Identity of Leila Tajik’s co-Defendant Confirmed

Posted on: November 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- HRANA has identified Leila Tajik’s co-defendant and former spouse — sentenced to death on espionage charges, per a HRANA report dated October 11, 2018 — as Seyed Jamal Hajizavar, 47, a former staff member on the IRGC Aerospace Force.

In the same report, HRANA reported on Tajik’s sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment in exile for the same charges, ruled in Branch 4 of Tehran Military Court.

Pursuant to a joint case opened up against the two by the IRGC intelligence unit, the former couple was arrested September 5, 2017, and held in an IGRC outpost. Tajik was later transferred to the Evin Prison Women’s Ward on March 19, 2018.

Over the course of his 14-month detainment, reports of Hajizavar’s violent torture — including de-nailing and electric shock in so-called “death cells”– have been conspicuously absent from the state-run news media.

An informed source previously told HRANA, “their children, Sabah, 16, and Sahand, 19, are hurting over the breakup of their family, and are feeling additional pressures from IRGC agents.”

State of Mental Health Critical for Zahedan Political Prisoner Held Six Years Without Trial

Posted on: September 23rd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A hostage of judicial bureaucracy for six years and counting, political prisoner Meysam Chandani, 28, has recently experienced a serious psychological downturn, a close source told HRANA.

“He is suffering from severe psychological illness due to the pressures of incarceration, the living conditions inside, and his legal limbo,” the source said. “He makes noises throughout the day and night, behaves strangely, and has caused problems for his ward mates.”

Currently held in section 4 of Zahedan Prison in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, home to Iran’s Baloch minority, Chandani was arrested six years ago by the Ministry of Intelligence forces of Saravan county and charged with “acting against national security,” “Moharebeh (enmity against God) through armed activities,” and “membership in an opposition group.” Unable to post his 5 billion toman (approximately $1,250,000 USD) bail, he has been waiting on his sentencing–or any updates at all–ever since.

In the meantime, prison officials refuse to attend to his medical needs, which according to eyewitnesses reports are growing more serious by the day.

While prison management has no direct responsibility to nudge the judiciary about lagging case files, they have been slow to address the prison’s dearth of communication channels with the judiciary and its general lack of social aid workers, shortcomings which make the follow-up process too difficult for some prisoners to undertake themselves.

Overpopulation has become a prevailing issue at Zahedan prison, where officials routinely disregard or postpone consideration of prisoner requests for sentencing reduction via part-time sentence schedules, furlough, and conditional pardon.

HRANA has previously reported on general lack of medical treatment in Zahedan Central Prison, based on interviews with eyewitnesses. The prison also hosts many who suffer from legal limbo like Chandani. This is in direct contravention of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights–of which Iran is a signatory–which guarantees arrestees the right to a prompt trial and to be promptly informed of the extent and nature of any charges on which they are being detained.

Sentence Commuted for Activists Marking International Day against Torture

Posted on: September 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Five of six activists detained and sentenced in 2016 for their observance of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture have had their sentences commuted in the Appeals Court of Western Azerbaijan (located in northwestern Iran and home to Turkic, Azerbaijani, and Kurdish minorities).

What was an eight-month prison sentence looming over Meysam Azadi, Morteza Zarrin, Vahid Nasibi, Gholamali Hossein-Gholizadeh, and Vahid Faezpour has now been reduced to a fine of 2.4 million Tomans (approximately $165 USD). The sixth activist, Somayeh Alidoust, did not appeal.

In February 2016, HRANA reported on the sentencing of the above individuals in Branch 102 of the Criminal Court of Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan province. All six activists were among a group of 36 Azerbaijani and Turkic activists who were apprehended June 27, 2013 on Shahid Kalantari bridge in Urmia, on their way to the foothills of Sahand mountain [a mountain of symbolic importance in Azerbaijan] where they planned to commemorate the UN holiday.

Security and Police forces assaulted and inflicted wounds on several of the activists during their detention. Thirty were released within hours, while Azadi, Zarrin, Nasibi, Hossein-Gholizadeh, Faezpour and Alidoust were held for six days in the Urmia Intelligence Office before being released on a bail of 15 million Toman (approximately 5,000 USD).

The UN Convention against Torture was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10th, 1984 and came into effect in June 26, 1987. The convention is a treaty whose signatories acknowledge torture as a criminal offense and commit to both investigate torture allegations and send them to trial. In 1998, in observance of the convention, June 26th was declared the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

As of now, there are 163 parties to the Convention. Iran is neither a signatory nor a party to the Convention.

Prisoners in Iranian Baluchestan Brutally Tortured by IRGC Intelligence Unit

Posted on: September 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – At the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp’s Saravan Intelligence Unit, at least seven detainees have recently been subjected to torture.

HRANA has identified two of these victims as Najib Dehvari, 21, and Abdolshokur Sotoudeh, 22, both from Saravan. Saravan is a city in Iran’s southeastern Sistan & Baluchestan Province, home to the Baloch ethnic minority group.

Dehvari, Sotoudeh, and their comrades were initially arrested in connection to a sound bomb that went off in front of the Ministry of Intelligence Bureau in Saravan. There were no casualties. They were held in the IRGC Intelligence Detention Center before being transferred to Ward 1 of Zahedan Prison in the province’s capital city.

A source familiar with the case told HRANA that the seven were religious seminary students who confessed after enduring prolonged beatings and torture. The source added, “they were interrogated during the night, lashed with electrical cables shocked with electricity. The wounds are still visible on the soles of their feet, and they are unable to walk.”

The torture of prisoners by IRGC Intelligence Units and the Ministry of Intelligence is more widespread in Baluchestan than in other regions of Iran. In a technique commonly exerted by these centers, called the “miracle bed,” the prisoner is tied to a bed frame and repeatedly flogged with the goal of extracting a confession. Historically, prisoners often utter confessions to put an end to the torture, rather than authentically confess to a crime.

Massoud Ghanbarzehi, another prisoner was detained on charges of “Acting against national security through cooperation with opposition groups” back in June, was interrogated and tortured while being held for three weeks in a Zahedan Ministry of Intelligence detention center before being transferred to Zahedan Central Prison.

Three additional Intelligence Center detainees who previously reported on their torture–Mohammad Saber Malik-Raeisi, Abdulkarim Shah Bakhsh, and Noor Ahmad–shared accounts of the various torture methods they endured, among them the “miracle bed” technique.

Concerns Mount over Fate of Tortured Kurdish Prisoner

Posted on: August 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Mystery still shrouds the condition and fate of Farhad Abdollahpour, who was arrested on June 30, 2018, by IRGC Intelligence forces and has effectively been missing since July.

Abdollahpour’s family, from Oshnavieh in northwestern Iran, were able to visit him briefly after his arrest in the IRGC Intelligence Detention Center of Urmia. They reported seeing signs of torture on his body. Their subsequent inquiries into his current status and the reason behind his arrest have been left unanswered by Oshnavieh’s Judiciary and the IRGC Intelligence Office.

A source close to the Abdollahpour family told HRANA, “Farhad was arrested without a warrant. Their home was then searched. IRGC forces told the family that Abdollahpour had been reported for allegedly keeping weapons at home. They found none, though, and took Farhad away with them. His family was able to trace him to the IRGC Intelligence Detention Center. When they were granted a visit with him 20 days later, they were distraught by the state he was in, apparently the result of mistreatment and torture; it was so bad that he couldn’t even walk without support.”

A 20-day detention warrant for Abdollahpour has expired and has not been renewed by Oshnavieh court. Nevertheless, and despite their frequent follow-ups, Abollahpour’s family is still in the dark about his fate.

Abdollahpour’s brother, Hedayatollah Abdollahpour, is on death row.

The source added: “Yesterday, a plainclothes individual visited Abollahpour’s home and shared awful news about Farhad’s condition with his ageing mother, who fainted from the shock.”