August was marked by increased pressure on political prisoners and the imposition of harsh sentences such as executions, floggings, and long prison terms for protesters.
This escalation of repression has been seen as a crisis in the human rights situation in Iran and an attempt by the ruling regime to silence any dissenting voice.
The Iranian regime has continued to issue unjust death sentences against protesters.
Currently, at least 20 political and ideological prisoners are sentenced to death in the regime’s prisons, 10 of whom are among the protesters of the December 2017, July 2018, and November 2019 uprisings.
This month, the Iranian regime made every effort to increase pressure on political prisoners and detained protesters. This pressure has intensified despite the coronavirus pandemic, threatening the lives of prisoners.
In most prisons, the number of people with coronary heart disease is increasing day by day. In most prisons, the number of people contracted the virus is increasing day by day.
While the regime is trying to whitewash the situation with a variety of scenes and cover up the actual number of patients, no medical facilities have been provided to the prisoners and the prisoners are in the worst condition.
Reporters Without Borders wrote in a statement on August 21 about the catastrophic situation of Covid-19 in Iranian prisons
“Concern about the overall public health situation in Iran is now very high, especially in the 18 or so provinces still on red alert, but the plight of those held in its overcrowded prisons, where social distancing is impossible for most inmates, is even more worrying. No figures have been published about Covid-19 infections and deaths in Iran’s prisons.”
At the same time, the Iranian regime is deliberately barring prisoners from accessing medical treatment and services. On the other hand, the Iranian regime endangers the security and health of these prisoners by imprisoning political prisoners alongside ordinary and dangerous criminals, and by not observing the principle of segregation of crimes. In August, on several occasions, political and ideological prisoners were attacked and threatened by mercenaries.
On several occasions over the past month, peaceful protests have escalated into violence by security forces. In one prominent example, people protesting the demolition of their homes in the village of Abolfazl in Ahvaz were fired upon by police with tear gas and pellet guns.
The crackdown on journalists continued this month. In this regard, activists in the state-run media were summoned or sentenced following the insertion of parts of the reality of the people’s problems.
Violations of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, including Christians and Baha’is, continued in August.
The repression of women under the pretext of mandatory veil also continued in the form of summer repression schemes on beaches, promenades, and public places.
The Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report for August 2020 covers the human rights situation in Iran.
Executions in Iran:
The Iranian regime continued to carry out executions in August to intimidate the public and counter popular protests.
At least 28 people were executed in various Iranian prisons.
Of these, 4 were accused of drugs, 2 were women, Mehri and Marzieh Ebrahimipour and some convicted of other crimes. At least one of the execution victims was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.
At least one of the execution victims was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. Arsalan Yassini was executed in Urmia Prison on August 17, 2020, after spending 13 years and two months in prison. He was 17 years old at the time of the alleged crime.
Mostafa Salehi, a political prisoner, was executed at dawn on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 in Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan. He was one of the protesters arrested in January 2018.
Mustafa Salehi, 33, was a construction worker traveling to earn a living. He was the father of two young children, Nazanin, 4, and Amir Hossein, 6. Following the execution of this political prisoner, the judiciary of the Iranian regime, also ordered the confiscation of the property of his wife and children. According to this ruling, Mustafa Salehi’s family must pay 425 million tomans in ransom after his execution.
Given that many executions in Iran are now carried out in secret, the real number is naturally higher.
Prisoners on death row:
Among the prisoners currently on death row are Navid Afkari, one of the detainees of the July 2018 protests in Shiraz and Kazerun. Hadi Kiani, Mehdi Salehi Ghaleh Shahrokhi, Mohammad Bastami, Majid Nazari Kondari and Abbas Mohammadi were also named as five detainees of the December 2017 uprising.
Also, Mohammad Keshvari, one of the detainees of the November2019 uprising in Khorramabad, Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi in Tehran are among the prisoners sentenced to death.
Nine Sunni prisoners detained in Vakilabad prison in Mashhad have been sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad since 2019 on charges of adultery. Their names are Hamid Rast Bala, Farhad Shakeri, Kabir Saadat Jahani, Mohammad Ali Arayesh, Issa Eid Mohammadi, Taj Mohammad Khormali, Hakim Azim Gargij, Abdolrahman Gargij and Hossein Varasteh Soleimani.
Haidar Ghorbani, Hossein Osmani, and Mohieddin Ebrahimi are also Kurdish prisoners on death row.
The catastrophic situation of prisoners in the coronavirus pandemic:
Despite the fact that more than 6 months have passed since the Covid-19 disaster, the prisons do not have the minimum facilities and the prisoners have been left defenseless against this deadly virus. This has led to the death of a number of prisoners and the exposure of a large number of them.
Inmates in many prisons do not have adequate access to disinfectants, masks, and essential medical care.
High density, malnutrition, and the presence of patients and the elderly who are considered vulnerable to infected with the coronavirus have exacerbated the condition.
During the last month, the prisons of Great Tehran Penitentiary, Qarchak in Varamin, Semnan, Sheiban of Ahvaz, Evin, Taybad, and the two central prisons of Urmia, Adelabad in Shiraz, Yasuj, and Behbahan were particularly exposed to the deadly virus.
In such circumstances, about 140 women prisoners in the women’s ward of Urmia Central Prison went on a hunger strike on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
The hunger strike was in protest of the detention of four prisoners infected with the Coronavirus in a women’s ward. The strikers said the prisoners who have been infected, did not receive medical treatment and were not taken to hospital. The infected people were kept in one of the rooms of the women’s ward of Urmia Central Prison along with other prisoners. The strikers’ request to transfer patients to a health center in order to prevent the spread of the disease by prison officials went unanswered.
In another development, on Sunday, August 9, 2020, following a random test of 17 inmates at Evin Prison, it was revealed that 12 inmates had been infected with the Corona virus.
On August 10, 2020, 27 political prisoners in this ward sat in the courtyard of the prison and demanded an immediate investigation into the situation in the prison. After transferring the prisoners to Evin Prison Medical Center, the prison authorities took another corona test (throat test) from the prisoners. On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the results of the tests taken showed that the test of 8 out of 12 people was positive again.
Condition of political prisoners:
In August, the Iranian regime increased pressure on political and ideological prisoners in a variety of ways.
Majid Asadi, a political prisoner in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, has been on a hunger strike since his transfer to Ward 209 of Evin Prison. His physical problems and infection with the coronavirus have caused concern among his relatives.
On July 22, 2020, Majid Asadi was transferred from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj to Ward 209 of Evin Prison and went on a hunger strike. The transfer is said to have been made for the interrogation of a new case opened against him during his imprisonment.
According to an informed source, “He is in a very serious condition and in the last phone call he had with his family, he stated that he had no information about the charges and the reasons for his transfer to solitary confinement. The inflammation of his eyes has also recurred, and he may lose his sight despite the continuation of this condition.”
Majid Asadi was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of propaganda against the state and collusion.
On August 16, 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh, an imprisoned labor activist, was transferred from Evin Prison to one of the solitary confinement cells at Rajai Shahr Prison following a coronavirus infection at Evin and a diagnosis by the prison doctor that his condition was urgent.
Mr. Azimzadeh has also been on a hunger strike since his transfer to this ward. Jafar Azimzadeh was beaten by two general crime prisoners in Ward 8 of Evin Prison on August 1, 2020 this year without any prior reason.
In 2015, he was sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran for union activities. Jafar Azimzadeh, while serving a 6-year sentence in Evin Prison, was again sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Tehran Court of Appeals in another case on August 2, 2020.
Zahra Safaei, Parasto Moeini, Forough Taghipour
Political prisoners Zahra Safaei, Parasto Moeini and Forough Taghipour are in Qarchak prison of Vararmin on charges of supporting the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
In order to put pressure on these three political prisoners, the head and deputy director of the Women’s Prison have hired ordinary prisoners with dangerous crimes to beat or kill them by creating scenes of conflict and mass attacks.
A reliable source said on Monday, August 31, 2020, “The lives of political prisoners Zahra Safaei and her daughter Parasto Moeini and Forough Taghipour are in grave danger. The head of the prison, Mehdi Mohammadi, and his deputy, a woman named Mirzaei, have hired a number of women prisoners for dangerous crimes in order to provoke the murder of the three prisoners by creating fake clashes”.
“Some ordinary women prisoners have said that the head of the prison hired us to beat and fight these prisoners,” the source added.
Political prisoner Fatemeh Mosanna is serving a 15-year sentence in Evin Prison. She was taken to Taleghani Hospital in Tehran on August 19, 2020, while being unconscious. In the hospital, she was handcuffed to a hospital bed and denied access to her relatives.
The prisoner was returned to the quarantine of Evin Prison on August 26,2020 despite her poor physical condition and without completing her treatment. Fatemeh Muthanna and her husband Hassan Sadeghi were arrested in 2012 on charges of holding a funeral for Mr. Sadeghi’s father, who was a member of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer imprisoned in Evin Prison, issued an open letter on August 11, 2020, announcing that she would go on an indefinite hunger strike to protest the non-release of political prisoners after the coronavirus outbreak and the “cruel conditions” of the Iranian regime’s prisons.
In order to put more pressure on Nasrin Sotoudeh, security forces arrested her daughter Mehraveh Khandan on the morning of August 17, 2020. She was released on bail hours later. Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes on charges of conspiracy against national security and similar charges.
Behnam Moosivand, an imprisoned civil activist who was previously serving a sentence in Evin Prison, went on a hunger strike following his transfer to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. Behnam Moosivand was taken to prison prison on Saturday, August 29, 2020 due to symptoms of coronavirus. Evin Prison officers took his belongings out of Ward 8 on Monday morning, August 31, 2020. This transfer in addition to not contacting his family, raised concerns among Behnam Moosivand’s relatives.
It is said that when Behnam Moosivand entered Rajai Shahr prison, he was taken for a corona test and he was told that the answer would be determined in the coming days.
Moosivand was sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of conspiracy to act against the state’s security.
Security forces, State Security Forces and municipal officials fired tear gas and shot pellet guns at protesters in the village of Abolfazl on Wednesday, September 26, 2010. The clash took place after municipal and police officers went to Abolfazl village with loaders to demolish residents’ houses. The villagers protested against the presence of the officers and stood in front of them.
In one of the video files related to Abolfazl village, police officers are seen shooting at people.
Dozens of people have been detained and injured during the protests. Government officials have also admitted that a number of protesters were injured during the clashes.
Abolfazl village has 300 families and the Mostazafan Foundation seeks to destroy the village by claiming ownership of its land. Reports indicate that some houses have been destroyed so far.
Repression and unjust punishment for protesters:
In August, the crackdown on protest detainees and their families increased dramatically.
The Iranian regime is trying to prevent any peaceful protests and curb the wave of public discontent by arresting activists, issuing harsh sentences and putting pressure on their families.
Numerous documents and reports from inside Iranian prisons show that the protesters are being held in custody for harsh sentences on the one hand and torture in order to obtain forced confessions on the other.
Three brothers, Navid, Vahid, and Habib Afkari, detainees of the July 2018 protests, were sentenced to death, flogging, and imprisonment by the Shiraz Revolutionary and Criminal Court.
The three brothers have been charged in separate trials on charges such as forming a group, killing a security guard, and participating in protests.
According to the verdicts, Navid Afkari received two death sentences, six years and six months of prison, and 74 lashes lashes, Vahid Afkari received 54 years and 6 months imprisonment and 74 lashes and Habib Afkari was sentenced to 27 years and 3 months imprisonment and 74 lashes. Navid Afkari’s sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court and its retrial was rejected. All three were severely tortured and pressured during their detention.
Sina Rabiee, one of the detainees of the December 2019 protests, which was formed in protest of the downing of a Ukrainian plane by the Revolutionary Guards air defense, was sentenced to 3 years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. The verdict was notified to his lawyer on Saturday, August 22, 2020.
On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, Maryam Kazemi and her brother Ali Kazemi were arrested by Behbahan Intelligence Forces at their private home and taken to an unknown location. At the time of the arrest of the Kazemi family, officers said that the arrests were made in connection with the rally of July 16, 2020 of the people in Behbahan.
One of the detainees of the November 2019 nationwide protests, identified as “P.G.”, was sentenced by Branch 24 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran to a total of eight years in prison and 74 lashes and confiscation of property.
Hossein Hashemi, 27, one of the detainees of the November 2019 nationwide protests, was sent to prison on Saturday, August 29, 2020 after being summoned to serve a six-year prison sentence and 74 lashes.
Fatemeh Davand, one of the protesters in November 2019 in Bukan, was transferred to Urmia Central Prison on August 6, 2020 to serve her sentence. The political prisoner was arrested during the November 2019 protests and sentenced by Bukan Court to five years and five months in prison and 30 lashes. Fatemeh Davand is 42 years old from Bukan and has 3 children.
Suppression of religious minorities:
The repression of religious minorities continued this month.
Four Christian citizens living in Rasht were sentenced to 13 years in prison on Saturday, August 1, 2020, for peaceful ideological activities and for acting against national security, attending church meetings, and promoting Christianity.
Ramin Hassanpour was sentenced to 5 years and Hadi Rahimi (Muslim) to 4 years in prison. Mr. Hassanpour’s wife, Saeedeh Sajjadpour (Katherine) and Sakineh Behjati (Mehri) were each sentenced to two years in prison.
Liza Tebyanian, a Baha’i citizen living in Karaj, was arrested by security forces on Saturday, August 15, 2020, and transferred to Kachuei Prison in Karaj to serve her sentence.
She was previously detained by security forces on March 15, 2017 and was released from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj on March 26, 2017, on bail pending trial. In July 2018, she was sentenced by Branch 4 of the Karaj Revolutionary Court to 7 months in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state.”
Farid Zirgi Moghadam, a Baha’i citizen living in Birjand, was sentenced by the Birjand Criminal Court to one year in prison in the second part of his case on charges of “insulting the sanctities of Islam.” The Baha’i citizen was previously sentenced by the Birjand Revolutionary Court to six years in prison in the first part of his case on charges of “membership in an illegal Baha’i organization and propaganda against the state.”
Mojdeh Etefaqi and Hooshmand Talebi, a Baha’i couple living in Villashahr, Isfahan, were arrested on Sunday, August22, 2020, after being summoned to one of the city’s security agencies, and transferred to an unknown location. After arresting the Baha’i couple, officers raided their home and confiscated a number of personal items, including a laptop, cell phone, books, and an acoustic piano. On the other hand, two cars of Surai and a truck of this Baha’i family were also confiscated by the agents.
These measures are taken against religious minorities in Iran while in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Article 27:
“In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.”
Arbitrary killings by security forces continued this month. Government forces are targeting ordinary citizens without prior notice, under false pretenses and without any consequences.
In one example, regime security forces shot two occupants of a motorcycle in Shahriar on Friday, September 19, 2020 and killed two young men, Alireza Jafarloo and Alireza Goodarzi.
On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, at 1:00 AM in the village of Shirinabad in Hamadan, police officers shot and killed a 13-year-old father and his son, Mohammad Reza Veisi, who were riding a motorcycle without stopping and without prior notice. During this action, the father was injured, and 13-year-old Mohammad Reza was killed.
The indiscriminate firing of security forces this month resulted in the deaths and injuries of several kulbars and fuel operators in Iran. However, these kulbars and fuel suppliers are defenseless people, and these jobs are their only way of life. Widespread poverty and unemployment, especially in border areas, have led to the creation of such fake jobs among its inhabitants.
On Thursday, August 6, 2020, a 16-year-old boy named “Mobin Hosseini” from the village of Dorisan in the city of Paveh, in the border heights of the city of Nosud in Kermanshah province, was beaten and severely wounded by government forces.
On Monday, August 10, 2020, a 17-year-old kulbar named “Armin Ahmadi” was wounded by direct fire from the Marivan border forces in the Maraneh area.
On Thursday, August 13, 2020, a 22-year-old kulbar named “Hadi Khedri” died in the border areas of Baneh city in Kurdistan province after being shot by government forces.
On Saturday, August 15, 2020, in the border areas of Urmia, a kulbar named “Siraj Ahmadi” from the village of Koran in the Somayeh Baradoost area of Urmia lost his life after being shot by state forces.
This report covers only part of the reality of gross human rights violations in Iran. Naturally, the real dimensions of repression and censorship are much broader. Iran Human Rights Monitor calls for the immediate abolition of executions in Iran, especially the execution of political prisoners and detained protesters.
It is mentioned in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 6, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
We call on the Security Council, the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and the United Nations Human Rights Council to take immediate action to secure the release of those sentenced to death in Iran.