Iranian human rights defender Omid Alishenas has been detained in Tehran’s Evin prison in poor conditions for more than six months. He is serving a seven-year prison sentence for his peaceful human rights work, which includes campaigning against the death penalty. He is a prisoner of conscience.
Omid Alishenas, 33, has been held in Section 7 of Evin prison since mid-December 2016. He was forced to sleep on the floor for over a month during the winter, when temperatures in Tehran can fall to as low as -5ºC, before receiving a bed, and he now shares an overcrowded room with 20 other prisoners. Omid Alishenas is also compelled to purchase food at his own expense in order to seek to have a more balanced diet since the meals provided by the prison lack sufficient fruit or vegetables. These conditions correspond with other reports Amnesty International has received in the last year about Section 7, some of which indicate that it is infested with cockroaches and mice. Omid Alishenas was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on 11 December 2016 from his home and taken to Evin prison to begin serving a seven-year prison sentence. Prior to his arrest, he had never received a formal summons to begin serving his prison sentence.
Omid Alishenas was initially sentenced by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to 10 years’ imprisonment in May 2015 after the court convicted him of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “insulting the Supreme Leader”. The verdict listed the following peaceful activities as “evidence” of criminal activity: participation in a gathering in front of the United Nations office in Tehran in solidarity with the people of Kobani in Syria; distributing pamphlets against the death penalty; writing posts on Facebook describing the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s as inhumane; associating with “troublesome agents” (a reference to human rights activists); and visiting memorials of those killed during the 2009 unrest, referred to in the court verdict as “seditionists”. The verdict also refers to him distributing a film called To Light a Candle, which highlights the denial of the right to higher education to Baha’i students. In September 2016, Branch 36 of the Appeals Court of Tehran reduced his sentence to seven years in prison.