NCRI Women’s Committee Monthly Report – January 2017
The January 19 crashing down of the high-rise commercial complex, the Plasco Building, in the heart of Tehran shocked everyone in the start of the New Year. The tragedy, a consequence of plunders by city officials and the Mostazafan commercial enterprise, left many families grieving for their loved ones, with no hopes for future after losing their breadwinners.
Political prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin held a ceremony and vigil commemorating the firefighters who sacrificed their lives to save others. Also the girls Shinabad who were themselves victims of fire in their school because of non-standard heating system, also sent a message of solidarity with the firefighters and their families.
With the execution of two women, the number of women executed under Rouhani reached 73 in the January 2017.
Amnesty International issued a report on January 18, 2017, criticizing “persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year” by the Iranian regime. According to this report, “Under Iranian law, more than 100 ‘offences’ are punishable by flogging… Many of those flogged in Iran are young people under the age of 35 who have been arrested for peaceful activities… (that) must never be criminalized.”
Women took part in social protests extensively, while female political prisoners staged courageous resistance and protests while incarcerated.
Systematic violations of the right to life
Executions, arbitrary killings, deaths in custody, and death sentences
Two women were among the prisoners executed in the Central Prison of Karaj on January 14, 2017.
The family of one of the execution victims said, “Two women were executed along 12 prisoners. They were probably brought from Varamin’s Qarchak Prison of women to implement their verdicts.” The women have not been identified.
At the same time, a woman was among the death-row prisoners who were transferred to solitary confinement on January 10, 2017, in the Orumiyeh Prison, to be prepared for implementation of their verdicts.
Inhumane treatment and cruel punishments
Zahra Shafii who had been imprisoned for protesting and demanding the release of a prisoner of conscience, was released from the notorious Qarchak Prison on January 4, 2017. In her remarks a few hours later, she said that she had been sentenced to 74 lashes of the whip and two years of suspended imprisonment.
In a tragic incident, also in Qarchak Prison (a.k.a. Shahr-e Ray Prison), Shiva Fekri lost her life due to high blood pressure and denial of the necessary treatment.
Prison authorities have prevented treatment of political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared who suffers from rheumatoid.
In her latest meeting with her family, Ms. Akbari Monfared complained of severe pain in her knee joints which deprives her of sleep at nights.
Officials of the Prosecutor’s Office stopped Ms. Akbari’s treatment in retaliation for her filing complaint with the Judiciary demanding information about the fate of her three brothers and sister executed in the 1980s.
A five-year prison sentence was finalized for Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe on She was also deprived of being visited by her family and daughter on Sunday, January 8, 2017. In reaction to Ms. Zaghari’s demand to be able to see her child more often, officials are pressuring her in various ways to move her toddler into prison.
Amnesty International issued a statement on December 19, 2016, on the pressures imposed on this dual-national and the problems created by the Revolutionary Guards to prevent visits by her child.
Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian is having serious problems because of winter. She is suffering from pterygium. She has not received treatment and is deprived from being transferred to hospital due to restrictions created by prison officials.
Earlier, Amnesty International issued a statement on October 19, 2016, warning about this political prisoner’s health.
Zeinab Jalalian was arrested in March 2007 on the charge of “waging war on God”, and for membership in Kurdish parties. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In another development, Marjan Davari, researcher and translator, was transferred from the women’s ward of Evin Prison to the infamous Qarchak (a.k.a. Shahr-e Ray) Prison for women, to serve her sentence among ordinary criminals.
Ms. Davari, 50, was arrested on September 24, 2015, for translating books about mysticism and metaphysics. She was detained in the infamous Intelligence Ministry Ward 209 where she stayed in solitary confinement for three months. During this period, she did not have access to any legal counsel or lawyer, while being interrogated. Ms. Davari suffers from severe arthritis in her legs and harsh prison conditions have aggravated her pain.
Intimidation of political prisoners’ families
Summoning, arresting and imprisoning relatives of political prisoners is becoming a common practice by the clerical regime which is facing staunch resistance of political activists.
Following the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ filing a new complaint against Atena Daemi, members of her family were summoned to the Evin Prosecutor’s Office on December 27, 2016. The court examining the charges of Ms. Daemi’s two sisters convened on January 23, 2017.
Ensieh and Hanieh Daemi and Hossein Fatehi (the family’s son-in-law) went to the Prosecutor’s Office at Evin Prison. A 40-million-touman bail was issued for Ensieh and Hanieh after they were informed of their charges of “preventing implementation of the verdict” and “insulting government forces” in the course of the arrest of their sister, Atena Daemi.
The bail was paid in the presence of the family’s lawyer and Atena’s two sisters were temporarily released.
Himan Mohammadiani, brother of political prisoner Shahla Mohammadiani, was arrested on January 4, 2017, and there is no news available on his conditions.
Shahla Mohammadiani went on hunger strike in the Prison of Tabriz to protest the illegal arrest and detention of her brother.
Ms. Mohammadiani, 28, is a college student from Mahabad (Iranian Kurdistan). She was arrested in September 2015 on the charge of membership in a Kurdish opposition party. She has been sentenced to four years in prison and sent to internal exile in the Prison of Tabriz.
Arbitrary Arrests and detentions
Student activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards Corps on Sunday, January 22, while leaving home to visit her husband, political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, at hospital. She was transferred to the Department of Implementation of the Verdicts at Evin Prison.
Golrokh Iraee was released from the women’s ward of Evin Prison on January 3, 2017, after 72 days of hunger strike by her imprisoned husband, Arash Sadeghi. The Prosecutor’s Office, however, did not extend Ms. Iraee’s leave as it had promised and summoned her to prison.
On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, anti-death penalty and human rights activist, Shahnaz Akmali was arrested at home by plainclothes agents. Later, she called her family and informed them that she is detained in Ward 209 of Evin Prison. She also said that a 100-million-touman bail had been issued for her. But when Ms. Akmali’s family went to the Prosecutor’s Office on Saturday, January 28, to deposit her bail bond and secure her release, they were told that no bail had been issued for Ms. Akmali and she has to remain in prison. Ms. Akmali lost her son, Mostafa Karim Beigi in the 2009 uprising.
Tehran’s Culture and Media Prosecutor issued a one-month detention sentence for Ms. Massoumeh Zia. She is presently incarcerated in Evin Prison.
According to Ms. Zia’s family, security authorities have not informed them of the reason for her arrest and detention. She was arrested at the airport on January 6, 2017, upon return to the country from a family visit abroad.
The temporary arrest warrant for Tahereh Riyahi was extended by the Iranian judiciary on January 29, 2017. Ms. Riyahi, a journalist, was arrested on December 26, 2016, on the charge of disseminating anti-government propaganda and having contacts with dissident networks.
Tahereh Riyahi suffers from Asthma. She is held in a solitary cell and has run out of medications.
Zeinab Karimian, former reporter of the state-run Mehr news agency, was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry. Zeinab Karimian just made a brief phone call and informed her family of her health.
Agents of the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Corps arrested a number of women’s rights activists in Tehran on Monday, January 16, 2017. The arrests are aimed at preventing their gatherings in Tehran to protest recent acid attacks on women.
Two of those arrested have been reported to be Zahra Khandan, journalist and former student activist at Amir Kabir University, and Soha Mortezaii, also student activist. They were both arrested at their residences in Tehran.
Social arrests and clampdown
The clerical regime’s security forces have started a campaign against models and modelling business. A number of arrests have been made in various cities.
Four women were among those arrested in Tabriz (northwestern Iran) for engaging in modelling activities. This was announced by Ahmad Movaghari, deputy Prosecutor of Tabriz. (The state-run Entekhab news agency – January 2, 2017)
Another network of models was destroyed and five businesses sealed in East Azerbaijan province (northwestern Iran). This was announced by Chief of Public Security Police in Tabriz, Mohammad Hassan Pasha. (The state-run IRNA news agency – January 26, 2017)
Dozens of individuals engaged in the modelling business on the internet were arrested in Qazvin. (The state-run INLA news agency, Arman daily newspaper – January 21, 2017)
Young women were also arrested for daring to ride motorcycles.
Two young women were arrested by the State Security forces on January 12, 2017, in the city of Dezful (southwestern Iran) for riding motorcycles. (The state-run Jam-e Jam Online – January 12, 2017)
Six young women were arrested in a private party in Anzali, northern Iran, on January 27, 2017.
Public Relations director for the Justice Department of Gilan announced that the Judiciary will deal harshly with all manifestations of mal-veiling and the Prosecutor’s Office is charged with this task. (The state-run Mizan news agency – January 27, 2017)
The results of a survey of the work force done in summer 2016 indicates that the average unemployment rate for young women reached 47.3 per cent this summer. (The state-run Mehr news agency – December 30, 2016)
The number of women heading households has increased to 2.6 million, Fariba Barimani, director of the empowerment office of family and women in the Welfare Organization, told a news conference on January 1, 2017.
Only 180,000 of these women are assisted by the Welfare Organization. (The state-run Shabestan website- January 1, 2017)
Sohaila Jorkesh, one of the victims of 2014 acid attacks in Isfahan, is in critical conditions. She said, “My eye’s retina has over-stretched and is being torn. If my retina is torn, I will become blind for good.”
Ms. Jorkesh had been promised compensation by the government, but she has not been aided in travelling abroad to receive her much needed treatment nor has she received any aid to help her treatment in the country.
According to the latest statistics provided by the National Registration Organization, the rate of divorce in Iran has reached 20 per hour. (The state-run Mehr news agency – January 7, 2017)
119 infants have been abandoned in the streets of Alborz Province from March 2015 to December 2016, according to the figures announced by the Welfare Organization of Alborz Province (central Iran).
Daryoush Bayat-Nejad from the Welfare Organization of Alborz, said on January 14, 2017: “Last year, the Welfare Organization of Alborz accepted 295 children, 77 of whom had been abandoned. Another 42 abandoned infants were accepted from March to December 2016.” (The state-run ISNA news agency – January 14, 2017)
Violations of basic freedoms and rights
Marriage of girl children has turned into a social predicament.
The southeastern province of Sistan-o Baluchistan is one of the main places where a lot of child marriages take place.
Saeed Seyed-ol Hosseini, a deputy to the Medical Regime Organization, explained, “Girls often are between 12 and 13 years old in these marriages. They are mostly wed to old men who have multiple spouses… The main reason for this type of marriages is poverty… These young girls undergo depression and other internal problems until the end of their lives, because their husbands turn 70 or 80 when they are not even 20.” (The state-run ILNA news agency – January 27, 2017)
Ahmad Jodi, the general director of Registration Organization in East Azerbaijan (northwestern Iran), also announced, “Of all the marriages that were carried out in the (Persian year) 1394 (March 2015-March 2016), 3,944 were with young girls under 15 years of age.” (The state-run ISNA news agency, January 18, 2017)
The photo of a battered child girl went viral in the Iranian community’s social media in January. There was no detail, but a brief explanation that the girl had been beaten by her teacher in school.
The girl went to a hospital; when asked about what happened to her, she said, “My teacher took me by the hair and pushed me into the wall.”
The name of the child girl and the city had not been mentioned, but the picture shows that the innocent girl had been subjected to violence.
The State Security Force will deal seriously with mal-veiled women riding in vehicles, and it does not need warrants from the judge in this regard.
This was announced by Mohammad Reza Edalatkhah, the head of the Justice Department of Kermanshah (western Iran): “Vehicles are not private places, and if such instances are detected, the vehicle would be impounded, and the mal-veiled or unveiled woman taken to the Prosecutor’s Office. The punishment for unveiling is between is between 2 to 3 months of jail. The State Security Force will not need any permission from the judge to deal with mal-veiled women inside vehicles.” (The state-run Fars news agency – the state-run Mehr news agency – January 2, 2017)
The Police Chief of Golestan‘s Security Department announced that they had dealt with mal-veiled women. He said, “The cars belonging to women who dropped their veils in their cars, have been impounded.”
Saeedi said, “A total of 49,677 people have received verbal warnings in Golestan Province; most of them were mal-veiled…” (The state-run Fars news agency – January 19, 2017)
Golestan Province lies on the northeastern coast of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran.
Dirak Khatoon, an all-women’s music group, was not allowed to perform in Kermanshah‘s Ethnic Festival because of women’s presence in the group. The group is comprised of a number of female singers and players.
The state-run Mersad website, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, announced on January 18, 2017, that the group’s performance would trample “all moral and religious values”.
Because of the performance of female singers in Arak, all musical concerts were banned until further notice. Mehdi Haghighi, the general director of the Central Province’s Department of Guidance, added that a music hall had been sealed for this reason.
Ethnic and Religious Minorities
Bahaii woman, Yekta Fahandej Saadi, was sentenced to five years imprisonment by the revision court in Shiraz.
She is accused of disseminating anti-government propaganda and acting against national security.
A Bahaii couple were arrested in Borazjan by security forces of the Intelligence Department in the southern province of Boushehr. Maryam Bashir and Borhan Esmaeli’s personal belonging including their cellphones, laptop computers and religious books were confiscated by security forces.
Another Bahaii woman from Tehran, Pegah Dehghani Mohammadi, was expelled from university while she was preparing for her first mid-term exams.
Dorna Ismaili and Ma’edeh Hosseini Rad were also expelled from their universities in Shiraz and Isfahan for being Bahaiis.
Kurdish painter, Neshimal Sohrabi, was arrested without any legal or judicial warrant on January 21, 2017, by agents of the Department of Intelligence of Boukan.
Mahabad‘s court held the trial of Kurdish student activist Manijeh Fatehi, 23, on January 17, 2017, and sentenced her to four years of suspended jail sentence for having contacts with dissident anti-government parties.
Kurdish political prisoner Hajar Peari, 33, started a hunger strike on Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
She was transferred from Kerman Prison to the prison of Tabriz on December 23, 2016, despite her protest. Ms. Peari demanded to be transferred to a “healthy” ward.
Political prisoner Atena Daemi staged a sit-in in Evin prison at the sentry office, without eating or drinking for a full day to protest the Prosecutor’s stonewalling in responding to her demands. After two days, Evin warden Charmahali called and threatened her so that she would withdraw her complaint against the IRGC. He said the complaint would get nowhere but will be used against her.
Political prisoner Shahla Mohammadiani went on hunger strike in the Prison of Tabriz in protest to the illegal arrest and detention of her brother, Himan Mohammadiani, on January 4, 2017.
Women’s social protests
Parvin Mohammadi and Nahid Khodajou, two women members of the Board of Directors of the Workers’ Free Union, condemned the Prosecutor Office’s attempt to arrest Jaafar Azimzadeh. Ms. Mohammadi called this “a measure against Iran’s working class”.
On January 24, 2017, agents of Tehran’s Prosecutor raided the residence of Jaafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Workers’ Free Union of Iran. Mr. Azimzadeh was not home at the time of the attack, but agents of the Prosecutor’s Office showed his wife a warrant for his arrest and intimated his oldest son. Mr. Azimzadeh was released from prison on June 30, 2016, after 63 days of hunger strike under tremendous domestic and international pressure on the regime.
Ms. Khodajou reiterated, “We declare that if Jaafar Azimzadeh is arrested, we will not remain silent for a moment, will rise up in unity and create a storm.”
Massoumeh Nemati, mother of imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi, in a video message declared support for Shahnaz Akmali who has been recently arrested and imprisoned in Evin.
A large number of people gathered on January 2, 2017, in front of Evin Prison demanding immediate release of political prisoner Arash Sadeghi and his wife, Golrokh Iraee. A considerable number of the protesters were women and mothers of political prisoners and victims of political executions. This was part of an extensive public opinion campaign to secure the release of the two student activists as a result of which Ms. Iraqee was released and Arash Sadeghi concluded his hunger strike. But the Prosecutor reneged on his promises and had Ms. Iraee returned to prison after only four days, without providing any medical care to Arash Sadeghi.
A group of teachers working on contracts gathered on January 8, 2017, in front of the clerical regime’s parliament in Tehran. The teachers, including a considerable number of women, converged in Tehran from different provinces across the country. A protester said, “We want justice in employment. We want determination of our employment status.” (The official IRNA news agency – January 8, 2017)
A group of retired teachers and staff of the Education Ministry, including a considerable number of women, staged a protest outside the Planning and Budget Organization in Tehran and demanded their unpaid salaries. Eyewitnesses said hundreds of teachers had joined this demonstration from cities across the country.
A protest demonstration was staged in Tabriz (capital of the northeastern Province of East Azerbaijan) on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, to protest air pollution. The gathering was held across from the Department of Environmental Protection in that city. Women actively took part in this demonstration. They held placards expressing their discontent over the government’s failure to attend to the environment and air pollution in Tabriz.