Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – February 2019

Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – February 2019

In the month of February, some seriously ill prisoners were denied medical access.

Since mid-December 2018, Raja’i Shahr political prisoners have been denied medical treatment on orders of the head of the prison in Karaj.

The ban started after a prisoner convicted of murder escaped while being transferred to the hospital but has only continued to be enforced against political prisoners.

Reports indicate that many prisoners, especially political prisoners were waiting for some time to go to the hospital.

The ban is life threatening for a number of prisoners suffering from serious illnesses.

A number of political prisoners suffering from serious ailments include Saeed Shirzad, Hassan Sadeghi, Majid Assadi, Shahram Pourmansour, Arash Sadeghi, Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi and Hamzeh Savari.

The Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – February 2019 glances through the executions, breach of freedom of expression and assembly, cruel and degrading punishments, mistreatment of prisoners, breach of freedom of religion and belief, discrimination against women and ethnic minorities and lack of basic rights.

Death penalty

There were at least 12 executions of which one was carried out in public.

The actual number of executions is likely to be higher, as most executions in Iran are carried out in secret.

Three young men, Mohammad Kalhori, Barzan Nasrollahzadeh, and Shayan Saeedpour — all convicted for separate crimes that took place while they were minors — are at risk of imminent execution.

Mohammad Kalhori

Despite being diagnosed with mental and emotional disorders, Kalhori is facing imminent execution in Iran for a crime he allegedly committed at the age of 15.

He was arrested in December 2014 over the fatal stabbing of one of his schoolteachers. 

With the sentence already issued and confirmed, Kalhori’s lawyer has asked the victim’s family to pardon him on the grounds that he was just a minor without mental maturity at the time of the crime, as allowed by the presiding court in the city of Boroujerd, Lorestan Province.

Barzan Nasrollahzadeh 

Barzan Nasrollahzadeh was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials at the age of 17 in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province in May 2010. He was held for several months in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Sanandaj without access to his family or a lawyer. He has said that during this period he was tortured, including with an electric-shock device, by being suspended upside down, and beaten. After his trial in August 2013, he was sentenced to death after being convicted of “enmity against God.” He is currently held in Raja’i Shahr prison, Karaj. His request for judicial review of his case has been rejected, which means that his sentence may be sent for implementation soon.   

Shayan Saeedpour 

Shayan Saeedpourwas arrested at 17 after surrendering himself at a police station for the murder of another person during a fight in August 2015. In October 2018 branch One of Kurdistan’s criminal court sentenced him to death for first degree murder and to 80 lashes for drinking alcohol. 

Amnesty International has called on Iran to immediately halt plans to execute the three young men.

“The Iranian authorities must act quickly to save these young men’s lives. Failing to stop their execution would be another abhorrent assault on children’s rights by Iran,” Saleh Higazi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International, said in statement.

In a UN report on the human rights situations in Iran covering the period of January 2018 to October 2018, Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman called on Iran’s Parliament to “urgently amend legislation” to prohibit the execution of people who committed crimes while under the age of 18 and amend the legislation to commute all existing sentences for child offenders on death row.”

Torture, inhuman or degrading punishment

Reports indicate that mistreatment and torture of prisoners and human rights activists continued in Iranian prisons.

There were reports of the authorities beating, lashing and mistreating prisoners.

At least 20 flogging sentences were issued, while five were carried out.

Twenty prisoners in Iran’s Gharchak Prison for women, including five Sufi political prisoners, were placed in solitary confinement or transferred to Evin Prison after prison guards violently attacked them on February 8, 2019. The prisoners were denied food for the first two days after the transfer and were denied access to gas and electricity required for heating their cells, as well as fresh air breaks. Many female prisoners were severely beaten. The raid began when the inmates of Ward 1 and 2 requested authorities provide medical care to one of their cellmates, protesting the prison officials’ neglect. The prison guards attacked the wards following this protest.

Lawyers, human rights defenders

Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani says there are no political prisoners in Iran.

Amoli Larijani made the claim on Monday February 4 during a meeting with Judiciary officials in Tehran, where he made the announcement about pardoning 50,000 prisoners on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution.

Iranians on social media have explained that the Judiciary’s jargon for “political prisoners” is “security prisoners.” One activist tweeted that whenever she has to report to the court, officers cross out the word “political” on her papers and replace it with the word “security.”

International human rights watchdogs have observed that most political activists in Iran are charged with “acting against security,” possibly because the government does not want to be criticized for having “political prisoners.”

according to Amnesty International, Iranian authorities arrested more than 7,000 dissidents last year alone, in a sweeping crackdown that led to hundreds being jailed or flogged, at least 26 protesters being killed, and nine people dying in custody amid suspicious circumstances.

Those rounded up during violent dispersals of peaceful protests in what Amnesty called “a year of shame for Iran” included journalists, lawyers, minority rights activists and women who protested against obligatory hijab rules.

Inhumane treatment of prisoners

Denial of treatment

Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi

Political prisoner Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi has been banned from receiving medical attention despite his poor health. The 72-year-old prisoner is suffering from a meniscus tear in his leg which has been neglected by prison officials and the prosecutor. He is also suffering from prostate issues, sleep disturbances and forgetfulness.

Hassan Sadeghi

Political prisoner Hassan Sadeghi was tortured upon his arrest by intelligence agents. The tortures resulted in several illnesses including glaucoma. He has previously had eye surgery but is in danger of losing his eyesight. Despite this, he is banned from receiving professional medical care.

He is also suffering from an infection in his stomach and small intestine and a severe gastric ulcer.

Sadeghi was detained at the age of 16 in 1981 for supporting the MEK and was released after six years. He was severely tortured during that time and suffered severe damage to both his heels. He is still suffering from the consequences of the torture inflicted on him in the 80’s.

Sadeghi is currently serving his 15-year prison terms. His wife, Fatemeh Mosana, has also been sentenced to 15 years of prison.

Saeed Shirzad

Political prisoner Saeed Shirzad is suffering from severe damage to both his kidneys. His right kidney has shrunk by 25%. Saeed needs urgent sophisticated medical treatment but has been banned from going to the hospital despite his family having paid for his treatment.

His condition has deteriorated as a result.

Shirzad has been sentenced to six years of prison. He was sentenced to another six months of prison for “insulting the leader” and “disrupting prison order” for his role in the prison protest against the forced transfer of political prisoner to a maximum security ward in the prison.

The political prisoner has also gone on hunger strike in prison and has been mistreated and beaten by prison agents.

Majid Assadi

According to prison medics, political prisoner Majid Assadi has to receive special hospital treatment every month. He is suffering from numerous digestive tract illnesses including gastric and duodenal ulcers as well as liver cysts and spinal disk inflammation.

The 36-year-old prisoner has been sentenced to six years of prison for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the state”.

Arash Sadeghi

Human rights activist Arash Sadeghi is suffering from a rare form of bone cancer. He received delayed treatment which was left unfinished.

Despite removing a tumor in his hand more than five months before, prison officials have banned him from receiving chemotherapy.

He is now suffering from a severe infection in his hand where he received surgery and has lost his nerves in his right hand. He is also suffering from severe digestive problems as a result of a 71-day hunger strike in protest to his wife’s arrest and can only digest soup.

The young human rights activist has been sentenced to 19 years of prison.

Shahram Pourmansouri

Security prisoner Shahram Pourmansouri has served 18 years of his life in prison term without a prison leave. He has been suffering from a spinal disk inflammation and problems in his back muscles. He is banned from going to the hospital despite his urgent need of surgery and medical treatment.

Hamzeh Savari

Hamzeh Savari is suffering from severe pain from a tumor behind his right knee which has impaired his walking ability but has been denied the right to go the hospital.

Doctors have said that if he does not have the tumor surgically removed it would lead to more serious problems in the future.

The young prisoner was arrested at the age of 16 in 2005 and was sentenced to life in prison on charges of “acting against national security”, “enmity with God” and “corruption on earth”.

Atena Daemi

Political prisoner Atena Daemi has been denied medical treatment despite possibly suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).

In line with the cruel and inhumane behavior towards political prisoners in Iran, Evin Prison authorities prevented the transfer of political prisoner Atena Daemi for medical tests and medical care.

Atena Daemi has long been suffering from persistent dizziness, headaches and numbness in her right eye. The medical physician in Qarchak Prison had requested an MRI for her in May 2018, saying she probably does have MS but sometimes it cannot be detected by an MRI in the initial stages.

Lack of due process

  • Tenpolitical activists and environmentalists arrested in Iran’s Kurdistan Province between December 31, 2018, and January 6, 2019, are being held at the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in the city of Sanandaj while being denied access to legal counsel and contact with family members.

As of February 5, they had only been allowed to make one phone call to their families, said the source who asked not to be identified for security reasons.

  • Some of the eight conservationists who have been behind bars since one year ago, have been blocked from hiring counsel of their choice and told to choose a lawyer from a list approved by the court. The conservationists have also not been given sufficient time to consult with their lawyers or prepare their defense even though the prosecution has had 12 months to build cases against them. Many of the accusations against the defendants—Bayani, Tahbaz, Houman Jowkar, Taher Ghadirian, Sepideh Kashani, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh—are based on forced “confessions” extracted under extreme physical and psychological pressure, Bayani told the court last month. When Bayani stood up on the second day of the reading of the indictment on January 30, 2019, and objected to its references to forced “confessions,” she was unlawfully barred from being present in court on the third and fourth day alongside her co-defendants.
  • Masoud Shamsnejad, the human rights lawyer, has been sentenced to 6 years and 4 months in prison by Branch 3 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Urmia on charges of propaganda against the state and acting against national security due to presenting a number of Kurdish political prisoners.
  • Anti-riot units and prison authorities attacked religious minority inmates in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. This raid, taking place Wednesday morning, involved units equipped with anti-riot gear and tear gas attacking Hall 21 of Ward 7 in this prison. The brave Sunni prisoners courageously showed resistance as authorities intended to force an inmate by the name of Mr. Towhid Ghoreishi to attend a court trial. The anti-riot units used tear gas and attacked the inmates using batons. The legs of a number of the inmates were broken in this attack. Ghoreishi and Mr. Hamzeh Darwish were left in critical conditions. Prison authorities left the inmates to suffer and denied any medical care to the prisoners. Some of the injured inmates, suffering from broken arms and/or legs, were even transferred to solitary confinement.
  • Iranian regime authorities transferred political prisoner Mehdi Farahi Shandiz to solitary confinement in the Central Prison of Karaj. Since then, Farahi Shandiz has been deprived of calls and meetings with family members, and there’s no news of him, which has raised concerns about his conditions and health. Farahi Shandiz has had no sort of communications with his family since February 10. On February 11, the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, Farahi Shandiz had chanted slogans of “down with dictator” and “down with Khamenei” in protest to 40 years of torture and executions under the tyrannical rule of the mullahs. After Farahi Shandiz’s demonstration, prison guards attacked him in his cell and violently transferred him to solitary confinement while beating him.

Persecution of ethnic minorities

The Iranian regime is known and widely condemned for its long record of human rights violations, especially against religious and ethnic minorities.

Baha’is

Iran considers its Baha’is to be heretics with no religion. Rights groups say authorities routinely arrest members of Iran’s estimated 300,000-strong Baha’i minority for expressing or practicing their beliefs.

In February, two members of Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish community were detained while another one was arrested and taken to an unknown location after the state security forces confiscated her home.

Mehran Bandi Amir Abadi and Mehran Eslami Amir Abadi were arrested to serve their prison sentences while Mr. Afsaneh Emami, was arrested and transferred to an unknown location after the state security agents raided her home

Christians

Iranian security has arrested six Iranian Christian converts in the northern city of Rasht during February, according to sources who spoke to Radio Farda.

A well-informed source named the detainees as: Khalil Pour-Dehghan, Hossein Kadivar, Abdolreza Ali Haghnezhad, Kamal Nemanian, Mohammad Vafadar and Mohammad Eslamdoost.

Converting to another religion is forbidden in Islam and in countries where religious law applies converts can be prosecuted. Iran regularly arrests Christian converts, whose numbers have been rising in recent years, reaching tens of thousands or more according to some estimates.

Dozens of other Christian converts have been arrested in the past decade in Iran, some receiving lengthy prison sentences.

Persecution of ethnic minorities

At least 70 Ahwazi Arabs, 20 Baluchis, 20 Kurds and two Turk people were arrested.

Women’s rights

The PSW bill, Provision of Security for Women against violence, needs to be fundamentally revised otherwise it cannot be reformed. These are the remarks made by Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Eje’ii, first deputy minister and spokesman of the mullahs’ Judiciary Branch.

In response to a question on differences of opinion on this bill, Eje’ii said, “The PSW bill contained numerous problems so much that it could not be reformed. The solution is to draft a totally different bill or to reform the existing bill only in collaboration with the government.” (The official IRNA news agency – February 17, 2019)

Explaining the reasons for opposition to the PSW bill, Eje’ii added, “One of the problems is that our general policy is de-imprisonment. In the PSW bill, however, imprisonment has been predicted as a punishment for every minor violation in this regard. And in doing so, it jeopardizes the foundations of families.”

Earlier, Eje’ii had commented, “The objective of adopting this bill is to fortify the family environment so that women, spouses and others, would feel secure in every respect. Now, the question is whether the articles contained in the PSW bill provide such security or not.”

He had also expressed doubts on whether the lengthy jail sentences and heavy punishments stipulated in the PSW bill for some violations against women would reinforce the foundations of the family or will undermine them.

The Judiciary’s cultural deputy, Hadi Sadeqi, had also asserted, “The PSW bill against violence is apparently drafted to support women, but in essence it strikes the greatest blow to women and families. When a woman sends her husband to jail, then that man can never be a husband for her again, and the woman must accept the risk of getting divorced in advance.”

The remarks by Iranian Judiciary officials indicate that they do not take it serious that domestic violence and violence against women have a destructive impact on the foundations of families which will in turn lead to drastic social ailments.

A glance on cases of death-row female prisoners, women’s suicide, runaway girls and growing divorce rates in Iran which have already jeopardized the foundations of the family in Iran shows that in the majority of cases, these women were initially victims of violence and domestic violence.

Ironically, the Iranian regime’s judiciary that has a habit of arresting and detaining people for any minor charge, to the extent that it faces the problem of shortage and overcrowding of prisons, has now become concerned about the policy of de-imprisonment to justify blocking the PSW bill for 13 years.

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