Qarchak Prison; a List of Political Prisoners and Prison Conditions

Posted on: March 2nd, 2020

Qarchak Women’s Prison also known as Shahre Rey Penitentiary is located in Varamin and has 11 wards. Each ward in this prison holds several female prisoners, disregarding the rules of segregation of prisoners by age and crime.

Political prisoners are transferred to this prison to put them under more pressure. The lack of medical care, dental care, and regular checkups, poor hygiene, and a great number of prisoners has caused several issues. The poor quality of food, drug use and easily accessibility narcotics, not isolating prisoners with a contagious disease from others, rape, and negligence of the prison authorities are some of the issues of this prison.

This report that is gathered by Human Rights Activists (HRANA) examines the conditions in Qarchak Prison and as well, the condition of nine female political prisoners who were kept in this prison. In addition, this report is investigating the condition of arrestees of the recent protests in Iran who are kept in a separate ward of this prison.

The information of this report was gathered from the sources inside the prison. Several prisoners contacted HRANA while incarcerated in Qarchak Prison or after they were released.

Prisoners Classification Regulation

The prison hosts a large number of inmates despite its small size. The prison does not separate inmates according to the crimes committed and this leads to violence; thus, worsening the situation as they are not offered medical services and are subjected to torture.

More than 130 prisoners of this prison are infected with HIV or Hepatitis and are kept in the same ward with others, not having access to medical treatment or medicine. These inmates are usually charged with crimes such as prostitution or drug felony. They threaten other inmates by self-harming with a sharp object or threaten to infect other prisoners by injuring them with the same sharp object or their body. Other prisoners filed several complaints about this issue but were told by the head of the Medical Ward that these diseases are not transferable, and the routine to keep these prisoners with others is practiced all over the world.

The Quarantine Ward of the prison was shut down months ago and therefore, new inmates enter general wards without being tested for diseases. Also, if by any chance, they are tested a few days after they entered, they usually return to the ward from the Medical Ward regardless of the test result being positive or negative.  The prisoners warned the prison authorities especially the head of the prison, Mehdi Mohammadi, and other authorities such as Sakineh Shahali, Zahra Mirzaei, and Maryam Mirzaei about the shortage of a Quarantine Ward but they never received any response.

A prisoner who was released recently from Qarchak Prison told HRANA that six women inmates have Scabies which is a contagious disease. She added that other inmates asked the prison authorities several times to transfer these six women to a separate ward since this disease is easily contagious through skin touch like shaking hands, sheets, or even from their clothes. The prison authorities’ responses were that this disease is not contagious.

 

Number of prisoners and prison’s area

According to the report, the prison’s seven sections contain more than 1400 prisoners with 120-300 prisoners held in each section, although the capacity of each section is 100 inmates. Some of these prisoners are incarcerated along with their children while the number of prisoners increases every year.

Each ward has 10 cubicles where each has four triple bunk beds. Several prisoners have to sleep on the floor.

 

Food

Food is one of the prison’s major problems as the food has a low quality and prison commissary sells low-quality food at a high price. The prison foods contain an unknown ingredient that causes extreme sourness in foods. The high level of acidity of these foods could cause hormonal diseases and other issues. To enrich the prison food with protein, oil cake (its common use is in animal feeding) has been replaced as the main ingredient.

15 prisoners are working in the kitchen from 7 am to 7 pm. They should receive a salary in return for their services but only a few of them received 100-150 thousand Toman [10-15 dollars] in total for six months. They do not have proper clothes, so they have to work with their everyday clothes in the kitchen that destroys their clothes due to the working condition.

 

Hygiene

At least 12 toilets and 10 bathrooms are in each ward. They are always not enough due to the high number of prisoners, facilities being out of order, and shortage of water. Cleaning the prison is prisoners’ responsibility but due to the lack of cleaning products, rubber gloves, and trash bags, inmates run out of these stuff in the first few days of the month and it leaves the bathrooms dirty with a lot of trash. As a result, infectious and skin diseases are common in this prison due to poor hygiene as well, roofless bathrooms increase the occurrence of cold and pneumonia during cold seasons.

In addition, there is no hot water running for the past two months although hot water used to run for one hour in the morning and one hour at night. The rest of the day, prisoners can only take a cold bath. Moreover, the prison water is coming from wells and it is not purified. The water is not proper for drinking and using it for bathing caused women-related diseases especially during menstruation. Even this water was shut off for a few hours in some days and sewer water comes up. Prisoners should buy drinking water from the prison commissary at a high price.

Overall, there are mothers and children in this prison who are suffering from nutrition deficiency, lack of access to child clothes, and poor hygiene. For example, in February 2019 during the prison wardens’ violent attack to this prison after the prisoners protested not having access to medical treatment and other issues in the prison, tear gas was fired in the prison and a 20-day old infant lost his/her life.

 

Visits

The telephone contact allowance of the prisoners is not controlled by the prison authorities which resulted in a chaos of selling and buying telephone allowance between inmates. Prisoners are unable to contact the prison’s supervision office to complain about the prison conditions. Visiting times are only 15 minutes and it should be granted at least two months after the prisoners started serving time there. The visitors can not sit close to the prisoner or hug them.

 

Air condition

Only half of each ward has a heater which forces the prisoner to walk in blankets. The only response the prisoners get when they complain about it is to put on more clothes which leads to another issue which is the difficulty of access to clothes. Bringing clothes to prison was forbidden and inmates should obtain their clothes from the prison commissary. The price of clothes is double or even triple of it outside of prison. Prisoners should purchase their pillow and blanket and the price of the cheapest pillow is 35 thousand Toman.

Because of housing more prisoners than the capacity, the air ventilation and the number of toilets is below the required standards.

 

Prison authorities

Sadegh Deldadeh, the judge supervisor of Branch 1 of Shahriar Court, reportedly insulted or threatened prisoners of Qarchak Prison during trials.

The social services department of Qarchak Prison is inactive, and prisoners could not follow up on their cases from inside the prison. For example, Simin Khosravi, a prisoner of Qarchak, sewed her lips protesting the situation of her case and its lengthy process. She wrote letters to judicial authorities requesting some attention to her case seven months ago and has recently figured out that none of those letters even left the prison. Three days later, she opened her lips after the prison authorities made promises to follow up on her requests.

 

Rape

In addition, several reports indicate that younger prisoners are raped by older prisoners who have more violent crimes. Prison authorities neglect these reports and even stop checking on the wards which have a high rate of violence. Atena Daemi and Monireh Arabshahi wrote open letters about their experience in these prison conditions especially sexual assaults and rapes.

 

Women prisoners arrested during recent protests

Women who were arrested during the last November and January protests were transferred to Qarchak Prison. In order to open up space for these new prisoners, prison authorities shut down the prison gym and place these prisoners there. This new ward does not have required facilities and standards such as proper air ventilation or air conditioning. As a result, 1400 prisoners of Qarchak are deprived of having a gym. Most of the prisoners of this ward were released on bail later but still, 11 prisoners were kept in this ward. Also, Zahra Sadeghi, Mary Mohammadi, and Elnaz Pakravan who were arrested during January protests are still in this ward.

 

Nine political prisoners of Qarchak Prison:

Elnaz Pakravan is an 18-year old prisoner of this prison. She was arrested on January 31, 2020, for attending a demonstration near the Turkish embassy in Tehran, protesting the arrest of an Iranian singer, Amir Hossein Maghsoudlo also known as Tataloo. She was charged with “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion by having a leadership role in an unlawful protest”. She is in the new ward of Qarchak prison (Gym).

Maryam Ebrahimvand’s first arrest was on July 26, 2016, and she was transferred to the IRGC’s Intelligence detention center in Evin Prison. She was released on 300 million Toman [cash] bail after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. On July 22, 2018, she was arrested for the second time by the Intelligence Department officers on the charge of “publishing lies against the IRGC ”, and “using government properties and misusing it”. Her bail was set for 8 billion Toman. She is in Qarchak Prison in a limbo state without trial. She is now in ward 2 of the Qarchak Prison and was banned from entering the cultural part of the prison and receiving books.

Zahra Zare Seraji and her husband, Morteza Nazari Sedehi, were arrested on February 8, 2018. They were transferred to ward 209 of Evin Prison. She was transferred to the general ward of Evin Prison from February 26, 2018, till April 20, 2018, after initial investigations and interrogations. She was released on 200 million Toman bail from Evin Prison. In September 2018, Ms. Zare Seraji was tried along with three others including her husband. She was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and paying fines for the charges of “establishing illegal group”, “publishing lies in cyberspace”, and “propaganda against the state”. In February 2019, the appeals court reduced her sentences to two years imprisonment. She was arrested in September 2019 in Baharestan to serve her sentence. She is now in ward six of Qarchak Prison.

Zahra Sadeghi was an employee of the UN and traveled to Sudan and Iraq for her work. She was arrested by the security forces at the airport after returning from a trip to Iraq. On January 28, 2019, she was transferred to the ward 209 of the Evin Prison. In January 2020, she was transferred to Qarchak Prison. She was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the charge of espionage by Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. Her sentence was reduced by an appeals court to three years. During her trial, none of her cooperation with the UN was mentioned in her accusations, and she was charged with espionage because of a trip to Turkey with a friend was considered as her accusations.

She was born in 1987 and she was arrested for the first time in 2014 by the Intelligence department agents and was released on bail from ward 209 of the Evin Prison after three months.

She is now in the new ward of Qarchak Prison (Gym).

Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi was arrested on January 12, 2020, during the wave of protests erupted in Tehran and other Iranian cities on January 11, after Iran admitted that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing 176 people. She was arrested in Azadi square and was transferred to Vozara detention center. She was severely beaten both in Azadi square and at Vozara detention center. On February 26, Ms. Mohammadi was released from Qarchak Prison on 30 million Toman bail. Her trial is scheduled for March 2, 2020, at Branch 1167 of Tehran’s criminal court.

Fatemeh Mohammadi, a former prisoner, and Christian convert was arrested on November 18, 2017, for the first time. She was detained in Tehran and was transferred to Evin prison. On April 7, 2018, Mohammadi, who was 19 years old at that time, was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, presided by judge Ahmadzadeh, to six months imprisonment for the charges of “membership in proselytizing groups,” “Christian activity,” and “acting against the national security through propaganda against the regime.” She was released from Evin Prison’s women’s ward in spring 2018 after completing her sentence. She was charged with “disturbing public order through attending an unlawful protest”. Her trial is not scheduled yet. Although her bail was set for 30 million Tomans [approx. $3000], the prosecutor did not accept her bail. She was being kept in a limbo state for a month. She is now in the new ward of Qarchak Prison (Gym).

Leila (Khadijeh) Mirghafari and six others were arrested by the security forces on December 4, 2019. On November 10, 2019, they were tried at Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Abolghasem Salavati. Ms. Mirghafari was sentenced to five years imprisonment on the charge of “assembly and collusion”. On May 18, 2019, her appeal court hearing was in session without her attendance and the appeals court upheld her sentences in February 2020.

Leila Mirghafari was arrested on October 2, 2018, by the security forces for supporting people who are against mandatory vail and was released after one day. She was sentenced to pay three million and 220 thousand Toman fine and was forced to pay the fine on May 21, 2019.

She is now in the new ward 5 of Qarchak Prison.

 

Raha Ahmadi was arrested on August 4, 2019, by the security forces and was transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin in late August. She was initially charged with “propaganda against the state”, “assembly and collusion”, “cooperation with enemy states”, and “promoting corruption and prostitution” in her incitement at the prosecutor’s office of Evin Prison. Although her bail was set after two months, her 600 million Toman [approximately 55 thousand dollars] bail has never been accepted. On November 10, 2019, she was tried at Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Abolghasem Salavati. Ms.  Ahmadi was sentenced to two years imprisonment on the charge of “assembly and collusion”. On May 18, 2019, her appeal court hearing was in session without her attendance and the appeals court upheld her sentences in February 2020. A video was published earlier that shows Ms. Ahmadi handing out flowers and talking to people in the subway.

She is now in the new ward 5 of Qarchak Prison.

 

Marjan Davari was arrested on September 24, 2015, in Mehrshahr of Karaj. After spending one week in Rajai Shahr Prison, she was transferred to ward 209 of Evin Prison. She had been in solitary confinement from September 30 to January 3 (approximately 4 months) and then transferred to the women’s ward of Evin Prison.

She graduated from the Arts Department of Alzahra University in Tehran and is the translator of Islamic, esoteric and Illuminati books and a researcher of Rah-e-Marefat Institute for Metaphysical Studies and Research. She was arrested by the security forces after the Rah-e-Marefat Institute was shut down and its officials were arrested. Her court sessions were held at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Salavati, on 16, 17 and 18 October 2016, as well as on 11 and 12 December 2016. She was accused of “corruption on earth”, “adultery”, “assembly and collusion against the regime”, and “membership in Eckankar mystical sect”. Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Salavati sentenced her to death. Her death sentence was rejected twice by the Supreme Court and was returned to Branch 23 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court to try again. Her trial was on January 11, 2019, and she was sentenced to 75 years in prison by Branch 23 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. Based on Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that he should serve 25 years in prison. She is now in the new ward 1 of Qarchak Prison.

 

Golrokh Ebrahim Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. First was held at an IRGC safe house for two days, then she spent 20 days in a solitary cell of Evin Prison’s ward 2A, under the IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 80 million Toman [approximately $19,000 USD].

On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Ms. Iraee again without a warrant. She was sentenced to six years in prison for “blasphemy” and “assembly and collusion against the state.” She was later granted amnesty per Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which reduced her prison term to 2.5 years. After finishing her sentence, on April 8, 2019, she was released on bail for her new case.

While she was serving her time in prison, she was sentenced for another case to three years and seven months of imprisonment by Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court and she was banned for two years from membership in political groups and parties. Based on Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge with the highest penalty will be considered; this means that she should serve two years and one month in prison. Her sentence was upheld by the appeals court without any hearing. On November 9, 2019, she was arrested without a warrant at her house in Tehran. According to judge Mohammad Berae’s verdict, she should have been transferred to Evin Prison but because Gholamreza Ziaei, the head of Evin Prison, refused to admit her, she was transferred to Qarchak Prison and her house was searched.

She is now in the new ward 1 of Qarchak Prison.

Iran: An Overview of Human Rights Abuses September – October 2018

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran between September 23rd and October 22, 2018, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

Domestic restrictions in Iran on independent human rights reporting make it difficult to capture the full extent of these issues on the ground. The following overview draws on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources, including other human rights associations operating outside Iran’s borders.

Summary

Human rights violations continued all across the country over the past month, and included, but were not limited to: executions, child abuse, mass arrests, violation of prisoners’ rights, violation of freedom of expression, labor abuses, and unchecked environmental pollution.

Death Penalty

Capital punishment remains the most egregious violation of human rights in Iran. On October 10th — the World Day against the Death Penalty — the Center of Statistics at HRAI published its annual report to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran. The report provides statistics about executions carried out in this country between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018.

More than 25 citizens, including a juvenile offender, were executed in the last month (between September 23rd and October 22, 2018). More than 20 individuals, including a juvenile offender, were sentenced to death. Four people were executed in public.

HRANA was able to identify or gather details about death row prisoners, including a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Arsalan Khodkam, the ex-spouse of Leila Tajik, Hedayat Abdollahpour and three individuals convicted of financial crimes. New details on the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were also reported during this period.

Freedom of Thought and Expression

Freedoms of thought and expression were also widely restricted over the past 30 days.

Arrests: Arrestees in this category included a Shiraz city council member, Ahmad Alinejad and his wife, at least 20 residents of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, writer and Mashad resident Abbas Vahedian, Zahra Majd in Isfahan, and six individuals involved in the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested in Nain (near Isfahan).

Convictions: Leila Mir-Ghaffari was sentenced to 2 years in prison, Ejlal Ghavami to 8 months, Hassan Abbasi to 35 months (five 7-months prison terms), an Arak resident to 1 year and 30 lashings, Hamidreza Amini to 11 years. Women who protested this past August were sentenced from 6 months to 1 year in prison, Mohammad Mahdavifar was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months, a dual-nationality defendant faces 8 years and 6 months in prison, Soheil Arabi faces 3 years in prison, 3 years in exile, and a fine; the prison sentence of Abdolreza Ghanbari was increased to 15 years, Alireza Moeinian was sentenced to 8 months in prison; a new 6-month sentence extended the prison term of Saeed Shirzad through 2020; six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were collectively sentenced to a total of 6 years in prison and 444 lashings, and a group of political activists in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province were sentenced to exile and prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 years.

Eleven civil activists, including Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, and Abbas Safari were sentenced to 3 years in prison and 74 lashings. Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou and Mohammad Torabi were sentenced to 1 year in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Kian Sadeghi faces 3 years in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Morteza Nazari was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, 2 years of exile, and a fine; Zahra Zare Seraji, on the same convictions, to 8 years in prison and a fine. Their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13 years in prison and exile.

Summons: Hamid Farrokhnezhad, Parastoo Salehi, a number of reformist political activists, Tehran city council member Kazem Imanzadeh, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, and Mohammad Najafi were all summoned by courts and the Ministry of Intelligence.

Censorship: The weekly magazines “Nabze Bazaar” and “Paytakht Kohan,” as well as the website “EntekhabKhabar,” were convicted in press court. Courts also issued indictments for the Chief Executive Officers of “Shargh” and “Shahrvand” newspapers for their reporting on sexual tourism. The National Front of Iran was prevented from holding its Central Council meeting in Tehran, a journalist was beaten by Qazvin municipal agents, and a Kurdish student was barred from education, presumably for his political affiliations.

Prisoners’ Rights
Prisoners are rarely protected from cruel and unusual punishments, and their rights to proper nutrition, hygiene, and medical treatment are systematically violated. A few of these victims are detailed below by category of violation.

Raids and beatings: Prison agents punched Arash Sadeghi on his cancer surgery site; Urmia prison authorities attacked political prisoners and injured them severely, inciting them to hunger strike by the dozens; another Urmia prisoner was assaulted; a prisoner was beaten and injured by Rajai Shahr Prison personnel; Bandar Abbas Prison authorities broke an inmate’s fingers; an Urmia prisoner suffered a TBI after a beating by authorities; and prisoners were forcefully undressed and beaten in Zahedan Prison.

Withholding of medical treatment: A prisoner died after being denied medical care in Zahedan Prison. Farhad Meysami, Arash Sadeghi, and a prisoner in Sanandaj were also denied medical treatment.

Going without: Dozens of Gachsaran prisoners launched protests and hunger strikes in opposition to prison conditions. Six Gonabadi Dervish prisoners continued in an ongoing hunger strike. Reza Sigarchi, also in an act of protest, refused food and medicine in Great Tehran Penitentiary, while 8 Gonabadi Dervishes at the same penitentiary and 8 Baha’i prisoners of Karaj disappeared off of the administrative radar for 30 days. Houshmand Alipour was denied access to an attorney. Three prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison were blocked from receiving visits, and the fate of sequestered labor activist and Sanandaj resident Zanyar Dabbaghian was still unknown.

Three prisoners attempted suicide in Zahedan, Urmia, and Saravan prisons. Local sources consistently impute prisoner suicides and suicide attempts to the violence and oppression of prison life.

Religious and Ethnic Minorities

Religious and ethnic minorities remained under threat and consistent judicial pressures this past month.

Baha’is: Eight Baha’i citizens were arrested in Baharestan (near Isfahan), four were arrested in Karaj, one of whom had his business forcibly shut down, and three were arrested in Shiraz.
[Some of these arrests reflect coordinated or group arrests, and linked articles will reflect that information overlap].
A Baha’i resident of Yazd who had been blocked from pursuing education was fired from work for their faith, and the parents of a Baha’i prisoner were temporarily detained following a search of the prisoner’s home.

Sunnis: Five Sunni scholars were sequestered for hours in the Zahedan-Khash road patrol office. Three Baluchi citizens, who are scholars of the Ghalamouei seminary, were arrested in Sirik County (southern Iran). Sunni scholars expressed outcry over the public statements of a soccer player they alleged to be disparaging of Sunni sanctities.

Six members of the Yamani Religious Group in Izeh County were also arrested, presumably for their beliefs.

Ethnic minorities: Arab citizens were arrested, and are still being arrested en masse in wake of the Ahvaz Parade Attack. HRANA is still in the process of confirming the identifies of the arrestees, which according to local reports number into the hundreds. Other arrests suspected to be ethnically discriminatory include Nasim Sadeghi, Mohammad Abdolmohammad-Zadeh, Mojtaba Parvin, Ebrahim Divazi, as well as residents of Ilam, Ahvaz, Marivan, Urmia, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Saqqez, Pevah, Oshnavieh, and Sardasht.

News emerged on the convictions of Abbas Lasani, Kiumars Eslami, Eghbal Ahmadpour, Keyvan Olyali, Hossein Ali Mohammadi Alvar, as well as defendants in Sanandaj, Urmia, Kamyaran, and two detainees of the Afrin battles in Syria. Turkic activist Javad Ahmadi Yekanli was summoned by county security police in the city of Khoy.

Children’s Rights

Children are among the most vulnerable to human rights abuses in Iran. Over the past month, four wrongful child deaths were reported in the cities of Tehran, Falavarjan (Isfahan Province), Qaem Shahr (Mazandaran province) and (Isfahan Province).

The national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline said that 30% of reports called into the center are flagging some form of “domestic violence,” 30% of which turn out to be child abuse cases. Of this 30%, 50% were related to educational negligence, 30% to physical abuse, 15% to psychological abuse, and 4% to sexual abuse of children.

Maryam Sedighi, deputy director of the social welfare department of Alborz Province, said that 12% of “123” social emergency calls made in Alborz — i.e. an average of 40 calls per month — are child abuse reports.

Reports indicate the rape of a young girl by her father in Tehran; a boxing coach accused of raping his teenage student; a father pouring boiling water over his 7-year-old daughter in Genaveh, Bushehr Province; and a teacher using corporal punishment on a pupil in Kazeroon, Fars Province.

Three juvenile suicides were also reported: one student in Rigan County, Kerman Province, and two teenage girls, aged 14 and 16, in the cities of Abadan and Sanandaj.

The Iranian education system allocates fewer and fewer resources to its pupils, and educational facilities across the country — particularly in rural or underprivileged areas — can be found in varying states of wear and disrepair. One pupil in Razan, Hamadan province was injured in the chest, neck, and shoulders when he was caught in falling debris of a school wall that suddenly collapsed. The Razan director of education said that he is currently stable, but will require surgery.

Elementary-school student Donya Veisi of Garmash village, Kurdistan Province, fell victim to her own school’s disrepair when one of the walls surrounding her school yard collapsed, killing her. Later — amid allegations that Donya had in fact been raped and killed — the Kurdistan Prosecutor verbally engaged to investigate the matter.

Women

The question of women’s rights at sporting events gained heightened public attention this past month when, under pressure from FIFA to permit their entry into stadiums, a select number of Iranian women (most of them family members of players and federation employees) were finally allowed to witness a kickoff in person (Iran vs. Bolivia). Authorities’ exclusive selection criteria were highly criticized.

Meanwhile, Shiraz-based activist Maryam Azad was arrested by security forces at a Tehran Airport as she was leaving the country for Turkey.

The managing director of the office of forensic medicine in Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province indicated that, of the 429 domestic violence crimes recorded in his office over the past 6 months, 404 were incidents of violence by husbands against their wives.

Additional cases of violence against women included a man’s murder of his ex-wife when he failed to meet “mehrieh” obligations [a type of alimony settlement], and the circumstances surrounding one woman’s decision to set herself on fire in Mashad.

Two women, long hounded by the judiciary for participating in a rally on International Women’s Day, were recently acquitted of their charges.

Laborers and Guilds

This past month was rythmed by strikes, sit-ins, and rallies organized by guilds and employees across sectors who demanded more secure working conditions.

Commercial Transport: This past month, truck drivers in Iran went on a nationwide strike for the third time [in 12 months]. Over the course of their 20-day strike, at least 261 striking drivers in 19 different provinces were arrested and threatened with heavy sentences, including the death penalty. Strikers’ demands did make significant headway: after years of guild activism, the High Council of Transportation Coordination approved a new freight transport measurement rate known as the tonne-kilometre (tkm) method, which was among the most pressing demands of truck drivers. Despite this partial victory, the fates of the 261 detained protesters are still unknown.

Education: Six Educator-Activists who participated in demonstrations May 10th were sentenced to 9 months in prison and 74 lashings. Also reported was the conviction of schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests. Five teachers were summoned by the Bureau of Public Places in Saqqez.

Following a call to strike by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), Iranian teachers staged sit-ins [on October 14th and 15th] to demand more liveable salaries and justice for their persecuted colleagues. Strike activity was recorded across the provinces of Kerman, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Kurdistan, Alborz, Hamadan, Fars, Zanjan, Qom, Mazandaran, Tehran, North Khorasan, Ilam, East and West Azerbaijan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Bushehr, Gilan and Hormozgan.

Merchants: Merchants went on strike against the many interconnected symptoms of Iran’s current recession, including unstable exchange rates, inflation, rising prices, and unemployment. Merchant strikes went on for two consecutive days in the cities of Karaj, Shahreza, Shahriar, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Tabriz and Sarab.

Two street vendors were reportedly beaten by municipal agents in Qazvin and Gorgan.

Health and Environment:

Five environmental activists arrested 8 months ago have been indicted with charges of “corruption on earth,” which can carry the death penalty.

Intelligence agents halted a group of environmental journalists, including Javad Heydarian, before they could board a flight to Germany for work. Their passports were confiscated.

Public concern over pollution and waste issues is ballooning, and [many citizens are critical of the government’s inaction in face of myriad threats to the public health].

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, Iranians surpass the worldwide average of daily waste production (300 grams) by a whopping 400 grams every day.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency of Miandoab (West Azerbaijan Province) announced that contamination of the Zarrinehroud River from the city’s sugar factory, coupled with poor ecological management of the river and its dam system, has caused thousands of fish to die in the river.

High levels of air pollution were reported this month in the cities of Kerman, Mahshahr, Ramshir, Rigan, and the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman.

Cultural Rights and Censorship

A number of photographers from Shiraz faced persecution for their instagram activity this month [which was cited as “improper”].

Two cultural directors from Sistan and Baluchestan province were summoned to the Intelligence office for attempting to host a peaceful community celebration.

Pending content modifications and the resolution of charges against the Home Video Entertainment Network, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned distribution of the network’s TV series “13 Shomali” (Northern 13), which previously aired on Saturdays.

Military and Law-Enforcement Power Abuses

Several citizens were killed as a result of power abuses and negligence by security forces this past month.

Police car chases, inappropriate shootings by border authorities, and authorities’ failure to warn civilians of road barriers led to 2 civilian injuries and 5 civilian deaths in Iranshahr (Sistan and Baluchestan Province), Jask (Hormozgan Province) and Azadshahr (Golestan Province) and Razavi Khorasan.

Security forces reportedly assaulted fuel vendors in Saravan (Sistan and Baluchestan Province).

More than a dozen “Kulbars” [laborers who make their living carrying goods across border areas] were wounded and killed across the country, namely in Sardasht (West Azerbaijan Province), Piranshahr (West Azarbaijan Province), Urmia (West Azerbaijan Province) Nowsud (Kermanshah Province), Marivan and Baneh (Kurdistan Province) and Ilam (Ilam province).

A prisoner in Urmia was sentenced to hand amputation, and a robbery convict was dealt 74 lashes in public in the Zeberkhan Rural District (Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province).

__________________________________________________________________________

The above-cited reports are only a few examples of dismally more widespread trends. Their mention in this overview by no means implies their significance over those incidents which went unreported, due to tight restrictions on investigative journalists on the ground.

Among available reports of human rights abuses, however, some are more oft-cited due to their sensitive nature or predominating presence in public opinion. It bears mention that all human rights abuses are worthy of the news coverage and social media activism that has come to the aid of so relatively few. Bearing in mind their roles as public opinion influencers, social media activists and human rights reporters must be wary not to underlie existing human rights abuses with unintentional discrimination in their reporting.

Four Sentenced to Prison for Political Activism

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Morteza Nazari Sedhi, a political prisoner in Ward 4 of Evin Prison, has been sentenced to prison together along with his wife Zahra Zare Seraji.

The Revolutionary Court of Baharestan County in Tehran Province sentenced both Sedhi and Seraji with forming an illegal group, disseminating lies in cyberspace, and propaganda against the regime. Among the evidence cited against them was their forming of online political groups, recruitment of participants in the January protests, membership in monarchist groups via a social messaging app called Telegram, a close source told HRANA.

Sedhi was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, two years of exile to Azna County in central Lorestan province, and a fine. Seraji got an eight-year sentence and a fine on the same convictions, while their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13-year prison terms.

All of the defendants will be required to learn sections of the Quran as part of their sentence.

Nazari Sedhi and Seraji were in a bad physical and psychological condition as of their sentencing, the source added.

Seraji had been previously released on a bail of 2 billion rials (approximately $48,000 USD).