Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – October 2019

October 5, 2019 - Victims of the HIV virus and their relatives protest in Lordegan, a town in Iran’s Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, blaming the ministry of health for infecting them.

Introduction

The month of October was marked by Iran’s crackdown on freedom of expression.

Security forces in the southwestern town of Lordegan made widespread arrests following large protests over the HIV infection of villagers by a local health clinic.

According to locals, security forces used videos of the protests to identify and arrest protesters. 

Protests erupted in Charmahal Bakhtiari province after 300 residents of the Lordegan county became inflicted with HIV as a result of mismanagement of the Iranian regime’s health ministry. On Wednesday, October 2, a crowd of residents, held a demonstration in front of the governor’s office and the health ministry’s office in Lordegan.

The crisis erupted when the health ministry’s employees used contaminated syringes for blood tests, which resulted in the HIV outbreak in the Chenar Mahmoud village. According to reports, the incident has also affected inhabitants of other neighboring villages.

The arrests started on October 8 six days after hundreds of Iranians in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, took to the streets and clashed with riot police.

Amateur videos showed injured and bloody protesters. Some were shot with pellet guns including a 15-year-old boy.

A young man identified as Saadatollah (Gharib) Mousavi was also shot and killed by riot police.

In another development Iranian security forces beat and arrested dozens of workers during peaceful protests in the western city of Arak on October 20 and 21. The workers were all from AzarAb Industries, a large manufacturing and construction company located in the western province of Markazi.After October 20 protest gathering and the arrest of peaceful protesters, workers once again gathered in the factory grounds demanding the release of detained workers.

“Detained workers must be released!” they chanted in videos published on social media platforms. Security forces shot tear gas at the protesters to disperse them.

The state-run ILNA news agency confirmed the arrest of a “number” of workers though unofficial reports indicate that around 40 workers were detained.

In another report in late October at least 20 trash scavengers were arrested in Alborz province, northwest of the capital today during a protest gathering outside the Nazarabad City Council. The head of the City Council told the state-run Fars News Agency that the trash scavengers were protesting a new bill which would hand over the task of gathering dry trash to contractors. According to reports, more than 200 people participated in the protests. Before this, trash scavengers gathered dry waste while the municipality handled the wet waste.

Mistreatment and torture of political prisoners including by denying their needed medical treatment, arrests and detention of civil and human rights activists, and handing out heavy sentences for people who spoke out against the regime, are the basic components of a routine practice by Tehran’s ruling clerics every month.

Death penalty

At least 18 people including a man convicted as juvenile, were executed in October. Two men were executed in public.

On October 25, the authorities in the central prison of Karaj executed Saeed Mohammadi for a murder he allegedly committed when he was 16.

The Iranian authorities on October 2, executed a young man in a park in the northern city of Rasht. Majid Sarpanah was hanged before a crowd of people who were shouting “forgiveness”, demanding the halt to the execution. He was sentenced to death for killing a security agent.

Razgar Zandi, 27, was executed on October 1, 2019 in the Central Prison of Sanandaj, west of Iran. He was the father of a 3-year-old child.

Torture and other ill-treatment

A man has had his fingers cut off by Iranian authorities for stealing, in Sari Prison in Mazandaran Province, northern Iran.

The local justice department said the unnamed man had committed 28 cases of theft in a public announcement on October 23.

Amnesty International condemned Iranian authorities for cutting off the fingers of the man.

Saleh Higazi, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement on October 24 that the premeditated “maiming and mutilation of individuals is not justice”.

“It is a harrowing assault against human dignity. Reforms to Iran’s penal code that would put an end to this outrageous practice are long overdue.”

Lawyers, human rights defenders

The Iranian regime has continued its use of cruel and inhumane punishment against rights activists to prevent the spread of increasing protests in Iran.

  • A Tehran appeals court has upheld the 11-year prison sentence of young satirist Keyumars Marzban, according to his lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi. In August 2019, Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced  Keyumars Marzban to 11 years in prison for his peaceful writing activities under the charges of “contact with U.S. enemy state,” 7.6 years for “insulting the sacred,” three years for “insulting the supreme leader,” one year for “propaganda against the state,” and nine months for “insulting officials.” Under Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which allows defendants to serve only the longest sentence in cases involving multiple convictions, the 28-year-old satirist must serve 11 years.
  • The Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced labor activist Nahid Khodajou to six years of prison and 74 lashes. Nahid Khodaju was detained during a Labor Day gathering outside the regime’s parliament in Tehran along with dozens of other protesters. The board of directors member of the Workers’ Free Trade Union was released on bail on June 3.

The 26th Branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Nahid Khodaju to five years of prison for “assembly and collusion against the country’s security” and one year of prison for “disrupting public order and peace”.

Inhumane treatment of prisoners

Denial of treatment

Iranian authorities continued to deprive prisoners, especially those convicted of politically motivated charges, from receiving medical care as one of the most commonly used tactics to torture and pressure them.

Iranian authorities denied crucial medical care to political prisoners Soheil Arabi, Arash Sadeghi, Motalleb Ahmadian, Majid Assadi and Zeinab Jalalian.

Soheil Arabi:

The political prisoner has been denied urgently need medical care for injuries sustained from beatings wile in detention.

On October 26, the authorities did not allow his transfer to a hospital outside the prison for a scheduled medical appointment because he refused to wear a prison uniform, which he is not required to wear inside the prison. Soheil Arabi suffers much pain and must undergo surgery.

Arash Sadeghi:

The human rights activist has lost the ability to move his right hand due to an infection on his shoulder that has been left untreated in Rajai Shahr Prison.

Arash Sadeghi needs to receive treatment from a doctor outside the prison, yet Iranian authorities continue to prevent his transfer to a hospital.

Majid Assadi:

The authorities in Rajai Shahr Prison are hindering the medical care that political prisoner Majid Assadi needs by not permitting his transfer to a hospital.

This political prisoner is suffering from various illnesses, including his glands and digesting system, eyes and spinal cord. Prison authorities are demanding that he wear prison clothing when sent to a hospital. This is a method used by Iranian regime authorities to humiliate political prisoners when sent outside of their controlled facilities and into the public.

Zeinab Jalalian:

The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) has been preventing granting furlough to Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian for medical treatment, despite her family’s depositing of a bail bond.

Mr. Ali Jalalian, Zeinab’s father, has been cited as saying that she is suffering from intestinal complications and heart problems. Jalalian family deposited one billion tomans for her bail bond despite difficulties but the MOIS is handling the case of Zeinab Jalalian and refuses to accept the bail.

Indefinite solitary confinement:

Following the appointment of Gholamreza Ziaei, former director of two notorious prisons in Iran, as the new chief of Evin Prison on July 27, 2019, several unlawful restrictions have been imposed against political prisoners.

Ziaei has ordered the cancelation of the political prisoners’ weekly visits and instead changed it to once every two months.

Maryam Akbari Monfared and Atena Daemi among the political prisoners who prison authorities have blocked from contact with their families.

Maryam Akbari Monfared:

The political prisoner’s visits with her family members have been canceled. Akbari-Monfared’s husband Hassan Jafari told media that since Ziaei has been put in charge, they have been denied weekly face-to-face meetings.

Maryam Akbari Monfared was arrested after the major uprising on December 27, 2009, in Tehran and was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a Revolutionary Court.

Akbari Monfared, 50, is eligible for release after serving more than 10 years of her 15-year prison sentence, but the court has refused to approve her petitions.

Atena Daemi:

In her twitter account Ensiyeh Daemi posted that her family was banned from meeting her sister Atena in the prison’s visiting hall.

Ensiyeh Daemi posted on October 20, 2019, “In the visiting hall, they stamped our hands. This is a routine we have to go through whenever we go for a visit. Then we went to the hall where we can meet in person. Suddenly, a guard brought a letter from the warden indicating that we could not meet in person, without mentioning any reasons. We were shocked. We asked why but did not get anywhere. So, we went for a cabin visit. Unaware of the ban, Atena had cooked lunch. Even Atena could not get an answer. We talked and we did not reach any conclusions as to why this ban had been imposed, except that Atena was a thorn in their eye.

Freedom of religion and belief

Baha’is:

At least eight people from Iran’s Baha’i minority have been arrested while seven others were handed prison sentences. Furthermore, five stores belonging to the members of the minority were sealed.

The Ministry of Intelligence confirmed on Tuesday, October 22, that its agents have arrested three followers of the Baha’i faith in Shiraz, southern Iran.

The detained Baha’is are: Soroush Abadi, Farzan Masoumi, and Kiana Shoaei.

The Ministry of Intelligence has accused the detainees of holding a Baha’i ceremony to overshadow the Shiite annual Arbaeen event.

Other reports say that another Baha’i, Mitra Forsatpour was detained on October 21 by intelligence agents in the city of Damavand, near Tehran for following the Baha’i faith. Her personal belongings were confiscated upon her arrest.

Baha’i woman Maryam Leghaie was detained on October 22 also in Damavand. Some of her personal belongings were confiscated upon her arrest. She was taken to the notorious Evin Prison.

The Revolutionary Court in Iran’s Semnan Province has sentenced three members of the Bahai religious minority to a total of 20 years in jail on national security charges.

The Bahais, Ardeshir Fanaian, Yalda Firouzian and Behnam Eskandarian, has been charged with “acting against national security through propagation and organized activities” and “membership in illegal groups acting against national security.”  

In another related development, three Baha’i women in Abadan and Ahvaz were received one-year jail sentences for their faith. Neda Sabeti, Forough Farzaneh and Noushin Afshar were tried by the Revolutionary Court of Abadan and charged with “propaganda against the state.”

Christians:

Converted Iranian Christian Rokhsareh Qanbari, presented herself at Shahid Kachooei Prison in her home city of Karaj yesterday to begin a one-year jail sentence. 

Mrs Ghanbari recorded a short video message before going to prison, in which she said she had been arrested by agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence “for the crime of believing in Jesus Christ”.

She was sentenced in July at a Revolutionary Court in Karaj, on charges of “propaganda against the system”.

Treatment of ethnic minorities

At least 38 Kurdish, 15 Arabs, 10 Turkish and one Baluchi citizens were arrested by security and intelligence agents.

Iranian security forces beat a 19-year-old man to death because he was not carrying his motorcycle license. The young man identified as Ali Khodaie used his motorcycle to carry passengers to make ends meet in the northwestern city of Urmia.  

According to a source close to the Khodaie family, Ali Khodaie was brutally kicked in the head by an agent on September 30.

“He passed away (on October 7) after seven days in coma,” the source added.

He was beaten by an agent identified as F. Mostafazadeh.

According to a tweet by one of his relatives, the young man had lost his parents in a car accident several years ago and was his sister’s only guardian.

On October 8, a man identified as Azad Qorbani Nejad was shot and killed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) stationed in the border area of Sardasht in the northwestern province of Western Azarbaijan. The man who was a porter and carried goods on his back across the border was shot at close range without warning.

Another porter was killed by IRGC forces stationed on the border in Western Azarbaijan province on October 1.

He was identified as Aziz Raisi from a village in Urmia.

Two other porters were shot and seriously wounded by the IRGC in the same area.

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