Iran hands down heavy sentences to civil activists

Iran civil activists

The Iranian regime has stepped up pressure on civil activists, seeking to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize a restless society.

The regime has sentenced Rezvaneh Ahmad Khan Beigi, to four years and five months in prison.

The first trial of Mrs. Ahmad Khan Beigi was held on Sunday, February 17, 2019, in the 26th Branch of Tehran’s Court.

Health conditions of the civil activist have deteriorated in prison as she has been suffering from seizures and epilepsy before being detained.

The inspector of Branch 2 of Evin Prosecutor’s Court, Mohammad Nassir-pour, has illegally refused to accept bail for this civil activist and has extended her detention without allowing her lawyer to get involved in the case.

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was another one of activists who has been sentenced to six years in prison (of which he must serve five, subject to appeal) and ordered to copy three books by hand for engaging in peaceful activities including attending protests by sugar mill workers in southwestern Iran.

Ebrahimzadeh was not allowed time to prepare a defense and he was denied access to a lawyer, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Arrested by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence Organization in Tehran on December 12, 2018, the 41-year-old was held for 35 days mostly in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A before being transported to court without prior notice or the presence of his lawyer.

During a 10-minute trial in February 2019 at Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Iman Afshari, Ebrahimzadeh was sentenced to one year in prison for the charge of “propaganda against the state” and five years in prison for “membership in illegal organizations.” After the application of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, Ebrahimzadeh would serve five years of that sentence, subject to appeal.

The indictment referred to political comments Ebrahimzadeh had made on social media, his criticism of government relief efforts during a recent earthquake in western Iran, and his presence at demonstrations by Haft Tappeh sugar mill workers in Shush, Khuzestan Province, who were protesting for unpaid wages.

Ebrahimadeh previously spent seven years in prison until his release in June 2017 for charges related to his trade union activities, advocacy of children’s rights, and for calling for the release of political prisoners.

Gender equality advocate Rezvaneh Mohammadi was tried in absentia in Tehran under the unusual charge of “assembly and collusion against national security by seeking to normalize homosexual relations.”

Mohammadi did not attend her trial session held on February 17, 2019, at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, and presiding Judge Mohammad Moghiseh refused to allow her lawyer to attend.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of imprisoned labor activist Jafar Azimzadeh has appealed a flogging sentence against his client.

“Following a decision by Branch 1190 of the Criminal Court in Tehran to flog Jafar Azimzadeh 30 times allegedly for being absent after spending time in furlough, I have lodged an appeal that will hopefully result in his acquittal,” attorney Mohammad Ali Jafari Foroughi told the state-run ILNA news agency on March 16.

The secretary general of the Free Workers Union of Iran (FWUI), Azimzadeh was arrested on January 29, 2019, to serve the remaining five years of his six-year prison sentence issued for his peaceful defense of worker’s rights.

He was released from Evin Prison for medical reasons on July 2016 after a 64-day hunger strike. The authorities claim he was granted furlough (temporary leave) and never returned to complete his prison term.

In yet another case, Sahar Kazemi, an environmental and civil activist and sports coach from Sanandaj, has been sentenced to five years in prison by a Sanandaj Court because of her activities.

In early February, a former political prisoner, Mahin Akbari, 57, was arrested in a raid on her residence and transferred to the Lakan Prison of Rasht after lengthy interrogations and torture in the detention center of the Intelligence Department of Rasht.

Around the same time, Massoumeh Askari, a retired teacher, was sentenced to 5 years in prison on February 18, 2019.
Ms. Askari had been rearrested in December 2018 and held for one month in solitary confinement at Ward 209 of Evin Prison.

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes after two grossly unfair trials. The 55-year-old human rights lawyer has been detained for her peaceful human rights work, including her defense of women activists and women protesting against the compulsory veil.

The scale of arrests, imprisonments and sentences issued for activists in just 45 days and their cruel treatment reveal the extreme lengths the Iranian regime has gone to crack down on peaceful dissent.