Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – August 2019
August was marked by brutal clampdown on Iranian society. Heavy sentences issued for civil and human rights activists are stark indications of mounting repression in Iran.
Beset by a whole host of economic, social and political crises, Iran sentenced more than 30 activists, workers and journalists to lashes and prison, in an attempt to silence dissent.
According to reports gathered by Iran Human Rights Monitor, Iran sentenced more than 21 activists, workers and journalists to lashes and prison in August for participating in protests.
Atefeh Rangiz, a researcher arrested during Labor Day demonstrations on May 1, 2019, was sentenced to 11 years and six month of prison in addition to 74 lashes.
Journalist Marzieh Amiri who was also arrested during the Labor Day protest, was sentenced to 10 years and six months of prison in addition to 148 lashes on August 13. Six years of her prison term will be implemented.
Nasrin Javadi, was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 74 lashes for participating in the Labor Day protest.
Rasoul Taleb Moghadam, bus driver and member of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company was sentenced to 74 lashes, two years of prison, two years of exile, and a two-year ban on using smartphones. He was also arrested during the Tehran Labor Day gathering in Tehran on May 1.
In another development, Parvin Mohammadi, vice president of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, was sentenced to one year in prison upon the verdict of the Court of Karaj which tried her on August 24, 2019. She is accused of “propaganda against the state.” She was arrested by security forces during a Labor Day gathering in Karaj on April 26, 2019.
Labor Activist Azarm Khezri (Nasrin Javadi), was sentenced to seven years of prison and 74 lashes for participating in the Labor Day protest. Five years of her prison term will be implemented. She was tried on August 6 by the Tehran Revolutionary Court.
On August 13, seven workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory in the southwestern city of Shush were sentenced to eight months of suspended prison and 30 lashes each.
According to the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Syndicate, the workers were tried and sentenced by the 102ndBranch of the Shush Criminal Court.
On August 14, nine other Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers were sentenced to eight months of prison and 30 lashes while another worker was acquitted. They were identified as Hossein Ansari Zadeh, Mohammad Khanifar, Feisal Sa’alobi, Sab Zahiri, Adel Samaie, Ismail Ja’adeleh, Bani Na’ami, Omid Azadi, Rostam Abdollahzadeh and Ali Bani Sadeh.
Labor activist Farhad Sheikhi was sentenced to four months of prison and 5 lashes for participating in the Labor Day protest. His sentence has been suspended for two years.
Mohammad Taghi Falahi, the head of the Tehran Teachers’ Association, was sentenced to eight months of prison and ten lashes for participating in a teachers’ protest on Iran’s National Teachers’ Day. His sentence has been suspended for three years.
Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 24 years in prison for protesting the compulsory veil and refusing to cooperate with the regime and make forced confessions.
Satirist Keyomars Marzban was sentenced to 23.3 years in prison in Iran for working for foreign media outlets.
Many activists are still languishing in prison.
August continued with the arrests and imprisonment of more activists.
At least 14 signatories to open letters published in mid-June and early August, calling on Khamenei to resign were arrested.
Nine civil activists were also sentenced to a total of 54 years in prison on August 26, 2019. Their court hearing had been held on April 21, 2019, in Tehran, informing them of their charges which included “association and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.”
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) expressed alarm that a new wave of arrests and interrogations of female journalists had started in Iran since the beginning of August.
In a report to the General Assembly, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran criticized the regime for treatment of human rights defenders, members of minority communities, lawyers, journalists, labor and trade union activists and women protesting a law requiring them to wear veils know as a hijab.
Read the Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – August 2019.
At least 41 people, were executed in August. Two executions took place in public while the rest were carried out in various prisons around the country.
The exact number of executions is definitely higher as most executions in Iran are carried out in secret.
A 38-year-old woman, mother of two, was hanged in the Central Prison of Mashhad on August 25, 2019. She had committed murder due to poverty. Not identified by name, she was the 94th woman executed during Rouhani’s terms in office.
Three political prisoners identified as Abdullah Karmollah Chab, Ghassem Abdullah, and, Hamidreza Derakhshandeh were among those executed.
Abdullah Karmollah Chab and Ghassem Abdullah, from Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority, were executed on August 4, following months of torture during which both were forced to make false confessions.
On August 28, Iranian authorities executed Hamidreza Derakhshandeh, the man who had killed Mohammad Khorsand, the regime’s Friday Prayer Leader in Kazerun. Friday Prayer leaders are mullahs who directly represent Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, in different cities, which makes them much hated among the Iranian population who are fed up with the repression and corruption of regime officials.
In other news, five more prisoners were hanged in only one day on August 7 in the notorious Raja’i Shahr Prison, in the city of Karaj, northwest of Tehran. The names of those executed were announced as Mohammad-Reza Shekari, Yousof Zakeri, Majid Arabali, Hossein Panjeh-Maryam, and Bahram Tork.
A video circulated on social media which showed prison officials after the execution.
After the video was posted online, Security guards of Raja’i Shahr Prison, raided the cells of prisoners who took the footage. Five prisoners were viciously attacked and transferred to unknown locations.
Members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were among those involved in the attack that took place in the prison’s hall 5 of ward 4.
The names of four of these death row prisoners are Samad Farhadi, Sadegh Hafezi, Mohammad Chahargooshe and Ali Bagheri.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Iranian authorities continued to torture and mistreat prisoners. There were reports of beating prisoners and flogging sentences carried out in jails.
On the other hand, Elham Ahmadi, a Sufi woman from the Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran, was released from Evin Prison on August 13, 2019, but received 74 lashes before her departure.
Lawyers, human rights defenders
The 24-year sentence issued for Saba Kordi Afshari shocked the world.
Iranian civil rights activist Saba Kord Afshari has been sentenced to 24 years in prison by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for taking off her hijab in public. The 20-year-old was found guilty of removing her headscarf as well as “spreading propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion”.
She will serve 15 years as only the harshest of multiple sentences will be enforced.
She was first arrested during anti-regime protests in 2018.
She was taken to Qarchak Prison, subsequently sentenced to one year in prison for “disruption of public order” and then transferred to the women’s ward of Evin Prison.
Kord Afshari was released in February 2019, but was re-arrested on June 1 and has been detained since.
Three other women in August were sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison for challenging compulsory hijab.
Inhumane treatment of prisoners
Denial of treatment
Iranian authorities have prevented political prisoners Majid Assadi and Arash Sadeghi from receiving medical care. Sadeghi has cancer. In September 2018, after undergoing surgery, he was immediately returned to prison on orders of the IRGC and the prosecutor’s office.
A serious post-operation infection has developed in his right arm due to lack of care in prison, leaving it swollen, paralysed and without sensation. He has also been denied critical bone marrow tests to monitor if his cancer has spread. His life is being put at risk.
Sadeghi needs to undergo several rounds of chemotherapy. But until today, the Iranian regime still hasn’t given him permission to receive treatment.
In a statement released on August 13, Amnesty International said, “The deliberate refusal by the authorities to provide Arash Sadeghi with medical care constitutes torture as defined in international law, since such deprivation is intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering, apparently for the purpose of punishing him for his high-profile activism as a human rights defender and in reprisal for his peaceful hunger strike between October 2016 and January 2017, which attracted a major public outcry on his case. The denial of his access to life-saving medical care also violates his right to life.”
Also, according to physicians, Iranian political prisoner Majid Assadi suffers from Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a rheumatism disease that affects the spine. He also has ulcers and inflammation in his vision network. His digestive problems have intensified as a result of prison authorities depriving him of medical care.
In September 2018, doctors diagnosed him with ulcers and inflammation of intestines. But despite his critical conditions, he has been deprived of access to physicians in the past year.
Indefinite solitary confinement:
Prison authorities in the notorious Evin Prison banned all outside communications to family and friends of Mrs. Farangis Mazloum.
Mrs. Farangis Mazloum, the mother of a prominent political prisoner, Soheil Arabi, was arrested and sent to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on July 21, 2019. She is being kept in Evin’s ward 209 where political prisoners are kept. All outside calls or contacts to Mrs. Mazloum has been cutoff. She has been on hunger strike since August 16, 2019, in protest to cancellation of her visit and weekly calls to her family.
A court issued a heavy bail of 300 million tomans for her temporary release. Her family did not afford to pay the bail bond.
Political prisoner Mohamamd Saber Malak-Raisi has been under torture for the past three months in Ardabil Prison, northwest Iran, reports indicate. He has been transferred to the prison’s quarantine section where he has been placed under severe torture. Psychologically ill prisoners are usually held in Ardabil Prison’s quarantine section.
Freedom of religion and belief
At least seven members of Iran’s Baha’i community were arrested in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, and Birjand.
Monireh Bavil Soflayee, Minoo Zamani and Gholamhossein Mazloumi were arrested in Tehran and taken to Evin Prison. They have been denied phone contact with anyone since their arrest on August 10.
Paris Sobhanian Najafabadi and Soheila Haghighat were arrested by security forces in Roudehen and Shiraz.
Farid Moghaddam Ziraki was arrested on August 3, and taken to an unknown location.
Treatment of ethnic minorities
At least 30 Kurds, three Arabs and a Baluch man were arrested by the state security forces.
At least six Kurdish porters were shot and killed by Iran’s IRGC forces while 10 others were wounded.