#Human Rights
Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament
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UPDATE AUGUST 10, 2106--Iran has handed down a three-year prison sentence to prominent reformist journalist Isa Saharkhiz.
A court found Saharkhiz guilty of "insulting Iranian officials" and "propaganda against the regime" on August 9. Speaking to Iranian Students' News Agency, Saharkhiz's lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabatei, said after months of waiting, his client had been issued a verdict — although not for all of the charges against him. 
Revolutionary Guards arrested Saharkhiz on November 2, 2015, and arrested fellow journalists Ehsan Mazandarani, Afarin Chitsaz, and Saman Safarzaei and the brother of a journalist, Davoud Asadi, a day later. The guards accused them of being part of an “infiltration network.” In April, all three were given long prison sentences, but Saharkhiz was tried separately. Chitsaz was released in July pending appeal, but Mazandarani and Safarzaei remain incarcerated, and Mazandarani has suffered a heart attack since being jailed.
Saharkhiz has also suffered poor health since being detained, partially due to repeated hunger strikes, one lasting 48 days. He has also been held in solitary confinement for long periods.
Speaking to Journalism is Not a Crime in November 2014, Saharkhiz’s son Mehdi said: “My father wasn’t doing anything. He was posting on Facebook, maybe talking in different groups, and writing articles for different websites. He was just putting his opinion out there, which according to the Iranian constitution is his right to do. This arrest is completely illegal; it doesn’t have any basis. There is absolutely no evidence presented as what these charges are based on."
Saharkhiz previously spent four years in prison in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election.
Judges have not reached a verdict for other charges leveled against Saharkhiz.
SOURCE: IranWire

UPDATE MARCH 10, 2016--Issa Saharkhiz, imprisoned reformist journalist and former political prisoner, was hospitalized on March 9, 2016 due to life-threatening health deterioration from successive hunger strikes.

“My father has lost more than 20 kilograms. My family says he looks like someone entirely different. It is natural for anyone to develop severe problems and weight loss after some time on hunger strike,” Saharkhiz’s son, Mehdi Saharkhiz, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Issa Saharkhiz described the inhumane conditions he has suffered since his November 1, 2015 arrest in a letter from prison published on March 8.

“I was often locked up in a solitary cell which is a form of ‘white torture’ [psychological and mental torture]. Even when someone else shared a cell with me, it was just to look after me, as, due to various reasons and different illnesses, I have repeatedly fallen down in the room, the bathrooms, the courtyard, during fresh air breaks, etc., due to a severe drop in my blood pressure and poor blood circulation to my brain,” he wrote.

Solitary confinement is a common tactic used in Iran to increase psychological pressure on a prisoner to extract a false confession. Such “confessions” are then used as evidence to convict—and frequently broadcast over Iran’s state TV in order to defame the individual.

Saharkhiz ended his latest hunger strike, which had lasted two weeks, on March 7 after he was transferred from solitary confinement inside Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A—controlled by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization—to Ward 8. Saharkhiz has protested his detention and inhumane conditions by enduring three hunger strikes since his arrest.

“I also had severe seizures a few times. After three-and-a-half months, and only on orders from the representative of the Legal Medicine Organization, was I transferred to the infirmary at Evin Prison,” wrote Saharkhiz. “I have not received even a simple electroencephalogram (EEG) for diagnosis of this new, unknown condition. Naturally, when a medical examination which is critical to a prisoner’s health is neglected, the prisoner’s other rights are also neglected.”

Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for particularly harsh prison treatment, which often includes denial of medical care.

Issa Saharkhiz’s letter was published on his son Mehdi’s Facebook and Twitter accounts on March 8.

“It is clear they have a personal vendetta against my father; otherwise they would not treat a human being like this. Even a murderer would not be treated like this,” Mehdi Saharkhiz told the Campaign. “Saeed Mortazavi [former Tehran Prosecutor] who is even accused of murder, was released on a small bond, and he is comfortably walking on Tehran streets. The Judiciary is kind to those who flatter it, and treats those who criticize it very inhumanely.”

Agents from the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization arrested Issa Saharkhiz, a political activist and well-known reformist journalist, on November 1, 2015.

Charged with “assembly and collusion for acting against national security,” and “propaganda against the state,” Saharkhiz was scheduled to appear before Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Courts on March 5, 2016. But because his lawyers had not been allowed access to his case until trial day, they requested a postponement.

Saharkhiz wrote that he has been denied access to a towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste. He added that he has also been denied access to state television, newspapers, and even religious books such as the Quran, and that his only contact with the outside world is a state radio broadcasted into his cell.

Saharkhiz said he has been arrested for his journalistic work: “If I have committed a crime, it is of a journalistic nature, and whatever the court is using as evidence and which has been reflected in my indictment is based on my writings.”

He also pointed out that according to Article 168 of the Iranian constitution, political and press-related crimes must be tried in the presence of a jury.

“It is clear that such charges do not need detention, especially not an illegal detention for more than four months, and it is necessary for the detention orders to be cancelled immediately—a point I continuously made to the case experts [interrogators], and they had promised to close this case within a month at the most,” he wrote.

Noting that being active on social media networks like Facebook and Telegram is not illegal, Saharkhiz wrote that his interrogators had tried to convince him otherwise: “While the Prosecutor General has given an interview on this topic and has not announced a legal barrier for using these networks, the experts [interrogators] considered it illegal and called the Prosecutor General ‘uninformed,’ just as they called many government and state officials ‘amateurs,’ and even ‘traitors.’”

“Such perception and attitude was so prevalent that they even called those working in the government and the president’s colleagues as ‘individuals with issues.’”

Saharkhiz added that although his interrogators described themselves as lawful citizens, they admitted to participating in illegal gatherings “such as the sit-in in front of the Parliament while the nuclear agreement was being approved, the illegal occupation of the British Embassy, and the raid on the Saudi Arabian Embassy, where they were involved directly or indirectly.”

“It must be examined whether these individuals, known as law enforcement agents, have committed ‘assembly and collusion and propaganda against the state,’ causing the emergence of massive negative effects and financial, moral, and international consequences for the state, or people like me, who have had nothing to do with such events!” he wrote.

Saharkhiz previously spent nearly five years in prison for publishing political commentaries critical of the widely disputed results of Iran’s 2009 presidential elections.

Saharkhiz also previously served in President Mohammed Khatami’s reformist administration (1997-2005) as head of the press department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
SOURCE: International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran

URGENT UPDATE FEBRUARY 24, 2016--IMPRISONED, ILL IRANIAN JOURNALIST ISSA SAHARKHIZ LAUNCHES 3RD HUNGER STRIKE AFTER BEING MOVED TO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: The imprisoned political journalist Issa Saharkhiz has resumed his hunger strike after being placed in solitary confinement on February 21, 2016 despite having lost an alarming amount of weight. He has also not been allowed to meet with his lawyer, according to his son.

“My father has lost more than 20 kilos (44 lbs.). When my family saw him more than 10 days ago, they said he did not look well at all, physically. Now they have transferred him to solitary and we have no news at all [about his health],” Mehdi Saharkhiz told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Saharkhiz has been charged with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state” but has not been allowed to meet with his lawyer nor has Saharkhiz’s lawyer been allowed to read the indictment.

“Why aren’t they treating prisoners according to their own laws? According to the law, those accused of political crimes should be tried by a jury. The law says the accused should be released from detention after interrogation until the start of the trial. But none of these laws are being carried out,” said Mehdi Saharkhiz. “Why do they expect others to surrender to the law but they themselves don’t do so?”

“My father had a two-minute telephone conversation with the family and all he was able to say was…that he was being taken to solitary. Obviously he was not allowed to say why on the phone,” he said.

“The trial starts on March 5 but my father’s lawyer has not been able to read the case file or have a meeting with him,” Mehdi Saharkhiz told the Campaign.

After being moved to solitary confinement on February 21, 2016, Saharkhiz protested by going on his third wet hunger strike since his arrest on November 1, 2015. He has also refused to take his medications, according to his son.

Saharkhiz’s trial will be held on March 5, 2016 at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, according to his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaee.

A crackdown has been underway in Iran for the past several months, with journalists, reformist-aligned activists, artists, and other figures targeted for arrest and prosecution by hardliners as the country approaches critical Parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections on February 26, 2016.

Saharkhiz, a prominent reformist journalist, previously spent nearly five years in prison for publishing political commentaries critical of the outcome of Iran’s contested 2009 presidential elections.

Saharkhiz also previously served in President Mohammed Khatami’s reformist administration (1997-2005) as head of the press department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
SOURCE: International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran
URGENT UPDATE FEBRUARY 12, 2016--Mehdi Saharkhiz, son of imprisoned Iranian reform journalist Issa Saharkhiz, reports that on Friday February 12 his father began a DRY prison hunger strike to protest his ongoing, illegal detention. Furthermore, Mr. Saharkhiz is under pressure from his jailers to make a false confession. Toward that end they have confiscated his prescription eyeglasses, toothbrush, Koran and prescription medications.

UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2016-- ISSA SHAHARKHIZ RESUMES "WET" HUNGER STRIKE, THREATENS "DRY" HUNGER STRIKE IN TWO WEEKS--After two months of detention, the prominent reformist journalist and political activist Issa Saharkhiz has resumed his hunger strike, in protest against his ongoing detention at Evin Prison. Mehdi Saharkhiz, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that his father’s wet hunger resumed on Wednesday, January 6, 2015.

“My father has been in temporary detention for more than two months. He should be released on bail or put on trial but nothing is happening. My father’s lawyer has made numerous requests to post bail but they have not agreed to it and are not saying why,” he said.

“My father has restarted a hunger strike to protest against this kind of treatment and his unclear status. He said if they don’t investigate his case in the next two weeks he’s then going to go into a dry hunger strike [refusing liquids, as well] and will also stop taking his pills.”

Issa Saharkhiz had been on a hunger strike for some 50 days, from the day of his arrest on November 1, 2015 until December 21, 2015. He stopped the strike only at the urging of several prominent religious and political figures, including the pro-reform Grand Ayatollah Saanei, former President Mohammad Khatami, and the prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Mehdi Saharkhiz, who lives in the United States, told the Campaign that family members in Iran had twice visited his father in Evin Prison since his arrest. “He seemed in good spirits but physically weaker and thinner, especially after 50 days on a hunger strike.”

Issa Saharkhiz, who spent nearly five years in prison for his objections to the widely disputed result of Iran’s 2009 presidential elections, which resulted in the hardline Ahmadinejad presidency, has now been accused of “gathering and colluding against national security” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” in his writings after he was released from prison in October 2013, according to his son.

“There’s no proof for any of these charges. Since his release, my father has not been in any gathering, nor has he colluded against the state. This is a very strange accusation,” Mehdi Saharkhiz said.

In addition to Issa Saharkhiz, three other journalists were arrested on November 1, 2015, by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization: Ehsan Mazandarani, Afarin Chitsaz and Saman Safarzaie, all of whom remain in detention.

A crackdown has been underway in Iran for many months, with journalists and reformist figures especially targeted by hardliners for arrest and prosecution under catch-all national security charges. The crackdown, which has also been directed at independent artistic and cultural figures, has intensified as the country approaches critical Parliamentary elections in February 2016.
SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

UPDATE DECEMBER 11, 2015: After over a month of being held in isolation, Issa Saharkhiz was finally allowed a meeting with his family. According to his son, he is on hunger strike.


The political journalist Issa Saharkhiz has been arrested on charges of “intending to disrupt national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader,” according to his son Mehdi.

Mehdi Saharkhiz told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards took away his father to an unknown location on the morning of November 1, 2015.

The arrest takes place within the context of an intensifying crackdown by hardliners against reformists in Iran. The backlash began after the centrist Rouhani was elected to the presidency by a wide margin in 2013 but has increased significantly since the Rouhani administration signed the nuclear deal with world powers in July 2015.

“Six males and one female agent from the Revolutionary Guards entered our home with a warrant at 7:00 in the morning. They searched the whole house and took away my father with his personal belongings, including a photograph of [the former presidential candidate under house arrest for the last four years] Mir Hossein Mousavi. They didn’t say where they were taking him,” Mehdi Saharkhiz said.

Mehdi added that his father told the family before being taken away that he was going on a wet hunger strike immediately but if he was not released in two weeks he would start a dry hunger strike (refusing food and water).

Issa Saharkhiz, whose earlier political commentaries landed him in prison for five years (he was released in 2013), suffers from heart disease, among other ailments, which required hospitalization during his time in prison.

Since his release he has been giving interviews to the media and expressing his views on Iranian political affairs on his Facebook page. But he has not broken any laws, his son insisted.

“Ali Khamenei has a personal vendetta against those who criticize him. My father is one of those who has frankly criticized him,” Mehdi Saharkhiz told the Campaign.

Issa Saharkhiz was previously arrested on July 3, 2009, during the political upheavals after the disputed presidential election that year. He was sentenced to three years in prison and five years banishment from political and journalistic activities by Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran for “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “propaganda against the state.” He received an additional two-year prison sentence on August 5, 2011, for his journalistic activities prior to 2009. He was released on October 3, 2013, just two months before the end of his prison term.


Eighteen months since imprisoned journalist Issa Saharkhiz was transferred to a hospital for severe health issues, Iranian officials have yet to excuse him from serving his sentence or to release him on furlough, causing him to remain a prisoner in the hospital, his son told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“My father suffers from cardiac problems and severe blood pressure fluctuations, and his kidneys are 70% disabled. During this time, none of his illnesses have improved and the doctors are only trying to make sure he doesn’t get any worse. The Medical Examiner confirmed my father’s illnesses and recommended medical furlough or [a ruling of] ‘inability to endure punishment.’ A year ago, my father’s specialized physicians wrote a letter, stating that he must be monitored by doctors at all times, but that it’s not necessary for him to spend the nights in the hospital. My family can plan my father’s physical therapy and examination appointments, and bring him to the hospital every day. But despite reviewing the letters from the hospital physicians and the Medical Examiner, the Prosecutor’s Office has not yet agreed with the recommendations and he has been imprisoned inside the hospital like this for 1.5 years,” Mehdi Saharkhiz said about his father’s conditions.

Issa Saharkhiz, journalist and political activist, was arrested in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election. Security forces assaulted Saharkhiz during his arrest, breaking his ribs. After the 2009 arrest, Judge Abolghassem Salavati, “the Judge of Death” of Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, sentenced Issa Saharkhiz to three years in prison on the charges of insulting the Supreme Leader and propaganda against the regime. In August 2011, he was sentenced to two additional years of imprisonment for his prior press activities. With the deterioration of his physical condition, Saharkhiz was transferred from Rajaee Shahr Prison to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Hospital in February 2012, where he has remained since.

“The Prosecutor says that these things are none of their business and that they are related to higher authorities, but by ‘higher authorities,’ they don’t mean the Head of the Judiciary. They mean a three-person team comprised of Mr. Taeb from the Supreme Leader’s Office, Mojtaba Khamenei, and [Prosecutor General] Mohseni Ejei, who make all the decisions, even down to whether or not a prisoner can go on furlough or not. Therefore, in effect, not only does the Prosecutor have no role in this, even the Head of the Judiciary has none, either, and they both only maintain appearances,” Saharkhiz told the Campaign about the Prosecutor’s response to inquiries.

Mehdi Saharkhiz told the Campaign that his family requested medical furlough for Issa Saharkhiz so that he could go home and his very high hospital bills could be reduced. He added that his family is also responsible for the expenses of his father’s prison guards. “In addition to the high medical expenses of my father, the family also has to pay for the food and the companion beds the of the prison guards accompanying him. His health insurance does not pay the cost of beds and food for his companions and under such difficult economic times, my family has to accept these costs. We are not the only ones in this situation; other prisoners sent to hospitals are in the same position. Currently, Mohsen Aminzadeh and Abolfazl Ghadyani are at the same hospital as my father and under similar conditions,” he added.

Mehdi Saharkhiz told the Campaign that his father takes 23 different medications every day. “My father had no illnesses before prison, but the first time he was hospitalized after his imprisonment, the physicians prescribed 23 different medications for him, including pills, capsules, and injections, whereas he did not use any medications before,” said Mehdi Saharkhiz. “A part of these illnesses were caused by the situation of interrogations and solitary cells. Why should someone like my father be so severely beaten at arrest time to suffer broken ribs, a damaged rib cage, and a damaged tendon in his left hand?” Mehdi Saharkhiz said.

SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran


Ailing Incarcerated Journalist Isa Saharkhiz Launches Hunger Strike Following His Transfer Back to Rajai Shahr Prison

Following his transfer from the hospital back to Rajai Shahr prison on Saturday night, imprisoned journalist and political prisoner Isa Saharkhiz launched a hunger strike, including refusing his medication in protest to judicial non compliance with the terms of his case file.

The physicians at Rajai Shahr prison reportedly published a letter on Sunday declaring that as previously stated they are unable to provide the necessary medical care to Saharkhiz at Rajai Shahr, reiterating that given that his life is in danger they cannot accept any responsibility for his life.

Saharkhiz had been receiving medical treatment for the past six months under arrest conditions at a hospital. When the Summit of the Non Aligned Movement commenced in Tehran, Saharkhiz was transferred from the hospital at 10:00 pm on Tuesday, August 28th, to Ward 209 at Evin prison. Protesting this unlawful transfer, Saharkhiz launched a hunger strike on the night he was transferred and began refusing medication a few days later.

Saharkkhiz had previously warned that he would launch a hunger strike in the event that the authorities decide to act against the recommendations of his physicians and transfer him back to the hospital.

Saharkhiz has launched this hunger strike despite the fact that his physicians had banned him from fasting during the month of Ramadan because of his heart and kidney condition. Given the latest reports, his family's concerns for his physical condition and well being have intensified.

Source: Kaleme: http://www.kaleme.com/1391/06/20/klm-112218/


On August 5, 2011 it was reported jailed Iranian journalist Issa Saharkhiz has received an additional two years on top of his three-year prison term.

Iran’s Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that the judiciary issued the sentence based on Saharkhiz's previous journalistic activities.

Shahrkhiz is a prominent government critic and founder of the Society for the Defence of Free Press. He was arrested in July 2009 amid widespread protests over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory in the presidential elections.

Last September, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "insulting the leader and propaganda activities against the regime.” He has also been banned from journalistic and political activities for five years and is forbidden to travel abroad for one year.

As a result of the new sentence, he is now serving a five-year prison term.

Recently, Saharkhiz wrote a letter to the new United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur for Iran, Ahmad Shaheed, urging him to visit Iranian prisons and adding that "what is now going on in Iranian prisons is a crime against humanity and is just as bad as Stalin’s inhumane forced labour camps in Siberia."

Saharkhiz warned that the objective of the Iranian authorities is "to kill the protesting prisoners silently and gradually." Saharkhiz adds that the prison situation is so dire that "other disastrous events" could come at any moment. He urged Special Rapporteur Shaheed to act immediately to inform the public of the prisoners' plight, stressing that any delay will only result in more deaths.

Amnesty International issued a statement in August 2011 calling for immediate action in the case of nine Iranian prisoners suffering from very poor health. The rights group called for their immediate release, including Issa Saharkhiz.

Shahrkhiz is currently in Karaj's Rejai-Shahr Prison, notorious for its deplorable conditions and mistreatment of prisoners, where authorities have denied him sick leave, despite the doctors’ recommendations.

WHEREAS: In November 2015 Issa Saharkhiz was once again arrested during a massive wave of repression by the Revolutionary Guards against Iranian journalists and social media administrators, and in August 2016 was sentenced to three years in prison for Facebook posts, which is ILLEGAL under Articles 18 and 109 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Iran is a signatory) as well as Article 24 of the Iranian Constitution;

AND WHEREAS: As of Friday February 12 2016 Mr. Saharkhiz launched a dry hunger strike even as his jailers pressure him to make a false confession by confiscating such items as his prescription eyeglasses and much-needed prescription medications;

AND WHEREAS: Needed medical care is being denied to gravely ill Issa Saharkhiz, WHICH IS ILLEGAL. Both international law and Iranian national law require that prison authorities afford adequate medical care to all those in their custody. Iran’s State Prison Organization regulations also provide that prison inmates be transferred to hospital outside the prison facility, when necessary. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners require that authorities transfer all those held needing specialist treatment to specialized institutions, including civilian hospitals;

AND WHEREAS: Issa Saharkhiz is a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for his work as a journalist and for publicly expressing his opinions;

THEREFORE, we the undersigned demand that the international community bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Issa Saharkhiz from prison.

2. Repeal both prison sentences as well as all charges brought against Issa Saharkhiz.

3. Immediately provide all health care which Issa Saharkhiz urgently requires as a result of the deplorable conditions he has suffered in the terrible Rajai-Shahr Prison.

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The Free Seriously ILL Iranian Journalist Issa Saharkhiz, Sentenced To Another Three Years For Facebook Posts petition to Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.