First six months of Ebrahim Raisi as Justiciary Chief of Iran; 1000 years of prison sentences and 1500 lashes for activists

Posted on: September 13th, 2019

Ebrahim Raisi is a former Custodian and Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi from 2016 to 2019 and a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 executions which were series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners across the country. He succeeded Sadegh Larijani as the Judiciary Chief (the head of judicial system of Iran) in 2019. Being appointed as the Judiciary Chief by the Supreme leader, Ebrahim Raisi claimed that he wants the Iranian people to taste “the sweet flavor of justice” by reforming the judicial system to bring more justice and fairness. Six months after being appointed to the new position, the verdicts of political prisoners indicate that the pressure is increased on the civil rights activists and opposition groups in Iran. During six months of Ebrahim Raisi in office, political activists were sentenced to 1,027 years in prison and 1428 lashes.  Therefore, the verdicts targeting civil rights activists and opposition groups were increased by 119% compared to a similar time period during his predecessor, Sadegh Larijani, who was in office for nine and half years. Although Larijani faced massive demonstrations such as uprisings across the country in January 2017 and August 2018, protests in the Khuzestan province, and Dervishes protests which Raisi has not faced any yet.

Statistics Comparison of Verdicts with the Former Judiciary Chief

The following is a summary of verdicts between March 8, 2019 to September 8, 2019 which was gathered and analyzed by the Department of Statistics and Publication of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI): According to statistics, during this period, both sentences against political and civil activists or years of sentences were increased. 211 political or civil activists including advocates of freedom of expression, women rights activists, syndicates activists, students, ethnicity rights activists, labor rights activists, minority rights advocates, and religion activists were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court across the country to 1027 and six months of imprisonment, 418 million and 350 thousand Tomans of fines, and 428 lashes. Out of these numbers, 966 years and 8 months in prison sentences and 30 years and 10 months are suspended prison sentences. In comparison to the same period when Larijani was the Judiciary Chief, March 8 to September 8, 2018, 278 political and civil activists were sentenced to 468 years and one month in prison, 254 million Tomans fines, and 891 lashes. This comparison is based on the numbers of individual cases but mass sentences for the arrestees of uprisings such as 232 verdicts of Gonabadi dervishes in the case of so-called “Golestan Haftom” have been excluded. Overall, these statistics indicated that although the number of arrestees has been decreased in Raisi’s term but the average number of verdicts in comparison to the same period in the Larijani’s term has been increased.

The Names of 211 Activists Who Were Sentenced to Prison Term or Lashes During Ebrahim Raeissi’s term

Kiumars Marzban, Shima Babai Zeydi, Dariush Abdar, Mahmood Masoumi, Behnam Mousavand, Saeed Eghbali, Mojgan Lali, Saeed Seyfi Jahan, Shaghayegh Makai, Nader Afshari, Anoushah Ashouri, Ali Johari, Marzieh Amiri, Ishaq Rouhi, Mohammad Saber Malek Raeissi, Shir Ahmad Shirani, Kamal Jafari Yazdi, Aras Amiri, Nejat Bahrami, Sadegh Zibaklam, Hamed Ayenehvand, Roozbeh Meshkinkhat, Mohammad Reza Aghajari, Nima Saffar, Khalil Karimi, Mehdi Moghadari, Golraki Ebrahimi Irai, Athena Daemi, Mohammad Reza Khatami, Mohammad Potaiesh, Khadijeh (Leila) Mirghafari, Reza Makian (Malek), Hashem Zeinali, Simin Eyvazzadeh, Ehsan Kheybar, Abdul Azim Arouji, Mohsen Haseli, Mohsen Shojai, Azam Najafi, Parvin Soleimani, Sharmin Yomni, Sara Saei, Arshia Rahmati, Masoud Hamidi, Ali Babai, Ismail Hosseini Koohkamarai, Farideh Toosi, Zahra Modarreszadeh, Amir Mahdi Jalayeri, Mohammad Najafi, Javad Lari, Rahim Mohammadpour, Masoud Kazemi, Sahar Kazemi, Amir Salar Davoodi, Milad Mohammad Hosseini, Abdollah Ghasimpour, Mohammad Hossein Ghasempour, Alireza Habibi, Baktash Abtin, Reza Khand Mahabadi, Keyvan Bajan, Yousef Salahshour, Davood Mahmoodi, Mohammad Asri, Siavash Rezaian, Najaf Mehdipour, Behrooz Zare, Ata’ollah Ahsani, Abbas Nouri Shadkam, Ali Bagheri, Masoud Ajloo, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Kianoush Ghahramani, Nariman Noroozi, Rezvaneh Ahmad Khanbeigi, Amir Mahdi Sedighara, Ali Amin Amlashi, Barzan Mohammadi, Arsham Rezai, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Michael White, Abolfazl Ghadyani, Nader Fotourehchi, Farhad Sheykhi, Mardas Taheri, Aliyeh Eghdam Doost, Rasoul Bodaghi, Esmail Gerami, Javad Zolnouri, Hossein Gholami, Rahman Abed, Asghar Amirzadegani, Hamid Reza Rahmati, Eghbal Shabani, Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Bahman Kord, Sina Darvish Omran, Ali Mozafari, Leila Hosseinzadeh, Mojtaba Dadashi, Mohammad Rasoulof, Hossein Janati, Omid Asadi, Sahand Moali, Mohammad Mirzai, Bapir Barzeh, Shirko Ali Mohammadi, Keyvan Nejadrasoul, Tohid Amir Amini, Kianoush Aslani, Abbas Lesani, Mobinollah Veysi, Mojtaba Parvin, Kazem Safabakhsh, Rahim Gholami, Jafar Rostami, Aref Mohammadi, Peyman Mirzazadeh, Samko Jafari, Behzad Shahsavar, Siamand Shahsavar, Salman Afra, Shaker Maravi, Khaled Hosseini, Rasoul Taleb Moghadam, Hasan Saeedi, Hossein Ansari Zadeh, Feisal Saalebi, Saab Zahiri, Adel Samaei, Esmail Jaadeleh, Bani Naami, Omid Azadi, Rostam Abdollah Zadeh, Ali Bani Sadeh, Nasrin Javadi, Tofigh Mahmoudi, Davood Razavi, Amanollah Balochi, Farough Izadi Nia, Moein Mohammadi, Sheida Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Malaki, Simin Mohammadi, Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Malaki, Bahman Salehi, Sofia Mombini, Negin Tadrisi, Kheirollah Bakhshi, Shabnam Issa Khani, Shahryar Khodapanah, Farzad Bahadori, Kambiz Misaghi, Monika Alizadeh, Mino Riazati, Asadollah Jaberi, Ehteram Sheykhi, Emad Jaberi, Farideh Jaberi, Farokhlegha aramarzi, Pooneh Nasheri, Saba Kord Afshari, Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, Mojgan Keshavarz, Vida Movahed, Matin Amiri, Maryam Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, Edris Kasravi, Taher Sufi, Haleh Safarzadeh, Alireza Saghafi, Yousef Jalil, Fatemeh Bakhtari, Zaman Fadai, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Mohsen Haghshenas, Nahid Khodakarami, Raheleh Rahimipour, Alireza Kafai, Mohammad Dorosti, Salar Taher Afshar, Oldoz Ghasemi, Jafar Azimzadeh, Hossein Habibi, Hossein Ghadyani, Mir Mousa Ziagari, Sajad Shahiri, Jafar Pekand , Hamid Balkhkanloo, Ghafour Barham, Vali Nasiri, Sahar Khodayari, Amin Seybar, Esmael Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian, Amir Amirgholi, Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, Sanaz Allahyari, Asal Mohammadi, Mohammad Khanifar.

It should be noted that in addition to aforementioned names, several other activists such as detained environmentalists, arrestees of the International Labor Day’s protest, Baha’i citizens, and supporters of opposition groups are waiting for their verdicts. Based on the outcome of the first six months of Raisi as the Chief Justice of Iran, the continuous increase of the verdicts in the following six months is predictable. On the other hand, according to several lawyers, Raisi is trying to implement a rule in which the appeal’s courts will be in session only after obtaining permissions from the Supreme Leader. Thus, appeals courts will acknowledge the primary verdict without reserving a chance for lawyers and convict to defend.

Ebrahim Raisi’s Background

In 1981, 20-year old Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as the prosecutor of Karaj. Later in 1985, he was appointed as the Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran. He was a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 political prisoners’ executions across the country. Raisi was appointed as Tehran’s prosecutor from 1989 to 1994. In 1994-1995, he was appointed as the head of the General Inspection Office. From 2004 until 2014, Raisi served as the First Deputy Chief Justice of Iran. He was later appointed as the Attorney-General of Iran in 2014-2016. He has also served as the Special Clerical Court prosecutor since 2012. He became the Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi on 7 March 2016 after the death of his predecessor Abbas Vaez-Tabasi. He is the second person to serve this office from 1979.  Raisi ran a presidential campaign in February 2017 but after losing the presidential election, he was appointed by Ali Khamenei as a member of Expediency Discernment Council.

The 1988 executions of the Iranian political prisoners were a series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners, starting on 19 July 1988 and lasting for approximately five months. The majority of those who were killed were supporters of the Mujahedin Khalgh but supporters of other leftist factions such as Communist party were executed as well. The killings have been described as a political purge without precedent in the modern Iranian history, both in terms of scope and coverup. Different sources put the number of victims between 2500 and 30000. Most of the people who were executed had already served their sentences in prison. Hussein-Ali Montazeri, deputy of Supreme Leader of Iran between 1985-1989, named Ebrahim Raisi as one of the people who was in administration of the executions which according to Montazeri, was implemented by a four-men commission, later known as the “death committee”. According to Montazeri, the commission consisted of Ebrahim Raisi, Hossein Ali Nayyeri, Morteza Eshraghi, and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi.

Rasoul Bodaghi Arrested by the Security Forces

Posted on: May 16th, 2016

HRANA News Agency – Rasoul Bodaghi, trade unionist who had been recently released from prison, was arrested by the security forces when he went to hospital to visit Mahmoud Beheshti Lageroodi, Imprisoned teacher who is in hospital.

Mr. Bodaghi was beaten while being arrested and he was charged by the Moghadas court and a bail was set for him. (more…)

Appeals Court Upheld Rasoul Bodaghi’s Imprisonment Sentence

Posted on: March 26th, 2016

HRANA News Agency – Tehran Province Appeals Court upheld the sentence of three years in prison for Rasoul Bodaghi, imprisoned teacher in ward 7 of Evin Prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Rasoul Bodaghi faced a new case last July, at the end of his six-year-imprisonment sentence and was brought to trial on September 16, 2015. (more…)

May 9th: A Day to Reject Violence and Defend the Right to Live

Posted on: April 28th, 2011

HRANA News Agency – Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan has issued a statement on the occasion of Teacher’s Week in Iran.In this statement, Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan recounts the problems facing the union and the weaknesses of our country’s education system and demands the release of its imprisoned members.To commemorate May 9th and the shocking execution of Farzad Kamangar, Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan has named May 9th to be a day to reject violence and defend the right to live.Farzad Kamangar was a union member and also a human rights activist who was executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran on May 9, 2010.  

The union also has requested teachers all over the country to light a candle on May 9th and teach their students lessons to reject violence and defend the right to live.The full text of this statement is as follows:

 

 

In the Name of God, Creator of Life and Wisdom

Blessed Be Teacher’s Day

  

It was exactly this time.We were all energized, bustling around with our hearts full of joy because our day was approaching.With the words “Teacher’s Day” on our lips, we wrote a statement and gathered at Abidar1 to recount many years of pain.Long ago, Samad Behrangi wrote about the same pain while delving and probing into educational issues, and now that more than thirty years has passed after the revolution, we still struggle with the same set of problems.

 

They said that it was Teacher’s Week!?They held meetings and made much ado about nothing while getting on their soapboxes, blowing hot air and complimenting each other for making a difference in these youngsters’ lives.We stared and only watched; they didn’t allow us to say anything, but we thought how long they could keep up with all the prayer and praise.We were all worried about Rasoul’s children who were awaiting his return.What exactly had Rasoul Bodaghi and Hashem Khastar said?

  

At the foot of the mountain, we talked and said all there was to say without endangering senior management’s careers in the education system or threatening their bottom line.Far from the senior managers’ advice on the virtues of silence and away from the prying eyes of Herasat’s2 closed circuit cameras, we talked for hours about our pupils’ pain in the classroom.Without endangering national security, we talked about child labor.

  

We were happy since Farzad’s attorney had informed us that he was to return to us, and the villages of Kamyaran [Kurdistan Province, Iran] could embrace him.Repeatedly we mentioned Teacher’s Day while they proudly rubbed Teacher’s Week in our faces.It was exactly Teacher’s Week, and in front of our bewildered gazes, they took him away from us at dawn, and no one saw him again.Now, at night, he twinkles in Kurdistan’s grief-stricken sky.

  

Esteemed Educators

The year that we have put behind us was a year full of events and changes in Iran and the Middle East.It has been years that neo-conservatives have imposed their policies on people all around the world.The outcome of these policies has been privatization, unemployment, cancellation of subsidies, layoff of workers under the pretence of workforce adjustments, warmongering and militarism, weakening and dissolution of trade unions, reduction of education budgets, decreasing health insurance and social benefits, and in many countries, an increase in retirement age under the excuse of government cost-saving ideas.

  

The blatant attack on people’s basic rights in the Middle East became further apparent through the violence displayed by the police, security forces, and military governments.Threatening political rights became the means by which such countries utilized in order to impose this economic disaster on people.Nonetheless, declaring long periods of time as the state of emergency and the rule of terror didn’t deter the masses from trying to change the situation.As we have witnessed, a hung tsunami of change has washed over the Middle East and North Africa in the name of pursuing happiness and democratic rights.By making numerous sacrifices, those seeking freedom are achieving new victories every day, and dictatorships are vanishing each day.

  

Along with the spirit of twenty-first century human beings in quest of freedom, the members of Education International have not remained silent.The global federation of teachers’ trade unions has jumped into action to fight against new worldwide policies through which education is overshadowed by profit margins, and quality is sacrificed for the sake of quantity.This year, the World Congress of Education International will meet in South Africa in order to address the same issues.Obviously, the representatives of teachers’ unions throughout Iran will attend the World Congress, and with one voice together with all other teachers of the world, we will defend our democratic rights and also the right to education.

  

By placing profit at top of their agenda, recent governments in Iran have also imposed undue burden on the working class.The elimination of subsidies has made this policy apparent.In Iran, the right to form unions is not recognized.In other words, the majority of the society has been denied its legitimate right to negotiate and bargain with the government that plays the role of a major employer.Social insurances don’t have sufficient resources through which effective services can be offered to the community.Unemployment insurance hasn’t been designated for people over eighteen, and the nightmare of white signed contracts3 have become an integral and inseparable part of people’s daily lives.

  

Unfortunately, the implementation of removing subsidies has not accounted for any of these issues.Considering that minimum wage is not significantly different from last year, soaring prices and repeated sanctions imposed by the Security Council have driven a greater percentage of Iranian families below the poverty line.This means that a large number of school age children leave their classrooms behind as they head to the job market in search of work.Meanwhile, deviance and criminal behavior is on the rise.

  

Education in Iran

The atrocious story of education in Iran is a long, tragic tale piled up in the hearts of teachers throughout this land from Balochistan to Gilan, from Azerbaijan to Kurdistan, from Turkmen Sahra to Khuzestan, from Lorestan to Kermanshah, and from Ilam to Hormozgan.In the remotest corners of Iran, the sad story of education and forsaken enlightenment and intellectualism is a tale of deprived children, broken-down school buildings, substandard school books, archaic teaching methods, and under-appreciated, forgotten hardworking teachers, the same teachers who reflect the misery of their deprived pupils, the same teachers who despite poverty still lovingly keep the candle of knowledge burning in stormy nights.

  

Enduring imprisonment, exile, deportation and even flogging has become the reward for safeguarding thoughts and the praise for intellectuals.Governments come and go, and ministers hand over their responsibilities to their successors.Sometimes, they talk about changes and transforming structures, books and creating new positions or eliminating the old ones.However, it has been long since nothing substantial or worth remembering has occurred.After this useless period, we return again to the same old education system while no one is held responsible for wasting so many resources and so much energy.More importantly, no one is held accountable for the game played with a generation trapped in an education system that uses them as laboratory rats.

  

We believe that the problem is not only blocking teacher involvement but also is related to the decision making process which ignores teachers, the most important element in education.It must be acknowledged that creativity and vitality is nurtured in a democratic environment and in an atmosphere of respect for the dignity and basic rights of teachers.

  

When Mr. Haj Babaei was appointed as the education minister, teachers’ trade unions were delighted since after a long time, someone with positive tendencies and inclinations was chosen.During his term in the Parliament, Mr. Haj Babaei was willing to meet with the representatives of trade unions while ignoring government red tape and restrictions.Unfortunately, teachers were disappointed very soon as the process to eliminate critics sped up, and the pressure on trade unions increased.Meanwhile, there remains no place for teachers in the colossal ministry of education, and there are apparently no plans to transform the disappointing environment dominating over our schools into an atmosphere of informed, mutual participation and service.

  

Is it possible to envision a fundamental change in the quality of education without democratizing the education system?School curriculums change, and new school hours are implemented without the input of main players namely teachers.In the twenty-first century, teachers are treated as if they are subjects receiving sacred and holy commands from the above and are given orders that are binding and may not be questioned.As a result of a policy that considers “master’s word to be God’s word,” human energy is wasted, teachers are discouraged, and the education system is stagnant.Additionally, teachers witness the ineffectiveness of the education system every day but have no means by which they can inform the public or concerned parents.However, we feel a sense of responsibility to communicate the ongoing, pending disaster to our students’ parents in any which way possible.

  

Dear Colleagues

Congratulating Teacher’s Day to all of our colleagues throughout Iran and wishing them success in their work, Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan declares the following items to be their main demands:

  

1. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of our jailed colleagues, Rasoul Bodaghi, Hashem Khastar and Nabiollah Bastan and call for the dismissal of all pending cases against union activists in different courts.

  

2. We demand removing the ban on the publication Qalam Moalem [Teacher’s Pen] which is Iran’s only independent journal of educators.

  

3. As you are aware, May 9th is the anniversary on which Farzad Kamangar, a board member of Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan, lost his life.While honoring the humanitarian efforts of this noble and revered educator and with the slogan of “rejecting organized violence and defending the right to live,” Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan asks all educators to light a candle in their classrooms to commemorate this day.We request all teachers to designate their lectures on May 9th to be a lesson on rejecting violence in any shape or form.We shall teach the children that human beings regardless of their ethnicity, religion, language and social class are equal.We shall rise up to fight materialism and warmongering and consider seeking peace to be the highest human virtue.We shall replace animosity and hostility amongst nations with love and alliance.

  

At the end, Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan congratulates the International Workers’ Day, May 1st, to all workers and declares the union’s support for their demands.

  

Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan

Ordibehesht 1390 [April – May 2011]

 

Footnotes for the English Translation:

1.Abidar, a mountain east of Sanandaj, is a major recreational area in Iran’s Kurdistan Province.

2. Herasat is Iran’s semi-secret police tasked to monitor all educational institutes throughout the country.

3. “White signed contracts” are in effect white papers that workers in Iran sign allowing employers to determine all the terms of employment.