Iran Human Rights Monitor, Monthly Report – October 2020
October saw the State Security Force’s violent approach towards Iranian citizens, even torturing them in public. This comes in tandem with the clerical regime’s expansion of its repressive plans to contain increasing social discontent, particularly on the eve of the anniversary of the protests in November 2019.
On October 18, SSF forces tied a young man, Mehrdad Sepehri, to a pole in a street in Hojjat Township in Mashhad. They tortured him right there in the street using stun guns and pepper spray, which led to his death.
The vicious murder was revealed by a video clip posted on social media on October 24, provoking a wave of outrage among the public in Iran and abroad. The young man who had lost his consciousness due to torture and use of pepper gas, died in the SSF car. His body bore vivid scars of beating and torture.
Another video clip posted on social media on October 25 showed several SSF officers dragging and beating a citizen on the ground in one of the streets of Esfarayen, in North Khorasan Province. A voice is heard in the video repeating twice that the police had shot the man. The 37-year-old man identified as Mohsen Minbashi has reportedly died due to gun shot and beatings by SFF agents.
A video clip circulated in social media on October 22, of a young woman in Abadan being mistreated by Oil Company’s security forces. The young woman with bloodied face was being held on the ground while one of the security agents put his foot on her chest. The inhumane treatment of the injured woman in Abadan provoked widespread outrage among Iranians in Khuzestan and across the country. Social media users said the video clip displayed an example of oppression of women and the corruption and depravity rampant within the clerical regime. The person behind this harrowing incident was Jahan-Nejadian, a high-ranking manager of Abadan Oil Refinery and an operative of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
This violent approach has been defended by the head of the mullahs’ Judiciary. Referring to humiliation of youths and parading them in the streets, Raisi told an SSF gathering on October 18: “(The SSF and Police) will not allow outlaws, hooligans and thugs jeopardize people’s security… It is forbidden (for the SSF) to show weakness!… Those who violate security of cyberspace are breaking the norms, disrupting society’s public and psychological security. They must be identified and dealt with according to the law.”
The mullahs’ Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also praised the State Security Force and Police for their “ceaseless endeavors,” calling them “toiling servants.” He reiterated, “people welcome the SSF’s initiatives in dealing with vice.” Khamenei thus openly gave a green light to the State Security Force and Police to continue their crimes against Iranian citizens.
The branches of the Headquarters to Fight Thugs and Hooligans tasked with suppressing young people in the streets, started operating in October in 9 major provinces including Tehran, Mazandaran, Gilan, Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Isfahan, Lorestan and Fars.
Official statistics indicate that the SSF arrested at least 2,140 persons during its suppressive campaigns in October.
Given the volatile state of Iranian society, particularly on the anniversary of the November 2019 uprising, the regime is in dire need of suppression in the most violent and naked forms. These include handing down excessive punishments and an increasing use of the death penalty, humiliating young men by parading them in the streets, and giving its forces an absolutely open hand to clamp down on the public.
Right to life
The regime continued to issue death sentences despite millions of people inside and outside of Iran, including international human rights organizations, calling for the abolition of executions on the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
At least 19 people were executed in October.
Shahrouz Kazemi, 28, is one of those executed last month in Iran. He was sentenced to death on the charge of ‘armed robbery.’ He was hanged while no murder had taken place during the robbery. Earlier, his mother had stated in an audio file that Shahrouz had been forced to robbery due to poverty.
The clerical regime’s Judiciary also carried out the execution of a desperate woman at dawn on Sunday, October 11, 2020, in the Central Prison of Mashhad.
The desperate woman identified as Razieh, 37, was on the death row for four years. Razieh, a single woman head of household, was very poor and committed murder out of poverty. (The state-run ROKNA news agency – October 12, 2020)
Prior to the murder, she had sent a text message to her relatives indicating that she had also attempted suicide.
Such hideous executions are being issued and implemented in Iran at a time when the dire economic situation and growing social crises have overshadowed the lives of millions of Iranians.
Furthermore, the recognized standards of fair trial are not observed in many cases leading to the death penalty in Iran.
The defense attorney cannot be present in the early stages of the interrogation and will have access to the file when the interrogations under pressure and torture are over.
In many cases, defendants are denied access to a lawyer of their choice.
Direct shooting and illegal violence by security forces last month led to the death of at least 10 people, including a 17-year-old child, Ashkan Azizi.
Victims of arbitrary killings also include porters who carry goods such as cigarettes through Iran’s borders. Due to rampant unemployment and poverty, working as porters has turned into a prominent occupation for many particularly in Iran’s western cities bordering Iraq and Turkey.
Circulation of two videos on social media revealing the murder of two young men by the state forces, provoked public anger.
On October 24, a video circulating on social media showed two police officers beating a man on the street. The voice on the video says twice that the police shot the man before beating him. The man was identified as Mohsen Min Bashi. Mojtaba Zareh, military prosecutor of North Khorasan Province, confirmed the death and said Min Bashi’s family filed a complaint against the shooter on October 25.
A few days before, Mehrdad Sepehri, a 30-year old man was tortured in public by the police in Mashhad, northeastern Iran. His family said he suffocated from pepper spray on the way to the hospital.
The reaction of the regime officials to these events represented another aspect of the unbridled violence against the citizens.
Reacting to the killing of Mehrdad Sepehri by police in Mashhad, the regime’s Chief Justice Ebrahim Reisi said, “An incident should not be used as an excuse to weaken the police.” “We should be careful of the actions of the enemy, who wants to completely distort the position and identity of an institution by abusing an incident that took place in a corner,” he added.
According to Mashhad’s head of Friday Prayers who represents the regime’s Supreme Leader in Khorasan Razavi Province, Iran’s Law Enforcement is the “axis of the state’s power” that implemented the regime’s “principles” and deals with “foreign enemies and harmful internal movements”.
A man identified as Arash Ali Akbari, accused of stealing was ordered to have four fingers on his right hand severed.
The sentence has been issued by a court in Urmia in northwest Iran. The man has appealed the verdict and his case has now been sent to the Supreme Court.
It comes after four men convicted of robbery were sentenced last month to have their hands amputated following forced “confessions” and grossly unfair trials, The sentences against the four men, Hadi Rostami (33), Mehdi Sharfian (37), Mehdi Shahivand (42) and Kasra Karami (40), have been upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court and referred to the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences.
Christian convert Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi was lashed 80 times in October for drinking wine as part of Holy Communion. Youhan was also given 80 lashes in 2013, for the same reason.
In another case, prison guards lashed four prisoners in Karaj Central Prison near Iran’s capital Tehran. The four prisoners, all under 30 years of age, were flogged on October 21. Two of the prisoners were identified as Behrouz Momeni and Mohsen Torkashvand who were accused of theft and sentenced to flogging. It is not clear why the other two prisoners were lashed.
There have been previous reports of prisoner abuse in Karaj Central Prison. In summer, prison guards shaved off the hair of two prisoners, laid them on the prison hall floor and flogged them. Other reports indicate that as punishment, prisoners are splashed with water and given electrical shock, or they are flogged until they pass out.
According to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Political prisoners and rights activists
Political prisoners have been exposed to additional pressure in Iranian prisons.
Below are the names of several political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and their conditions. However, this is only a small part of the reality and situation of prisoners in Iran.
Political prisoner Soheil Arabi has been transferred to solitary confinement in the Revolutionary Guards’ Ward 2-A at Evin Prison. Ward 2-A of Evin Prison which has been recognized as one of the most infamous centers of repression among political activists, is under the control of the notorious IRGC intelligence division.
Behnam Mahjoubi, Gonabadi Dervish who is serving a 2-year prison sentence has been sent against his will to the Aminabad psychiatric hospital. He started a hunger strike since October 29 to protest the denial of medical care in prison. He had been taken to the same psychiatric clinic on September 27 after prison interference with his medical treatment led to his partial paralysis. He received an unknown injection while being confined to a hospital bed.
Zahra Safaei suffers heart stroke after being harassed and mistreated by Qarchak Prison officials. She was taken to the prison’s dispensary but quickly returned to the ward after a brief examination.
Massoumeh Senobari has contracted the Coronavirus in the women’s ward of the Central Prison of Tabriz. Prison authorities do not isolate or quarantine the inmates who contract the virus. So, other detainees in proximity of the infected inmates risk getting infected. An informed source said Massoumeh Senobari has bad coughs. She suffers from high fever, sore throat, dry mouth, pain in the lungs and all over her body.
Fatemeh Mosanna has been denied adequate medical treatment in Tehran’s Evin Prison. She was transferred to Tehran’s Taleghani Hospital on October 27, 2020, after she suffered severe internal bleeding. But was returned to Evin Prison without receiving medical treatment. The physician in Taleghani Hospital has said Ms. Mosanna needed to be hospitalized to undergo treatment under his supervision. And if the treatment did not prove to be effective, she needed to undergo surgery, the physician emphasized.
Ebrahim Khalil Sediqi Hamedani
Political prisoner has been denied medical care. Prison authorities have blocked his access to the prison’s infirmary to receive Insulin injection, putting his life at risk.
Persecution of religious minorities
Five Bahai women in Mashhad, northeastern Iran, were sentenced to a total of five years of prison by the Revolutionary Court.
On October 19 the 3rd Branch of the Mashhad Revolutionary Court sentenced Nika Pakzadan, Faraneh Daneshgari, Sanaz Eshaghi, Nekisa Hajipour, and Naghmeh Zabihian to one year of prison each for “spreading propaganda against the state by being Bahai”.
The Bahai women were first detained in Mashhad on November 15, 2015 by security forces. On the same day, 11 other Bahai citizens were detained in Tehran and Isfahan, central Iran.