Elderly Hunger-Striker Transferred to Prison Clinic for Cardiac Problems

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency(HRANA) – Hatam Ertoghlu, an ailing 70-year-old prisoner of Turkish nationality, was transferred to the Urmia Central Prison clinic following an exacerbation of his cardiac disease.

Ertoghlu has been on hunger strike since Friday, November 9th, when Iranian authorities welshed on their agreement to transfer him back to Turkey. Authorities have refused entry to a representative of the Turkish consulate who came to Urmia Central requesting to see him, a close source told HRANA.

Currently held in Ward 4-3, Ertoghlu has been behind bars for the past nine years on drug-related charges. According to a close source, he has had multiple hospital admissions for various ailments, not least of which was a heart attack.

“Last year, per court order, he gave prison authorities 12 million tomans [approximately $2,800 USD] to cover the fees for his transfer back to Turkey,” a close source said. “Yet despite the consent of Turkish authorities, that transfer never took place.”

Undeterred by his physical distress, old age, and cardiac disease, Ertoghlu is now starving himself in protest.

Ertoghlu initially faced a sentence of life in prison, which was commuted to 24 years in 2017.

Iran: Prisoner Updates as of November 14, 2018

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Iranian citizens and legal residents, once placed behind bars or accused of a crime, have seen their lawful rights and dignities abruptly revoked. Below are a few of their stories.

Sunni Kurdish Prisoner Slapped with “Propaganda” Charge Whilst Behind Bars

Sardar Osman Bakr, a Sunni Kurdish prisoner serving a five-year sentence in Urmia Central, has been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and will now be serving six.

An Iraqi national who has held legal residence in Iran for the past 10 years, Bakr was arrested, charged, and sentenced in 2016 on charges of “membership in anti-regime groups with religious ideologies.” He was held in solitary confinement for 10 days in a Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center earlier this year, before being transferred back to Urmia Central Prison to be interrogated on the “propaganda against the regime” charge.

Branch 3 of Urmia Revolutionary Court convicted Bakr of the new charge in September 2018, compounding his prison term by an additional year. He is currently being held in Ward 12 of Urmia Central.

Ulduz Ghasemi (Center)

Azerbaijani Activist Sentenced in Absentia

On November 10th, Azerbaijani activist Ulduz Ghasemi was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison by Urmia Revolutionary Court Branch 1.

Ghasemi is from Urmia, in Iran’s northwest. Read more about Ghasemi’s activism and legal ordeals here.

Sentence Upheld for Sunni Prisoner

West Azerbaijan Appeals Court Branch 13 has upheld a five-year prison sentence for Sunni prisoner Eslam Mostafaie, of Mirabad. He has been in Urmia Central Prison for the past three months.

Charged with “membership in Salafi groups,” a close source said, Mostafaie was denied a lawyer throughout judicial proceedings that ended with his August 2018 conviction in Urmia Revolutionary Court Branch 2.

According to the source, he was held in solitary confinement in a Ministry of Intelligence detention center for 17 days after his arrest and is now being held in Ward 12 of Urmia Central.

Mirabad is a city in West Azerbaijan Province.

Conditional Release Denied to Urmia Prisoner

Judge Ali Sheikhloo of Urmia Revolutionary Court Branch 2 has denied the conditional release request of political prisoner Azad Mohammadi, currently being held in Ward 12 of Urmia Central prison. The court’s decision was dictated to Mohammadi on Tuesday, November 13th.

Mohammadi had previously stopped hunger striking when prison authorities verbally engaged to negotiate with the Judiciary for his conditional release. Mohammadi was among a group of prisoners swayed to end their coordinated hunger strike on October 23rd by similar promises from prison authorities.

Upon his arrest in 2015, Mohammadi spent three months in an IRGC Intelligence detention center. Without ever having access to a lawyer, he was sentenced to five years in prison for “Cooperation with the Kurdistan Democratic Party.” He was subsequently transferred to Urmia Prison.

Mohammadi’s sentence was reduced by 15 months when he chose to not protest the charges. He is scheduled to be released in seven months.

Elderly Turkish Citizen Declares Hunger Strike in Urmia Prison

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Dejected at the Judiciary’s broken promise to return him to his native Turkey, ailing 70-year-old prisoner Hatam Ertoghlu declared hunger strike November 9th.

Currently held in Urmia’s Ward 4-3, Ertoghlu has been behind bars for the past nine years on drug-related charges. According to a close source, he has had multiple hospital admissions for various ailments, not least of which was a heart attack.

“Last year, per court order, he gave prison authorities 12 million tomans [approximately $2,800 USD] to cover the fees for his transfer back to Turkey,” a close source said. “Yet despite the consent of Turkish authorities, that transfer never took place.”

Undeterred by his physical distress, old age, and cardiac disease, Ertoghlu is now starving himself in protest.

Ertoghlu initially faced a sentence of life in prison, which was commuted to 24 years in 2017.

Hand Amputation Raises Specter of Cruel and Unusual Punishments

Posted on: November 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Morteza Esmaeilian, 37, a married father of two from Urmia, was arrested in 2013 on multiple counts of burglary. In 2015, Urmia General Court Branch 112 sentenced him to 15 years in prison and the amputation of the fingers on his right hand.

The Supreme Court rejected his appeal and upheld the sentence as written in Autumn of 2016. He requested a retrial as a final recourse, but it was denied by the judiciary in Summer of the following year.

An agent from the execution of sentences unit informed Esmaeili last week that his amputation was imminent.

HRANA reported on an Urmia Central prisoner facing a similar fate: Branch 1 of Juvenile Criminal Court ordered the amputation of four fingers off of Kasra Karami’s right hand, set to be carried out in the near future.

Amputation falls under punishments sanctioned by Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Urmia Prisoners of Conscience End Weeklong Hunger Strike

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – A mass hunger strike of Urmia Central prisoners of conscience ended on its fifth day after prison authorities engaged to addressing prisoner complaints of rampant abuse.

Strikes were underway as of October 16th, when prisoners launched a protest against a violent raid of the Political Ward (Ward 12) by special forces that left a number of prisoners wounded.

Divided between Ward 12 and the Youth Ward’s prisoners of conscience, protesters declared that the restoration of their legal rights would put an end to the strike.

In a recently-issued statement, strikers asked inmates’ families to appear at the front gate of Urmia Central on October 21st to demand justice for those inside. The statement impelled the head of the prison to invite groups of strikers for a sit-down in the prosecutor’s’ office– an invitation they declined, a close source said.

During the hunger strike, at least one prisoner, Habib Amini, was sent to the prison clinic for treatment following a decline in his health.

Below is a translation of the aforementioned statement. Its signatories asked to remain anonymous. :

“Pursuant to the hunger strike of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience at Urmia Central Prison that began October 16, 2018, the families of these and other prisoners are asked to appear before the Central Prison of Urmia on Sunday, October 21st to demand restoration of the legal and Shari’a-granted rights of their children, in a show of support for their legal and judicial demands.

This protest is a declaration of dissent with the extraordinary oppression and discrimination faced by prisoners and their families in this city. In a state of material and psychological insecurity, prisoners here live under surmounting pressures. We hope that officials have the compassion to reduce this targeted oppression.

Finally, we ask that all sensible minds be moved by this news, and react with the same power they displayed over the three recently executed Kurdish political prisoners and the missile offensive on Kurdistan.”

*

The Ward-12 raid occurred on the evening of October 15th, when political prisoners came to the defense of one of their comrades who had been physically assaulted for arguing with prison personnel. In response to their objections, authorities and special forces, numbering more than 50 and armed with with batons, tasers, and tear gas, stormed the political ward and laid into the inmates there. That same night, authorities assaulted and injured a number of prisoners of conscience in the Youth Ward.

Kamal Hassan Ramazan, Ahmad Tamooie, Osman Mostafapour, and Touraj Esmaili were among the first prisoners beaten in response to their objections of a group assault on their wardmate Hamid Rahimi. Personnel identified only as “Eskandar” and “Rezaie” reportedly commandeered additional Urmia prisoners to deal blows to the four men, breaking bones and teeth, and cutting one of them with a sharp object.

Ramezan, Tamoo’i, Mostafapoor, and two more Ward-12 bystanders, Hassan Rastegari and Kamran Darvishi, were among those injured in the onslaught that followed. The latter two were transferred to solitary confinement; Rastegari has since been returned to Ward 12. “Hassan Rastegari was badly bruised all over,” the source said, adding that prison authorities then sicced fellow prisoners on political detainees for a second time.

Urmia Central Prison authorities have a history of ruling my corporal punishment. On October 8, 2018, prisoner Morteza Zohrali’s right arm was broken in a beating by prison officials; On September 23rd, Youth Ward inmate Javad “Arash” Shirzad was sent to an outside hospital for treatment of a concussion sustained at the hands of “Bayramzadeh,” the prison’s internal director; in July, Saeed Seyed Abbasi was beaten and sent to solitary confinement without treatment of his injuries, all for arriving late to the prison yard for recreation time; and in May, according to HRANA reports, prisoner Saeed Nouri, a former IRGC lieutenant, was beaten by two personnel in the internal director’s office.

Reports indicate that political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience are more vulnerable than others to the gamut of inmate abuses. HRANA previously reported on a September 18th raid on Ward 12 by special forces, where guards pilfered and destroyed the prisoners’ personal belongings, including food they had purchased themselves.

Maltreatment Results in Hunger Strike of 56 Urmia Prisoners

Posted on: October 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Fifty-six youth and political prisoners declared the launch of a hunger strike on October 17th in defense of their ward mates, many of whom were recently victims of vicious assaults by authorities.

The strikers hail from Ward 12, designated for political prisoners, and the youth ward.

On October 15th, more than 50 special agents attacked Ward 12, breaking prisoners’ bones and teeth. Later the same day, Urmia guards enlisted common-criminal prisoners to wage an assault on 8 prisoners of conscience from the youth ward.

HRANA is in the process of confirming the names of the striking prisoners.

More than 50 Special Forces Attack Ward 12 of Urmia Central Prison

Posted on: October 17th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In the latest of a long string of power abuses at Urmia Central Prison, more than 50 special forces responded to prisoner objections with severe beatings, breaking prisoners’ bones, and sending a number of them to solitary confinement on the night of October 15th.

A close source told HRANA that a large-scale reprisal was set into motion when three prisoners went to the guard’s office to check in on their wardmate Hamid Rahimi, who had been beaten there by four personnel and transferred to solitary confinement after a verbal altercation with staff. Rahimi is from Ward 12, designated for political prisoners.

Once arrived, the wardmates — identified as Kamal Hassan Ramazan, Ahmad Tamooie, and Osman Mostafapour — were met with their own violent beatings. Authorities started in on Tamooie, while additional prisoners, on orders from personnel members “Eskandar” and “Rezaie,” assaulted all three with a sharp object. Prisoner Touraj Esmaili was also beaten in the attack.

Authorities reportedly looked on as the attackers cut Esmaili, broke Ramezan’s nose, and busted the teeth of Tamooie, who has since gone on hunger strike to protest the assault.

When authorities were met with outcry over the assaults, they moved to disperse the victims and their comrades among different wards; when that measure, too, was met with resistance, prison authorities sent for reinforcements.

Prison guards and dozens of special forces stormed Ward 12 armed with batons, tasers, and tear gas, laying into Ramezan, Tamoo’i, Mostafapoor, and two more Ward-12 bystanders, Hassan Rastegari and Kamran Darvishi. The latter two were then transferred to solitary confinement; Rastegari has since been returned to Ward 12. “Hassan Rastegari was badly bruised all over,” the source said, adding that additional prisoners had attacked the men on orders from prison authorities.

Shortly thereafter, authorities established a perimeter around Ward 12. Crowded around the ward’s door were all those in charge of the prison, its investigations and protection unit, and Intelligence Security of West Azerbaijan Province. Inside the ward, dozens of special forces took up watch, while still more stood armed guard roof.

The special forces dispersed a few hours later, with the exception of a few that remained in the main prison hall.

Kamal Hassan Ramezan is on death row for political charges. Ahmad Tamooie is serving a 15-year sentence, and Osman Mostafapour is serving a 35-year sentence. As of the date of this report, the health statuses of the assaulted prisoners have yet to be confirmed.

Iran’s Prison Bureau stipulates that prisoner and prison-cell inspections must be carried out with respect to prisoners’ safety, i.e. to uncover and confiscate contraband items such as weapons and narcotics. Increasingly common, however, are inspections that lead to insults or destruction of prisoner property, and political detainees have proven to be popular targets. HRANA previously reported on the September 18th storming of Ward 12 by special forces, where guards pilfered and destroyed the prisoners’ personal belongings, including food they had purchased themselves.

Compounding harassment and pilfering at Urmia Central Prison is its authorities’ liberal use of corporal punishment. On October 8, 2018, prisoner Morteza Zohrali’s right arm was broken in a beating by prison officials; On September 23rd, Youth Ward inmate Javad “Arash” Shirzad was sent to an outside hospital for treatment of a concussion sustained at the hands of “Bayramzadeh,” the prison’s internal director; in July, Saeed Seyed Abbasi was beaten and sent to solitary confinement without treatment of his injuries, all for arriving late to the prison yard for recreation time; and in May, according to HRANA reports, prisoner Saeed Nouri, a former IRGC lieutenant, was beaten by two personnel in the internal director’s office.

Political Prisoner Eghbal Ahmadpour Transferred to Urmia Central Prison

Posted on: September 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Eghbal Ahmadpour, a resident of Anbi village of Urmia arrested September 11, 2018 by security forces, was transferred to the general ward of Urmia Central Prison after 19 days of interrogation.

This citizen stands accused of “membership in Kurdish opposition parties.”

An informed source told HRANA that Ahmadpour was held in solitary confinement for 12 days after his arrest, and at the end of his interrogation was transferred to Ward 13 of Urmia Prison, known as the youth ward.

According to the 2017 annual report published by Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), 6883 citizens were arrested in Iran on ideological or political grounds last year.

Urmia Prisoner Enters 11th Day of Hunger Strike

Posted on: September 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mehdi Taha of Urmia Central Prison’s Ward 14 is entering the 11th day of a hunger strike he declared August 30th in protest of being denied furlough.

Taha is currently in year six of a 15-year sentence for drug-related offenses. He has been repeatedly denied furlough over the course of his detention. According to a close source, Taha believes prison authorities are refusing his furlough requests out of spite.

Three Reports of Misconduct toward Political Prisoners in Urmia

Posted on: August 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Last week, HRANA received three confirmed reports of misconduct to three political prisoners in Urmia’s central prison. Azad Mohammadi and Hassan Peyghami were transferred from Ward 12 to the psychotherapy ward after reportedly engaging in a verbal dispute with a prison authority by the name of “Medadi”. Political prisoner Abdolrahman Fattahi was reportedly beaten by a prison guard by the name of Rasoul Ghanizadeh and two other prisoners. As a result of the attack, Mr Fattahi reportedly began a hunger strike in addition to filing a complaint against his attackers.

Azad Mohammadi was arrested in May 2016 and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Hassan Peyghami is reportedly facing a new charge of “Insulting the Supreme Leader”. A source close to Mr Peyghami told HRANA: “Hassan Peyghami got involved in a verbal dispute with a former IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) agent who is imprisoned for embezzlement and other financial offenses. [Mr Peyghami] may face new charges as a result of this.” On September 19, 2016, Mr Peyghami was sentenced to 30 months in prison by Branch 1 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Chabok, for the charge of “Acting against national security”. Mr Peyghami was reportedly arrested two years ago for the same charge and served a two-year prison exile sentence Urmia and Tabriz.

The misconduct of the authorities in Urmia’s central prison toward prisoners is not unprecedented. Prisoner Saeed Seyed Abbasi was also attacked and beaten by the head of the prison and transferred to solitary confinement and denied medical care. In April 2018, HRANA reported on an attack against Saeed Nouri, a former IRGC lieutenant, by two prison authorities.