As women around the world are starting a new year on March 8, International Women’s Day, we are happy to bring you the Annual Report 2021 of the NCRI Women’s Committee.
This is an effort every year to shed light on the various aspects of women’s life and struggle in Iran and violations of their basic rights as stipulated in the CEDAW and BPfA.
This year, however, all the issues had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to address them all.
As we are publishing our Annual Report 2021, the COVID-19 has exacted a death toll of at least 230,000 from our nation of 85 million. As the country is going through the fourth peak, the mullahs’ leader has banned the purchase of vaccines from other countries, promising to start inoculating everyone next spring.
In the meantime, the economy is in shambles and poverty is spreading by the day leading to harrowing incidents, such as parents selling their liver and heart – yes, heart – to provide for the expenses of their families. Sometimes, they do not find any solution but to take the lives of their own children and then kill themselves.
But despite the misery the treacherous mullahs have inflicted on Iran’s great nation, there is great hope for change. The courageous women of Iran are holding up the beacon of hope in the dark of the night.
Women who demonstrated their heroism in five nationwide uprisings are now organizing resistance units and preparing for more protests and uprisings.
The mothers of execution victims and the victims of the November 2019 uprising as well as the families of the victims of the Ukrainian Airliner downed by the IRGC, remained vocal throughout the year, seeking justice for their children.
Their quest for justice spreads hope in society for prosecution of the regime’s leaders.
We excluded all these issues and summarized the parts dealing specifically with women’s basic rights, and yet we ended up with a book double the size of the previous reports.
We hope to have brought to light the most crucial issues concerning Iranian women, namely the Iranian regime’s brutal attempt to suppress all and every voice of freedom, the various aspects of violence against women both sponsored by the state or promoted by state laws and policies, and the whopping gender gap in Iran as a result of gender discrimination in all fields.
As we begin another year on March 8, we are filled with hope and confidence that the courageous women of Iran will bring about regime change and realize the dawn of freedom on their homeland. And in this effort, they hope to enjoy the support and recognition of human rights and women’s rights advocates from around the world.
NCRI Women’s Committee – March 2021
Clampdown on opponents and human rights defenders
One of the most serious violations of women’s rights in Iran is the persecution and suppression of opponents and human rights defenders. This is one of the main forms of violence against women in Iran carried out by full support of the government and under the careful supervision of the Judiciary.
For exercising their freedom of speech and opinion, the Iranian regime arbitrarily and violently arrests opponents of the ruling religious fascism and human rights defenders in Iran. They are even brutalized on the way to prison. Then they are confined in solitary cells without standing trial. They endure great pressure and various forms of psychological and physical tortures under interrogation. Often, they are not allowed to contact their families and inform them of their place of detention let alone, having visits or access to lawyer.
These brave women who dare to oppose the mullahs’ savage regime or defend human rights, are deprived of the due process of law. In unfair trials and without having access to a lawyer, they are sentenced to disproportionate prison sentences.
On numerous instances, prisoners have to endanger their health by going on hunger strike as a last resort to achieve their demands.
Throughout the past year, the Coronavirus pandemic aggravated the already abysmal conditions in Iranian prisons. The mullahs’ regime deliberately refused to provide minimum equipment to prisons to fight the virus. They did not grant leaves to prisoners and particularly political prisoners until the end of the pandemic.
Even the pandemic did not stop the regime from its arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, torture, mistreatment of prisoners and issuing heavy jail sentences for opponents and human rights defenders, sending more of them to jail.
In fact, the clerical regime took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, using the virus to put further pressure on its political opponents and physically eliminate them.
By violating the principle of separation of prisoners’ categories, the regime banished political prisoners and confined them in prisons beside common and dangerous criminals. It thereby prepared the grounds for their physical elimination. In some instances, prison authorities hire dangerous prisoners to murder their political opponents.
One of the regime’s common practices is torturing political prisoners by depriving them of medical treatment. The method proved even more efficient during the pandemic. Prisoners infected by the virus were detained in contaminated sub-standard quarantines, and left unattended as a bid to torture and murder them.
The information available on political prisoners in Iran is scarce and incomplete. The following pages provide the available information on these prisoners.
Political Prisoners Supporting the Opposition PMOI/MEK
In the past year and particularly after the November 2019 uprising in Iran, the clerical regime made a considerable number of arbitrary arrests among supporters of its main opposition force, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The Annual Report 2021 contains information on some of these prisoners.
Political prisoner Zahra Safaei was arrested along with her daughter, Parastoo Mo’ini, on February 24, 2020.
They were interrogated in the Intelligence Ministry Ward 209 in Evin Prison and pressured to appear on TV and make confessions against themselves.
After completion of their interrogations, they were banished to the notorious Qarchak Prison in mid-April and detained among common criminals.
Zahra Safaei, 57, was a political prisoner for 8 years in the 1980s. Her father, Hassan Ali Safaei, was a renowned and popular Bazaar businessman in Tehran. He was executed in 1981 for supporting the PMOI/MEK.
Ms. Safaei was temporarily released on bail on June 28, 2020. In less than a month, however, she rearrested on July 26, and returned to Qarchak Prison.
Ms. Safaei has been threated to death by dangerous prisoners in Qarchak in the months of June, August, November and December. She has also been battered several times by prisoners hired by the prison’s warden.
She suffered a heart stroke while in detention and more recently has been suffering from pain in the kidneys. Her health has deteriorated but Qarchak Prison authorities have prevented her dispatch to a civic hospital for treatment.
On January 23, 2021, Zahra Safaei was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Her daughter, Parastoo, and her son, Mohammad Massoud Mo’ini, were sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment, each.
Political prisoner Parastoo Mo’ini, 20, was arrested on February 24, 2020. She was incarcerated in the notorious Intelligence Ministry Ward 209 in Evin Prison. For nearly two months, she was under pressure to appear on TV and make confessions against herself.
She was finally banished to Qarchak Prison in mid-April.
On September 14, 2020, Parastoo Mo’ini and Forough Taghipour were attacked by two hired inmates who attempted to pour boiling water on their head and faces. But their cellmates prevented the assailants from doing so.
Ms. Mo’ini also contracted the Coronavirus while in detention in Qarchak.
She was once again badly brutalized and injured on December 13, 2020, during a vicious raid on their ward.
On January 23, 2021, Parastoo Mo’ini was sentenced to a total of 6 years’ imprisonment; 5 years for supporting the PMOI/MEK, and 1 year for “propaganda against the state.”
Political prisoner Forough Taghipour, 25, and her mother, Nassim Jabbari, were arrested on February 24, 2020.
Mrs. Jabbari, 58, was released on bail in mid-March, but Forough remained in detention and under interrogation. In mid-April, she was banished to Qarchak Prison.
Forough Taghipour and Parastoo Mo’ini have been under tremendous pressure. Inmates hired and incited by the warden of Qarchak have harassed and attacked them several times.
Forough Taghipour contracted the COVID-19 while in detention in Qarchak.
On January 5, 2020, a Tehran court convened and arraigned Forough Taghipour and her mother of their charge of “propaganda against the state.” But the judge also threatened to hand down a verdict for Moharebeh (waging war on God). Ms. Taghipour rejected this charge and announced that she was not guilty.
Massoumeh Senobari is 33 with one child. She was arrested on February 24, 2019 and taken under interrogation. Her calf broke under savage torture during interrogation. The sole of her foot fractured and her vision turned blurry among other consequences she suffered due to torture. She has been sentenced to a total of 8 years in prison and is presently detained in the Central Prison of Tabriz among common criminals. She contracted the COVID-19 in prison.
Ms. Senobari also suffers from a heart disease, but prison authorities have prevented granting her a medical leave or even giving her the medicines provided by her family. Recently, she has been suffering from pain in the breast due to a mass suspected of being cancerous. The authorities of the Prison of Tabriz have not allowed her sonography and medical examination.
Nejat Anvar Hamidi
Nejat Anvar Hamidi, 62, was incarcerated in March 2019 to serve her 15-year sentence in Sepidar Prison of Ahvaz. She suffers from Thyroid malfunction, high blood pressure, and blood lipid. Ms. Anvar Hamidi’s vision is also at risk. Sepidar Prison authorities have deprived her from receiving her medications. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she contracted the virus and was quarantined while deprived of medical attention.
Nejat Anvar Hamidi was imprisoned for 28 months during the 1980s. She was arrested again in 2017 for supporting the PMOI/MEK and sentenced to imprisonment in March 2019.
Nahid Fat’halian is a retired teacher. Security forces arrested her on April 14, 2020 and took her to women’s ward of Evin Prison after several days of interrogation.
Ms. Fat’halian actively participated in aiding flood-stricken people in spring 2019. The Revolutionary Court of Tehran convened her trial on September 16, 2020.
Aghdas Pour Eshragh
Aghdas Pour Eshragh, 64 and a teacher, was arrested in Narmak district of Tehran on July 26, 2020. She was detained and interrogated in the notorious Intelligence Ministry Ward 209 of Evin Prison.
Two sisters of Ms. Pour Eshragh have been killed in struggle against the regime. Soghra Pour Eshragh was executed in 1983 and Massoumeh Pour Eshragh was killed in March 2003.
Mrs. Maryam Nassiri, 62, was arrested on August 17, 2020, in Qal’eh Hassan Khan (Tehran Province). She was detained and interrogated under torture in solitary confinement at Ward 209 of Evin Prison.
In October, she was relocated to Qarchak Prison. Ms. Nassiri is a lawyer and mother of four. She was imprisoned for three years in the 1980s for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Khadijeh (Yalda) Imamdoust
Khadijeh (Yalda) Imamdoust, 47, is an athlete and a champion marathon runner. Intelligence agents arrested Ms. Imamdoust at her home in Isfahan on May 31, 2020. She was incarcerated for two months in Dowlatabad Prison of Isfahan where she was interrogated while held in solitary confinement. She is charged with “propaganda against the state.”
A retired teacher, Zeinab Hamrang, was arrested in the city of Khoy on August 31, 2020. Mrs. Hamrang who is 45 and from the city of Ardabil, was traveling with her daughter to West Azerbaijan. She was moved to Evin Prison in Tehran on September 5, 2020, to serve her prison sentence. She has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for alleged “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.”
Ms. Farangis Mazloum, the mother of political prisoner Soheil Arabi, was sentenced to a total of 6 years in prison by Branch 29 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on July 8, 2020.
The decision was made in her absence and without a trial. She was sentenced to 5 years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security” through alleged contact with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and to another 1 year for “propaganda against the state.”
The Appeals Court subsequently commuted her sentence to 18 months on August 25, and informed her lawyer on October 20, 2020.
Mrs. Mazloum was arrested on July 22, 2019. She was imprisoned and tortured in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for several months in 2019 for following up on the case of her imprisoned son.
Banishment and abrupt relocation of female political prisoners
Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian was abruptly relocated from Kermanshah Prison to the Prison of Yazd on November 9, 2020. The security guards did not offer any explanation. This was the fourth time in six months when Zeinab Jalalian was being relocated from one prison to the other.
A team of security forces first appeared in the Prison of Khoy on April 28, 2020, and took her away without presenting the reason. On May 2, it became evident that she had been taken to several prisons and finally to Qarchak Prison in Varamin.
Ms. Jalalian contracted the COVID-19 while incarcerated in Qarchak Prison. Despite suffering from asthma, she was abandoned without medical treatment.
Ms. Jalalian started a hunger strike on June 20, 2020, demanding to be returned to the Prison of Khoy and to receive medical treatment. Nevertheless, she was brutalized and transferred to the Prison of Kerman on June 25, 2020.
She was confined in a solitary cell for three months in the Central Prison of Kerman under undecided status. After much persecution, she was relocated to the Prison of Kermanshah on September 24, 2020.
Zeinab Jalalian, 38, was sentenced to death in 2009 on the charge of Moharebeh through “membership in Pejak.” The verdict was commuted to life in prison in 2011. Ms. Jalalian has been in jail without any leaves since 2007 when she was arrested in Kermanshah.
She suffers from various illnesses including asthma, pterygium, an oral thrush condition, and GI complications. As a way of torture, the Ministry of Intelligence has deprived her of medical treatment. She is presently under various forms of psychological pressure and deprived of her rights as a prisoner to express remorse and collaborate with the Intelligence Ministry. The ministry’s agents also pressured her while she was in Qarchak Prison to cooperate with them.
Ms. Jalalian is in critical health conditions due to COVID-19 infection and lack of medical care and treatment.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee
Political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was returned to Qarchak Prison on January 24, 2021, but was sent to exile to the Prison of Amol, in northern Iran, without finding the opportunity to receive her personal belongings and warm clothing.
She had just finished 43 days of interrogation at the IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A in Evin Prison.
Some 50 prisoners are detained in two rooms in the women’s ward of Amol Prison. Most of them are convicted on drug-related charges and some have hepatitis. There is no quarantine to hold the new arrivals and there is high risk of contracting the virus in this prison.
Before being returned to Qarchak, she was summoned to the Evin Courthouse to present her last defense against being charged with “propaganda against the state.” Her lawyer was not present during the trial.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was violently moved out of Qarchak Prison on December 13, 2020, to be sent to Ward 2A of Evin.
She was imprisoned for 3 years since 2016 when she was arrested for writing an unpublished story against the cruel punishment of stoning. During this time, she was violently transferred to Qarchak Prison. She was returned to Evin only after an 81-day hunger strike. She was released in April 2019, but arrested again on November 9, 2019 and transferred to Qarchak Prison to serve 25 months of imprisonment.
Golrokh Ebrahimi and Zahra Safaei were assaulted and threatened to death by an incited and hired inmate in Qarchak Prison on November 2, 2020.
It is said that a new case is being fabricated against her and this has been the reason for her recent interrogations.
Kurdish political prisoner Sakineh Parvaneh was taken out of the Prison of Quchan at 10 p.m. on December 13, 2020. She was taken to the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Mashhad, the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province in northeastern Iran. Then, on the morning of December 14, she was taken to the quarantine ward of the Central Prison of Mashhad.
On October 27, 2020, she had been relocated from the women’s ward of Evin to the Prison of Quchan.
Sakineh Parvaneh was arrested in early autumn of 2019, because she had visited her family in Soleimaniya, in the Kurdistan of Iraq. She was subsequently sentenced to 5 years in prison for alleged “membership in opposition groups with the aim of disrupting national security.”
Sakineh Parvaneh was frequently brutalized when incarcerated at Evin and Qarchak prisons.
She was sent to a psychiatric hospital several times to be psychologically tortured. She was deprived of visiting her family while in detention in Quchan Prison.
Student activist Sepideh Farhan was abruptly relocated from Evin to Qarchak Prison on December 5, 2020. She was arrested during the nationwide protests in December 2017-January 2018 in Tehran and was serving a 2-year sentence in Evin Prison.
Yasaman Aryani and her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, were sent from Evin Prison to exile in Kachouii Prison of Karaj on October 21, 2020.
They are sentenced to 9 years and 7 months, each, for protesting the mandatory Hijab.
On November 13, 2020, it was reported that Yasaman Aryani had tested positive for COVID-19, and transferred to a cell without having access to medical treatment.
Monireh Arabshahi was abruptly relocated from Evin Prison to Kachouii Prison on October 21, 2020.
She is sentenced to 9 years and 7 months, for protesting the mandatory Hijab.
Based on a report on December 13, 2020, the authorities of Kachouii Prison prevented urgent medical tests for Monireh Arabshahi whose throat had swollen and she had difficulty breathing.
The Forensics Office has certified that Mrs. Arabshahi cannot endure prison conditons and she should be granted leave to undergo treatment. But prison authorities have refrained from releasing her. They have denied her the medical treatment she needs.
Doctors have emphasized that she needs to undergo surgical operations for her lumbar disc condition and for her thyroid gland.
Saba Kord Afshari
Saba Kord Afsahri was transferred out of the women’s ward of Evin Prison and banished to Qarchak Prison on December 9, 2020. Ms. Kord Afshari is sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment for protesting the mandatory veil. On January 26, 2021, prison guards took her by the hair and dragged her on the floor to move her from Ward 8 to Ward 6 where inmates convicted of dangerous crimes are detained.
Saba Kord Afshari suffers from a stomach ulcer and other GI problems. She was taken to hospital in July and August 2020 but returned to prison before doing her tests.
Mojgan Keshavarz was abruptly transferred out of Evin and taken to Qarchak Prison on December 5, 2020. Mojgan Keshavarz, is 38 and mother of 10-year-old girl. She is sentenced to 23.5 years in prison for protesting the mandatory veil.
Trumping up cases against female political prisoners
One of the systematic conducts of the clerical regime’s Judiciary is fabricating new cases against resistant political prisoners to increase and extend their terms of imprisonment, imposing added pressure on them. The Annual Report 2021 studies the cases of political prisoners Maryam Akbari Monfared and Atena Daemi targeted by trumped up charges by the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence.
Maryam Akbari Monfared
Maryam Akbari Monfared was summoned to the Evin Courthouse on June 10, 2020, to be arraigned with her charges in a new case opened for her. But she did not attend the hearing because she had not received a written summon and because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Her court hearing convened on August 31, 2020. She is charged with “disruption of order in prison” through chanting anti-government slogans on the night of the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution on February 11. She says she had only protested leaving a sick prisoner unattended for which she was deprived of her visitation on February 16, 2020.
Maryam Akbari Monfared has three daughters. She was arrested on December 31, 2009, after the tremendous uprising on December 27 that year, which shook the regime’s pillars. In June 2010, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran handed down a 15-year prison sentence for Moharebeh on the alleged charge of “membership in the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran,” a charge which Mrs. Akbari has never accepted. She has been in prison without a single day of leave since she was detained. She suffers from Thyroid malfunction and joint rheumatism.
Maryam Akbari’s sister and brother were executed during the massacre of political prisoners in summer 1988. Another two of her brothers were executed during the mass executions in the early 1980s.
Evin Prison authorities informed Atena Daemi on June 6, 2020, that she had been summoned and needed to appear before the courthouse on June 7. She appeared before the court, thinking that this is a follow-up on her previous case. But very soon, she found out that this was a new case and that she was accused of disrupting the prison’s order by chanting anti-government slogans on the night of the 1979 Revolution’s anniversary in February 2019. Ms. Daemi rejected the charges leveled against her.
Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court had held another court hearing on a separate case for Atena Daemi and Golrokh Iraee on June 18, 2019, sentencing each of them to 3 years and 7 months in prison. This is the sentence she is presently serving.
Atena Daemi, 32, must have been released on July 4, 2020, after completing her 5-year prison term. But she was sentenced again to a total of 5 years of imprisonment and 74 lashes because of trumped up charges filed against her by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
A children’s rights activist, Atena Daemi was first arrested on October 21, 2014, and detained for 16 months for participating in a protest gathering outside the UN Office in Tehran, a protest against execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, and other peaceful activities.
On November 26, 2016, she was arrested again and taken to Evin Prison to serve her sentence. During this period, she started a 54-day hunger strike in March 2017 which ended successfully when the prison sentences for her two sisters were rescinded.
Atena Daemi has suffered various illnesses during her years of incarceration, including numbness of her limbs, kidney infection, hormonal imbalance, and she is suspected of having multiple sclerosis and cancer.