International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran http://www.iranhumanrights.org Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:15:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Amputations Do Not Prevent Crime, Legal Expert Says http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/amputations-do-not-prevent-crime/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/amputations-do-not-prevent-crime/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 02:22:34 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20635 Amputations

The Iranian Judiciary’s continued practice, under the direction of Sadegh Amoli Larijani, of carrying out amputations as a routine punishment, is not only in direct conflict with international treaties Iran has signed, it has also utterly failed to prevent crime, according to Hossein Raeesi, attorney and legal expert.

Speaking to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran following the amputation of a criminal’s hand and leg in Mashhad on August 4, 2015, Raeesi emphasized that the Iranian Judiciary has clearly not reduced crime through such means.

“The Increasing crime statistics, and the number of prisoners and cases brought to the Judiciary [despite] punishments such as limb amputations in public, especially since Mr. Larijani became head of the Judiciary, show that such punishments never prevent crime. Many Islamic thinkers concur that these kinds of punishments are not allowable,” Raeesi said.

On June 28, 2015, the daily Khorasan reported that amputations were also carried out in the Central Prison of Mashhad on two prisoners found guilty of robbery.

The Campaign has repeatedly requested that Iranian authorities end inhumane practices such as amputations and floggings. In 2014, the Campaign, along with Human Rights Watch, called on President Hassan Rouhani to include the elimination of amputations and floggings in his Citizen’s Rights Charter.

Although the Iranian Parliament ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 2003, the Council of Guardians rejected it, ostensibly on the grounds that joining the convention would increase public spending.

However, according to Seyed Nasser Ghavami, the former chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Judicial Affairs Committee, the real reason was the Council’s concern that the Islamic Republic’s membership in the Convention would mean that amputation, lashing, stoning, and other forms of punishments called for in the country’s penal code could be condemned as acts of torture.

“Iran is one of the signatories of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which is based on human dignity. Thus the Iranian government is obligated not to carry out punishments which cause suffering and hardship, such as lashings and amputations,” Raeesi told the Campaign.

In 2013, a U.N. General Assembly resolution called on Iran to “address the substantive concerns…on the situation of human rights” and “eliminate, in law and in practice, amputations, flogging, blinding and other forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

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Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Abdolfattah Soltani Denied Visitation with His Wife http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/rights-defender-abdolfattah-soltani-denied-visitation/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/rights-defender-abdolfattah-soltani-denied-visitation/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 02:20:09 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20641 abdolfattah-soltani

Abdolfattah Soltani, human rights lawyer.

Evin Prison authorities have prevented Massoumeh Dehghan from visiting her husband, the imprisoned human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, a source close to the family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Dehghan went to Evin Prison with her daughter and Soltani’s mother on August 10, 2015. When they attempted to visit Soltani, Dehghani was stopped because her name was not on the official visitation permit, the source added.

“Mr. Khodabakhshi, the supervising Assistant Prosecutor at Evin Prison, did not allow me to have an in-person visit! I stayed behind and my daughter took [Soltani’s] elderly mother to the visitation room with difficulty,” Dehghan wrote on her Facebook page.

The source told the Campaign that relatives of prisoners are allowed one in-person visit per month. “They have not said why they denied visitation [to Soltani’s wife] but this is not the first time. They have done it many times.”

Political prisoners in Iran often receive additional punitive treatment over and above their prison sentences, such as denial of visitation rights or furlough routinely provided to other prisoners, and denial of needed medical care.

The prominent attorney and human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani, who has spent four years in prison on charges of “being awarded the [2009] Nuremberg International Human Rights Award,” “interviewing with media about his clients’ cases,” and “co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” has also been suffering from new medical complications, after struggling with previous medical issues that have not been properly addressed or treated while he has been imprisoned.

“Previously [Mr. Soltani] was taken to a doctor for his heart and dental issues. He’s being run down more and more as time goes by. Now, in addition to digestive and heart problems, he’s suffering from neck pains,” said the Campaign’s source.

On her Facebook page, Dehghan wrote of the injustices Soltani has suffered since her husband’s imprisonment four years ago, after five men “ransacked” their home, confiscated personal items, and arrested her husband for his legal and human rights work.

A leading human rights lawyer, Soltani was arrested on September 10, 2011. On January 8, 2012, Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Pirabbasi sentenced him to 18 years in prison, to be served in exile at Borazjan prison, and a 20-year ban on practicing law.

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Banning of Films Continues under Rouhani Administration, 14 Movies Now Forbidden http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/banning-of-films-continues-under-rouhani-administration-14-movies-now-forbidden/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/banning-of-films-continues-under-rouhani-administration-14-movies-now-forbidden/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 15:58:06 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20632 Banning of Films Continues under Rouhani Administration

Banning of Films Continues under Rouhani Administration

Despite repeated statements made by President Rouhani regarding the need to allow more cultural freedoms in Iran, the banning of films in the Islamic Republic has continued unabated during his two-year administration.

The latest film added to the list of forbidden cinema came just last month, in July 2015, when the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which is under the direct authority of President Rouhani, banned Rastakhiz. This brought to 14 the number of films that have not received permission for public screening in Iran since 2007.

Although most of these films were prevented from screening during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency (2005-2013), they have yet to be seen by the public two years after Hassan Rouhani replaced him.

The most frequent reasons for the bans include references in the films to the mass peaceful protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, a highly sensitive subject in the Islamic Republic that hardliners continue to refer to as the “sedition,” and issues with what is perceived as actresses’ “poor” hijab (female attire).

On June 5, 2013, during his presidential election campaign, Rouhani promised he would “hand over the monitoring of cultural matters to the people,” and he questioned how any individual censor could fairly judge a film’s religious violations. Such remarks increased hopes that banned films would make their way to the cinemas if Rouhani was elected.

Statements in support of cultural freedom continued during Rouhani’s presidency. In a meeting with artists and cultural figures on January 8, 2014, he stated, “Viewing the arts as a security concern is the biggest mistake.” He went on to say, “If there is no freedom, true artistic creations would not be produced. We cannot create and produce arts on order. Any type of security atmosphere can nip arts in the bud.”

In June 2015, at a press conference marking the second anniversary of his election to office, in response to a question by a reporter about the widespread cancellation of concerts over the past year, Rouhani said, “In the cultural domain, we believe cultural affairs should be relinquished to the people of culture, and the atmosphere must be facilitated so that consumers and producers of cultural works can meet.”.

Nevertheless, the disputes between the Rouhani administration’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and Iranian filmmakers have still not been resolved, and the films remain banned.

A number of the blacklisted films were initially shown at the Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran, and some were screened in cinemas for a few days before being pulled. The latest casualty, Rastakhiz, was banned on the day it premiered, even though 40 minutes of it was cut to receive a screening permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

During the past two years, extreme positions taken by conservative Members of Parliament and hardline media, along with ultraconservative religious groups, have played a central role in preventing films from public viewing.

In September 2014, the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Iranian Parliament wrote a letter to the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance demanding he refuse screening permits for eight films that appeared to be sympathetic to the public “rebellion” against Ahmadinejad’s victory in the widely disputed 2009 presidential election.

“What we expect from the institution in charge of the film industry is to have the authority to carry out its decisions. The Ministry of Guidance gave a permit for the screening of my film [Khaneh Pedari (The Paternal House)] but then it was forced to pull it down after just two days, even though it was only being shown in a small cinema,” director Kianoosh Ayari told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The Campaign has compiled the following report on 14 banned films. Other films may also have faced censorship issues but their makers have chosen to remain quiet, hoping to eventually get a screening permit.

RASTAKHIZ (Hussein, Who Said No), directed by Ahmad Reza Darvish

RASTAKHIZ (Hussein, Who Said No)

RASTAKHIZ (Hussein, Who Said No)

Rastakhiz (Hussein, Who Said No) opened in cinemas on July 15, 2015, but was pulled within hours because of criticism from conservative religious leaders and protests by religious hardliners in front of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

Rastakhiz is a religious feature film set in 7th century Iraq that tells the story of the Ashura revolt, when Hossein, the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson and the third Imam of Shia Muslims, fought against the ruling caliph and died in an unequal battle near Karbala. Some religious leaders took issue with the depiction of Imam Hossein’s uncle Abolfazl al-Abbas. According to Shia theology, reproducing the face of the Imams and their family members is forbidden.

Director Ahmad Reza Darvish received many awards and accolades when Rastakhiz was first shown at the 2015 Fajr International Film Festival. But criticism from religious quarters was so strong that he was forced to cut 40 minutes of the film to satisfy Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance censors. Some religious leaders, however, were still dissatisfied and eventually forced the Ministry to pull its permit.

“As far as I’m aware as the director, this film has been made in accordance with the views of religious leaders, during the research phase when it received permission for production, and during the making of the film,” Darvish told ISNA, the official Iranian Students’ News Agency. “Even before public screening, when the film was being revised, representatives of some honorable religious leaders were present and some of them praised the filmmakers.”

According to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Spokesman Hossein Noushabadi, “Rastakhiz will remain in suspension until its issues are resolved. In any case, this film will be screened at cinemas. But we hope the esteemed director and producer will cooperate with us so that we can resolve the issues more quickly.”

It is unclear if Darvish has agreed to make more revisions.

KHANEH DOKHTAR (The Girl’s House), directed by Shahram Shah-Hosseini

KHANEH DOKHTAR (The Girl’s House)

KHANEH DOKHTAR (The Girl’s House)

The Girl’s House (2014), directed by Shahram Shah-Hosseini and written by Parviz Shahbazi, deals with issues facing Iranian women while telling the story of two female university students who try to solve the mystery surrounding the murder of one of their classmates.

Conservative media have slammed the film for being against “traditional and family values” and despite a number of revisions, it has not received a permit for public screening.

The Girl’s House was only screened at the 2015 Fajr Film Festival, after which it came under intense attacks from ultraconservative religious circles, and the Tehran Municipality’s cultural affairs division opposed its screening at cinemas under its management.

The state broadcasting organization IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) reported that “nearly all viewers” considered the film to be immoral and the conservative Fars News Agency (http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13931119000015) described it as an attempt to demonize religious Muslims and please foreign film festival judges.

Director Shah-Hosseini has dismissed the criticism. “I reject any accusation that this film is against Iranian or Islamic morals,” he told ISNA news agency.

MEHMOUNIYE KAMI (Kami’s Party) and MAADARE QALBE ATOMI (Mother of the Atomic Heart), directed by Ali Ahmadzadeh

MEHMOUNIYE KAMI (Kami’s Party)

MEHMOUNIYE KAMI (Kami’s Party)

Ali Ahmadzadeh has made two feature films in his young directorial career and both have yet to get screening permission. His first film, Kami’s Party, about a road trip by a group of youths, was rejected by censors because they thought the actresses did not cover themselves properly.

Mother of the Atomic Heart, Ahmadzadeh’s latest film, has failed to make it to the cinemas without any official explanation. But its title has fueled rumors that the ban is due to references to Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite problems at home, Ahmadzadeh’s films were well-received abroad. Kami’s Party won the Best Film Award at the third Festival of Iranian Films in Prague and Mother of the Atomic Heart was screened at the Berlin film festival.

A member of the production team of Mother of the Atomic Heart told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that censors have not explained why it has been banned. “What usually happens is that if a film has a chance of being screened after censorship and revisions, the monitors will discuss it in a meeting with the director. But there are some films which have fundamental problems in terms of plot, screenplay and production and for those the monitors will not even bother to set up meetings,” he added.

ASABANI NISTAM (I’m Not Angry), directed by Reza Dormishian

ASABANI NISTAM (I’m Not Angry)

ASABANI NISTAM (I’m Not Angry)

I’m Not Angry premiered at the 2014 Fajr International Film Festival after director Reza Dormishian agreed to cut 17 minutes, including the final scene, of the film. But the film was also shown simultaneously at the Berlin Film Festival, with the final scene intact.

I’m Not Angry was widely praised by film festival audiences but the reaction by hardline MPs, state media and conservative pressure groups was quite the opposite, forcing officials to ban special screenings of the film and to cancel a promotional press conference.

Dormishian’s film is about a university student who gets expelled because of his political activities and struggles to control his anger. Hardline critics are particularly displeased with scenes showing the turbulent events after the 2009 presidential elections in a positive light.

Despite its popularity with the Fajr film Festival’s audiences, I’m Not Angry was pulled from the Festival’s competition category to ensure it received no awards, even though its leading actor Navid Mohammadzadeh had been nominated for the Best Actor award. At the awards ceremony, this note was read on behalf of the director: “Out of respect for the integrity of Iranian cinema and preserving peace, we will pass on our awards. Hoping for better days.”

BOLOOKE NOH KHOROOJIE DO (Block 9, Exit 2), directed by Alireza Amini

BOLOOKE NOH KHOROOJIE DO (Block 9, Exit 2)

BOLOOKE NOH KHOROOJIE DO (Block 9, Exit 2)

Directed by Alireza Amini, the 2014 the Fajr International Film festival refused to show Block 9, Exit 2 because the organizers thought it was too “bitter”. Still, the film was screened at a number of foreign film festivals. Most recently it won Best Film and Best Actor awards at the Kimera Film Festival in Italy.

ASHGHALHAYE DOOSTDASHTANI (Lovely Garbage), directed by Mohsen Amiryoussefi

ASHGHALHAYE DOOSTDASHTANI (Lovely Garbage)

ASHGHALHAYE DOOSTDASHTANI (Lovely Garbage)

Lovely Garbage did not get permission for public screening when it was completed in 2012 during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. But director Amiryoussefi has still not been able to show his third film in cinemas because the censors are unhappy about scenes related to the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The film begins with a group of protesters demonstrating against the results of the election. They run away from the security forces and take refuge inside the home of an old woman. There they discuss and criticize events of the past 30 years.

“Despite the insistence of the producer and some politicians, this film has not received a viewing permit and there are no plans to screen it,” Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Spokesman Hossein Noushabadi said in November 2014.

KHERS (The Bear), directed by Khosro Masumi

KHERS (The Bear)

KHERS (The Bear)

The Bear (2011) tells the story of a prisoner of war who returns home after many years in captivity to find his wife has remarried. Although the film has undergone some revisions, it has not yet been released for public viewing.

“This film has not crossed any red lines. We even did some changes for the Fajr Festival,” director Khosro Masumi told the Aftab newspaper on November 30, 2014. “Despite our efforts, the film is still banned and it’s not clear why. This isn’t pleasant for the producer who invested in the film but I’m still hopeful The Bear will be screened.”

GOZARESHE YEK JASHN (The Report of a Party), directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia

GOZARESHE YEK JASHN (The Report of a Party)

GOZARESHE YEK JASHN (The Report of a Party)

The Report of a Party was nominated for several awards when it was first shown at the Fajr Film Festival in 2011. It depicts events at a matchmaking agency managed by a woman who is targeted by the police. But critics accuse director Hatamikia of hiding the film’s true message in support of those who challenged the validity of the 2009 election results.

In an unprecedented move, the state-owned Film Organization purchased the rights to the film in order to cover Hatamikia’s production costs, a favor shown to no other banned film in the past. Hatamikia has not commented on the film’s status.

“The Guidance Ministry owns this film and there are no plans to screen it,” according to Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Spokesman Hossein Noushabadi.

KHIABANHAYE ARAM (Calm Streets), directed by Kamal Tabrizi

KHIABANHAYE ARAM (Calm Streets)

KHIABANHAYE ARAM (Calm Streets)

The leading character in Calm Streets is a reporter who is suddenly faced with events similar to the aftermath of the 2009 elections. Not surprisingly, it has yet to be shown in cinemas.

“I was pretty much sure that this film would be banned if officials lacked tolerance. There are certain sensitivities surrounding this film and according to what they have told us this film will not be screened for the time being, because it is somehow related to the 2009 incidents,” director Kamal Tabrizi told Borna news agency in August 2013.

PARINAAZ, directed by Bahram Bahramian

PARINAAZ

PARINAAZ

Bahram Bahramian’s second film is about a little girl who is raised by relatives after the death of her parents. The lead female character, played by Fatemeh Motamed-Aria, is a traditional woman who wears the chador, the full-body cloak.

“This woman is very religious and suffers from deep personal issues which cause problems inside the home. Although these issues get resolved at the end of the film, the cinema authorities have said that a chadori woman should never be shown with moral or psychological issues,” the film’s producer Abdolhamid Najibi said in an interview in July 2014.

After President Rouhani’s election and the arrival of new officials in charge of the film industry, Parinaaz was issued a screening permit but the film has still not been shown in public.

EEN YEK ROYA NIST (This is Not a Dream), directed by Mahmoud Ghaffari

EEN YEK ROYA NIST (This is Not a Dream)

EEN YEK ROYA NIST (This is Not a Dream)

This is Not a Dream, Mahmoud Ghaffari’s first feature film, was made in 2010. It is about a struggling young girl who gets caught up in a couple’s complex relationship.

This is Not a Dream was sent to the 2013 Fajr Film Festival but after being shown to the selection committee, I was told it needed changes and I acted on their request. But even after the revisions, it was again rejected by the selection committee,” director Mahmoud Ghaffari told Mehr news agency on January 7, 2013.

KHANEYE PEDARI (The Paternal House), directed by Kianoush Ayari

KHANEYE PEDARI (The Paternal House)

KHANEYE PEDARI (The Paternal House)

The Paternal House received a screening permit in 2014, five years after it was first made. But after only ten showings at one theater in Tehran, it was pulled by the authorities.

Many have been critical of a scene where a fanatical boy brutally murders his sister with a rock. But veteran director Kianoush Ayari believes that is not the real issue behind the banning.

“The scene where the boy is ordered by his father to beat his sister with a rock only lasts a few seconds. That’s the only violent scene, which is nothing compared to similar scenes in other films which are screened without any problem in the cinemas. So it’s clearly an excuse. It looks like there are other interpretations which have caused this film to be banned,” Ayari told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“It has been mentioned that this film has a tendency to reject Islamic behavior, but I don’t accept this view. That interpretation is completely wrong,” he added.

Ayari’s harshest critics have been in the Iranian Parliament. A day before the short-lived screening of The Paternal House on December 25, 2014, MP Morteza Agha-Tehrani, a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee said that MPs believed The Paternal House is unsuitable for public viewing and its permit should be revoked.

“It’s not right to attack our nation’s history with misguided ideas and [accuse] our forefathers of discrimination and violence against women,” Agha-Tehrani said.

SAD SAL BEH EEN SALHA (A Hundred Years Like This), directed by Saman Moghadam

SAD SAL BEH EEN SALHA (A Hundred Years Like This)

SAD SAL BEH EEN SALHA (A Hundred Years Like This)

The main character in A Hundred Years Like This (2007), directed by Saman Moghadam is a woman named Iran who goes through many stages of life during a 30-year period. She first loses her husband in the 1979 Revolution, then her son in the Iran-Iraq war, and then other relatives who becomes victims of various social and political upheavals.

The references to the human cost of the Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic have made authorities reluctant to release it to the public. As a result, its only screening was in the Fajr Film Festival in 2010.

A Hundred Years Like This received a screening permit during the previous administration but there are no plans to screen it in this administration,” said Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Spokesman Hossein Noushabadi in November 2014.

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Political Activist Should Go Free Says Tehran’s Deputy Prosecutor http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/mohammad-hossein-rafiee-2/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/mohammad-hossein-rafiee-2/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 21:38:35 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20625 Mohammad Hossein Rafiee

Mohammad Hossein Rafiee

Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, a 71-year-old political activist has been illegally held in detention since June 16, 2015, apparently in connection with a prison sentence that is no longer enforceable, according to his daughter.

“[Tehran Prosecutor’s Deputy-Legal Affairs] Mr. Jahani has written to the prosecutor that because of the statute of limitations, the 2003 sentence against my father has been nullified and he should be released,” Ana Maryam Rafiee told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, a retired Tehran University chemistry professor and member of the banned Melli-Mazhabi (National-Religious) Alliance and Iran’s National Peace Council, was sentenced by Judge Salavati, a judge known for his harsh rulings against peaceful activists, to six years in prison on May 25, 2015.  But this case has yet to be reviewed by the appeals court.

Ana Maryam Rafiee told the Campaign that her father’s lawyer had been verbally informed at the Prosecutor’s Office that his latest detention was actually in connection with a four-year prison sentence in 2003 which was never carried out. Due to the passage of time, that sentence is no longer valid according to Article 104 of the New Islamic Penal Code.

“My father is 71-years-old and the poor conditions in Evin Prison’s Ward Eight could cause a serious illness,” Ana Maryam Rafiee warned.

In his latest trial on May 25, 2015, Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, who has been a regular columnist on the National-Religious website was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state through interviews with opposition media,” “membership and activity in a banned group,” and “use of satellite equipment.”

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Imprisoned Artist Suffering from Lymphatic Disease http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/atena-farghadani/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/atena-farghadani/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:40:55 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20616 Atena Farghadani

Atena Farghadani

The artist and civil activist Atena Farghadani has developed signs of lymphatic disease in prison as she awaits her chance to challenge a 12-year prison sentence in the appeals court, according to her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi.

“The illness showed up recently and we are waiting to see if they send her to a specialist or to the prison infirmary,” Moghimi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “We hope that considering her health issues, the sentence against her will be changed in appeals court.”

Farghadani’s case has been referred to Branch 54 of the appeals court, but no date for the trial has yet been set.

After drawing a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian Parliament as animals and posting it on her Facebook page, Farghadani was sentenced by a Revolutionary Court on June 1, 2015, to 12 years and 9 months in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader, the President, Members of the Parliament, and the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] Ward 2-A agents” who interrogated her.

The authorities fear social media networks, which have become hugely popular in Iran, especially among the young, and have clamped down especially hard on any content deemed even remotely critical of state policies expressed on them.

Judge Salavati, a judge routinely picked by the Judiciary to handle political cases due to the harsh sentences he hands down, presided over her case. He has also been presiding over the trial of the Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

“We will object to all the charges,” Moghimi told the Campaign. “There is a chance that the appeals court will dismiss the case or reduce her sentence.”

Farghadani, who studied art at Alzahra University in Tehran, has been active in the area of civil and children’s rights. In addition to publishing critical opinions on her Facebook page, she visited with the families of political prisoners and protesters who were killed at the Kharizak Police Detention Center in 2009, in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed presidential election that year. She also posted videos on YouTube detailing the mistreatment of herself and other women in Evin Prison.

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Ailing Student Activist’s Continued Detention Violates Iran’s Own Laws http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/bahareh-hedayat-2/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/bahareh-hedayat-2/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:16:30 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20619 Bahareh Hedayat’s Continued Detention Violates Iran’s Own Laws

Bahareh Hedayat’s Continued Detention Violates Iran’s Own Laws

Prominent student activist Bahareh Hedayat should have been released by the end of July 2015 with the completion of more than five years in prison but efforts to end her unlawful incarceration have so far been unsuccessful, according to her husband Amin Ahmadian.

“Whatever happens to her, the responsibility will be with those who are acting against the law by keeping her imprisoned for no reason,” Ahmadian told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Hedayat, 34, winner of the 2012 Harald Edelstam Defence of Human Rights Award, was given three sentences in January 2010: Five years for “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods,” two years for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and six months for “insulting the President.”

Ahmadian told the Campaign that Hedayat should have been freed by now because according to Article 134 of the New Islamic Penal Code, she should not be serving more than 5.5 years. Under that Article, in the case of conviction on multiple charges, the prison term should not exceed the sentence for the charge that carries the heaviest punishment.

“Mr. Nasirpour, the head of Evin Prison’s Sentence Enforcement Unit, told us that as far as the law is concerned, she has completed her sentence and Bahareh should go free. He even said that if he were in our place, he would take legal action. And I and Bahareh’s lawyer have been pursuing this for months but so far no one is giving us answers,” Ahmadian added.

“We waited a long time. We kept quiet. We didn’t make a fuss. There were more important things going on, like the [nuclear] negotiations, and we didn’t want to overshadow a national issue. But now that the issue has been resolved, there is no reason why they shouldn’t implement their own laws regarding prisoners,” Hedayat’s husband noted.

Ahmadian said it appears that those sentenced before 2013, especially those involved in the peaceful protests against the widely disputed results of the 2009 presidential election in Iran, are being singled out for harsh treatment. As such the authorities are refusing to release them at the end of their maximum sentence, which is a direct violation of Article 134 of Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code.

Bahareh Hedayat was a member of the Central Council and Spokesperson for the Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat student union, and an activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Change of Discriminatory Laws Against Women. She was arrested by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence for the fifth time in four years at midnight on December 31, 2009, as a result of her peaceful activism.

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Rezaian’s Lawyer Prevented from Responding to Prosecutor’s Accusations http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/jason-rezaian-trial-2/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/jason-rezaian-trial-2/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 19:12:43 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20612 jason-rezaian-trial

The blatant denial of due process on display on the last day of Jason Rezaian’s trial on August 10, 2015, when his lawyer was not allowed to present arguments in response to the prosecutor, confirms the political and pre-ordained nature of the prosecution of the Washington Post reporter who has spent the last year behind bars in Iran.

“During Monday’s session I presented an oral defense of my client but there was no opportunity for me to respond after the prosecutor’s representative spoke. [Therefore] I submitted my written response to the court,” Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told ISNA (the Iranian Students News Agency).

One reporter among the dozens of domestic and international journalists waiting outside the court told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Rezaian’s mother informed the reporters no one was able to interview Jason’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, because she had been banned from speaking to the media.

Judge Salavati, of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, presided over Rezaian’s case. Salavati has a long history of close cooperation with the intelligence arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and is routinely handpicked by the Judiciary to preside over political cases due to his court rulings and the notoriously harsh sentences he hands down.

Salavati’s sharp curtailment of the work of the defense, and his refusal to allow Rezaian’s wife and mother to witness the closed-door proceedings is yet another indication of the impartiality of the judicial process and the political nature of the prosecution of Rezaian.

Throughout the more than one year of his imprisonment in Iran, Rezaian has been consistently denied any semblance of due process. He was arrested and kept for months without being informed of the charges, he was denied his choice of counsel, and his counsel was not allowed to provide full and effective representation during his trial.

A former activist who was previously tried by Judge Salavati in connection with the state crackdown on peaceful protestors that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election told the Campaign, “During my trial the prosecutor said a lot of things that were untrue but when it was my lawyer’s turn to speak, Judge Salavati cut him off after only a few minutes….That’s when I realized that trying to present a defense through my lawyer was meaningless and I was convinced the judge knew what his verdict was going to be before the trial began.”

Fars News Agency, the Vatan newspaper, and other media outlets with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and other hardline factions accused Rezaian of espionage and national security crimes months before the start of his trial—unsubstantiated accusations that became a central part of the prosecutor’s case.

The court’s decision on the charges against Rezaian, which include “espionage” and “cooperation with enemy states,” is expected in a week, his lawyer Leila Ahsan told ISNA.

Referring to the recent nuclear agreement and the potential for improved relations between Iran and Western governments, Rezaian’s mother expressed hope that her son would be released soon. “Jason was a reporter like you and his sources were the same as yours,” Mary Rezaian was quoted by ISNA.

“Now is the time for Iran’s senior leaders to end this ‘judicial process,’ with its sick brew of farce and tragedy. Jason and his wife, Yeganeh, who has been out on bail, deserve to be exonerated and to be given back their freedom and lives,” Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, said in a statement on August 10, 2015.

Jason Rezaian, 38, holds dual Iranian and US citizenship, and has been the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran since 2012. Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who worked for the UAE newspaper The National as their Tehran correspondent, were arrested in Tehran on July 22, 2014. Salehi was released in October 2014, but Rezaian has remained in prison since that time.

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Rezaian and Other Iranian-American Prisoners Held on Sham Charges Should be Released http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/iranian-american-prisoners/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/iranian-american-prisoners/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 20:49:46 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20602 Three Iranian-American prisoners,  Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, and Saeed Abedini.

Three Iranian-American prisoners, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, and Saeed Abedini.

August 10, 2015— The Rouhani administration should immediately secure the release of three Iranian-American prisoners, Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, and Amir Mirzaei Hekmati who are being held on politically motived charges, said the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran today.

“The Iranian government wants the world to look the other way while these individuals, prosecuted under bogus charges and without any semblance of due process, languish in Iranian prisons,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Campaign. “Rouhani can’t have it both ways: if he wants to end Iran’s international pariah status, he should use all his authority to end the unlawful targeting of these dual nationals.”

Under Article 113 of the Iranian constitution, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has the power to question the Judiciary on the condition of prisoners and on the Judiciary’s compliance with Iran’s own laws guaranteeing due process. Iranian law also explicitly stipules that the president is responsible for ensuring the Iranian constitution’s enforcement.

“It is long past time that the Rouhani administration ceases its silence on these political prisoners and actively works to secure their release,” continued Ghaemi.

Jason Rezaian, the 38-year-old dual Iranian and US citizen who has been the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran since 2012, has been held in prison in Iran since July 22, 2014.

Rezaian’s interrogations were completed a few months after his arrest and the Judiciary repeatedly delayed his trial sessions until recently, when three sessions have been held behind closed doors. The last session of his trial was held on August 10, 2015, and the verdict is expected to be delivered within the week.

Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who worked for the UAE newspaper The National as their Tehran correspondent, was also detained in Tehran on July 22, 2014, but Salehi was released in October 2014.

On October 29, 2014, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, told CNN: “Unfortunately, they [Rezaian and his wife] have been involved in activities which our security people consider [to be] activities definitely beyond journalism,” adding, “Their detention is according to the law with the order of the judges.”

However, the charges against Rezaian, of “espionage” and “cooperating with enemy states,” were only announced in late April 2015, after nine months of detention, without providing any corroborating evidence.

Saeed Abedini, another Iranian American, was detained in September 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013. His case is a blatant reflection of the lack of religious freedom in Iran, and in particular, the authorities’ intolerance of any proselytizing religion, seeing it as a direct threat to the Shia order.

Abedini is an Iranian-American Christian convert who, after converting to Christianity in 2000, left Iran for the US. He traveled to Iran many times since his conversion, lastly in July 2012 “to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage,” according to his wife, when he was arrested on September 5, 2012.

On January 27, 2013, Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to eight years in prison for “intending to disrupt Iranian national security by establishing a network of Christian house churches.” House churches are unlicensed churches held in people’s homes due to the authorities’ refusal to issue any permits or licenses for a church.

An appeals court upheld the sentence and sent Abedini to Tehran’s Evin Prison. He was abruptly transferred to Rajaee Shahr prison on November 3, 2013, where he has been kept among dangerous criminals.

Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a US citizen whose family is from Iran, traveled to Iran for the first time on August 14, 2011, to visit family. He obtained an Iranian passport and permission to enter the country for three months from the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, DC. After two weeks in Iran, Hekmati was arrested and imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran, with no explanation given to his family.

In January 2012, Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death on charges of “cooperating with an enemy state,” “membership in the CIA,” “moharebeh” (enmity with God), and “corruption on earth,” and aired a televised confession in which he claimed to be a CIA spy. His family has consistently held that he went to Iran to visit his grandmother and that he was forced to make false confessions.

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

After an international outcry, in March 2012 Iran’s Supreme Court overturned Hekmati’s death sentence and ordered a retrial. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in April 2014, a sentence under appeal at this time.

In addition to these prisoners, Omid Kokabee, who studied in the US and thus is seen as connected to the country, has also been held unjustly and without due process in Iranian prisons.

Kokabee was a doctoral student in physics at the University of Texas at Austin at the time of his arrest on January 30, 2011, at Tehran’s International Airport, when he was leaving Iran after visiting family. He was kept in solitary confinement for over a month during his 15-month pre-trial detention without access to a lawyer.

On May 14, 2012, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for “contact with enemy states” and other falsified charges. In an open letter from Evin Prison, Kokabee wrote in 2013 that his arrest followed his refusal to cooperate with Iranian security agents on a military research project. Despite an Iranian Supreme Court’s decision rejecting the legality of Kokabee’s conviction, an appeals court upheld his ten-year sentence.

In addition to his imprisonment on trumped up charges, Kokabee suffers from heart palpitations, asthma, and kidney disease, but has been denied medical care outside the prison despite his repeated requests.

Kokabee was awarded the 2013 Andrei Sakharov Prize by the American Physical Society for “his courage in refusing to use his physics knowledge to work on projects that he deemed harmful to humanity, in the face of extreme physical and psychological pressure,” and the 2014 Freedom and Responsibility Award by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Thirty-one Nobel Prize laureates and thousands of activists have called for his release.

The IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) Intelligence Unit has been in charge of the arrests and investigations in the cases of these three Iranian-American prisoners and Omid Kokabee. All of these cases have been marked by egregious irregularities, misconduct, and blatant denial of due process.

In addition to these prisoners, who are largely victims of the hostile state of relations between Iran and the U.S., there are hundreds of other prisoners of conscience in Iran at present—many of whom have been imprisoned since the crackdown on peaceful dissent that followed the disputed presidential election in Iran in 2009.

“Whatever the Iranian authorities think they may ‘get’ from continuing to hold these prisoners,” said Ghaemi, “the international community should make it clear that the real result of the continuation of this shameful breach of justice is that Iran will remain an international outcast.”

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Three Hanged in Public in Karaj http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/three-hanged-in-public-in-karaj/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/three-hanged-in-public-in-karaj/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:46:27 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20591 ٍexecution in Karaj

Three people found guilty of rape were executed in public in the Golshahr neighborhood of the Iranian city of Karaj on July 29, 2015.

Three people found guilty of rape were executed in public in the Golshahr neighborhood of the Iranian city of Karaj on July 29, 2015, the Young Journalists Club, affiliated with the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting reported. The individuals were not identified by name.

According to Karaj Prosecutor Haji Reza Shahkarami, who was present at the scene, the death sentences had been approved by Branch 24 of the Supreme Court.

“These three [condemned] individuals had picked up a woman passenger in the wilderness outside of Hashtgerd and sexually assaulted her after stealing her belongings. They were hanged in public this morning after their sentence was approved by the Judiciary,” the Young Journalists Club reported.

According to the report, the alleged incident took place in 2011 and the accused were arrested after the woman made a complaint.

In his March 2015 report Ahmad Shaheed, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, described as unprecedented the wave of 1,005 executions in Iran during the previous 14 months.

The alleged reasons for most of the executions did not meet the criteria of “serious crimes” according to international standards, the report noted. Capital punishment for crimes related to drugs (for which the vast majority of executions in Iran are carried out), “immoral” sexual behavior, alcohol consumption, or “corruption on earth” is in violation of international law and many in Iran are on death row for committing these types of crimes, Dr. Shaheed added.

The UN Special Rapporteur also noted that at least 14 of the victims were under the age of 18 at the times the crimes were committed. In addition, the UN and international human rights organizations have decried the fact that executions are often carried out following prosecutions that lacked any semblance of due process.

In a statement on July 23, 2015, Amnesty International also condemned the execution of 694 people between January 1 and July 15 of this year.

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Jailed Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi Needs Urgent Medical Care http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/narges-mohammadi-6/ http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/08/narges-mohammadi-6/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 15:21:31 +0000 http://www.iranhumanrights.org/?p=20594 narges-MohammadiSent Back to Prison despite Doctors’ Insistence She Be Seen by a Specialist

Imprisoned rights activist Narges Mohammadi’s medical illnesses have reached a critical stage and require immediate attention, her husband Taghi Rahmani told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Mohammadi, who has a history of severe health problems, was transferred from Evin Prison to Taleghani hospital in Tehran on August 2, 2015, because of neurological paralysis. After eight hours of preliminary medical observations, they took her back to prison, even though the doctors insisted she needed to be seen by a specialist, according to Rahmani.

“Her most urgent and most important request is that she be put under the supervision of a specialist physician. That’s what we have asked and the Prosecutor has apparently agreed to it, but no action has been taken yet,” Mohammadi’s husband told the Campaign from his current residence in France.

Mohammadi, a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, now banned in Iran, was arrested on May 5, 2015, ostensibly to continue serving a six-year prison sentence dating from a 2011 that she had been unable to serve because of her severe illness. That 2011 ruling was based on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and “propaganda against the state.”

The prominent activist’s return to prison can only be explained as a reflection of the authorities’ displeasure with her continued human rights activism in Iran.

Rahmani said when Mohammadi was brought to prison from the hospital on Sunday, her sister visited her during visitor’s hour and noticed that she was slurring her words and had difficulty speaking, “which are clear signs of neurological paralysis.”

“Narges’ case is in the hands of the Intelligence Ministry and the Judiciary. They are fully aware of her illness. The medical examiner of Zanjan stated in 2012 that her illness becomes worse in closed, tense, conditions….Her illness will get worse and reach a dangerous stage if she is not put under the care of a medical specialist,” Rahmani said.

“The Judiciary is responsible for protecting her life. Narges’ sentence was not gradual death. Even though we disagree with her [six-year] sentence, it should be carried out under conditions that do not lead to her death,” he added.

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