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APRIL 28, 2013 -- Russian opposition activist Alexei Gaskarov has been detained by police in Moscow for his alleged role in the May 6 riots on Bolotnaya Square in the Russian capital, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Sunday.
Gaskarov, a member of the opposition’s coordinating council, is accused of having led a group of active participants in the mass unrest on Bolotnaya Square, according to the investigators.
"During a scuffle on Bolotnaya Square, Gaskarov himself used violence against a policeman, disturbing his work to detain persons with aggressive behavior," the Investigative Committee said.
Investigators have videos and witnesses' testimony supporting the accusations, the committee said adding that the eyewitnesses have recognized Gaskarov as an offender.
Over 650 people were detained at a May 6, 2012 rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to a controversial third presidential term as police clashed with protesters.
Most were soon released, but a case soon followed into what the investigators called mass riots. The probe is ongoing. The riot allegations are hotly disputed by the opposition, which blames the police for provoking the clashes and claims the case is political.
The ‘March of Millions’ opposition protests in Moscow on May 6 2012 turned into a bloody standoff between demonstrators and riot police. Countless witnesses reported police brutality, as well as plain-clothes agents provocateurs, as being the main culprits in the physical scuffling.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have noted with alarm what they regard as a systematic clampdown on Russia's civil society, beginning with restrictions on the right of assembly introduced in June 2012.
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch notes: "The crackdown on civil society that we are witnessing in Russia today is absolutely unprecedented. It started in full swing after the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin."
Gaskarov is scheduled for his first appearance before a judge on Monday, April 29. The pending trials of several other activists who took part in last May's opposition rally on Bolotnaya Square are looming. Like the recent trial of Pussy Riot members and the currently ongoing trial of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, these trials are widely understood to be nothing more than politcally-motivated show trials.
UPDATE: On April, 29 The Basmanny court of Moscow agreed to the recommendation of the investigation requesting that Alexei Gaskarov be placed into custody as a pretrial restraining measure. Alexei is charged with crimes under part 2 of article 212 of the RF Criminal Code (participation in mass riots) and part 1 of article 318 (use of violence against representatives of the authority). As a result of the court's decision, he is to remain detained for a minimum of two months up to June 28.
For more information on this case please visit this webpage created to support Mr. Gaskarov and secure his freedom: http://gaskarov.info/
Information is available in several languages, see the flags on the right-hand side to choose.
On January 18, 2012 security forces arrested Iranian labor activist Mohammad Jarrahi in his home in Tabriz.
He was sentenced to five years in Tabriz prison based solely on politically-motivated charges brought against him as a result of his peaceful political and labor activism.
There are growing fears for the life of imprisoned labour activist Mohammad Jarahi, who is now known to be suffering from thyroid cancer. Jarahi, who is a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations, was arrested last year and sentenced to five years in prison. He is now in the second year of his sentence.
Jarahi underwent surgery on 16th February this year. However, the results of the tests following the operation show that he has thyroid cancer. According to his doctors, Jarahi should begin his treatment as soon as possible. Despite the efforts of his family for him to be referred for immediate medical treatment outside prison, Jarahi continues to be jailed.
On April 20, 2013 the Committee for Human Rights Reporters reported that Islamic Republic judicial authorities in Tabriz and the judge in charge of his court files have rejected medical furlough for Mohammad Jarahi.
According to CHRR, Mohammad Jarahi who is serving a 5-year prison term is suffering from thyroid cancer has been denied medical furlough despite the fact that for the safety of others, cancer patients who receive radiation therapy are quarantined for a week. The laws of the country stipulate that authorities are required to grant medical furlough to prisoners who are in need of treatment for their illness outside of prison.
April 13, 2013--Committee of Human Rights Reporters – According to received reports, student, blogger and cyber activist Pouria Farazmand was detained in Kermanshah on April 7th.
According to CHRR, last Sunday when the student from Kermanshah province went to his university to follow up on matters regarding his graduation, he was handed a summons by the university security. As Farazmand was exiting the university, plain clothed officials who were equipped with walkie-talkies and pistols accosted and detained the student.
Students who witnessed the clash reported that the officials engaged in a brutal confrontation with Pouria Farazmand, beating him up and insulting him as they detained him.
After Pouria Farazmand was violently taken away, one of the security officials, M. Seyedi, appeared in front of the university’s gate and hurled insults while threatening the group of students who had converged at the scene. He lashed denigrating remarks and called the detained student and blogger a “spy” who is associated with “foreign entities.”
Pouria Farazmand is the writer for the blog Azadi Baraye Hamegan (freedom for all) and served on the editorial board of Mosht (fist), a banned student newspaper. Witness students said Farazmand never wrote anything pointing to foreign associations and that he only wrote about internal politics in Iran.
There is still no news of the whereabouts or condition of the student blogger.
During the past months an increasing number of bloggers, Internet activists and citizens taking part in social networks critical of the ruling regime have been arrested in various provinces in the country including Tehran, Alborz, Fars, Kurdistan and Razavi Khorasan.
Blogger and poet Reza Akvanian arrested
CHRR 7 April 2013
Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Reza Akvanian, blogger, poet, writer and human rights activist was detained by security agents on Sunday March 24, 2013 at approximately 3am.
According to CHRR, after being held incommunicado for 2 weeks Akvanian was finally allowed visitation with his family on Saturday April 6th. According to his family, bruising and signs of beatings were visible on Reza Akvanian’s body pointing to the severe physical pressure put on him by agents in efforts to obtain a false confession.
Reza Akvanian is a writer for the blog “salhaye khoobe zendegi” (life’s good years) who was arrested earlier on February 1, 2010 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence. Judge Tahmasabi presiding over Branch 1 of the Yasuj Revolutionary Court handed Akvanian a one-year prison sentence and a 5-year suspended term on the charges of “insulting the leader and the president in blog content” and “association with outsiders by sharing news reports.”
SOURCE : CHRR
Tunisie : Le rappeur Âla Yaâkoubi condamné à 2 ans de prison
Le rappeur Âla Yaâkoubi alias Weld El 15 écope de 2 ans de prison ferme, le cadreur Hedi Belgaïed Hassine et la figurante Sabrina Klibi ont été condamnés à 6 mois de prison avec sursis.
Le juge du tribunal de première instance de Tunis a condamné, aujourd'hui, en fin d'après-midi, Âla Yaâkoubi à 2 ans de prison ferme pour avoir écrit et chanté ''Elboulicia Kleb'' (Les policiers sont des chiens), chanson diffusée sur Youtube, insultant l'appareil sécuritaire et celui de la justice avec de gros mots et des gestes vulgaires.
Hedi Belgaïed, qui a réalisé le clip, et Sabrina Klibi, qui y a figuré, ont été condamnés, quant à eux, à 6 mois de prison avec sursis et, selon Mosaïque FM, ils viennent d'être relâchés jeudi soir.
Ghasem Ahmadi (pictured on right) is an Iranian Kurdish journalist who is one of the editors of the Rojav Quarterly. Rojav is a political, cultural and social quarterly which published by the Kurdish students of Tehran university. The quarterly published 13 volumes and it's releasing stopped by disciplinary and cultural committee of Tehran university on April 9th of 2011.
Ghasem Ahmadi was arrested in Mahabad on Thursday, March 7--the same day as fellow Kurdish journalist Khosrow Kurdpour. The brother of Khosrow Kurdpour, Masoud Kurdpour (also a journalist) was subsequently reported arrested as well.
These three arrests indicate an escalation of the persecution against Iran's Kurdish minority by the Islamic Republic regime, as well as a further intensification of the regime's campaign of persecution against Iran's independent journalists. This campaign has been ongoing since January and is transparently related to the up-coming presidential elections in June.
Mrs. Zohreh Nikaeen (Tebyanian) is also serving her 23 months sentence in prison in Semnan, Iran with her 11 months son, Resam Tebyanian. Her sole "crime" is the peaceful practice of her Baha'i faith, which is viciously peresecuted under the Islamic Republic regime.
At this time her baby is known to be ill and need monthly check-up. For example Zohreh’s son, Resam, has a ear infections and needs urgent care.
Mrs. Nikaeen is one of at least three women imprisoned in Semnan solely for their Baha'i faith who are currently locked up together with their infants in the terrible Semnan prison. All together, there are known to be seven infants locked up with their mothers in that prison. THESE BABIES ARE ALL KNOWN TO BE SUFFERING FROM MEDICAL NEGLECT.
UPDATE SEN´S DAILY MAY 22 , 2013
The sentences have been announced for seven Bahai men from Gorgan, who were tried in Tehran on April 24. Fahrmand Sana’i, Kamal Kashani, Payam Markazi, Siamak Sadri, Fu’ad Fahandezh and Kourush Ziari ( فرهمند سنایی، کمال کاشانی، پیام مرکزی، سیامک صدری، فواد فهندژ و کوروش زیاری) were sentenced to five years each, while Farhad Fahandezh (فرهاد فهندژ) was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The charges were “organising and running an illegal organisation, membership of an illegal organisation, and propaganda against the regime.” They were among about 20 Bahais who were detained in a wave of arrests on about October 17. (Kourush Ziari is from Gonbad-e Qabus, where he was arrested and later transferred to Gorgan).
After some weeks in detention in Gorgan, all seven were transferred to Evin prison in Tehran for interrogation, after which they were sent to Raja’i Shahr prison.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Seven Bahai prisoners from Gorgan ,
in limbo in Raja’i Shahr prison
Sen´s Daily 7 February , 2013
Seven Bahai prisoners from Gorgan and Gonbad, in Golestan province, were transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, near to Tehran and 450 km from their homes, on December 22. They were among about 20 Bahais who were detained in a wave of arrests of Bahais in Gorgan and Minudasht on and about October 17.
After some weeks in detention in Golestan, they were transferred to Evin prison in Tehran for interrogation, after which they were sent to Raja’i Shahr prison. Now, three and a half months after their arrests, they are still in “temporary” detention (without charge or trial). Repeated requests from their families to the prosecutor in Tehran, to have them released on bail, have been fruitless. The prosecutor has passed the file to the Ministry of Justice and the revolutionary court, and the revolutionary court has returned the file to the prosecutor’s office.
The lawyers representing the detainees have not been able to visit their clients, and no court has heard their case. Their families have been required to travel back and forth regularly in connection with their detention.
One of the seven, Kourush Ziari ( کوروش زیاری ), has a leg injury and was unable to walk at all until just a week before his arrest. At the time of his arrest he was receiving physiotherapy. Despite repeated approaches from his family, prison officials have made no move to give him medical treatment or medical leave. His family have been referred back and forth to various agencies.
The other six are Siamak Sadri, Fu’ad Fahandezh, Payam Markazi, Fahrmand Sana’i, Farhad Fahandezh and Kamal Kashani ( سیامک صدری، فواد فهندژ، پیام مرکز، فرهمند ثنایی، فرهاد فهندژ و کمال کاشانی ).
They are held in room 12 of block 4 of Raja’i Shahr prison. Rajai Shahr prison also ‘houses’ the seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators) who are now in the fourth year of 20-year sentences for their Baha’i beliefs.
On January 31, prominent Kazakh dissident, author, and poet Aron Atabek turned 60. Atabek marked the milestone alone, in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in the city of Arkalyk, where he has just been transferred for the next two years.
In 2007, Atabek was convicted of organizing mass disorder against the demolition of the Shanyrak shantytown that resulted in the death of a police officer. His supporters believe the case against him was politically motivated. He was sentenced to 18 years in a labor camp. Atabek has always maintained his innocence and even rejected a government pardon if he would admit his guilt.
Atabek, who already served two previous years in solitary confinement, from 2010 to early 2012, is now accused of insubordination against the prison regime.
"A real man must stand up for his honor and dignity if he finds himself among the ranks of the 'troublemakers' and 'offenders of the regime,'" he told RFE/RL.
Atabek described conditions in Arkalyk, saying that in the first year of his previous solitary confinement -- a "prison within a prison," as he described it -- he was not allowed a single book, only a manual on chess. In two years, he says, he received only one letter and one parcel from his family and was not allowed to make a single phone call -- a "complete vacuum," as he put it. He says he was permitted a television and a radio in his second year, on which he listened to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service.
He gives a long and grim description of prison life for people serving life sentences in isolation.
"The conditions are very harsh: 24-hour video surveillance and, when you're taken out for exercise, it's in handcuffs and a mask, so you can't see anyone. The whole system was formed under [Soviet dictator Josef] Stalin, and now it's even worse," he says.
He goes on to criticize Kazakhstan's penal system, which in 2011 was moved out from under the Justice Ministry and handed back to the control of the Interior Ministry. Since then, he says, cases of "violence and tyranny, torture, and humiliation" have been on the rise.
"It's not only the police but special interior forces who conduct prison checks," he says. "They're pure scum. For them, there are no laws, no order. They lead people out to the grounds to conduct a search, then steal the prisoners' property -- different things, like radios. They wear black masks. We call it the 'mask show.' They come to the camp and turn everything upside down."
He says he knows of at least three people who have died in prison as a result of torture.
"This is the image of a modern system," he says. "I'd call it the agony of the Nazarbaev regime. Of course, officially he's still sitting on his throne. But his throne is quite rotten. The 2011 Zhanaozen events [during which at least 16 protesters were killed in December 2011 when police and riot troops fired on them] are proof of that. And the Shanyrak events are also proof."
While treated harshly, he says he has not been beaten in prison, although he said he is aware of prisoners being severely beaten and raped with truncheons. He says he is in good health, though he has been treated for tuberculosis and eye problems from a scuffle with a fellow inmate.
He believes his transfer to solitary confinement is linked to the recent publication on the Internet of a book he wrote while in prison called "The Heart of Eurasia." (He has described the book as an essay that presents "evidence-based" criticism of the Nazarbaev regime. He says he means the book to be a political forecast for the next 10 to 20 years in Kazakhstan.) The scenario is similar, he says, to what happened in 2009, when he was sent to Arkalyk after an antigovernment book of poetry and prose titled "Nazarbaev's Regime and Revolution" was circulated on the Internet.
"This shows once again how much the regime [of President Nursultan Nazarbaev] fears the truth," he says.
Atabek's family says his health is deteriorating, and that they fear for his life after the publication of his latest book.
Here's a passage from a poem, "Re-Zona-Nce," by Atabek as translated by the website Samponsia Way:
My father was a slave of the Soviet State
in the gold mines of Kolyma
and my destiny, too, is repeating this pattern
and the brutality of Kolyma.
My father was tried in court as an Enemy of the People,
so it turns out I am a “Son of the Enemy.”
I break rocks with a pickaxe alongside him,
no different to him.
Russia is my Mother; my Father is Kazakhstan.
A childhood on the Volga, I grew up in Almaty
to kick open the doors to the Throne Room of those in power,
with a strong belief in my rights and in righteousness.
Atabek says he is very grateful for the international attention his case has received, including a prize in 2010 from Freedom to Create, an NGO dedicated to supporting projects that unleash people's creativity.
That was a huge help. They would have killed me a long time ago in this prison if people didn't know who I was and didn't defend me," Atabek says. "They're afraid to torture and beat me because international organizations know about me. I'm grateful to the people and the organizations that are protecting me. I thank them with all my heart."
Atabek vowed to "fight to the end" for democracy for Kazakhstan, for an end to Nazarbaev's "rotten throne."
"Every man fights within the limits of their own understanding," he says. "And I have my way. I'll never turn my back on politics. I'll fight to the end."
11/02/2013 - Letter sent to the Embassy of Italy in Tunisia
10/03/2013 - Letter sent to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Geneva)
11/03/2013 - Letter sent to President of Tunisia Moncef Marzouki
24/04/2013 - Letter sent to Embassy of Tunisia in France
Wikipedia - Ghazi Beji and Jabeur Mejri are Tunisian citizens sentenced on 28 March 2012 to 7.5 years' imprisonment for "transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order" after posting naked caricatures of Mohammad to Facebook. Mejri faced trial in court, while his friend Beji was convicted in absentia, having fled to Europe to escape prosecution.
Mejri's appeal of his sentence was denied on 25 June 2012. Mejri's lawyer objected to his client being denied medical evaluation, describing him as "mentally unstable" and unemployed for the past six years.
Amnesty International named the two men prisoners of conscience, "convicted solely for their peacefully held views", and described the case as one of the Tunisian government's "mounting attacks on freedom of expression". The organization called on Tunisia to drop the sentences against both men immediately. The International Freedom of Expression Exchange described the sentencing as "an extremely disturbing event", naming it as part of a pattern of "repeated attacks against journalists, artists and women who commit the 'crime' to express their opinions freely".
TUNISIE. Selon le témoignage de ses proches, la santé de Jabeur Mejri se dégrade dangereusement. Condamné à une peine de 7 ans de prison pour blasphème dans l'affaire des deux athées de Mahdia, il est atteint d'une infection aux jambes due aux conditions d'hygiène et aux mauvais traitement infligé par les autres prisonniers.
The Kaleme website reported that 20 relief workers were sentenced in Tabriz Revolutionary Court. Their prison sentences range from six months to two years.
A deadly earthquake in northwest Iran in August left hundreds dead and thosands homeless prompting volunteer relieft efforts by activists and ordinary citizens around the country.
The detained relief workers were arrested at an independent relief camp in Sarand when government security insisted on taking control of all relief efforts.
The detainees, who included many prominent civil activists, wrote an open letter to the head of the judiciary, condemning the security forces' misrepresentation of their humanitarian efforts.
The court has found the relief workers guilty of "collaboration in assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security."
The judiciary had accused the relief workers of "trying to distribute expired food", but the relief workers have stressed there is no evidence that any expired food had been in the camp and they have denied all the charges brought against them.
UPDATE, JANUARY 16, 2013: Tabriz judicial authorities today also accused the group that was sentenced to a total of 19 years in prison, of drinking homemade alcohol, use of illegal satellite equipment, and non-religious mix of the opposite sexes.
NOTE: PLEASE ALSO SIGN THE SISTER PETITION FOR THE RELEASE OF THE TWO MOST PROMINENT HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IMPRISONED FOR THE "CRIME" OF VOLUNTEER EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI AND NAVID KHANJANI:
UPDATE March 31, 2013
Nava and Nika Khalusi free on bail
The sisters Nava and Nika Khalusi ( نوا و نیکا خلوصی ) have been freed on bail, after 185 days in ‘temporary detention’ in Mashhad. They were detained by security forces on September 26, 2012, and held for two months by the Ministry of Intelligence, before being transferred to Vakil Abad prison near Mashhad.
The bail was set at 3 billion rials (191,000 euros, $US 244,000).
_ _ _
The sisters Nava and Nika Khalusi ( نوا و نیکا خلوصی ) from Mashhad were detained by security forces on September 26.
They were held for two months by the Ministry of Intelligence, and then transferred to Vakil Abad prison near Mashhad, where a large number of Bahais are being detained.
So far, no reason for their detention has been given to their family.
On December 1, 2012 it was reported that Dr. Ali Rashidi, an eminent Iranian economist and political activist, had been sentenced to two years imprisonment and 5 years ban of activity.
According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Dr. Ali Rashidi, Member of board of National Front, eminent economist, founding member of Iranian Economists Association, has been sentenced to two years imprisonment and 5 years ban of activity for writing about Iran's economic situation.
Dr. Rashidi was arrested on November 3, 2011 after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry. He was sent to the notorious Evin Prison on November 15, 2011. In February 2012 he was reportedly released on bail pending his trial.
Zahra Mansouri, an epileptic prisoner, has been denied access to her medication in prison. Zahra Mansouri, 60, began serving her two-year prison sentence on October 27, 2012.
Zahra Mansouri's physician has warned against conditions that would bring on epileptic seizures for Mansouri, but prison authorities refuse to allow her access to medication provided by her family. Mansouri suffers from serious health problems caused by a recent intestinal operation.
Ms. Mansouri needs to regularly take her medicine and live in a stress-free environment, according to her doctors. Both are being denied her in the Islamic Republic's prison.
Security forces first arrested Zahra Mansouri on June 1, 2011. She spent 90 days in solitary cells inside the Intelligence Ministry's Ward 209 at Evin Prison. During her detention, she underwent surgery due to breast cancer, and immediately after her operation, authorities transferred her back to her solitary cell. She was released on bail on August 19, 2011.
Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Pirabbasi initially sentenced Zahra Mansouri to five years in prison on charges of "acting against national security." Due to Mansouri's ill health, her sentence was reduced to two years in prison and an additional five years' suspended imprisonment.
Zahra Mansouri's brother, Mohammad Ali Mansouri, is a political prison who has been serving a 17-year prison sentence in exile in Rajai Shahr Prison on charges of "relations with groups hostile to the regime". Zahra Mansouri has been exposed to a lot of pressure due to her familial ties.
Maryam Salehi, 24, a university student and resident of Tehran and a member of Mothers in Support of Human Rights in Iran in addition to several other human rights campaigns, was arrested early Wednesday, August 15 at her father's home in Arak.
Maryam Salehi's mother, Sedigheh Mahouri, told Melli-Mazhabi website that the forces who entered the Salehi home did not present a warrant or any form of identification. They treated the family in a very humiliating way and took some of the family's personal belongings with them.
Since her arrest, despite efforts made by Maryam Salehi's family and friends, no information about her detention location has emerged. Maryam Salehi's family remain concerned about her conditions and ask for help from human rights organizations.
Behnam Irani, an imprisoned Christian convert, is in deteriorating health and prison authorities are denying hismmedical care.
According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Behnam Irani has a blood infection , and he might be sent to a hospital for a surgeryto remove part of his intestines, which are source of infection.
Behnam Irani has been arrested and tried for “crimes” against national security twice, first in December 2006 and second April 2010. Basically, in this instance, "crimes against national security" meant holding house church services leading Muslims to convert to the Christan faith.
The first time he was arrested was in December 2006. He was released on bail in January 2007. On February 23, 2008 Branch 30 of the Appellate Court in Tehran gave him a five year suspended sentence. Since it was a suspended sentence he was not required to go to prison, but was free on a five-year probation.
On April 14, 2010 Intelligence Ministry officers burst into a house church service, assaulted him and took him into custody. A service was taking place at the time and the security officials interrogated those attending as well as confiscating Bibles, Christian literature and DVD’s. Behnam was in prison for two months then he was released on bail in June 2010. In January 2011 he was tried for and convicted of crimes against national security.
On May 31, 2011 a warrant was issued for his arrest so he turned himself into the prison and began serving a one year sentence plus his five year suspended sentence.
Free Iranian Student Siavash Hatam, Suffering Psychologically During Second Prison Term For Peaceful Activism.
Siavash Hatam, an imprisoned student now serving his second prison term and who was banned from continuing his education, is in dire psychological state at Evin Prison’s Ward 350, according to the human rights watch group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Siavash Hatam, a former student activist and director of the Islamic Association of Students at Bu-Ali Sina University of Hamadan, was arrested on June 15, 2009. He was released a month later on bail of $100,000. Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Hatam to four months in prison and 74 lashes. At the request of security forces, Hatam was transferred from Hamadan’s Buali University to Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University.
Intelligence Ministry forces arrested him again in December 2009 during an examination session at Shahin Beheshti University. Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” but Siavash Hatam and his lawyer were uninformed of the case and the trial date and, therefore, did not present a defense.
After his release from his first one-year prison sentence, Siavash was visited at his home on several occasions by security agents, according to his father Mahmoud Hatam. “I don’t know what they said; I only know that they wanted Siavash to have no activities. When they showed up this morning (June 12, 2012), we thought like previous times they would talk a little and go. But this time they had Siavash’s arrest warrant and took him with them,” Hatam’s father said.
Indeed, on June 12, 2012 security forces raided their home and this time they took Siavash with them when they left. That was the day he learned that he had been sentenced to one year in prison for his second case, and the four-month prison term from his first case has also been upheld,” according to a source close to Siavash.
Imprisoned in Evin Prison’s Ward 350 since June 2012, Siavash is now reported to be in a very dire psychological state.
“Siavash has lost a lot of weight and does not have a good psychological state. He is 24. He was a graduate student when he was abruptly banned from continuing his education, and then he was imprisoned. The month-long solitary confinement, loneliness, his education ban, and his uncertain future have all made him depressed. He was taken to prison without knowing that he had been tried or sentenced. Siavash and his lawyer were unaware of a trial date; therefore they offered no defense, either," according to the same source.
Hatam’s father told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he objects to this ruling and plans to file a complaint. “They told us that he was accused of ‘participating in illegal gatherings,’ but he was not arrested in any gatherings. He was arrested at home and on campus. Which gathering? Today we wish to file a complaint against our son’s transfer to prison and his sentence,” Hatam’s father said.
“Siavash shares a room with 30 other political prisoners, many of whom don’t have a bed and are forced to sleep on the floor. His visits with his family are all through the booth and only last a few minutes. This isn’t only Siavash’s problem; all prisoners have to deal with this. His family said that they were only able to visit with him through a booth for four minutes this week, because at visitation hour they bring in a group of prisoners into a hall where the number of booths does not match the number of prisoners present,” the source told the Campaign.
Describing the situation of family visitations at Evin Prison, the source said, “Fifty prisoners arrive at a visitation hall with 15 booths. Several of the cabins have disconnected telephone sets. Prisoner families, therefore, are aware of others waiting in line and quickly give their chair to another, so that they, too, can say a few words to their imprisoned kin. Families object to prison guards, and they respond that they have reported the broken telephones to prison authorities, asking them to replace them many times.”
In late August, 2011 Abolfazl (Pouria) Shahpari, Zoroastrian citizen and member of the Iran Zoroastrian Committee, was summoned to Evin Prison in order to serve his 2.5 year prison sentence.
In February of 2009, Pouria Shahpari was arrested along with his brother Dariush Shahpari by the Intelligence Ministry. They were transferred to Ward 240 of Evin Prison.
According to the Human Rights House of Iran, his charges included anti-regime propaganda, gathering and conspiracy, insulting the Supreme Leader, membership in the Iran Zoroastrian Committee, and blasphemy by propaganda for Zoroastrianism.
He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and 74 lashes. The appeals court upheld the sentence.
He has been transferred to Evin Prison in order to serve his sentence. His brother in law, Mohsen(Bahman) Sadeghi Nour is currently held in Ward 350 of Evin prison and the execution branch of Evin Prison has told him that the prison sentence will be carried out for his brother Mohammad Javad (Dariush) Shahpari in the next a few days.
His mother had a heart attack in 2009 after the raid on her house and the arrest of her family members including her husband Abbas Shahpari, her sons Pouria, Jafar and Dariush and her only daughter Negar Shahpari along with her son in law Bahman Sadeghipour.
Mohsen Sadeghipor is the founder of Iran Zoroastrian Committee and was transferred to prison in July in order to serve his 4.5 year prison sentence.
Furthermore, Mojtaba Ahmadi, Mohsen’s cousin, who has been sentenced to 6 years in prison is serving his sentence since May of 2010 without furlough and prison visits. Ahmadi has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for blasphemy and 3 years of imprisonment for gathering, conspiracy and engaging in propaganda which adds up to a total of 6 years.
Masoud Hosseinzadeh is an engineer and civic activist of the Azeri minority in Iran. Previously he had been one of the leading Azeri student activists.
Masoud was arrested on July 9, 2012 by security forces in front of his home, after they beat him very violently. He then spent 70 days in temporary detention at the Intelligence Ministry detention centre in Tabriz.
Information which leaked out of jail indicated that his physical condition had deteriorated significantly. The ban on phone conversations with his relatives only worsened his family's concerns.
In October 2012, Masoud was sentenced to two years in prison by Branch One of Tabriz Revolutionary Court charged with "Propaganda against the regime" and "Insulting the Supreme Leader".
Afshin Osanloo is prison of conscience and brother to Mansour Osanloo, President of the Tehran Bus Workers' Union (Vahed Syndicate), who has also been prosecuted and imprisoned for his union-related activities.
Security forces arrested Afshin Osanloo in the main Tehran bus terminal in December 2010 without any specified charges. He spent three months inside Evin Prison's Security Ward 209 without his family's knowledge. He was sentenced to five years in prison in May 2011 on charges of "acting against national security" and "propagating against the state" without access to a lawyer, and his sentence was upheld by an appeals court.
On Wednesday, June 6, 2012 Afshin Osanloo was abruptly transferred to the Special Security Ward of Rajaee Shahr Prison on orders from Evin Prison's Disciplinary Council and without any explanation. Prior to his abrupt transfer, Osanloo had been serving a five-year prison term at Evin Prison.
Describing his torture at the hands of Islamic Republic regime henchmen, Afshin Osanloo issued the following appeal to the world community on August 7, 2012 from the horrible Rajai Shahr Prison:
"I am Afshin Osanloo of the labor movement in Iran; I drive a transport truck between cities and am now in Gohardasht (Rajaei Shahr) prison in Iran. In the autumn of 2010, while resting in the dormitory for drivers in the passenger terminal, I was arrested by armed persons wearing casual clothing – not uniforms – and was taken to Section 209 of Evin prison. For five months I was kept in solitary confinement and was interrogated and tortured. The tortures included beatings of the soles of my feet with cables; forcing me to run on the beaten feet which were covered in sores and cuts; gross verbal insults and swearing; week-long interrogations, 18 hours at a time, while being beaten by a group of men which resulted in my ribs and some teeth being broken. During these five months, my family had no information about me whatsoever, and their inquiries were not answered. I was not even permitted one phone call to my elderly mother who also was suffering from my brother’s imprisonment (Mansour Osanloo, Chairman of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company).
"I am married and have two sons. When I first started my family, I began working at the Construction Base at Khatam, in the isolated, war-torn provinces of Southern Iran on important projects in the name of a driver for 2 years. The work was hard labor, such as building dirt roads through the Karkhe River, making docks out of rocks in the Port of Mahshahr, and building water pipes from the Karkhe River all the way to Hamideh in Ahwaz. The love for my country helped me endure being so far away from my family, and I dismissed the sorrow.
"After 2 years, all the drivers, whether they were temporary hires or contract workers, were let go. In 1997, I was hired by the bus Company of Tehran and worked 12 hour shifts both during the day and night on the busiest routes in the city. During the time that I worked at the unit, along with my most experienced and truly sincere co-workers, we tried to improve and modernize our working conditions and tried to prevent corruption at the expense of being humiliated and ridiculed by management and bosses from different sectors and regions and even the representatives of the Islamic Labor Council. Nevertheless, we pursued our outstanding arrears, bonuses, uniforms, and prevention of hard, harmful and unsafe labor, along with abolishment of temporary contracts, some of which had lasted 4-5 years.
"Although we were not successful in many issues, and were seen as greedy, ungrateful workers by the higher-ups, we still tried in any way we could. We were threatened with the loss of our jobs by the management.
"Unfortunately, in 2001, while I was transferring passengers during my shift at work, I had an accident that sadly caused the death of another person. I asked my company’s insurance for assistance in the matter but after some talks between the insurance company and the family of the deceased, the sum I was asked to pay was changed from 10 million to 18 million Toumans (Iranian currency). The insurance company from work was deemed legally exempt and not responsible.
"My complaints to the Department of Labor were of no use until the bosses of the company agreed to pay the entire sum, conditional on my resignation. And since I did not have such a large sum of money I was forced to resign, which caused me to lose the 4 years of seniority and experience I had in the field, not to mention the years of enduring hard labor and harsh conditions. This also dealt a large blow to my family. My wife, who was pregnant at the time, suffered from a nervous breakdown. From that time onwards, I was busy working in Transportation and Shipping. The fact that this sector was owned privately, along with the lack of strong, independent unions and late paychecks, made it hard for the drivers to make ends meet, and they suffered from so many different work-related issues. As a result, all of us were communicating about how to better our work situation.
"I had four rules in my life for myself which I have lived by all my life: I was proud of my work, I tried to respect all my peers, I loved my country and its people and I served society by bringing up my children well so that they could be useful.
"After one year of being in prison in sections 209 and 380, without knowing my fate, I was sentenced to 5 years in prison by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, led by Judge Salavati (The Hanging Judge). In just a few minutes I was accused of being “a threat to national security” and was denied the right to be represented by a lawyer. I objected to the proceedings, but there was no way at all for me or my family to review or even see my file or my charges.
"I was sentenced on baseless accusations and charges to five years in prison, two of which I have already served. What did I do against national security? I had no political affiliations and did not belong to any organizations or groups and all my actions were legal and had to do with trade workers. The only crime I committed was pursuing workers’ rights and unions, and arresting us is not going to stop us from wanting our rights. It is necessary to create legitimate, independent labor unions for legal rights that are in accordance with the Ministry of Labor.
"And to provide job security, improved wages commensurate with the inflation rate, to prevent late payment of salary, permanent contracts between worker and employer, payment of social security by the government, insurance coverage for workers and to stop privatization of the transportation and shipping trade which are all privately owned in order to stop employers from taking advantage of the workers. If such issues are pursued by the police force and the Ministry of Transportation, it will allow the trade business to run in accordance with the law. If these laws are implemented, it will benefit public safety and increase productivity, and the industry as a whole will be more profitable. My crime and that of all others like me are the same and repetitive on this issue.
"These issues and problems are discussed among drivers and workers, and even amongst some honest and competent transport managers who work for the industry.
"These issues should be first addressed to The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and also the International Labor Organization (ILO), who have always been sympathetic and have supported their brothers all across the world, and who understand our pain and suffering. We want them to take this issue to the international bodies and communities and also to the human rights organizations. We want all other workers, especially those in transportation, to hear how I and so many other workers have been unfairly and illegally convicted. We want you to tell them how in our country, we have no labor or human rights, and how unjust and illegal it all is, and how the smallest complaint about our working conditions causes us to be severely tortured and imprisoned."
In September, he along with three other prisoners of conscience being held in the horrible Rajai Shahr prison-- Reza Sharifi Bokani (Kurdish human rights activist) and Khalid Hardani (Ahwazi Arab activist)--signed an open appeal to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon asking him, among other considerations, to understand the following about conditions in Iran:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has never allowed any opposition political party, even peaceful ones, has never allowed political activism and the leaders and members of opposition political parties have been severely tortured, detained and executed....
"In this country, poverty, inflation, unemployment, discrimination and corruption are rife. Every year, thousands of workers have lost their jobs, factories have closed and companies have gone bankrupt. Iranian people are forced to accept and tolerate the economic effects of a corrupt totalitarian government, mismanagement and international sanctions against the government. And nobody is allowed to criticise corruption because they are oppressed."
Iranian teacher and labor activist Mehdi Farahi Shandiz was arrested in the first week of Januar, 2012 to serve a three-year jail term.
Mr. Shandiz had been previously detained on May 1, 2010 and had spent more than eight months in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin prison before being released on January 26, 2011.
Intelligence Ministry agents have arrested the 51-year-old teacher and labour activist Shandiz numerous times before.
While the ostensible basis for the conviction and prison sentence of Mr. Shandiz remain unclear, the fact that is that he is doubly vulnerable to persecution at the hands of the Islamic Republic regime's war against Iran's civil society by simple virtue of being both a teacher and a labor activist.
As for as labor activists are concerned, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has called for urgent action regarding the arrests of and acts of harassment against several Iranian trade unionists, including Shandiz, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarrahi, Nima Pouryaghoub, Sassan Vahebivash, Sheys Amani, Sadiq Karimi, Sharif Sa’ed-Panah, Mozaffar Salehnia, Maysam Nejati-Aref, Ebrahim Madadi, Reza Shahabi, Mohammad Hosseini and Mehdi Farahi Shandiz.
As far as the plight of teachers, Zamaneh has recently reported:
Iran’s “Campaign to Support Jailed Teachers” has issued an announcement in protest against the “worrying situation” of teachers in Iran’s prisons.
Zamaneh reports that the Campaign made its announcement at the start of the academic year and in the run-up to World Teachers’ Day, aiming to be the voice of incarcerated teachers in Iran and rallying the public to demonstrate against how teachers are treated in the country.
The announcement calls on the Islamic Republic to heed the demands of teachers and urges all civil activists to become in every way possible the voice of “jailed teachers” between September 20 and October 5, World Teachers’ Day.
While pointing out the arrest of many teachers and the execution of Farzad Kamangar in 2010, the Campaign adds that many teachers are also being subjected to expulsion and exile, and being denied the right to participate in union activities.
In addition to the stated political persecution, the statement also indicates that many teachers in the provinces will be facing cuts to their salaries in the coming year, while nowhere in the country will educators be granted a raise.
Following the 2009 presidential elections, the government began a widespread crackdown on civil and political activists all across the country. Teachers have been one of the chief targets of government pressure including arrests, interrogations and prison sentences.
Names of some of the jailed Iranian teachers are: Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, Rasoul Badaghi, Abdolreza Ghanbari, Mohammad Davari, Abdollah Momeni, Ali Poursoleiman, Hashem Shabaninejad, and Hadi Rashedi.
A 17-year-old boy, Salah al-Shogre (or al-Shogri), brother of a detained activist, was arrested on 28 July in Syria and has been held incommunicado since then. His whereabouts are unknown, and he may be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
Salah al-Shogre and his father were stopped at a check point on 28 July, near their home in the coastal city of Banias. According to a relative who lives outside Syria, both Salah al-Shogre and his father were taken to the political security branch in Banias, where Salah al-Shogre was separated from his father for questioning.
Salah al-Shogre’s father asked the security forces where his son had been taken, and was told: "If you want to see your son, go to Tartus." The authorities have given no reasons for his arrest, or revealed where he is, but an unofficial source has told Salah al-Shogre’s family that he is being held at the Military Security branch in the city of Tartus.
Amnesty International is not aware of the reasons for Salah al-Shogre’s arrest. His older brother Anas, who had organized demonstrations in Banias, has been held in incommunicado detention since May 2011. If Salah al-Shogre is held solely in connection with his brother’s activism, he would be a prisoner of conscience and Amnesty International would call for his immediate and unconditional release.
International standards require that detainees' families are notified promptly after their arrest, and that detainees have access to lawyers of their choice throughout their detention and are allowed to communicate with their families.
Salah al-Shogre’s brother, Anas al-Shogre has been detained incommunicado since May 2011 at an unknown location. The authorities have not told his family why he has been detained, and it is not known whether he has been charged. According to Syrian human rights activists and a network responsible for planning and organizing protests, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC), Anas al-Shogre played a major role in organizing protests in his city of Banias and telling the media what was happening on the ground.
Detention without trial extended for 3 Bahais of Kerman
Bakhtiyar Rasekhi (بختیار راسخی) and his wife and daughter, Farhnaz Na`imi and Farin Rahimi ( فرحناز نعیمی و فرین رحیمی ) were among those detained on January 5 when agents from the security forces raided a home where the Bahais were marking the day of Iranian Youth.
The security forces were accompanied by a film crew. After six months, their detention without trial has been extended. They are charged with propaganda against the regime in favour of oppositional organizations and groups; spying for the benefit of foreigners; promoting deviant Baha’i ideas; supporting the apostasy of a large number of Muslims; and blasphemy against Islam.
During their six months detention, Bakhtiyar Rasekhi spent 45 days in solitary confinement, and Farhnaz Na`imi and Farin Rahimi spent 35 days in the quarantine facility where conditions are poor [these rooms are intended for short stays and do not have hygiene or sleeping facilities].
Farhnaz Na`imi became ill during her detention, but prison authorities did not allow her to be treated. On February 14, Farhnaz and Farin were transferred to the women’s wing of Kerman prison, and in May, Bakhtiyar Rasekhi was transferred to the general detention block at the prison.
The efforts of their family to arrange for release on bail have been fruitless. Every two months, the Ministry of Intelligence extends their detention without trial.
Arash Honarvar Shojayee, a dissident blogger and cleric, returned to Evin Prison on Saturday, June 30, after his furlough leave ended. Hours before returning to prison, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, he said that he will be put on trial on new charges of “propagating falsehoods with the intent to create public anxiety” on July 11.
He told the Campaign during this interview that during his interrogations he developed epilepsy after he was severely beaten. He also provided details about his arrest and his charges, as well as the glaring shortcomings of his trial process.
He told the Campaign:
“Two days after my arrest, they arrested my wife, too. In order to arrest my wife, they had raided her father’s house. My father-in-law never recovered from the shock of these actions and his daughter’s arrest; a short while later he had a heart attack and died. They kept my wife in solitary confinement for four days. Everyday they brought her to my interrogation sessions as a way to threaten me. They told me, ‘we will snatch your wife from you.’ They told me that they had arrested my brother. All these news and the fact that I was not allowed to contact my family for eight whole months, it was very hard. They put handcuffs and footcuffs on me and they would attach them together; then they would keep me for long periods of time during the coldest nights of the winter in the fresh air area of Ward 209 at Evin. I received a blow to my head that led to my developing epilepsy as is evident in my medical records. I was threatened numerous times that if I didn’t confess, I would be executed. They said, ‘we will hang you ourselves,’” said Arash Honarvar Shojayee about how he and his family were treated following his October 2010 arrest by security forces.”
Shojayee told the Campaign:
“I was arrested on October 28, 2010. I was sentenced to 4 years in prison, 50 lashes, and $800 in cash fines, and lifetime defrocking as a cleric on charges of ‘espionage,’ ‘propagating against the regime,’ ‘acting against national security,’ and ‘disrespecting the clergy. I spent five months in a solitary cell inside Evin Prison’s Ward 209, and another three months inside a two-person cell. Later I was transferred to the General Ward 350 until my ruling was issued. Beginning on October 5, 2011, I was transferred to the Special Clerics Ward. I received a medical furlough to seek treatment for my ailments and I gave an interview with Kaleme Website about how I was treated during my detention, as well as answering questions about statements made against me in the newspapers. I also wrote an open letter, criticizing the Special Court for Clergy. After these my furlough was not extended and I returned to prison. But when I returned to prison, I protested having to return while my medical treatment was incomplete, so I stepped on a wet hunger strike for nine days. I have a heart condition and epilepsy and according to a Medical Examiner’s letter, I had to undergo further treatment and more tests, but they returned me to prison half-way through my treatment. On the ninth day of my hunger strike, Hojjat-ol-Islam Montazeri, who was head of the Administrative Justice Courts at the time, came to visit me as a representative from Mr. Khamenei. He said that my hunger strike was an excuse for foreign media propaganda. He said no clergy has ever gone on a hunger strike. He insisted that I end the hunger strike and promised that in less than 15 days I would be given medical furlough again. I ended my hunger strike and he gave me medical leave, on the condition that I would not interview with the media. On May 4, there was talk about a general pardon and Mr. Ghadyani, the Prosecutor at the Tehran Special Court for the Clergy said that he would put my name on the pardon list and the Judge in my case also agreed with the pardon. It appeared that my pardon was final, but in the end, against the common process of Special Court for the Clergy, the pardon did not apply to me. The reason I say this was against the common process is that according to the process, if someone does not have a plaintiff and there is no monetary claim, he could qualify for a degree of pardon, for example 1/3 of their prison sentence, or their flogging or cash fines could be eliminated through the pardon. But none of these applied to me.”
Arash Honarvar Shojayee provided the Campaign with details of what he called “psychological and physical pressure” during his detention:
“On October 28, 2010, I was at home with my mother. The two of us were not in a good psychological state because my father had just passed away. All of a sudden, two armed forces, along with several other forces, broke down the door to our house and entered. They made my mother lie down on the floor and they pointed a rifle at her. Before I could make a move, they beat me and threw me to the ground. My ribs broke as a result of their blows. They then blindfolded us and searched our home until midnight. They confiscated all the things I had written for the past 15 years. They took a lot of items with them, items that belonged to the family and were not related to my charges, such as family albums. They arrested my wife two days after me. They put pressure on me for television interviews. They wanted to call the broadcast “Confessions of A God-less Arash.” In a completely illegal move, prior to holding my trial court, they stated on IRIB that I was a spy and a seditionist fake cleric. They asked on Kayhan Newspaper whether I was really a cleric. During my furlough leave, in order to prove that I was a cleric I published the hand writings of 25 Grand Ayatollah’s who had confirmed me during the years. I went to visit them and took photographs with them. I put the photographs on RASA website, which belongs to the traditional clerics,” he said. “I will have a new court trial on July 11 on charges of “propagating falsehoods.” Their evidence for this charge is my interview with Kaleme Website. I view this new trial as completely illegal, because according to the law, they must first review whether what I said was the truth or not, and [if not,] then try me on charges of “propagating falsehoods.” What I said is the absolute truth. I spoke in my interview about how the forces attacked my home, how I was interrogated, and how I was put under pressure. Therefore, according to Article 727 of Islamic Penal Code, this is one of the crimes that needs a plaintiff, and I don’t have a plaintiff. They also did not allow me to choose a lawyer. Therefore I consider this court as illegal and I am sure that it will convict me just like the other court did.”
The cleric blogger told the Campaign that he never accepted the charges waged against him. “During my very long interrogation phase I was under a lot of pressure. There was pressure on me to accept the charges of espionage and cooperating with anti-religion websites and to accept that I wrote internet content under the name of Godless Arash,” he said. Asked whether he had written any letters to the authorities to request a retrial, he said, “I didn’t do this because I thought that if I maintained silence for a while, the circumstances might change. But when I was not granted a pardon and they set up a new trial for me, I felt that their stance against me has become harsher. They even disrupted my medical treatment. The Special Court for the Clergy took my original letters from the Medical Examiner, which ordered my hospitalization, so that they may make some photocopies of them and attach them to my case. But they never returned them.” The Campaign asked Arash Honarvar Shojayee based on what evidence the charges of espionage were raised against him in the case. “I grew up in Germany until I was 11 years old. Apparently, their issue was why would someone who grew up in Germany and who does not belong to a religious family, want to become a Seminary student. I also translated German texts. They accused me of promoting the German culture and literature, but what I was doing was purely cultural. I taught German at Goethe Institute from 2001 until 2004. Of course I had no problems at the time that I was doing these things, and I even worked as an IRIB anchor, too. But after my return, everything I did was seen as espionage and they tried to show that my presence at the Seminary had come as a result of orders by Germans to collect information for them and to infiltrate the clerical community through me.” He added:
“Maybe one of the reasons was that I entered the Seminary when I was very young and I became a Mujtahid (source of emulation) very quickly. The Grand Ayatollahs represent different social spectra of revolutionary, dissident, and critical-of-the-government ways of thinking. I interacted with the whole spectrum and knew a lot about each of them. Until I was arrested, I reflected the thinking and writing of Grand Ayatollahs who thought differently and criticized the concept of Velayat-e Faghih (Supreme Jurist/Leader) and actions of Ayatollah Khomeini in my blogs, “Yad-daasht ha va bardaasht ha” (Notes and Perceptions). In my blogs, the concept of Velayat-e Faghigh has been frequently critiqued, not politically, but theologically. And now it’s funny that they would use all of this to charge me with ‘propagating against the regime through weakening Velayat-e Faghih,’ because it is a Seminary student’s job to critique and express his opinions. It was my right as a student to reflect my findings, so that others could point out its deficiencies. The other thing is that a book I wrote about the life and thinking of deceased Grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari caused a lot of sensitivity…I also defended Grand Ayatollah’s under house arrest, such as Seyed Mohammad Shirazi, Seyed Hassan Ghomi, Seyed Sadegh Rohani, and other dissident Grand Ayatollahs. I also oppose the state’s interference in the Seminary affairs. Along with some other students, I boycotted the Qom Seminary Management Council examinations. When the Council was set up, the traditional Grand Ayatollahs believed that it was meant for the rulers to interfere in the affairs of the Seminary. In his statements about this Council in 1995, Ayatollah Khamenei said that the goal was that all Seminary students had to be tested through the Council examination, and that if the Council did not select them, they could not be students. During these years, students like me, who favored the Seminary’s independence, have boycotted the Council examinations. To summarize, because they couldn’t state that a cleric and teacher of the Seminary has been arrested for his critique of the Velayat-e Faghih concept and his support of critical Grand Ayatollahs, they leveled such charges against me.”
In fact, if a Seminary student does not participate in the Council examinations, he cannot receive his diploma, but according to Arash Honarvar Shojayee, he can take the traditional route to the point where the Grand Ayatollah’s would confirm him. “[Once confirmed,] you will be confirmed by all other clerics. That is how it was for me. I didn’t have a diploma, and I was not using government funds during my Seminary studies. But after I became a Mujtahid, my teacher requested permission for me to wear the cleric frock,” he said. The dissident cleric blogger told the Campaign that he believes the Special Court for the Clergy to be illegal. “See, the Clerics Court was formed based only on a procedures manual. According to Articles 159 and 172 of the Iranian Constitution, the the courts of justice are the only official bodies to which all grievances and complaints are to be referred, and Special Military Courts only attend to special crimes committed by military personnel. Also, according to Article 173 of the Constitution, the Administrative Justice Court is also authorized to review the people’s grievances. The legislator only recognizes these three bodies as qualified for review of cases according to the law and does not recognize other bodies as legal. Therefore, the Revolutionary Court and the Special Court for the Clergy are fundamentally illegal and their rulings are not legal. This is why I do not recognize my court and its ruling as valid. Especially where it pertains to the defrocking ruling handed to me. This issue is related to the clerics and the Grand Ayatollahs and is a clear example of the interference of the rulers in the affairs of the Seminary and the clerics. When I was served with my sentence, I told them that you did not frock me to defrock me now, the Grand Ayatollah’s frocked me.”
Dr. Mohamad Nour Audi, a Syrian Red Crescent medic, was arrested by Assad's security forces on March 24, 2012. Since then he has been held in detention at a secret facility. Thus, he is at grave risk of torture and other mistreatment.
As a result of this and other hostile acts taken in Syria by the Assad regime, The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has decided to suspend its activities in various parts of the country, affirming that it has not received protection from the Syrian government which instead is obligated to allow it to carry out all of its interventions in safety.
The Syrian Red Crescent have been accused by Assad's forces of being “untrustworthy” and their crucial work has been undermined, as they have been deemed by the concerned authorities as not being “neutral”. In addition to this, several of their volunteers have lost their lives.
On Friday, June 15, 2012, about 60 members of the "Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations" were arrested by the agents of the Intelligence Ministry after they raided a house in city of Karaj while an annual meeting of the coordinating committee was underway.
Participants in the meeting were severely beaten by the security agents and transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. The majority of detainees were released on June 16th with the exception of two women and seven men who have been detained incommunicado.
Their colleagues and family members are seriously concerned about their safety.
UPDATE APRIL 22, 2013: BEHNAM EBRAHIMZADEH, HAD ONLY A SHORT PRISON FURLOUGH TO VISIT HIS SON NIMA, WHO HAS CANCER. ON BEING FORCED TO RETURN TO PRISON AT SUCH A CRITICAL TIME, HE HAS ISSUED THE FOLLOWING APPEAL: "HOW CAN I GO BACK TO PRISON KNOWING THAT MY CHILD IS VERY ILL--AND THAT THIS INHUMANE INATTENTION TO A VERY SICK CHILD MAY EVEN SHORTEN HIS LIFE?!"
UPDATE: JANUARY 14, 2013 BEHNAM EBRAHIMZADEH, SITTING IN PRISON, HAS JUST FOUND OUT THAT HIS 13-YEAR-OLD SON, HIS BELOVED NIMA, IS IN A HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER. HE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF PRISON NOW! PLEASE SEE HIS APPEAL BELOW:
don’t know when it was, maybe eight to nine days ago, when I heard that my only child, my 13-year old Nima, already overcome by the pain of separation from his father and all kinds of deprivation, has been admitted to Mahak Hospital, a hospital for children with cancer; a bitter experience and a shocking moment, which have pierced deep into my soul.
I don’t know about the condition of my darling child. My wife doesn’t clearly tell me, but she hopes that I would soon be given leave to come and see them. I have therefore asked for leave, which if granted would certainly have a great impact on me and my sick child. This is the only moment in the life of a father, which he doesn’t want to lose under any circumstances. So, thanks to my friends, I have come up with a property surety, and like in the past when I have asked for things, I have been given a favourable answer. But maybe this time too it will turn out to be just words.
Under these circumstances, with thousands of thoughts in my mind about my son Nima, remembering the empty promises of those in charge has turned my suffering into an excruciating pain. I have to be at the side of my sick child. This is my right. I am a political prisoner, whose anguish over his son’s illness has made everything look dark. There are several courses of action open to me, one of which is to go on a dry hunger strike. Maybe I’ll get an answer that way.
I want to choose patience and endurance, while resisting and putting pressure; however, anything can happen. First, deprivation from food, leave, proper visits, telephone, medical care, etc., and now deprivation from the right to be at the side of my sick child is what is going to break me down.
I insist on my demand for leave to visit my child; at the same time, I appeal to everyone to support the rights of my child and to help his recovery. Who would have thought that someone who for years has fought for children’s and workers’ rights, would one day be in prison for his beliefs and defence of children, and then hear that groups of compassionate people, friends and comrades are visiting his sick child, but he himself isn’t able to stroke the feverish head of his child?
I will defy and resist, as I have done up to now, but who is answerable for all this injustice and suffering? Who is responsible for the condition that my child Nima is in?
I have hope in the strong and kind hands of the doctors and nurses, hope in the support of friends, comrades, colleagues and the good and caring people of the country. I am most grateful to all those who over these past days have been asking about my child and who have visited my family and son.
I thank all the doctors and nurses of Mahak Hospital and all those who have been helping to aid the recovery of my son. In the hope of a speedy recovery for my son Nima Ebrahimzadeh and all sick children.
Behnam (As’ad) Ebrahimzadeh
Ward 35, Evin Prison
Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a worker at a polyethylene pipe-manufacturing factory in the outskirts of Tehran, is a member of the Follow Up Committee to Set Up Free Trade Associations and a children’s rights defender.
He reportedly suffered two broken ribs as a result of beatings during his arrest in June 2010, and is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was initially sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in December 2010 on national security charges.
This was overturned by the Supreme Court, and after a retrial he was sentenced to five years in prison after conviction of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”, apparently in connection with his trade unionist activities on behalf of the Follow Up Committee to Set up Free Trade Associations. This sentence was upheld on appeal in October 2011.
Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the Tehran Iran Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), which is affiliated to European International (EI), an international union representing education workers, was arrested in September 2009.
A teacher for 20 years, he was later sentenced to six years in prison for the vaguely worded charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding against national security” in connection with his activities for the association. In January 2011, an appeals court confirmed Rasoul Bodaghi’s sentence and banned him from taking part in any civil society activities for five years.
According to reports, he was severely beaten by two prison officers in May 2010.
Zhila Karamzadeh Makvandi, one of the supporters of The Mothers of Laleh Park (Mourning Mothers), was arrested by the security forces on Tuesday, December 7 2011 and has been serving a 2 year prison sentence at the notorious Evin Prison.
She had previously been arrested on February 8, 2009, while at home and spend 34 days in ward 209 of the Evin prison and was later released with a 50 million toman bond. On January 2010, Karamzadeh Makvandi had been sentenced on vague charges by a preliminary court to four years unsuspended term which was later reduced to two years unsuspended term and two years suspended term by an appeal court.
Arrest and imprisonment of Zhila Karamzadeh Makvandi, not only shows the ruling class› disregard for freedom of thought and speech and international agreements, but in addition, not permitting prisoners medical leave and or denying them needed medical attention is clear disregard for human rights agreements, including section two, paragraph 22 of The Prisoners Rights Convention, which indicates the transfer of sick prisoners in need of special care to non military specialty hospitals.
Mothers of Laaleh Park (Mourning Mothers of Iran) was founded in response to 33 years of killings and crimes committed by Islamic Republic, and to show solidarity and sympathy with Grieving Mothers. In response the regime has subjected these brave women with pressures, threats, detentions, and heavy handed prison sentences. By continually handing prison sentences for Mothers of Laaleh Park, the Islamic Republic is clearly demonstrating its high level of violation of human rights, and its disregard for freedom and justice. Not yet through with the news of prison sentences for Jila Karmzadeh Makvandi, Leila Seyfollahi, Nader Ahsani, Omolbanain Ebrahimi, Jila Mahdavian, Maryam Najafi, and Mansoureh Behkish, we have received news that prison sentences have also been ordered for three other individuals by the names of Hakimeh Shokri, Neda Mostaghimi, and Mr. Ramezani (the father of Ramin Ramezani, killed on the street in 2009), as well as another individual by the name of Seyed Mohammad Ebrahimi, charged with helping Mothers of Laaleh Park.
Prison sentences for Jila Karamzadeh Makvandi, Leila Seyfolahi, and Nader Ahsani have been affirmed in the Appeals Court and Jila Karmzadeh has been detained as of Dec 27, 2011. The sentences for other mothers from Mothers of Laaleh Park are in preliminary stages.
The chief editor of the suspended weekly Sobhe Azadi, Reza Jelodarzadeh was sentenced by the revolutionary court to one year in prison on charges of anti-regime propaganda. Jelodarzade was also accused of harming national security and plotting the downfall of the regime but was aquitted of these charges.
On May 26, 2012, he turned himself in to the notorious Evin Prison to begin serving his unjust prison sentence. In a final appeal to people of goodwill around the world, he simply asked: "PRAY FOR ME". Full text of his farewell to freedom:
' "We” or maybe I should say: “I” am crazy. When I used to argue with my father (god bless his soul) saying “Dad … I don’t want to become a doctor, I like Hafez … I want to become a poet …” At the time, I hadn’t thought about this side of the story. Swear the god … and afterwards … when I was only a kid, who still hadn’t had a bloody single hair grown on his face, I went to the war front. Instead of wanting to become a poet, now I wanted to become a martyr! And Instead of becoming a martyr I got wounded in the battle and got totally wrecked. For this reason I got my diploma with 2 years of delay because I wasn’t feeling well at all. My poor mother suffered so much. I did not become a poet, and I became a so called “journalist”! How miserable I was. It was the god damn John Stuart Mill’s fault. I don’t know… perhaps my brother in law is to be blamed for having left a copy of the book On Liberty in our house ….
'It’s time to get ready now and go to have a one-year rest … I thank everyone who became the promoters and the cause of my upcoming one-year rest. From the good old “Mash Nabi” in our neighbourhood who always used to give political speeches to me and others in my age group, to my uncle god bless his soul, even though he only used to criticize and swear at things. From our local butcher Karbalayi Mahmoud who used to tell me “if you ever become a journalist, write a protest in your paper asking why they constantly increase the price of meat?” to the British John Stuart Mill with his old book. From my brother in law with his distracted mind to the judge assigned on my case with his religious duties and his punishing sentence. I thank everyone all and all. Now I have to get up and get my injections and my medicines before heading for Evin. It wouldn’t be correct to have the “brothers” take the trouble to come all the way to my home to arrest me and take me away with them.
'Farewell to all of you my dear friends until round about this time next year. Hopefully I will return and we meet up again on this very same page. Oh god … Pray for me' …