Monthly Archives: July 2014

A new wave of arrests following heavy prison terms for Facebook users and cyber activists

Committee of Human Rights Reporters – In the course of the ongoing pressures and restrictions imposed on the country’s media and Internet outlets, sources have reported arrests of a number of Facebook users and cyber activists in Iran’s Khorasan province.

According to CHRR, on Sunday July 27, 2014, Security agents detained Hamid Hekmati, Esmail Izadi Farid Saremi, Ali Chinisaz, Zahra Kaebi, Farhad Salehi and one other individual in the city of Mashhad. Per reports plainclothes officials approached the cyber activists at the Khak Cultural Center, arrested all 7 of them and transferred them to an undisclosed location. In conjunction with the arrests, Security agents raided the homes of Esmail Izadi and Farid Saremi, conducted a massive search and confiscated their personal computers, documents, files and satellite equipment.

Despite efforts on the part of their families to obtain any information with days gone by since their detainment, the whereabouts and condition of these Facebook and cyber activists remains unknown.

Mr. Hekmati and Chinisaz, bloggers who have been critical of the ruling establishment were previously detained in 2009 during the mass uprisings following the contested presidential election results. Also during that time student activist Esmail Izadi received an official reprimand from the Disciplinary Committee stemming from his activities.

These new arrests come on the heels of other cases during the past months with a number of bloggers and Facebook activists detained and sentenced to very heavy prison terms. On February 16, 2014 Judge Moghiseh presiding over Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced eight people to prison terms combining about 127 years for Internet activities. The unusually harsh verdict stemmed from various charges including “gathering and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” “insulting the holy,” “blasphemy,” and “insulting heads of government branches.”

Reports indicate that IRGC’s Sarallah Base had monitored and pursued the individuals in the cities of Tehran, Shiraz, Kerman, Yazd and Abadan for months before their arrest in July 2013. Per reports these were isolated individuals who were not political activists but had simply shared their opinions on cyberspace, mostly on Facebook. Using rules from the old Penal Code and applying them to the new Islamic Penal Code, Judge Moghiseh notorious for his harsh sentences handed these individuals much tougher verdicts than usually allowed.

One of the eight, Roya Sabarinejad Nobakht, is a British national of Iranian descent who had travelled to Iran to visit relatives when she was arrested by Security agents and eventually received a 20-year prison sentence. Her heavy verdict stemmed from the charges of “gathering information with the intent to harm national security,” and “blasphemy.” For six years she and her husband who are both dual citizens of Iran and the United Kingdom lived in the city of Stockport located in the outskirts of Manchester U.K. Her husband told the Manchester Evening News that she was detained over comments she had made to friends in Facebook and online chat about Iran’s government being “too Islamic.”

The other 7 who were handed sentences by Judge Moghiseh and their verdicts are as follows:

Amir Golestani – 20 years; Masoud Ghasemkhani – 19 years & 91 days;  Fariborz Kardarfar – 8 years & 91 days;  Amin Akramipour – 13 years;  Seyed Masoud Talebi – 15 years;  Mehdi Reyshahri – 11 years;  Naghmeh Shahisavandi Shirazi – 7 years & 91 days.

On July 28 Reporters Without Borders published a report citing Iran as the world’s leading jailer of female journalists and netizens. In addition an RSF executive said “with 65 journalists and netizens in prison, Iran is still one of the world’s biggest prisons for people working in the media.” Per the freedom of press rankings for 2014, Iran is ranked 173 out of 180 countries.


Iran jaied netizens


Extension of medical furlough denied for Bahareh Hedayat despite kidney stone surgery

Bahareh Hedayat was summoned back to prison by the prosecutor’s office despite her need for aftercare after undergoing kidney stone surgery.

According to Kaleme, political prisoner Bahareh Hedayat was finally granted medical furlough for surgery last week but was summoned back behind bars by the prosecutor’s office despite presenting medical documents stating her need for surgery confirmed by the state medical examiner and prison medics.

As a result this political prisoner who was hospitalized yesterday and underwent a surgical treatment to remove her kidney stones has to return to prison per orders of the prosecutor’s office despite recommendation by the physicians that she receive two weeks of aftercare for her recovery.

Amin Ahmadian, Bahareh’s Hedayat’s husband discussed the situation with Kaleme. “Yesterday an extension of medical furlough for Bahreh and for [jailed journalist] Mr. Zeidabadi was refused even though for the past 3 months we have pursued a medical furlough for surgical treatment of kidney stones and we presented all the medical documents to the prosecutor’s office.”

He said, “All the documents were in order, the state medical examiner had confirmed everything and the prison infirmary corroborated the need for surgery. The prosecutor’s office saw all the medical documents, which were to be dispatched. Finally last week we were able to secure medical furlough. But even though we had all the legal medical documents that the prosecutor’s office had required which were verified by the physicians, the prosecutor’s office refused to allow the needed time.”

Bahareh Hedayat’s husband explained, “Yesterday we were contacted at Hasheminejad Hospital and told that she must return to prison. Bahareh was on the hospital bed and no matter how much we explained that she has just undergone a surgical treatment to remove kidney stones which has a process for aftercare, that if she returns to prison she could encounter complications, that prison does not have the needed facility to care for this illness- they did not relent and insisted she must go back to prison.”

Bahareh Hedayat, born in 1981, women’s activist and student activist at Tehran University of Economic Sciences, was a member of the Central Council and spokesperson for the Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat [Office for Strengthening Unity] student organization. She was arrested in December 2009 and after spending months in solitary confinement while being interrogated, in April 2010 Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Moghiseh sentenced Hedayat to 7.5 years in prison on charges of “gathering and collusion against the regime,” “insulting the leadership,” and “insulting the presidency and propagating against the regime.”

The Revolutionary Court also ordered a previous suspended 2-year prison sentence to be served. That sentence had been handed for “acting against national security by organizing a June 12 gathering in 2006.”  With this additional time Bahareh Hedayat was ordered to serve 9.5 years in prison. In August 2010, Branch 54 of the Tehran Appellate Court upheld the 9.5year prison sentence for Bahareh Hedayat.

Also while behind bars, this political prisoner along with Majid Tavakoli and Mahdieh Golrou were handed an additional 6-month prison term by another court on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” for writing material that was released from prison. This brought Bahareh Hedayat’s prison term to 10 years.

Bahareh Hedayat who is known as the symbol of Iranian students was held for a long time in the methadone ward of Evin prison among drug offenders in order to inflict additional stress and pressure. She was also denied her right to visitation for extended periods of time. In 2012 while behind bars, this student and women’s rights activist was awarded the inaugural Edelstam Prize by Sweden’s Harold Edelstam Foundation for “extraordinary courage and commitment to justice, and active against human rights violations in Iran.”


Bahareh Hedayat hospital




Reza Shahabi in worrisome health continues hunger strike after 37 days

Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Labor activist Reza Shahabi held in Rajai Shahr prison has lost 15 kilograms and lost consciousness several times in the past days while he continues his hunger strike that has now exceeded 37 days.

CHRR reports that according to the Committee to Defend Reza Shahabi, the labor activist has severe fluctuations in his blood pressure prompting his transfer by his cellmates to the prison infirmary several times. But Shahabi refused to have a serum administered at the infirmary and his health is plummeting at an alarming rate.

Reza Shahabi, a prominent labor activist and board member of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) was already in poor health before he launched his hunger strike in prison. The left side of his body was paralyzed and physicians had requested an immediate disc and spinal surgery.

At the same time Reza Shahabi’s family has on numerous occasions gone to the Tehran Prosecutor’s office (mr. Khodabakhsh) to request an order to perform surgery but never received an answer. In light of being ignored by mr. Khodabkhsh, Reza Shahabi’s family has threatened to also go on hunger strike in protest.

Mr. Shahabi went on hunger strike on June 1st when he was illegally transferred from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr prison. In a letter to the Tehran Prosecutor Shahabi criticized the sub-standard conditions in Rajai Shahr prison and also stated his demands for ending his hunger strike as follows:

1-    be returned to Evin prison Ward 350

2-    be granted sick leave for medical treatment and disc operation

3-    implementation of Article 134 of the new Islamic Penal Code

4-    enforcement of legal medical furlough

Reza Shahabi hunger strike