CHRI – Sufi political prisoner Sima Entesari was beaten by an inmate who claims she was promised a case review if she carried out the attack, a source with detailed knowledge of the event informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“One of the prisoners convicted of drug-related offenses initially got into an argument with Ms. Entesari,” said the source who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals by Iranian authorities for speaking to a foreign media organization.
The source continued: “When Ms. Entesari said she didn’t want to argue, she was beaten up. The attacker said she had no choice, she had been promised by prison officials that her request for conditional release would be taken into consideration if she attacked the dervishes.”
The source added that since Entesari was attacked in Gharchak Prison for women, located in the desert on the outskirts of Tehran, other Sufi prisoners have avoided talking to non-Sufi inmates to protect themselves from confrontations.
Entasari was arrested in Tehran on February 20, 2018, during a violent confrontation initiated by the police against Sufi protesters who were demanding the release of a fellow Sufi from detention as well as freedom for their faith’s leader, Nour Ali Tabandeh, who is under house arrest.
Entasari is a follower of the Sufi Gonabadi Order, a religious minority in Iran that, like other religious minorities not officially named in the country’s Constitution, is subjected to systematic discrimination and persecution in Iran.
The order’s interpretation of Islam differs from that of Iran’s ruling Muslim Shia establishment. The Islamic Republic views any alternative belief system, especially those seeking converts, as a threat to the prevailing Shia establishment and has imprisoned members of the Sufi order for their faith.
The Sufi women held in Gharchak Prison have repeatedly asked prison authorities to separate them from wards holding inmates with drug addictions and dangerous criminal records.
Gharchak Prison currently holds five female dervishes serving prison sentences ranging from one to two years based on charges related to the February 2018 protests in Tehran.
The Sufi inmates are Shekoufeh Yadollahi, Sima Entesari, Elham Ahmadi, Shima Entesari and Sepideh Moradi.
The Sufis held in Ward 7 are Elham Ahmadi, Sepideh Moradi and Shekoufeh Yadollahi. Sima Entesari and her sister Shima are held in Ward 1.
In January 2019, Ahmadi was given an additional sentence of 148 lashes for speaking out about the denial of medical treatment and poor living conditions in Gharchak.