Coronavirus outbreak in Iranian prisons

Posted on: March 4th, 2020

On February 29, 2020, Ebrahim Raisi, the Chief Justice of Iran, issued a circular laying out policies to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in prisons.  This order mandates giving 15 -30 days furlough to prisoners with sentences less than five years. Another part of this order is about reducing entries into prisons, temporary releases, and public activities in prisons. In addition, this order mandates to increase alternative sentences and suspended prison terms instead of imprisonments.

Although the Chief Justice of Iran announced that the prisoners with less than five years prison term will be granted furlough, the prison authorities are not cooperative with political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to implement this regulation. As an example, Esmaeil Abdi and Negin Ghadamian were sentenced to five years imprisonment and after spending four and three years in prison respectively, they were not granted any furlough. Nazanin Zaghari’s husband reported that she is suspected to have Coronavirus. She is serving the 4th year of her five-year imprisonment sentence. Reportedly, three women were diagnosed with Coronavirus in Evin Prison.

The number of prisoners suspected of having coronavirus is increasing. Several prisoners suspected of having coronavirus were identified in Urmia, Khorramabad, Gorgan, Sanandaj, Qom, and other prisons.

 

A letter from political prisoner’s families

With the current spread of Coronavirus in prisons in Iran, some of the families of the political and security prisoners have written a letter to the judicial authorities on February 26, 2020, requesting furlough for prisoners until this crisis (Coronavirus) is over in the prisons. Considering the closed environment of the prison, malnutrition of the prisoners, shortage of medical care and facilities, high density of prisoners, and the occurrence of some cases suspected to be related to coronavirus has raised concerns of the families of prisoners.

The families of the following prisoners have signed this letter:

Mahmoud Beheshti Langeroudi, Esmaeil Abdi, Mohammad Habibi, Narges Mohammadi, Amir Salar Davoudi, Farhad Meisami, Roeen Otoufat, Jafar Azimzadeh, Shahnaz Akmali, Majid Azarpey, Atena Daemi, Sam Rajabi, Morad Tahbaz, Niloufar Bayani, Abdolreza Kouhpaieh, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Houman Jokar, Taher Ghadirian, Neda Naji, Mehrdad Mohammadnejad, Mohammad Abolhasani, Peyman Koushkbaghi, Aras Amiri, Jafar Fazel, and Alireza Golipour.

In some of the prisons, such as Khorramabad or Sanandaj Prisons, the prisoners asked the authorities to provide them with medical and hygiene necessities and to quarantine the prisoners who are suspected to be infected and have threatened that if this negligence is continuous, they will go on hunger strike. Other prisons such as Karaj, Tabriz, Evin and many other prisons across the country are also demanding similar precautions.

 

A death in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary

It should be noted that on the same day, a prisoner of Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary who had symptoms similar to that of Coronavirus passed away after the prison authorities delayed in transferring him to the hospital to receive proper medical care. His name was Hamid Reza and he was 44 years old. He was convicted of a financial felony who was serving his sentence in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary. He was initially diagnosed with symptoms of flu but after a few days, he started to cough and eventually passed away in the prion.

In addition, 60 prisoners of Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary who were working in the kitchen or service sector, were transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison. Moreover, 7 other prisoners in section 5 ward 2 have Coronavirus symptoms; they were kept in the medical ward without receiving medical care and were not transferred to the hospital.

 

Evin Prison and the violation of the Prisoners Classification Regulation

Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, Mohammad Rajabi, Milad Arsanjani, Jamil Ghahremani, and 15 other arrestees of the last November’s protests who were kept in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, were moved from their cell after an inmate was diagnosed with Coronavirus in their cell. Amir Hossein Moradi returned to prison on February 29, 2020, after spending a week in the hospital for another disease. He returned to his cell but after an hour he was transferred to the medical ward for his positive test results of Coronavirus. Although they were told that they will be transferred to Yaft Abad Hospital, they were transferred to ward 1 of this prison, which belongs to the prisoners who committed violent crimes. In June 2019, Alireza Shir Mohammadi, a political prisoner, was fatally stabbed in this ward by two other inmates of this ward who were charged with a drug felony. After this incident, the prison authorities moved other political prisoners from this ward to avoid future incidents. This is against prisoners’ segregation rule. According to a close source “section, 1 of the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary has 10 wards and one suite which had been used as an exile to punish the prisoners who get in the fight or carry drugs. Since 2018, the political prisoners have been transferred to this suite. This suite has limited facilities and does not even have access to prison commissaries. Their door should be locked all the time however, in the case of Mr. Shir Mohammadi, the warden intentionally did not lock the door which was illegal.

Alireza Shir Mohammadi, a 21-year-old political prisoner at the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary was murdered in prison on June 10, 2019. He was attacked by two other prisoners, who were later convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The prisoner in question was stabbed in the neck and stomach and died before arriving at the hospital. Shir Mohammad Ali was arrested on July 14, 2018, and was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “blasphemy”, “insulting the former and current Supreme Leaders”, and “propaganda against the state”.  He was detained in a solitary confinement cell for 36 days after being arrested. His bail was set at 80 million Tomans but the Revolutionary Court illegally rejected his release on bail. Throughout his prosecution process, he did not have access to an attorney because of his financial conditions. He was waiting for the decision of the appeal’s court when he was murdered. He protested his detention along with non-political prisoners and went on a hunger strike on March 14, 2019, which ended on April 16 after prison authorities accepted his demands. He also wrote open letters criticizing the “unsafe” and “inhumane” conditions of Greater Tehran’s Penitentiary Prison. He wrote an open letter five days into his hunger strike on March 18, 2019. In this letter, he explained the awful condition he was experiencing in prison. In addition, he claimed that he was denied regular social rights that any prisoner is entitled to have. However, his main request, reflected in this letter, was to be transferred to another prison (Evin prison). No judicial authorities or prison officials reacted to his open letter. 

A prisoner of ward 4 of Evin Prison was transferred to an unknown place for his positive test results of Coronavirus. He kept with several other prisoners and political prisoners of this ward who are on hunger strike and are more vulnerable to this disease.

 

Khorramabad and Ghezel Hesar Prisons

On March 1, 2020, the prisoners of Khorramabad Prison have started a sit-in to protest not being sent to furlough although Coronavirus has spread in this prison. There is a shortage of access to medical care and hygiene products for the diagnosis and treatment of Coronavirus. Several prisoners who have symptoms of this disease did not receive any treatment and were kept with other prisoners. Several prisoners who went on furlough were returned to prison. A close source to a family of a prisoner in this prison told HRANA that a sick inmate with severe coughs received neither medical care nor disinfecting substances and hygiene products such as alcohol, mask, and gloves.

Two prisoners of Qezelhesar Prison, Basat Ali Khazaei, and Gholamhossein Abolfavaei were moved to the quarantine section in the health ward due to having positive test results of Coronavirus. They were charged with drug felony and kept in a ward with 500 other inmates.

 

Rajai Shahr and Urmia Prisons

The prisoners are deprived of medical care, disinfecting substances, and hygiene products such as alcohol, mask, and gloves.  Payam Shakiba, Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, and Majid Asadi are serving their third year in prison. Arash Sadeghi, who is diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma (bone cancer), has had an infection in his right hand, digestion issues, and because of his weak immune system should be prioritized to be granted a furlough. Saeed Shirzad is spending the last months of his prison sentence.

On March 2, 2020, Mohammad Ghanbardoost, a political prisoner, was transferred to the hospital due to having symptoms of coronavirus disease. He kept with other political prisoners and may infected others. He was arrested on August 16, 2017, and was sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of “cooperating with Takfiri groups”.

Several Coronavirus suspected patients in Urmia Prison were transferred to hospitals outside the prison. One Urmia prisoner died in hospital, but prison authorities claimed that he was infected outside the prison.

 

Update on political prisoners temporary releases

On March 3, 2020, Mohammad Karimi granted a furlough and temporarily released until April 3, 2020. Mr. Karimi was sentenced to one-year imprisonment on the charge of “propaganda against the state” which was upheld by the appeals court. on July 3, 2020, he was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison to serve his sentence.

On March 2, 2020, Shahnaz Akmali, political prisoner, was granted a furlough and temporarily released until April 3, 2020. She was arrested on January 15, 2020. She was sentenced to one-year imprisonment and was banned from having any social media account, membership in any group, and leaving the country on the charge of “propaganda against the state”. An appeals court upheld her sentence without hearing either Ms. Akmali or her attorney. She is the mother of Mostafa Karim Beygi one of the people who was killed by security forces during green movement uprising in 2009.

On February 29, 2020, Reza Gholamhosseini, a political prisoner of Bandar Abbas Prison, was granted a furlough and temporarily released until April 3, 2020. He was arrested on September 25, 2019, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment on the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “insulting supreme leader”. His sentence was reduced to 18 months later because he did not request an appeal.

Seven prisoners are on hunger strikes in Urmia and Evin prisons

Posted on: February 14th, 2020

Evin Prison

Amir Salar Davoudi, attorney detained in Evin Prison, has been on hunger strike from February 9, 2020, protesting not being granted a furlough. In a note published on February 12, 2020, Amir Salar Davoudi explained his motives to go on hunger strike protesting authorities who refused to grant him a furlough and added “I have been incarcerated for 15 months of which I spend 190 days in a solitary confinement cell but my request for a furlough has been denied. I am going on hunger strike to protest this decision. I hold the judicial authorities responsible.” He has been detained in Evin Prison since November 20, 2018. On June 1, 2018, he was sentenced by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran to 30 years in prison of which the highest penalty is 15 years imprisonment for the charge of “establishing a channel in the Telegram app”. His other charges are “insulting officials”, “propaganda against the state”, “cooperating with enemy states through interviewing with Voice Of America (VOA) television channel”, and “forming a group to overthrow the state”.

Four other political prisoners of Evin Prison, Barzan Mohammadi, Reza Mohammad Hosseini, Mehdi Meskinnavaz, and Khaled Pirzadeh have been on hunger strike from February 1, 2020, protesting denial of their request for parole, neglecting political prisoners requests, not conforming to the prison classification regulation, lengthy prosecutions, receiving unreasonable prison sentences, and finalizing the primary courts verdicts without an opportunity to appeal.

Barzan Mohammadi was arrested in August 2017 because of his activities on social media. He was sentenced to six years in prison for the charges of “assembly and collusion with an intention to disrupt the public order”, and “propaganda against the state” by the primary court. His appeal court was in session in March 2019 where his sentence was reduced to 3.5 years imprisonment

Reza Mohammad Hosseini’s was sentenced to 16.5 years imprisonment; he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for the charge of “assembly and collusion”, three years imprisonment for the charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader”, three years imprisonment for the charge of “crossing the border unlawfully”, two years imprisonment for the charge of “unlawful entry to the country” and 1.5 years imprisonment for the charge of “disobeying the officers’ orders”. He was arrested in May 2019 by the IRGC intelligence officers and was taken to the IRGC’s detention center in Evin Prison. He was later transferred to the Ward 4 of Evin Prison. Reza Mohammad Hosseini was taken to the hospital on February 11, 2020, after experiencing asthenia. His situation is unknown after the transfer.

Khaled Pirzadeh was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the charge of “assembly and collusion”, and to two years imprisonment for the charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader”.

Mehdi Meskinnavaz tried at Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in August 2019 and was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the charge of “assembly and collusion and propaganda against the state”. He was also exiled to Fahraj in Kerman Province and ban from membership in political parties and groups.

 

Urmia Prison

Siamak Ashrafi Ashgasou, a political prisoner of Urmia Prison, is on hunger strike from January 21, 2020, protesting the denial of his request to parole and his family being disrespectfully treated by the court employees. He was arrested in June 2016 by the security forces and was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the charge of “membership in an opposition group” and to eight months imprisonment for “draft evasion” by Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Urmia. He requested parole after serving more than three years of his sentence.

Bashir Pirmawaneh has been on hunger strike from January 25, 2020, protesting his request for parole not being processed. He was arrested in March 2016 and was tried in April 2016 at Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Urmia where he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for “membership in an opposition group”. The sentence was later reduced to four years. He has served more than a third of his sentence at the time of his request.

Three Prisoners Were Executed in Urmia and Zahedan

Posted on: December 5th, 2019

In the morning of December 3, 2019, two prisoners were executed in Urmia Prison. They were transferred to solidarity confinement cells a day before to get prepared for the execution. Morteza Ashrafi and Ali Mahmoudpour, prisoners of Urmia Prison, were sentenced to death earlier on the charge of murder. On the same day, a prisoner was executed in Zahedan Prison. Elyas Nooti Zehi, 27-year-old, was sentenced to death on the charge of murder three years ago. The news of these executions has not been published by the Iranian media yet.

According to the international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. From October 10, 2018, to October 8, 2019, the Iranian authorities issued death penalty sentence to 134 individuals and have already carried out 242 executions including 16 public executions.  At least five of the executed were juvenile offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. Secret executions of prisoners reported by the independent sources and the human rights association indicate that 72% of executions are carried out in secret or without any public notice.

At Least Two Prisoners Were Prepared for Execution in Urmia Prison

Posted on: November 12th, 2019

On November 11, 2019, at least two prisoners of Urmia Prison were transferred to solidarity confinement cells to get prepared for execution. They were sentenced to death earlier due to their murder felonies. One of them was identified as Mehdi Mostafazadeh. If they fail to get the victims’ family’s consent, they will be executed in few days.

According to the international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. From October 10, 2018, to October 8, 2019, the Iranian authorities issued death penalty sentence to 134 individuals and have already carried out 242 executions including 16 public executions.  At least five of the executed were juvenile offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. Secret executions of prisoners reported by the independent sources and the human rights association indicate that 72% of executions are carried out in secret or without any public notice.

A Prisoner Died in Custody Due to the Prison Medical Malpractice

Posted on: November 12th, 2019

On November 10, 2019, a prisoner died in Urmia Prison due to lack of medical treatment and negligence of the prison authorities. He was in prison since 2015 on the charge of murder. Maran Khamoui was a prisoner of the public ward 15 of Urmia Prison. According to a close source, he was sick for a week, but prison authorities rejected his transfer to the hospital, and he was only treated with pain killers. On November 10, he was transferred to the health wad because of his deteriorating health condition. He was still waiting to be transferred to the hospital when he died on 9 pm.

Death in custody due to similar causes is precedent but state prisons and the Security and Corrective Measures Organization’s authorities did not take any action on it.

Seyed Aram Aminzadeh Was Sentenced to 11-year Prison Term by Appeals Court

Posted on: October 12th, 2019

On October 11,2019, West Azerbaijan appeals court upheld Seyed Aram Aminzadeh’s sentence of 11 years imprisonment. He was sentenced to an 11-year prison term by the preliminary court of the Branch 1 of Urmia Prison.

Seyed Aram Aminzadeh, prisoner of Urmia Prison, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the charge of “propaganda against the state through establishing Salafi groups in cyber space” and one-year imprisonment for the charge of “propaganda against the state”. According to the article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, he should serve the sentence for the charge with the highest penalty which is 10 years.

Three Prisoners Were Executed in Urmia and Kashan

Posted on: July 25th, 2019

In the morning of July 21, 2019, a prisoner was executed in Kashan prison. The deputy prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court of Kashan, Rouhollah Dehghani, stated that in October 2018, the prisoner was fatally stabbed victim in a fight. After his arrest, he confessed to murder and having a relationship with the victim’s wife. The victim’s family requested death penalty for him and their daughter-in-law. He was sentenced to death by the court and the appeals court acknowledge it. After several meetings with the victim’s family, they refused to forgive. The victim’s wife was also sentenced to 25 years on the charge of ‘cooperated homicide’.”

In addition, in the morning of July 23, 2019, two female prisoners, Nazdar Vatankhah and Arasteh Rnjbar, who were sentenced to death earlier were executed in Urmia prison. They were transferred to the solidarity confinement a day before. They were granted one-month time to get the consent of the family of the victim but were unsuccessful. They were executed on Tuesday. Ranjbar was charged with murdering her husband and Vatankhah, Ranjbar’s sister-in-law, was charged with “cooperate homicide”. They had spent the last 15 years in prison prior to their execution. Ranjbar’s brother, Asghar Ranjbar, was executed in Urmia prison on a drug-related felony in 2017.

Finally, On July 24, 2019, at least two prisoners were transferred to solidarity confinement cells in Urmia prison to prepare for execution on the charge of murder. One of them was identified as Shahin Gholami. If they fail to get the victims’ family’s consent, they will be executed in few days.

According to the international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. Based on 256 reports that have been registered by the Department of Statistics and Publication of Human Rights Activists Association in Iran, 195 death sentences and 236 people with death sentences were executed (including 13 executions in public) in Iran between January 1, 2018 and December 20, 2018. Six of them were juvenile offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime.

Secret executions of prisoners reported by the independent sources and the human rights association indicate that 72% of executions are carried out in secret or without any public notice.

Four prisoners were executed in Urmia prison

Posted on: July 16th, 2019

In the morning of July 15, 2019 four prisoners of Urmia prison were executed on the charge of murder. They were transferred to solidarity confinement cells a day before. These prisoners, Himan Bonavand, Jafar (Iman) Mohammadi, Mohammad Aref (Jahangir) Najafian, and Mahmoud Khaledi were sentenced to death on the charge of murder earlier. Bonavand was in prison since 2014. The news of these executions has not been published by Iranian media yet.

According to the international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. Based on 256 reports that have been registered by the Department of Statistics and Publication of Human Rights Activists Association in Iran, 195 death sentences and 236 people with death sentences were executed (including 13 executions in public) in Iran between January 1, 2018 and December 20, 2018. Six of them were juvenile offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime.

Secret executions of prisoners reported by the independent sources and the human rights association indicate that 72% of executions are carried out in secret or without any public notice.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for February 5, 2019

Posted on: February 5th, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on February 5th, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) At least eight protests were organized on February 5, 2019 in Iran. The municipality workers of Abezhdan city in Khuzestan province and Towhid city in Ilam province, the shareholders of Caspian financial institution in Kermanshah and Ilam, the workers and employees of Ayson Project in Tabriz, the investors of Sekeh Samen website, the members of the Cooperative Housing Company of the workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, and taxi drivers in Khorramabad have held separate protests to request their demands.

(2) A Baha’i citizen, Roya Hasanzadeh, was arrested at her home in Manjil and transferred to Lakan prison in Rasht. She was released on bail on February 4, 2019. Baha’i is Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority and are systematically persecuted by the government.

(3) During the last nine months, 98 child marriages have been registered in Ilam province according to the head of Welfare Organization of this province, Zahra Hemmati.

(4) Tohid Ghoreishi, Sunni prisoner of Rajaee Shahr prison, refused to attend the court session protesting the insufficient period between him being informed and the session date and also not having access to a lawyer.

(5) A student, Aynaz Hatamian, was transferred to the hospital after being beaten by her teacher in Meshginshahr. Her skull is cracked and her eye and forehead are swollen.

(6) Mohammad Hossein Khalil Ardakani, a Karaj councilman, was released on bail. He was arrested on Monday on the charge of “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the Supreme Leader”.

(7) Tehran council members, Nahid Khodakarami and Seyed Mahmoud Mirlohi, were summoned to the prosecutor’s office. Khodakarami is charged with “promoting de-veiling” and Mirlohi is charged with “disrupting the public mind” and “spreading lies”.

(8) The Sanandaj Revolutionary Court renewed the detention of 10 arrested citizens for another month. Among the arrested are Kurdistan’s environmental activists. They are identified as Hadi Kamangar, Fazel Gheitasi, Reza Asadi, Rashed Montazeri, Hossein Kamangar, Isa Feizi, Amanj Ghorbani, Zaniyar Zamiran, and Farhad Mohammadi.

(9) Jamal Kermani (Mohammad Mobin Mohabbatian), a resident of Mahshad, is serving his one-year prison term in Vakilabad prison. He was arrested during the mass uprisings of January 2018.

(10) The death sentence of Mohiadin Ebrahimi, a political prisoner of Urmia prison, has been canceled and his lawyer has been informed. He had been sentenced to death on the charge of “cooperation with a Kurdish opposition group”.

(11) A man wearing a white shroud (as a symbol of readiness of martyrdom) was arrested while chanting and writing anti-governmental slogans on the wall of Turkish Embassy in Tehran. The target of his slogans were the Supreme leader and other authorities.

(12) Four construction workers were injured in Dezful because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in the workplace.

(13) Four poachers were arrested in Tarom and Salas-e Babajani. Tarom county is in Zanjan province and Salas-e Babajani is a city of Kermanshah province.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for February 1, 2019

Posted on: February 1st, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on February 1st, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) The director of the Department of Environment of Kosar in Ardabil province announced that three poachers were sentenced to three years in prison, two years ban on carrying gun, and to provide nine banners about protecting environment in Ardabil.

(2) Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, the lawyer of the detained environmentalist, Sam Rajabi, reported that his clients’ court will be on session tomorrow but he has not been invited to attend this session.

(3) Amir Amirgholi, Amir Hossein Mohammadifar and Sanaz Allahyari ,the members of “Gam” editorial board, have been arrested in January and were transferred to Evin prison, section 209. Gam online news outlet had published news of workers’ protests in Khuzestan.

(4) Reza Salmabadi, the head of the South Khorasan Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation announced that half of the villages of this province had depleted alarmingly over the last 20 years due to the continuous drought and financial hardship.

(5) Iran Bar Association head, Isa Amini, confirmed that more than 40 percent of lawyers are unemployed in Iran.

(6) The security forces attempted to arrest a Baha’i citizen in Yazd on January 31. Mehran Bandi Amirabadi was sentenced to one-year prison term earlier in January 2019. Baha’i is Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority and are systematically persecuted by the government.

(7) The head of National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Reza Salehi Amiri, said that attending stadium is women’s right. He added that stadium is not different from the other public places such as movie theater, university, and concert which are women allowed to enter.

(8) Razgar Mohammadi, was transferred from Piranshahr to Urmia prison. He is accused of “cooperation with a Kurdish opposition group”. In addition, Asaad Mahmoudi, Bapir Barzeh, Keyvan Nejad Rasoul, and Shirko Ali-Mohammadi are still detained in an unknown place in Piranshahr.

(9) A 34-year old Kulbar (Kurdish back carriers), Akbar Mohammadlou, was killed by the border patrol in Maku.