Iran Human Rights Monitor, Monthly report – June 2018
The authorities heavily suppressed basic rights with at least 15 executions mostly carried out in the cities of Shirvan, Tabriz, Sari and Qom. A teenager by the name of Abolfazl Chezani, arrested on murder charges at the age 14, is among those executed this month.
June 2018 was marked by further cases of rights abuse including 9 arbitrary murders, 20 issued flogging sentences, widespread social and political arrests and constant discrimination against religious minorities.
One of the most important developments in the month of June, was the execution of Mohammad Salas, a 51-year-old man from Iran’s largest Sufi order, the Gonabadi Dervish religious minority. He had repeatedly plead not guilty and strong evidence point his innocence.
Salas was arrested on February 19, 2018, in Tehran during a violent clash between security forces and followers of the Sufi Gonabadi Order in Iran known as the Gonabadi dervishes.
He was charged and convicted of killing three policemen by allegedly driving a bus over them. In the weeks before his execution, he accused his interrogators of forcing him to confess under torture.
He had said that he was repeatedly beaten in the police station where he was held for several hours. He had said that he heard one police officer order the others to “beat him until he dies”. He was eventually taken, unconscious, to a hospital to treat his injuries, which included cuts to the head requiring stitches, broken teeth, broken ribs, a broken nose, and a partial loss of vision.
“I am innocent. There were two buses. I was not the driver of the bus that killed those people. I am not a killer. I cannot even kill an ant. My bus was not damaged and did not have any bullet marks. The police have fabricated all of this. I was not behind the wheel of the bus that killed those people. That was another bus,” said Salas in an audio file released by his lawyer on May 22.
In a statement released the same day, June 18, Amnesty International strongly condemned the execution, stating: “Mohammad Salas’ trial was grossly unfair. He said he was forced under torture to make a ‘confession’ against himself. This ‘confession’, taken from his hospital bed, was broadcast on state television weeks before his trial and used as the only piece of evidence to convict him. He was not allowed access to his chosen lawyer at any point before or during his trial, and his independent lawyer’s repeated demands to the authorities to allow critical evidence indicating his innocence were dismissed outright.”
The authorities buried the body of Mohammad Salas without his family’s permission at a burial presided by security agents and in the presence of 200 anti-riot agents, in his hometown of Boroujerd, Lorestan Province.
Executions, arbitrary murders, deaths in custody
Iran HRM has registered 15 executions in the month of June, of which only two cases have been made public by the state media. On June 18, only two days after the month of Ramadan, six prisoners were mass executed at Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj.
Iranian authorities executed teenager Abolfazl Chezani Sharahi, 19 this morning at Qom Prison. He was sentenced to death in 2014 on charge of murder while he was 14 years old.
His execution was scheduled to take place on 17 January 2018. The authorities postponed it hours before it was due to take place without stating a reason and after international pressure mounted.
Abolfazl Chezani Sharahi was sentenced to death on 17 September 2014, after Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Qom province convicted him of murder for the fatal stabbing of a young man during a fight on 26 December 2013. He was 14 years old at the time of the crime. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2014. In 2015, Abolfazl Chezani Sharahi submitted a request for retrial noting his young age and the fact that the medical panel assessing his maturity at the time of the crime did not include a child psychology specialist. Branch 33 of the Supreme Court rejected the request for retrial in October 2015.
Kurdish political prisoner is at risk of imminent execution as the Office for Implementation of Sentences has said that his execution will be carried out soon.
He was sentenced to death in January for “taking up arms against the state” after a grossly unfair trial and amid serious torture allegations.
The 85-year-old father of Ramin Hossein Panahi said Iranian authorities recently took him to an unknown location and pressured him to make critical comments about his son Ramin as part of a video recording.
The names and identities of those executed in June are as follows:
|Executions carried out in June 2018|
|Name||Age||Date of execution||Place of execution||Official source|
|Mohammad Yavar Salas||51||June 18, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj||The state-run Mizan news agency|
|Mohammad Vafaei||27||June 18, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj||The state-run Mizan news agency|
|Unnamed||June 18, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Unnamed||June 18, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Unnamed||June 18, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Unnamed||June 18, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj||
|Iraj Sorkhi||June 20, 2018||Shirvan Prison, Northern Khorasan province|
|Farhad Asghari||June 26, 2018||Central Prison of Tabriz|
|Mehdi Alami||33||June 27, 2018||Central Prison of Sari|
|Abolfazl Chezani||19||June 27, 2018||Central Prison of Qom|
|Majid Heydari Pour||June 27, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Safa Ali Jalali||June 27, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Javad Kamani||June 27, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Farshid Ghorbani||June 27, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
|Hassan Gomshadi||June 27, 2018||Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj|
2. Arbitrary murders
Iran Human Rights Monitor recorded 9 arbitrary murders.
- In the direct shootings of state forces early this month towards the Kurdish porters in West Azerbaijan, northwest Iran, two were injured and one lost his life. The deceased porter who was married and had children was identified as As’sad Hassanzadeh, from Piranshahr.
- On June 26, 2018, the state security forces opened fire on a group of Kurdish porters who were passing along the border of Piranshahr. As a result of the shootings, Shavaneh Mahmoud Zadeh, a porter from Shin Abad lost his life and a 25-year-old porter named, Nasser Abdul, who is married and has a child, was severely injured in the hip area.
- Kamal Majidi, a porter from the western city of Baneh and father of two, was shot dead by the border guards under the command of the IRGC.
3. Deaths in custody
At least eight prisoners lost their lives due to being denied medical access, torture or suicide in the prisons of Babol, Saravan, Ahwaz and Khoy.
- the Intelligence Ministry in Ahwaz murdered Hatam Marmazi 20, under torture.
Ahwaz intelligence authorities contacted the family of Hatam Marmazi on June 5, to have them come and receive his lifeless body. Marmazi, a political and cultural activist born in the city of Susangerd, was arrested by Ahwaz intelligence authorities on June 12, 2017, in a village while returning from the home of his relatives. His family was kept in the dark despite the fact that they constantly sought information about his whereabouts. All security and intelligence entities denied any knowledge of his arrest.
- Rahman Ghorbani, lost his life under torture at a detention center in Khoy, northwest of Iran. He suffered a heart attack after being struck over the head by electric shocker. He was arrested on June 2, and his family was informed about his death three days later.
- Mohammad Talebi stabbed on May 31, during inmate fight at Matakala Prison of Babol, northern Iran. Prison authorities refused to transfer him to a hospital outside the prison. Mohammad Talebi died two days later on June 2, due to severe bleeding. When his cellmates insisted the warden to allowed hospital transfer, he had reportedly told them, “It’s been a long time waiting for this day.”
- Mahmoud Mahmudian was injured in a fall and prison authorities did not permit his transfer to hospital. He lost his life on June 13.
Inhuman treatment and cruel punishments
Hadi Sadeghi, Deputy Chancellor of the Judiciary, said: “There is no principle of imprisonment in Islam, so we need to seek for alternative punishments. Physical punishment is much more effective than imprisonment, and the punishment for flogging is much more effective in Islam. But, the human rights agencies do not have a good idea on this matter.” He added: “The law allows our judges to issue a prison sentence, but our instructors must think and find alternative sentences. Of course, in the new Islamic Penal Code, judges are allowed to use alternative sentences of imprisonment, but the punishments do not include dangerous prisoners.” (The state-run ISNA news agency- May 30, 2018)
At least 20 flogging sentences were issued in June. Some of them are as follows:
- Mohammad Mozaffari, a civil activist, was sentenced to 2 years in prison and 74 lashes in the court of appeals.
- Saqez Court sentenced a Kurd woman to 50 lashes in public on the charge of “supporting the independence of Kurdistan.”
- 15 Gonabadi Dervishes who has been detained since February 2018, were sentenced to a total of 52 years behind bars, six years of exile, and 222 lashes. They were prohibited from leaving Iran for two years. The members of Gonabadi Dervish order, were arrested for their peaceful participation in a protest in Tehran by members of the persecuted minority, which turned violent when security forces used water cannons, firearms, and tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Iran Human Rights Monitor registered 1385 arrests across the country including 95 politically motivated arrests, 9 arrests on religious and ethnic grounds, and 1281 social arrests.
Here are some instances:
- The State Security Force arrested “dozens of steel workers” in Ahwaz during Monday night and Tuesday June 12. The Independent Union of Iranian Workers reported on its website that about 60 workers of the National Steel Group were arrested at Kian Pars Square in Ahvaz during a gathering in which workers demanded three months of their unpaid wages.
- Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on June 13 at her home in Tehran and transferred to the prosecutor’s office of Evin prison.
- At least six Baluch protesters were arrested during a rally held on June 17, 2018, outside the Governor’s Office in Iranshahr, south east of Iran, in outrage over the rape of 40 school girls.
- Thirty men and women were arrested at nightly parties in Gilan province. An informed source said that the police agents in a coherent and coordinated operation with a judicial order, arrested 30 people, in which most of them were young girls and boys. The source added that these people were brought before the judicial authority by filing a lawsuit. (The state-run Rokna Website- June 19, 2018)
Prisoners and particularly political prisoners are constantly under torture and ill treatment. At least 17 prisoners went on hunger strike to have their rights recognized. They include Arash Sadeghi, Soheil Arabi, Arzhang Davoudi, Zeinab Jalalian. Many prisoners are suffering from serious health condition due to being denied medical access.
- Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, held at Rajaei Shahr Prison of Karaj, has been denied adequate medical treatment and left in agony, after the dull ache in his arm first began in June 2018 being diagnosed as bone cancer. Sadeghi’s family requested to transfer him to a cancer treatment hospital but the authorities only allowed them to refer to Madani Hospital in Karaj which does not provide a service to treat and support people with cancer.
- Political prisoner Soheil Arabi, is facing grave health concerns after his long hunger strike at the Great Tehran Penitentiary. He has currently been kept in a ward with non-political prisoners, including potentially violent offenders, in violation of Article 69 of Iran’s State Prisons Organization’s regulations. Since the end of his second hunger strike this month, he has been denied adequate medical treatment.
- It has been more than three months that there is no news on the fate of political prisoner Arzhang Davoudi who was taken to a quarantine ward on January 6, at Zahedan Prison while on hunger strike.
- Kurdish political prisoner Zeynab Jalalian, who is serving a life sentence, is at risk of losing her eyesight due to being denied specialized medical care for a worsening eye condition.
- Sunni political prisoner Hamzeh Darvish is facing serious health condition after he ended his hunger strike. He has not been allowed to contact his family.
- Political prisoner Saeed Shirzad held at Rajaie Shahr Prison of Karaj is suffering from a lumbar herniated disk and severe spasm of the waist. But the prison officials did not authorize his transfer to hospital.
- Mohammad Habibi, a member of the board of directors of the Teacher’s Trade Association of Tehran who was beaten and arrested on May 10 Tehran’s teachers gathering, has been held in the Great Tehran Penitentiary without access to legal representation.
Exiled political prisoners are constantly tortured and placed under inhumane pressures at Ardebil Prison, northwest Iran. Most of the prisoners have been exiled from the other cities. Their families should come to the city after a long journey, and they will be allowed only 20 minutes to visit them in the presence of the Prison Guards. Prisoners are allowed to call only ten minutes a day, and phone connections are most often down. Political prisoners are held at wards along with criminal offenders with murder, rape or theft charges. Chaining inmates to a courtyard pole, commonly seen carried out in this Prison.
Persecution of religious minorities
- An appeal court has upheld a total of 40 years behind bars for four Christians for “promoting Zionist Christianity” and running house churches. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammad Reza Omidi received notification from the court through their lawyer on May 2, indicating they were each sentenced to 10 years behind bars. Nadarkhani and Omidi have also been sentenced to two years’ internal exile in the south of the country, far away from their families in the northern city of Rasht.
- Nazila Nouri, a member of Gonabadi Dervish community who was hospitalized on June 8 in Tehran, was under pressure by prison security guards to wear handcuffs and shackles, otherwise, she would be returned to prison. Dr. Nazila Nouri has been denied family visits and telephone calls from the time she was admitted. She has also been told that based on verbal orders of higher officials, she is not permitted to have anyone accompany her.
- 15 members of the Gonabadi Dervish order who were arrested in February, were sentenced to a total of 52 years and eight months behind bars, six years of exile, 222 lashes and 2 years ban on leaving the country.
- Yaresan women imprisoned in Qarchak Prison of Varamin were badly beaten up and brutalized on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, by special prison guards using batons and shockers. The incident happened after a number of inmates jailed on ordinary crimes were incited by prison officials to cause tensions and prepare the grounds for subsequent quarrels.
- Imprisoned Yaresan women have started a hunger strike in Qarchak Prison of Varamin on Sunday, June 17, 2018, in the wake of their being attacked and beaten up on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Families of imprisoned Yaresan women gathered outside Qarchak Prison in Varamin on June 14 and 15, 2018, protesting the brutalization of the imprisoned Yaresan women and demanding to visit them. Their requests have not been accorded, yet.
Gang rapes of 41 young women and girls in Iranshahr have shocked and outraged the Iranian society. According to the reports and investigations done so far, the gang rapes of 41 young women and girls in Iranshahr were carried out by a gang of four men affiliated with paramilitary institutes, i.e. the Bassij.
Iranshahr with a population of 150,000 is located in Sistan-and-Baluchistan Province, in southeastern Iran. Most of the residents of Iranshahr are Sunnis.
The regime’s Prosecutor General has cast doubts on the news, announcing that they are going to prosecute the whistle blower, namely the city’s Friday prayer leader who publicized the news of the gang rapes of 41 young women and girls in Iranshahr. Other judiciary officials have also tried to question the validity of the news and minimize its magnitudes.
The families of the victims told Iranshahr’s Friday prayer leader that they do not trust the State Security Force to pursue the case because “the assailants are tied to the (paramilitary) Bassij.” Other people also speak of the two main suspects having ties with the paramilitary institutes.