Ahmed Shaheed: March 2013 Report Supplement

March 2013 Report Supplement

This supplement provides documented cases of detained human rights activists,Bahá’ís, Christians, students, journalists, ethnic minorities, and LGBT individuals, which served as the basis of Dr. Shaheed’s March 2013 report presented to the UN Human Rights Council. The documentation is based on primary interviews and secondary research conducted for the March 2013 report.

Report Supplement

February 28, 2013

I. Human Rights Activists and Political Prisoners

1. Faegh Rourast reported that authorities arrested him and his father in connection with his human rights activities on 27 and 25 January 2009, respectively. He maintained his aunt was assaulted with pepper spray when she inquired about an arrest warrant, and that his father was detained and abused for 16 days. Prison officials reportedly threatened Mr. Rourast’s father with the rape of his wife and daughters. Mr. Rourast reported that he was charged with “propaganda against the regime”, organizing protests, and contact with foreign organizations. He reported that he was tortured by prison officials during his 17 days in detention, including by being hung from the ceiling and being severely beaten. Mr. Rourast stated that he was transferred to Shahrchai Detention Center where he remained for 34 days. He maintained that prison officials tortured him with an electroshock weapon and allegedly threatened to amputate his leg, which had been injured during his interrogation. Faegh Rourast reported that he was sentenced to three years in prison and was eventually released after serving a full year. He asserted that he was harassed after his release, that his home was raided in July 2010, and that he was contacted and threatened with arrest again. His family was threatened as well. He has since left Iran.

2. Rozhin Mohammadi, a medical student at Manila Medical School of the Philippines, was arrested on 23 November 2011 after being detained and interrogated several times during a short visit to Iran to see her family. The source reported that Ms. Mohammadi had been involved in student and human rights activities in an effort to address issues such as stoning and executions in the country. The source stated that Ms. Mohammadi was placed in solitary confinement, insulted, interrogated, punched in the face and regularly beaten by one of her interrogators – breaking her nose – and that she did not have access to medical services for her injuries. It was reported that Ms. Mohammadi was asked about her personal relationships and questioned in detail about her sexual relations. It was maintained that Ms. Mohammadi was threatened with rape, with a defamation campaign, and with the arrest of her brother. Ms Mohammadi’s brother, Ramin Mohammadi, was reportedly arrested on 30 November in his home. He was allegedly blindfolded and beaten during his arrest, and threatened with being framed with a crime of his interrogators’ choosing at the onset of his interrogations. Reportedly unaware that his sister was in an adjacent room, Mr. Mohammadi was allegedly ordered to write a statement that implicated his sister in crimes, and severely beaten by several individuals with batons, damaging his inner ear, and fracturing his shinbone. It was further reported that Mr. Mohammadi was then hung from a ceiling for four hours. It was reported that Mr. Mohammadi’s torture was used to psychologically torture his sister in an effort to encourage her to cooperate with interrogators. He was released on $100,000 bail. On 1 December 2011, Ms. Mohammadi reportedly suffered from an epileptic episode, which the source speculated was as a result of being exposed to Mr. Mohammadi’s torture in the next room. She was reportedly released on $200,000 bail on 6 December 2011. It was alleged that the Mohammadi family was harassed and threatened by authorities in the days following Ms. Mohammadi’s release. The siblings were reportedly summoned to return for interrogation and threatened with rearrest if they did not cooperate. It was reported that the family’s home was raided in an effort to rearrest Mr. and Ms. Mohammadi. The whereabouts of both individuals are unknown.

3. An informed source stated that security forces arrested Maziar Ebrahimi at his home on 12 June 2012 for murder (“assassination”). It was reported that Maziar’s family’s communications were being monitored, and they were not free to talk about Maziar’s whereabouts. A member of Maziar’s family alleged that Maziar had been framed for a crime. On 6 August, Maziar “confessed” publicly on television. Lawyers are reportedly unable to gain access to Maziar’s case file. It was alleged that Mr. Ebrahimi’s arrest was connected to failed negotiations over a contract for a Press TV project. The source reported that authorities threatened Maziar during negotiations, and that visible signs of torture and abuse, along with significant weight loss, were noticeable during Mr. Ebrahimi’s televised “confession”. The source maintained that Maziar was out of the country when the crime he is accused of took place.

4. An anonymous women and children’s rights activist reported that s/he was arrested in February 2010 in Qazvin, by 10 plainclothes security force agents who reportedly told onlookers that s/he was a drug trafficker. S/he was taken to an unknown location and detained in strict solitary confinement for 10 days and then taken to Qazvin prison, where source’s family posted bail and s/he was released. S/he reported, however, that within 30 minutes s/he was rearrested and transferred back to the general prison. Source stated s/he learned that s/he had been under surveillance for an extended period of time. Source reported that s/he was always blindfolded during interrogations, was repeatedly and severely beaten during his interrogations, and that some of the interrogations would last up to 11 hours. Source was reportedly instructed to report his/her whereabouts to security forces upon source’s eventual release in 2011, and forces allegedly threatened to rape “one of the females closest” to source if s/he made the conditions of detention public. Source has since left the country.

5. Family members living abroad reported that Zahra Mansouri was arrested in June 2011, allegedly for her connection to Camp Ashraf (now Camp Liberty) in Iraq. She was reportedly held in solitary confinement for 90 days and was eventually released on bail. During her time in prison she underwent an operation for breast cancer. She was allegedly returned to solitary confinement without first being given adequate recovery time. Ms. Mansouri was released to be hospitalized for intestinal problems and epilepsy, and underwent another surgery on 27 September 2012. She was sentenced to five years in prison, which was eventually reduced to two, due to her health issues. She was also sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on 27 September 2012 for acting against national security, and is currently detained. Her family reported their grave concern over Ms. Mansouri’s inadequate access to requisite medications for her illness, and for her health.

6. Mohammed Yeganeh Tabrizi stated that on 29 December 2009, plainclothes police officers attacked a group of protesters and shot three in the head, including Mr. Tabrizi. He related that 150 bullet fragments entered his body, including two in the brain, and that the entire left side of his body is now paralyzed. He reportedly remained in the hospital for a month, and for 20 of those days he was in a comatose state. He reported that a member of the Intelligence Office and someone from the security police interrogated him on the first day he regained consciousness. He was told to report to the Intelligence Office after he was released from the hospital, where he was later interrogated. During this time, he was repeatedly intimidated and threatened with execution. He alleged that he was pushed off his chair to confirm if he was paralyzed. Security forces also allegedly kicked his wheelchair into the wall. He was eventually released without being charged. When he returned to work, he learned that he had lost his business license and the phone lines at his office had been disconnected; he was also told by authorities that he would never be able to run his company successfully again. Due to these prolonged medical issues and continued persecution, Mr. Tabrizi has since left Iran.

7. An interviewee reported that (s)he was arrested at his/her home in the summer of 2010 by several female and male plainclothes intelligence officers. Authorities reportedly videotaped him/her and his/her family during the arrest. S(he) was reportedly presented with a warrant from the Qom Special Clerics’ court, but was not informed of his/her charges upon request. The interviewee reported that his/her house was searched and property was seized; including books, CDs, documents, and notes. S(he) was blindfolded during transfer to a detention center where interrogations about his/her Facebook friends and alleged connection to a foreign reporter were conducted. S(he) was eventually charged with “acting against national security through email contact with the hypocrite [MEK] grouplet”. The interviewee was reportedly held for weeks in solitary confinement, denied access to a lawyer, denied contact with family until 10 days after arrest, and denied visitors for four months. After four months of detention, s(he) was brought to trial and sentenced to multiple years in prison. In 2012 s(he) was released on furlough and summoned to return to prison. (S)he allegedly still had no access to a lawyer.

8. According to an informed source Gholamreza Khosravi Savajani was arrested at work in Kerman, Iran. Mr. Savajani was severely beaten at the time of arrest, and suffered injuries to his face. Security forces held a gun to the back of his head and told him that they could kill him if he didn’t cooperate. Mr. Savanjani was reportedly taken to the Kerman Intelligence Offices Detention Center, where he was interrogated. The source maintained that s(he) saw signs of torture, including broken teeth and damaged knees. Mr. Savajani was reportedly accused of providing $5,500 and two photographs to Simaye Azadi TV Station (an MEK-affiliated satellite station) and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was then issued a death sentence for this charge. It was reported that officials wanted Mr. Savajani to write a letter condemning the MEK, along with a taped confession, which he refused to do. Mr. Savajani was reportedly only able to see his lawyer when he was in court. The appeal of his 2011 death sentence was denied in April 2012, and the execution sentence remains in place. Several UN Special Rapporteurs have submitted a joint urgent appeal to the Iranian government with regard to this case.

9. Mohammad Pourabdollah was first arrested in 2007 for his activities as a student activist. He was later arrested in early 2009 for additional activities and blogging. He was detained in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. It was reported that he was severely beaten by agents who punched and beat him, which lasted two weeks. He was also allegedly forced to sit naked during his interrogations. He was transferred to Evin Prison’s General Ward 209 after 25 days. It was further reported that one week later he was forced to shave his face, hair, and eyebrows and beaten so badly that he had bruises on his body for two-to-three months thereafter and could hardly walk. He was allowed a visit with his mother, in the presence of a judge, only 32 days after his arrest. He was transferred to Ghezel Hessar Prison soon thereafter. For 27 days he was kept in Ward 3 in an extremely overcrowded cell with violent offenders, who on one occasion killed each other when a fight broke out. Later, in the spring of 2009 he was transferred to Evin Prison, interrogated, kept in solitary confinement, and transferred back to Ghezel Hessar Prison after nine days. In late spring he was taken to court and charged with “membership in enemy group”, “forming enemy organizations”, “propagation against the regime”, and “assembly and collusion with the intention to disrupt national security”. His original sentence was 12 years but in 2010 it was reduced to three years. He was never allowed furlough nor was he granted probation. After prison riots in 2011, he was transferred back to Evin Prison’s General Ward 350, and was released three months before the completion of his sentence.

10. Mehdi Gholizadeh Aghdam reported that in 2009 he witnessed Revolutionary Guards run over a woman with their motorcycles and was arrested when he intervened to help. He stated that during his arrest he was severely beaten and his back was injured. He was taken to Section 240 and interrogated by five people about his political activity and beaten constantly by one of the interrogators. When his interrogators learned of his particular political affiliation, he was put in solitary confinement for seven days. During questioning, he was told to denounce his membership in a political party. Prison officials threatened to execute other members of his opposition party, and threatened his own execution. They blindfolded him and took him to the basement, where they told him he would be killed and his body returned to his family. They forced him to stand on a chair and they placed a rope around his neck, in a mock execution. He was told that if he confessed and recanted he would survive. When he shouted a campaign slogan instead of a confession, he was given a severe blow to the head, and he hit the wall. Three weeks later he was released on bail and was sentenced to six years in prison on “propaganda against the regime”. He has since left Iran.

11. Several sources have reported that authorities arrested four Baha’is – Mr. Missagh Afshar, Mr. Vahed Kholousi, Mr. Navid Khanjani, and Mr. Shayan Vahdati – together with 31 other volunteers while they were distributing humanitarian aid to earthquake victims of the 2012 earthquake in the Eastern Azerbaijan province. Authorities reportedly took the volunteers to a detention center, and then transferred them to Amniyate e-Akhlaghi, a section known to enforce moral behavior and dress. Authorities originally charged the volunteers with “involvement in subversive political activities against the regime, through providing assistance to the earthquake victims”, but this was subsequently changed to “distributing contaminated food”. At least 17 detainees were released within the first 72 hours, including two of the Baha’is, Mr. Missagh Afshar and Mr. Vahed Kholousi; some were required to post bail of $4,000. However, one Baha’i, Mr. Navid Khanjani, an education rights activist, was not released on bail. He was taken to Ward 305 of Evin Prison, and then transferred to Gohardasht prison on 10 September 2012. No information about the status of Mr. Shayan Vahdati is currently known.

12. A children’s rights activist reported his/her arrest in 2012. S(he) was detained while conducting research on the needs of victims of the 2012 earthquake in Azerbaijan in the absence of a warrant, and charged with being in the village without a permit. S(he) was blindfolded and taken to an Intelligence Office. S(he) was verbally charged with “acting and propagating against the state” and “insulting Imam Khomeini.” S(he) was kept in a two-by-one meter solitary cell for over one week and reportedly interrogated for over six hours per day. S(he) stated (s)he had no contact with his/her family during this time. The source currently awaits his/her sentence.

13. Mazdak Mostafaee was arrested in 2009 while assembling for the day of Ashura. He reported that hundreds were arrested along with him, some as young as 13-years-old. He stated that over 600 prisoners from the Ashura protests were initially kept in two 12 x 16 meter cells, and many prisoners were bleeding from their treatment during the arrest. He reported that they were then transported to Evin, and that the prisoners were chained to one another. He had no contact with his family for eight days, and as many as 70 prisoners were placed in cells that only contained 27 beds. Prisoners were interrogated 10 at a time while blindfolded, and he reported that detainees were often shown text messages and phone calls they had sent over the past six months. Detainees faced poor conditions; Mr. Mostafaee stated that the food was expired and prisoners were getting ill. He also maintained that there were several Afghans in each cell who were allegedly forced laborers for the prison, and they had no way of contacting anyone. 

14.  In 2009 Nasour Nagipour was sentenced to seven years in prison and has just begun to serve his prison term. He was reported to not have been particularly political, but had taught himself web programming and started the blog “Herana”. Authorities seem to view Nasour Nagipour as a potential threat, and it was reported that he was tortured for 111 days by the Revolutionary Guards during his initial interrogation. He was reportedly coerced to admit to accepting foreign money for his activities. Even after he was released, he continued to be summoned and intimidated. It was reported that Mr. Najipour was given two choices: to give authorities the names of other human rights activists; or return to prison. Mr. Najipour is currently in prison.

II. Juvenile Offenders

15. In February 2002, Ali Torabi was arrested at 16 years old for the murder of a fellow classmate during a fight at school. Mr. Torabi reported that during his detention he was denied access to a lawyer and family, and subjected to extreme violence and torture. He reported that he was placed in solitary confinement, flogged, hung from a ceiling, exposed to freezing weather while naked, and that his interrogators would place a portable kerosene stove under his chair and would increase the heat in order to get him to write confessions faster. Mr. Torabi was tried, found guilty, and given the death penalty, despite being a minor at the time of arrest. He was then transferred to a general ward of Rajai Shahr Prison, where he claimed his abuse continued, including beatings and being shocked with electric batons. He was eventually released on bail after being imprisoned for over seven years. He has since left Iran; his final judicial ruling is Qisas for the crime of murder, for which the execution sentence remains in place.

16. Siyamak M. was arrested in August 2009 in Shiraz during the 2009 summer protests. He was 17 at the time of arrest, and charged with “assembly and collusion against public order”. He reported that he was pepper sprayed, handcuffed, and taken to Mahfase e-Khalilie (a Ministry of Intelligence office). He maintained that he was beaten while blindfolded. Mr. M. claimed that authorities interrogated him for a week about his Dervish background – inquiring if his community had sent him to protest – and that he was never allowed to see a judge, was never informed of his charges, and did not have access to a lawyer. He further reported that he was detained in what he believed was a military prison, and placed in a juvenile ward. He was released on bail after one month, against the deed to his family’s house. A few weeks later, he was informed of his charges of “assembly and collusion against public order”. Mr. M. reported that his lawyer was also eventually arrested in July 2010. Mr. M. left the country in 2010.

III. Journalists

17. Journalist Naeema Dostdaar interviewed for a position with Radio Liberty in Europe. Authorities reportedly searched her home without a warrant, blindfolded her, and took her to Evin Prison, where she was reportedly stripped-searched by female prison guards, including a cavity search. She alleged being held for one month, during which she was never allowed a change of clothes. She reported that she was interrogated about her reasons for traveling earlier that year, about her relationship with foreign media, and about foreign financial support.

18. She was allegedly charges with “relations with foreign media, especially the CIA and Radio Farda, spreading lies [on her blog], and spying”. She reported hearing that up to 70 of her colleagues who had taken part in a round of interviews with Radio Farda in Turkey had also been arrested. She stated that other female prisoners reported being asked personal questions about their relationships and their virginity by prison officials. Ms. Dostdaar was also asked about her relationships with men, which she felt was a form of psychological torture. She reported that her cellmates demonstrated physical signs of torture and abuse. She was eventually released, but informed that she would be under surveillance, and was banned from traveling for a year. She has left the country.

19. Negar Mohamadi is a Voice of America (VoA) reporter working abroad. It was reported that between February and April of 2011, authorities at the Ministry of Intelligence began to question her close relatives. Officers allegedly pressured them to convince the journalist to cease her reporting activities, and they were reportedly told that there “would be consequences [if she didn’t stop working]”. Her family also came across a story from a Revolutionary Guard-affiliated site, which falsely stated that Ms. Mohamadi had been sexually harassed at VoA. In February 2012, Ms. Mohamadi’s relative was allegedly detained at the airport and her passport was confiscated until August 2012. Moreover, a female relative was followed home on one occasion and confronted with demands that Ms. Mohamadi resign, and it was reported that authorities repeatedly threatened her family with the confiscation of their passports and with freezing the family’s assets. Some of their passports were seized in June and July 2012 for the “sake of national security”. Due to this pressure, Ms. Mohamadi ceased reporting for the VoA for a short time. There are outstanding travel bans on members of her family.

20. Until 2009 Mr. Farshid Faryabi was working for the government news agency Radio TV, in Tehran. During the past 15 years that he worked for the agency, he reported periodically having had clashes with Iranian authorities; he was arrested, lost his job, and was exiled. It was “very difficult” to work for the Iranian media, as it is not based on free expression and is controlled and censored by the Government, according to Mr. Faryabi. He reported that Radio TV used surveillance, such as monitoring what their employees read, their political ideologies, and who journalists had contact with. He alleged that all directors at Radio TV are officers of the Revolutionary Guard, and orders were given by his director to restrict Mr. Faryabi’s involvement in certain cases. He reported that journalists are threatened with expulsion if they do not report in a way that is in line with government standards. His personal blog was eventually shut down and he was accused of “spying, propaganda against the regime, and promoting false information”, and he was subsequently transferred to another branch. He was arrested and held for 48 hours after the results of the 2009 election. He stated that because of the mass arrests and confusion during this time, he believes he was released on bail so authorities could have more time to build a case against him. He was able to leave Iran after being released.

21. The source is a known journalist who was working in Iran for a newspaper. In 2009, authorities raided her office. Authorities blindfolded her and took her to Section 209 of Evin prison. She reported that she was not permitted to speak with anyone and was detained in solitary confinement for the first three days. She alleged that she felt psychologically tortured; she was interrogated five times in two days, blindfolded, and was only allowed to lift the blindfold to sign documents. She reported that during this time she was questioned about foreign affiliation and connections. She alleged that she spent two months in prison, one in solitary confinement. She stated that there would sometimes be 24 hours of silence, and then the sudden sound of a tap on the door by the guards, which in that environment was as “was unnerving as a jet engine”. The source reported that other female prisoners would come back bloody after being questioned; she stated that she was treated slightly better because she was a journalist and officials do not want negative publicity. She reported that prisoners who were with her were later executed, after being tortured into confessing ties to the CIA. She maintained that prisoners were given drugs. Her husband had also previously been arrested, and served several months in solitary confinement.

 22. The source was a member of a human rights reporting group in Iran. He was arrested, detained, released on bail, and has since left the country. Authorities have reportedly threatened that if he does not return, they will seize his family’s home. Many of his organization’s members have been arrested as well. He described his own treatment during his time in prison, specifically the conditions of being held in solitary confinement. He reported that the cells were 1.5 x 2.5 meters, where he was confined for 20-30 days. Prisoners were only allowed to use the bathroom three times per day, a neon light was kept on in the cell at all times, and it was impossible to sleep. He maintained that solitary confinement was a form of psychological torture meant to make one feel that “you are no longer living”. The source was released on bail before leaving the country.

IV. Religious Minorities

Baha’is

23. Of 30 Baha’is detained in the city of Semnan two are women nursing infant children. On 22 September 2012 Mrs. Zohreh Nikayin (Tebyanian) began serving a sentence of 23 months for “disturbing national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. Mrs. Torabi (Ehsani) also began serving a 2.5 year sentence, reportedly for “setting up and running an illegal organization”. The status of a third mother of an infant child, Mrs. Elham Ruzbehi (Motearefi), sentenced on 25 January 2012 to three years of imprisonment (2.5 years on charges of “collusion and assembly against national security” plus six months for “propaganda against the regime”), remains unknown.

24. Multiple sources reported that authorities raided at least 24 Baha’i homes in the city of Gorgon and the surrounding province, on 17 October 2012 and in the days after, resulting in 25 Baha’i arrests. Authorities also reportedly arrested four Muslims associated with these Baha’is; as of November 2012 all but one of these Muslim detainees were released. As of mid-November 2012 Baha’is arrested in and around Gorgon remained in custody, including: Mr. Farhad Fahandej; Mr. Farahmand Sanaie; Mr. Kamal Kashani; Mr. Shahram Jazbani; Mr. Navid Moallemi; Mr. Behnam Hassani; Mr. Siamak Sadri; Mr. Payam Markazi; Mr. Foad Fahandej; and Mr. Kourosh Ziari. According to one source, the local prosecutor’s office allegedly informed the family members of the detainees that they would be charged under Articles 498, 500, and 508 of the Penal Code, which are, respectively: (1) participating in a group of more than two people inside or outside the country with the intent of disrupting the security of the state; (2) propagating against the regime; and (3) cooperating with an enemy Government.

25. In November 2012, authorities from three different universities expelled five Baha’i students: Mr. Farbod Mohammad Zadeh from Isfahan University; Ms. Saamieh Gholinejad from Behshahr University of Science and Technology; and Ms. Tanin Torabi, Ms. Nava Hamidi, Ms. Mona Ashrafi from Khomeini International University in Qazvin. Gholinejad, Torabi, Hamidi, and Ashrafi were reportedly offered continued admission if they denied their faith. The three from Imam Khomeini International University were asked to sign pledges stating that they would not follow their faith. According to sources, when these students refused, they were made to sign documents declaring they were Baha’i and then were expelled.

26. On May 22, 2011, 15 teachers and administrators of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) were allegedly arrested. Later that night, Mr. Danial Owji a student and volunteer at the BIHE, while driving was reportedly stopped on his street by plainclothes agents, tasered, handcuffed, blindfolded, put in the trunk of his car, and driven away. Mr. Owji was allegedly taken to an unknown location, that appeared to be a official place of detention, where he was interrogated and physically tortured over the course of four days, including being punched, kicked, suspended from the ceiling by his arms, handcuffed in stress positions, having cigarettes extinguished on his body, and being flogged on his feet. Mr. Owji was held in a bathroom rather than a cell. During his interrogations before his release, Mr. Owji was pressured to sign a document saying he was a participant in the Baha’i university, helped propagate it electronically, cooperated with the Zionist entity, taught classes, would testify against specific professors, and that the administration of school was conducted from the Baha’i facilities in Haifa, Israel in cooperation with the Zionist regime. Mr. Owji was allegedly harassed following his release as he sought legal redress for his mistreatment. When he received a summons from the Revolutionary Court approximately a year after his arrest, Mr. Owji fled the country.

The Yarsan

27. Seyyed Nasradin Heydari is the current leader of the Yarsan community in Iran, but according to most recent information is under house arrest and cannot travel freely at this time. He had been detained twice before, but popular protests led to his release. He has been under house arrest since his second arrest, and is now only permitted to receive visitors to arbitrate small claims cases within the community, according to a source. The source stated that when authorities in Iran ask the Yarsan about their religious affiliation, they often deny being Yarsan out of fear. He also reported that Yarsan are required to speak Farsi and perform Muslim rites of prayer at school, and that those who refuse are prohibited from receiving education.

Christians

28. Authorities arrested seven other active members of the same house church network as Behnam Irani on 12 October 2012, following a raid by members of the security services on a house in the city of Shiraz. The detained Christians included Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni, and Shahin Lahooti. On 18 October 2012, Afsar Bahmani, a middle-aged woman in need of specialist medication due to heart and kidney complications, was detained at around 1PM along with a man named Massoud Rezaie, after responding to the summons. Afsar Bahmani was released after 24 hours. Bijan Haghighi was released on bail of 100 million rials on 25 October 2012. Roxana Forughi was reportedly released on 1 November 2012.

29. A source close to the case reported that Iranian authorities have detained Mr. Saeed Abedini. Abedini is a Protestant Christian minister. Abedini was reportedly been arrested several times before 2009 for his house church activities, but has claimed, though still a Christian, that he had stopped working with house churches in Iran to avoid government scrutiny. Abedini had his passport seized while entering Iran from Georgia in late June 2012. The authorities reportedly told Abedini that he would be summoned to court on September 26th. On that date, Abedini’s home was raided by security agents, who confiscated documents, computers, and other personal items and brought Abedini to Evin Prison. Abedini spent four weeks in solitary confinement in Evin before being transferred to Section 3, Ward 209 of the prison. While in solitary confinement, Abedini’s interrogators allegedly disoriented him with tactics such as sleep deprivation. During his time in Ward 209, Abedini’s interrogators reportedly beat him; he was initially denied access to medical treatment for his injuries but later was allegedly taken for treatment. His family was able to hire a lawyer for his defense in December 2012 and he has since been charged with “acting against national security”. His trial is scheduled for 21 January 2013.

30. A family associate reports that Christian Ali Golchin was arrested by plainclothes police in late April 2010 in connection with his possession and distribution of a substantial number of Farsi-language Bibles. Authorities reportedly beat and blindfolded Golchin during his arrest. The Revolutionary Court of Varamin, Branch 1, charged Golchin with “propagation against the state”, “acting against national security by promoting Christianity”, “solicitation of members for a house church”, and “organizing a house church”. Golchin was allegedly detained in Evin Prison for 87 days, all of which he spent in solitary confinement. In detention, Golchin’s interrogators subjected him to psychological torture in the form of threats of physical violence and of execution. He was released on 25 July 2010 on 200,000,000 tuman bail. On 19 April 2011 Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Golchin to one year in prison. His lawyer was reportedly not allowed to speak during the court session. Golchin appealed this sentence and was acquitted of all charges six months later, but received no documentation to this effect. Golchin continued to experience harassment after his acquittal including multiple summonses and being followed by government agents. He eventually fled the country under this pressure.

31. Danial Shahri, a Christian from Isfahan reported that he was arrested by plainclothes police at his home on April 11, 2010 approximately six weeks after the arrest of a Christian couple who were the leaders of his house church. Mr. Shahri believes he was targeted by authorities in connection with his provision of information technology assistance to his Baptist house church. He was reportedly held in the Alef-Ta ward of Dastgerd prison in Isfahan for two weeks. Mr. Shahri said that his interrogators punched and kicked him on his face and head and insulted him for approximately an hour on his first day in the prison. Mr. Shahri reported that he was charged with spreading lies and blasphemy, sharing the Christian faith, forming and participating in a house church, and conducting illegal internet activities. He was subsequently released on bail. Mr. Shahri reported that he was only able to see a lawyer after he was released from prison.

32. Multiple sources report that on March, 31 2009 the Shahrara Assyrian Protestant church in Tehran was closed by a government order in connection with its provision of Farsi-language services. They alleged that Assyrian MP Yonathan Betkolia was instrumental in the closure. Representatives of Betkolia reportedly said he did not accept the church as Assyrian anymore given its work with non-Assyrians. The church was reportedly closed by a number of police officers, security agents, and Assyrian representatives. The authorities present reportedly made it seem as if individuals who entered the church would be arrested and taken to the Ministry of Intelligence, scaring many individuals away. Although authorities stated that the church was only being closed temporarily in order to be re- registered, attempts to reopen the church were not successful and soldiers and police officers were stationed outside the church for months, according to sources The pastor of the Shahrara Church, Victor Bet Tamraz, was reportedly called in for questioning multiple times, as was his daughter, Dabrina Tamraz. Two affiliated churches, the Oroumiyeh and Kermanshah building churches, were also closed on 8 July 2009 and 31 December 2009, respectively. The pastor of the Kermanshah church, Wilson Issavi, was allegedly arrested, detained for two months, mistreated in detention, and sentenced to a six-month prison term that was suspended for four years. The pastor of the Oroumiyeh Church left Iran shortly after the closure of his church.

V. Ethnic Minorities

Ahwazi Arabs

33. An informed source reported that social and cultural activist Aref Sorkhi was repeatedly threatened by authorities for his activities and was arrested on 9 February 2011 at his home without a warrant by unknown authorities, and was pepper-sprayed at the time of arrest. The authorities then reportedly confiscated his Arabic books, computer, and cell phone. The interviewee maintained that his family was unaware of the place of his detention for a month and that Mr. Sorkhi was only able to contact his family after four months when he was transferred to Karoun Prison. The source stated that Mr. Sorkhi was charged with “establishing anti-state Arabic groups”, “cooperating with Arab countries in the region”, “disturbing public order”, and “participating in the Arab national movement.” The interviewee alleged that Mr. Sorkhi has been tortured, and reported that he remains in detention and has not yet been sentenced.

34. Mr. Hameed was a student studying in Syria and was arrested on 19 June 2008 during a visit to Iran. He reported that he was arrested at the airport by plainclothes security forces and accused of founding an Arab Ahwaz group in Syria, and of being active against the Islamic Republics. After being interrogated he was released, only to be rearrested in July 2008. He was arrested in his home, blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to the security office of Ahwaz, where he reported being held in solitary confinement until 6 September 2008. After 10 days of being interrogated he was charged with “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and with “contact with the Refagh [Arab Nationalist] Party”. He served two months in detention, during which he was physically assaulted, resulting in a separated retina. He asserted that he did not have adequate access to medical services for his injury. Moreover, Mr. Hameed stated that prison officials demanded he confess to “writing about discrimination against Ahwazi Arabs in an effort to stir up trouble”. He was denied access to a lawyer, and was eventually released on bail.

35. Political and cultural activist and former policeman Nasser Abiat reports that he was arrested twice, first in 2005 by security forces without a warrant. He was allegedly not allowed a lawyer in the Hamidia Court, where he was charged with converting from Shi’a to Sunni Islam and attending anti-regime demonstrations. Pending further investigation by the judge, Mr. Abiat was relegated to solitary confinement for a month in a cell too small to lie down in, during which time he reportedly received inadequate food, was only allowed to shower twice, and was threatened with the rape of his female family members. Mr. Abiat alleges that when he refused to confess following this month, he was confined in Sephedar Prison for an additional month. During his interrogations in detention, Mr. Abiat was reportedly questioned throughout the night, beaten, blindfolded, and threatened with the death penalty and further beatings. Following his month in Sephedar Prison, Mr. Abiat was sentenced to 2 years in prison without a trial or access to a lawyer, but his sentence was overturned on appeal to the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court and replaced with a 2 million tuman fine. He was also demoted two levels in the police corps, suspended for 6 months without pay, not allowed to wear his uniform, and was not allowed to travel within the country without permission from the police. Mr. Abiat was reportedly arrested again in the summer of 2007 while visiting a police station and received a 2 year prison sentence on charges of attending illegal demonstrations. He was allegedly held for 3 days at the police station and 10 days in Sephedar Prison. During his interrogations, Mr. Abiat reports that he was kicked and beaten. He was then sent to a military court in Tehran and was suspended without pay, restricted from provincial travel, not allowed to use his car for 6 months. Two months later, he was dismissed from his job per a decision by the military court. After witnessing the arrest of his cousin in 2007, Mr. Abiat left the country.

Kurds

36. Mohammad Ali Afraza, a Kurdish human rights activist, was arrested in Sanandaj in 2008. He reported that eight security forces arrested him, and beat and verbally abused him. He reported that he was charged with “disrupting social security”, that he was kept in solitary confinement for 21 days, and that he was physically and psychologically tortured. He was reportedly blindfolded during interrogations and threatened with execution. He was eventually taken to the court in Sanandaj Prison where the conditions were reportedly poor. These conditions allegedly included severe overcrowding, and the widespread, consistent torture of prisoners. Mr. Afraza stated that other prisoners were ordered not to speak to him, which he said was psychologically taxing. He was released on bail after five months, tried two months later, and sentenced to four months in prison, with a five year suspended sentence. He alleged that his trial lasted seven minutes and that he was convicted of “spying for sources outside of the country” and with “propaganda and illegal political organizations”. He was released after his trial, and has since left Iran.

37. An informed source reported that s(he) was part of a student organization that informed Kurdish students about their rights as a minority group in Iran. S(he) was suspended by his/her university’s disciplinary committee for one year for participating in a banned student newspaper. The source reported being summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence 11 times between May and June 2010. During these sessions, (s)he was accused of being a separatist, a spy, and of acting against the Supreme Leader. The source reported being blindfolded, verbally abused, and humiliated during these interrogations. (S)he was charged with “Membership in the Democratic Union of Kurdish Students”, “acting against the regime through propagating falsehoods”, “creating public anxiety and disrupting public order through organizing protest demonstrations”, and “interviewing with foreign media”. (S)he was reportedly sentenced to several months in prison, cash fines, and lashes. His/her prison sentence was revoked upon appeal, and (s)he was able to pay a fine in lieu of flogging. (S)he reported that (s)he was denied access to a lawyer. In 2012, the source reported that (s)he was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence, that (s) he was physically abused during his/her arrest, detained in solitary confinement for three weeks, and interrogated on six separate occasions. During this time the source was again accused of being a spy and a member of Kurdish political parties. (S)he reported that his/her request for a lawyer was mocked and denied, that (s)he was asked to call other Kurdish activists who have been executed “terrorists” during his/her interrogations, and that (s)he was released on excessive bail after approximately three weeks in detention. (S)he has been banned from attending university and believes that (s)he has been blacklisted from finding work. The source has since left Iran.

38. On 3 February 2010 Kaweh Karmanshahi was arrested in Kermanshah by Intelligence authorities. He spent a total of four months in detention, and was held until the end of May 2010. He reported that he spent the first 80 days in solitary confinement, and he stated that he was tortured. He was sentenced to five years in prison (commuted to four on appeal) for “propaganda against the regime” due to writing articles and giving interviews with the media, and for his membership in the organization Human Rights in Kurdistan. He was released on bail (his family’s house) and has since left Iran.  The organization Human Rights in Kurdistan monitors human rights abuses around Iran, particularly in Kurdistan, with a particular focus on political prisoners. The founder of the organization is currently in jail, and other members have been forced to flee the country. Mr. Karmanshahi maintained that like many minorities in Iran, Kurds cannot use their own languages in schools, courts, or government buildings. Mr. Karmanshahi reported that the situation for political prisoners in Iranian Kurdish areas is quite severe, and that there are 20 Kurdish prisoners currently on death row. He reported that many human rights defenders have been secretly executed.

VI. Student Activists

39. Ismaeil Jalilvand was a student and social activist who has been arrested four times and was eventually expelled in 2011 for his activities. He was arrested on 4 February 2009, was charged with “acting against national security”, “disturbing public opinion”, “insulting the Supreme Leader and the President”, and “propagation against the State” within 24 hours of his arrest. He maintained that he spent 11 days in solitary confinement, and was interrogated seven to eight times, for up to six hours each time, while blindfolded. He was eventually fined and released. There was no trial. Mr. Jalilvand was arrested again four months later on 20 June 2009. He reported that he was detained by the Ministry of Intelligence for 30 days, that he didn‘t have access to a lawyer, was blindfolded during the interrogations, and that he was convicted on charges of “insulting Government officials”, “acting against national security”, “propagation against the Islamic Republic”, “disturbing public opinion, and “insulting the Supreme Leader and the President”. He stated that he was asked to defend himself and that his trial lasted one hour. He is currently released from prison and has left the country.

40. On 10 February 2010 Ali Ajami was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence for his involvement in the 2009 post-election protests. He spent five days in solitary confinement at a Revolutionary Guard office without access to a lawyer. He was transferred to Evin Prison, where he spent 40 days in solitary confinement and was officially charged with “publicizing false information,” “acting against national security,” “propagation against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.” At Evin Prison he was repeatedly interrogated about his student publications and online activities for up to eight hours per day, while blindfolded. During these interrogations he was repeatedly beaten and punched, made to stand for long periods of time, and his family threatened. Mr. Ajami reported that in court the judge denied his request for a lawyer and that he was only able to see a lawyer on the day of his hearing. After an appeal he was sentenced to two years in Rajaei Shahr Prison for “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security.” During his imprisonment he faced extremely poor prison conditions, including severe abuse by prison officials. The deputy director of the prison allegedly hit Mr. Ajami so severely in the ear that it caused bleeding and a torn eardrum. After eventually being released, Mr. Ajami received a letter from the university stating that he was banned from continuing his education.

41. Amin Riahi is a student activist, and his parents were also politically active in the 80’s and targeted by authorities. He was first arrested in 2004 when he was 16 and was beaten and held by officials for one day. He has been arrested several times for his involvement in protests and his political activism. He was convicted of “propaganda against the regime”, “insulting the Supreme Leader”, and “participation in opposition groups” in 2008. The liberal journal he was heading at school was shut down and seized, and he was suspended from university for a semester. He reported that during the elections in 2009 he was constantly summoned to court for his suspected political activities. Mr. Riahi stated that during this time, hundreds of students were arrested, including over 100 from his university. He was suspended again from university and reported that he was shown his file, which contained false grades. At the end of 2010 he maintained that was summoned to court again, and held in hand and ankle cuffs. He was notified that he had a one-year prison sentence, which was suspended. He has since left the country.

42. The source has been targeted for his political and blogging activities and has a history of arrests. He reported that while working as a photojournalist for a reformist newspaper, he received a verbal warning from the Intelligence Ministry and a written warning from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. In 2001, the source began working with the office of a reformist Ayatollah. He reported being arrested and found guilty for distributing CDs of the Ayatollah’s speeches in 2002, and was sentenced to a three year suspended prison term and a fine. He was allegedly arrested without a warrant, denied access to a lawyer, and was not informed of the charges until the court date (“propagating falsehoods against government authorities through the distribution of illegal CDs against authorities”). He organized a student protest at school during the 2009 election protests. On 7 December 2009 he was arrested by his university’s security unit, which is staffed by Ministry of Intelligence officials. He was suspended for three terms on the charge of blasphemy. In 2012 the source was arrested without a warrant and taken into solitary confinement. He was interrogated for three days, and alleged that he was beaten during this time. After three days, he was charged by the investigative judge with “propaganda against the regime and supporting enemy political groups”. He reported that he was interrogated daily, with some sessions lasting until 10PM. He was released on US100,000 bail but then summoned back to court soon after and charged with “propagating against the Islamic regime through publishing false news and inviting people to illegal demonstrations” and “assembly and collusion for committing a crime against national and international security through participation in the [election protest] events.” The source stated that he had no lawyer during the trial, or at any other time in detention. He was found guilty of “Propagating Against the Regime” and sentenced to one year in prison, which was then suspended, and was banned from blogging as a condition of release. The Intelligence office continued to repeatedly call and contact him after his release. His brother was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in March of 2012. He has since left the country.

43. Vahid Abedini is a student activist who is banned from continuing his education at the doctoral level. The source reported that Abedini ranked first on the national entrance exam for graduate school. However, when he wanted to register for classes, he was asked by the university administration to a sign pledge that he would no longer continue to be a student activist. The source reported that Abedini never breached the terms of his pledge for the duration of graduate school. The source maintained that after Abedini completed the national entrance exam for his PhD, at his oral interview with Tehran University the professors informed him that he was one of their brightest candidates. However, the source stated that an official from the Gozinesh Committee told him that the Ministry of Intelligence had not clarified his status yet. The source reported that one year later he decided to take the national entrance exam again and to apply to a different university, Tarbiat Modares, but this time the Sanjesh Organization sent him a letter and informed that he had been rejected, even though a professor on the panel told him after his interview that there was a large margin in quality between him and the runner-up. The interviewee reported that when he went to the Sanjesh Organization, the head of the office told Abedini that the Ministry of Intelligence had put his name on the list of students unconditionally banned from continuing education [the “starred” list]. The interviewee stated that in 2003, the Press Court charged Abedini with “propagating against the state” and “disturbing public opinion” for writing articles against the death sentence of a university professor, Hashem Aghajari, and that he was sentenced to one year in prison. The interviewee reported that at the Tehran Appeals Court his sentenced was suspended for two years.

VII. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender

44. An anonymous source reported that he was imprisoned twice for activities related to his sexual orientation. He maintained that in the first instance, a Government agent entrapped him by posing as another gay man on a gay dating website. It was reported that the source was physically abused and strip-searched, that he was detained for several days without contact with family, that he was coerced to sign a document that he had engaged in “Tafkhiz” (non-penetrative sex) with other males, and that he was verbally abused by a judge who sentenced him to 100 “hadd” lashes on his torso and appendages, some of which were reportedly applied. The source was arrested again at an airport with a group of friends after dropping a friend off there. The group of men were charged with “the creation of a prostitution center to facilitate the occurrence of sexually illegal activities” and with “committing sinful acts like cross-dressing, wearing makeup, and lustful kissing”. They were then brought to prison for 12 days, where they were allegedly kept in unsanitary and cramped conditions, and the source was eventually issued a flogging sentence. The sentence was later dropped, and he was released on excessive bail. The source’s parents used their property as collateral for their son’s release. He has since left the country.

45. An interviewee reported that he was beaten by his father and punished by school administrators because of his “effeminate” behavior. He maintained that he suffered from depression as a result of his constant abuse, and could not remain gainfully employed. In 2007 the source attended a party primarily for gay men in his town. He asserted that the party was raided by plainclothes officers, who reportedly forced the attendees to lay down with their hands behind their backs and poured alcohol the officers allegedly brought on them, while stepping on them and beating them with batons and glass bottles. The source maintained that dozens of the attendees were taken to the local Intelligence center, were verbally humiliated, strip-searched, and forced to sleep on the floor of their cells before being transferred to a prison where they spent 4-5 more days. They were allegedly kicked, strip-searched, verbally humiliated, kept in an overcrowded cell, and asked humiliating sexual questions by interrogators there. The source was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for “facilitating and organizing a party in which alcohol is consumed and immoral acts are performed”, despite the source’s claim that there was no alcohol at the party. When the story became public, employers would not hire him, or would fire him when they connected him with the story. The source has since left the country.

46. The witness attended the same party as the previous source. He separately reported that agents raided the party, ordered all attendees to the ground, and stepped on them with boots, while beating some with batons. The source was taken to the same detention facility in handcuffs and a blindfold, and slept on the floor with co-detainees. He was brought before a judge, who insulted him. He received a fine sentence, and was released; he believes he was not detained for as long as the others because he denied knowing that the party was for gay men or being gay himself. He has since left the country.

47. A source reported that as a child, teachers corporally punished him for behavior they considered “effeminate”, and his principal called his parents to complain. As a teenager, male children in his neighborhood gang-raped him. He did not call the police because, as he claimed: “I live in a society in which the police do not protect me. On the contrary, the police come after people like me”. As a young adult, the witness was arrested on four occasions by local police in a park known for gay encounters. Each time, they told him to sign a pledge to act “appropriately” before being released. He was arrested by different officers each time, but believes that if he had been tagged as a multiple offender, the consequences would have been more severe. He has since left the country.

48. The witness, a Kurdish F-to-M transgender man, maintained that he was constantly beaten by his father for behavior that his father considered “un-feminine”. He did not go to the police, because “as [someone legally considered a girl], my father could legally do anything he wanted with me”. After one year under de facto house arrest by his father, the witness returned to school, but plainclothes officers detained him one night when he was with his female romantic companion. The officers noticed on his ID that he was legally a female, and brought him to a female prison, where they verbally humiliated him and physically touched and searched his genitals and breasts. He was forced to sign a pledge that he would dress and act “correctly” as a woman as a condition for his release. He has since left the country.

VIII. Women’s Cases

49. “Yasmin L.” reported that Zeinab Bayazidi has been arrested four times, most recently in June 2008. Zeinab Bayazidi was summoned over the phone to report to court in Mahabad, where was charged with “acting against the regime,” “membership in the Mothers of Peace Organization,” “propaganda against the regime,” “participation in a conference for the One Million Signatures Campaign,” and “interviewing victims of mine explosions in the border region.” Yasmin stated that Zeinab Bayazidi had no access to a lawyer during any of her arrests. Yasmin reported that Zeinab Bayazidi was interrogated for five hours and then received a sentence of 4.5 years, after a trial that lasted a few minutes. Yasmin claimed that the shop Zeinab Bayazidi owned was called “Zilan” (the name of a Kurdish plant and an approved name for Kurdish children), which is also the name of an known activist activist. She reported that Zeinab Bayazidi was accused of naming the store after this Kurdish activist. After being taken to Mahabad prison she began a hunger strike. In November 2008, she was transferred to Zanjan prison, where there were no other Kurdish prisoners with her. Yasmin reported that Zeinab Bayazidi witnessed another prisoner being beaten; when she intervened she was verbally abused and cursed. She began another hunger strike during this time. For the last six months of her sentence, she was transferred to Maragheh Central Prison, in which she was kept in a small three-four meter cell with 15 other prisoners. Zeinab was allegedly kept in very poor conditions, sharing one toilet and shower, and had little access to hot water. She was released in November 2012, after completing her sentence.

50. Fatimeh Masjidi was arrested on 8 May 2009, and was charged with propaganda against the state for feminist activities and sentenced to one year in prison and a one million rial fine. She was also involved with the One Million Signatures Campaign. During the arrest, her house was searched and over 400 of her books were confiscated. Ms. Masjidi and her fiancé were both arrested and taken to Qom. She spent two days in solitary confinement, and then taken by Ministry of Intelligence to be interrogated for 12 hours a day, for 10 days. During this time she was told to cease communication with the moderate mullahs she was in contact with. She was released on bail two weeks later. Ms. Masjidi was arrested again on 28 January 2010, for an “illicit relationship”. She was once again interrogated, and threatened with flogging if she did not sign what they told her to. The court proceedings took 1.5 years overall. She was convicted for her participation in the One Million Signatures Campaign, and for an “illicit relationship.” She and her fiancé were both given 99 lashes and she was exiled to the south. Her trial was held in August 2010 by a Revolutionary Court in Qom and she was charged with propaganda against the system and sentenced to one year in prison and a fine for wearing the hijab incorrectly. Ms. Masjidi reported that prison conditions in Langeroud were very poor; there were 20 beds for 150 prisoners, and prisoners were held in extremely unsanitary conditions. She reported that there were many children with their mothers in prison, some who were being abused. She was eventually released and left the country.

http://www.shaheedoniran.org/english/dr-shaheeds-work/latest-reports/3169-march-2013-report-supplement.html

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