Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – September 2019

Sahar Khodayari

Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – September 2019

Introduction

An Iranian female football fan died a week after setting herself on fire outside a courtroom, after learning she may face six months in prison for trying to enter a stadium, the state media reported in early September.

Sahar Khodayari, 29, died at a hospital in Tehran in early September. She set herself on fire after learning she may be imprisoned for trying to enter Tehran’s Azadi stadium, in March, to watch her favorite soccer team’s match.

She spent three nights in jail before being released, pending the court case.

No verdict had yet been delivered in her case.  Her sister had told an Iranian state news outlet that Sahar Khodayari had a mental health condition and was receiving treatment, a mitigating factor that would have allowed authorities to drop the charges if they chose.

Sahar Khodayari’s death which led triggered a bitter debate on the violation of women’s rights for decades in Iran.

In a statement released on September 12, 2019, Amnesty International wrote, “What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heart-breaking and exposes the impact of the Iranian authorities’ appalling contempt for women’s rights in the country. Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports.”

It is a widely accepted rule that the situation of women is the most telling and reliable measure of general freedoms in any society. 

Khomeini’s crackdown on women’s rights and freedoms, was a decision taken knowingly and deliberately, as a prelude to absolute suppression of everyone’s rights and freedoms in Iran. 

Discrimination against women started in the Constitution and expanded into all other penal and civil codes. In this way, women were systematically discriminated against from all sides of the compass with regards to their political, social, economic, cultural and individual rights.

After Khomeini’s death in June 1989, parallel with the regime’s growing need to rein in a restive populace, the mullahs stepped up their clampdown on women’s rights. Over the past four decades, suppression of women has been the cornerstone of the regime’s rule and women’s rights and freedoms have been hugely violated.

Read the Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – September 2019.

Death penalty

At least 14 people including two women, were executed in September.

The exact number of executions is definitely higher as most executions in Iran are carried out in secret.

Iran is the only country that executes juveniles and holds the highest number of female executions in the world.

The clerical regime has executed at least 14 prisoners including two women on September 25 and 26, 2019. The news of these executions has not been announced by any of the state media in Iran.

Iranian authorities executed Leila Zarafshan on September 26, 2019, in Sanandaj Prison. She was in prison in the past five years on murder charges.

An unidentified woman was hanged along with seven men on September 25, 2019, in Raja’I Shahr Prison. She was accused of deliberately murdering her husband. An eyewitness said she had been taken for implementation of her death verdict to Raja’I Shahr from either Shahr-e Ray (Qarchak) or Kachouii Prison.

At least 38,00 people including 96 women were executed during Rouhani’s tenure.

Iranian authorities lashed a prisoner before executing him on September 26, 2019 in Isfahan Prison, central Iran, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. The victim has not been named by the state media.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Iranian authorities continued to torture and mistreat prisoners. There were reports of beating prisoners and flogging sentences carried out in jails.

 At least 129 flogging sentences were issued while one was carried out in September.

  • At least 129 people received flogging sentences
  • At least one people were flogged
  • At least one individual died under torture
  • At least one prisoner died as a result of being denied medical treatment

Iranian authorities tortured a young man identified as Javad Khosravanian to death in Fars Province, southwest Iran a few days ago.

Reports indicate the state security forces picked up Javad Khosravanian from his home in Khorrambid of Fars Province on Friday, August 30, 2019.

The officers of the local intelligence department tortured him to death while in detention and handed over his body to a local hospital.

Iranian Sunni prisoners of conscience were attacked and beaten by Raja’i Shahr Prison guards in Karaj after protesting prison conditions and denial of medical treatment. Many were injured but are still in solitary confinement.

Reports indicate that the prison guards beat the prisoners on August 27, 2019, using electric shock and truncheons.

The prisoners had previously staged hunger strike in July to protest the authorities’ abuse of the prisoners and ignoring their problems such as lack of space, not being allowed to telephone their families and loved ones, deprivation of light and clean air, and being locked up inside their cells without being allowed to go outside for fresh air.

Lawyers, human rights defenders

  • Tehran Appeals Court upheld a three years and seven months sentence against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi on the charges of “insulting the supreme leader” and “propaganda against the state.” They will serve 2 years and one-month in prison as only the harshest of multiple sentences will be enforced, according to the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which requires defendants to serve the maximum punishment for the charge that carries the longest sentence in cases involving multiple sentences.
  • Hamidreza Rahmati, who is member of the Isfahan Teachers’ Association, was sentenced to 18 months of prison and 74 public lashes on charges of “disrupting public order by carrying out an abnormal act outside the Education Department building”. He was sentenced to another 18 months of prison and a 20 million toman fine (around $600) for “sending messages on social media that encouraged violence”. The teacher activist was arrested and then released on bail for carrying out a solitary nine day sit-in outside of the Shahreza Education Department last December protesting the widespread arrest of teachers during their nationwide strike.
  • 86 people were sentenced to flogging in Iran for protesting the diversion of their local water sources to an IRGC affiliated steel factory in the southwestern province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari.
  • A Tehran appeals court upheld a seven-year prison sentence and 74 lashes against student activist Pedram Pazireh for joining 2017 December’s widespread protests. He had been sentenced to prison and lashes by notorious Judge Mohammad Moghiseh at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
  • A court in Tehran upheld a seven-year prison sentence and 74 lashes for a Tehran University student activist, detained for taking part in student protests. The 36th Branch of Tehran’s Revision Court upheld the preliminary sentence issued for Tehran University student, Parisa Rafiei.

Inhumane treatment of prisoners

Denial of treatment

Iranian authorities have prevented political prisoners Saeed Shirzad, Majid Assadi and Arash Sadeghi from receiving medical care.

Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi was once again denied receiving medical treatment in a hospital outside the prison. Sadeghi has cancer, His last visit to a hospital outside the prison was in September 2018 after undergoing surgery, he was immediately returned to prison on orders of the IRGC and the prosecutor’s office. His life is in danger.

A serious post-operation infection has developed in his right arm due to lack of care in prison, leaving it swollen, paralysed and without sensation. He has also been denied critical bone marrow tests to monitor if his cancer has spread.

Sadeghi needs to undergo several rounds of chemotherapy. But until today, the Iranian regime still hasn’t given him permission to receive treatment.

In a statement released on August 13, Amnesty International said, “The deliberate refusal by the authorities to provide Arash Sadeghi with medical care constitutes torture as defined in international law, since such deprivation is intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering, apparently for the purpose of punishing him for his high-profile activism as a human rights defender and in reprisal for his peaceful hunger strike between October 2016 and January 2017, which attracted a major public outcry on his case. The denial of his access to life-saving medical care also violates his right to life.”

Also, Iranian authorities have prevented political prisoner Majid Assadi from receiving medical care.

According to physicians, Iranian political prisoner Majid Assadi suffers from Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a rheumatism disease that affects the spine. He also has ulcers and inflammation in his vision network. His digestive problems have intensified as a result of prison authorities depriving him of medical care.

In September 2018, doctors diagnosed him with ulcers and inflammation of intestines. But despite his critical conditions, he has been deprived of access to physicians in the past year.

Another Political prisoner Saeed Shirzad was not transferred to a hospital on September 15.

Saeed Shirzad’s family had arranged his transfer for Sunday and paid for the hospital. He was due for a scheduled eye operation. However, prison officials did not permit him to be taken to hospital.

Saeed Shirzad’s requests for hospitalization have been denied several times in the past months by the prosecutor’s office.

He lost his mother on September 16, but the authorities didn’t inform him of her death till September 18, therefore was not able to attend her funeral. Political prisoners in Iran’s Rajaie Shahr Prison are banned from communicating with the outside.

Indefinite solitary confinement:

According to reports from inside Iran, prison authorities tortured Iranian political prisoner Mehdi Farahi Shandiz in Karaj Central Prison. Prison guards transferred Farahi Shandiz to the prison’s medical center after he lost consciousness under torture.

The Iranian regime’s repressive forces tortured Mehdi Farahi Shandiz while he was on hunger strike.

After transferring the political prisoner to the medical center, the prison guards did not allow him to receive full treatment and immediately returned him to solitary confinement after he received minimum care.

Farahi Shandiz suffered from a heart attack in July and was transferred to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with diabetes and heart failure.

In the past eight years, Farahi Shandiz has suffered from impairment to his sight and hearing and fractured ribs under torture.

Also, nearly 4 months after the detention of Zahra Mohammadi, director of Nojin Social and Cultural Association in Sanandaj, her fate remains unknown.

Iranian authorities have prevented her from meeting or speaking with her family.

It is said that she is under intense pressure to sign a false confession.

Recent months have seen ramped up repression in Iran against Human Rights and political activists and journalists.

Freedom of religion and belief

Baha’is:

Dozens of Iranian Baha’i students have been banned from higher education due to their faith.

The names of 22 Baha’i students banned from higher education have been so far announced. These Iranian Baha’i students have passed the university admission test, some with distinguished grades, but they cannot register in Iranian universities to study in majors of their choice.

This comes after the Iranian regime’s Minister of Education said that followers of “unofficial” religions were banned from education, asking Baha’i students to deny their faith in order to continue their education.

“If students declare that they are followers of a religion other than the official religions of the country and this action is regarded as promoting (that religion), they are banned from attending school,” Mohsen Haji Mirzaei said on September 11.

During the past year, dozens of Iranian Baha’i students have been deprived of continuing their education.

Also, Two Iranian Baha’i women, Kimia Mostafavi and Kiana Rezvani, were sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison.

According to the verdict issued by the Revelutionary court of Kerman, the Baha’i women were each sentenced to five years in prison for “membership in Baha’i community” and one year in prison for “spreading ropaganda against the state in favor of opposition groups.”

The two Iranian Baha’i women had been arrested on January 19, 2019, by the state security security forces. They were released on bail five days later.

In another development, an Iranian Baha’i woman residing in Ahvaz, capital of the southwestern Khuzestan Province, has been sentenced to one year in jail by the Revision Court of Khuzestan Province.

The woman identified as Mitra Badrnejad had been arrested on March 3, 2018, and temporarily released on bail. She was subsequently sentenced to five years in 2018.

Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on September 22, 2019, sentenced a Baha’i woman, Samin Maqsoudi, to five years in prison for her belief in the Baha’i faith.

Christians:

Youcef Nadarkhani’s sons have been denied high school diplomas as the state refuses to recognize them as Christians and insists that they complete Islamic education.

The boys are not recognized as Christians because their parents are converts from Islam, not Christians from ethnic Armenian or Assyrian families, and are considered apostates.

Youcef Nadarkhani has been on hunger strike since September 23, to demand his sons be allowed to go to school.

He Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is serving a 10-year sentence in Evin Prison for “acting against national security through propagating house churches and promoting Zionist Christianity”.

Treatment of ethnic minorities

At least 8 Kurds, two Turk and two Baluch man were arrested by the state security forces.

At least four Kurdish porters were shot and killed by Iran’s IRGC forces while 10 others were wounded.

Two Baluch men including juvenile 18, were also shot dead by IRGC forces under the pretext of smuggling on September 2019.

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