While the death toll of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak is nearing 210,000, the regime continued to dither on purchasing Covid-19 vaccines and is poised on inflicting even more pain and damage on the country’s population. On January 8, 2021, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said in a speech that “import of (Covid-19) vaccines made in the US and UK are prohibited.” In a tweet since hidden by Twitter, Khamenei claimed that vaccines made in the US or the UK are “completely untrustworthy. It’s not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations.” Following his statement, about 200 Iranian parliament members also called for banning the import of Covid-19 vaccines made in the US, the UK, and France.
Ali Khamenei’s order to “ban the purchase of American and British vaccines” is practically an order to kill people.
Meanwhile, the regime officials blatantly called for more repression against people.
Iran’s Deputy Chief of Police on January 2 ordered violence against people who were detained while wielding machetes, according to a video report by the state-run IRNA News Agency. The report showed the arrest of several so-called “troublemakers” or “thugs” who were blindfolded and made to sit on the ground. “If you detain someone during a clash and I see him standing here unharmed, you have to answer as to why he is unharmed,” Deputy Chief of Police Qasem Rezaei tells the police officers standing around him.
Less than three days after the remarks, Nasser Mousavi Laregani, senior Iranian MP said finger amputation sentences should be issued for “petty thieves” to control crime.
“Unfortunately, we are witnessing an increase in robberies and petty thievery because of the severe inflation in the country and the increase in unemployment,” Seyyed Nasser Mousavi Laregani said in Parliament.
The member of the Parliament’s Board of Directors criticized the “Global Arrogance”, a phrase the regime uses to refer to the US, for questioning the “implementation of Islamic decrees” which “creates limitations for judiciary officials” to issue amputation sentences.
“However, hand amputation sentences have to be implemented for thieves to prevent these criminals from thuggery,” the former IRGC member added.
The MP, meanwhile, explicitly acknowledged that the increase in robberies in the community is due to high inflation and rising unemployment.
It is crystal clear that the clerical regime seeks to prevent escalation of popular protests by these executions, extensive arbitrary arrests, and other repressive measures.
Following is a glimpse on the human rights situation in Iran over the past month, compiled by Iran Human Rights Monitor.
Human rights violations in January 2021 were climaxed by at least 27 executions, arbitrary summonses and detentions, violations of prisoners’ rights and violations of freedom of expression in various cities across Iran.
Iran Human Rights Monitor has recorded more than 27 executions in January 2021. Four prisoners were hanged for politically motivated charges, six for drug offenses, 16 for murder and one for rape. There is also a woman among those executed. In the past month, the Iranian regime has increased pressure and repression on its minorities. At least 10 of those executed were Baluch citizens.
Torture, inhuman or degrading punishment
Iranian intelligence police tortured a 35-year-old inmate to death in western Iran. According to local reports, the man identified as Bahman Oghabi was brutally beaten until he passed out in an Islamabad police station, and later passed away in the hospital. Bahman Oghabi was detained on December 31, 2020. He was beaten at the police station on January 3 and was in intensive care under strict security after he passed out. According to the report, the police told the Oghabi family that their son went in a coma after taking tramadol (a painkiller). His family said Oghabi did not even smoke let alone take any drugs.
Two Turkic minority rights activists in Ardabil, northwestern Iran were sentenced to four months of prison and 40 lashes each by a court in Ardabil. the two men were identified as Maysam Jolani and Ali Khairju. Their trial, presided over by Judge Sajjad Habibi, was held on December 1, 2020. They were both charged with “participation in disrupting public order”.
Meanwhile, five other Turk activists Yasaman Zafari, Hakimeh Ahmadi, Rahim Sasani, Sadullah Sasani and Mehdi Pourali were sentenced a total of five years in prison and 300 lashes. The sentences against these activists have been suspended for four years.
January 2021 was marked by widespread violations of prisoners’ rights.
Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience Abolfazl Ghasali, Yousef Kari, Abbas Lesani, Siamak Mirzaei, Ali and Reza Vaseqi went on hunger strike to protest including the mistreatment of prisoners and the authorities’ failure to address the basic demands of the prison.
Jasem Heydari, Ali Khasraji, Hossein Seilavi, Ali Motiri, and Ali Mojaddam sewed their lips and started a hunger strike on January 23, 2021 to protest mistreatment of inmates by prison guards and authorities and depriving them of visitation.
In yet another case, Hadi Rostami, the 4 fingers of whose right hand are due to be amputated, attempted suicide on January 18, by swallowing glass splinters. He did so to protest being detained in a high security ward in the Central Prison of Urmia. He was taken to hospital.
Denial of treatment
Khaled Pirzadeh, a political prisoner held at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, was transferred to the prison’s infirmary on January 1, due to heart problems, but authorities refused to send him to the hospital to receive adequate medical care.
Ali Nouri, a civil rights activist held at Evin Prison, was denied medical treatment despite severe kidney pain. With symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, raising the heart rate and decreasing body temperature on January 8, while he was unable to walk due to severe pain, he was taken to Evin Prison’s infirmary on a stretcher. However, prison authorities refused to send him to a civic hospital.
Political prisoner Raheleh Ahmadi is in dire health and on the point of paralysis. “Despite growing concern of physicians over the possibility of her becoming paralyzed, no decision has been taken for starting medical treatment of this prisoner,” said lawyer Mostafa Nili about the situation of political prisoner Raheleh Ahmadi. She must be urgently granted medical leave, but nothing as such has happened, yet.”
The authorities of Kachuii Prison, in Karaj, failed to take action regarding an urgent test for Monireh Arabshahi who has difficulty breathing because of the swelling of her throat. On December 13, 2020, a specialist doctor in Kachuii Prison ordered a test for Monireh Arabshahi to be done within 48 hours. This test was not done. Monireh Arabshahi needs to have her thyroid gland scanned and undergo surgery according to doctor’s diagnosis.
Seyed Tabib Taghizadeh, a journalist, has been denied medical treatment despite suffering from MS and signs of an MS attack. Prison officials told him that he would have to pay for his own treatment due to the high price of medications and would not be sent to a hospital outside prison.
Reza Khandan, a member of Iranian Writers Association held in Evin Prison, suffers from high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and lung problems. Prison authorities refused to take him to a hospital outside the prison because he refused to wear a prison outfit. Article 90 of Iran’s State Prisons Organization’s regulations states that prison uniforms are not compulsory “unless the Prisons Organization decides otherwise.”
Political prisoner Fatemeh Mosanna remains deprived of urgent medical treatment for more than five months. Fatemeh Mosanna, 53, has been suffering from intestinal bleeding since mid-August. Evin Prison authorities have prevented her from being examined by the forensics office and granted medical leave. Doctors say she is not physically fit to serve her prison sentence. She suffers from intestinal colitis and severe migraine headaches.
Denial of regular visits and furlough
Shapour Ehsani Rad, a labor activist imprisoned at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, was banned from visiting his family for three weeks on the order of the prison’s disciplinary council. He was banned from regular family visits because he protested against poor prison conditions.
Fabricating new cases against prisoners
The Marivan Intelligence Service on January 24 revoked the furlough of a political prisoner detained in Marivan Prison. Tahsin Dadres who was returned to prison just one day after being sent on leave. Prison officials have repeatedly denied his request for temporary leave.
After various stages of fabricating a new case against political prisoner Saeed Sangar, another 11 months of imprisonment was handed down to him on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. He has already served over 20 years in various prisons in Iran.
Mistreatment of prisoners
Political prisoner Saba Kord Afshari was forcibly transferred between the wards of Qarchak prison on January 26. Prison authorities beat and dragged her to a Ward 6 which is for common criminals, telling her that she did not deserve to remain in the company of other political prisoners in a separate ward. According to a source informed about this case male and female guards banged their batons and stun guns on the walls and doors to terrorize the inmates. Then, they broke into Ward 8. They told other inmates that Saba Kord Afshari must be transferred out of the ward or they are going to be responsible for whatever happens to them.
Political prisoner Golrokh Iraee has been banished to the Prison of Amol, in Mazandaran Province, north Iran, after returning to Qarchak Prison. She under interrogation by the Intelligence of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for 43 days at Ward 2A of Evin Prison in Tehran.
Despite passage of nearly two monthw since the arrest and detention of Nazanin Mohammad-Nejad, she is still held in solitary confinement at Ward 2A of Evin Prison with uncertain status. Intelligence agents arrested her at her home in Tehran on December 8, 2020. Ms. Mohammad-Nejad, 32, is a student of Russian language at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabaii University. There is no information available on the charges for which she has been detained.
Women’s rights activist Tahmineh Mofidi continues to be detained in Ward 2A of Evin Prison without standing trial and under uncertain status. She is under interrogation by the IRGC Intelligence who arrested her at home in Tehran on January 2, 2021. There is no information on the reason(s) she has been arrested and detained for.
Detained nurse Bahareh Soleimani has been transferred to the women’s ward of Evin Prison after completion of her interrogations. Intelligence Ministry forces arrested Bahareh Soleimani on October 16, 2020 and detained her in solitary confinement in the IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A in Evin Prison. Ms. Soleimani suffers from lung complications due to infection with COVID-19 since she had been attending to COVID patients since the outbreak. She needs urgent medical attendance and treatment.
Freedom of expression
Branch 36 of Tehran’s Appeal Court upheld a 6-year prison sentence against civil activist Zhila Karamzade Makvandi. According to the verdict issued by judge Ahmad Zargar, Ms. Makvandi has been sentenced to 5 years for “assembly and collusion against national security” and one year for “spreading propaganda against the state.”
The Appeals Court of Tehran Province upheld a 2-year sentence for Raha Asgarizadeh, journalist, photographer and women’s rights activist, on January 7. A revolutionary court had previously sentenced her to a 2-year prison sentence, a 2-year ban on leaving the country, a 2-year ban on online activities and a 2-year ban on political activities.
Three protesters detained during the November 2019 nationwide protests were sentenced to a total of 40 years of prison by the Dezful Revolutionary Court in southwestern Iran. The three Iranian protesters were identified as 23-year-old Ra’ad Hamedani, 19-year-old Qosei Khosraji, and 20-year-old Sajad Debat.
Nima Dehnad, 17, and Ahmadreza Ansari, 21, were arrested by intelligence agents of Behbahan on January 10. They were first taken to the Prison of Behbahan and subsequently to an undisclosed location. Dehnad was released on bail on January 10 while Ansarifar is still in detention.
Navid (Reza) Mihandoust, author and director, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. He had been arrested last December and later released temporarily on bail from Evin Prison. He has been charged with acting against national security through membership in and collaboration with opposition groups with the aim of overthrowing the regime. He is also charged with spreading propaganda against the state through writing slogans and wall graffiti.
A Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced labor activist Arash Johari to 16 years of prison for “managing illegal groups with the intent of disrupting security, assembly and collusion and spreading propaganda against the state”.
Mahboubeh Rezaii, an activist woman was taken to the Prison of Bushehr, to serve her 2.5-year jail sentence. Her charges include “assembly and collusion against national security”, “membership in one of the opposition groups”, “insulting the (mullahs’) leader” and “propaganda against the state” for which she had been sentenced to a total of 13 years in jail.
Discrimination against religious minorities
Security forces ransacked the residence of Baha’i citizen Tina Alavi in Karaj on January 10. They confiscated her personal computer and mobile phone.
Baha’i citizens Mahsa Foruhari and Shima Fatahi Mirshekarlu were deprived of continuing their higher education despite successfully passing the national admissions tests. They receive messages indicating that they were denied entry to the universities for believing in their faith.
A Revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced two Baha’i women to five years of prison each for following the outlawed faith yesterday. The two women, identified as Sofia Mobini and Negin Tadrisi, were arrested on October 26, 2017 during an occasion to mark the 200th birthday of Baháʼu’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith. They were transferred to Evin Prison but were later released on bail.
The Iranian Intelligence services have deprived a Christian woman from getting employed for converting from Islam to Christianity. A former prisoner of conscience, Mary Mohammadi (Fatemeh) wrote in a post that nearly one year since she was released from Qarchak Prison in Varamin, she has been deprived of finding employment. The companies that she previously worked with, have refrained from hiring her under pressure of intelligence services and against their own will.
A Tehran Revolutionary court sentenced three Bahai citizens to four years and three months of prison each on January 29. The three men and women were identified as Mahvash Edalati Abadi, Sepideh Keshavarz, and Farid Esmaeli.
In another case, a Bahai in Karaj was summoned and arrested on January 29. The Bahai man, identified as Touraj Amini is a writer and researcher. Touraj’s home was raided last summer by security forces and his personal belongings including books, notes, and personal computer were confiscated. He was initially sentenced by the Karaj Revolutionary Court to one year of prison and two years of exile, but his sentence was later commuted to six months of prison.
Discrimination against ethnic minorities
Iranian security forces summoned and arrested dozens of Iranian Kurd activists in the last month, in a new wave of arrests in western Iran.
The total number of citizens summoned or arrested in the Kurdish region of Iran in the past months has reached 80 people.
The arrests by security agents or security institutions have took place in Mahabad, Bukan, Piranshahr, and Naqadeh, in the northwestern province of West Azerbaijan, Sarvabad, Sanandaj, and Saqqez in the western province of Kurdistan, and Kermanshah, and Paveh in western Iran.
Some of the Kurd activists were brutally beaten upon arrest and that agents did not have arrest warrants.
The homes of the citizens were searched, and their personal belongings were confiscated.
A 60-year-old woman suffocated to death during a raid by the state security forces who were looking for a group of thieves. The woman died of suffocation from pepper spray on January 17 in the city of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. The woman’s son said: “My mother could not walk normally, let alone fight with anyone, and I am pursuing a complaint with the police.”
The state security forces on January 7, shot, and killed a Baluch man identified as Mohammad Malek Mohammadi. According to local reports, Mohammad was returning home with some empty gallons when the state security forces fatally shot him. There are no jobs in the area and many people have to resort to smuggling fuel to make a living.
The IRGC forces on January 18 shot and killed a Kurdish citizen identified as Yousef Fattahzadeh in the western city of Baneh.
The Revolutionary Guards shot the citizen while he did not have any smuggled goods.