International Women’s Day: An Overview on Women Rights and Its Defenders in Iran

In many countries, International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, is designated to commemorate women’s historical struggle for rights, honor their sacrifices and celebrate their cultural and political achievements. The Islamic Republic of Iran, however, refuses to follow this path. The regime never agreed to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and its law blatantly violates the most fundamental rights of women, including the right of women to make decisions relating to their bodies and clothing choices, as well as equal opportunities in both social and economic realms.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, in the absence of any protective laws and punishments against “honor killings”, both domestic and non-domestic violence against women is widespread. Women’s rights defenders and gender equality advocates are frequently subjected to pressure and arbitrary detention by regime security forces, leading to prosecution, unfair trials and convictions by judicial authorities. Currently, many women’s rights activists await verdicts, and others are serving sentences in prison— often in the same ward as prisoners of violent crimes, jeopardizing their safety.

According to HRANA’s Annual Analytical and Statistical Report on Human Rights in Iran, based on 90 registered reports by the Department of Statistics, at least 43 women reported physical and sexual abuse in the last year. In addition, there were 24 reported cases of honor killings, eight self-immolations, three acid attacks, and four cases where women’s rights activists were summoned to judicial and security organizations. There were 20,187 reported cases of domestic abuse against women and 13 murders. This report also details that seven women were detained for reasons related to women’s rights and at least four women’s rights activists were sentenced to a total of 282 months in prison.

It is worth mentioning that this data is merely collected from media reports. The real figures are likely much higher and more daunting, as many domestic violence cases are never reported to legal authorities.

Women’s Rights Violations

Honor Killings:  An honor killing is the murder of an individual, often a girl or woman, by a family member or relative in an attempt to restore the honor of the family. The victim’s act, such as refusing forced marriage, being the victim of a rape, getting a divorce, or adultery, is deemed traditionally or religiously shameful or dishonorable by the family or community.

In Iran’s law system, the punishment for murder is usually decided by the “blood avenger”, most often the father, as he is the first degree male relative. Consequently, the perpetrator in an honor killing is either identical to or related to the blood avenger. Thanks to this legal flaw, many honor killers get away without heavy punishment.

For example, Romina Ashrafi, age 13, was beheaded by her father in an honor killing. His father was sentenced to nine years in prison, which is considered a light sentence compared to the death penalty, normally a routine punishment for homicide in Iran.

Violence Against Girls and Women- Iran is one of the four countries in the world that has not recognized the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Through the efforts of a number of women’s rights activists, a bill known as the Protection, Dignity, and Security of Women Against Violence was approved by the government on January 3, 2021. However, when the bill was drafted in Hassan Rouhani’s first cabinet, 40 of the 90 articles of the bill were removed. Former Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, announced that the bill was not presented Parliament for approcal five months after the approval of the cabinet. Recently, Shiva Ghasemipour of the Women’s Faction in Parliament announced that the bill was handed over to the Judiciary for further review.

Bodily Autonomy- In February of 2022, the Medical Equipment Department imposed a regulation whereby pharmacies all over the country were prohibited to provide contraceptives pills without a prescription. The regulation addresses department deputies at medical universities, prohibiting them from distributing free or subsidized birth control or contraceptive implantation. It also prohibits the promotion of contraceptive pills and treatments. In an effort to implement the Rejuvenation of The Population And Support of Family bill such regulations aim to make birth control and abortion harder for women to access. These restrictions on providing contraceptive pills, contraceptive-related services and strict rules against abortion blatantly violate the inalienable rights of women to make decisions relating to their bodies and increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal cancer.

Forced Veiling- Among other restrictions, forcing women to wear a veil is one of the most flagrant violations of women’s rights. As UN Human Rights Council asserts, any coercion pertaining to women’s clothes signifies the blatant violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the government. Nonetheless, Iran’s regime, both in law and practice, not only forces women to wear a veil but also prosecutes and suppress women who oppose the compulsory veil. While Iran’s law cites punishments ranging from a fine of 50,000 tomans to two months imprisonment, citizens are in practice faced with more serious and groundless accusations such as “spreading corruption on earth” which can be punishable up to 10 years in prison. All these penalties stand in violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Right to Education- According to the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child’s CEO, in Iran, about one million children in poor areas are deprived of school. From them, 49,000 children are barred from education due to either lacking birth certificates or being forced to work. These numbers vary wildly each year. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children out of school tripled.

Besides poverty, lack of birth certificates and child labour, some girls are barred from school by families who are adhere to traditional norms and prejudices. In 2020, 4142 girls left school because of child marriage or family disallowance.

Cultural Rights- Iran’s regime prohibits women from dancing and singing in the public, which violates Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which asserts the right of everyone to take part in cultural activities. Despite women being legally allowed to be in sports stadiums, they face many obstructions by authorities in practice.

Marriage and Family Rights- In violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which asserts the abolition of any gender discrimination in the law system, Iranian women are legally subjected to discrimination in many aspects of their family life, such as divorce and child custody. Married women require their husband’s permission to receive passports and leave the country.. Additionally, they do not have the right to choose where they live. The law allows the man to bar his wife from working outside the home if he considers the work in conflict with “family values”. In addition, as a duty of marriage, women are obliged to satisfy their husband’s sexual desires, arguably denying the right to consent during marital intercourse.

The UN Human Rights Council has stated that these discriminative laws violate Article 23.4 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Women’s Rights Activists

Convicted (But Not Imprisoned) Women’s Rights Activists

 

Tahmineh Mofidi

On January 2, 2021, women’s rights activist Tahmineh Mofidi was arrested by IRGCS intelligence agents at her house and transferred to Ward 2-A of Evin Prison On February 2, 2021, she was released on bail of 1.5 billion tomans until the end of legal proceedings. Thereafter, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced her to three years and seven months in prison and a fine of 15 million tomans on charges of “acting against national security through assembly and collusion” and “promotion of sexual perversion on social media”. Based on her refusal to appeal, as well as Article 34 of the Islamic Penal Code where only the severest punishment from multiple counts is enforceable, the verdict was reduced to a fine of 37 million tomans.

During the trial, actions such as writing the stories of women who have been the victim of sexual assault, advocating for a symbolic protest against the compulsory veil known as “Girls of Enghelab Street”, and coaching without a veil were invoked to support these charges. Initially, she was also accused of “promoting impurity and indecency ” which later was changed to “promotion of sexual perversion on social media”.

 

Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists

 

Yasaman Aryani and Monireh Arabshahi

Yasaman Aryani and her mother Monireh Arabshahi, both civil activists and outspoken opponents of the forced veil, are currently serving sentences in Kachooie Prison in Karaj City. On April 10, 2019, one day after the arrest of her mother, Aryani was arrested and transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin City. They both were relocated to Evin Prison on August 13, 2019, and transferred again on October 21, 2021 to Kachooie Prison in Karaj.

On August 7, 2021, each was sentenced to 16 years in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and “provoking impurity and indecency”. These verdicts were reduced for each to nine years and seven months in prison. Per 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the severest punishment of five years and six months is enforceable. Arabshahi is still imprisoned and denied adequate medical treatment, despite being certified intolerant of punishment, and both an endocrinologist and neurologist asserting her need for lumbar disc and thyroid surgery.

On February 23, Aryani, who is co-housed with prisoners of violent crimes, was beaten by some fellow prisoners.

 

Saba Kord Afshari and Raheleh Ahmadi

Civil activists Saba Kord Afshari and her mother Raheleh Ahmadi were arrested on June 1 and July 10 2019, respectively. On August 27, 2019, Afshari was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on the charge of “promoting corruption and obscenity by appearing without a headscarf in public”, one year and six months on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and seven years and six months on the charge of “assembly and collusion to act against national security”, totaling 24 years imprisonment.

This verdict was increased two and half times more due to a previous record, before finally being corrected in March of last year and reduced from 15 years to 7 years and 6 months. Per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the severest punishment of seven years and six months is enforceable.

On January 26, 2021, she was violently relocated from Ward 8 to Ward 6 of Qarchak Prison. Currently, she is held in the same ward as prisoners of violent crimes, which violates Iran prison rules.

On December 10, 2019, Ahmadi was sentenced to three years and six months in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security through collaboration with anti-regime media” and eight months on the charge of “propaganda against the regime”. Ahmadi was granted medical furlough after contracting COVID-19 on February 16. Afshari was also granted short term furlough one day after she was beaten by a prisoner of violent crime on February 20, and was therefore able to meet her mother on furlough.

Aliye Motallebzadeh

On November 26, 2016, Aliye Motallebzadeh, photographer and women’s rights defender, was arrested during her appearance at the Ministry of Intelligence office after phone summons. She was detained in Ward 209 at the Ministry of Intelligence’s disposal until December 19 2016, when she was released on bail of 300 million tomans until the end of legal proceedings.

The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced her to three years imprisonment for the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.” This verdict was upheld by Branch 36 of the Court of Appeals.

On October 11, 2020, Motallebzadeh was sent to Evin Prison to serve her sentence after appearing at Evin Courthouse. On January 10, she was transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin City to serve the rest of her sentence in exile. On February 23, she was granted medical furlough after contracting COVID-19.

 

Women’s Rights Activists Who Are Awaiting Imprisonment

 

Nahid Shaghaghi, Akram Nasirian, Maryam Mohammadi and Asrin Darkaleh

All four activists were arrested by security forces; Akram Nasirian on April 29, 2019, Nahid Shaghaghi on May 15, 2019, Maryam Mohammadi on July 8, 2019 and Asrin Darkaleh on July 28, 2019. They all were released on bail from May to August. Branch 24 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Iman Afshari, sentenced the activists to a total of 16 years and 8 months imprisonment. Per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the severest punishment of three years sentence on one count was enforceable for each. This was later reduced on appeal to two years and three months each. Recently, they were summoned by the Executive Unit of Evin Courthouse to serve their sentences.

 

Raha (Raheleh) Askarizadeh

On November 28, 2019, journalist, photographer and women’s rights activist Raha (Raheleh) Askarizadeh was arrested at Imam Khomeini International Airport while leaving the country. On December 31 of that year, she was released on bail until the end of legal proceedings. Initially, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced her to two years imprisonment, a two year ban from leaving the country and a two year prohibition from political activities in media, political groups and social media. The verdict was upheld on appeal. In April of 2021, she was summoned by the Executive Unit of Evin Courthouse to serveher sentence.

 

Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amidi

On September 1, 2018, women’s rights activists, Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amidi were arrested by IRGC intelligence agents and then released on bail in November of that year. For the charge of “collaboration with the hostile country (U.S.) against the regime regarding women and family issues”, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced Hoda Amidi to eight years imprisonment, two years prohibiti

on of membership in political groups and parties, prohibition of political activities in media and on the internet, two years ban from leaving the country, two years prohibition of the exercise of the profession as a la

wyer. For the same charge, Najmeh Vahedi was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, two years prohibition of membership in political groups and parties, prohibition of political activities in media and on the internet, two years ban from leaving the country.

These verdicts were upheld on appeal. Running the educational workshops for women on setting out preconditions in marriage such as having the right to divorce (in order to restore the denied rights on divorce for women), was invoked during the trial as examples of the above-mentioned charges.

 

Atsa Ahmadai Rafsanjani

On January 20, 2019, the Baha’i resident of Tehran was arrested by security forces at her house and transferred to a solitary confinement cell in Ward 241 of Evin Prison at the disposal of the Judiciary’s counterintelligence. On March 6, 2019, she was released on bail of 200 million tomans until the end of legal proceedings. In May 2021, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced her to four years imprisonment on the charge of “formation of a group to act against national security through registering an NGO on women empowerment”, three years in prison on the charge of “assembly and collusion to act against national security”, and one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime”.

She was condemned for the first charge despite the Ministry of Interior had already rejecting her request to form an NGO due to being Baha’i. If the verdict is upheld on appeal, four years imprisonment for the first count is enforceable per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code.

 

_________________________

For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at skylar@hramail.com

Rouhani 8 Years On: The Situation of Women’s Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

HRANA – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Human Rights Activists in Iran highlights the situation of women’s rights in Iran during the 8 year term of President Hassan Rouhani. The following report includes an 8-year statistical overview of the most pressing human rights issues women are facing in the country. The report also introduces the brave women’s rights activists that are currently imprisoned or are facing imprisonment.

Women and girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran face widespread and systematic discrimination in areas touching nearly all corners of their lives. Discrimination against women is abundantly present in matters of family law, criminal law, education, employment, and social and cultural life. However, in the face of state-sanctioned discrimination, women in Iran are leading the charge, playing a primary role in defending their rights, standing up and demanding change; unfortunately, this is not without consequence.

Although many were hopeful, 8 years on, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has done little to improve the lives of women in Iran. In fact, from August 2013 to March 2021, there have been 72 cases of self-immolation, 3,048 suicides, 20 claims of workplace discrimination, 2 reported cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 553 honor killings, 33,210 child marriages (girls under the age of 18), and 460 reported acid attacks against women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) highlights some of the most pressing women’s rights issues today and throughout the 8-year Rouhani presidency, as well as the 22 Iranian women’s rights activists targeted over the past 8 years, who have faced harassment, torture, ill-treatment, arrest and arbitrary imprisonment for speaking out against the instruments of oppression working against them every day.

 

International Framework

 

The situation of women’s rights in Iran falls short of nearly all international human rights standards and obligations. While Iran is not a State party to The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), they remain obligated as a State party to other international mechanisms which protect against gender inequality and discrimination, including: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Despite these obligations, women and girls remain unequal in both law and practice and according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, Iran ranked 148 out of 153 countries, only coming in ahead of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.

 

Women’s Rights in Iran

 

Compulsory Veiling

Amidst wider social upheaval, compulsory veiling is one of the more well-known women’s rights issues in Iran. The Human Rights Council has stated that any laws regulating what women wear ‘violate [a] State’s obligation under the ICCPR’. Yet, in both law and practice women who choose not to abide by compulsory veiling laws face unrelenting punishment. Under law, women can be fined up to 500,000 rials and/or face up to 2 months in prison. In practice however, they are increasingly charged with crimes such as ‘moral corruption on Earth’, a charge which carries up to 10 years imprisonment. Imprisonment in any regard relating to compulsory garments is a violation of article 9 of the ICCPR.

Cultural Rights

 Article 15 of the ICESCR recognizes the ‘right of everyone to take part in cultural life’. Nonetheless, Iranian women are banned from both singing and dancing in public and although it is not written into the law it is customary that women are also prohibited from attending sporting events. While there have been few occurrences which allow for women’s access to sporting events, access remains segregated and largely unequal.  From 2013 to 2021, at least 147 women were denied entry to sports stadiums. Additionally, 4 female athletes were deprived of traveling outside of the country to compete due to unequal and discriminatory marriage and family laws. The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that ensuring the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of cultural rights is a mandatory and immediate obligation of State parties (general comment No.16 (2005), para. 16).

Marriage and Family

Inconsistent with obligations under the ICCPR, Iranian women face discrimination in almost all aspects of family life including in marriage, divorce, custody, and guardianship. The ICCPR also protects the freedom of movement, yet women in Iran face widespread limitations. While women under the age of 40 require the permission of their husbands to travel outside of the country, married women require permission from their husbands; in fact, married women are not permitted to apply for a passport without their husbands’ prior approval—they’ve also no say in their place of residence.

Under Iranian law women are viewed as subordinates to both their spouses and male family members. This affects a woman’s right to obtain her desired employment, as husbands have the right to prevent their wives from taking up certain employment should they deem it inappropriate (against “family values”). Additionally, wives are required, under law, to provide for a husband’s sexual needs; if they should not, a husband in all cases has the exclusive right to a divorce, without question, while women face unconscionable hurdles in the same respect. Should a divorce occur, the father becomes the lawful guardian of a child; in the case of a fathers passing, guardianship is passed to the paternal grandfather as stated in Iranian Civil Code.  The Human Rights Council has stated that inequality in marriage is a violation of Article 23.4 of the ICCPR. (HRC general comment no.  28) including in the dissolution of such and with regard to the issue of custody.

 The Right to Education

 According to the CEO of the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC), approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped and impoverished neighborhoods of Iran are deprived of receiving an education. In addition to being left out of school for societal reasons such as poverty, the lack of a birth certificate and the need to work in lieu of attending school are among contributing factors. Girls, in certain cases, are deliberately deprived of receiving an education. From 2013 to 2021, 4,142 female students were reportedly deprived of receiving an education due to early marriages, in certain cases as early as age 9, as well as a lack of permission from their male guardians to attend school. These numbers fly in the face of international standards as well as obligations under the CRC.

 

Women’s Rights Activists 

 

An overview

 Between August 3, 2013, and March 2, 2021, a total of 84 women’s rights activists were arrested, 8 of whom were men. Additionally, 22 were sentenced to a total of 1,627 months of imprisonment, 8,800,000 Tomans in fines, and 148 floggings. The courts in this regard, carry out sentencing in ways that fail to meet international fair trial standards.

The charges placed upon them by the judicial authorities include:

➡️ 11 charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security”

➡️ 12 Charges of “propaganda against the regime”

➡️ 6 charges of “Performing the ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting moral corruption through unveiling”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing vulgar content on the internet and being present in public without headscarf”

➡️ 1 charge of “spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

➡️ 2 charges of “Cooperating with the Hostile Government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

➡️ 1 charge of “disrupting public order, on the basis of participating in protest following the death of Farinaz Khosravani”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing false information online with the aim of disturbing the public mind”

➡️ 1 charge of “disturbing public peace and order”

➡️ 1 charge of “assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media.”

➡️ 1 charge of “Insulting Sanctities”

➡️ 1 charge of “being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

 

Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists from 2013-2021 from 2013-2021
Click on the image to enlarge the chart

 

Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists

Yasaman Ariyani and Monireh Arabshahi (mother and daughter)

Latest Arrest Dates:

Yasaman Ariyani: 10 April 2019

Monireh Arabshahi: 11 April 2019

Charges and Sentence:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“Inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

Both mother and daughter were Initially sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. Upon appeal, the sentence was reduced to 9 years and 7 months each. Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code allows for 5 years and 6 months imprisonment in this regard.

Condition: Doctors have indicated that Monire Arabshahi requires a lumbar disc surgery and thyroid biopsy; she has been denied access to medical care.

Prison: After arrest held at Gharchak Prison of Karaj on 13 August 2019 both women were transferred to Evin prisons Female’s Ward. On 21 October 2020 they were transferred to Kachoui of Karaj.

Yasmin Ariyani was transferred to solitary cell on Friday 13 November 2020, following a positive COVID-19 test.

 

Saba Kordafshari and Raheleh Ahmadi (mother and daughter) 

Latest Arrest Dates:

Saba Kordafshari: 1 June 2019

Raheleh Ahmadi: 10 July 2019

Charges and Sentence:

Saba Kordafshari:

“spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

“Propaganda against the Regime”

“Gathering and colluding against national security”

Raheleh Ahmadi:

“assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media”

“propaganda against the regime”

“inciting moral corruption through unveiling and posting it online” (acquitted)

Saba Kordafshari: – sentenced to a total of 24 years of imprisonment for the above-mentioned charges

Raheleh Ahmadi – sentenced to a total of 4 years and 2 months for the above-mentioned charges

Condition: On 24 December 2020, Ms. Ahmadi was transferred to a hospital to receive an MRI test, which indicated her spinal cord had been damaged due to stress and shock of the news that her daughter (Saba Kordafshari) was exiled to Gharchak prison of Varamin.

Prison: On Tuesday 26 January 2021 Saba Kordafshari was transferred from ward 8 of Gharchak Prison of Varamin to Ward 6, where she was beaten. She is currently housed alongside “violent crimes” prisoners.

 

Mojgan Keshavarz

Civil rights activists opposing compulsory veiling

Latest Arrest: Thursday 25 April 2019. She was arrested at her home.

Charges and Sentence:

Sentenced by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court of Tehran

“Assembly and collusion against national security” 3 years and 6 months imprisonment

“Propaganda against the regime” 7 months imprisonment.

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption” 5 years and 6 months imprisonment

“insulting the sanctities” received 3 years imprisonment.

Prison: On Saturday December 5th, 2020 she was transferred from the Women’s Political Prisoners Ward of Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin.

 

Alieh Motalebzadeh

Photographer and women’s rights activist

Arrest and Prison: Ms. Motalebzadeh was initially arrested on November 26th, 2016 through a phone call by the intelligence ministry. She was interrogated at Ward 209 of Evin Prison (under the control of the intelligence ministry) she was temporarily released on bail of 300 million Toman on December 19, 2016. On October 11th, 2020 she was arrested at the Sentence Execution Unit of Evin Prison to begin serving her sentence.

Charges:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“propaganda against the regime”.

Sentence: Tried at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in 2017 and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The sentence was upheld by Branch 36 of the Appeals Court of Tehran headed by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar.

 

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Human rights activists and lawyer

Latest arrest: June 13, 2018 at her home

Trial: Tried on December 30th, 2018, in absentia, by Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court

Charges:

“gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

“appearing at an interrogation branch without proper Islamic Hijab”

“disturbing public peace and order”

“publishing false information with the aim of disturbing public opinion”

being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

Sentence: 33 years imprisonment and 148 floggings

Condition:

– On Tuesday August 11, 2020, through a letter demanding the release of political prisoners Ms. Sotoudeh announced she was going on hunger strike.

– On September 19, 2020, following a heart condition she was transferred from Evin Prison to CCU units at Taleghani Hospital of Tehran.

– On Wednesday September 23rd, she returned to Evin Prison from the hospital.

Mr. Khandan (Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband) has stated that Ms. Sotoudeh did not receive the proper medical care during this time.

– On September 25th Ms. Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike.

* she was transferred from Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin on October 20th, 2020

Women’s rights activists at risk of imprisonment  

  1. cases awaiting review

Nahid Shaghaghi, Akram Nasirian, Maryam Mohammadi, and Asrin Darkaleh

Arrests

Akram Nasirian: April 29, 2019

Nahid Shaghayeghi: May 15, 2019

Maryam Mohammadi: July 8, 2019

Asrin Darkaleh: July 28, 2019

All four women were summoned to prison to begin serving their sentence on March 14, 2020

Charges and Sentence: Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Iman Afshari, sentenced each woman to 4 years and 2 months imprisonment.

“Gathering and Collusion against national security” each received 3 years imprisonment

“Propaganda against the Regime” each received 6 months imprisonment.

“Performing ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf” each received 8 months imprisonment.

 

  1. cases where the initial verdict has been issued

 

Banafsheh Jamali

Women’s rights activist

Arrest: In 2017 Ms. Jamali was arrested along with others during the 8th March, International Women’s Day Rally in Tehran, she was released sometime after the arrest.

Charges: “Propaganda against the Regime”

Sentence: 1 year of imprisonment, 4 million Toman fine

Banned from using smart electrical devices (smartphones)

Mandatory attendance at MAVA Counselling in Qom City

* the imprisonment has been suspended for 5 years

 

  1. cases awaiting sentence to be executed

Raha (Raheleh) Askari-Zadeh

Journalist, photographer, and women’s rights activist

Arrest: Raha was arrested on November 29th, 2018, at the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) while attempting to depart.

Charges: “assembly and collusion against the national security”

Sentence: Initially issued by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran and later upheld by the Appeals Court. 2 years imprisonment

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from Internet activities

2-year ban from activity in political or journalist groups

 

Najme Vahedi and Hoda Amid

Women’s rights activists

Arrest: On September 1, 2018, both women were arrested separately at their homes.

Charges: “Cooperating with the hostile government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

Sentence: Hoda Amid: 8 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the Internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from working as a lawyer

Najmeh Vahedi:7 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

 

For media inquiries please contact Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

 

First six months of Ebrahim Raisi as Justiciary Chief of Iran; 1000 years of prison sentences and 1500 lashes for activists

Ebrahim Raisi is a former Custodian and Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi from 2016 to 2019 and a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 executions which were series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners across the country. He succeeded Sadegh Larijani as the Judiciary Chief (the head of judicial system of Iran) in 2019. Being appointed as the Judiciary Chief by the Supreme leader, Ebrahim Raisi claimed that he wants the Iranian people to taste “the sweet flavor of justice” by reforming the judicial system to bring more justice and fairness. Six months after being appointed to the new position, the verdicts of political prisoners indicate that the pressure is increased on the civil rights activists and opposition groups in Iran. During six months of Ebrahim Raisi in office, political activists were sentenced to 1,027 years in prison and 1428 lashes.  Therefore, the verdicts targeting civil rights activists and opposition groups were increased by 119% compared to a similar time period during his predecessor, Sadegh Larijani, who was in office for nine and half years. Although Larijani faced massive demonstrations such as uprisings across the country in January 2017 and August 2018, protests in the Khuzestan province, and Dervishes protests which Raisi has not faced any yet.

Statistics Comparison of Verdicts with the Former Judiciary Chief

The following is a summary of verdicts between March 8, 2019 to September 8, 2019 which was gathered and analyzed by the Department of Statistics and Publication of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI): According to statistics, during this period, both sentences against political and civil activists or years of sentences were increased. 211 political or civil activists including advocates of freedom of expression, women rights activists, syndicates activists, students, ethnicity rights activists, labor rights activists, minority rights advocates, and religion activists were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court across the country to 1027 and six months of imprisonment, 418 million and 350 thousand Tomans of fines, and 428 lashes. Out of these numbers, 966 years and 8 months in prison sentences and 30 years and 10 months are suspended prison sentences. In comparison to the same period when Larijani was the Judiciary Chief, March 8 to September 8, 2018, 278 political and civil activists were sentenced to 468 years and one month in prison, 254 million Tomans fines, and 891 lashes. This comparison is based on the numbers of individual cases but mass sentences for the arrestees of uprisings such as 232 verdicts of Gonabadi dervishes in the case of so-called “Golestan Haftom” have been excluded. Overall, these statistics indicated that although the number of arrestees has been decreased in Raisi’s term but the average number of verdicts in comparison to the same period in the Larijani’s term has been increased.

The Names of 211 Activists Who Were Sentenced to Prison Term or Lashes During Ebrahim Raeissi’s term

Kiumars Marzban, Shima Babai Zeydi, Dariush Abdar, Mahmood Masoumi, Behnam Mousavand, Saeed Eghbali, Mojgan Lali, Saeed Seyfi Jahan, Shaghayegh Makai, Nader Afshari, Anoushah Ashouri, Ali Johari, Marzieh Amiri, Ishaq Rouhi, Mohammad Saber Malek Raeissi, Shir Ahmad Shirani, Kamal Jafari Yazdi, Aras Amiri, Nejat Bahrami, Sadegh Zibaklam, Hamed Ayenehvand, Roozbeh Meshkinkhat, Mohammad Reza Aghajari, Nima Saffar, Khalil Karimi, Mehdi Moghadari, Golraki Ebrahimi Irai, Athena Daemi, Mohammad Reza Khatami, Mohammad Potaiesh, Khadijeh (Leila) Mirghafari, Reza Makian (Malek), Hashem Zeinali, Simin Eyvazzadeh, Ehsan Kheybar, Abdul Azim Arouji, Mohsen Haseli, Mohsen Shojai, Azam Najafi, Parvin Soleimani, Sharmin Yomni, Sara Saei, Arshia Rahmati, Masoud Hamidi, Ali Babai, Ismail Hosseini Koohkamarai, Farideh Toosi, Zahra Modarreszadeh, Amir Mahdi Jalayeri, Mohammad Najafi, Javad Lari, Rahim Mohammadpour, Masoud Kazemi, Sahar Kazemi, Amir Salar Davoodi, Milad Mohammad Hosseini, Abdollah Ghasimpour, Mohammad Hossein Ghasempour, Alireza Habibi, Baktash Abtin, Reza Khand Mahabadi, Keyvan Bajan, Yousef Salahshour, Davood Mahmoodi, Mohammad Asri, Siavash Rezaian, Najaf Mehdipour, Behrooz Zare, Ata’ollah Ahsani, Abbas Nouri Shadkam, Ali Bagheri, Masoud Ajloo, Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Kianoush Ghahramani, Nariman Noroozi, Rezvaneh Ahmad Khanbeigi, Amir Mahdi Sedighara, Ali Amin Amlashi, Barzan Mohammadi, Arsham Rezai, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Michael White, Abolfazl Ghadyani, Nader Fotourehchi, Farhad Sheykhi, Mardas Taheri, Aliyeh Eghdam Doost, Rasoul Bodaghi, Esmail Gerami, Javad Zolnouri, Hossein Gholami, Rahman Abed, Asghar Amirzadegani, Hamid Reza Rahmati, Eghbal Shabani, Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, Fatemeh Mohammadi, Bahman Kord, Sina Darvish Omran, Ali Mozafari, Leila Hosseinzadeh, Mojtaba Dadashi, Mohammad Rasoulof, Hossein Janati, Omid Asadi, Sahand Moali, Mohammad Mirzai, Bapir Barzeh, Shirko Ali Mohammadi, Keyvan Nejadrasoul, Tohid Amir Amini, Kianoush Aslani, Abbas Lesani, Mobinollah Veysi, Mojtaba Parvin, Kazem Safabakhsh, Rahim Gholami, Jafar Rostami, Aref Mohammadi, Peyman Mirzazadeh, Samko Jafari, Behzad Shahsavar, Siamand Shahsavar, Salman Afra, Shaker Maravi, Khaled Hosseini, Rasoul Taleb Moghadam, Hasan Saeedi, Hossein Ansari Zadeh, Feisal Saalebi, Saab Zahiri, Adel Samaei, Esmail Jaadeleh, Bani Naami, Omid Azadi, Rostam Abdollah Zadeh, Ali Bani Sadeh, Nasrin Javadi, Tofigh Mahmoudi, Davood Razavi, Amanollah Balochi, Farough Izadi Nia, Moein Mohammadi, Sheida Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Malaki, Simin Mohammadi, Bijan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Malaki, Bahman Salehi, Sofia Mombini, Negin Tadrisi, Kheirollah Bakhshi, Shabnam Issa Khani, Shahryar Khodapanah, Farzad Bahadori, Kambiz Misaghi, Monika Alizadeh, Mino Riazati, Asadollah Jaberi, Ehteram Sheykhi, Emad Jaberi, Farideh Jaberi, Farokhlegha Faramarzi, Pooneh Nasheri, Saba Kord Afshari, Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, Mojgan Keshavarz, Vida Movahed, Matin Amiri, Maryam Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, Edris Kasravi, Taher Sufi, Haleh Safarzadeh, Alireza Saghafi, Yousef Jalil, Fatemeh Bakhtari, Zaman Fadai, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Mohsen Haghshenas, Nahid Khodakarami, Raheleh Rahimipour, Alireza Kafai, Mohammad Dorosti, Salar Taher Afshar, Oldoz Ghasemi, Jafar Azimzadeh, Hossein Habibi, Hossein Ghadyani, Mir Mousa Ziagari, Sajad Shahiri, Jafar Pekand , Hamid Balkhkanloo, Ghafour Barham, Vali Nasiri, Sahar Khodayari, Amin Seybar, Esmael Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian, Amir Amirgholi, Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, Sanaz Allahyari, Asal Mohammadi, Mohammad Khanifar.

It should be noted that in addition to aforementioned names, several other activists such as detained environmentalists, arrestees of the International Labor Day’s protest, Baha’i citizens, and supporters of opposition groups are waiting for their verdicts. Based on the outcome of the first six months of Raisi as the Chief Justice of Iran, the continuous increase of the verdicts in the following six months is predictable. On the other hand, according to several lawyers, Raisi is trying to implement a rule in which the appeal’s courts will be in session only after obtaining permissions from the Supreme Leader. Thus, appeals courts will acknowledge the primary verdict without reserving a chance for lawyers and convict to defend.

Ebrahim Raisi’s Background

In 1981, 20-year old Ebrahim Raisi was appointed as the prosecutor of Karaj. Later in 1985, he was appointed as the Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran. He was a member of so-called “death commission” during the 1988 political prisoners’ executions across the country. Raisi was appointed as Tehran’s prosecutor from 1989 to 1994. In 1994-1995, he was appointed as the head of the General Inspection Office. From 2004 until 2014, Raisi served as the First Deputy Chief Justice of Iran. He was later appointed as the Attorney-General of Iran in 2014-2016. He has also served as the Special Clerical Court prosecutor since 2012. He became the Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi on 7 March 2016 after the death of his predecessor Abbas Vaez-Tabasi. He is the second person to serve this office from 1979.  Raisi ran a presidential campaign in February 2017 but after losing the presidential election, he was appointed by Ali Khamenei as a member of Expediency Discernment Council.

The 1988 executions of the Iranian political prisoners were a series of state-sponsored execution of political prisoners, starting on 19 July 1988 and lasting for approximately five months. The majority of those who were killed were supporters of the Mujahedin Khalgh but supporters of other leftist factions such as Communist party were executed as well. The killings have been described as a political purge without precedent in the modern Iranian history, both in terms of scope and coverup. Different sources put the number of victims between 2500 and 30000. Most of the people who were executed had already served their sentences in prison. Hussein-Ali Montazeri, deputy of Supreme Leader of Iran between 1985-1989, named Ebrahim Raisi as one of the people who was in administration of the executions which according to Montazeri, was implemented by a four-men commission, later known as the “death committee”. According to Montazeri, the commission consisted of Ebrahim Raisi, Hossein Ali Nayyeri, Morteza Eshraghi, and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi.

Three women rights activists were sentenced to 55 years imprisonment

Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz, detained civil rights activists of Qarchak prison in Varamin, were sentenced to 55 years and six months imprisonment, combined, on July 31, 2019.

At the branch 28 of Revolutionary Court, judge Moghiseh, sentenced them for “encourage and promote corruption by de-veiling” to 10 years in prison , for “propaganda against the state” to one year imprisonment and for “collusion and assembly to act against national security” to five years in prison. Moreover, Mojgan Keshavarz was sentenced to additional seven years and six months in prison for the charge of “blasphemy”. Lawyer of Aryani and Arabshahi, Amir Reissian, said to HRANA that their lawyers were not allowed to attend their interrogation and trials. Their trials were scheduled without any prior notice.

During the trial, judge Moghiseh insulted them and threatened them to more prison years in Qarchak prison. He added that their lawyers can not have access to their cases until the appeal’s court.

Yasaman Aryani and Monireh Arabshahi are a mother and daughter who were arrested in early April 2019 because of their civil activities including commemorating the international women’s day and have been detained in Qarchak prison ever since. Before being transferred to prison, Yasaman Aryani was detained for nine days in a solitary confinement cell in Vozara detention center where she was under interrogation and pressure to do a forced confession on her civil activities. She was also threatened that her friends and family members will be detained if she is not cooperating. Her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, was also arrested and was transferred to Qarchak prison. They have been resided in Ward five of this prison where the majority of the detainees are foreign citizens.

It has been claimed that her interrogation was on basis of the charges such as “to encourage and promote corruption by de-veiling”, “propaganda against the state” through civil activities and her activities regarding her opposition to the mandatory hijab and appearing in public without wearing a hijab during the international women’s day celebrations in the Tehran’s underground railway. Arabshahi’s charges, as they were announced by the Branch 21 of the General and Revolutionary Court of Tehran, are “to encourage and promote corruption by de-veiling”, “propaganda against the state” and “collusion and assembly to act against national security”. There has been no proof offered to verify such charges. Although a 500 million Tomans bail was set for the release of Monir Arabshahi, she is still being kept in the Qarchak prison.

Mojgan Keshavarz was arrested in her house on April 25, 2019 and was transferred to Qarchak prison on May 1.

They received their sentences on July 31, 2019 without the attendance of their lawyers. based on Article 134 of Iran’s Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered which means that they should serve 10 years in prison, each.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for January 31, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on January 31st, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) Arash Sadeghi, a detained civil rights activist, was deprived from medical care which health professionals have said he desperately requires. He is suffering from bone cancer and infection in a surgical wound on his arm. Also, he has an urgent need for chemotherapy.

(2) Of the one million phone calls the Emergency Social Services Hotline received last year, 21 thousand were regarding child abuse and domestic violence.

(3) Saba Kord-Afshar and Yasaman Aryani, political prisoners, wrote an open letter reacting to a newspaper article that described the political prisoners’ conditions ‘favorable’, giving an overview of the hardship they face in the Evin’s women’s ward.

(4) The director of the Department of Environment of Tabas announced that two poachers were arrested in Tabas city along with a carcass of a chinkara.

(5) Parvin Mohammadi, a labor activist and the vice-president of the Free Union of Workers in Iran, was transferred to the Kachoui prison in Karaj to serve her one-month detention. She was arrested on January 29.

(6) Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, a teacher’s rights activist in Shiraz, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and one year of exile. His accusations are  “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the Founder of the Islamic Republic”.

(7) Shahin Barzegar, an Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activist, began his three-months imprisonment sentence in the Tabriz prison. His charge was attending the funeral ceremony of a former prisoner, Hasan Damirchi.

(8) Soroush Agahi, a Baha’i prisoner of the Evin prison, was released on bail. He and Neda Shabani, another Baha’i citizen, have been arrested in Karaj on November 28, 2018.

(9) Amnesty International requested the release of Iranian labor activists Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian who spoke out about abuse and torture they suffered in detention. They have been rearrested and are at risk of severe torture.

(10) A prisoner was executed in Nowshahr and a 24-year old was sentenced to death in Birjand. A prisoner who was accused of murder, was spared from hanging on gallows by consent of next of kin in Karun after 12-year in prison.

(11) A member of Iranian Parliament representing Nishabur, Hajar Chenarani, confirmed that 200 workers of Khorasan Exhaust Manufacturing Company have been laid off.

(12) A 66-year old Christian converted, Esmail Maghrebi-Nejad, was arrested by security forces in Shiraz on January 15 and his whereabouts is still unknown. His home was raided, and his belongings confiscated.

(13) Saeed Sadeghifar ,an Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activist, was released on bail. The security forces on Tuesday, arrested him in Ardabil. His court was on January 24, on the charge of “establishing illegal groups with the intention to disturbing national security”.

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A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for January 15, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on January 15th, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) Abbas Lesani, Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activist, was arrested after his court session. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment on the charge of ‘propaganda against the state’.

(2) A car transporting student crashed leaving four students injured in Qaleh Ganj in the Kerman province.

(3) A report of mistreatment in Zahedan prison: Zobeir Hout, a prisoner with severe skin disease, was denied medical care. Alireza Bampouri, Zabihollah Rigi, and Rashid Ahourani have been beaten and transferred to quarantine, punitively.

(4) Mohammad Najafi court was in session today. He is a lawyer and human rights activist who is serving his three years sentence in prison and faced 74 lashes and 14 more years imprisonment for his new charges of ‘spreading lies and disturbing public opinion’.

(5) The attorney for the plaintiffs in the Social Security Organization case, Mostafa Turk Hamedani, was sentenced to 40 lashes and 6-months imprisonment for the complaint filed by Saeed Mortazavi, the former general prosecutor of Tehran.

(6) Two workers died and eight have been injured in their workplaces in the cities of Karchan and Yazd, because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions.

(7) An accused individual in the city of Salmas received an alternative sentencing to prepare banner and brochures about ‘crime prevention’. Otherwise, he would be sentenced to support two recovering addicts and meet their basic needs.

(8) Saba Kord-Afshar, Yasaman Aryani, and Azar Heydari wrote an open letter from Evin prison about people’s financial and political situation. They were arrested in August 2018 while taking part in a public protest in Tehran.

(9) Amir Hossein Mohammadifar and Sanaz Allahyari who were arrested by the security forces on January 9, have been transferred to Evin Prison, section 209. They were working as editors of “Gam” journal.

(10) More than five protests were organized all over the country: several teachers in Yazd, firefighters in Abadan, workers of inter-city rail in Ahvaz, Nishabur municipality workers, and the shareholders of financial institution of Caspian.

(11) Habib Ahmadi, a labor activist, was released on bail after 40 days detention. He was charged with ‘cooperation with a Kurdish opposition group’.

(12) A prisoner was publicly executed in Falavarjan county in Isfahan province. He was accused of murdering a 5-year old girl, Melika. In 2018, at least 236 people have been executed and 195 people have been sentenced to death in Iran.

(13) A landmine explosion injured two army soldiers in Qasr-e Shirin city in the Kermanshah province. More than 42 thousand square kilometers of the lands in the Iran ‘s western provinces contain landmines left from the Iran-Iraq war.