Iran Human Rights Monitor – Monthly Report, March 2018

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Iran Human Rights Monitor – Monthly Report

March 2018

introduction

There were a number of important issues in the month of March. This bulletin makes brief references to some and focuses on state-backed violation of human rights. This include 12 executions two of which were carried out in public, two public floggings and three arbitrary murders in jails.

As prisoners endure physical and mental pressures without any legal defense they have no choice but to go on hunger strike to have their rights recognized.

Some of those prisoners who staged hunger strike in March are Soheil Arabi, Golrokh Iraee, Hamidreza Amini, judiciary attorney Abdolfattah Soltani, Arzhang Davoudi, Valiollah Taghizadeh and Hamzeh Darvish.

A number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience of Evin and Gohardasht prisons, staged a three-day long hunger strike, protesting systematic rights abuse at the last three days of Persian year.

The authorities responded the hunger striking prisoners with beating and imposing more pressure.

Below are some instances;

 

  • Political prisoner Soheil Arabi staged a 55-day long hunger strike 15 days of which was dry, protesting illegal transfer of two women political prisoners Atena Daemi and Golrokh Iraee to Qarchak Prison, in violation of the principle of separation of prisoners of different categories, on January 24. He was on dry hunger strike when on March 17, 2018, he was badly beaten up by prison guards. He suffered heavy blows to the head and was suspected of brain damage.

 

  • Golrokh Iraee has been on hunger strike since February 3, 2018, in protest to her unlawful exile from Evin Prison to Qarchak Prison, in violation of the principle of separation of prisoners of different categories, on January 24. Iraee’s blood pressure has dropped significantly. Her tongue is dry. She has lost at least 20 kilograms and is now below 50 kg kilograms.

 

  • Political prisoner Arzhang Davoudi, recently held in Central Zahedan Prison, south east of Iran, has staged hunger strike and refused his medications since March 3, 2017 in the quarantine section of this jail. The 64-year-old prisoner was taken to this facility’s quarantine ward on January 6, 2018 where inmates with murder and drug charges are held. During this period Arzhang Davoudi had been denied medical care despite suffering from diabetes.

 

  • Political prisoner Hamidreza Amini who is detained because of his activism in social media, has staged a hunger strike since February 18 protesting his illegal transfer to the greater Tehran penitentiary (Fashafuyeh Prisn). He switched to dry hunger strike on March 4. On March 20th Amini’s wife and children went to a hospital to see him, only to be turned back and witness authorities literally attack and beat Hamidreza while his hands and feet were cuffed to the hospital bed.

 

  • Death row prisoner Valiollah Taghizadeh, 41, who has been detained for the past 12 years in the Central Tabriz Prison, is on his 45th day of hunger strike in protest to a violation of his rights. Mr. Taghizadeh, who has lost 15 kilos, is suffering from a severe drop in blood pressure. Since the onset of his hunger strike, it has been reported that none of the prison authorities have looked into his case and he has faced complete negligence from authorities.

Executions, arbitrary murders, deaths in custody

  1. Executions

Iran Human Rights Monitor registered 12 executions in March.

Two brothers were publicly hanged on March 15, in Gachsaran, south west Iran‌, according to the state-run Rokna news agency.

In yet another case on the dawn of Saturday March 10, another inmate, Javad Golniat, father of 8-year-old twin girls was hanged in the Central Khoy Prison, north west of the country. He was arrested for rape in 2014 and was then sentenced to death by the Iranian Judiciary.

Mohammad Kalhori, a student who killed his teacher due to psychological problems in 2014 will probably be hanged in the upcoming days, according to the state-run Aftab website.

Mohammad was sentenced to three years of prison and paying diyah (blood money) in a court of first instance due to his psychological problems, but after complaints by the victim’s family and involvement of members of Majlis in the case, his sentenced was changed to death, despite all his medical records showing that he was not in good mental health and that the murder was carried out unintentionally.

 

The names and identities of those executed in March are as follows;

2018 Executions carried out in March
Name Age Date of execution Place of execution Official source
Hamid Imani March 1, 2018 Hamedan Central Prison
Keyvan Rashkhar 27 March 4, 2018 Dizelabad Prison, Kermanshah
Masoud Vakili 27 March 4, 2018 Dizelabad Prison, Kermanshah
Mohammad Rostami March 4, 2018 Dizelabad Prison, Kermanshah
Mehdi Sarabi March 4, 2018 Dizelabad Prison, Kermanshah
Ramin Razavi March 4, 2018 Dizelabad Prison, Kermanshah
Rahim Salimi March 5, 2018 Urmia Central Prison
 Ayoub Babakhani 22 March 7, 2018 Ilam Central Prison
 Javad Golniat March 10, 2018 Khoy Central Prison
Unnamed March 15, 2018 Gachsaran in public Rokna news agency
 Unnamed March 15, 2018 Gachsaran in public Rokna news agency
Ehsan Yaqubi 26 January 17, 2018 Ilam Central Prison

 

Iran Human rights monitor published the names of 56 inmates currently on death row in Gohardasht Prison. Reports indicate around 1/3 of the inmates held in ward 10 of Gohardasht (Rajaei Shahr) Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, are on death row. 264 inmates are held in this ward, of which 86 are on death row.

 

      2. Arbitrary killings

IRGC unit opened fire and killed a porter by the name of Ibrahim Soleimani, father of five, on March 26. A video footage shows his colleagues desperately trying to save his life in Sardasht border area in West Azerbaijan Province.

 

     3. Deaths in custody

Three prisoners tortured to death and two others lost their lives due to being denied medical access.

This include:

  • On March 3, a young man from Javanroud in Kermanshah identified as Ghobad Azimi was killed under torture two days after he was detained by the Javanroud Intelligence Agency. His family were told that he committed suicide by poisoning himself. His body was handed over to the medical examiner before his family arrived on the scene. They were told that he had been able to access unknown pills during his interrogation and committed suicide in this way. Ghobad Azimi was denied the right to contact his family during his detention.
  • A Dervish Gonabadi community member, Mohammad Raji, who was recently arrested, in Tehran’s 7th Golestan St., was tortured to death during interrogation.
  • A prisoner identified as Vahid Safarzehi, took his own life by swallowing a razor blade on March 2. He had been deprived of visiting his mother.
  • On Monday March 26, a prisoner identified as Ali Savari, was tortured to death by a notorious prison guard in Sheiban Prison, identified by his last name as Hamidian. In a video sent by his relatives, Qasem Savari, the victim’s father says that he was severely tortured while the signs of torture are evident on his head and body. The 50-year-old man from Koy Sepidar in Ahwaz was arrested four years ago. Savari’s family who staged a sit-in in front of the facility, protesting their loved one’s death were arrested by the authorities.

 

Inhuman treatment and cruel punishments

  • Disturbing video footageof what appears to be a public flogging in southern city of Bushehr, in which a young man lying flat face down on a sort of bedframe emerged on March 2.
  • A man was publicly flogged outside a hospital in Sirjan, in Kerman Province, southern Iran. The news was published by the state-run Rokna news agency on March 10, 2018.

 

Arrests

Iran Human Rights Monitor learned at least 2,100 people were arrested in March, 889 of whom were arrested during the Persian fire festival in 22 cities. 30 others were arrested during Persian new year celebrations in the cities of Marivan, Salmas, Ilam, Bukan, Paveh, and Sanandaj.

  • The Free Trade Union of Workers of Iran announced the arrest of more than 10 workers from the National Iranian Steel Industrial Group in Ahwaz. According to the workers’ organization, these workers were arrested on Thursday night March 1 after the security forces attacked their homes. The arrest order was issued by the regime’s Attorney General’s Office in Ahwaz. Those arrested include Farhad Akbarian, Morteza Akbarian, Meysam Ali Ghanavati, Amin Momenpour, Hossein Nisi, Baqer Delphi, Taghi Hassanzadeh, Hadi Afravi and Mehdi Adelzadeh, according to the report.
  • Iran Security Forces raided at a night party in the capital on March 2, arresting at least 50 young men and women.
  • At least 10 men and women were arrested on March 3, for attending a mixed party in Abadan, southwestern Iran.
  • Over 80 people, 59 women and 25 men rallyingon the morning of March 8, 2018, outside the Labor Ministry in Tehran to honor the International Women’s Day were arrested. Women were taken to Qarchak Prison of Varamin and men were taken to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary.
  • The State Security Force attacked people holding Nowruz ceremonies in a village in Marivan, in the Iranian Kurdistan Province. Security forces fired tear gas into the crowd, leaving a number of people injured.

 

Prisoners

  • Four young detainees from Khuzistan Province in southwestern Iran, Reza Khaledi, 18, Yousef Khaledi, 18, Adel Salmanian, 19 and Reza Harawi, 19 were taken to the court, three weeks after they were arrested while they had been tortured and denied family visit. It is not clear what are the charges against them.
  • Five weeks after Human rights activists Saeed Eqbal, Behnam Mousivand and Nader Afshar were arrested, they were held in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison in critical conditions. They were tortured and pressured to make false confessions. Saeed Eqbal has been suffering from severe kidney and ear infections.
  • Seven environmental activists arrested in late January are still kept in an undetermined state after two months. They have been denied the right to lawyers and family visits. Hooman Jokar, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi, Taher Ghadirian, Niloofar Biani, Sepideh Kashani, Morad Tahbaz and Kavous Seid Emami were detained in January. Two weeks after the arrest of these individuals, Mr. Emami’s family were told that he had died in prison.
  • Masoud Baluchi, a prisoner detained in Saravan Prison, was beaten by the head of the prison, Iraj Nourbakhsh, in front of other prisoners on Saturday March 24. The reason behind the beating was Baluchi’s three-day delay on his furlough. He has reportedly said that the reason for the delay was that he had gone to the doctor and had to wait for his visit.  According to an informed source, Nourbakhsh severely beat the prisoner with a belt.
  • On Wednesday, March 14, political prisoner Emadoddin Molazehi, who is detained in Saravan Prison was taken to an unknown location. There is still no news on why he was transferred. Some sources say that he was transferred to quarantine by Iraj Nourbaksh, the current heard of prison. According to prison authorities who brought his belongings back to his cell, he was transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence.
  • Two prisoners of Zahedan Central Prison, Morteza Ashuri and Abdolsattar Sepahi were taken to a quarantine ward where prison guards viciously attacked them. Morteza Ashuri was hospitalized with serious injuries, disfigured face and broken nose stemming from the brutal beatdown.

 

Prison conditions

 

  • Zohreh Asadpour is one of the women arrested in the gathering outside of the Ministry of Labor on International Women’s Day. She was transferred to Qarchak prison in Varamin, along with other detainees. After her release from prison, shewrote her observations in a report titled, “Qarchak Will Not Leave Us.” The report illustrates the deplorable conditions of the prison and the plight of exploited women The report reads in part:

“Fruits and vegetables are not included in prison rations and therefore only those with money have access to it from the prison store. Even drinking water is not freely available. The salty bitter water in Qarchak is not even suitable for washing clothes… In prison you have to have money to buy bottled water from the prison store.”

In a March statement Amnesty International described this facility and said,

“Shahr-e Rey prison is a disused chicken farm that holds hundreds of women convicted of violent offences in conditions falling far below the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). Common complaints include urine-stained floors, lack of ventilation, insufficient and filthy bathroom facilities, prevalence of contagious diseases, poor quality food containing small pieces of stone and salty water. In recent days, women prisoners have complained that fumes have escaped from the drainage system, filling their rooms with foul odours.”

 

  • Saravan Prison officials are taking money from prisoners to fix maintenance problems in prison. According to an informed source, the prison cells are large and each cell has four lamps and usually only two laps work. “Prisoners are unable to see clearly after the sun goes down,” the source added. “Also the showers in Section 1 are out of order and two showers do not have doors and prisoners use trash bags and cloth and sticks to make a makeshift door. Two of the restrooms also lack doors,” the source said. “Prisoners have repeatedly asked Iraj Nourbakhsh, the head of the prison to fix these problems but prison officials say that prisoners have to pay for the problems to be fixed,” the source added.

 

  • The water was cut off three days ago in Khoreyn Prison in Varamin, west of Tehran. This has led to hygienic problems for prisoners due to a lack of bathing.
    The inmates have to buy mineral water from the prison store at extremely high prices and even using this expensive water for hygiene necessities.
    According to an informed source, “Prisoners cannot take a simple shower or even wash their dishes. Those who cannot afford water are thirsty.”
    Despite prisoners’ protests to this situation, prison authorities have failed to respond on the water issue. This is not the first time the prison has faced water issues. Last year there were reports that prisoners had to buy bottled water, each box costing close to 2 USD which is about twice as much as prices outside of prison.
    Even if the prison has water, it relies on contaminated water wells, causing health problems for inmates. As a result, food servings are filled with sand and pebbles.

 

Persecution of religious minorities

 

  • The Baha’i Golestan-e Javid Cemetery in Kerman was closed down upon judicial orders as of March 15, preventing Baha’is from burying their loved ones in the cemetery. Authorities are citing the law and “hygiene and environmental issues” in issuing the order. This is while according to an announcement in 2015 by judicial officials, at least one city in every province has to allocate a cemetery to bury deceased Baha’is. According to reports, a number of Baha’is in Kerman who had gone to the cemetery were prohibited from entering the grounds.
  • Mitra Badrnejad, a member of Baha’i community was arrested on religious grounds. The state security forces inspected her home, confiscating her personal items including her laptop and books.
  • Baha’i student Vesal Heravi, was expelled before starting his fourth term at a university in Rasht due to his religious beliefs. He was verbally informed that the Education Evaluation Organization had not confirmed his academic qualification and that his expulsion was upon orders of the Ministry of Intelligence.
  • There is no report of the whereabouts of Kianoush Abbaszadeh, a Dervish Gonabadi protester who was arrested in Tehran’s 7th Golestan St. When the prisoner’s relatives refer to the prison to visit Kianoush they were told that he was taken outside the prison three weeks ago and his name has not already been in the list of inmates.
  • Speaking with the state-run Fars news agency Hossein Rahimi, the capital’s police chief, announced that the driver of a bus who allegedly ran over and killed three members of anti-riot units will be executed within a few weeks. The death sentence for the Gonabadi Dervish, Mohammad Salas was upheld by Iran’s judiciary while he has been arrested nearly one month ago.

 

Violation of basic rights

 

  • The State Security Force opened fireon Varzaneh farmers in their peaceful protest rally on March 9, injuring at least seven individuals. The injured farmers were rushed to hospitals in Isfahan Province, central Iran.
  • With 80 percent of the populace living under the poverty line, many people have to sell their body parts to make ends meet. Mina, 19 from Isfahan, is just an example who intends to sell part of her liver and a kidney to pay her education expenses
  • Municipality agents destroyed the house of a mentally disabled elderly woman, and her two children who suffer from down syndrome. The state-run Rokna news agency justified the brutality under the pretext of unauthorized construction.

 

 

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