Report on Human Rights Abuse, August, 2010
There have been two important trends in human rights during August 2010. First, there was a hunger strike by political prisoners that was to an extent successful (see separate article). Second, the regime has made considerable use of ta’ziri punishments. These allow a judge to impose a sentence according to his discretion because no prescribed punishment exists in Islamic law. Such an approach means that defendants have no idea as to the extent of the legal jeopardy that they face, yet another example of the unfairness of the Iranian legal system.
In other developments, the crackdown in the universities has accelerated, with the summoning of students for questioning, student suspensions and arrest of students as well as dismissal of professors.
Among the wave of decisions issued from the top has affected most universities, for example, the decision to oust thirteen members and the order to dismiss seven faculty members of Al-Zahra University as well as the replacement of the president of Khaje-Nasir University of Technology.
Elsewhere, Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court upheld the seven and a half years prison sentence including the previously suspended sentence of two years imprisonment handed down by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court for Bahareh Hedayat, member of the central council of Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat (Office for the Consolidation of Unity, the main free student organization in Iran).
Amidst the clampdown on student activists is the case of Milad Asadi, another member of the central council of Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat who was also handed a sentence of seven and a half years prison, which was upheld on appeal.
Ali Malihi, member of the planning council of the Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat for which he is also responsible for public relations was also sentenced to four years of ta’ziri punishment (punishment for an offense for which there is no prescribed punishment in Islamic law and left to the discretion of the judge) and given a cash fine of one million riyals ($100) by Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Mohammad Moqiseh.
On Sunday, August 8, 2010, Ali Ajami, a student at the University of Tehran was sentenced to four years ta’ziri punishment by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Salavati.
Yashar Daralshafa (also spelled Daroshafa), who is a computer programming graduate student from the University of Tehran and former secretary of the Islamic Association of Reformist Students of the Imam Khomeini International University of Qazvin, was given a seven-year ta’ziri prison term by Judge Abulghasem Salavati.
Political and Human Rights Activists
Following the widespread imprisonment of human rights activists following the June 2009 disputed presidential election during which most of the arrested were accused of moharebeh (waging war with God) or for “acting against national security” and similar crimes, Emadeddin Baghi who is an activist against the death penalty was sentenced to one year ta’ziri punishment and banned for five years from political activities, the media and any activity with organizations related to his work with the Committee for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights.
Shiva Nazar Ahari, another human rights activist and member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), after nearly one year in jail her trial will be held on Septermber 4,2010 .She faces unfair trail at risk of execution
Two brothers, Dr. Kamiar Alaei and Dr Arash Alaei who are physicians active in the battle against AIDS, still remain in prison after two years without any right to conditional release.
Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court upheld the four-year jail sentence of Amir-Khosro Dalir-Sani, member of the Jonbesh-e Mosalmanan-e Mobarez (Movement of Activist Muslims) and the Fa’alan-e Melli-Mazhabi (Nationalist-Religious Activists). His sentence was issued for conspiracy against the state.
Morteza Golizadeh, member of Jebhe-ye Mosharekat (Islamic Iran Participation Front) in the province of Markazi who also worked in Mir-Hossein Musavi’s presidential campaign in the city of Arak has been sentenced to one year ta’ziri imprisonment by the lower court of this city. Along with the above case, the cases of a few other political activists from the same city of Arak were also started and are awaiting verdict.
The whereabouts of Mohammad Mostafaei, lawyer, became unknown after he was summoned, interrogated and released by the Ministry of Intelligence. On the same night of his disappearance, Fereshteh Halimi and Farhad Halimi, respectively the wife and brother-in-law of Mr. Mostafaei, were taken into custody. The day after they were detained, their families and lawyers were informed that in order for them to be released, Mohammad Mostafaei would have to be turned in to the authorities. He fled the country to turkey and now is in Norway.
Also, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, Mohammad Sadigh Kaboudvand suffered what may have been a stroke in prison while prison officials have failed to give him medical care and have denied him access to medical treatment.
The lower court also sentenced Isa Saharkhiz, journalist, to 15 months ta’ziri imprisonment and barred him from journalistic activities.
Badrossadat Mofidi, Secretary General of the Iranian Journalists Association, was sentenced to six years ta’ziri imprisonment and banned from journalism for five years by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court.
In consequence of a letter of complaint signed by seven prominent reformist leaders against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Safai Farahani and Mostafa Tajzadeh, two of the signatories were sent back to prison. In their letter of complaint, they referred to statements made by an individual called “Commander Moshfeq” which they maintain is a crucial source of evidence in revealing secret actions during the disputed 2009 Presidential Election and events that took place in the aftermath thereof as well as illegal acts undertaken during and after the election.
Detained doctor, writer and human rights activist, Akbar Karami, too, in addition to the three-year prison sentence issued by the first court, was also given another three years prison and 74 lashes as ta’ziri punishment and five years internal exile in a remote city. The court also saw fit to suspend his medical practitioner’s license for the duration of this period.
Rasoul Badaghi, member of the board of directors of the Iranian Teachers’ Union and member of the Council for Solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran, was given six years prison and barred for five years from participating in political parties by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Salavati.
The bail posted by Abed Tavanche, leftist student activist and a former member of the Islamic Association at Amir Kabir Unibersity, was confiscated. He was sentenced in January 2010 to one year ta’ziri imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court in Arak. However, the Revolutionary Court of Arak refused to issue the verdict on paper and, as a result, the aforementioned and his lawyer, Dr. Nasser Zarafshan, refused to sign the notification of the verdict, which was issued verbally and ambiguously. Therefore, the judge of the case sent the one-year ta’ziri imprisonment verdict of this student activist to the Execution of Court Orders Department of the Ministry of Justice, without first referring the verdict to the appeals court.
Labor union activists have been exposed to heavier crackdowns, imprisonment and other court actions in recent months. Economic difficulties are also having an effect. The workers at the Pipe Factory of Khuzestan, who have been struggling with a myriad of problems for years, have not received their salaries for 15 months. This is not for want of money. This factory does not have any trouble manufacturing and selling products. The difficulty is that the volatile management and owner have compromised the efficient running of the facility.
Mansour Osanloo, the imprisoned head of the board of directors of Tehran Bus Drivers Labor Union, was once more sentenced to imprisonment at the Revolutionary Court of Karaj, and that in the absence of his lawyers, on charges of “relations with opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Women and Children
According to information recently provided by Fatemeh Daneshvar, the head of Mehrafarin Institute, and statistics announced by the Majles, there are five million children in Iran who have not received any schooling, driving home the obvious need for urgent planning for their education.
Moreover, the imminent stoning to death of four women in Tabriz was made known by their lawyer, Javid Kian, who has also appealed to the international community to take action and save the lives of Sakineh Mohammadi, Maryam Ghorbanzadeh, Kobra Babaee and Azar Bagheri. He also stated that one of these women, Sakineh Mohammadi had been taken to room 37 in Tabriz Prison and been forced to make confessions against herself but that these confessions were not made under normal conditions rather, she was allegedly severely beaten and forced to take part in a televised interview.
Religious and Ethnic Minorities
Consistent with the trend in the past few years to bar Iranian Baha’is from entering university, this year too, following the announcement on the website of the Sanjesh Organization (the organization responsible for administering university entrance exams and other standard exams in Iran) of the results of the first stage of the National University Entrance Exam for 2010, some Baha'i applicants seeking higher education in national universities got a message on their screens in place of their exam report, saying, “Incomplete Registration File” or “Applicant with These Details Does Not Exist.”
In 2004, with the elimination from the registration form of the box where applicants specified their religion, it became possible for Baha’i applicants to take the National University Entrance Exam. Nevertheless, despite the elimination of this one problem, new obstacles have been placed in the way of these applicants, such as, receiving the message, “Incomplete Registration File,” refusal to announce their passing grades and elimination of applicants following the first stage, refusing them registration in universities and expulsion from universities. The Iranian government is widely believed to have a near complete list of all the Bahai’s in Iran.
Also, following the crackdown by the Ministry of Intelligence and security forces on Gonabadi dervishes (a Sufi Muslim order), 15 dervishes from different cities have been detained, summoned for questioning and threatened, while their businesses have been sealed and their homes have been subject to inspection.
The rising statistics of execution figures in Iran have made this country the target of international outrage and recent political executions have rekindled the memory of the mass executions of the 1980s in the minds of the public. Iran is the second largest user of the death penalty in the world after China, the largest on a per capita basis.
From among the orders of execution, one can cite the death sentence passed for Farah (Elmira) Vazehan, one of the detainees of the Ashura Day incidents in 2009.
In addition, the death sentence for eight people charged with "trafficking narcotics in the Province of Kerman" was upheld by the Supreme Court of Iran.