Head of the Iranian Judiciary Sadegh Larijani

Against customary practice, the Iranian Judiciary prohibited New Year furloughs for political prisoners this year. According to Kaleme website, despite earlier promises by the Tehran Prosecutor, Head of the Iranian Judiciary Sadegh Larijani issued an internal memorandum ordering the denial of furlough for political prisoners.

Officials at the Tehran Prosecutor’s office informed the families of political prisoners that the furlough ban has political reasons, including Catherine Ashton’s trip to Iran during which she visited with activists, and reports issued on the situation of human rights in Iran by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed, according to Kaleme.

Kaleme reported that as in the previous years, the families of political prisoners were informed some time ago that their relatives would be released on furlough for the Iranian New Year holidays (March 20 – April 2). Many of the families were asked to provide the necessary collateral required for posting bail. In all, there was a list of 54 political prisoners slated for furlough before March 20, according to Kaleme, but none have been released.

The families of political prisoners believe that they are victims of the tensions between the Rouhani Administration and the Iranian Judiciary, according to Kaleme.

Former political prisoner and journalist Mahsa Amrabadi, who was released last year after serving her prison sentence, told JARAS website that she is not hopeful about the current political situation in Iran. Amrabadi’s husband, journalist Massoud Bastani, remains in prison serving his six-year sentence.

“After Mr. Rouhani came to power, the situation was improved for a period of time. There were more furloughs and several, including myself, were released, even though there were only a few months left on our sentences. We thought this situation would continue and that the release of the first group would be a prelude to the release of the rest,” Amrabadi said.

“But the situation worsened as we went forward. Mistreatment of prisoners was [re]started inside prisons and the furloughs were reduced until now, when New Year furloughs were revoked. I don’t have much hope for the prisoners to be released anytime soon. Their sentences are almost complete and many friends who have six-year sentences will be released by next year. Of course, some others will remain, but I have no hope that anyone will be released before the end of their sentences,” she added.

Last year at least 17 prisoners of conscience received furloughs for the Iranian New Year.