Petition Tag - islamic republic of iran

1. Free Tehran Art Gallery Owners Karan Vafadari and Afarin Nayssari

March 10, 2017—Serious and baseless new charges have been brought against Karan Vafadari and Afarin Nayssari, the dual-national Iranian-American and his wife who have been imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison without any evidence of wrong doing or due process for almost eight months.
The couple, art gallery owners in Tehran who are prominent in the Iranian artistic and cultural community, were arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization at Tehran’s airport on July 20, 2016—ostensibly for serving alcohol in their home and hosting mixed-gender parties. The new charges, detailed in a blog by Vafadari’s sister, Kateh on March 8, 2016, include attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic and recruiting spies through foreign embassies.
Their imprisonment, the latest in a long string of cases, reflects the determination on the part of the Guards and their cohorts in the Judiciary to intimidate dual nationals from western countries and exact a brutal cost for those who dare interact with diplomats and foreigners from the West.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Karan Vafadari and Afarin Nayssari, whose imprisonment on completely unsubstantiated charges and without any evidence of wrongdoing represents a brazen defiance of the law.
“With complete impunity, the Guards and their accomplices in the Judiciary are destroying the lives of innocent people,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI. “They grab people and throw them into prison without any evidence or the ability to defend themselves, and then hand-pick a judge who will press home the attack with a conviction and harsh sentence.”
The case has been marked by continuous denials of due process from the start. As detailed in the blog by Vafadari’s sister:
Shortly after the couple’s arrest they were taken in handcuffs to their home and then to their gallery, where items of art were either confiscated or destroyed.
They were denied access to counsel for months and held for extensive periods in solitary confinement.
During intensive interrogations, Afarin Nayssari was told to spy on her friends in the art world and her husband; when she refused, she was returned to solitary confinement.
Most of the original charges were dropped by the prosecutor for lack of any evidence.
The earlier charges included serving alcohol in the home and organizing mixed-gender parties for diplomats—even though Vafadari is Zoroastrian and under Iranian law not subject to Islamic laws on alcohol and mixed gatherings.
The judge selected for the case was Abolqasem Salavati, a notoriously hardline judge routinely picked for dual national cases and other politicized cases in which the Guards and the Judiciary are seeking an unquestioning and harsh ruling.
At the preliminary hearing, the earlier charges dropped due to lack of any evidence were re-instated by Judge Salavati.
Judge Salavati did not allow the couple’s lawyer to be present at the preliminary hearing—and ordered the couple to dismiss their lawyer.
“Of course the Guards and the Judiciary are denying due process to those they imprison unjustly,” said Ghaemi, “because if they had to present evidence, allow full access to a lawyer, and let an independent Judiciary rule on the case, these people would all be immediately freed.”
The imprisonment of Vafadari and Nayssari also appears motivated by greed: the Islamic Republic has a long and documented history of unlawfully confiscating private property, especially that belonging to those with whom the authorities do not favor. The family of Vafadari reported continuous calls right after the couple’s arrest demanding money, and noted that the charges brought would allow the seizure of the couple’s extensive properties.
In a public letter by the former Italian Ambassador to Iran, Roberto Toscano, the Ambassador expressed outrage at Vafadari’s and Niasari’s arrest and refuted the authorities’ justification for their detention, saying that “One has to be truly gullible and the easy victim of propaganda” to accept such charges. He continued, “The reason must be a different one…political blackmail toward the US (of which they are also citizens), envy for their success, intimidation toward the Zoroastrian community, desire to grab their properties, [and] repression of contemporary art.”
Vafadari’s sister, Kateh, has implored “all those who stand for civil liberties, artistic freedom, minority rights and Iran’s self-determination…[to] write letters of support asking for Karan and Afarin’s immediate release” to Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN and to Iran’s Head of the Judiciary.
SOURCE: Center For Human Rights In Iran

2. Free Austrian-Iranian Businessman Kamran Ghaderi, Sentenced to 10 Years On False "Spy" Charges

October 20, 2016 -- The wife of an Iranian-Austrian man sentenced recently by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison on spying charges has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband is a "simple businessman" unjustly imprisoned.

Hanika Ghaderi's husband, businessman Kamran Ghaderi, was initially detained in Tehran in January but his conviction and sentence for espionage and cooperation with the United States were revealed earlier this week.

"How can they say something like that about Kamran? I don't understand," Ghaderi's wife said, adding that he had no ties to the United States and was not involved in politics.

She said the family is planning to appeal the sentence.

Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on October 18 that the 52-year-old Ghaderi was among six individuals who received 10-year sentences for what he described as spying and working with the hostile government in Washington. The others include 80-year-old Iranian-American Baquer Namazi and his son Siamak Namazi, Farhad Abd-Saleh, Alireza Omidvar, and Nizar Zakka.

Ghaderi is the CEO of Avanoc, an IT management and consulting company that has worked in Iran for many years, his wife told Radio Farda.
"Everything he's [been] doing is legal," she added.

Hanika Ghaderi said her husband was among a number of Austrian businessmen and companies at an official Austrian-Iranian trade meeting in Tehran in 2015 that was attended by senior officials, including former Austrian President Heinz Fischer.
"He was working in Iran; it's not forbidden," she said.

She said Ghaderi, a father of three, was detained during a business trip to Iran and was being held at Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

The family did not publicize the case at the time on advice from Ghaderi's lawyer, she said, adding that he had assured them that her husband would be released.
Bu the prison sentence has prompted her to speak out in the media.

Her husband was allowed to call his mother in April for the first time since his arrest, she said. Since then, she added, Ghaderi's mother has been allowed to visit him in prison every second week.

Ghaderi's wife said that her husband has lost a lot of weight since his arrest.

3. Halt Flogging of Iranian Journalist Mohammad Reza Fathi

AUGUST 22, 2016: Reporters Without Borders Reports that an appeal court in the city of Saveh, in central Iran, has upheld a lower court’s decision that the Saveh-based journalist and blogger Mohammad Reza Fathi should be flogged because of his posts about city officials.

Under the original ruling handed down on 13 April, Fathi was sentenced to 444 lashes (to be administered in six sessions of 74 lashes) on charges of defamation and publishing false information. In its 12 July ruling, the appeal court confirmed the decision to flog Fathi but modified the sentence. It sentenced him to three sessions of 77 lashes for defamation and three sessions of 76 lashes for publishing false information – for an increased total of 459 lashes.

But the appeal court added that only the second sentence (three sessions of 76 lashes) will be administered in accordance with article 134 of the new Islamic penal code (as amended in 2013), which says that when a defendant is given more than one sentence on criminal charges, only the sentence corresponding to the gravest charge is implemented.

4. Free Peaceful Iranian Political Activist, Author Kourosh Zaim, 77, Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

AUGUST 22, 2016--The four-year prison sentence handed down to imprisoned author and peaceful political activist Kourosh Zaim has no legal basis and the 77-year-old should be immediately released because of his advanced age, his lawyer Giti Pourfazel told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“This sentence, which was issued while he was imprisoned, seems to be the enforcement of a suspended sentence he had previously received, but the details are not clear,” said the prominent human rights lawyer. “These cases [against political prisoners] are handled unlawfully and the authorities don’t allow the lawyer or even the condemned person to access their file.”

Zaim, a leading member of the banned National Front, one of Iran’s oldest secular opposition parties, was arrested on July 16, 2016 and handed a four-year prison sentence a week later on July 23 without his lawyer’s knowledge. The pro-democracy activist was previously arrested on multiple occasions for his peaceful activities; he was detained for 47 days in 2006, 91 days in 2009 and 27 days in 2011.

In April 2012 Zaim was sentenced to three years in prison and banned from political and media activities for five years for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state” by Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 14 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, but the prison sentence was suspended for five years by the Appeals Court because of his old age.

Zaim was put on trial again on August 1, 2015 for “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to one year in prison by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. 

“We filed an appeal against the one-year sentence, but Mr. Zaim was arrested again before the Appeals Court issued a final ruling. He also had a three-year suspended sentence. They seem to have combined his prison sentences and put them into effect,” Pourafzal told the Campaign. “In any case, we believe that their action is unlawful. His prison sentence [issued in 2015] was for a year, at most, and we had requested that he be freed as soon as possible considering the time he has already spent in prison and his inability to tolerate prison conditions in his advanced age,”

Zaim, who has written and translated many books on Iranian politics, was persecuted by the Pahlavi dynasty as well the Islamic Republic for his activities with the National Front. The group, founded by ousted former Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and other secular politicians in the 1940s, became an ally of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini one year before the 1979 revolution, but was banned in 1981 for opposing theocratic rule.

Giti Pourfazel, a prominent human rights lawyer, announced her retirement in July 2016 but is still handling the cases that were in process prior to her announcement.

5. Free Iranian American Father & Son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, Sentenced To 10 Years

October 18, 2016: Mizan News Agency, a website linked to Iran’s judiciary, reported today that Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison. On October 16, the same news agency published a short video showing Siamak Namazi’s arrest as evidence of “America’s humiliation.”

According to Mizan, the two men were convicted of “cooperating with the hostile government of America.” Beyond that, no charges have been officially made public. In April, the Namazis’ lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, told IranWire that he had been denied access to his clients’ case files.
Some hardline media outlets have called the Namazis’ arrest “Iran’s biggest intelligence catch.” Today, the hardline paper Vatan called Siamak Namazi the “kingfish” of a “British-run” network.

Siamak Namazi is the head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum, which has its headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. He previously worked as an energy consultant for the Dubai-based Access Consulting Group. He was arrested in October 2015 during a trip to visit his family in Tehran. His 80-year old father, Baquer Namazi, was arrested on February 22, 2016, when he arrived in Iran to visit his imprisoned son.

On the eve of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Baquer Namazi was the provincial governor of Khuzestan. He later worked a representative of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in several African countries.

In February, Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, published an article reporting that Namazi was arrested in order “to uncover the complex layers of vast financial and intelligence corruption by a network that is associated with the UK and America.” The piece also stated that Baquer is accused of training his son Siamak in “espionage and infiltration and subversion operations.”

According to Fars News, one of the charges against Siamak Namazi was his founding of the “Non-Governmental Mutual Assistance Institute of Iran,” an NGO which it said was involved in organizing the “English-American riots,” a reference to the mass demonstrations that followed Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Fars Reported that Siamak Namazi had also been charged with membership in, and extensive connections to agencies that are affiliated to the United Nations; connections to Gary Sick (an Iran specialist at Columbia University who served as member of the US National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan), membership of the Gulf/2000 Project (a project Gary Sick directs at Columbia University), close ties to US State Department spokesman Alan E. Eyre and to John D. Sullivan, director of CIPE (the Center for International Private Enterprise) and his connections to the Ford Foundation and NIAC (the National Iranian American Council).”

Tabatabaei told IranWire his client had rejected the charge of cooperation with a hostile government. “According to the Supreme Council of National Security, which responded to an inquiry about this, Iran does not consider the US to be a hostile government,” said Tabatabaei. “A ‘hostile government’ has a clear definition and legally it is the job of the Supreme Council of National Security to define it.”

Now, it seems that the Iranian Judiciary believes that it can decide by itself which government is hostile, and has convicted both men based on its own definition.
Since the Namazis’ arrest, American officials have repeatedly demanded their release. With this sentence, diplomatic efforts to secure their release must enter a new phase.
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March 3, 2016 The United Nations Children's Fund said on Thursday it is worried about the health and well-being of one of its former officials, an elderly man jailed in Iran for more than a week.

Baquer Namazi, whose son Siamak has been jailed in Iran since October, was himself arrested on Feb. 22 and taken to Tehran's Evin Prison, his wife said last week on social media. Both the elder Namazi and his son are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.

Baquer Namazi, a former Iranian provincial governor, served as UNICEF representative in Somalia, Kenya, Egypt and elsewhere before retiring in 1996, UNICEF said in a statement.

"Current and former UNICEF colleagues are deeply concerned about the health and well-being of Baquer Namazi," the statement said. "We hope he will be reunited soon with his wife and loved ones."

Baquer Namazi is 80 years old and has a serious heart and other conditions which require special medication, his wife Effie Namazi said last week.

His son Siamak was most recently working for Crescent Petroleum in the United Arab Emirates, and previously headed a consulting business in Iran.

Iranian officials have not issued formal charges against either man. Friends of Siamak Namazi have said that he may have become a pawn in factional struggles among hardliners, pragmatists and reformers, each with economic and political interests.

Elections in Iran last week strengthened centrists and reformists allied with President Hassan Rouhani, but his scope to permit more social and political freedom is constrained by hardliners' control of the judiciary, security forces and state media.

SOURCE: Reuters

6. Reverse Jail, Flogging Sentence For Father of Saeed Zeinali, Iranian Student Missing Since 1999 Arrest

The 70-year-old father of a student who has not been heard from for 17 years since his arrest has been sentenced to 91 days in prison and 74 lashes for “disturbing public order” by allegedly participating in a gathering in support of an imprisoned spiritual leader. But Hashem Zeinali was only there to demand answers about his son and got mixed into the crowd, according to his wife.

Speaking to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Akram Neghabi said the focus of her husband’s interrogation indicated that the authorities targeted Neghabi for seeking answers about their son rather than having any connection to the case of the spiritual leader, Mohammad Ali Taheri, who has been persecuted for his alternative spiritual beliefs.

“My husband told the judge that he respects Mr. Taheri and his followers but my husband is searching for our missing son and that’s why he was in front of Evin Prison on that day holding our son Saeed’s picture,” Neghabi told the Campaign.

“During interrogations, the Revolutionary Guards told my husband that they had not arrested our son and he should take back his accusations, therefore they knew he was not a Taheri follower,” she said.

“The judge in this case is irrelevant. It was the interrogators who wanted this punishment for my husband. They know very well that my husband is not a follower of Mr. Taheri and he was not in front of Evin Prison to defend him,” Neghabi told the Campaign.

Neghabi said the lawyer defending her husband, Hashem Zeinali, had been informed of the sentence by telephone.

“We have 20 days to object to the sentence and we will do so. But if the Appeals Court rules in favor of the sentence, my husband is 70 years old, he cannot endure 74 lashes,” she said. “They should divide the lashes between family members so that all of us can bare it.”

On November 21, 2015, Hashem Zeinali was standing among a crowd of the relatives of prisoners and civil activists who often gather in front of Evin Prison holding placards and banners. Zeinali was independently protesting the lack of attention given to the case of his missing son but was rounded up with members of the Erfan-e Halgheh spiritual group, who were simultaneously protesting the imprisonment of their leader, Mohammad Ali Taheri.

Zeinali was held for ten days in Evin’s Ward 2-A, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization, and released on 500 million Iranian rials (about $16,500) bail.

Zeinali’s trial, along with members of the spiritual group, took place on February 19, 2016 at Branch 1060 of Tehran’s Second Criminal Court and was presided by Judge Dehghani.

Zeinali’s son, Saeed Zeinali, has not been heard from since a brief phone call three months after being apprehended from his Tehran home in front of his parents on July 10, 1999, in connection with widespread student protests that occurred at Tehran University five days earlier.

He was 23 at the time and studying computer science. The authorities have never acknowledged his arrest.

On January 3, 2016, Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said no evidence had been found to show Saeed Zeinali was ever arrested. But Saeed’s parents say they witnessed his arrest and have passionately campaigned for information about their son for more than a decade.

7. Free Iranian Activist Ali (Amir) Amirgholi, Sentenced To 21 Years in Prison

Ali (Amir) Amirgholi, a dismissed student of the Islamic Azad University of Ghazvin, Iran, was sentenced to 21 years in jail at Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran chaired by the infamous Judge Abolghasem Salavati.

Amirgholi was arrested in the street by security forces under a warrant of Branch 6 of the Ghods Court on December 1, 2014. Officials had taken him to his father's house and seized his personal belongings such as his laptop, cell phone and the hard disc of his PC. He was finally transferred to Ward 8 after enduring about two months of intense interrogation while held in solitary confinement of Evin Prison's Ward 209.

Branch 6 of the Evin court, chaired by Amin Naseri, had accused him on the vague charges of "assembly and collusion against national security", "blasphemy", "insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran", "propaganda against the regime of Iran". He suffers from Pancreas disorders, his relatives said.

The leftist activist had previously been arrested and taken to the Evin prison on August 30, 2007, after taking apart on the anniversary of the massacre of political prisoners in Khavaran. He had reportedly served 16 days in solitary confinements at the Islamic Republic chambers. He was also arrested in September 2014 for peaceful participation in a protest demonstration.
SOURCE: Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group

8. Free Iranian Music Distributors Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi

UPDATE APRIUL 7, 2017--Music producers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian returned to Evin Prison in Tehran on April 4, 2017 after their request for an extension of their seven-day temporary leave was denied by the judiciary, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“The only change in the new year was that we walked uphill with new shoes,” said a note on Mehdi Rajabian’s Instagram page on April 6 under a photo of the brothers outside the prison. “Incarceration resumes. Goodbye.”
The request for an extension of their furlough was primarily for Mehdi Rajabian’s need for medical treatment, said the source.
“The medical examiner has confirmed that Mehdi is suffering from multiple sclerosis and we have sent the diagnosis to the court, which should rule that he’s not physically fit to be in prison or at least allow him to receive treatment in a hospital outside the prison,” added the source.
Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.
The brothers and Yousef Emadi were managing partners of the now banned Barg Music, a popular digital music production and distribution service, when they were arrested by the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization on October 5, 2013.
They were charged with allegedly distributing underground music without a permit, working with female singers (prohibited from singing solo in Iran), and collaborating with “anti-revolutionary” Iranian musicians in exile.
In a trial that lasted only 15 minutes, Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 21 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced the three to six years in prison each in May 2015 for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.”
Their sentence was reduced to three years in prison each upon appeal. They began serving it in June 2016.
Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian went on hunger strike in October 2016 for several weeks to protest the authorities’ continued refusal to provide them proper medical treatment, and the decision to separate them in different wards in Evin Prison.
The source told CHRI that the brothers had asked the warden to put them back in the ward for political prisoners after they were harassed and beaten by inmates in wards for non-political prisoners, but they have received no response.
According to Article 8 of Iran’s State Prisons Organization’s regulations, “All convicts, upon being admitted to walled prisons or rehabilitation centers, will be separated based on the type and duration of their sentence, prior record, character, morals and behavior in accordance with decisions made by the Prisoners Classification Council.”
SOURCE: Center For Human Rights In Iran
https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/04/music-producers-returned-to-evin-prison-after-request-for-extended-medical-furlough-denied/
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URGENT UPDATE NOVEMBER 15, 2016--BROTHERS MEHDI AND HOSSEIN RAJABIAN ON PRISON HUNGER STRIKES, LIVES AT RISK!

Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian began a joint hunger strike on October 28, 2016. The brothers, who began serving a three-year prison sentence in June 2016 for allegedly distributing underground music, are demanding medical furlough (temporary leave) and being returned to the same prison ward they were initially placed together in at Evin Prison. On November 13 Mehdi Rajabian was transferred to the hospital after his health seriously deteriorated as a result of the hunger strike.

“The condition of both brothers has gotten worse since they began the hunger strike,” an informed source told the Campaign. “Hossein has a severe lung infection. He was in the hospital for five days before starting the hunger strike and doctors had said then that he needs further treatment. Mehdi is suffering from an illness similar to multiple sclerosis—it’s not clear. He has become very weak and can walk only with a cane.”
SOURCE: International Campaign For Human Rights in Iran
https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/11/prisoners-of-conscience-on-hunger-strike/

URGENT UPDATE SEPTEMBER 8, 2016--Brothers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian have launched a prison hunger strike to protest illegal medical neglect.

March 1, 2016--Three music distributors have each been sentenced to three years in prison and fined 200 million rials (approximately $6,600 USD) for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” by a Tehran appeals court.

Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi were under intense pressure to make televised “confessions,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned.

Televised forced “confessions” in politically motivated cases, often extracted under the threat of or actual torture, are a common practice in Iran.

Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and filmmaker Yousef Emadi—all managers of BargMusic, one of the largest online producers and distributors of underground music in Iran since its launch in 2009—were sentenced by Judge Hassan Babaei of Branch 54 of Tehran’s Appeals Court. The court also sentenced them to a three-year suspended prison term.

The source told the Campaign that Judge Babaei described BargMusic as an agent of “social corruption” and accused its founder, Mehdi Rajabian, of ignoring 90 warnings for promoting illegal music, including songs by female singers. The judge also accused the three defendants of having contact with “political and anti-revolutionary” singers abroad.

“At the time of his arrest Mehdi Rajabian was recording the history of the setar [string instrument] in Iran. They confiscated all his work on hard drives when his personal music studio was shut down. Hossein Rajabian was also arrested when he had just finished his first film. They took away everything associated with the film, which was made with permission,” said the source.

The Appeals Court hearing, attended by a representative of the Revolutionary Guards, took place on December 22, 2015.

The sentence is final and has been passed on for enforcement, a source told the Campaign. The three are currently free on bail.

They were arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization on October 5, 2013 and held for two months in solitary confinement at the Intelligence Organization-controlled Ward 2-A of Evin Prison.

Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi were initially sentenced to six years in prison and fined two billion rials (about $66,650 USD) in May 2015 by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 21 of the Revolutionary Court in a trial that lasted only 15 minutes.

SOURCE: International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran

Three music distributors have each been sentenced to three years in prison and fined 200 million rials (approximately $6,600 USD) for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” by a Tehran appeals court.

Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi were under intense pressure to make televised “confessions,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned.

Televised forced “confessions” in politically motivated cases, often extracted under the threat of or actual torture, are a common practice in Iran.

Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and filmmaker Yousef Emadi—all managers of BargMusic, one of the largest online producers and distributors of underground music in Iran since its launch in 2009—were sentenced by Judge Hassan Babaei of Branch 54 of Tehran’s Appeals Court. The court also sentenced them to a three-year suspended prison term.

The source told the Campaign that Judge Babaei described BargMusic as an agent of “social corruption” and accused its founder, Mehdi Rajabian, of ignoring 90 warnings for promoting illegal music, including songs by female singers. The judge also accused the three defendants of having contact with “political and anti-revolutionary” singers abroad.

“At the time of his arrest Mehdi Rajabian was recording the history of the setar [string instrument] in Iran. They confiscated all his work on hard drives when his personal music studio was shut down. Hossein Rajabian was also arrested when he had just finished his first film. They took away everything associated with the film, which was made with permission,” said the source.

The Appeals Court hearing, attended by a representative of the Revolutionary Guards, took place on December 22, 2015.

The sentence is final and has been passed on for enforcement, a source told the Campaign. The three are currently free on bail.

They were arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization on October 5, 2013 and held for two months in solitary confinement at the Intelligence Organization-controlled Ward 2-A of Evin Prison.

Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi were initially sentenced to six years in prison and fined two billion rials (about $66,650 USD) in May 2015 by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 21 of the Revolutionary Court in a trial that lasted only 15 minutes.

December 11, 2015--A Revolutionary Court in Tehran handed down prison sentences to three Iranian artists on charges of “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the regime” two years after they were initially arrest.

In early December, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh sentenced musician Mehdi Rajabian, founder of the alternative music website BargMusic, Yousef Emadi, manager of BargMusic, and Mehdi Rajabian’s brother, Hossein Rajabian, an independent filmmaker and photographer, to five years’ imprisonment for the insult charge and a further one year for propaganda.

Revolutionary Guards arrested the three on October 12, 2013 in the northern city of Sari. They were detained at Evin Prison’s Ward 2A, which is under control of the Guards. Before his arrest, Mehdi Rajabian was in the process of recording a musical history of Iran. Guards searched his studio and confiscated his recordings. His brother Hossein Rajabian was arrested after making his first feature film, which was confiscated, despite the fact that authorities had issued approval for the project.

Emadi and the Rajabian brothers were released on a bail of around $67,000 each after spending two months in solitary confinement. During their time in detention, they were reportedly pressured to confess to their crimes.

The accused were never taken back into custody after the release, though the case was ongoing and heard earlier this week.

They launched an appeal against the decision, which is now making its way through Branch 54 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Hasan Babaee. Human rights group have repeatedly accused both Babaee and Moghiseh of violating the human rights of Iranian defendants.

The 2013 arrests made international news, leading to more than 400 journalists, musicians and cinema artists to sign a letter calling for their release. Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, cited them in his list of political prisoners at the time.

9. Free Iranian Social Media Activist Ali Shariati, On Hunger Strike Against Harsh Sentence

URGENT UPDATE DECEMBER 145, 2016--After 43 days on hunger strike, political prisoner Ali Shariati, a long-time supporter of President Hassan Rouhani, has been hospitalized and is “critically ill,” his mother told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“Ali’s blood pressure suddenly dropped on Friday (December 9, 2016) and he was transferred to Taleghani Hospital, but no one told us,” said Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi. “On Saturday morning we got a call that he’s in the hospital, but then he was returned to the clinic in Evin Prison. He has become extremely thin.”
Ali Shariati, 30, went on hunger strike on October 31, 2016 after being taken to Evin Prison to begin a five-year prison sentence for “acting against national security by participating in a protest against acid attacks in front of [Parliament] on October 22, 2014.” He is protesting “against his forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis,” Shahidi told the Campaign in November 2016.
“Ali has not committed any crime,” Shahidi told the Campaign in a recent interview. “He was one of the supporters of the government [of Hassan Rouhani]. I don’t understand how the supporter of a sitting president can be arrested for ‘acting against national security.’ If that’s the case, the 20 million people who voted for Mr. Rouhani should also be arrested.”
“Many people have demonstrated in front of Parliament,” she added. “Ali just protested once against acid attacks on women at a peaceful rally in front of Parliament, and they are calling it ‘acting against national security.’ It’s wrong to sentence him to five years in prison for this.”
Shariati was initially sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison by Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, but the sentence was reduced to five years upon appeal. 
Shariati was previously arrested on February 14, 2010 during a street protest against the widely disputed result of the 2009 presidential election and held for a month in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. Judge Yahya Pirabbasi of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to two years in prison and 74 lashes, but the Appeals Court later reduced the sentence to one year in prison, which Shariati served.
He was arrested again on June 13, 2014 and detained for a week before being released. Subsequently he was frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry for questioning until his final arrest on February 18, 2015. 
SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/12/ali-shariati-12/

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URGENT UPDATE NOVEMBER 15, 2016--ALI SHARIATI AGAIN ON DRY HUNGER STRIKE, HEALTH IN GRAVE DANGER: Shariati, a civil rights activist, began his hunger strike on October 31, 2016 when he began serving a five-year prison sentence for protesting against acid attacks on women. As of November 9 he stopped drinking liquids, making him very weak, a source told the Campaign. Shariati is protesting against his “forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis,” according to his mother, Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi.
SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/11/prisoners-of-conscience-on-hunger-strike/

November 17, 2015-- Fourteen days after prisoner of conscience Ali Shariati embarked on a hunger strike to protest the judicial process of his case, he remains on strike inside Evin Prison. His condition was defined as “very worrying” after he lost partial consciousness on the third day of his wet (refusing food and water) hunger strike, a source close to him told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Shariati, who was a campaign worker during Hassan Rouhani’s presidential campaign, was transferred to Evin Prison’s clinic half-conscious and suffering from partial paralysis, the source said. Shariati began his hunger strike on November 4, 2015.

“They hooked him up to an IV, and he became a bit better but he said he will not stop his hunger strike until the authorities look into his demands,” added the source.

“His first demand is to be allowed to go free on bail until the final sentence is issued by the Appeals Court. Secondly he wants a professional review of his case because he believes he has received an unjust sentence based on irrational evidence,” the source told the Campaign.

Shariati, 29, was arrested for a third time on February 18, 2015, by Ministry of Intelligence agents at his home in connection with his postings on social media, including Telegram, that were critical of the government. He was held in solitary confinement for five months in Evin Prison before being moved to the facility’s public ward.

On September 11, 2015, Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Shariati to 12 years and 9 months in prison for “propaganda against the state,” “acting against national security,” “insulting the president,” and “having a satellite dish at home.” Salavati is often hand-picked by the Judiciary to preside over politically motivated cases because of the harsh sentences he hands down.

Authorities in Iran have cracked down particularly hard on any dissenting opinion expressed on social media, a platform they have come to fear due to its near ubiquitous use among Iranian youth, as hardliners seek to maintain a repressive grip over the domestic sphere.

“Ali is [a] prisoner of conscience of the Rouhani Administration, even though he supports his government. He was very active in Mr. Rouhani’s campaign office,” the source close to Shariati said.

Ali Shariati, who has a bachelor’s degree in architecture, was first arrested on February 14, 2010, and held for a month in solitary confinement at Evin Prison. He was released on bail until his trial, presided by Judge Pir-Abbasi of the Revolutionary Court, when he was sentenced to two years in prison and 74 lashes. The Appeals Court reduced the sentence to one year in prison, which Shariati completed, but the lashing sentence was never carried out.

The second arrest took place on June 13, 2014. Shariati was held for a week and then released but he was frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry for questioning until his last arrest on February 18, 2015.

In a joint letter with fellow prisoner of conscience Majid Azarpey, who is also on hunger strike, Ali Shariati addressed President Rouhani and said: “You are the enforcer of the Constitution. We want you to end your inaction and take a stand against these witch hunts. Do not let these extremist forces help the enemies of our land with their injustices.”

10. Free Iranian IT Expert Arash Azad

Nearly two months after the arrest of information technology expert Arash Azad, who was detained at Imam Khomeini Airport by the authorities as he was leaving Iran on August 1, 2015, officials have released no information as to why he was arrested or the charges that he is being held under.

Arash Azad, who is the founder of the respected technology sites Weblogina and Zigzaglab.com, received a U.N. World Summit Youth Award in 2014 for Ladybug, a service aimed at increasing women’s participation in the Iranian information technology sector.

The Internet researcher Nariman Gharib told the Campaign, “We didn’t find out about Arash’s arrest until we started getting phishing emails from his personal account. Given the history of these kinds of arrests, he’s probably been arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.”

During the past two years, the authorities in Iran, led by intelligence organizations controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, have aggressively pursued and targeted Internet professionals and online activists, arresting them and working hand-in-hand with the Judiciary and Revolutionary Courts to sentence these individuals to long prison terms.

11. Free Iranian Ahwazi Arab Poet Ahmad Hazbawi

June 23, 2015--Iranian Ahwazi Arab poet and cultural activist Ahmad Hazbawi, who has a six-year-old child, was arrested by Intelligence Service officials at his workplace in the city of Ahwaz on 8 April 2015.

Ahmad, son of Sabhan (aka Abu Motasar), a 31-year-old, poet from Qalat Chanaan village, was detained on the formal charge of supposedly supporting the operation led by the Saudi Arabian government against Huthis terrorist and proxy of Iranian regime in Yemen. In fact, the poet was arrested in connection with a 25 –word Arabic poem after the poet read this before a jubilant crowd, consisting mainly of youth, in a video which was recorded on 27 March 2015.

When arrested, the Ahwazi poet was thrown into the car after being dragged on the ground by the arresting security agents.

Ahmad has since called his relatives a few times, but there is no any information about his whereabouts in detention. His relatives have frequently asked authorities about their loved one's condition, but the officials have so far evaded any response.

He has now spent approximately 75 days somewhere in a prison cell of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his relatives have expressed concern about their beloved's well-being.

The Ahwazi Arabs activists criticize the silence of human rights about ongoing Human Rights violations in Iran as Karim Dahimi, Human rights activist said

The Iran’s authorities have continued the systematic Human Rights violations in the region and Ahwazi Arabs activists have expressed dissatisfaction of the silence by international community.

On the plight of the Ahwazi Arab minority in Iran, one human rights group has observed: “Since 1925, the people of Ahwaz have been subjected to summary executions, forced displacement, and destruction of homes and personal property. Due to the current sectarian fundamentalist regime in Iran, the Ahwazi Arab people live in constant fear of repression."

By: Kaveh Taheri

Source: BCR Group

12. Free Iranian Children's Rights Activist Omid Alishenas, Sentenced To 10 Years

JUNE 19, 2015--Ten months after his arrest, children’s rights activist Omid Alishenas has been sentenced to ten years in prison for “assembly and collusion and propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”

Mr. Alishenas’ mother told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the family is in shock following the sentencing. “This sentence is unfair and cruel. Omid’s activities should not have brought him 10 years in prison,” she said.

Simin Eyvazzadeh told the Campaign that her son’s lawyer has appealed the ruling, “but with this heavy sentence, we are really worried that his sentence would not be reduced too much at appeal.”

“They always told me not to disseminate information and that this would work in Omid’s favor, but it resulted in ten years in prison for my son. I am not going to keep quiet anymore, and I ask everyone for help to change my son’s heavy sentence. I want his release after ten months in detention,” Ms. Eyvazzadeh added.

Security agents arrested Omid Alishenas, 32, a civil engineer who is a children’s rights and civil activist, at his home in Tehran on September 4, 2014. He was held inside the IRGC’s Ward 2-A for nearly nine months under “temporary detention” orders, before being transferred to Evin Prison’s Ward 8. His trial was held on March 5, 2015 at Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Courts under Judge Moghisseh, and his lawyer was served with the verdict on May 13, 2015.

“Omid is so upset. He did not expect such a verdict at all. When he was first arrested, they kept saying he would be released in a couple of weeks, and then the investigative judge in the case once told Omid himself that his punishment would be a maximum of six months to one year in prison. Now he faces such a heavy sentence after nearly ten months in prison,” Mr. Alishenas’ mother told the Campaign.

“Omid was a children’s rights activist. He taught the kids how to paint and he set up painting exhibitions for them. He had also visited families of several political prisoners or those who had been executed, and he was arrested based on these activities. On the day he was arrested, the agents confiscated his computer hard disk, his CD’s, USB flash drives, and his cell phone, and based on information they extracted from them, they built up the charges against him,” Ms Eyvazzadeh continued.

“For example, because of the jokes they saw on his cell phone, they made up the charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader” for him. But these jokes exist on half of all Iranian cell phones! Omid did nothing to cause insult,” said Omid Alishenas’ mother.

Simin Eyvazzadeh told the Campaign that the confiscated items have not been returned yet. “When they were taking Omid’s things, they said that we could have them back three days later. I have tried twice, and Omid’s lawyer wrote a letter once, but they have responded that they would review our request,” she said.

Omid Alishenas and four other young individuals, Atena Daemi, Ali Nouri, Atena Feraghdani, and Aso Rostami, were separately interrogated in the same case. Atena Feraghdani’s case was later reviewed independently, and she was eventually sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison. [Link: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/06/atena-faraghdani-2/] Atena Daemi was sentenced to 14 years in prison. [Link:http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/06/atena-daemi-3/] The Campaign does not have any information about the cases of Ali Nouri and Aso Rostami.
SOURCE: Internatonal Campaign For Human Rights In Iran

13. Free Iranian Student Hesam-Aldin Farzizadeh, Sentenced To Death For Apostasy

Hesam-Aldin Farzizadeh, an Expelled student in the field of nuclear physics of Mohaghegh University in the city of Ardebil, Iran was reportedly sentenced to death because of writings of his which were critical of Islam. Illegally, he is being denied access to a lawyer.

Hesam, 22, was charged with apostasy, propaganda for "seductive faiths" and blasphemy by the court according to the news received by VOCIR.

Security forces arrested him on 21 Nov 2013 and transferred to the prison of Meshkin Shahr city. The young writer suffers from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

He is kept in the non-political ward among addicts and gangs because there is no special ward for the prisoners of conscience. The religious critic had frequently begun hunger strikes that led him to lose weight as well.

He has allegedly been accepted to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

14. Rescind 6-Year Prison Sentence of Iranian Women's Right Activist Minoo Mortazi Langroudi

UPDATE July 4, 2015--Civil and political activist Minoo Mortazi Langroudi has launched an appeal against the six-year prison sentence she received for her peaceful activism. Ms. Langroudi was convicted on charges of disturbing national security and propaganda against the state, based on her activities with a peaceful group that is critical of government policies.

“Ms. Langroudi’s activities have been within the law,” a source close to the family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “All her life she has shown that she is not an extremist or a law breaker and now she expects the sentence against her will be quashed.”

Minoo Mortazi Langroudi is a member of the Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists, a political organization that advocates for political reform and greater democratization in Iran and which is banned by the Islamic Republic. She is also one of the founders of Mothers for Peace, a grassroots group formed to campaign against military action against Iran, and a board member of the Center to Defend Prisoners’ Rights, an informal civil society organization focused on obtaining due process and better conditions for political prisoners as well as their release, which is also banned in Iran.

Langroudi, who has been harassed and detained numerous times since the peaceful protests that followed the widely disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, was put on trial in early May of this year at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Salavati. In addition to her six-year prison sentence, she was banned from political and civic activities for two years. Judge Salavati, notorious for his harsh sentences, is frequently handpicked by Intelligence and security agencies to preside over the cases of political dissidents.

A source close to Langroudi said she hopes the harsh sentence will be reduced or completely rejected by the appellate court.

“In recent years Ms. Langroudi has beensummoned to the Intelligence Ministry many times to answer questions,” the source told the Campaign, adding that the authorities used those conversations regarding her peaceful activities to build the case against her. “She does not accept any of the charges against her.”
SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/07/minoo-mortazi-langroudi/

June 13, 2015--Mrs. Minoo Mortazi Langroudi, a women's rights activist and a member of the National-Religious Council, was sentenced to six years imprisonment at branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court by the infamous Judge Salavati.

She was sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of establishing the National-Religious Council and an additional year on a charge of blackmail against the regime. Further, she has been forbidden any further socio-political activity. Ms. Mortazi Langroudi holds an MA in Women's Studies.

The women rights activist along with his husband Habibollah Peyman have been frequently summoned, threatened and interrogated by officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran's security forces, as the Campaign to Defend Civil and Political Prisoners in Iran said.

Dr. Habibollah Peyman, the General Secretary of the Opponent Muslim movement, was released on expensive bail in 2001 after spending more than eight months in solitary confinement of the Revolutionary Guards and five months in the public wards. He has been deprived attending any socio-political conferences.

Furthermore, another member of the National-Religious Council Hussain Rafei was convicted to six years imprisonment and two years deprivation of media and press activities.

SOURCE: BCR Group

15. Drop ALL Charges Against Iranian Human Rights Attorney Mohammad Moghimi

UPDATE: June 17, 2015--Mohammad Moghimi has been released on bail. While we are relieved that he is no longer locked up in the truly horrible Rajai-Shahr prison, the fact that he is out on bail means that he is still facing charges which could end in a prison sentence. He would NOT be the first Iranian human rights lawyer to be sentenced.

UPDATE June 15, 2015--Mohammad Moghimi, Atena Farghadani's attorney who was arrested Saturday, was beaten in front of his family after being brought to court from Rajai-Shahr prison in shackles and handcuffs.

June 13, 2015--BREAKING NEWS: Mohammad Moghimi, the attorney of Iranian civil society activist Atena Farghadani who was recently sentenced to twelve years, nine months in prison for the "crime" of posting cartoons critical of censorship in Iran, has been arrested while attempting to visit his client in Tehran's Evin Prison. The reason given for his arrest was a charge that he shook hands with Ms. Faraghdani while meeting with her in the prison.

After being arrested, he was transferred to the notorious Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj, where prisoners of conscience are held in truly deplorable conditions.

BACKGROUND ON ATENA FARGHADANI
Atena Farghadani is a cartoonist and children rights activist, who is kept in ward 2-Alef Sepah in Evin Prison sentenced to 12 years and nine months imprisonment by Judge Salavati in the Revolutionary Court. Originally, it was expected that a seven-year sentence would be imposed her according to the article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Then, after he initial arrest, the civil rights activist revealed some details of the conditions in the women's ward of Evin prison, such as surveillance cameras in the bathroom hallway. After that, she was summoned to 15 branch of Revolutionary Court, chaired by the notorious Judge Salavati. Atena was accused of acting against national security, propaganda against the regime of Iran and insulting parliament members through her cartoons.

Atena had been kept in 2-Alef ward, run by the Revolutionary Guards, for about two months, and endured severe torture. She started a hunger strike to protest the prevention of her release. She was subsequently released on bail by Salavati because of her physical deterioration.

She was transferred to the hospital due to heat stroke and passed out after vomiting on day 16 of her hunger strike in Gharchak prison of Varamin city.
Atena started this hunger strike ito protest her deportation to Charchak prison from Evin, and her transfer to a ward for common criminals on 8 Feb 2015. Atena's condition is in imminent danger as her lawyer, Mahmoud Moghimi, has informed Campaign in Defense of Civil & Political Prisoners.

She had asked nurses that the IV tubes be removed when she regained consciousness on day 18 of her hunger strike according to the report which was received and updated the BCR Group. Atena was also refusing salt and sugar.

Authorities had reportedly forbidden the lawyer to meet her in Firoozabadi hospital.

It is worth noting that Atena was brutally beaten by the official in front of her family in court on 10 Jan 2015.

16. Free Khodamorad Azizi, 83-year-old Iranian Man Arrested For Environmental Activism

Khodamorad Azizi was arrested by the security forces officials on the charge of propaganda against the regime of Iran and hosting environmental activists who were from Iran's capital, Tehran and also from Shahrkord on 3 June 2015.

The 83-year-old is being kept in detention along with his son Dr. Reza Moradi because he had hosted several environmental activists who were updated about the critical wildlife situation by him, according the news.

The trade institutions are going to annihilate the natural surroundings for the profit-seeking purposes in the region as the local residents declared to BCR Group.

According to the news received by the rights group, at least 300 citizens have reportedly been summoned by the Revolutionary Court of the city of Boldaji in Borujen County, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, Iran, whereas, 30 of them were reportedly thrown into jail for protesting against the transfer of water resources from the Sabzkooh zone to the birthplace of the Major-General of the Revolutionary Guards Mohammad-Ali Jafari.

17. Drop Charges Against Iranian Writer Reza Khandan Mahabadi For Facebook Posts

Authorities in Iran are prosecuting another writer on national security charges for signing statements and writing posts that criticized state censorship on the Facebook page of the Iranian Writers’ Association.

Reza Khandan Mahabadi, a member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Writers’ Association, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Intelligence Ministry agents who appeared at his home on April 29, 2015, had a search warrant for his home and a notice from the Tehran Media Court, in which he was accused of “propaganda against the state,” and “publishing an illegal publication.”

After a thorough search of the premises and Mr. Khandan’s personal belongings, some of his hand-written notes, archives, and books, and his cell phone and computer hard disk were confiscated. The agents told him he had to appear at the Intelligence Ministry for interrogations. Mr. Khandan subsequently attended three interrogation sessions. He is currently waiting for his court summons.

Another member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Writers’ Association, the poet Baktash Abtin, [Link: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/05/baktash-abtin-poet/] received similar treatment.

“Most of the interrogations were about the Writers’ Association’s statements and Facebook page posts. They said these are examples of ‘propaganda against the state.’ The [Writers’] Association’s Facebook page is no longer accessible by its members, and we are unable to post content to it,” Reza Khandan told the Campaign.

“As one of the most important goals of the Association is to defend freedom of expression and to oppose censorship, whenever something happens where freedom of expression is questioned, the Association issues a statement in reaction. For example, when newspapers are banned, or when individuals are prosecuted and imprisoned for their different opinions. The interrogators determined such statements as examples of ‘propaganda against the state,'” he added.

Regarding his second charge, “publishing an illegal publication,” Reza Khandan told the Campaign, “‘Andisheh Azad’ is an internal publication with very limited circulation among members of the Association, and it has no public distribution. It was first published in 1979 and about 10 issues of it were published between 1979 and 1981, before it stopped publication. It resumed publication four years ago, and since then, only nine issues have been published. Now the interrogators say this internal publication which is intended for members only, is a manifestation of ‘an illegal publication.'”

“They told me to promise that the Association’s publication and statements will stop. But I don’t consider myself a criminal, and I don’t believe I have done anything wrong, therefore I didn’t promise. I said that I am a writer and I oppose censorship. But it appears that I would have faced lighter charges, or I would have been released had I made the promise. I don’t know,” he added.

“Why should a cultural and civil activity expose individuals and their families to such worry and hardship? What is the reason for such threats against cultural and civil activities? Every individual must be free to think and work however he/she wants within civil society’s frameworks,” Reza Khandan told the Campaign. “I was interrogated, my hand-written notes and archives that had taken me years to collect were all taken away and it is not clear whether they will be returned to me, and that if they are returned to me, whether it would be all the notes or only a part of them. Such behavior disrupts people’s lives and it is an example of persecution,” he added.

Reza Khandan Mahabadi, a writer and literary critic, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Iran Writers’ Association in September 2014, along with Hassan Asghari, Ali Ashraf Darvishian, Baktash Abtin, and Mehdi Ghebrai.

Baktash Abtin was also interrogated in April and May, and is now awaiting his trial date and summons to the Evin Prison Courts.
Link: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/05/baktash-abtin-poet/

18. Free Iranian Television Producer Mostafa Azizi, Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison

UPDATE June 10, 2015--Mostafa Aziz Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison
A man with Canadian permanent resident status has been sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison.

Mostafa Azizi, 53, was sentenced Monday in Iran on charges of collusion against Iran and insulting the supreme leader. The charges apparently stem from some of Azizi's social media posts.

"I'm still in shock," says Parastoo Azizi, his daughter, who lives in Toronto.

Mostafa Azizi, a prominent filmmaker, emigrated to Canada with his family in 2008. His children have Canadian citizenship, and Azizi is a permanent resident who was in the process of gaining citizenship.

Azizi recently travelled back to Iran to visit his relatives. During that trip, Azizi was arrested and held in Tehran's Evin prison. After his trial, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

"My dad is innocent," says Parastoo Azizi. "He hasn't done anything wrong."
Mostafa Azizi is appealing his case.

Parastoo Azizi spoke with her father briefly earlier this week. He's "holding up" emotionally, she says. But his physical state "is not really good."

Mostafa Azizi has been held in Tehran's Evin prison since shortly after he arrived in Iran in January 2015.

Azizi has spent more than two weeks in solitary confinement, his son, Arash, says, before being placed in the general population.

It's unclear which of Mostafa Azizi's social media postings alerted Iranian authorities, says Sima Sahar Zerehi, a journalist with Shahrvand Publications who also occasionally works for CBC.

She is shocked by the sentence for Azizi, who became a prominent cultural figure in Toronto's Iranian community after his emigration.

"It's a very sad day for Iranian Canadians to see someone who was part of our community, who was part of our neighbourhood, who was very active face something as draconian as eight years in Iranian prison."
SOURCE: CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mostafa-azizi-sentenced-to-8-years-in-iranian-prison-1.3107324

****************************************************************
Mostafa Azizi, a former Iranian television writer and producer, who has been in prison since February 1, 2015, will be put on trial on June 1, at Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati. Azizi, a resident of Canada since 2008, returned to Iran in December 2014.

A source close to Azizi’s case told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the charges he faces are “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic,” and “assembly and collusion against national security,” although no evidence supporting these charges has been presented.

“He is an artist, not a political activist. He is an artist who wrote his analysis of the social and political situation in places like his Facebook page, but he did not intend to break the law or insult anyone,” said the source.

Mostafa Azizi wrote and produced popular Iranian TV series before moving to Canada with his family in 2008. The source told the Campaign that Azizi had returned to Iran to be close to his ailing father and to possibly write or produce new TV series.

“He was summoned by Evin Prison Courts. He appeared at the courts on April 1. I’m not sure what happened there, but he was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison. He spent 14 days in solitary confinement inside the IRGC’s Ward 2-A, and then he was transferred to a cell where there were four or five other prisoners. He is currently inside Evin Prison’s General Ward 8,” the source told the Campaign.

“If he thought he would face problems and that he could be arrested, he would not have returned to Iran at all. When Mr. [Hassan] Ghashghavi, Deputy Foreign Minister [in Consular and Parliamentary Affairs], said that all Iranians can return to Iran, he thought he, too, should return. News of his arrest was shocking,” added the source.

Dozens of Iranian expatriates who have traveled to Iran following assurances by President Rouhani regarding their safe passage, have been arrested, interrogated, prevented from leaving by having their passports confiscated, and, in many instances, imprisoned upon their return, due to the peaceful expression of views or lifestyles with which the government does not agree. This is in direct violation of Article 13(2) of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

19. Free Alireza Hashemi, Head of Iranian Teachers Organization, Sentenced To 5 Years

Radio Zamaneh, April 21, 2015: Reports from Iran indicate that head of the Teachers’ Organization, Alireza Hashemi, has been arrested and transferred to Evin Prison in connection with a court sentence issued against him five years ago.

ILNA quotes a spokesperson for the organization saying that in 2010, the head of the organization was handed a five-year prison sentence for what he described as “pursuing the rights of teachers and families who visit jailed teachers”.

The report indicates that he was charged with “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”.

Hashemi was reportedly arrested on Sunday April 19 at his home.

ILNA writes that Hashemi was previously arrested in 2006 at a teachers’ protest in front of Parliament. He was reportedly sentenced to three years in jail, but the sentence was withdrawn upon appeal.

Teachers across Iran have been engaged in widespread protests in recent months, demanding that their wages be brought into line with those of other government employees.

20. HALT The Execution of Iranian Kurdish Political Prisoner Bakhtiar Memari

A local source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Bakhtiar Memari, 35, a Marivan Kurdish citizen, who has been in prison since August 2010, is on death row on charges of "moharebeh (enmity with God) through membership in a Kurdish political party." Memari was officially informed of his sentence inside Sanandaj Prison on May 10, 2012.

According to the human rights source, security forces arrested Bakhtiar Memarimon on August 3, 2010 in Marivan and transferred him to the Sanandaj Intelligence Office. He was interrogated under torture for three weeks during which he was not allowed to visit or call his family.

In Bakhtiar Memari's defense bill, a copy of which the Campaign has been able to see, it is reflected that the court has not presented any evidence for Memari's accusations and that the ruling was entirely based on Bakhtiar Memari's confessions, which Memari said in court were extracted from him under pressure and through brutal beating and injuries by his interrogators. Bakhtiar Memari repeatedly denied his charges during the trial process.

A source close to the family of Bakhtiar Memari has stated that Bakhtiar Memari has been additionally accused of murdering two individuals based on orders from a British intelligence organization, charges which Memari repeatedly denied in court. The court has not produced any evidence, witnesses, or weapons that could substantiate or support these accusations, solely basing the charges on Bakhtiar Memari's confessions extracted under duress, which were videotaped and broadcasted on PressTV.

"After about three months, Sanandaj Intelligence Office forces took a handcuffed and footcuffed Bakhtiar Memari, along with a camera crew, to his father's home, where he was allowed to visit with his wife and children. The forces then said that because this was his last visit with his family. The intelligence forces then took Memari to the homes of two Krudish citizens who had been murdered some time before, introduced him as their murderer, and videotaped the visit. Subsequently, PressTV aired the recording in its Iran Today segment. In January 2012, Bakhtiar Memari was additionally sentenced to death for murder, based on Qisas Law."

Bakhtiar Memari is currently on death row inside Sanandaj Central Prison. He is allowed to visit with his family once a month.

Meanwhile, more than 27 Sunni Kurd prisoners are on the death row on the charge of Moharebeh, propaganda against the regime and acting against national security in Rajai Shahr prison as the reports mentioned. Six Kurdish political prisoners were hanged at dawn on March 4, 2015.

21. Free Faribourz Baghi, Serving Two Years In Prison For His Bahai Faith In Iran

March 7, 2015 – Mr. Faribourz Baghi reported to prison in Yazd on March 7, in response to a summons sent through his bail guarantor.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), he is to serve a 2-year term (previously reported as 3 years in prison and 1 year suspended), on charges of acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.

He is one of 20 Bahais who were arrested in central Iran in August 2012, and the sixth of this group to begin their prison terms.

22. Free Iranian Fariba Ashtari, Serving Two Years For Practicising Her Bahai Faith

Feburary 26, 2015--Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i resident of Yazd, started her two-year sentence on Saturday at the central prison of the city. She is the fourth of the the twenty Baha’is in the province whose sentence has been carried out.

According to HRANA Press, the news portal of Human Rights Activists in Iran, on Saturday, 21 February 2015, Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i resident of Yazd, presented herself to serve her two-year imprisonment at the city’s central prison. In addition to the prison sentence of two years, she is sentenced to one year of a suspended sentence.

It is worth noting that she is the fourth Baha’i of twenty-four for whom the revolutionary court of Yazd has carried out their sentences, based on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership in the Baha’i community. Before Fariba Ashtari, in recent weeks, Farah Baghi, Navid Haghighi and Shahram Fallah were other Baha’is who have been transferred to prisons in Yazd, Kerman and Arak to begin their sentences.

23. Free Iranian Human Rights Activist Majid Moghaddam

MARCH 7, 2015 -- DAY 95 OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR IRANIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST MAJID MOGHADDAM, TO FORCE A FALSE "CONFESSION" OUT OF HIM.

Majid Moghadam who was arrested in December and transferred to ward 2-A of Evin prison which is under the control of IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) is still kept in this ward and his status is uncertain and in (ILLEGAL) limbo.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Majid Moghadam was arrested at his father’s house on December 3, 2014, at 8 p.m. and was transferred to ward 2-A which is controlled by IRGC.

He is still kept in this ward and in two-person cell. He has no contact with the outside world, as he is deprived of having phone calls and regular weekly visits.

A close source to Majid Moghadam told HRANA’s reporter, “authorities did not clarify Majid’s status, or the charges and allegations against him and just responded that he has 'gone to places that he should not have.'”

This source also said, “Prison authorities intentionally prolong his detention and do not carry out any investigations. They have refgused to release him on the bail.”

It should be mentioned that Majid Moghadam was previously arrested during the 2009 presidential election’s protests and was transferred to the notorious torture and murder house of that summer, the Kahrizak detention center.

24. URGENT - Gravely Ill Iranian Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki Is Back In Prison Where He Could DIE!

URGENT UPDATE: HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI ON DANGEROUS PRISON HUNGER STRIKE SINCE MARCH 26--April 15 201i6- Prisoner of conscience Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, who has been on dry and wet hunger strikes since March 26, 2016 to protest being denied crucial medical treatment, is in critical condition, but has vowed to continue until his situation changes.

His mother, who visited Maleki in Evin Prison on April 10, said that the food and liquid deprivation has made her son, who is suffering from kidney disease, dangerously weak.

“I swear to God, Hossein looked very thin,” Zoleikha Mousavi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “His skin looked yellow and pale. I’m terrified that something might happen to him.”

“On Tuesday [April 12], they transferred him out of the prison to be checked by a specialist,” she told the Campaign. “The doctor said he’s in critical condition and should end his hunger strike as soon as possible.”

“But Hossein says he won’t stop until his situation changes,” added Mousavi. “If anything happens to my son, officials will be held accountable.”

Mousavi said that she and her husband, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, had gone to the prosecutor’s office in Tehran every day for a week but the officials refused to provide a clear solution for resolving the situation.

“After seven years in prison, I want my son to be free,” said Mousavi. “He has done enough time. He has lost one kidney and is in pain from new diseases.”

“He should be conditionally released. I beg the authorities to let my son go,” she said. “I swear to God, he is not well.”

Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for particularly harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care, in direct violation of Iran’s own laws and prison regulations.

While in prison, Maleki has suffered digestive track, breathing and kidney problems. He has also undergone several surgeries.

He was granted medical furlough on June 14, 2015 upon posting bail in the amount of 4 billion rials (about $132,000 USD), but was returned to prison before his treatment was completed on January 20, 2016.

“I knew he would get worse when he was taken back to prison,” said Mousavi. “Even the doctors in the prison clinic repeatedly said they don’t have the necessary facilities to treat prisoners like Hossein.”

“Isn’t seven years in prison enough for a young man?” she said.

Maleki’s father began his own hunger strike in front of Evin Prison on April 9, 2016 to bring attention to his son’s plight. But Mousavi urged her elderly husband to end his strike soon after.

“After two days, I noticed my husband was in really bad shape,” she said. “It was hot outside and he’s an old man. I begged him to end his hunger strike. I told him I would be helpless if something happened to our son in prison.”

“I gave him some water and he broke his hunger strike in front of Evin Prison,” Mousavi told the Campaign. “We don’t know what else to do to make the authorities listen.”

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, 30, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 by Judge Yahya Pirabbasi for his peaceful activities following Iran’s widely disputed presidential election that year. He was charged with “acting against national security” and “supporting and receiving money from foreign organizations.”

Following the recent prisoner swap between Iran and the United States, which resulted in the release of four detained Iranian-Americans, Maleki’s father asked why Iranian political prisoners who don’t hold dual citizenship remained unjustly incarcerated.

“As a father I want my son to be free, too,” Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki told the Campaign in January 2016.

“All these years I have been running around shouting for my son’s freedom so that someone might hear me,” he said.
SOURCE: International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran
https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2016/04/hossein-ronaghi-maleki-hunger-strike/#.VxVoT_Kg8KE.twitter
********************************************************************************************************************

UPDATE MARCH 8, 2016--HOSSEIN RONAGHI'S FATHER PLEADS FOR HIS SON'S LIFE:
HRANA News Agency – Hossein Ronaghi’s family is again appealing to the Tehran prosecutor's office based on their son's inability to withstand prison conditions and denial of medical care. In addition to having only one functioning kidney, his ailments also include: Angina, swelling of the face, stomach bleeding, blood and eye infections, lung problems and respiratory problems. On that basis, and with the findings of Iran's own Medical Examiner, the Ronaghi family has requested the issuance of the certificate of inability of tolerating punishment.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Ahmad Ronaghi, his father, visited the Tehran Prosecution Office on Saturday, March 5th, to follow up the furlough for Hussein or transferring him to the hospital, and went to meet him on Sunday.

Hossein Ronaghi, a human rights activist and blogger, was arrested in 2009.

A close relative of Hossein Ronaghi told our reporter: “Hossein Ronaghi should have gone to the hospital a week before returning to the prison for bone marrow tests which was opposed by the prosecutors and the prisoner is currently being held in Evin prison in Ward 7.”

Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 15 years in prison after 10 months of detention in Ward 2-A of Evin prison, on October 13, 2010. The charges against him in the court were “membership in the Iran Proxy network, insulting the leader and insulting the president”.

The sentence was upheld by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court and Hossein then he was transferred to Ward 350 of Evin prison.

The prisoner is now in Ward 7 in Evin Prison, being held in poor conditions and is being denied needed medical care in direct violation of Article 102 and 103 of Iran's own Prison Regulations.
SOURCE: HRANA Human Rights News Agency
https://hra-news.org/en/hossein-ronaghis-ask-authorities-address-health-problems
***
URGENT UPDATE MARCH 7, 2016--HEALTH OF HOSSEIN RONAGHI CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE IN PRISON AS HE DEVELOPS LIVER DISEASE IN ADDITION TO LIFE-THREATENING KIDNEY AILMENT: The health of jailed blogger and activist Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki continues to deteriorate in prison. The young Iranian, who suffers from serious kidney problems, has now been diagnosed with liver disease too, according to his family.

Ronaghi-Maleki is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for his work as a human rights activist and blogger. He has only one functioning kidney and needs constant monitoring and access to specialized medical care, which he cannot get in prison, according to his doctors.

Since the blogger returned to Evin Prison on January 20, 2016 following medical leave, his condition has worsened further due to extreme medical negligence. Yet prison authorities have repeatedly refused to hospitalize him.

According to one of his relatives, Ronaghi-Maleki was transferred to hospital for medical tests and ultrasound on Saturday, March 5, but only for a short two-hour visit, before being sent back to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. He was reportedly diagnosed with liver disease and is “critically ill,” the relative said.

The relative spoke to Journalism Is Not A Crime on the condition of anonymity, as talking to the media about human rights issues can have serious consequences in Iran. Ronaghi-Maleki’s father was in July 2015 sentenced to four months in prison for giving interviews to the media about his son’s situation.

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki was arrested in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election and sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges including “spreading propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the supreme leader”, allegedly in connection with articles he had posted on his blog. In June 2015, he was granted medical leave from prison after posting bail, but despite his serious condition, the prosecutor’s office ordered him back to Evin Prison last month.

“They insist I return to prison although my health is very bad,” the blogger wrote on his Instagram page on January 10, 2016. “Sending me back to prison is incomprehensible and illegal.”

In an interview with IranWire last year, Hossein’s father, Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki, expressed major concern for the treatment of his son in prison: “They want to turn him into another Sattar Beheshti,” he said, referring to a blogger and activist who died in 2012 while in custody.
SOURCE: Journalism Is Not A Crime
http://www.journalismisnotacrime.com/en/news/1095/
***

URGENT UPDATE SATURDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2016 -- A RELATIVE REPORTS THAT HOSSEIN, BACK IN PRISON FOR ONE MONTH, IS BEING DELIBERATELY DENIED LIFE-SAVING MEDICAL CARE: IranWire, February 19: Prison authorities are denying medical care to jailed Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki, according to one of his relatives.

Authorities deny Ronaghi-Maleki, who suffers from serious kidney problems and other health issues, is ill and have refused to allow him to go to hospital since he returned to Evin Prison on January 20, 2016.

“Hossein has not received any medical care or any medicine since he returned to Evin Prison,” the relative said. “It seems that the Iranian authorities purposely refuse to transfer Hossein to a hospital. They want him to die slowly.”

The relative of Ronaghi-Maleki spoke to Journalism Is Not A Crime on the condition of anonymity, as speaking out on human rights issues can have serious consequences in Iran. In July 2105, Ronaghi-Maleki’s father was sentenced to four months in prison for giving interviews to media about his son’s situation.

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki was arrested in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election of 2009 and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for his work as a human rights activist and blogger. Prior to his arrest, he had been suffering from kidney problems, but his conditions worsened further while in prison due to physical abuse and severe medical negligence.

“The deputy prosecutor Hajilou denies the fact that Hossein is critically ill,” the relative said. “He told us that Hossein would be allowed to go to the prison clinic, but he won’t be transferred to hospital.”

In June 2015, Ronaghi-Maleki was granted medical leave from prison after posting bail. However, despite his deteriorating medical condition he was ordered back to Evin Prison last month – against doctors’ recommendations.

“They insist I return to prison although my health is very bad,” the blogger and activist wrote on his Instagram page on January 10, 2016. “Sending me back to prison is incomprehensible and illegal.”

In an interview with IranWire in March 2015, Hossein’s father, Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki, expressed major concern for the treatment of his son in prison: “They want to turn him into another Sattar Beheshti,” he said, referring to a blogger and activist who died in 2012 while in custody.

Read more about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki on his profile.
SOURCE: IranWire
http://en.iranwire.com/features/7096/?utm_source=twitter-hootsuite&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=daily-news


URGENT UPDATE WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20 2016 -- On Wednesday January 20 Hossein Ronaghi turned himself in to the Prosecutor's office. His last tweet read:
"Might be last post but I'm determined to gain my freedom bec I'm innocent.
The response to opinions is not prison."

URGENT UPDATE MONDAY, JANUARY 11 2016--HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI TOLD HE HAS TO RETURN TO PRISON IN 7 DAYS: On his Twitter account, Hossein Ronaghi reported on Monday that the Judiciary is ordering him back to prison by Monday, January 18--where, once again, his life will be in grave danger.

On Monday, January 11 Hossein tweeted: "In 7 days I must return to prison, but not with my own feet..." Later, he also tweeted: "I will not bow down to the baseless & groundless charges of the judiciary nor will I accept the unjust verdict."

UPDATE JUNE 28, 2015--Hossein was finally released on furlough on June 17, 2015 at the urgent insistence of his examining doctor. However, at the end of June he received a phone call telling him that he must return to prison. He turns 30 years old on July 4, and is at risk of being hauled back to prison at any moment. His life will be put in IMMINENT DANGER if he is returned yet again to the horrible conditions and medical neglect of Evin Prison!

URGENT UPDATE MARCH 25, 2015--THE FATHER OF GRAVELY ILL IMPRISONED IRANIAN BLOGGER HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI HAS SENT ALL MEDICAL RECORDS CONFIRMING HIS SON'S DANGEROUS MEDICAL CONDITION TO IRANIAN AUTHORITIES:

The father of blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, who, prior to a six-month medical furlough granted for severe illness had been imprisoned since 2009 for his peaceful activities following the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, is appealing for an end to his son’s incarceration after the blogger was returned to prison.

“My son has been found unfit to serve his sentence by the state Medical Examiner because he has multiple medical problems. Therefore he should not return to prison. But I don’t know why the authorities have again summoned him to prison,” Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Dozens of prisoners remain held in Iranian prisons since the state crackdown that followed the peaceful protests over that election, six years after the events.

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, 29, was arrested in Malekan, East Azerbaijan Province, on December 13, 2009, for his activities in connection with the peaceful protests that followed the 2009 election and sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge Pirabbasi for “acting against national security” and “supporting and receiving money from foreign organizations.”

Imprisoned at Evin, Maleki suffered numerous kidney and stomach illnesses for which he was transferred to the hospital several times. He was given a six-month medical furlough on September 4, 2014, and then summoned earlier this month to return to prison.

The denial of medical care is a routine practice in the Iranian prison system, especially in the case of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

Maleki’s father told the Campaign his son was falsely accused of trying to escape the country while he was on furlough.

“I myself brought my son to show them he was not running away,” he said. “When the Medical Examiner issues an order three times to end an incarceration, why are they still bothering and tormenting us?”

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, currently held at Ward 7 of Evin Prison, “is not allowed out for fresh air or to go to the library like other inmates in the section,” his father told the Campaign. “They have threatened him that if his family makes noise about his case he will be transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison [in Karaj].”
SOURCE: International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran
http://bit.ly/1Cb1GJJ

FULL TEXT OF THE APPEAL OF HOSSEIN RONAGHI'S FATHER SENT TO IRI OFFICIALS:

The following is the full text of the letter of Seyyed Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, a copy of which has been submitted to HRANA.

The Honorable Attorney General of the Public and Revolutionary Court of Tehran

Mr. Jafar Dolatabadi,

With all respects, first of all I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you and those who serve our country and nation. Dear honorable Attorney General, I thank you, your assistant Mr. Yousefi, and your colleagues at the office of the attorney general as well as the agents of the intelligence service.

Dear Attorney General, I received a phone call from the office of Mr. Khodbakhsis, the deputy of the attorney general on the prisoners affairs, on Tuesday, requesting Hossein to attend the medical commission. We agreed to meet him at his office the following Saturday. We arrived at 9:00 AM but Mr. Khodabakhshi had already left his office to attend a meeting in the same . Because he was not in his office, I handed in a copy of a letter that was written in December 4th 2014 to his secretary (a copy of this letter with No. 301/13479/9001- has been submitted to Mr. Yousefi). His office staff asked me to write another letter and take it to the office of Execution of Verdicts – Shahid Ghodousi Unit and bring the response by 12:00 PM.

I took the letter to Evin, and the soldiers handed the letter to the executive committee after one hour. About half an hour later, I was contacted and told that the authorities want Hossein. I told them that Hossein was at the hospital. They asked me to call Hussein and he did. Hussein entered the courthouse but later we were told (at 3 PM) that he was arrested because he was a fugitive. I ask Mr. Khodabakhshi, “How could my son be a fugitive? He had a letter from the medical commission of Shahrak-Gharb, requesting to be exempted from spending time in jail because of health issues. Moreover, the judge and the attorney general both authorized his release because of these issues. If he was a fugitive, how could I turn him to you on Tuesday (only three days after the request we received on Saturday). Ever since his arrest on Tuesday at 3:00 PM, he has been put in the quarantine in the worst possible conditions. We have been threatened to be severely punished if we inform the media and public.

Dear Mr. Dolatabadi, the life of my child is in danger. I have informed Mr. Khodabakhsi about Hossein’s situation. Later, I was told that Hossein will be transferred to the section 350 of Evin prison, however this was a clear lie. Hussein called us around 5:30 and mentioned that he has been kept in he quarantine where there is no medical attention or medicine. He has been standing all the time. Dear Mr. Dolatabadi, the life of my child is in danger. They want to kill my child. My son deserves to be considered for the Supreme Leader’s Pardon, but our requests to review this opportunity and release Hussein have not been responded. I have contacted your office multiple times, but the operator didn’t connect me to your office staff. Is this the way to help and serve the people of Iran? I have contacted the Execution of Verdicts Unit, but every single time my calls have been intentionally disconnected. The authorities do not care about the pains and problems that Iranian citizens have to endure. It is really unfortunate that the chief of the Execution of Verdicts Unit of Shahid Ghodousi behave indifferently with respect to a sick person who has lost one of his kidneys and needs serious medical attention.

Moreover, the judiciary system is responsible to look for the security of the Iranians. But, why my family, my child and myself don’t feel secure? My son had told Mr. Khodabakhshi several times that he was feeling very sick and could die. Mr. Khodabakhshi, in response, had told him that many people had been dead and foreign media such as BBC had highlighted the news for a couple of days and the everything was forgotten.

I responded to Mr. Khodabakhshi that this kind of behavior was not acceptable. I, Seyyed Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, ask the supreme leader, the attorney general Mr. Dlatabadi, the minster of intelligence, and government officials the security and safety of my son, Seyyed Hussein Ronaghi Maleki and my family.

Yours Sincerely,

Seyyed Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki

CC: 1- The supreme leader

2- The head of the judiciary system

3- The office of security and intelligence service of Iran

4- Minister of Intelligence

5- The chief of the Execution of Verdicts Unit

6- The Security Office of the Evin Prison


Attachment:

The deputy of the Attorney General of the Revolutionary Courts of Tehran and Prisoners Affairs

Mr. Khodbakhsis,

Hello, I would like to inform you that I, Seyyed Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki father of Seyyed Hussein Ronaghi Maleki have submitted all medical records and documents of my son to the honorable prosecutor, the clinic of Evin prison, and the medical commission of Shahrak-Gharb. Moreover, my son has been previously introduced to the medical commission of Shahrak-Gharb. I have requested multiple times to pardon my son through the Supreme Leader’s Pardon program. I have submitted these requests to the office of the head of judiciary system and the attorney general of Tehran.

Dear Mr. Khodabakhshi, my son has had no interview with any type of media during his sick leave and is not a political activist. I ask the honorable prosecutor and the attorney general to help me rescue my son. His life is in danger and he needs to be pardoned based on the Supreme Leader Pardon program. My son has lost one kidney and is suffering from severe digestive system complications. If my son is taken back to the prison his health situation will be further deteriorated and could die. The medical commission has already submitted the results of his medical records analysis. I ask all the authorities of this country to support us; we thank you all for your service.

It should be noted that My son and I are planning meet you in your office on Saturday as coordinated before.

Yours Sincerely,

Seyyed Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki

CC: The deputy of the attorney general of the revolutionary court of Iran
SOURCE: HRANA Human Rights News Agency
http://bit.ly/1HGetZb

URGENT UPDATE MARCH 12, 2015--GRAVELY ILL IRANIAN BLOGGER HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI, STILL ON LIFE-THREATENING HUNGER STRIKE, IS NOW HELD IN EVIN PRISON'S WARD 7 AND IS BEING DENIED HIS MEDICATIONS!

March 4, 2015--GRAVELY ILL IRANIAN BLOGGER HOSSEIN RONAGHI MALEKI HAS BEEN RE-ARRESTED, AND IS ONCE AGAIN ON A LIFE-THREATENING HUNGER STRIKE!

HIS FATHER VOICE'S THE DESPAIR OF THE RONAGHI-MALEKI FAMILY:

When Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki speaks about his son, his voice shakes with emotion. He utters his name softly. But when it comes to the subject of Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki's imprisonment and the illegal treatment he has endured while incarcerated, Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki’s tone changes. He is angry and determined. “They want to kill my son,” he shouts. “They want to turn him into another Sattar Beheshti.” Beheshti, a blogger and activist, who died in 2012 while in custody.

Now Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki says he is willing to take drastic measures to draw attention to his son’s case. On March 2, he stated his intention to stage a sit-in outside the prosecutor’s office until he receives a response. “I will sit there wearing a shroud,” he tells IranWire. “I will bring gasoline and if they do not answer me, I will set myself on fire. If they try to prevent me, I will set them on fire as well.”

Blogger and activist Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki was arrested on February 28. He had previosusly been released from prison on September 3, 2014 after the Supreme Leader pardoned him on medical grounds. It was thought that he was in such poor health that that he would not live to serve out his sentence. But soon after his release, he was re-arrested.

In recent weeks, his father has contacted the prosecutor’s office and the prison warden, hoping to get further information about his son. He has called the judge in charge of the case, but has had no reply.

“They [the authorities] took Hossein for no reason at all,” Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki says. “They even disregarded the Supreme Leader’s pardon. He was summoned to the prosecutor’s office under the pretext of a medical examination and was arrested. They accuse him of escaping his punishment. No matter how many times I tell them that he has been pardoned — and the prosecutors know this — they will not listen.”

After his latest arrest, Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki was sent to Ward 8 of Evin Prison. His father says the ward is unbearably cold, and that his son has gone on hunger strike to protest against prison conditions and his arrest. He says he is determined to continue his hunger strike until he is released. As of the last week of February, he was still on strike. “What difference does it make if I die by myself or I am killed?” Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki told his father over the phone.

Prior to his initial arrest in 2009, Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki blogged under the penname Babak Khorramdin, in honor of the 9th century Iranian freedom fighter who fought against Arab occupation. He studied software engineering at university and worked with the anti-censorship cyber group Iran Proxy, which enabled Iranians to circumvent government filters. According to the Iran-based Committee for Human Rights Reporters, Maleki’s expertise was in computer programming; he was adept at setting up websites that navigated around government censorship and established ways to access blocked addresses. He was especially active in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The Cyber Police unit of the Revolutionary Guards arrested Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki and his brother Hassan on December 11, 2009 at their father’s home. Both were taken to Section 2A of Evin Prison, which is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, and put under intense physical and mental pressure to sign confessions. It was believed that authorities arrested Hassan Ronaghi-Maleki, who was not politically active, in order to force Hossein to confess. Hassan was released on bail after spending a month in solitary confinement, but Hossein remained in a solitary cell for a total of 13 months.

Maleki’s case was sent to Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Pir Abbasi, who sentenced him to 15 years in prison for his cyber activities and for insulting the Supreme Leader, a verdict which was upheld by the appeals court.

“He suffers from kidney problems, intestinal hemorrhaging and an uncontrollable urination problem,” his father tells IranWire. Prior to his arrest, Hossein had begun suffering from kidney problems, but his condition worsened after he was subjected to physical abuse and prison authorities failed to offer him medical care.

Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki says the family has been deceived. “They told me that if the doctor decided that the prisoner cannot withstand incarceration because of his medical condition, he would be pardoned. All the letters from the forensics team and prison officials have been presented. Despite this, he has been taken back to prison. I told them over and over that he needed medication and should not be detained, but they would not accept this, insisting that he had fled from his sentence illegally.” He insists that his son presented himself to authorities as soon as he was summoned via telephone. “We have given the prosecution a bail amount of 1.7 billion tomans [over $600,000]. But they will not budge.”

“Nobody in this country is accountable.”

When Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki was first arrested in 2009, authorities warned his father not to speak to the media. But now he feels he must talk. “I do not want to create headaches for my son,” he says, “but when nobody in this country is accountable and nobody hears me, I have to speak to the media. I call on all authorities to look into my son’s case.”

But authorities have told Ahmad and Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki that speaking to the media will not work. Khoda-Bakhshi, the assistant to the prosecutor, has said, “Many have died and what happened? At most the BBC and Voice of America make noise for a few days. And then it is over.”

Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki says security agents have repeatedly issued death threats against his imprisoned son. “I know that they want to kill him; why else would they take him back to prison?”

The former blogger and prisoner is not yet 30; he has spent five years in prison. This is not the first time he has gone on hunger strike — there were fears for his life in 2012. Today, his health is fast deteriorating. “How can they behave this way?” his father asks. “Why, under the Islamic Republic? I plead with the Supreme Leader, with the head of the judiciary, with the prosecutor and MPs to look into my son’s situation.” Once again, he draws a parallel with the case of Sattar Beheshti. He bursts into tears and cannot continue.

“Hossein lost his kidneys in prison,” says Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki. “Why don’t just they let us be?”

25. Free Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh

As a lawyer, Mohammad Seifzadeh stood by many victims of human rights violations in Iran. He was one of the lawyers involved in the foundation of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC, website) in 2001. The DHRC, which reports frequently on human rights violations in Iran, is the most prominent human rights organisation in Iran.

On February 23, 2013 Radio Zamaneh reported that Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh, after two years of imprisonment, was sentenced to six years in jail.

Fatemeh Golzar, the jailed lawyer’s wife, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran: “Just when we were expecting that he would be finally released, the court’s ruling was reported to us, and he has been sentenced to six year in jail.”

In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Seifzadeh called his trial “illegal” and an “inquisition”. He particularly criticised the political nature of the trial and the fact that he was constantly asked questions that were entirely unrelated to the charges.

Seifzadeh was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in 2010 to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban from practicing law. He was arrested in March of 2011 and given two years for “attempting to leave the country illegally.”

He was charged with “collusion and assembly against national security” for collaborating in writing petitions and issuing joint statements while in jail. He has refused to participate in the proceedings against him on the basis that the courts lack the jurisdiction and legitimacy to issue a fair ruling.

Mohammad Seifzadeh was a judge prior to the 1979 Revolution in Iran and was prohibited from practicing law for 10 years following the regime change.

On February 28, 2015, after having been hospitalized for a time with numerous serious medical ailments, Mr. Seifzadeh was returned to the notoriously awful conditions of Rajai-Shahr Prison.

26. Free Iranian Student Activist Roham Barkachizadeh, Sentenced To 7.5 Years For Participation in 2009 Protests

Roham Barkachizadeh, an atomic student of Shaheed Beheshti University, was arrested by Intelligence Service officials when he had passing pre-university course in 2011.

Authorities allegedly seized Roham’s personal belongings during the raid and investigation at his grandfather house. He has been at Ward 209 of Evin prison since his detention.

It should be noted that Roham had been freed on the bail for a while, and he has returned back to the prison to serve his seven year, six month prison sentence. He as arrested because of participating in the mass protests during the unrest of the presidential election in the summer of 2009.

Roham was sentenced to seven years and six months on the charge of collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime of Iran and insulting to the Supreme Leader and previous president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, through the demonstration in Revolutionary Court which chaired by Judge Salavati on 2012

“It is obviously in violation of the Children’s rights Convention for Islamic Republic of Iran to convict Roham in the Revolutionary Court” as Human Rights activists have acknowledged in the exclusive report of Exiles Activists website by Vandad Olad Azimi.

The article 37 of the Child Rights Convention says that No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age, and also notes that no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.

Iran has joined to the convention of children rights since 1969. All teenagers who are committed a crime when they are under 18-years-old as Roham should be tried in juvenile court according to the article 220 of the Public and Revolutionary Courts Procedure Code of Iran and commitment to the Children’s Rights Convention.

From a translation by Kaveh Taheri, BCR Group

27. Free Iranian Farah Baghi, Imprisoned For Her Baha'i Faith

HRANA News Agency February 13, 2015 – Farah Baghi, a Bahai from Yazd who has been sentenced to one year in prison and a one-year suspended sentence, has reported to prison in Yazd to begin her sentence.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), she had previously been informed that she would begin her sentence on February 13, but on February 9 security officers appeared at her door to take her to prison.

When she explained that she was summoned to prison on February 13, they agreed that she could take herself to the court offices, on February 10.

Mrs. Farah Baghi is the third Bahai to begin her sentence, out of group of 20 Baha'is who were arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, Arak and neighbouring areas in August 2012.

28. Free Akbar Amini, Iranian Prisoner of Conscience, Iranian Hero

Early in the morning on February 14, 2011, the day of mass pro-democracy protests in Iran, a man climbed atop a crane in Tehran, wearing a green head band, holding a long piece of green cloth and picture of himself. He was arrested and taken to prison. That man is Akbar Amini, who in late 2013 began serving a five-year prison sentence. w

Following is an excerpt of an article on Kaleme by one of Amini’s cell mates telling the story of the man who climbed atop a crane in protest, even after having been arrested and tortured post-election in summer of 2009.

Akbar Amini’s cell mate says Akbar is known as the “Crane” among other prisoners. Even the prison football and volleyball teams that Akbar plays on is called “Crane”.

Akbar Amini, like many other Iranians, went out on the street after the rigged presidential election in June of 2009 to ask “Where Is My Vote”.

Amini says, on June 22, 2009, a young man contacted him at his store, with the pretence of buying number of computers for a government entity. The young man came to the store, talked for a few minutes about buying computers and than left to bring coworkers to buy the computers. Minutes later, the young man came back accompanied by 8 armed men. They arrested Akbar Amini, confiscated his personal computer and took him to Evin 209 (Intelligence section) and put him in solitary confinement cell 102.

Three days later they started interrogating Amini. He was beaten during the interrogations. After 45 days in solitary confinement he was transferred along with 190 other post-election detainees to ward 7 in Evin.

Early on, after their transfer to ward 7, an interrogator named Haydarifar would select a number of detainees for practice sessions for show trials that were going to be held in a few days. They were told what they had to say during the trial.

The trial practice sessions were arranged just like a real trial. During the practice sessions, there were interrogators, prosecutors and a judge in attendance. Even Judge Mortazavi (then Tehran Prosecutor) came in and checked on the practice sessions few times.

Among the detainees there were a few that were transferred in from Kahrizak. Their stories about Kahrizak were horrifying, accounts of rapes by batons, beatings with cable and lashings.

On August 12, 2009 a number of members of Parliament came to ward 7 for inspection. Alaedin Broujerdi from the National Security Commission along with Omidvar Rezaei, Ghodratollah Alikhani and Zohre Elahiyan asked the detainees questions about their condition in prison. They had a crew with them video taping the session.

The MP’s were told of long interrogation sessions, hanging prisoners from their feet for long periods of time, hanging prisoners from their feet half naked at times, throwing prisoners in water tanks and beating prisoners with shock batons which is very painful.

The MP’s got very upset at what they heard, some even cried. They promised the detainees their release and asked them to go to the Parliament after their release so they can help them. Akbar Amini along with many of the 190 detainees were released that very same day.

After release, Akbar and others went to the Parliament but the MP’s refused to see them, they were even confronted by the guards there. They left messages for MP’s Omidvar, Rezaei and Alikhani but received no response from them.

Akbar Amini was upset, felt insulted and thought to himself he will come up with a plan that would make the world listen.

He was inspired by the self emulation of the Tunisian man, thought about doing the same, then decided that would not grab as much attention in Iran considering the situation and limitations placed on the media.

He came up with the idea of climbing a crane. February 14 protest was an ideal day for him to do that.

For many, February 14, 2010 was a resurgence day for the Green Movement. There are many of our youth, women and men that feel their voice is not reaching anyone. They love their country, they are some of the same ones that fought for 8 years against Iraq and now feel they deserve a better life, they are not “Saboteurs”.

Akbar emphasizes on the word “Saboteurs” used by government to describe the protesters and says “The government must listen to us”.

Before the February 14 protest, Akbar made his plans for climbing a crane and picked a location most visible to carry out his plan.

On February 14, he filled a backpack filled with few cans of tuna fish, water, bread and warm clothes. He planned to stay up there for few days.

Early on the morning of February 14, Akbar went to the location he had picked. He took with him his backpack, a large picture of himself, a picture of his 10 year old son, a large flag with a big question mark inscribed in the middle, a 2 meter long green cloth and a green head band.

He was afraid, he was trembling and had second thoughts. He thought he may fall down to his death and did not want the media calling his death a suicide.

He climbed up the crane; it was 6 in the morning and not much traffic yet. The first person that noticed him up there was a traffic policeman. It was 7:20 when a fire truck with sirens on arrived. People were gathering at the bottom of the crane. People were taking pictures of him, cars were honking horns, people were whistling and waving at him.

At that time Akbar Amini had no idea he had become top news on news sites.

Mondays are visitation days for ward 350. That Monday, February 14, the hot news inside ward 350 was this man who had climbed a crane.

Akbar says he knew the news of him on top a crane had spread by the number of people and police that were down there.

The roof of the building closest to the crane was filled with police, guards and Plainclothes. Number of them were video taping the events.

The Plainclothes were threatening they would kill him, some were encouraging him to jump and the police were asking him to climb down.

A police Commander named Mostafanejad asked Akbar to climb down and promised he would listen to his complaints. Akbar said “where were you when they were torturing me?”.

Akbar says he could see police and people clashing on the streets, he could clearly hear chants of “No dictator either with motorcycles or camels” (referring to the then Egypt events).

It was 9 AM and he saw his mother down there crying. A policeman threatened to shoot him down. Akbar immediately tied himself to the crane with a rope he had with him. He thought if they shot him he wanted to dangle from the crane and not fall down.

Eventually police were able to arrest him by reaching up there with a hydraulic crane, and pulled Akbar down. He was being pulled and pushed, kicked and bloodied.

They pulled him to the adjacent roof top, just about every policeman there kicked him and threw insults at him. They took him to an apartment in the same building. On the way they continued kicking and hitting him.

They asked the owner of the apartment to leave and, right then and there, they started interrogating him. Akbar was bloodied, his clothes were torn. They told him to prepare himself for a TV interview. They were trying to broadcast the interview on TV before the planned mass protest in the afternoon.

That same Commander Mostafanejad told Akbar that he has to talk about having been hired by the Sedition Movement, that he has received money to do this. He also told Akbar he has to name a certain foreign country that has paid him money to do this. In his instructions he emphasized numerous times for Akbar to mention having been paid by the U.S. and Israel.

They threatened him with execution if he does not confess to receiving instructions from Monafeghin (MEK/MKO).

During the on camera interview, Akbar did not follow their instructions. He only repeated what he was protesting and said he just wanted others to hear his voice.They transferred him to security police where he was beaten again.

By than many had heard Akbar’s voice. At night time the national news program covered his crane climbing event but said he had mental problems.

That afternoon thousands of people came out to the streets. The Green Movement once again showed it’s power.

Many of the youth that were arrested that day, are in Evin ward 350 and say that Akbar climbing up the crane with a Green cloth was inspiration for them to go out and join the protest that afternoon.
(SOURCE: Kalema; TRANSLATION: Persian Banoo)
http://persianbanoo.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/akbar-amini-the-man-who-climbed-atop-a-crane-in-a-show-of-protest-even-after-having-been-tortured-before/

UPDATE FROM SEPTEMBER 2013:
Akbar Amini has been transferred to ward 350 after being in solitary confinement in ward 209 for more than 100 days.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Akbar Amini who was arrested on June 7, 2013, was transferred to ward 350 after being in solitary confinement in ward 209 for more than 100 days.

In February, 2014 the authorities of ward 350 of Evin Prison prevented Akbar Amini from being transferred to a hospital outside of prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Akbar Amini, the political prisoner of ward 350, was supposed to be sent to the hospital for his jaw and dental problems on Wednesday February 26, however the authorities did not permit him.

An informed source said to HRANA’s reporter: “Momeni, the vice executive of prison, has prevented him from being transferred, because of recent tension inside the ward 350.”

Then came the notorious day, April 17, 2014. when a large group of security officials, including some in plain clothes and wearing masks, assaulted prisoners over a period of several hours after entering Section 350 early on the morning of 17 April. As a result of the assaults, many prisoners sustained injuries, such as fractures, cuts and bruises, some of which were still visible when their relatives gained access to them days later. Those carrying out the assaults included Ministry of Intelligence officials and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who, between them, control some sections of Evin Prison.

Akbar's father told Kaleme, a Persian-language news website, that he found his son wearing a cervical collar and with a cut on his head that had not been stitched. Akbar Amini reportedly told his family that he had received a blow to his head and neck and had lost hearing in his right ear.
SOURCE: HRANA Human Rights News Agency
https://hra-news.org/en/akbar-amini-allowed-get-medical-treatment-hospital

29. Free Iranian Student Activists Zahra Khandan and Soha Mortazaei

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Department has arrested a number of Women’s rights activists on Monday January 19 2015, in Tehran, and has also summoned a number of the activists or has threatened them. It has been said that these are all in order to prevent the protest plans by these activists in connection with the recent acid attacks against women in Iran.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Iranian Revolutionary Guards Intelligence arrested a number of women’s rights activists. Zahra Khandan, journalist and former student activist from Amir Kabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) and Soha Mortazaei are two of these detainees who were arrested in Tehran at their homes.

Zahra Khandan, who has a record of working for Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) and Etemad Newspaper, was arrested at her home by Intelligence officers and there is no news about her location. Intelligence officers in contact with this journalist’s father, informed him about his daughter’s detention.

Also, on Monday 19th January, Intelligence officers arrested Ms Soha Mortazaei, student activist at her home. Soha Mortazaei, is a student of Amir Kabir University of Technology who had been suspended for one semester in the university, as well. She was released, but then arrested yet again for the "crime" of attempting to attend a public sporting event.

It is said, additional arrests of women’s rights activists were carried out that same day.

Women’s rights activists believe that, considering the summoning of and phone call threats to several other activists on that same day, the arrests are likely to be related to attempts to prevent women’s rights activists from holding possible rallies to protest regarding recent acid attacks against women.
SOURCE: HRANA Human Rights News Agency

30. Free Iranian Baha'i Faith Prisoners of Conscience Navid Haghighi & Shahram Falah

On January 30, two Baha'i faith Iranians, Navid Haghighi and Shahram Falah, reported to begin serving their prison terms (three years each). Navid Haghighi reported to Arak Prison to begin his three-year term, while Shahram Falah reported to Kerman Prison.

Mr. Haghiighi and Mr. Falah are two of twenty Iranian Baha'i faith practicioners who were convicted in a highly flawed trial based solely on politically-motivated charges, which occurred in 2014. Human Rights Watch describes:

Iranian authorities should ensure that prison sentences against 20 Baha’is unlawfully convicted of national security crimes are overturned. Security and intelligence forces arrested the group of 20 in July 2012. Authorities should also halt the Revolutionary Guard bulldozing of an old Baha’i cemetery in Shiraz.

The appellate court ruling, issued on April 13, 2014, follows lower court convictions of the group in 2013 on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “propaganda on behalf of groups or organizations acting against the state.” Several defendants told Human Rights Watch that the convictions followed prolonged periods of solitary confinement and interrogation by Intelligence Ministry agents, who subjected detainees to physical and psychological ill-treatment.

“These transparently political charges make it painfully clear that authorities have targeted the Baha’is not for any crime but because of their religious beliefs,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “It’s hard to understand how members of the judiciary can justify such religious intolerance.”

The ruling issued by branch 1 of Yazd’s Appellate Court, with an average of two to three years per defendant, stems from a campaign targeting Baha’is in central Iran. On July 31, 2012, Intelligence Ministry agents raided the homes and businesses of the 20 Baha’is in the cities of Yazd, Esfahan, Arak, Shahinshahr, Vilashahr, and Kerman. Defendants who spoke to Human Rights Watch described how the agents searched their homes, confiscated personal belongings including birth certificates, bank statements, and religious material, then arrested them and took them to detention facilities in Yazd.

The defendants are out on bail. Fariborz Baghi, who was sentenced to two years in prison and given a one year suspended sentence, told Human Rights Watch that over the course of a month in a Yazd detention facility: “I was subjected to a lot of psychological and emotional pressure…. They told me if you don’t confess to everything we will bring your daughter and your son here too…they did not say what they would do to them.” Baghi’s wife, Nategheh Jafari Naeimi, told Human Rights Watch that agents arrested her and took her to a women’s detention facility, where she was in solitary confinement for 17 days during her interrogation. They later released her on bail.

Another defendant, Iman Rashidi, told Human Rights Watch that one of his interrogators insulted and cursed him and other Baha’is, and struck him on the head from behind on two occasions. Rashidi said he was in solitary confinement for 15 days, and was allowed to contact his family only on his 21st day of detention. The court sentenced Rashidi to three years in prison and a one year suspended sentence.

Several defendants said that during the two-day lower court trial, which lasted about three hours each day, the government provided little evidence substantiating the charges against them:

The judge first read the charges against us aloud and then asked if we wished to defend ourselves. Then he immediately asked us and our lawyer to provide our last defense. I felt as if they had already made a final decision and had issued the verdict before our trial, and before hearing our words and our lawyer’s defense.

Another defendant, who wished to remain anonymous, said that several days after the lower court issued its verdict, a member of the judiciary told him: “In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the constitution does not acknowledge any rights for you. You are not considered citizens. If it were up to me you would not have the right to live, either.”

Mehran Amirabadi, a 45-year-old Yazd resident who was sentenced to a year in prison and a one year suspended sentence, said that the judge accused the group of being in touch with Israel without providing any proof:


They never provided evidence for the charge of “propaganda against the regime”. They just said that all 20 of us were part of an organized network. I asked the judge what evidence substantiated the charges against us. The judge looked at the prosecutor’s representative, who nodded his head. Then the judge answered that the representative of the prosecutor will inform you later.... How can I defend myself if the prosecutor’s representative is going to inform me of the evidence for my charges later? Then, the judge related us to Israel, and [said that] we are in touch with Israel without any proof, evidence, and witness.

Haifa, in present-day Israel, is the faith’s administrative headquarters since 1868, when Haifa was under Ottoman rule. The Iranian government has repeatedly used the connection to accuse Baha’is in Iran of spying for Israel, with which Iran has hostile relations.

The Baha’i International Community says that as of December 2013, there are 136 Baha’is that are in prison in Iran solely on religious grounds. Among those are the seven former Baha’i leaders, who are nearly six years into 20-year sentences in a trial that fell short of international standards. The seven are: Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.

Those arrested on July 31, 2012, are: Farahnaz Misaghian Ardakani, Shabnam Mottahed, Iman Rashidi Azabadi, Fariba Ashtari, Nategheh Jafari Naeimi, Shahram Fallah, Navid Haghighi Najafabadi, Khosro Dehghani Mohammadi, Farah Baghi Asrabadi, Mehran Eslami Amirabadi, Azam Motahari, Azar Meidokht Toloui Mehdiabadi, Safa Golshan, Enayatollah Taghipour, Sasan Haghiri, Shahram Eshraghi Najafabadi, Tahereh Rezaeidashti, Naghmeh Farabi, Vida Haghighi, and Fariborz Baghi.

In a separate development, on or around April 21, 2014, authorities began excavating an old Baha’i cemetery, “Golestan-e Javid” (Eternal Paradise), in the southern city of Shiraz. Two Baha’i residents, who have family buried in the cemetery, told Human Rights Watch that the Revolutionary Guard began bulldozing the cemetery despite efforts by the community to prevent demolition of the site.

Defacing and destruction of religious or sacred sites, including cemeteries where Baha’i leaders and ordinary members of the community are buried, has also been part of the systematic campaign of government repression targeting Iran’s Baha’i community since the 1980s, Human Rights Watch said.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said that his mother’s cousin, who was among a group of Baha’is executed by the government in the early 1980s, was buried in the cemetery, but that since the government confiscated the property in the 1980s the Baha’i community had not been able to use the site for burials. The resident also said that local Baha’is had complained to various governmental authorities to stop the excavation, to no avail.

In a recent interview with the Persian-language Radio Farda, a Baha’i International Community spokesperson, Simin Fahandej, said that the land on which the Baha’i cemetery sits is now owned by a Revolutionary Guard, and that three years ago it announced plans to build a cultural and sports complex on the site. The cemetery’s burial ground holds the remains of more than 900 Baha’is, including “10 women who were hanged in 1983 for their refusal to recant their Baha’i beliefs,” the Baha’i International Community said in a May 8, 2014 statement.

According to the Baha’i International Community, between 2005 and 2012 “at least 42 Baha’i-owned cemeteries were attacked in some manner.”

“The targeting and harassment of Baha’is, both living and dead, shows how deeply entrenched the government’s intolerance is against Iran’s Baha’i community,” Stork said. “Those who are supposed to be protecting the Baha’i community should call a halt to this campaign of repression.”
SOURCE: Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/19/iran-mounting-pressure-baha