Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – July 2019
In the summer of 1988, Iran’s regime summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The 1988 massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini.
The majority of the inmates sent to the gallows were members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
The perpetrators of this crime against humanity have never been held accountable.
Worse still, some have been promoted to the most senior positions of the Iranian government and judiciary.
Recently, two of the most vicious mullahs who are particularly responsible for the 1988 massacre, defended their crimes which reminds of the impunity that senior officials responsible for the killings have enjoyed.
Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, former minister of justice and advisor to Iran’s head of the judiciary, defended the mass extrajudicial executions of 1988.
Mohammadi was a member of the “Death Commission” who ordered the execution of thousands of prisoners who were serving their sentences in 1988.
The “Death Commissions” had a blank cheque from Khomeini, to send thousands of inmates to the gallows.
Speaking to the weekly Mossallass, 59-year-old Pourmohammadi insisted that he should not be held accountable for the mass executions of summer of 1988. Instead, he blamed the victims, asserting that all remaining members of the (PMOI/MEK) should also be held responsible, tried, and punished.
When asked about the 1988 mass executions and the “slander” directed at the regime for the massacre, Mostafa Pourmohammadi said that the regime was “at war” and no one should expect it to follow “legal procedures and consider citizen’s and human rights” at a time of war.
Earlier, Pourmohammadi had described the “Death Commissions” decisions as “God’s orders,” affirming that he was proud of carrying out the verdict.
In addition, anotherregime official, Mohammad Razini, emphasized that these extrajudicial executions were carried under the direct order of Khomeini.
In his remarks Razini states that Khomeini’s edict paved the way for massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran.
“One of the most important benefits of this edict was that the opponents who had taken part in the Mersad Operation were dealt with by these courts. That is, we did not bring any of those arrested to trial in Tehran or Ahwaz. In the same war zones, they were arrested, tried and punished.”
These atrocious remarks made by senior regime officials sheds light on how the regime’s atrocities continue to this day and that its perpetrators should be judged by a competent international court commissioned by the UN.
In the grips of a serious economic crisis, with very high inflation and unemployment, Iran has significantly stepped up its crackdown on society to rein in discontent and opposition among the populace.
The regime has stepped up executions, including of women. There have been reports on human rights activists who got imprisoned or brutalized in prison during the month of July.
On the other hand, the regime has increasingly tightened enforcement of compulsory hijab.
Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – July 2019 briefly covers the issues mentioned above.
- Death penalty
At least 39 people, including four women and two juveniles at the time of their arrest, were executed in July.
A prisoner was also publicly hanged in the city of Khandab, central Iran.
Some 3,700 persons have been executed in Iran in the past six years under Rouhani. The Iranian regime is the world’s top record holder of per capita executions. It deploys the death penalty as a tool for maintaining its grab on power and for silencing a disgruntled populace the majority of whom live under the poverty line, while unemployment is rampant in the country and there is no freedom of speech.
Rule 61 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) reads, “When sentencing women offenders, courts shall have the power to consider mitigating factors such as lack of criminal history and relative non-severity and nature of the criminal conduct, in the light of women’s caretaking responsibilities and typical backgrounds.”
- Torture and other ill-treatment
Reports indicate that torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and human rights activists continued in Iranian prisons. At least 20 flogging sentences were issued in July while there were reports of flogging and beating the prisoners.
The public flogging sentence for a man was carried out on July 3 in the city of Ahvaz, the capital of southwestern Khuzestan province. A footage circulated on the Internet showed the man being punished with public lashes.
A Kurdish singer and prisoner of conscience Peyman Mirzazadeh was flooged 100 times on 28 July after being convicted of “drinking alcohol” and “insulting Islamic sanctities”.
The flogging was carried out in the 4th Branch of the Sentence Implementation Department and left him in agonizing pain with a severely swollen back and legs. He went on hunger strike in protest at his treatment and sentence.
Branch 36 of Tehran’s appeals court has upheld a sentence of 6 years of imprisonment plus 74 lashes against Sepideh Farhan, for the alleged charge of “disrupting public order by attending illegal gatherings” and “acting against the security of the state.” This sentence was previously made against her by the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, branch 26.
Sepideh Farhan (Farahabadi) was arrested by the regime’s security forces in January 2018 during the anti-regime uprising that swept the country. She was released from Evin Prison on a bail of 2.5 billion rials (nearly $600,000) on February 17, 2018.
Siamak Mirzaei, a civil rights activist was sent to exile to a remote city in South Khorasan province, after terminating of a 3-year prison sentence.
- Lawyers, human rights defenders
An “Islamic Revolutionary Court” in Tehran has upheld a thirty-year sentence against Amirsalar Davoudi, a prominent Iranian lawyer and defender of human rights.
Davoudi’s fellow attorney, Mostafa Turk Hamadani twitted a day later that “Fifteen years of the sentence is obligatory and implementable.” He reiterated: “We will do everything possible under the law, to urge the head of the Judiciary and Tehran’s Attorney General to cancel this verdict.”
Furthermore, Davoudi has been sentenced to 111 lashes, 60 million Rials court fine and deprivation of his social rights for two years.
Three women held in custody for “disrespecting compulsory hijab,” Monireh Arabshahi, Yasamin Ariany, and Mojgan Keshavarz, have been sentenced to a total of 55 years and six months.
A “Revolutionary Court” in the capital city of Tehran delivered the verdict to the three women who are behind bars in the notorious Qarchak prison. The verdict was delivered to the prisoners in the absence of their lawyers. The three had been charged with “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” as well as “encouraging and preparing the grounds for corruption and prostitution.”
- Inhumane treatment of prisoners
Denial of treatment
According to reports from Raja’i Shahr Prison, aka Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, 20 km west of Iran’s capital, around 21 political prisoners are being kept in appalling conditions and are deprived of their basic rights, including the right to medical treatment.
Mohammad Bannazadeh Amirkhizi, Majid Assadi, Saeid Shirzad and Arash Sadeghi are among seriously ill political prisoners who have been intentionally denied medical 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.
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.
Iranian 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.
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.
In yet another case a prisoner in a northwestern prison in Iran died in July as a result of the prison authorities’ medical negligence. Ashkan Mehrivash passed away because the prison’s defibrillator was not working. Ashkan, detained in section 15 in West Azarbaijan province’s Urmia Prison on drug related charges, was taken to the prison clinic after suffering a heart attack.
Despite this, prison officials have reported his cause of death as a “drug overdose”. According to the human rights group, one of the prison guards protested the official report and said that prison officials were blaming their medical negligence on the prisoner.
Indefinite solitary confinement:
Political prisoner Mehdi farahi Shandiz held at the Central Prison of Karaj, was beaten and taken to an unknown location. There is no news yet on the condition of the political prisoner who had recently suffered a heart attack in prison.
Swedish-Iranian medical doctor and researcher who has been in jail in Iran since 2016 was taken to solitary confinement outside Tehran’s notorious prison, Evin. In a telephone conversation with his family, Dr. Ahmad Reza Jalali revealed that he has been under pressure to admit new charges and participate in another “forced confession” in front of cameras.
Violation of regulations on the principle of separation of crimes
Women political prisoners Yasaman Aryani, Neda Naji, Atefeh Rangriz, and Sepideh Qolian have been badly brutalized by ordinary prisoners in Qarchak Prison, a.k.a. Shahr-e Ray Prison.
Inmates incited by prison officials beat up the four women political prisoners on Monday, July 29, 2019, around 7 p.m. after Saba Kord Afshari fainted out and her conditions deteriorated due to delay in attending to her.
After persistent inquiries by women political prisoners, a nurse finally arrived in the ward without any blood pressure gauge or a stretcher to carry her. Finally, a half-conscious Saba Kord Afshari was wrapped in a blanket and taken to the dispensary where she heard insults from the nurse, Teymouri, and the physician, Hamed-Yazdan. This led to a verbal contact between them and Yasaman Aryani, who was subsequently attacked and brutalized by ordinary inmates incited by the authorities in charge of the dispensary. She was hurt in the face and bruised all over the right arm and both legs.
Left unattended, Saba Kord Afshari subsequently blacked out. A few hours later, she was sent back to the ward after the dispensary’s physician gave her an injection and intravenous serum.
In addition to Yasaman Aryani, women political prisoners Neda Naji, Atefeh Rangriz, and Sepideh Qolian were also brutalized by a deranged prisoner incited by prison authorities upon return from a mental hospital. Atefeh Rangriz had to be taken to the dispensary due to severe injuries.
Freedom of religion and belief
Security officials from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry raided the homes of eight Iranians converts to Christianity on July 1, in the southern city of Bushehr, taking them to solitary confinement.
Security forces raided and searched their houses and confiscated their Bibles, Christian statues and signs, wooden crosses, paintings, laptops, cellphones, ID cards and credit cards. The children witnessed all of these events as well as the cruelty by security forces in arresting their parents.
The detainees are Sam Khosravi, 36, and his wife, Maryam Falahi 35; Sam’s brother Sasan Khosravi, 35, and his wife Marjan Falahi, 33; Sam’s mother Khatoon Fatolahzadeh, 61; Poorya Peyma, 27, and his wife Fatemeh Talebi, 27; and Habib Heydari, 38. Mrs. Fatohlahzadeh was released on the same day due to her age.
The prisoners are being held at an Intelligence Ministry site in Bushehr without access to legal counsel.
In another case pertaining to religious minorities in Iran, the Birjand court sentenced nine Baha’i citizens to 54 years in prison. They include Sheyda Abedi, Firouz Ahmadi, Khalil Melaki, Simin Mohammadi, Bizhan Ahmadi, Maryam Mokhtari, Saghar Mohammadi, Sohrab Melaki and Bahman Salehi.
The Branch 2 of Birjan Revolutionary Court has sentenced each to six years in prison for charges on religious grounds.
Discrimination against women and girls
Iran has geared up its efforts to counter Iranian women’s defiance of the compulsory veil by taking extraordinary measures even at shopping centers and airports.
Among the measures to uphold compulsory hijab in recent weeks was the arrest of 70 women cyclists in Tehran’s Vali-Asr Square.
Gholam Hossein Ismaeli, spokesman for the Judiciary, confirmed the news on the arrests of 70 women cyclists when talking to a reporter. He said the 70 women cyclists had been arrested for breaching the rules of “chastity and Hijab.”
Ismaeli did not provide any details particularly around the timing of the arrests of the 70 women cyclists. (The state-run ISNA news agency – July 30, 2019)
In yet another case, an IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) official in Hamadan Province announced the arrest of 20 women at a party.
Hamadan’s IRGC official announced the news as “dismantling the assembly of a women’s network aimed at promoting a Western lifestyle”, and without mentioning the details and timing and how the group was dismantled, only stated, “the 20 detained women were dealt with.”
According to the state-run Fars News Agency, on Thursday, July 25, 2019, law enforcement officers in Sari also attacked a party and arrested 8 women and 9 men.
In another development, Abol-ghassem Shirazi, head of Tehran’s Union of Clothing Manufacturers and Wholesalers, announced that they are implementing a plan to tackle and prevent production and sale of see-through or open-front women’s manteaux. (The state-run ISNA news agency – July 31, 2019)
In Gilan Province, northern Iran, commander of the State Security Force, Mohammad Reza Is’haghi, announced that they had sent 66,000 text messages to drivers in this province, carrying female passengers who had dropped their veils inside the car. (The state-run ILNA news agency – July 31, 2019)
Early this month, commander of the Airport Police also announced that his forces would deal with passengers who promote western dressing styles or drop their veils. He said they would even prevent women who are considered improperly veiled. (The state-run ISNA news agency – July 1, 2019)