IRAN: Harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders continues

Paris-Geneva, March 10, 2014. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, deplores the continued harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders in Iran.
On March 2, 2014, Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Ms. Maryam Shafi’pour to seven years’ imprisonment as well as a two-year ban on media and online activities for her activities as a students’ rights defender, after finding her guilty of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “assembly and collusion against national security”. Ms. Shafi’pour has been detained since July 27, 2013 in Tehran’s Evin Prison, and spent two months in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer. She was also reportedly beaten up and tortured during her pre-trial detention. To substantiate the charges against her, the authorities had accused her of “contacts with families of political prisoners and helping them”, “membership of a student organisation campaigning against discrimination in education”, “contacts with foreign media”, and “contacts with leaders of sedition during their house arrest”.

In addition, on March 2, 2014, two Dervishes’ rights defenders and administrators of the Majzooban Noor website, namely Mr. Farshid Yadollahi, a lawyer and member of the Human Rights Commission of the Bar Association, and Mr. Reza Entessari, a photojournalist, were unexpectedly transferred together with Mr. Saeed Madani, an Iranian sociologist and human rights activist, to Rajaishahr prison, close to the city of Karaj, 60 km west from the capital Tehran.

Mr. Saeed Madani was sentenced in June 2013 by Branch 26 of Islamic Revolution Court to six years’ imprisonment (four years of it imprisonment in exile) and 10 years life in exile, and his sentence was upheld on appeal in February. Messrs. Farshid Yadollahi and Reza Entessari were sentenced by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court in July 2013 to seven years and six months and eight years and six months in prison respectively, for “establishment of the Majzooban Noor illegal group with intent to undermine the national security, spreading propaganda against the system, insulting the Leader, and complicity in disrupting the public order”. The Observatory considers that this transfer to Rajai Shahr is a punishment both for these defenders and their families and tantamount to imprisonment in exile, which does not exist in the Iranian law. Mr. Yadollahi’s family lives in the Southern city of Shiraz, the relatives of Mr. Entessari in Kish Island, Persian Gulf, and Mr. Madani’s relatives in Tehran.

In addition, Messrs. Shahrokh Zamani and Rassoul Bodaghi, two imprisoned trade unionists, have been recently facing heavy-handed harassment in Rajaishahr prison. They are respectively members of the provisional board for reopening the Building Painting Workers Syndicate, and Teachers Association of Iran. Mr. Shahrokh Zamani was taken to the Intelligence Office based in the prison on March 5, and accused of issuing and signing critical statements. During the interrogation, Mr. Shahrokh Zamani protested and complained that signals transmitted by mobile-phone jamming units installed in the prison in October 2013 had caused psychological and physical sicknesses to a number of prisoners. Other prisoners or their families have also made similar complaints in recent months. On February 15, the prison authorities had sent Messrs. Shahrokh Zamani and Rassoul Bodaghi to solitary confinement in response to their protest against the closure of the library of the prison’s Ward 12, but returned them to the Ward after they and their cellmates went on hunger strike. Subsequently, on February 22, the two were summoned to Karaj Prosecutor’s Office, where they were charged with rioting and disrupting order in prison, as a result of which they may face new judicial proceedings and sentencing.

The Observatory was also informed that Mr. Mohammad Jarrahi, another member of the provisional board for reopening the Building Painting Workers Syndicate, who is also imprisoned in Rajaishahr prison, suffers from cancer. His life in danger as he is denied the necessary medical care and treatment.

Finally, the Observatory was informed that the Province’s Appeals Court upheld the sentences of Messrs. Khosro Kordpour and Massoud Kordpour, brothers and respectively editor of and correspondent with the Mukrian News Agency, reporting mainly about the conditions of civil rights activists, political prisoners and human rights violations in particular in the Iranian Kurdish-inhabited regions and cities. On November 9, 2013, the Islamic Revolution Court of Mahabad had sentenced Mr. Khosro Kordpour to five years in prison to be served in internal exile in Tabriz prison as well as two years of internal exile in the city of Kerman for “assembly and collusion”, and to one additional year in prison for “spreading propaganda”. Mr. Massoud Kordpour had been sentenced to three years in prison for “assembly and collusion” and to six months’ imprisonment for “spreading propaganda”. In an opinion adopted during its 68th session on November 20, 2013, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found their detention to be arbitrary and therefore requested their release.

The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these human rights defenders as well as all human rights defenders presently detained in the country, to put an end to ill-treatment of detainees and to the unlawful imposition of exile imprisonment, and to comply with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.

For further information, please contact:
FIDH: Audrey Couprie / Arthur Manet : + 33 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: + 41 22 809 49 39

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