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This week in human rights in Iran- May 10, 2013



Being sent to solitary confinement then released after a hunger strike has become common practice for prisoners in Iran. This can be seen as a success for prisoners and human right activists who forced the Iranian government to meet their demands. It can also be seen as an attempt by the government to use this trend as another form of punishment. The government can use confinement as a means to instigate prisoners to go on a hunger strike so they would then not only suffer from the harsh conditions of solitary confinement, but health issues as well.
On May 5, Shirin Ebadi, former judge, human rights activist and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, sent an open letter to Ahmad Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur On Human Rights In Iran. The letter requested that he remind the Iranian government of its responsibility towards protecting and adhering to the rights of prisoners. In another open letter this week, 788 university students reminded Mohammad Khatami that he once said Iran can not go forward with elections without addressing the conditions and demands of political prisoners and those arrested after the 2009 presidential election. The students believe that if Khatami were a presidential candidate he would be an advocate for prison rights and have a platform in which he could address the demands of political prisoners.
On May 8, after a 10 day hunger strike, Evin Prison authorities released 10 political prisoners from solitary confinement. Saeed Madani, Abdollah Momeni, Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, Siamak Qaderi, Amir Khosro Dalir Sani, Mohammad Hassan Yousof Pour Seifi, Saeed Abedini, Kamran Iyazi, Mohammad Ebrahimi and Pouriya Ebrahimi spent 11 days in solitary confinement in security ward 240 for protesting the illegal replacement of their ward’s advocate. Each ward elects an advocate to follow up on the demands of prisoners and communicate with prison authorities. Also in Evin Prison this week, Baqer Asadi, an Iranian diplomat arrested in March, is believed to be held in solitary confinement. Reasons for his arrest are still unclear, but last week Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called the arrest a misunderstanding.
Also on May 8, the mother of Amir Sheibani, a political prisoner in Vakil Abad Prison, claimed that prison guards and another prisoner attacked her son. The attack caused internal bleeding, but prison authorities ignored the hospitals advice and denied him treatment. Sheibani was returned to his prison ward, exposing him to more violence by prison guards and inmates.
This week, Amir Hekmati, an ex-US marine imprisoned in Iran for over two years on charges of conspiracy against the Islamic regime, was granted permission to have monthly visits and send letters to his family in the United States. Amir’s sister shared a letter with the media and noted that he did not discuss prison condition but mentions that he is in good health. Also this week, BBC Persian TV did an exclusive interview with Mansour Osanslou, a famous labor union activists and a founding member of the Tehran bus company union. In his interview, Osanslou, who spent many years in Iranian prisons, discussed the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran and Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj. Osanlou secretly left Iran for Turkey when he received threats against his life from Iran’s secret service.
Freedom of Speech Violations
On May 5, Ali Gazali, editor of Baztab news website was arrested after publishing a report claiming that a tape exists of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussing voter fraud after the 2009 with other Iranian authorities. The website was shut down after his arrest.
Also this week, according to several sources, Internet speed slowed down as many Internet proxies stopped working. Iranians use Internet proxies to bypass filtering and censorship by the regime. In similar news, on May 7, Reporters Without Borders released a report claiming, “the regime wants to isolate Iran, [and] hold the election behind close doors.” According to the report, new restrictions on Internet access intends to deprive Iranians of news and information.
Fair Trials
On May 5, Gohar Eshghi, the mother of blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died while in custody of the Cyber Police, once again spoke out against the delay in processing her son’s case. She called the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, saying, “If we live in an Islamic country, why is it that the murder of my son is not prosecuted?” While the head of the Tehran Cyber Police was dismissed, the case has not been officially processed by the judiciary.
The 7th session of Kahrizak detention center trial was held on May 7. The main topic of discussion during the session was the legality of the detention center. Ali Akbar Heidari Fard, a high ranking judiciary and key suspect in the trial, testified claiming that the detention center is legal, that it was never closed and it is still operating under the name of Soroush 111.
Minority Rights Violations
On May 7, in the southern city of Ahwaz, Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh, his wife Shahnaz Jayzan and two other members of the church of Ahwaz, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani Members, were called to prison to begin serving their sentences. The Revolutionary court announced the charges as, “converting to Christianity and propagating against the Islamic regime through evangelism.”
Human Rights Organizations
Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, along with a group of human rights defenders, launched a center for supporters of human rights. The center focuses on raising awareness of human rights issues in the Middle East and particularly in Iran.

Nabz Iran