sentenced to hand amputation, and a robbery convict was dealt 74 lashes in public in the Zeberkhan Rural District (Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province).

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The above-cited reports are only a few examples of dismally more widespread trends. Their mention in this overview by no means implies their significance over those incidents which went unreported, due to tight restrictions on investigative journalists on the ground.

Among available reports of human rights abuses, however, some are more oft-cited due to their sensitive nature or predominating presence in public opinion. It bears mention that all human rights abuses are worthy of the news coverage and social media activism that has come to the aid of so relatively few. Bearing in mind their roles as public opinion influencers, social media activists and human rights reporters must be wary not to underlie existing human rights abuses with unintentional discrimination in their reporting.

Retrial Denied to Imprisoned Couple Struggling with Health Problems

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- A request for retrial for a married couple imprisoned on political grounds has been denied for the second time by Branch 33 of Iran’s Supreme Court.

Hassan Sadeghi and Fatemeh Mosana, who have been tortured and incarcerated multiple times over the past four decades since the Revolution, are currently serving 15-year prison sentences; Sadeghi in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, and Mosana in Tehran’s Evin prison.

After being tortured by intelligence agents during an arrest, Sadeghi sustained eye injuries that have developed into secondary ailments, including glaucoma. His glaucoma-afflicted right eye may soon require surgery, but the advancement of his disease informs a poor prognosis. Though he has made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, he won’t be able to honor it: the prosecutor’s office refuses to issue Sadeghi the permit he needs to go there.

Sadeghi was first arrested in 1981 at the age of 16, and was tortured over the course of his six-year detention; the impact of multiple lashings ground a dent into his skull. Under psychological and physical duress, Sadeghi also developed an ulcer and gastrointestinal infection. Years later, gel insoles and orthopedic shoes help relieve the chronic foot pain caused by his torturers, who fractured his heel bone with repeated whips of a cable to the soles of his feet — yet the prosecutor’s office bars Sadeghi from even buying them himself.

Mosana, 41, was first arrested in 1980 at the age of 13. With her mother, she was charged with “Moharebeh” [enmity against God] and “Baqi” [rebellion] for membership in the opposition group MEK. Both served three years in prison; meanwhile, three of her brothers and a sister-in-law were executed for opposition activities.

Mosana suffered a leg injury while incarcerated in 2016 that required the application of a cast, a treatment that authorities delayed for two and a half months. After her complaints of chronic pain were ignored by prison staff, she was transferred to an outside medical facility where doctors diagnosed her with permanent tendon rupture.

Sadeghi was again arrested along with Mosana and his two children in February 2013 for commemorating his late father, an anti-regime activist. Authorities sealed Sadeghi’s home after the arrest and detained their 10-year-old daughter Fatemeh for three days. Their son Iman, 19 years old at the time, was in custody for a month and a half.

Sadeghi and Mosana spent a year behind bars before going free on bail. Judge Ahmadzadeh of Revolutionary Court Branch 26 would later order the couple to serve 15 years in prison and surrender their property, including their home and their shop. This sentence was later upheld in appeals court.

Mosana was detained September 30, 2015, to begin serving the 15-year sentence. Her husband was arrested in turn while visiting her in Evin prison on February 7, 2016. Their children, now aged 26 and 19, are in the care of their elderly grandmother.

Internal Prisoner Transfer Leads to Bloody Brawl in Rajai Shahr

Posted on: October 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On Monday, October 22, 2018, a bloody brawl that broke out in Rajai Shahr Prison led to the hospitalization of two prisoners who sustained serious injuries.

The victims were identified as Amir Akbari and Moslem Karimpour, both from hall 19 of Ward 7, and both incarcerated on murder charges.

Akbari suffered from massive blood loss after sustaining multiple lacerations with a sharp object and slipped into critical condition when his transfer to the hospital was delayed. Karimpour returned to Rajai Shahr on Wednesday, October 24th after getting treatment for wounds sustained his abdomen and chest.

Well aware that ward transfers in Rajai Shahr — primarily a holding facility for violent crimes  — have the potential to devolve into violent clashes, authorities there initiated the skirmish when they attempted to transfer Akbari to a different ward. Prison personnel, namely Gholamreza Ziaei, the Rajai Shahr director, and Vali Alimohammadi, president of the prison’s internal affairs, were met with protests from a group of prisoners when they continued to push for the transfer.

Akbari was subsequently transferred to a “suite,” while Ziaei insisted that he intended the transfer to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence, citing the example of Vahid Moradi, a prisoner killed in gang conflicts in July of this year. “What happened when Vahid Moradi died?” he reportedly said. “If you die, it’s on me.”

Prison security has been known to fan flames of division among prison gangs by conducting its business with the help of incarcerated violent offenders. Such meddling by security personnel was reportedly a factor in Moradi’s death.

A notorious point of exile for political and common criminals, Rajai Shahr’s reputation precedes it as one of the most cutthroat environments for prisoners in Iran. Human rights organizations have published numerous reports of Rajai Shahr managers’ misconduct, including arbitrary and inhumane punishments, participation in organized crime, mafia activity, and smuggling, and the premeditated murders of prisoners.

HRANA reports indicate that Gholamreza Ziaei and Vali Alimohammadi are the most oft-cited and seasoned perpetrators of human rights violations in Rajai Shahr. Valimohammadi, who is also the Ward-4 Warden, is reportedly in cahoots with prison gangs facilitating intra-prison drug trafficking.

Ziaei headed the Kahrizak camp, where several political prisoners were tortured and killed during his tenure.

Earlier this year, the US Department of the Treasury designated Gholamreza Ziaei as an individual “acting on behalf of the Government of Iran who is responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Iran or Iranian citizens or residents.”

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

Tyranny on Prisoners of Conscience at Rajai Shahr

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- This past August, Rajai Shahr Prison authorities ordered the transfer of political prisoners to Ward 10, where prisoners’ already-tight rations on climate control, fresh air, and nutrition have reportedly been cut even slimmer.

It is a running suspicion that prison authorities seek to dismantle the political ward, breaking down these prisoners’ spirits so that they will be more amenable to being dispersed among different wards.

Ward 10 currently houses 18 prisoners charged with political and security-related crimes. Four more political prisoners are being held in lateral sections. Of these 22, seven are in need of medical care.

A cold chill is already creeping through the walls of the hillside prison, boding the incoming flu season from which political prisoners stand unprotected, a close source told HRANA. “The need for heating equipment is felt all across the prison, but on [Prison Head] Gholamreza Ziayi’s orders, the political prisoners can’t have access to heaters. While prisoners pay for heaters out of their own pockets, the director has forbidden their delivery or use in the political ward.” Prison authorities have reportedly even gone as far as banning heaters in common areas that political prisoners might flock to for refuge, i.e. the prison library, gym, or store.

A letter underlining the dire need for climate control addressed to Ziyai from a previous prosecution assistant responsible for overseeing prison affairs, did nothing to change his mind, the source said.

Political prisoners got the brunt of the opposite heat extreme this past summer when they were denied access to any form of a cooling system. While their repeated requests managed to obtain three refrigerators for the ward, Ziyai underlined that they would have access to more equipment and amenities if they requested to be transferred to different wards.

Political detainees have thus far held fast to regulations requiring prisoners charged with different offenses to be housed in separate wards. Their resistance against integrating with prisoners accused of petty theft, drug-related crimes, or violent offenses has contributed to continued daily frictions between authorities and their cohort.

Meanwhile, the assessment of food provided to these political prisoners is even more scathing than the Rajai Shahr usual. Sources say that prisoners eat vegetarian by default, limited to plain rice with soy or lentils at lunchtime. Though the dinner menu promises to be more substantial — bean or lentil stew, or Ash [a thick Iranian soup] — sources say that the dishes hardly live up to their names, and prisoners in the cohort are rarely, if ever, served produce.

Deprivation of fresh air is also being leveraged against them, sources say. The regular 2-to-5:30 recreation period previously enjoyed by political prisoners in mixed groups has been eliminated entirely since their transfer to Ward 10. “Fresh airtime has been denied [to them] on direct orders from Ziayi, despite the fact that the recreation area is empty between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”, an anonymous source said.

Warden and Internal Director Vali Ali Mohammadi has abdicated from addressing prisoners’ complaints, stating that he defers to the authority of Ziayi and his secretary/chauffeur. “In other words,” a source said, “the slightest request, like for food or stationary, has to pass by Ziayi and his secretary.”

Though seasoned in-group attrition tactics, authorities at Rajai Shahr have not shied away from more targeted brutality to get their point across. Multiple sources have reported aggressive body searches, harassment and verbal abuse of prisoners’ families, and the placement of arbitrary, extreme restrictions to wear down individual inmates. In one such instance, Supervising Prosecution Assistant Rostami placed a long-term prohibition on visits between Hassan Sadeghi and his imprisoned wife; in another, medical attention to the bone cancer and infected surgery site of Arash Sadeghi were repeatedly postponed and denied. Deprivations like Sadeghi’s may become more widespread: two weeks ago, an official prison order came into effect, invalidating all approved transfers of ailing prisoners to [outside] medical facilities.

The respective situations of a number of Rajai Shahr prisoners of conscience are compiled in the lists below

1. Majid Assadi, accused of assembly and collusion [against national security]. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 6 years. Anticipated release date: 2021. Has been incarcerated for two years without furlough.

2. Afshin Baimani, accused of Moharebeh [enmity against God] through cooperation with the MEK. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

3. Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, accused of being a MEK sympathizer, and of assembly and collusion against the regime. Arrested on 2016, sentenced to 11 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Has been incarcerated for two years without furlough.

4. Ebrahim Firouzi, accused of assembly and collusion and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 7 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

5. Abolghassem Fouladvand, accused of Moharebeh through supporting the MEK. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 15 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

6. Gol Mohammad Jonbeshi, accused of cooperation with the Taliban. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 3 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

7. Latif Hassani, accused of forming an illegal group to act against national security. Arrested in 2012, sentenced to 8 years. Anticipated release date: 2020.

8. Saeed Massouri, accused of Moharebeh through membership in the MEK. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

9. Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri, accused of Moharebeh through support of the MEK. Arrested on 2007, sentenced to 22 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 11th year of incarceration without furlough.

10. Asghar Pashayi, accused of espionage. Arrested in 2008, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2018. Release pending his payment of a fine. Currently in 10th year of incarceration without furlough.

11. Farhang Pourmansouri, accused of hijacking a plane. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

12. Shahram Pourmansouri, accused of hijacking a plane. Arrested in 2000, sentenced to life. Currently in 18th year of incarceration without furlough.

13. Houshang Rezaei, accused of Moharabeh through membership in Komele [Kurdish opposition group]. Arrested in 2010, sentenced to death. Currently in 8th year of incarceration without furlough.

14. Arash Sadeghi, accused of propaganda against the regime, assembly and collusion, insulting the supreme leader, and disseminating lies. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 11.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

15. Hassan Sadeghi, accused of Moharebeh through cooperation with the MEK. Arrested in 2013, sentenced to 11.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2028. Currently in 5th year of incarceration without furlough.

16. Hamzeh Savari, accused of moharebeh and acting against national security. Arrested in 2005, sentenced to life. Currently in 13th year of incarceration without furlough.

17. Payam Shakiba, accused of assembly and collusion against national security and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 11 years. Anticipated release date: 2027. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

18. Saeed Shirzad, accused of assembly and collusion against national security, damaging prison property, and disrupting prison order. Arrested in 2014, sentenced to 6.5 years. Anticipated release date: 2020. Currently in 4th year of incarceration without furlough.

Baha’is incarcerated in Ward 11:

1. Vahed Kholousi, accused of assembly and collusion against national security, Baha’i membership, activism, and proselytizing, propaganda against the regime, and activism in defense of Baha’i student rights. Arrested in 2015, sentenced to 5 years. Anticipated release date: 2020. Currently in 3rd year of incarceration without furlough.

2. Afshin Seyyed Ahmad, accused of assembly and collusion and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2016, sentenced to 3 years. Anticipated release date: 2019. Currently in 2nd year of incarceration without furlough.

3. Farhad Fahandoj, accused of Baha’i proselytizing and involvement in Baha’i associations. Arrested in 2012, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2022. Currently in 6th year of incarceration without furlough.

4. Afif Naimi, accused of assembly and collusion, blasphemy, and propaganda against the regime. Arrested in 2008, sentenced to 10 years. Anticipated release date: 2018.

Ailing prisoners deprived of medical care:

1. Majid Assadi: gastrointestinal disease, duodenal ulcers
2. Shahram Pourmansouri: herniated disc, syringomyelia requiring immediate surgery (per doctor)
3. Mohammad Banazadeh Amir Khizi: joint pain
4. Hassan Sadeghi: joint pain
5. Aboulghassem Fouldadvand: arterial plaque requiring hospitalization (per doctor)
6. Arash Sadeghi: chondrosarcoma, surgical site infection in the right arm
7. Saeed Shirzad: herniated disk, lower back spasm