Soheil Arabi and Behnam Moosivand Go on a Hunger Strike in Rajai Shahr Prison

Yesterday, October 19, prisoner of conscience Soheil Arabi and civil activist Behnam Moosivand went on hunger strike in Rajai Shahr Prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the political prisoners are protesting their beatings by prison guards and their transfer to the quarantine section of the facility. Rajai Shahr Prison head Allah-Karam Azizi reportedly ordered the beating of the two inmates.

“Allah-Karam Azizi…ordered the executive officer Ghasem Sahraie and other guards to beat them because of their objection against a body search,” an informed source told HRANA. “They were (beaten) and (kicked) to the abdomen and testicles. Due to the injuries, Soheil and Behnam could not go to the court.”

On October 6, the political prisoners refused to appear on the court holding for the unjustified new cases opened against them during their prison term, of which the charges included “disturbing prison order” and “offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”.  In response to this refusal, the deputy head of Rajai Shahr Prison Valiollah Muhammadi threatened them with a beating.

Soheil Arabi has been imprisoned without leave since November 7, 2013. While serving out the seven and a half year sentence, Soheil Arabi has been convicted on charges from two new cases.

In the first new case, On May 24, 2021, he was indicted on the charge of “agitation against the regime and Disturbing public opinions” via a video conference by Branch 3 of the Evin Investigation Office.

In the second new case, Soheil Arabi was condemned to 2 years imprisonment, paying a fine, and a ban from leaving the country and once every three times appearance at the Supervision and Follow-up office of Judiciary by Branch 26 of Tehran’s revolutionary court. His court session to address these charges was held on July 28.

On February 1, 2018, the intelligence officials raided Behnam Moosivand’s home and transferred him to the detention facility of the intelligence ministry in Evin Prison, known as section 209. He was released on bail on March 19, 2018.

Thereafter, in September 2019, branch 28 of Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced him to five years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion in the purpose of acting against national security”, and to one year on a charge of “agitation against the regime”. The verdict was upheld at appeal. On June 14, 2020, he appeared at the executive branch of Evin Prison to serve his six year sentence.

 

Update on Political Prisoners’ Living Conditions in Rajai Shahr Prison

This report sheds light on the situation of 27 political prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison. Some of these prisoners are suffering from poor health conditions due to lengthy imprisonment or being beaten in detention.

Rajai Shahr Prison, previously known as Gohardasht Prison, is located in Karaj City in Alborz Province. Although the prison is built for housing the inmates convicted of violent crimes, for years it has been used by security forces as an exile prison for political and prisoners of conscience.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Rajai Shahr Prison, like many other prisons of the country, has long failed to provide inmates with adequate medical treatment.

Rajai Shahr Prison is composed of 10 wards with three salons for each ward. There are two types of salons in each ward.

Salon type 1: In the ’80s, the cells of this salon were used as solitary confinement. This salon contains 30-35 small size cells in each of which two or three inmates are housed.

Salon type 2: These Salons are composed of 15 large rooms in each of which 5 to 7 inmates are held. In each salon, there are three toilets, three bathrooms and a room to be used as a shared kitchen.

The Canteen (prison commissary) of the prison is run by the companies affiliated with the Prisons and Security and Corrective Measures Organization. The store sells products that are marked up 10 to 20 percent. Last year, prices decreased somewhat due to complaints from inmates, but after a while, the store increased the prices again. Products not available in the Canteen are available only on written request, which must be approved by the head of the prison.

Despite being classified as a jailhouse for housing the inmates convicted of violent crimes, Rajai Shahr Prison has additionally been used for a high number of political prisoners. Considering the long history of violence against political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, the monitoring of this infamous prison by human rights activists is of great importance.

It is worth mentioning that along with political prisoners held in Salon No. 10, there is a salon allocated to Sunni-faith prisoners, who mostly are imprisoned for national-security-related charges. HRANA is working on a report about their latest situation as well.

Currently, 24 political prisoners are housed in Salon No. 10 in Rajaie Shahr Prison. The latest updated list of these prisoners goes as follows:

1. Saeed Masouri, arrested on January 8, 2001, on a charge of “enmity against God (Moharebeh) through membership in The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran”. In 2003, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to the death penalty, which later was reduced to life imprisonment. Dr. Saeed Masouri was born in 1965. He is serving the twenty-first year of his sentence.

2. Afshin Baymani, arrested on September 5, 2000, on a charge of “enmity against God (Moharebeh) through collaboration with The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran”. The Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to death which later was reduced to life imprisonment. Afshin Baymani is now serving the twenty-second year of his sentence.

3. Motalleb Ahmadian, arrested on October 5, 2010, on a charge of “membership in one of opposition political groups”. He has sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court.

4. Hamzeh Savari was arrested on September 2, 2005, on the charge of ” enmity against God (Moharebeh) and acting against national security”. The Revolutionary Court of Ahvaz sentenced him to capital punishment, which later was reduced to life imprisonment. He was 16 years old at the time of arrest and currently he is serving the seventeenth year of his prison sentence.

5. Mohammad Ali (Piruz) Mansouri, arrested in September 2007, on a charge of “enmity against God (Moharebeh) through advocacy for The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran”. The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment. Following his heart attack, on September 9, 2021, he was granted furlough for the first time after fourteen years.

6. Hassan Sadeghi, arrested on January 28, 2013, on a charge of “enmity against God (Moharebeh) through advocacy for The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran “. The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment and the confiscation of his property (an apartment and a store). He is 58 years old and serving the ninth year of his sentence. Also, he had been spending in prison from 1981 to 1987.

7. Abolghasem Fouladvand, arrested in 2031 on a charge of “enmity against God (Moharebeh) through advocacy for The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran”. The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment. He is 59 years old and currently serving the eighth year of his sentence.

8. Soheil Arabi, arrested on November 7, 2013, on charges of ” blasphemy”, “propaganda against the regime”, “offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”. In his first case, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. For the second case, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment, two years exile in Borazjan and paying a fine for 4 million tomans, on the charge of “spreading lies in the purpose to disturbing public opinions and the propaganda against the regime” and one year and eight months on the charge of ” destruction of state property”. In addition, for another new case, he has been sentenced to two years imprisonment, paying a fine, being banned from leaving the country and once every three times mandatory appearance at the Supervision and Follow-up office of Judiciary by Branch 26 of Tehran’s revolutionary court.

9. Saeed Eghbali, arrested on February 1, 2018, on a charge of “assembly and collusion in purpose to act against national security and propaganda against the regime.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years in prison, which was upheld on appeal. Currently, he is serving the second year of his prison sentence.

10. Behnam Moosivand, arrested on February 1, 2018, on a charge of “assembly and collusion in purpose to act against national security and propaganda against the regime.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years in prison. The court of appeal upheld the sentence. Currently, he is serving the second year of his prison sentence.

11. Reza Mohammad-Hosseini, arrested in May 2019, on charges of ” assembly and collusion, offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran, illegal border crossing, illegally entering the county, disobeying the orders of the agents.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 16 years and 6 months imprisonment, which was upheld on appeal. While he was serving his term in prison, in a new case he was sentenced to flogging with 50 lashes on the charge of “offensive statements against the on-duty-government officer”. He is serving the third year of his sentence.

12. Mehdi Meskin Navaz, arrested on May 5, 2019, on charges of “assembly and collusion, acting against national security, offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”. The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 13 years imprisonment and two years of compulsory residency in Ghahraj city in Kerman Province and prohibition from membership in political parties and groups. Currently, he is serving the third year of his sentence. As of this writing, Meskin Navaz has been transferred to the quarantine section after testing positive for Covid-19.

13. HooshangRezaie, arrested in 2010 on a charge of “membership in Komola (Kurdistan’s Organization of the Communist Party of Iran), spying, murder and adultery.” The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to death which was later reduced to 15 years imprisonment. Hooshang Rezaie was transferred to the quarantine section after testing positive for Covid-19.

14. Ahad Barzegar, arrested in 2019 on charges of “advocacy for The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran”. The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to six years imprisonment. According to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the severest enforceable punishment for this charge is only five years. He is serving the second year of his sentence. He has also been imprisoned in the ’80s for political-related charges.

15. Ali Eshagh, arrested on November 21, 2019, and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on a charge of “membership in Fedaian Organisation (Minority)”. He was born in 1950. He had also been spending in prison from 1983 to 1989 for the same charge.

16. Arash Nasri, arrested on December 19, 2019, on charges of “membership in Komola (Kurdistan’s Organization of the Communist Party of Iran) and Khabat (The Organization of the Iranian Kurdistan Struggle), illegal border crossing, illegally entering the country, holding illegal firearms”. Currently, he is waiting for his trial. These accusations are based on the publication of two photos on her personal Instagram account with the clothes of the mentioned groups.

17. Iraj Hatami, arrested on October 18, 2010, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on the charge of spying for the U.S.A. He had been working in Iran’s Ministry of Defense, from 1991 to 2004. Since two years and three months of his detention period in the military Detention Center has not been subtracted from his sentence term, he is still in prison. To protest, in June of this year, he went on a hunger strike.

18. Arsham (Mahmood) Rezaei, arrested on January 7, 2019, on charges of “propaganda against the regime, assembly and collusion to act against national security, offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to eight years and six months imprisonment, which was upheld by the appellate court. According to article 134 of Iran’s penal code, five years as the severest punishment is enforceable for the above-mentioned charges. He is serving the first year of his sentence. Recently, he has been transferred to the quarantine section of Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj after testing positive for COVID-19.

19. Nasrollah Lashni, arrested in 2014 on charges of “assembly and collusion to act against national security and propaganda against the regime.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years imprisonment and two years prohibition from political activities. This verdict was upheld by the appellate court. In October 2020, as punishment for not returning to prison after a furlough, he was sentenced to flogging of 40 lashes, which was reduced to 30. In addition, he has two open cases with the charges of “illegal border crossing” and “membership in one of opposition political parties”.

20. Ali Musa-Nejad Farkoosh, arrested on January 10, 2019, on charges of “assembly and collusion to commit a crime and act against national security, offensive statements against current and former supreme leader of Iran and propaganda against the regime.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to eight years imprisonment. According to article 134 of Iran’s penal code, 5 years as the severest punishment is enforceable for the above-mentioned charges. He is serving the first year of his sentence. A while ago, he was granted furlough for medical treatment.

21. Farzin Rezaei Roshan, arrested in June 2017, on charges of “assembly and collusion to act against national security and propaganda against the regime.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to four years imprisonment. He is serving the second year of his sentence.

22. Abdul Rasoul Mortazavi, arrested in August 2019, on charges of “forming illegal political groups, propaganda against the regime and offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”. The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 26 years imprisonment from which 11 years as severest punishment are enforceable.

23. Pouria Vahidian, arrested on November 21, 2020, on charges of “collaboration with The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran.” He is still waiting for issuing verdict by the court. Earlier in July 2018, he has been also sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment on the charges of “collaboration with The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran through writing political slogans on walls.” Back then, he was released after serving one year of his term.

24. Amir Doorbin Ghaziani, arrested on December 13, 2013, arrested on November 21, 2020, on a charge of spying for the U.S.A. The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to ten years imprisonment. He is serving the eighth year of his sentence.

Currently, there are three political prisoners being housed in other wards.

1. Farhad Fahandezh, arrested on August 16, 2012, on charges of “Propagation of the Baha’i Faith and directing Baha’i organizations.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to ten years imprisonment. He was born in 1959. Currently, he is serving the ninth year of his sentence. Earlier, he was arrested in 1983 and spent 6 years in prison.

2. Farhad Meysami, arrested on July 31, 2018, on charges of “assembly and collusion to commit a crime against national security and propaganda against the regime.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years imprisonment and two years prohibitions from membership in political groups and parties, engagement in media and leaving the country. By enforcing Article 134 of the Islamic penal code, five years of this sentence is enforceable. He is serving the fourth year of his sentence.

3. Arjang Davoudi, arrested on November 9, 2002, on charges of “forming illegal political groups and membership in one of opposition political parties, offensive statements against the supreme leader of and high-ranking regime officials.” The Revolutionary Court sentenced him to fifteen years and eight months imprisonment which later was reduced to ten years and eight months on appeal. In 2012, on the new charge of “advocacy for The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran”, he was sentenced to death. The verdict was revoked in the supreme court of Iran and instead changed to five years imprisonment in an exile prison in Zabol. Also, he had been spending a while in Bandar-Abbas Prison.

It is worth mentioning two other political prisoners who have been recently released from Rajai Shahr prison. Peyman Arefi was arrested in May 2009 on the charges of ” insult against Prophet of Islam and advocacy for Kingdom Assembly of Iran “. The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment in exile. A few months ago, he was released on probation with an electronic tag on his ankle. In September of this year, Asghar Padashi was released from the Rajai Shahr prison after serving three years of his ten years prison term. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and paying a fine of 34000 dollars on the charges of “spying for Mossad.”

From the above-listed political prisoners, 15 inmates suffer from serious diseases or injuries.

As domestic law, as well as international law and other human rights documents, affirms, each prisoner has the right to receive adequate medical treatment. Various articles of Iran’s Executive regulations of the Prisons Organization has specified inmates’ disease and treatment. Nonetheless, Rajai Shahr prison officials violate the rights of these political prisoners for adequate medical treatment and endanger political prisoners’ lives.

 

 

Soheil Arabi and Behnam Moosivand Refuse to Appear in Court

On Wednesday, October 6,  prisoner of conscience Soheil Arabi and political prisoner Behnam Moosivand refused to appear on the court holding for the unjustified new cases opened against them during their imprisonment.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the deputy head of Rajai Shahr Prison Valiollah Muhammadi threatened them with a beating following their refusal.

“Disturbing prison order” and ” offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran” have been listed as among the new charges. According to an informed source, on the same day, these two prisoners were interrogated online.

While serving out the seven and a half year sentence, Soheil Arabi has been convicted on the charges of two new cases.

In the first new case, On May 24, 2021, he was indicted on the charge of “agitation against the regime and Disturbing public opinions” via a video conference by Branch 3 of the Evin Investigation Office.

In the second new case, Soheil Arabi was condemned to 2 years imprisonment, paying a fine, and a ban from leaving the country and once every three times appearance at the Supervision and Follow-up office of Judiciary by Branch 26 of Tehran’s revolutionary court. His court session to address these charges was held on July 28.

Since November 7, 2013, he has been held in detention as well as prison and has never been granted leave.

On February 1, 2018, the intelligence officials raided Behnam Moosivand’s home and transferred him to the detention facility of the intelligence ministry in Evin Prison, known as section 209. He was released on bail on March 19, 2018.

Thereafter, in September 2019, branch 28 of Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced him to five years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion in the purpose of acting against national security, and to one year on a charge of “agitation against the regime”. The verdict was upheld at appeal. On June 14, 2020, he appeared at the executive branch of Evin Prison to serve his six-year sentence.

 Political Prisoner Soheil Arabi Faced with New Charges

On May 31, Soheil Arabi, a prisoner of conscience in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, was taken to a virtual arraignment hearing on new charges.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Branch 3 of the Evin Prosecutor’s Office held the hearing and charged Arabi with “propaganda activities against the regime and disturbing the public opinion”.

Mr. Arabi was accused of creating reports on the poor condition of the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, criticizing the conduct of prison authorities, especially the prison’s assistant prosecutor, going on a hunger strike to support political prisoners deprived of  medical treatment, and writing statements in support of the nationwide protests of November 2019.

Arabi was punitively transferred from the Greater Tehran Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj last September. He was then summoned and acquitted by Branch 8 of the Shahr-e-Shahri Prosecutor’s Office for another lawsuit in December.

Soheil Arabi has been imprisoned since November 2013 and has been deprived of leaves of absence throughout his entire imprisonment.

Soheil Arabi’s letter from prison

Soheil Arabi was on hunger strike for a month protesting prison conditions and denied medical treatment. He finished serving his 7 years imprisonment sentence when another case was opened for him and he was sentenced to another 8 years of imprisonment. He ended his hunger strike and wrote an open letter about his conditions and questioned prison’s budgets which was not spent on prisoners’ medical needs. He needs medical treatment for his deteriorating health conditions which part of it was caused by torture in prison.

 

Letter

In his open letter, he said “thanks to your support, my voice is heard. Some of the unresolved points in my case are clear and my treatments have started. Of course, the hunger strike is the last way to achieve our legal demands and now, with your efforts and support, the conditions are better. Although I still can’t eat or drink nothing but water with a little sugar and salt after the surgery, I want to draw our attention to more important issues. For example, what happened to 2.5 billion Tomans as the budget of the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary? What is the reason behind budget deficit and who is responsible for the embezzlement?  Why this prison owes 1.8 billion Tomans to the hospital? How did meat disappear from prisoners’ meals during the three years of Ali Chaharmahali serving as the prison manager? What happened to the budget that was supposed to be spent on purchasing fresh vegetables and dairy for the prisoners, but prisoners don’t get to eat fresh vegetables and dairy, like meat, health care, and oil rigs that were disappeared! And finally, why stuff disappear in this country?  How do so many glass pipes are smuggled into the prison and there is no control over drugs smuggling into the prison? Why did the IRIB reporter refuse to drink the prison’s water while reporting from the prison?  How do you expect the prisoners to stay healthy under these conditions? For now, respecting the will of my mother and my friends who are worried about my conditions, I break my hunger strike and continue the treatment.

 

Background

Soheil Arabi was transferred to Imam Khomeini Hospital on March 18, 2020, but because the hospital refused to admit him, he was returned to the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary. It was said that the reason the hospital refused to admit him was that the Prison Organizations owes money to this hospital and the Great Tehran Central Penitentiary is not covering the medical charges. He was earlier transferred to the IRGC Intelligence Office’s detention center on April 14, 2020, but was returned to the Greater Tehran Central penitentiary on April 19, 2020.

Soheil Arabi left the ward on April 22, 2020, and was transferred to the detention center of a security organization in Tehran and a few days later, because of his severe health conditions that occurred during interrogations, ileus and stomach bleedings, was transferred from the IRGC intelligence office’s detention center to the hospital and underwent surgery. On April 28, 2020, because of severe pain, Mr. Arabi was transferred to Firouzabadi Hospital in Tehran but because there was no prior coordination and because there was no empty bed in the hospital, he was released after a preliminary visit and was returned to the prison. He was eventually returned to Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary on April 29, 2020, without completing the treatment.

Mr. Arabi was also denied transfer to the hospital in November 2019 after he refused to wear a prison uniform, handcuffs, and foot shackles. Also, earlier last year, Mr. Arabi was taken to a security organization’s detention center and was interrogated with beating. Because of beatings, he was severely injured in his testicles and experience Blunt trauma. He has been suffering from the pain of this injury because of the negligence of the prison officials and not receive any kind of medical attention. Also, in contrast to the prison laws, he was told that he has to pay for the surgery of Blunt Trauma that is 60 million Tomans although, according to protocol issued by the Prison Organization, this organization is responsible for medical treatment of its prisoners.

Soheil Arabi was arrested and imprisoned on November 7, 2013, and has been denied furlough throughout the time he is serving his sentence. He is serving a 7 and a half years of the sentence in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary. However, for two new cases that are recently opened against him in the prison, he was sentenced to imprisonment, exile, and paying fines by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. In the first case, Mr. Arabi was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for the charge of “insulting the religious beliefs, propaganda against the state and insulting the Supreme Leader” and for the other case “ distributing lies with intent to disturb public opinion and propaganda against the state” was sentenced to two years imprisonment, two years exile to Borazjan, and four million Tomans fine and for the charge of “damaging governmental assets” was sentenced to one year and eight months of imprisonment.  He is set to be released in May 2025.

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A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 18, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 18th, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) On December 17th, 2018 in the National Steel Company workers protest, more than 42 workers have been arrested. The names of 10 more people are as the following: Hossein Asakereh, Meisam Al-Mahdi, Seyed Majid Mousavi, Amir Dehghan, Ahmad Bavi, Behzad Alikhani, Seyed Mostafa Mousavi, Majid Jalali, Arash Mohammadpour, and Behzad Shahbazi.

(2) Sepideh Gholian, a social rights’ activist, was released on bail. She looks very pale and weak after her release. She was arrested on November 18th while she was supporting the strike of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers.

(3) A fire broke out accidentally at “Osveh Hasaneh” kindergarten in Zahedan. The fire broke out in a faulty oil stove being used for heating a classroom. Students Mona Khosroparast, Saba Arabi, and Maryam Nokandi died and Yekta Mirshekar is severely burnt.

(4) A United Nation committee on human rights approved a resolution on December 17th, 2018 urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern about its use of death penalty. Iran was urged to end widespread and serious restrictions including on freedom of assembly of political opponents, human rights defenders, labor leaders, environmentalists, academics, filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, social media users and others. The resolution strongly urges Iran to eliminate discrimination against women in law and practice and expresses “serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”

(5) Nazanin Zaghari requested parole but has not yet received any response from the judiciary officials. She is a British-Iranian dual citizen who has been detained in Iran since 3 April 2016. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment and has served half of her sentence now. She is also inneed of acute medical care.

(6) Two activists, Ansar Advaei 27 years old and Fardin Advaei 24 years old, were released in Uraman District in Sarvabad County and the two others, Hamid Ahmadi and Zaniyar Moradi remain in prison there. The reasons for these four citizens’ arrest, are still unknown.

(7) Hamid Ahmadi Maledeh, a juvenile offender who is accused of murder in a street fight was sentenced to death. He has been serving 11 years in the Rasht prison and was transferred three times to solitary confinement for execution but still is waiting on the death row.

(8) One of Nasrin Sotoudeh ‘s criminal charges is putting a flower bouquet by the electricity junction box in Enghelab street. She is a predominant human rights lawyer who has security-related charges.

(9) Farokh Abdi, a social network activist who was sentenced to 15 months in prison earlier this year and faced another 15 months conviction from another court in Urmia, was sentenced to five years imprisonment in an appeal court.

(10) A construction worker died in Yasuj due to unsafe workplace.

(11) According to Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 round-up of deadly attacks and abuses against journalists published on December 18, 2018, Iran still holds its position as one of the five largest prisons for journalists in the world. In this year, Hengameh Shahidi, Tahereh Riahi, Zeinab Karimian, Saleh Deldam, Morad Saghafi, Ramin Karimian, Alieh Matlabzadeh, Asal Emailzadeh, Bakhtiar Khoshnam, Mehdi Khazali, Abdolreza Davari, Sasan Aghai, Yaghma Fashkhami, Mohammad Mohajer, Alireza Tavakoli, Mohammad Mehdi Zamanzadeh, Saeed Mojtaba Bagheri, Javad Jamshidi, Nima Keshvari, Saeed Naghdi, Ali Ahmadinia, and Soheil Arabi are some of journalists, reporters or citizen journalists who have been arrested in 2018.

(12) City service workers of Karun and Zanjan cities have at least six months of unpaid wages.

(13) Another labor activist, Aram Mohammadi who was accused of “propaganda against the state” for participating in international Labor Day protest, began serving his sentence today.

(14) Mohammad-Reza Khatami was prosecuted because of his claims in an interview with Aparat (a video sharing service) that a voter Fraud was observed during 2009 presidential election.

(15) Retired personnel of various governmental organizations held protests in Tehran and other cities for their financial hardship.

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

Golrokh Iraee Calls Citizens to the Defense of Persecuted Activist Soheil Arabi

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a civil rights activist imprisoned at Evin, has written an open letter in response to the recent re-sentencing of Soheil Arabi, a prisoner of conscience in Great Tehran Penitentiary who has been held without furlough since November 7, 2013.

On new charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “disturbing the public mind,” Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26 sentenced Arabi to three more years of imprisonment and three years of exile on September 22, 2018. Cited as evidence against him were voice files he allegedly sent from inside the prison, in which he can be heard comparing Evin to a torture chamber.

In her letter, Iraee accuses authorities of using the exile sentence to banish dissidents like Arabi from public memory.

Golrokh Iraee pictured here with husband and fellow prisoner of conscience Arash Sadeghi

While behind bars on separate charges in June of this year, Arabi was issued a six-month prison sentence by Judge Moghiseh on charges of “blasphemy” and “propaganda against the regime.” The charges stemmed from a case file opened up against Arabi and his ex-spouse Nastaran Naimi, who was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for “blasphemy” and “aiding and abetting.”

Iraee’s letter warns the Iranian public that apathy towards the extension of Arabi’s detainment would be ignoring symptoms of a malaise for which all Iranian citizens are responsible.

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

“He has been behind bars for years without having committed a crime. He is held captive by a vengeful system that has no tolerance for dissenting views, that stifles them instead in bondage, with physical and mental tortures.

Soheil Arabi was first detained on a misunderstanding that devolved into a blasphemy charge. After spending years behind bars and nearing the end of a sentence that tore his family apart (after the immoral and inhumane pressures they submitted him to, to break his spirit), yet another case file emerges, yet another prison sentence is leveled against him. After compounding his suffering with a ban on visits from his daughter, they now want to do with him what they did with Arjang Davoudi and Gholamreza Kalbi: exile him to the middle of nowhere, remove him from public memory, and let his existence perish into the abyss.

After the hunger strikes and beatings he endured in prison, Soheil’s condition is worrisome indeed. It is fitting that we be reminded, after commemorating the World Day against the Death Penalty, of Soheil’s initial execution sentence. He was made to suffer for a long time under the threat of execution, and the [long-term] imprisonment to which his death penalty was commuted, yet we are still witnessing concerted efforts to annihilate him with continued torture and new case files extending his imprisonment.

This method of eliminating activists, protesters, and dissenters may be the current status quo of the judicial system, but it is critical we consider these actions as the red flags that they are, and that we increase public sensitivity and attract the attention of international organizations so that we can put a stop to the annihilation of political and ideological activists. Abandoning them in this state renders us guilty of spreading the disease of our judicial system, and condoning the repetition of such crimes.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, Women’s Ward of Evin Prison, October 2018.

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Golrokh Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. She was first held at an IRGC safe house for two days and then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, which is under IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 800 million rials. On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Iraee again, without a warrant. Her husband Arash Sadeghi, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison, is currently in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison and has undergone operations for cancer. Iraee was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 2.5 years based on amnesty and Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code. She was convicted of “insulting the sacred” and “gathering and collusion against the regime.”

Soheil Arabi Sentenced to More Prison Time

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Pursuant to a new case brought against him by Judge Ahmadzadeh of Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26, Soheil Arabi, a prisoner of conscience in Great Tehran Penitentiary, was sentenced September 22nd to three years in prison, three years in exile, and a fine of approximately 40 million IRR [approximately $400 USD] on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “disturbing the public mind.” His lawyer did not learn of the verdict until eight days later.

A source close to Arabi told HRANA that the courts pursued new charges against him because of voicemail messages he left from prison; in one of these, he reportedly compared the Great Tehran Penitentiary to a torture chamber.

Arabi’s mother Farangis Mazloum told HRANA, “When I went to Great Tehran Penitentiary to see Soheil this morning, prison authorities told me that they had taken my son to court and that he is banned from having visitors,” she said.

Judge Moghiseh previously sentenced Arabi, along with his ex-wife Nastaran Naeimi, to prison time: six years for Arabi on charges of “blasphemy” and “propaganda against the regime,” and a year and a half for Naeimi, for “propaganda against the regime” and “aiding and abetting.”

Soheil Arabi, a 33-year-old photographer, was arrested by Sarallah-based agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on November 7, 2013, for comments he had posted on his Facebook page. Judge Siamak Modir Khorasani cited the Facebook posts as evidence of “insulting the prophet” — a charge that can incur capital punishment — in Branch 76 of Tehran’s Criminal Court.

Arabi’s lawyers subsequently appealed to Branch 36 of Supreme Court, pleading Article 263 of the Islamic Penal Code. While Article 262 recommends the death sentence for those who insult the prophet, Article 263 reduces the death sentence to 74 lashes for defendants whose statements “have been under coercion or mistake, or in a state of drunkenness, or anger or slip of the tongue, or without paying attention to the meaning of the words, or quoting someone else…”.

Unmoved by the Article-263 argument, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence, unlawfully adding to his case file the charge of “corruption on earth.”

A retrial request was later accepted in Supreme Court Branch 34, which acquitted him of “insulting the prophet” and commuted his death sentence to seven and a half years’ imprisonment, plus a two-year travel ban and two years of religious probation to evaluate his repentance upon his release.

Arabi had not seen the end of his legal troubles, however — in 2014, Branch 10 of Iran’s Court for Government Employees would sentence him to a 5 million IRR fine [approximately $50 USD] and 30 lashings for insulting the following three people with his Facebook posts: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Gholamali Haddad Adel, and the Director of Allameh Tabatabai University. That same year, Judge Abolghassem Salavati of Revolutionary Court Branch 15 would sentence him to three years in prison for “insulting Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic” and “propaganda against the regime.” Branch 54 of Appeals Court upheld the latter sentence a short time later.

Arabi has been in prison without furlough since November 7, 2013.

Soheil Arabi Beaten and Transferred to Fashafoie Prison

HRANA News Agency – Soheil Arabi, prisoner of conscience, have been transferred to Fashafoie Prison from Evin Prison. He was also beaten on January 31, 2018. Beating Mr. Arabi has caused bruise on his body.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Soheil Arabi, prisoner of conscience, have been transferred to Fashafoie Prison from Evin Prison after being beaten on January 31, 2018. Continue reading “Soheil Arabi Beaten and Transferred to Fashafoie Prison”