On Nov. 1, on his way into Evin Prison, Arash Ganji read an uplifting message to supporters. Here is a rough translation:
Dear comrades, in these last minutes of departure, I am not sure if I have fallen into tragedy or fortune/comedy: This morning I found out that it is a 1st of November, the day of the victory of Kobani (Kurdish group) and the definite defeat of ISIS. I am falling in that comedy because under shadow of the anniversary of that great victory, I am heading to prison, and tragedy because with the utmost happiness in my little heart I must start my prison sentence.
I assure you that my heart is stronger than ever, and I will start to celebrate, my celebration inside my heart, sincerely thankful of all comrades, especially comrades of the Iranian Writers Association for everything including sending me off here. The endless support of the comrades of the association during all this time and international solidarity of all writers has warmed mine and my family's hearts. And all of these keep reminding me that I am never alone. I appreciate your presence, long live the Iranian Writers Association. And I present all the carnations of the world to you.
Writer and translator Arash Ganji has been summoned to serve a minimum of 5 years of an outrageous 11-year prison sentence. As our Emergency Appeal states:
"The Iranian Writers Association (IWA) has denounced the execution of prisoners of conscience, even as it is under extreme repression. Several members are imprisoned, including Arash Ganji, sentenced to 11 years for translating a book on the Kurdish struggle in Syria."
Ganji was arrested in 2019 in connection with his 2017 Farsi translation of A Small Key Can Open A Big Door: The Rojava Revolution, a collection of articles by different authors about Kurds in the Syrian civil war, and detained and interrogated in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison, upheld by an appeals court in February 2021.
Ganji was sentenced to 5 years for “conspiracy to act against national security,” 5 years for “membership and cooperation with an anti-regime group,” and one year for “propaganda against the regime”,
Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America, stated: “From the start of this investigation, the Iranian government has been targeting Ganji with the baseless claim that his translation of a book poses a threat to national security. His wildly disproportionate sentence and imminent imprisonment are part of a broader pattern of legal harassment against writers in Iran, the latest blatant miscarriage of justice as authorities continue to lock up the literary community. Furthermore, Ganji suffers from serious health conditions likely to be dangerously exacerbated in prison."
Sepideh Gholian - as pictured in the New York Review of Books ad, August, 2021
There has been an important dangerous development in the case of Iranian political prisoner Sepideh Gholian. According to recent news reports, on Monday, October 11, thirty plainclothes Islamic Republic goons stormed her sister’s home, where she was staying during a medical leave, and brutally arrested and removed the 26-year-old Sepideh. The police goons also confiscated the cell phones of everyone in her family.
Sepideh’s incredibly heroic story, including a 19 segment prison diary, is available in English and فارسی (Farsi) on the website IranWire. This includes the moving cry and challenge for the world to fight for all of Iran’s political prisoners that Sepideh issued in late 2019 when she was 23 years old. It says in part:
You hear my voice from Iran. You hear my voice from among 1,500 innocent women prisoners of Gharchak prison. You hear my voice from among a throng of unknown women who are in prison on baseless charges. You hear my voice as a representative of women who live under injustice, whips and brutality. Gender discrimination has broken their backs and they have no way to freedom. Listen to my voice and listen good!
Stay tuned: the International Emergency Campaign (IEC) wil report more fully on her situation in coming days at this website.
Her case was referenced in our Emergency Appeal as an example of prisoners’ lives that are hanging in the balance and why we must act now with urgency:
Women prisoners are increasingly transferred to more remote prisons, limiting access by their family and lawyers. They include: Sepideh Gholian, a freelance journalist arrested for reporting and allegedly taking part in labor strikes. In early March 2021, she was suddenly transferred in chains from Tehran's Evin Prison to Bushehr Prison in southern Iran, more than 373 miles from her parents.
Lastest news: On October 13, the scheduled trial was postponed for Iranian defense lawyers Mostafa Nili and Arash Keykhosravi and civil rights activist Mehdi Mahmoudian (all three still detained after 23 days in solitary confinement while denied access to legal counsel and phone calls), along with Mohammad Reza Faghihi (lawyer), and Maryam Afrafaraz (civil activist), who are free on bail.
Their legal teams have been denied access to their case files, because “the state fears these courageous individuals,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran. “It wants to strip them of their power because they are the last lifeline of those targeted by the state for peaceful dissent.”
In response to their upcoming trial, Nili, Keykhosravi and Mahmoudian wrote a joint letter to the Central Supervisory Board on Proper Enforcement of the Law and Respect for Legitimate Freedoms and Protection of Citizens’ Rights detailing their unlawful arrest and detention and illegal raids on their homes.
"They continued to hold us under extraordinary and illegal conditions to put more pressure on us and to intimidate and terrorize the public,” the letter denounced.
“During solitary confinement inside the judiciary’s security ward we were subjected to psychological pressure only because on August 14, 2021, we refused to sign a pledge not to file a lawsuit against the supreme leader and other judicial and government officials."
This well-researched article, which covers latest efforts at UN to free British dual nationals and UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva, spotlights the 9-21-21 Press Conference and Speak-Out in front of UN by our Campaign.
It quotes from the Appeal to the UN from the daughter of Nahid Taghavi, read at the conference, and interviews her about conditions of women prisoners, especially COVID infections. Also interviewed: family members of other British-Iranian dual nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.
Heidar Ghorbani, a Kurdish political prisoner, is in danger of execution. He was sentenced to death on charges of "armed insurrection against the regime."
Amnesty International has called for the immediate revocation of his death sentence, citing the torture of Heidar Ghorbani, a Kurdish political prisoner, to obtain a forced "confession", presented as evidence against him.
We received the following two letters from Burn the Cage/Free The Birds movement to the International Emergency Campaign. These are unofficial translations, edited slightly for clarity, of statements posted on burn_the_cage Instagram a few days after the sham verdicts issued by Branch 26 of Iran’s Islamic court to several other political defendants, https://revcom.us/a/711/iec-nahid-taghavi-mehran-raouf-sentenced-to-11-years-in-prison-en.html.
We want to share these with our readers now, and urge everyone to closely follow further developments in this high stakes case for the people.
Below, we are reprinting letters from Mohammad Hajinia and Nafiseh Malekijoo. They are both defendants in the same Branch 26 court case as the others listed in their letters. Both of them are not inside Iran at this time, but both were convicted and sentenced in absentia. Mohammad Hajinia is a student studying and living outside of Iran, and Malekijoo left Iran before the recent sentencing. The following are their statements:
"I, Mohammad Hajinia, is studying abroad. I recently woke up one morning and found out that I had been sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran. This sentence was issued along with [the sentences of] seven other political defendants named Nahid Taghavi, Mehran Raouf, Somayeh Kargar, Bahareh Soleimani, Nazanin Mohammadnejad, Elham Samimi and Nafiseh Malekijoo.
I was not in Iran at the time of the security forces' raid on the homes of the seven. I was not in Iran during their arrests, their solitary confinements and lengthy interrogations, and finally during their trial and sentencing. I was not even aware I was accused.
But before this, I had the good fortune to meet, talk, discuss and be friends with some of the defendants in this case. Our occasional interaction was an intellectual, friendly and fruitful one. We now know that they have been sentenced to prison and put in long solitary confinement because of their thoughts and opinions....The arrest and conviction of these people and all those who are in prison because of their thoughts and ideas is deeply reactionary and unjust and should be condemned.
According to the indictment, I was charged with "participating in the administration of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) in order to disrupt security and propaganda activities against the holy system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Without being present and without even having information about my indictment and the process of my case, I have been sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison. Such cases and empty verdicts are not new. They are repetitions of the "death commission" themes that are played daily. We are familiar with it, but we are not accustomed to it. We will not get used to it. "
Mohammad Hajinia August 6, 2012
“I am Nafiseh Malekijoo. According to Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary court, I was sentenced along with seven other political prisoners, Nahid Taghavi, Mehran Raouf, Somayeh Kargar, Bahareh Soleimani, Mohammad Hajinia, Nazianin Mohammadnejad and Elham Samimi. I was indicted in absentia.
On the evening of October 25, 2020…the security forces attacked my house with an insidious trick that surprised me. Then they forced their way into the house and they beat me mercilessly. They had come to inspect the house, and at first they were one man and one woman but their numbers gradually increased. I do not remember exactly how many there were. They were moving back and forth, curiously watching everything and my every move, sort of my life was under their magnifying glass….
They confiscated my handwritten notebooks, my communications tools, and my identification documents including my passport ... They came to inspect the house and said "You are just a defendant!" But reality said it was my house, with its doors and walls that held my memories, my friends, my loved ones.
I was suddenly summoned for a night interrogation, in my own space….After the house was searched, the security forces told me to show up at a place that was not a judicial center, one of their "safe houses" a few days later. But I did not go. I was forced to exile myself [from Iran]. I lived in hiding for months and swallowed my fiery anger at our situation, alone. I waited for a written summons, and my written summons was issued at a time when I had dared to bite the bullet and was ready to leave everything behind with all my regrets. I left….
I knew politically that I would make the news of this trial in absentia and declare the trials of all my co-defendants illegal and inhumane. I was sentenced to a total of six years and nine months in prison "for membership in the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist, Leninist,Maoist) in order to disrupt security and propagate against the holy order of the Islamic Republic of Iran." In addition, it goes without saying that the manner in which I was tried in absentia without access to an indictment, a lawyer, etc., shows the injustice and cruelty of the Iranian judicial system and the entire Islamic Republic.
The people involved in this [court] case have been sentenced to imprisonment with reactionary trials in unjust…terms. I condemn the government from afar with my own voice.
I have always stood with my co-defendants when they were in long-term solitary confinement, when they were being prosecuted, and when their temporary detention was illegally extended. Now that there is no need to explain it, I did not hesitate to sympathize with them. I did not know all of them, but some of them have enriched my mind enough that for the rest of my life, I will not forget what the Islamic Republic did and is doing with "us." And of course I will not forget the loud and pleasant voices we can have to raise up again and again. Let's shout for liberation.
For the release of all political prisoners,
Nafiseh Malekijoo, August 10, 2021
August 4, 2021 – Elderly dual national prisoners Mehran Raoof, 66, and Nahid Taghavi, 64, were among five prisoners held on trumped-up charges who were sentenced to jail in Iran today. The sentences come as Iran’s overcrowded prisons remain rife with risk, with new COVID-19 infections continuing to shatter records throughout the country.
“To condemn two peaceful, elderly people to prison under sham charges at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is raging throughout the country reveals the cruelty of the Iranian judicial system,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“These sentences indicate that the Iranian security establishment isn’t content with unlawfully harassing, jailing, and muzzling people, it also wants to endanger their lives,” he added.
Imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi has joined the chorus of groups and individuals in Iran who are expressing solidarity with protesters in Khuzestan Province and beyond.
Here's an excerpt from her letter from prison, google-translated.
With security forces in Iran attacking and killing protesters in Khuzestan Province, the Iranian authorities are once again demonstrating complete disregard for the law, life, and all international standards of policing, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today. New Amnesty Report highlights use of live ammunition, killings in drought-ridden province
According to the HRANA, the news organ of the Iranian Association of Human Rights Activists, Mohammad Mehdi Haj Mohammadi, the head of the Prisons Organization, reported dealing with those who had tied Baktash Abtin to a hospital bed.
Earlier, pictures of Baktash Abtin, a member of the Iran Writers' Association, shackled to the bed of the Martyrs of Tajrish Hospital had been posted online. Mr. Abtin, who has been serving a 6-year sentence in Evin Prison since September of last year, was transferred from Evin Prison to Tajrish Martyrs Hospital on Sunday, July 18, following severe pain in the testicle area and the diagnosis and recommendation of the prison's medical doctor. He was kept shackled to the in bed for duration of the hospital treatment. His doctor diagnosed that Mr. Abtin suffers from a cyst in the testicular area.
The start of a fifth COVID-19 wave in Iran, amidst national water and electricity shortages and unhygienic prison conditions, has greatly increased the risks of outbreaks among prisoners, some of whom have died and a growing number of whom are testing positive for the virus.
In an audio message recorded in Tehran’s Evin Prison and shared on Twitter on July 17, 2021, Aliyeh Motallebzadeh, a women’s rights activist, said the authorities were doing nothing to ensure prisoners’ safety. “The deputy prison director came by and I told him, ‘It looks like you have thrown the prisoners behind closed doors so they could all die together,’” said Motallebzadeh in the message.
“Very casually he replied,‘It’s the same outside. People are dying outside, too. There’s no difference.You die, too.’ "
On Tuesday, July 20, civil activist Sepideh Gholiyan and political prisoner Mahboubeh Rezaei were severely beaten in Bushehr Prison by prisoners accused of violent crimes in front of prison officials. It is said that the incident happened at the instigation of the head of the women’s ward of the prison, Fatemeh Aliverdi.
On Tuesday, July 20, civil activists Narges Mohammadi, Arash Sadeghi, Arash Kaykhosravi, Ruhollah Mardani, Jafar Azimzadeh, Rasoul Bodaghi, Pouran Nazemi, Hamid Asefi, and Behzad Homayouni, were released from custody a couple of hours after their arrest.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the activists were beaten and arrested while marching in support of the people of Khuzestan.
Before their arrest, they had said in a video that a number of them had been beaten in front of the Interior Ministry by military forces.
July 12, 2021—In a sweeping grab of new powers over the Iranian Bar Association (IBA) that grants the Iranian judiciary the right to issue and revoke law licenses, the country’s judicial establishment, now led by human rights violator Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, has effectively destroyed the independence of Iranian lawyers.
The new regulations, which render meaningless the right to due process and a fair trial, should be strongly condemned by lawyers, human rights groups, and the international community, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today.
“The ongoing state policy of undermining Iran’s independent bar association and its lawyers is eliminating the right to due process when Iranians need it the most,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran.
“Human rights lawyers are a lifeline for citizens relentlessly and unlawfully targeted by the state, and the Iranian government expects the world to look the other way while it cuts this lifeline,” said Ghaemi.
Prominent Activist in Iran Fears Her “Life is in Danger” After Violent Confrontations
Excerpt from June 17 Press Release ~ Center for Human Rights in Iran:
Iran Should Stop Assaulting, Threatening Peaceful Activists
Iranian authorities should stop physically assaulting, harassing and threatening peaceful activists in Iran, including the prominent rights defender Narges Mohammadi, who told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that she fears for her life after being twice violently confronted by unidentified state security agents in less than a week.
“I am extremely worried for my life,” Mohammadi told CHRI on June 17, 2021. “In a matter of a few days, unknown assailants who do not identify themselves have attacked and threatened me.”
“They have told me to stop my activities because it ‘harms the interests of the Islamic Republic,’” she added. “I am a human rights defender and have not broken any laws.” Photographs received by CHRI show large bruises on Mohammadi’s body.
CHRI calls on the Iranian authorities to cease trying to muzzle free speech and expression and allow peaceful activism without the threat of violence, imprisonment or death. CHRI urges the international community to speak out against this unlawful state violence, and to monitor the human rights situation in Iran with heightened vigilance ahead of a sham election, scheduled for June 18, 2021, that could bring Ebrahim Raisi, a man guilty of crimes against humanity, to power.
Mohammadi and Mothers of Killed Protesters Violently Confronted in Shiraz
Mohammadi and other activists, including the mothers of peaceful protesters who were killed by security forces, were first violently confronted and briefly detained by state agents who refused to identify themselves on June 12, 2021, in the city Shiraz. They had traveled to Shiraz to visit the grieving family of champion wrestler Navid Afkari, who was unjustly executed there in September 2020.
The activists had peacefully gathered outside the prison where the wrestler was hanged—and where his two brothers now also fear for their lives in prolonged solitary confinement—when they were beaten by plainclothes agents who refused to identify themselves.
The second confrontation occurred on June 17 when Mohammadi traveled with fellow activists to the city of Shazand in Markazi Province to visit the family of an imprisoned human rights lawyer, Mohammadi Najafi, and was refused entry into the city.
Agents who again refused to identify themselves forced her into a car, drove her around for hours and “confronted her with violence.”
"They showed us an Intelligence Ministry letter requesting the prosecutor prohibit [my] entry into Shazand,” Mohammadi said in an audio message that was circulated on social media.
In the message, Mohammadi added that she was with three human rights lawyers, Abdolfattah Soltani, Arash Keykhosravi and Mostafa Nili, as well as Shanaz Akmali, who has been seeking justice for her son Mostafa Karim Beigi, who was killed in Tehran during a 2009 protest.
Mohammadi: “It has been nothing short of kidnappings and threatening my life”
“When I ask them to show me any legal documents and identify themselves, they refused,” Mohammadi told CHRI. “It has been nothing short of kidnappings and threatening my life. In Shiraz I was assaulted and bruised. My life is in danger.”
They were ultimately forced to return to Tehran.
Released from prison in October 2020 after serving five years for engaging in peaceful activism including against capital punishment, Mohammadi was again sentenced to 30 months in prison and 80 lashes in May 2021 for joining a peaceful sit-in at Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward to protest the violent state suppression of street protests in November 2019.
In late December 2019, following her participation in a peaceful protest in Evin prison against the killing of protestors by state security forces in November 2019, Mohammadi was forcibly and violently exiled to Zanjan prison, some 300 km from Tehran.
Instead of investigating her complaint against the violent prison transfer, she was later sentenced to more prison time. These rights violations took place during the tenure of Judiciary Chief Raisi.
In 2016, Mohammadi was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for “membership in the [now banned] Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty” group; “taking part in assembly and collusion against national security” and “committing propaganda against the state.”
The former Deputy Director of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), Mohammadi was awarded the Per Anger Prize by the Swedish government for her human rights work in 2011 and the Andrei Sakharov Prize from the American Physical Society in 2018.
Reprinted from Akhbar-Rooz, rough translation.
On Sunday, June 14, the second session of Mehran Raoof's court was held. . . . After several requests, finally they allowed me to to visit. Many families of the prisoners were present. It was about one o'clock when the defendants came out one by one and met with their families and talked.
Mehran, who came out with the guard, wore his reading glasses and had a thoughtful look on his face. Then, with a loud voice, he protested: "They did not let us talk!" I went forward and Mehran asked me for my house phone number. I repeated it twice, before the soldier pulled his arm and took him away.
Compared to a month ago, his general condition was a little better, but I was upset that they did not let us talk. I asked his lawyer how Mehran's case had gone. He said then sentence would be announced at the next hearing, and that Mehran could face one to ten years in prison.
He said he had objected to several aspects of the cases. He said that they prevented us from visiting because I am not a first-degree relative. Yesterday, Mehran was finally transferred to a public ward after eight months in solitary confinement.
On the way back. I stopped in front of Shahr-e-Kitab, ( big bookstore, city of books). Usually, I would have been interested in seeing books. But, this time I did not have the patience to go to those chic-op's halls. I told myself how ironic and ridiculous it would be, to go to such a place while Mehran is in prison for translating several books and publishing them without censorship. Then I consoled myself that at least Mehran would no longer be in solitary confinement, but in a ward with other prisoners.
Indeed, freedom is so great for us, the people of this distant land, that we should be happy about going to a prison ward instead of solitary confinement! Then I remembered some of the writer friends who are also in Evin, and some of the labor and student activists who are there too. Maybe Mehran will join them and make a difference.
The memory of our walking in the streets of Tehran came to my mind, and of the Friday morning we crossed the same street by car and went to the mountains.
Damn this life!
At Least Two Political Prisoners Have Died in Past Four Months
Niknafs Was Jailed Despite Health Conditions That Made Him Unfit for Prison
June 7, 2021 – Another political prisoner has died in state custody two weeks before Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, who is ultimately responsible for the care of prisoners, runs for president.
“The reported death of Sassan Niknafs in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary reveals the mounting human toll of the Iranian judiciary’s policy of imprisoning individuals for criticizing the government,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“These individuals shouldn’t be in prison in the first place yet they’re dying in state custody while Raisi focuses on his latest power grab,” he said.
Niknafs’ death was reported just four months after another political prisoner, Behnam Mahjoubi, died in state custody after Iran’s State Medical Examiner had concluded he could not withstand incarceration.
Labor activist Heydar Ghorbani was sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Second Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Shahriar County on June 4, 2021.
HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, reports that the labor activist was sentenced on charges of “membership in a group or population or a branch of a population formed within the country to disrupt the security of the country” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting The Independent Union of Iranian Workers, Ghorbani is from Kamyaran in Kurdistan Province.
Ghorbani is a construction worker and a member of the Free Trade Union of Iran.
Press release from Mariam Claren regarding Nahid Taghavi, 66 year old innocent German citizen arbitrarily detained in Iran since 16 October 2020.
After 43 days in solitary confinement, Nahid Taghavi was transferred back to the women’s wing in Evin prison.
New trial date scheduled for June 13, 2021
The German government must intervene and free their citizen, Nahid Taghavi immediately and unconditionally. She has been arbitrarily detained for 7 months, her health has deteriorated severely and she is now facing a sham trial.
Nahid Taghavi was arbitrarily detained by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran on October 16, 2020.
She was held in solitary confinement for the first 5 months of her detention. Nahid was not given appropriate access to medical care or legal representation. She has high blood pressure and her inhumane treatment took a toll on her health causing her diabetes which was previously under control, to return.
After public pressure due to campaigning by her daughter, Mariam Claren based in Germany, Nahid was transferred to the women’s wing for 20 days before being returned to solitary confinement once again on April 5, 2021 under the pretext of a visit to the doctor. After another 43 days in solitary confinement in Isolation Section 2-Alef, Nahid Taghavi was moved back to the women’s wing in Evin prison recently on May 16, 2021.
Nahid’s initial trial was on April 28, 2021. Her lawyer was only given access to her case file for the first time on April 24, 2021, 4 days before the trial itself and he could not see Nahid. As a result, her trial was postponed. Nahid’s new trial date is scheduled for June 13, 2021 before Revolutionary Court branch 26 in Tehran.
The German government must intervene and free their citizen, Nahid Taghavi immediately and unconditionally. She has been arbitrarily detained for 7 months, her health has deteriorated severely and she is now facing a sham trial.
Key points on Nahid Taghavi:
Mariam Claren, +49 172 886 23 29
Nasrin Sotoudeh and Reza Khandan (Ms Magazine, courtesy of Jeff Kaufman)
"The little girl is three years old. She approaches my wife Nasrin Sotoudeh who is sitting in a corner of the prison yard and asks, “Aunty, can you tell me the Rolling Pumpkin story?” Sonbol is a beautiful girl with golden hair, born here at Qarchak prison. Her mother was pregnant when she was arrested for bank robbery. Now they live in a place the inmates call 'the end of the world.'
"Nasrin has been unjustly and cruelly imprisoned since June 2018 for her legal work representing Iranian human rights and women’s rights activists. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. Under the law she must serve at least 12 years. In October 2020, Nasrin was taken out of Evin prison and told she was being taken to the hospital to have treatment for her heart condition. They lied and drove her to Qarchak. Soon after she arrived, Nasrin caught COVID-19. She told me that coronavirus had spread in her ward and many inmates became sick."
British foreign secretary Dominic Raab said it was difficult to argue with the characterisation that dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being held state hostage by the Iranians.
Trials coincide with Iran announcing desire for ‘all for all’ simultaneous prisoner exchanges with west
Iran has set April 28 as the trial date for two dual nationals in cases that may increase the pressure before the next stage of talks on the future of the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna: British-Iranian Mehran Raoof, who has been detained in Evin prison in Tehran since 16 October 2020, and German-Iranian Nahid Taghavi.
Read full article on TheGuardian.com.
More than 80 days after his arrest, Mehran Raouf, a British-Iranian labor activist, remains in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.
The 64-year-old was detained by security forces in Tehran on October 16, 2020.
Six months later, Raouf is still being held on Ward 2A of Evin Prison, which is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The reasons for his arrest and the charges against him remain unknown.
A source close to Raouf, told HRANA news agency that the unionist is now suffering from physical ill-health due to the long interrogations and protracted time in a solitary cell.
The Committee to Support Mehran Raouf, which was set up by a number of international labor movements following his arrest, issued a fresh statement on April 9 expressing concern over his continued detention.
“Despite widespread support for Mehran Raouf from than 90 syndicates and trade unions around the world,” it read, “and the signing of a petition calling for Mehran Raouf's release by hundreds of social activists, the British government has not yet taken action to support him.”
IranWire approached the UK Foreign Office regarding Raouf’s case on February 8, 2021. Nine days later, the FCO responded: “We continue to raise the issue of British dual national detentions with the Iranian authorities”.
It is understood that no consular assistance has yet been provided to the British-Iranian national, whose immediate family all live outside Iran.
On March 16, 2021 calling for the unconditional release of the Iranian-British labor activist, saying: "Mehran Raouf is being held 'arbitrarily' in Evin Prison in Tehran. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally."
Amnesty International has also repeatedly called on the British government to include Mehran Raouf in its efforts to secure the release of Iranian-British nationals in Iran, alongside Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
The charity reports that Raouf was held incommunicado for a month after his arrest, after which he was allowed to make one brief telephone call to distant relative inside Iran.
Since then, Amnesty added, he had been “denied calls with his immediate family and the right to access legal counsel, even from the judiciary-approved lawyers that his family have retained on his behalf.
“He has been held in prolonged solitary confinement for months. Amnesty International fears that he is at serious risk of further torture and other human rights violations, especially given the Revolutionary Guards’ pattern of subjecting detainees to torture to extract forced ‘confessions’ which are later used to issue convictions in unfair trials.”
Since December 2020, there appears to be concerted efforts to disperse prisoners, among them many women, who have been standard bearers of resistance in Iran’s prisons including during their imprisonment.
Ali Khasraji, Hossein Silawi, Jasem Heidary and Naser Khafajian, from Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority, were executed in secret in Sepidar prison on 28 February 2021. The Iranian authorities are concealing the full truth about their fate as well as the location of their graves and are refusing to return their bodies to their families, thereby committing the ongoing crime of enforced disappearance.
Ahwazi Arab prisoners of conscience Mohammad Ali Amouri, Jaber Alboshokeh and Mokhtar Alboshokeh continue to be denied adequate health care.
On the 151 day of her arbitrary detention my mother Nahid Taghavi was transferred to the women’s wing in Evin prison on Tuesday, 16 March.
She called my uncle and said, that her transfer was only made, because of all the media attention and our campaign to #freenahid.
The women in the wing gave her a warm welcome and told her about all the efforts that are made on international level to free her.
This is a first victory but the campaign and fight for her unconditional and immediate release have to be continued.
For today, I am happy that my mother is not isolated anymore and has the opportunity to talk with all the strong and brave women who are behind bars with her. We should all continue campaigning to free them all.
Special thanks to all the media for tireless covering the story of Nahid Taghavi.
Key points on Nahid Taghavi:
· 66 year old German-Iranian dual national
· Arbitrarily arrested on October 16, 2020 in her apartment in Tehran
· 5 months in solitary confinement
· No access to lawyer
· No consular support despite her German citizenship
Contact:Mariam Claren, +49 172 886 23 29
A group of civil rights activists, many of them former prisoners who suffered solitary confinement, appeared before the Judiciary Services Office in Tehran to file a suit against those who order or enforce solitary confinement in Iran’s detention centers and prisons.
Amnesty International said: “The authorities rushed to execute Ruhollah Zam in what we believe was a reprehensible bid to avoid an international campaign to save his life."
The execution was also condemned by the press freedom groups Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.