Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Detention for being of the Bahaii faith

According to the spokesman of the Iranian regime judiciary on 29 January, 59 people have been arrested in Shiraz for being of Bahaii faith.

According to the Spokeman, Alireza Jamshidi, three of the arrested are sentenced to four years and 51 others have been sentenced to one year imprisonment each.

Although Mr.Jamshidi has claimed that these individuals have been charged with propagating against the Islamic Republic, sources say they are members of a children's NGO working to provide free education for poor children in Shiraz.

Islamic Republic authorities have accused this NGO of promoting the Bahaii faith.

Prior to this, Amnesty International had reported the detention of three Bahaii activists in Shiraz prison: Raha Sabet Sarvestani, Hale Rouhi and Sassan Taghavi. It is clear that these individuals had official permit for their activities and their only charge is to be of the Bahaii faith.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pressuring arrested students for fake confessions

Some of the students, who have managed to release themselves with bail, have declared that student activists are under heavy pressure to stage fake confession against themselves and their friends.

It is reported that the interrogators of the Intelligence ministry are trying to force the students confess they are in contact with opposition groups out side Iran.

On 4 December, thirty student activists affiliated with Marxist ideas, were arrested and transferred to Evin prison. They intended to organize meetings to commemorate the student day in Iran. In the past weeks, another two students have been arrested.

It is reported that these students have been tortured. According to the family of Behrouz Karimi zadeh, a former Tehran University student, his right hand had deep scars from his wrist to his elbow. Another detainee, Peyman Piran, has had his shoulder broken.

In the past days, eight students' have paid bail and released temporarily from prison and the rest of the students are still under interrogation.

Anti riot brigade clash with political prisoners of Rajaii Shahr

Prison anti riot guards attacked unit 2 of Rajaii Shahr prison on 24 January, smashed the locked door and dragged our three political prisoners; Farhad Vakili Rad, Farzad Kamangar, and Ali Heidaryan.

The prison authority's intentions to transfer Farzad Kamangar and Farhad Vakilirad to a separate unit in that prison had brought reactions amongst their inmates.

According to reports, the prisoners resisted the order, locked their door and had asked to see the prison director to discuss the matter.

Pirayesh, deputy director of the prison had met the prisoners along with the prison guard called Zabihi and the political prisoners had asserted their demand that their inmates should not be separated under any conditions.

The prisoners had resisted for 24 hours till they were violently attacked by the guards during which Farzad Kamangar and Farhad Vakili were brutally beaten up and taken to the notorious section of Rajaii Shahr.

Farzad Kamangar is a teacher from Kamyaran, suspected to be in contact with one of the Kurdish opposition parties.

In a letter which was slipped out of prison, he had clearly reported that he had been tortured and also threatened to be raped by the Intelligence Ministry agents.

Sexual abuse is a method used by Intelligence Ministry torturers to break the prisoners' resistance while in detention.

The three activist students, still in captivity in 209 notorious Evin prison, Ahmad Ghassaban , Ehsan Mansouri and Majid Tavakoli had also revealed that they had been threatened of sexual abuse. They had been accused of publishing insulting material against Islam and higher authorities of the government m but were later acquitted of the accusations.

Prior to these incidents, another prisoner Babak Dadbaksh who has recently been transferred from Evin to Rajaii Shahr prison has also been transferred to an unknown location.

Political prisoners have recently revealed that such transfers are used to break down resistant prisoners. Some prisoners in a letter have declared their lives are in danger in these locations.

Mehrdad Lorasbi and Behrouzs Javid Tehrani are known political prisoners who have spent a long period of imprisonment in Evin prison and then had been transferred to Rajaii Shahr.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Legal attorney prevented from visiting arrested students

Saiid Habibis attorney, one of the arrested students in Iran, announced that he and Saiid's family have been prevented from visiting him in prison.

Mr. Mohammd Sharifi the legal attorney to the Habibi's family while expressing deep concern over the situation of the released students of the previous wave of arrests, declared that he had discussed the situation of his clients with the security interrogator of the prosecutors office.
In the prosecutors office he was warned that he was not to visit his clients: Saiid Habibi and Behnam DarayeeZadeh till the end of preliminary investigations.
On the other hand the prosecutors' office has maintained heavy bail for the arrested students of the recent unrests, ranging from 30 to 100 million Tomans (108000 $). Anooshe Azadbar, Ilnaz Jamshidi, Nassim Soltanbeigi, Mohsen Ghamin, Milad Omrani are among students who have been ordered bail.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Detained Student Dies Under 'Suspicious' Circumstances

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

By Golnaz Esfandiari
An Iranian student detained in the capital of Iran's Kurdistan Province has died in prison under circumstances described by his family and human rights activists as "suspicious," Radio Farda reported.

On January 15, nine days after Ebrahim Lotfollahi was detained in front of Payame Nur University in the provincial capital, Sanandaj, officials told his family that he had committed suicide while in prison and died of "suffocation."

It is unclear why Lotfollahi was detained in the first place.

Witnesses say he had just finished taking an exam when security officials took him away. Officials were reported as saying they wanted to give him some "explanations," but no more details were offered.

His family says the aspiring lawyer had no reason to take his own life. Ebrahim, they say, was full of "hope in life" -- an avid reader who served part-time as a social worker.
His brother, Ismail, told Radio Farda that Ebrahim was "well" when he last saw him, two days after his arrest. "He said he would be released," Ismail said. "He said he needed a few razors and some other things."

Officials said Lotfollahi has already been buried at the city's Beheshte Mohammadi Cemetery.
But Ismail Lotfollahi says family members, who were not allowed to see the body, are calling for an autopsy. "Nobody has seen the body, [but] they said he's there," Ismail said. "A few days after they buried him there, they covered the grave with concrete."

"We don't know what to do. We haven't seen his body; we don't know whether he was suffocated," he said. "They had taken him there and done everything -- we were informed about nothing."

Saman Rasulpour, a Sanandaj-based journalist and member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, said Lotfollahi's death and the conditions surrounding it are unprecedented in the region.

But he added that this case appears similar to that of another student: Zahra Bani Yaghoub, a 27-year-old who died in prison in the western city of Hamedan in October shortly she was detained by the morality police while out for a stroll with her boyfriend.

In Yaghoub's case, officials also said that she committed suicide, but her family accused the police of murdering her. They said her body was bruised and that there was blood in her ears.
Bani Yaghub's family and human rights advocates including Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi have also called for an autopsy in her case. But some observers say there is little chance officials will grant it. Lotfollahi's family has insisted, however, that they will pursue the case and push for an autopsy. They say officials are responsible for the student's death in prison.

The news of Lotfollahi's death was made public only on January 17, but Rasulpour said it has already led to concern among rights advocates and civil society activists in the region.

Rasulpour told Radio Farda that his organization is supporting Lotfollahi's family in its pursuit of the truth. "We will first try to find a lawyer for this family, which is a very innocent and poor family, to pursue the case through legal channels," Rasulpour said. "This is a suspicious death for us human rights activists, and security forces were responsible for his life and they have to give answers."

The deaths in prison of Lotfollahi and Bani Yaghoub bear similarities to the 2003 unsolved death in prison of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi. Kazemi had been arrested for taking pictures of families of political prisoners in front of Tehran's notorious Evin prison. A few days later, Kazemi died of a brain hemorrhage after being transferred to a hospital.

Officials first said she had died of a stroke before later saying her head had hit a hard object and led to her death. Reports suggested she had been beaten in prison and received head injuries during interrogations.

Some five years after her death, no one has been held responsible and her case was recently sent to an appeal court for further review, although her family has said it has little confidence that Iranian justice will punish those responsible.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

At least 9 more students arrested

9 Student activists of the Tehrena Universities have been arrested . The nine are known to be:
- Morteza Eslahchi
-Anahita Hosseini
- Soroush Sabeti
- Mohammad Pourabdollah
- Sanaz Allahyari
- Amin Gazaei
- Soroush Dashtestani
- Bita Samimizad

Families of these students have declared that their beloved ones have not been in touch since the afternoon of 14 January and their mobile phones have been switched off. Amin GazaiiI and Soroush Dashtestani families have been approached by Intelligence Ministry agents who have searched their homes on 15 January; one day after the 9 had disappeared.

Apparently all detainees have been transferred to Evin Prison and there is no report on their conditions.

The latest arrests have raised the number of detained students after the recent demonstrations to at least 60 so far. On 4 December 30 students with leftist affiliations were arrested and taken to 209 Evin Prison.

According to student sources, Amir Mehrzad, a college student , who was arrested on charges of attempting to organize a demonstration in commemoration of the "Students Day" has been accorded a 80 million toman bail.(This amounts to 86 600 dollars) He has so far endured 45 days of solitary confinement in the 209 Evin Prison section. Mehrzad family has confirmed the news.

On 14 January, some of the families of the arrested students approached the notorious Evin prison and after several unsuccessful trials, finally met their beloved ones. The following detained students managed to see their families.

Keyvan Amiri Elyassi, Ali Salem, Nassim SoltanBeigi, Mohesen Gamin, Behrouz Karimizadeh, Ilnaz Jamshidi, Rouzbeh Safshekan, Anoushe Azadbar, Ali Kalaii.

According to information obtained during this visit, some of the detainees have been moved to mixed cells since 2 days ago, but others are still in solitary confinement.

The Intelligence Ministry has told families of Mehdi Geraylou and Sohrab Karimi that their sons are not allowed to have visits. Another student Saiid Habibi is also denies visits.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Releasing one detained student Vers reluctance to free the Amirkabir students

Ali Azizi a student activist and ex member of the central committee of Amirkabir University student union was released on 6 January of the New Year, after spending 63 days in prison.
Ali Azizi had been detained illegally after the security forces had ambushed his house. It has been reported that he was harshly beaten while being transferred to prison and later tortured.
Mr.Azizi has spent at least a month in solitary confinement after which he was transferred to another cell with 3 other inmates and was refused to have a barrister.
In conjunction to this event, despite the fact that the Judge of the public courts has ordered the release of the 3 detained Amirkabir University students, but the prison authorities have denied their release.
According to Mohamad ali Dadkhah, attorney to the imprisoned students- Ahmad Ghasaban, Majid Tavakoli and Ehsan Mansouri- prison authorities refuse to accept and carry out the official order of release.
Mr.Dadkhah has declared that he intends to meet the public court judge and later file a complaint against individuals who refuse to implement the order, as it is the most to be done.
The three students – who have been the topic of most student demonstrations recently- have been imprisoned since May 2007. They have been kept in the notorious Evin prison 209 section under the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Ministry, and have been heavily tortured to accept their charges. They were first charged with publishing matters which insult Islamic sacred values (referring to the Iranian leadership)

The three had rejected the charges and announced that the logos of the published new letters had been forged. The public court had annulled the following charges referred to these students: Insulting sacred values, Insulting the vicinity and integrity of the Moslem families, Insulting Imams of the Moslems, Insulting the citizens of Quom, Insulting women with Islamic hijab and youth obedient with Islamic principles, Insulting authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, nsulting the President, and University authoritiesRegardless of this annulment, prison authorities have refrained from releasing the students so far.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

5 Civil Rights activists tortured in detention

Families of Saeed Matinpour, writer and active human right journalist- Alireza Matin pour, Human right activist-Behrouz Saffari, Civil Right activist- Jalil Ganilou, journalist – Leila Heydari, Civil Right activist, have collectively expressed concern saying that their beloved ones are under physical and mental while in torture in detention.

The committee in defense of political prisoners of Iranian Azerbaijan, has expressed deep concerns in this relation. According to Leila Heidary's family , she and her husband have been tortured in front of one another while in prison.

The five have not received any official charges yet, but according to Alireza javanbakht, spokesman of the committee in defence of political prisoners of Iranian Azerbaijan , has explained that they are being held for acting against the States' security. They have not yet been allowed an barrister.

Mohammad reza Faghihi, who represents Saeed Matinpour, has approached the court for permission to see his client , but it was refused. According to families of the five detainees, they have been under constant torture in the detention centre of the Intelligence Ministry of " Zanjan", and the notorious Evin prison section 209. Under barbaric physical and psychological torture, they have passed out a lot of times and brought back to be yet tortured after temporary treatment in a hospital.

Saeed Matinpours' wife, Atieh Taheri has announced that her husband has been tortured to conduct TV broadcasting confessions against himself.

Saeed Matinpour was arrested along with his wife on May 25th 2007. He was a journalist at the " Yarpagh" Newspaper which was published in Azeri language.

Mr. Matinpours' arrest is believed to be for participating in a peaceful demonstration for the "International mother- tongue day" which is officially recognized by the United Nations.

The International organization in defense for the freedom of speech and press, recently condemned Iran for having imprisoned the largest number of journalists of its media in the whole Middle East. This organization declared "Many of the journalists have been scarified as a result of the crackdowns against the media by the Iranian government. They have been forced to appear in court and answer to allegations without any proof and become the elementary respondent."