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.

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

Barring Any New Charges, Activist Saeed Shirzad to be Released in 2020

Posted on: October 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Rajai Shahr political prisoner Saeed Shirzad will remain in prison through 2020, according to HRANA reports.

His most recent convictions stem from a prison protest that broke out last August among a group of wardmates, including Shirzad, who protested their transfer to an enhanced-security ward under the jurisdiction of Iran’s security establishment. For Shirzad and his fellow prisoners Amir Ghaziani, Saeed Pourheidar, and Ebrahim Firoozi, the protests incurred charges of “destruction of prison property,” ruled in January of 2018 in in Tehran province’s Criminal Court No. 2, Branch 116.

Rather than add prison time for the latter charge, Branch 3 of the Evin Prison Prosecutor’s Office set them a bail of 700 million IRR (approximately $7,000 USD).

In April of that same year authorities gave Shirzad more grief for the protests, issuing him an additional six-month prison term in the same court for “disturbing prison order.”

The “disturbing public order” sentence, along with the enactment of a one-year suspended sentence pursuant to a 2012 arrest, will compound Shirzad’s current five-year sentence by an additional year, slating his release for 2020.

According to HRANA reports, Shirzad’s five-year sentence was ruled on charges of “assembling and colluding against national security,” in connection to civic activities including visits to the families of political prisoners. [Though he began serving this sentence four years ago, it was not finalized until 2017].

Since his arrest in the Tabriz refinery where he worked on June 2nd, 2014, Shirzad’s prison time has been fraught with both oppression and physical pain. On July 11th, 2018, HRANA reported on prison authorities’ refusal to comply with medical orders for more specialized treatment of Shirzad’s lumbar disc disease and spastic lower back inflammation. As authorities continued to reject his requests for the recommended medical transfer — even out of Shirzad’s own pocket — his condition has deteriorated, and he now relies on a walker. HRANA also covered Shirzad’s gestures of protest against his condition and treatment in the system, including hunger strike and sewing his mouth shut.

Due to multiple postponements of his court date, he was also subject to a judicial lag of 15 months between his June 2014 arrest and September 2015 trial in Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 15, presided by Judge Salavati. During that period he was detained without a conviction first in Evin, and then in Rajai Shahr Prison.

On April 15th, 2017 — a year and half after his already-delayed initial trial — his appeals session convened in Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court and ultimately ruled to uphold his 5-year prison sentence.

Shirzad’s rap sheet with authorities dates back to August 21, 2012, when he was arrested and given his one-year suspended sentence for assisting earthquake victims in Ahar, East Azerbaijan province, where he was reportedly involved in the operations of Sarand-based rescue camps. Though he was released on bail 19 days later, his more recent offenses — viewed as a kind of parole violation in the judicial system — kicked the suspended sentence into effect.

Rajai Shahr Prison, where Shirzad is currently held, is located in the northwestern Tehran suburb of Karaj.

Political Prisoners Pen Condolences in Wake of Deadly Forest Fire

Posted on: August 31st, 2018

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

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

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

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

It is not my lot to die a natural death;

Better for the holy grail than in blissful sleep,

And on truth’s command, I welcome that death

which releases freedom from chains of darkness

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

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

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

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

Arash Sadeghi,
Loghman Moradi,
Zanyar Moradi,
Saeed Shirzad

—-

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

The Latest List of Political Prisoners in Hall 10 of Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: April 7th, 2018

HRANA News Agency – At least 30 political prisoners in Ward 10 in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, still continue to protest by refusing to accept the prison’s food. In protest against the unlawful deprivations and restrictions imposed on them, they demand the delivery of their lost and stolen personal stuff and equipment from the prison authorities. The Equipment of 35 rooms in prison is worth 3,85 billion IRR.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), 21 days after the beginning of the protest of political prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, by refusing to accept the prison’s food, and in spite of the prosecutor’s office’s promise to improve the situation, there has been no changes in the conditions of this place. (more…)

Update: Trouble in Prison Compounds Saeed Shirzad’s Sentence

Posted on: February 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Pursuant to his recent protest activities, Rajai Shahr political prisoner Saeed Shirzad, who is currently serving a five-year sentence, will now be serving six.

Shirzad’s post-incarceration charges document a battle against the prisoner abuse for which Rahai Shahr has come to be known.

According to an informed source, the Judiciary is punishing Shirzad for recent defiances by enforcing a one-year suspended sentence that was issued to him back in 2012 for his relief work with earthquake victims in the East Azerbaijan province.

Among Shirzad’s defiances that have irked authorities is the hunger strike he staged with fellow prisoners Saeed Masouri, Amir Ghaziani, Abolghasem Foloudvand, Reza Akbari Manfarand, Hassan Sadeghi, Pirouz Mansouri and Jafar Eghdami. Without a judicial order, all of the striking prisoners were unlawfully transferred to solitary confinement.

Shirzad also incurred penalties in the tense atmosphere surrounding the July 30, 2017 joint decision between security organs and the Rajai Shahr administration to move political prisoners to a higher-security ward. Authorities charged Shirzad with insulting the supreme leader and disturbing prison order for the active role he played in protests against the transfer.

Quickly thereafter, along with fellow prisoners Amir Ghaziani, Saeed Pourheidar, and Ebrahmi Firouzi, Shirzad was charged with destroying public (i.e. prison) property, a charge for which authorities set a bail of 70 million tomans (approximately $1700 USD). In an additional punitive measure for his protest activity, Shirzad was banned from receiving family visits for a period of 8 months on orders from the head of the prison.

To construct a pretext for the unlawful transfer, HRANA’s source said, prison administrators had already levelled bogus accusations at the prisoners, which with judiciary cooperation have been escalated to active case files. The prisoners involved are now weighed down with additional convictions like “chanting slogans against the supreme leader” and “insulting prison authorities.”

Yet another indicator of the friction between Shirzad and prison authorities is his rapidly declining physical condition. The most recent of Shirzad’s multiple hunger-strike protests lasted more than 50 days, costing him considerable physical strength and almost 40 pounds of body weight. Recently, a sonography identified a newly-developed kidney cyst — of which Shirzad had no prior medical history — as the source of his chronic pain.

Prison authorities have also left on Shirzad the marks of corporal punishment. Beatings — particularly after his protesting of the forced transfer, and most often from Former Prison Head Mohammad Mardani — have brought about back spasms and disc disease requiring bed rest and physical therapy. As of the date of this report, however, prison authorities continue to withhold his prescribed treatments.

Shirzad is a political activist who was arrested in 2014 at the Tabriz oil refinery where he used to work. Due to multiple postponements of his court date, he was also subject to a judicial lag of 15 months between his June 2014 arrest and September 2015 trial in Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 15, presided by Judge Salavati. During that period he was detained without a conviction first in Evin, and then in Rajai Shahr Prison.

On April 15th, 2017 — a year and half after his already-delayed initial trial — his appeals session convened in Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court and ultimately ruled to uphold his 5-year prison sentence.

Prior to his current incarceration, Shirzad was convicted of gathering and collusion for his contacts with the families of prisoners deemed by authorities to be “anti-regime.” A source familiar with that case file elaborated to HRANA that “Shirzad’s assistance to those prisoners’ families — some of whom were loyalists of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran [MEK] — especially in tutoring their children, was the grounds for accusing him.”

The source added that Shirzad has also been pursued on charges of disturbing public order and espionage. His protests in front of the Tehran municipality against the killing of a peddler in the Tehran metro — along with his ties to a former United Nations human rights reporter — were deemed sufficient evidence to convict him on those charges on May 31, 201

A Comprehensive Report on the Latest Developments in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: September 2nd, 2017

HRANA News Agency – An estimated number of 50 political prisoners held in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj have been transferred to a new and security hall in recent weeks. There are the deprivations which have been imposed on prisoners in this hall where even the toilets are equipped with CCTV cameras. The situation has prompted political prisoners to protest. At least 16 prisoners are on hunger strike in a critical condition.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 53 political-security prisoners detained in hall 12 of Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj were transferred to a hall which was previously rebuilt and developed by security forces, with the presence of a large number of prison guards, without prior notice on July 30, 2017. The hall is equipped with a large number of surveillance cameras and surveillance devices, as well as the shields that separate it from the rest of the prison.The families of these prisoners in the wake of their concern about the fate of their relatives, had referred to the judicial authorities who are responsible for this issue but these efforts had not resulted. (more…)

Saeed Shirzad Started Serving His 4th Year

Posted on: August 30th, 2017

HRANA News Agency – Saeed Shirzad, political prisoner of Rajai Shahr, who had been arrested in his workplace in Tabriz refinery on June 2, 2014, has entered his 4th year of imprisonment in this prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Saeid Shirzad, political prisoner of ward number 12 of Rajai Shahr prison, who had been arrested in his office in Tabriz refinery and charged with colliding with the intension of disturbing national security on June 2, 2014, has started the 4th year of his imprisonment while his physical condition is bad. (more…)

Saeed Shirzad on Hunger Strike in Rajai Shahr Prison

Posted on: January 7th, 2017

HRANA News Agency – Saeed Shirzad, political prisoner in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, has gone on hunger strike by sewing his lips, to protest against the prison condition of ill prisoners and lack of security for the prisoners of conscience.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Saeed Shirzad, a political prisoner in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj has gone on hunger strike by sewing his lips, to protest against the lack of medical attention for ill prisoners and lack of security for political prisoners. (more…)

Saeed Shirzad Still Waiting for the Appeal Court’s Decision

Posted on: October 7th, 2016

HRANA News Agency – Saeed Shirzad, political prisoner in Rajai Shahr prison who is spending three years in prison, after one year since receiving the primary sentence is still waiting for appeal court’s decision.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Saeed Shirzad, children’s rights activist was arrested on June 8, 2014. He spent over months in ward 209 of Evin in solitary confinement and without communication with his family and lawyer. (more…)