A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 6, 2018

Posted on: December 7th, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 6th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

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A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 5, 2018

Posted on: December 6th, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 5th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). (more…)

Harassed by Authorities, Christian Former Prisoner Stages Sit-in Across From Evin

Posted on: September 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Fatemeh Mohammadi, a Christian convert who was released from Evin Prison earlier this year, has staged a sit-in across from her former prison to protest what she referred to as the prison authorities’ “campaign of verbal harassment” against her.

Mohammadi was initially detained last November, and sentenced to six months in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. She was released from Evin Prison’s women’s ward after completing her sentence. Now, she claims authorities are contacting her family to insult and harass them.

“After I was released from Evin Prison, I was contacted by the prison’s interrogation team,” Mohammadi told HRANA. “They called me all sorts of vulgar words. Last night, September 26th, 2018, Evin Prison again called my home. The person on the phone said [unpleasant] things to my family and told them, ‘It is best that you stop your daughter from her activities as the path she is on leads to corruption.’”

She said she was prompted to begin her protest when her home was contacted once again on Thursday, September 27th, 2018.

“They repeated their words,” Mohammadi said. “Afterwards, I went to Evin to find out what was wrong, but no one offered an explanation. For this reason, I am protesting and staging a sit-in across from Evin Prison, and will continue to do so until they process my complaint.”

Mohammadi previously published a letter in which she spoke of the anguish she endured during her interrogation.

Last November, Mohammadi was detained in Tehran and transferred to Evin prison along with Majid Reza Suzanchi Kashani, another recent Christian convert. On April 7th, 2018, Mohammadi, who was 19 years old at the time, was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided by Judge Ahmadzadeh, to six months’ imprisonment on charges of “membership in proselytizing groups,” “christian activity,” and “acting against national security through propaganda against the regime.”

Per Iranian law, Mohammadi’s sentence should have been reduced by a quarter when she consented to the verdict; however, she served a month and a half longer than anticipated per the law. She was released May 14th, 2018.

18 Dervishes starving to death; prison warden says “So what?”

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In the past month alone, eighteen hunger striking Gonabadi Dervish prisoners in Iran have been beaten with batons, tased, and electrically shocked – and now, the prison’s warden has outwardly stated that it is not his concern if they die.

The prisoners were first beaten by prison guards at Great Tehran Penitentiary on August 29th, after they held a sit-in to protest the beating of female members of their religious minority in Gharchak Prison in Tehran’s east. After guards violently broke up the sit-in, 18 Dervishes were transferred to solitary confinement, and all 18 went on hunger strike in protest. To date, they have not had a single meal, or any food at all, in more than 30 days.

When some of their fellow cellmates expressed concerns about the physical conditions of some of the hunger strikers, the prison’s warden, known only as Farzadi, responded thusly: “So what if they die?”

According to Majzooban Noor, a news website that focuses on Dervish issues, the hunger strikers are suffering from vertigo and reduced blood pressure. Specifically, the physical condition of Mojtaba Biranvand has been described as critical. He had previously been sent to a clinic due to severe physical weakness. Refusing to break his hunger strike, he has rejected supplemental injections.

Abbas Dehghan, another hunger striker held in the same penitentiary, has only one kidney and is greatly suffering from the toll the strike has taken on him.

The August 29th attack targeted Dervishes in ward 3 of the prison. Eighteen Dervishes from Section 4 who protested the treatment of their fellow prisoners were also sent to solitary.

Previously, on September 1st, HRANA reported that three Dervishes had gone on hunger strike: Ali Bolboli, Salehodin Moradi and Mohammad Reza Darvishi. On September 2nd, Majzooban Noor added six more hunger strikers to the list: Abbas Dehghan, Ali Mohammad Shahi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Ali Karimi, Jafar Ahmadi, and Ebrahim Allahbakhshi, On Monday, three more people joined them: Heydar Teymoori, Majid Yarahmadi, and Saeed Soltanoor. On Tuesday, five more dervishes joined the hunger strike: Babak Taghian, Ehsan Malekmohammadi, Sekhavat Salimi, Reza Bavi and Akbar Dadashi. The last Dervish to join was Majid Rashidi.

The Dervishes demand the end to the house arrest of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. Their other demands include releasing female dervish prisoners from Gharchak Prison and reuniting all imprisoned dervishes in one single section of the GTP.

All of the Dervishes were arrested in relation to what has become known as the Golestan Haftom incident, named after the street on which it occurred. The incident occurred when a gathering of several hundred Gonabadi Dervishes was violently confronted by Iranian police and plainclothes members of the Revolutionary Guard’s Basij faction outside the residence of their spiritual leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh. The Dervishes had gathered to prevent his possible arrest.

In the violence that followed, hundreds were injured and many arrested. Though Iranian judicial authorities estimate that around 300 people have been arrested in connection with Golestan Haftom, HRANA has thus far published the names of 324 arrestees and estimates that the actual number is considerably higher.qqqgonabado

Baha’i Crackdown Intensifies with Three More Arrests in Karaj

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Crackdowns on Iran’s Baha’i community continued this week with the arrest of three residents of the northwestern Tehran suburb of Karaj, who were transferred to Evin Prison on Sunday, September 16th and are now being held on approximately $23,000 USD (3 billion IRR) bail.

Maryam Ghaffarmanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh–participants in an environmental education session led by Ghaffarmanesh and hosted in the private residence of Ramin Sedighi–were arrested when intelligence agents showed up demanding their cell phones and pressing them to fill out personal information forms.

After confiscating Sedighi’s hard drive, pamphlets, and religious materials, the agents moved on to search Pakrou’s residence, a close source told HRANA.

Ghaffarmanesh, Pakrou, and Salmanzadeh were transferred to Evin Prison. Ghaffarmanesh’s family learned of her bail some 20 hours later, on a call with her from ward 209 of the prison.

The same day, HRANA reported that intelligence ministry agents had arrested and searched the homes of six Baha’i residents of the central Iranian city of Shiraz: Soudabeh Haghighat, Noora Pourmoradian, Elaheh Samizadeh, Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa, and a married couple, Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi.

Shiraz had already seen a string of Baha’i arrests one month earlier that landed a number of its residents in an intelligence ministry detention center.

On the morning of September 19th, Baha’i Yazd resident Mehran Bandi Amirabadi was released after being held in custody for 43 days without a warrant. After being tried with six other Baha’i citizens in Branch 3 of Yazd Appeals Court, located in central Iran, Amirabadi was sentenced to one and a half years in prison and one year in exile to be served in Divandareh, a remote city in Iranian Kurdistan.

Mehran Bandi Amirabadi

Iranian Baha’i citizens are systematically deprived of religious freedoms, in contravention of international treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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

After Attending Funeral of Executed Political Prisoner, Sunni Preacher Answers to Special Clerical Court

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Pursuant to a phone summons he received one week earlier, Sunni preacher and activist Hashem Hossein Panahi was arraigned in the Special Clerical Court of Hamedan (Western Iran) on Tuesday, September 18th, presumably for participating in the funeral of executed political prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi.

Hashem Hossein Panahi, who is also the Sunni Shariah judge and Mufti of Kurdistan province and a member of the office of Sheikh Hassan Amini, faces charges of “Propaganda Against the Regime” and “Disturbing the Public Opinion.”

A close source to Panahi told HRANA, “Hashem Hossein Panahi attended the funeral ceremony of the executed political prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi in Gharochay village, Kurdistan province. After paying his respects and delivering a speech at the service, the Kurdistan Ministry of Intelligence office filed a complaint against him in the Special Clerical Court.”

Panahi has denied the charges leveled against him, countering that his speech at the ceremony addressed prisoner rights in a more general sense, and included reference to prisoners’ rights to choose their own attorneys.

An instructor at the Imam Bokhari Religious School in Sanandaj, Panahi was sentenced to a six-month imprisonment sentence and thirty lashes by Special Clerical Court in 2013. He was also a former employee of the Judiciary who was dismissed in 2010 after 12 years of tenure due to his religious activism and vocal support of Sunni Muslims rights in Iran.

*Special Clerical Court is under the direct control of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and functions independently of Iran’s greater judicial framework.

Baha’i Arrests Persist in Karaj

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Iranian authorities continued in their raid of the Iranian Baha’i community with the arrest of another Baha’i resident of Karaj, a northwest suburb of Tehran, on Sunday, September 16th, 2018.

An informed source told HRANA that Ministry of Intelligence agents raided the Andisheh Karaj residence of Peyman Manavi on Sunday, September 16th, confiscating his mobile phones, personal computers, and books before taking him into custody at an unknown location. The source observed more than 10 arrest warrants listed on papers the agents were holding.

In last few hours, HRANA reported on the arrest and transfer to Evin prison of three other Baha’i Karaj residents: Maryam Ghaffaramanesh, Jamileh Pakrou, and Kianoush Salmanzadeh.

Misagh Aghsani Becomes Latest Baha’i to be Denied Educational Opportunity

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Misagh Aghsani, a Baha’i student at Payam Noor University in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia, has become the latest member of Iran’s Baha’i religious minority to be denied access to education due to his faith.

An informed source confirmed the news to HRANA, adding that Aghsani, who is currently enrolled, “was barred from receiving his degree or advancing his studies.”

The source added that Aghsani’s father Fardin, who fought and was taken prisoner in the Iran-Iraq war, has suffered financial losses due to his faith.

“His business, along with that of Misagh’s 83-year-old grandfather Fereydoun Aghsani, was forcibly closed for the second time 14 months ago, because they are Baha’is,” the source said. “To make ends meet, the father and grandfather are forced to peddle in front of the sealed door of their store, in the cold of winter and heat of summer.”

In July, HRANA reported on the continued closure of Aghsani family businesses and those of 21 other Baha’is in cities across the country.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is either barred from higher education altogether or thwarted before culminating their degrees.

Baha’i students can be prevented from enrolling in college during the processing stage of results from the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Over the past few weeks, more than 51 Baha’i students were stopped short of applying to universities, purportedly due to “deficiencies” in their admissions files, announced via flags on their e-dossiers when checking their test results online. In its close coverage of these most recent cases, HRANA published specimens of the documentation used to block these Baha’i student files from further processing.

HRANA reported on circumstances similar to Aghsani’s on September 18th, when another Baha’i student, Nikan Shaydan Shidi, was expelled while pursuing an associate’s degree in industrial mold making from Tehran Technical University. On September 15th, HRANA reported on the expulsion of Baha’i architectural drafting student Shaghayegh Zabihi Amrie from a university in Karaj.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particularly in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the UN, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

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

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

Expulsion of Baha’i University Student Nikan Shaydan

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Just shy of obtaining his associate’s degree in industrial mold making, Baha’i student Nikan Shaydan Shidi has been expelled from Tehran Technical University for refusing to denounce his faith.

An informed source told HRANA that Shidi was unceremoniously summoned at the end of his third term and asked, given his professed religion, “why he had registered at the university at all.”

“He was told that the university was no place for Baha’is and that the three terms he had spent there was three terms too many. They told him to change his professed religion at the registrar’s office if he wanted to carry on with his studies.”

According to the source, when Shaydan Shidi refused to do so, the security office summoned his father, but the two were unable to gain ground in negotiations with university officials. “No matter how hard [they] tried–writing letters to the education office of the university and visiting the dean–the university wouldn’t give him the necessary credentials to take his final exams. In the end, he was expelled.”

While Iranian Baha’is are routinely banned from pursuing higher education, some manage to surpass initial barriers to enrollment, only to be thwarted before culminating their degree. On September 15th, HRANA reported on the expulsion of Baha’i architectural design student Shaqayeq Zabihi Amrii from Rassam Private University of Karaj.

Baha’i students are often prevented from enrolling in college altogether during the processing of their results on the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Over the past few weeks, more than 51 Baha’i students were stopped short of applying to universities, purportedly due to “deficiencies” in their admissions files. In its close coverage of these most recent cases, HRANA published specimens of the documentation used to block these Baha’i student files from further processing.

In direct violation of the law, Baha’is are prevented from pursuing degrees or employment in government offices, per under-the-table directives from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Every year, a new cohort of Baha’is is barred in this way from the university enrollment process.

Since the 1979 revolution, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran has repeatedly protested the Iranian government’s animosity towards its Baha’i population, particular in preventing these citizens from furthering their studies. According to the Rapporteur, such directives demonstrate a blatant disregard of multiple international treaties.

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

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

Five More Baha’i Citizens Arrested in Shiraz

Posted on: September 19th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Authorities associated with Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested five Baha’i citizens this weekend – September 15th and 16th – in the central Iranian city of Shiraz.

The first three Baha’i citizens – Elaheh Samizadeh, and married couple Navid Bazmandegan and Bahareh Ghaderi – were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Baha’i citizens Ehsan Mahboob Rahvafa and Noora Pourmoradian were arrested and taken to a detention center run by the city’s intelligence department.

Bazmandegan was arrested at 6 p.m. while teaching a psychology class, a credible source told HRANA. According to the source, while Bazmandegan was being interrogated in different room, authorities filmed the students, taking their identification cards, computers, flash drives, mobile phones, and the passwords to their mobile devices. All those present were asked to sign a document they were prohibited from reading in its entirety, and told to clear the area within 10 minutes.

Bazmandegan was subsequently escorted to his home, where authorities conducted a search and seized his personal belongings. His wife Bahare was also arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location.

Last month, HRANA reported on the arrest of a number of Baha’i Shiraz residents who were taken to the same detention center.

Baha’is are Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority and are systematically persecuted by the government.