Monthly Archives: September 2012

Nargues recounts existence at Gharchak prison in Varamin

Committee of Human Rights Reporters –  Most people did not know about the dismal conditions in Gharchak prison until May 2011, when a number of female prisoners of conscience were transferred to this facility that is dubbed “Kahrizak the second.” Disturbing news came out about the abysmal state of this facility where a large number of female prisoners are being held with no access to their basic human rights. When the world was alerted to the substandard conditions at Gharchak, the plan to transfer all female prisoners of conscience to this facility was halted. However the female inmates who are held there today are still subjected to living under miserable conditions.

In describing this facility, the families of prisoners said, “the prison is over capacity with 7 cells that cram about 2000 prisoners in a space that can barely hold a third of this number. The buildings are very old with the feel of the most basic storage unit, with stone floors and concrete walls covered with sharp glass. The moment a person enters into the grounds, they are greeted with the stench of old stables and poultry. Each cell consists of 4 rows of beds, 3 stories high against the wall, with 3 rows in the middle, holding about 300 prisoners. The spaces between the beds are very compact; it is not possible to sit and the prisoners have to lie down when on the small beds. There is barely space to stand, so they end up having to lie in their beds most of the time.”

Following is an account by Nargues, a female inmate behind bars at Gharchak prison.

2am, Cell 5, Cabin 8

Fall is approaching followed by the unpleasant cold of the winter.

After 10 years of imprisonment it is as if I am now tormented with intense torture boiling deep in my blood and bones. I fail to comprehend what kind of human being could have come up with the idea to create such a hell to house 2000 women and on average 55 toddlers under the age of 2 years old.

Tonight “the dog” was on duty as inspector. That is what the prisoners call the official who brings in the drugs. The drug dealer passed the crystal to the prisoners on duty as night guards, and  left. The night guards then casually sat on their chairs and did their knitting. The shift changes at 4am. The drug dealers are sitting behind their bed curtains packing small bags for tomorrow’s sale. For a few moments I gaze around the ward; about 200 people in 25 by 12 meter cells sleeping crammed against each other, sometimes awakened by the whimpers of the drug addicts.

The thought of Sakineh Fatemi, the 19-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted does not leave my mind. What answer must this girl with a broken spirit give to her religious family? In prison, the “men” in the ward take note of any woman they deem as being attractive. These “men” are actually women who enjoy pretending to be masculine. They especially thrive on spotting a young inmate, and offer her drugs in exchange for sex. If she agrees they are happy and if she does not agree, they rape her. I have sometimes witnessed them show no mercy even to the toddlers under 2 years old. I don’t know why some human beings become this way and take out their own misfortunes on others.

My whole existence is filled with anger and sorrow. I have rage towards the officials who attack the ward several times a day using excuses to punch and kick inmates, use cables and clubs on women and their children. I have witnessed old women who were not able to flee fast enough and were severely beaten by the guards.

To get some relief from these festering dark thoughts I walk towards the infirmary, if you can call it that, to smoke a cigarette. The sewer system of this hellhole is such that every so often the wells overflow. The stench is so strong that walking in the pathway to the infirmary becomes impossible. All areas become infested with dirt and feces causing queasiness and nausea; an array of retching diseases come our way.

When I went to lie down on my bed, my eyes fell upon an old woman by the name of Manijeh Golifam. Manijeh suffered a brain stroke, causing her brain to diminish with every day that goes by. She doesn’t have the means to pay the medical fee, which is less than $30 for an examination and medical furlough. So she must  endure her illness within the challenges of prison.

I want to sit in the middle of this damn cell and holler at all this wretched injustice. I finally fall into sleep induced by a few pills. At dawn I am jolted out of sleep to the yelling of the guards. It is time to march to the open-air area that packs  400 inmates  for the head-count.

Today is the birthday of Maryam Mohed who is known as Arash. As one of her friends, I must do something for her so she can have a nice day. Even though buried behind any smile or laughter there is deep misery, we try at least to give each other some solace when we can.

Arash is a young girl who came into this world alone and out of luck. She had nothing and nobody who cared about her. She cut her hair short out of desperation to do any work just to survive. She was used by a swindler, was arrested with his drugs and was sentenced to life in prison. Nobody ever visits her and nobody ever calls her. She doesn’t even have any memories from a time when she was not in this hellhole.

When I saw Arash outside I hugged her and said, “happy brother bro.” She was so happy and said, “will you throw me a birthday celebration?” I promised her a good birthday and with some friends in our group we went to the prison store and with the small amount we had in our cards we were able to buy some snacks and jam and cream, put them together and created what we called a cake. We put our creation in the prison’s only refrigerator, which resembles a worn out dresser. Then we all went and put gifts together and we each gave Arash the best item we had.

That night Kajal sang Kurdish songs, some sang Farsi songs, and others rapped. We all loved the rap. At the end of the night we sat in a circle and we all made wishes. We told Arash to go first and she wished for a day when she could bathe with warm water, in a clean shower, with nice running water that was unpolluted, that did not leave the taste of salt in her mouth, without someone constantly yelling “hurry up, get out, it is my turn.”

The water at Gharchak prison is dirty and salty. The prison doctors even tell us not to use the water for brushing our teeth. Each ward gets a small ration of unsalted water and it gets shut off fast. Worms and chicken feathers are seen in the water. The Women’s City Council has promised to put a pipe for clean water in the new ward that Mr. Ghalibaf is building but the inmates don’t have much hope for that to happen.

It is Kazal’s turn to make a wish. “I wish we had chicken kababs. I have not eaten chicken kabab in 2 years.” Pegah immediately opened a can of chicken, put a chunk on her fork, and burned it with her lighter. So she granted Kazal her wish even though her chicken kabab was not the real thing. When my turn came I wished that we always stand up for each other’s rights and forever share our joy and misery.

One person put out her hand and we all put a hand on top of the other’s. Our friendships are solid and faithful. My friends are not famous, they have no money and no one to bring them colorful clothes every month. But they do have souls that are shining, they have devotion and loyalty; you know that if you ever have a fever, they will die for you.

To be continued.

Nargues Gharchak prison, Varamin


Nargues recounts existence at Gharchak prison in Varamin 

Kurdish prisoner Anvar Hossein Panahi in unknown and worrisome situation

Committee of Human Rights Reporters –  Several days have gone by since the transfer of Anvar Hossein Panahi from Sanandaj central prison; there is no news of his situation. Authorities of the Ministry of Intelligence have opened another case for this political and civil activist. A source close to the family of Hossein Panahi has told CHRR that last Thursday he was transferred from the central prison in Sanandaj to the detention center at the Ministry of Intelligence where he is under further interrogations.

According to this source Panahi is being subjected to additional pressures because the Ministry of Intelligence is questioning his activities during the short time he had been released on furlough. During that time Panahi had inquired about the situation of some of his cellmates and their families. In so doing he is accused of contacting their lawyers and activists by the Ministry of Intelligence and they have created a new file for him.

Per this report on Saturday September 21st, the family of Hossein Panahi visited the Sanandaj central prison to follow up on his situation and was told by prison officials that he had been transferred from that location.

The Revolutionary Court first sentenced Anvar Hossein Panahi, Kurdish social and political activist, to death. After tireless efforts and protests on the part of human rights activists, his death sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

However officials of the Ministry of Intelligence have told the family of Hossein Panahi that in their view the death sentence should not have been upheld and he should have remained on death row.


Kurdish prisoner Anvar Hossein Panahi in unknown and worrisome situation  

Anwar Hossein Panahi

Arrest of 2 poets, Habib Mousavi Bibalani and Nima Safar Saflai

Committee of Human Rights Reporters- According to trusted sources, on September 14th security agents entered a poetry forum in Gorgan and arrested 2 contemporary poets.

According to the obtained report, after detaining the 2 poets security agents went to the poets’ residences and conducted a search, seizing their personal belongings and their computers.

During the past year, a number of contemporary poets have been threatened and harassed, such as Hila Sedighi, Mohammad Reza Ali Payam, and Mostafa Badkoobei, who all received prison sentences.

CHRR  Arrest of 2 poets, Habib Mousavi Bibalani and Nima Safar Saflai

Habib Mousavi Bibalani & Nima Safar

Labor activist Alireza Asgari released from prison

Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Alireza Asgari, labor activist and member of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations, was released from Karaj Central Prison.

This labor activist was released after receiving a suspended sentence and he is now awaiting a ruling from the appellate court.

Alireza Asgari was violently arrested along with 60 Coordinating Committee members on June 15, 2012 after security forces raided the annual general membership of the Coordinating Committee. Alireza was put on trial with another member on August 4, 2012 by Branch 4 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Karaj and received a one-year prison sentence for the charge of “acting against national security through formation of an illegal group, the Coordinating Committee.”

Alireza who was in perfect health before his arrest and beatings, got very sick during his incarceration. Due to the lack of care while behind bars, his illnesses have worsened and he is now in very poor health.


علیرضا عسگری، فعال کارگری از زندان آزاد شد

Alireza Asgari

Soroush Sabet entered Evin prison to serve 2-year sentence

Committee of Human Rights Reporters-  Soroush Sabet, an elite left-wing university student whose charges stemmed from taking part in left-wing protests in 2007, had been handed a 2-year prison sentence. On Sunday September 2nd this student was transferred to ward 350 at Evin prison to serve his sentence.

Judge Moghiseh notified Soursh’s attorney Mahnaz Parakand of the 2-year sentence on November 2, 2009 and Branch 16 of the Tehran Appellate Court upheld the ruling.

Soroush Sabet, bronze winner of the Computer Olympiad in 2002, came in second at the Mathematics Olympiad the same year. In 2009 he scored the highest ranking, coming in first in his year’s qualification examinations.

This left-wing student has now started serving his 2-year sentence stemming from the charges of “endangering national security” and “gathering and collusion to disrupt public security.”


Soroush Sabet

5-year prison sentence and exile to the city of Zabol for activist Kouhyar Goudarzi has been upheld by the court of appeals

Committee of Human Rights Reporters – The appellate court has upheld the 5-year prison sentence in exile at Zabol forKouhyar Goudarzi, human rights activist and member of CHRR. Dr. Alizadeh Tabatabai in an interview with Committee of Human Rights Reporters confirmed this news and said the sentence for Kouhyar Goudarzi has been upheld.

Alizadeh Tabatabai said in regards to the case file of Kouhyar Goudarzi, “The judge in charge, Mr. Pourarab said after carefully reviewing the case he would suggest an acquittal. After the month of Ramadan when I followed up on this case, I noticed that the sentence was upheld and the judge in charge said his suggestion for an acquittal was not accepted. Two other judges reviewed the case file and they also recommended an acquittal based on their findings. But despite the findings of the judges and my protests, the prison sentence was upheld because unfortunately the Ministry of Intelligence is very sensitive to this case file.”

Kouhyar Goudarzi, blogger, activist and member of Committee of Human Rights Reporters was detained in Tehran on July 31, 2011 and spent over 50 days in solitary confinement. He had no contact with family for 3 months after which he was able to call and he was denied any visitation with family until the day he was released. After being held for 8 months in ward 209 of Evin prison, Kouhyar Goudarzi was released on bail of 100 million tomans ($200,000).

In 2010 while blogger and human rights activist Kouhyar Goudarzi was incarcerated, he was awarded the prestigious Freedom of the Press prize from the National Press Club.

5-year prison sentence and exile to the city of Zabol for activist Kouhyar Goudarzi has been upheld by the court of appeals

Kouhyar Goudarzi

Hossein Ronaghi in dire physical health at Tabriz prison

P.C.E.D – Hossein Ronaghi, blogger and human rights activist who was among the detained earthquake aid volunteers, is suffering from dangerous internal bleeding of his kidneys. Hossein is being held in a facility in Eastern Azerbaijan and despite his dangerous condition, his release and medical care have been denied.

Hossein Ronaghi who suffers from a severe kidney ailment and has undergone several surgeries, required hospitalization in the past days to receive emergency care for his deteriorating heath. Judicial authorities and security agents in charge have refused to acknowledge Hossein’s medical needs despite the fact that his life his in danger as a result of severe internal bleeding in his kidneys.

On August 22, 2012 Hossein Ronaghi was detained along with his father and brother, Ahmad and Hasan Ronagi Maleki, along with 33 other volunteers and social activists who had gone to the aid of earthquake victims in the province of Azerbaijan. The volunteers were violently detained at their campsite at Sarande by security agents. Some of the volunteers [including Hossein’s father Ahmad and brother Hasan] have since been released on bail but judicial authorities have not disclosed any information regarding a possibility of release for Hossein Ronaghi and a number of other detainees.


Hossein Ronaghi