Women in Pursuit of Justice
Women in Pursuit of Justice
Arbitrary trends and illegal proceedings victimizing female political prisoners in Iran
Ever since the fanatic mullahs’ rise to power in 1979, many dissidents have been facing imprisonment, torture, and execution.
The main Iranian opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has reported over 120,000 executed members. Women make up about one-third of these executions.
The notorious massacre of 1988 carried out on Khomeini’s fatwa (decree), claimed around 30,000 lives over the few months of summer that year.
Incarceration of political opponents and human rights activists and repression of all forms of dissent comprise the predominant theme of the Iranian regime’s rule ever since.
Presently as this study is under publication, at least 160 female prisoners of conscience and political prisoners are held behind bars while executions of ordinary people, 73 of them women, has hit a record high under Rouhani to rein in and clamp down on a volatile society.
The majority of female prisoners of conscience are detained in the Evin Prison. Although living conditions in Evin are horrific and inhumane, it is the only place where detainees are separated according to offenses. The rest of female political prisoners incarcerated in various prisons in Varamin, Orumiyeh, Bukan, Tabriz, Khoy, Kermanshah, Zanjan, Ahwaz, Sanandaj, Kashan, Kerman, Marivan, Mashhad, Mahabad, Yasouj, Yazd, Semnan, and Shiraz, serve their unjust sentences amongst ordinary and often dangerous inmates.
Prison conditions are abysmal and way below standard, in general. The situation, however, is worse for women as the limited budget and facilities allocated to the Prisons Organization are primarily placed at the disposal of men whose numbers are several folds higher.
Female prisoners are virtually deprived of their special sanitary needs and have to struggle even to obtain their basic daily essentials.
These inhumane conditions persist while international laws extensively forbid political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlights the right to freedom of all human beings and specifically the advocacy and freedom of religion and thought. The declaration’s Article 18 states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also states that no person shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest. Article 9 of the covenant states, “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”
Other international laws discourage issuing prison sentences for women due to their roles as mothers and caregivers. Rule 61 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) reads, “When sentencing women offenders, courts shall have the power to consider mitigating factors such as lack of criminal history and relative non-severity and nature of the criminal conduct, in the light of women’s caretaking responsibilities and typical backgrounds.”
Also, the “Cross-cutting issues” in the Handbook on Prisoners with special needs – UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – New York 2009), it is stated that, “Imprisonment should be used as a last resort for all offenders, taking into account the nature and circumstances of the offence, the risk the offenders pose to the public and the social reintegration needs of the offenders.”
The same article reiterates that, “All prisoners have a right to health, equivalent to that in the general community, as part of their basic human rights.”
Clearly, these standards are far from the conduct of the Iranian regime. Iran is a country where women are imprisoned for holding different beliefs, drawing cartoons, or simply writing a story against stoning and the death penalty.
In this study, the NCRI Women’s Committee aims to shed light on the systematic violations of women’s human rights in Iran in the process of arrest and imprisonment and hopes to receive support and attention by human rights advocates, lawyers, and relevant authorities from around the world.
1 Violent Arbitrary Arrests
The arrest and imprisonment of people for their political or religious beliefs is contrary to the international law. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
The religious dictatorship ruling Iran has numerous organs to clamp down on the public, each of which acts independently to arrest anyone who opposes the regime. The State Security Force (SSF), the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the paramilitary Bassij, and even the disciplinary committees at the universities are components of a vast network that cracks down on the Iranian people’s freedom of thought, expression and gathering. These agencies arrest women in public or at home without presenting legal warrants. At least 30 female political prisoners have been arrested without warrants and by use of force and violence.
In the majority of cases, including those of political prisoners Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi, the IRGC Sarallah Corps filed complaints as then complainant. Then it sent a team of its own agents to make the arrest and then interrogate and determine the charges in subsequent stages. This organ also influences the stage of issuing verdicts without any effort to conceal its role.
Political prisoner Atena Daemi who is incarcerated in Evin prison for her activities in defense of human rights and against the death penalty, shared part of her arrest experience. In part of a letter that was leaked out of prison, she wrote, “They attacked our house today, November 26, 2016, while I was not raping any students, or embezzling any money, or issuing a death sentence for anyone. I was simply sleeping! …
“On Thursday, November 24, 2016, I was contacted by the Revolutionary Court and told that they wanted to send me a subpoena and they needed my address. But they lied. Instead of a subpoena, they sent three agents to arrest me. Three agents who arrest women on the streets for being mal-veiled, invaded my privacy and watched me while I was not wearing a veil!
“According to the law, they must have sent me a subpoena and waited at least five days for me to report in to the prison. Even if I did not go, prison agents or agents of the Directorate of Implementation of Sentences were the ones who could come and arrest me, not the Revolutionary Guards’ Sarallah Corps…
“We opened the door and asked to see their written warrant; they did not show any but roamed into the house… Again, I asked them to show their warrant but they attacked me. A woman started beating me and when my younger sister intervened, she pounded her in the chest. A male guard used pepper gas against an unarmed and defenseless woman. They arrested me without letting me call and say goodbye to my parents who were on a trip.
“They took me away, blindfolded and handcuffed, to the Evin. On the way, they kept threatening me that they would file spurious charges against me. They said, ‘We will cook up some soup for you (a Persian proverb) so that you would forget thinking about coming out of prison!’ ” (Letter by Atena Daemi from the Women’s Ward of the Evin Prison, November 26, 2016)
The IRGC agents had also filmed the arrest and intended to use the footage to pressure Ms. Daemi during interrogations.
Political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee who is imprisoned in the Evin Prison has been charged with insulting the sanctities and disseminating anti-government propaganda and sentenced to six years imprisonment for writing an unpublished story against the inhuman punishment of stoning. She was violently arrested by the IRGC once without being shown the arrest warrant or any identifications. In response to Ms. Iraee’s request to take her Asthma medications with her, the IRGC forces told her that she would die in prison and there would be no need for her medicine.
Her trial had been held on a day when she had an appointment scheduled at a hospital to remove a brain tumor. She provided all the medical documents to the court, however, they issued a verdict in absentia and sentenced her to six years in prison. The lawyer she had chosen to represent her was not allowed in the court, either.
After being rearrested, she was released temporarily on January 22, 2017, following a 72-day hunger strike by her husband, political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, in protest to her illegal arrest. But the regime’s officials reneged on their promise and arrested her again with the same violent and illegal methods after Arash Sadeghi broke his hunger strike. The Prosecutor had accepted that a breach had been committed in her case.
The imprisoned couple are presently deprived of their weekly meetings and telephone contacts.
Reyhaneh Haj Ebrahim is also a political prisoner with a sentence of 15 years. She was arrested because she was at the house of a family who supported the opposition PMOI/MEK. She was arrested along with three members of Daneshpour Moghaddam family.
Reyhaneh’s father says, “My daughter did not have any political activity. In fact, Mr. Daneshpour Moghaddam is my cousin and Reyhaneh was at their house on the day of Ashura when agents arrested and took her away along with my cousin’s family without any warrants.”
The verdict and the charge they levelled against Reyhaneh was because of her family ties to Mr. Daneshpour Moghaddam.
Nargess Mohammadi was arrested in May 2015 in a raid on her residence which was carried out without showing a legal warrant.
In 2012, the court ordered the release of Ms. Mohammadi indicating her “disability to endure punishment” because of emboli of lungs and muscular paralysis.
She had been arrested for human rights activities and opposition to the death penalty.
Prisoner of conscience Elham Farahani was summoned to the Evin Prison on May 11, 2014, ostensibly to visit her imprisoned son, but was arrested. Her family is being prosecuted for adhering to the Bahaii faith.
Environmental activist Rahil Moussavi was also arrested by violence. Her right arm was hurt during the arrest. She was arrested for protesting to the drying of Karoun River because of the Revolutionary Guards Corps plans implemented in Khuzistan Province.
2 Interrogation, torture, and other forms of cruel treatment
Torture is the main instrument by which the Iranian regime suppresses and intimidates its opponents. Any Iranian arrested for participating in the slightest activity against the inhuman policies of the ruling government is taken under torture.
Female political prisoners usually endure beating, flogging, suspending by the arms and legs, burning of their skin by cigarettes, and many other forms of barbaric practices. They are particularly threatened with rape and are in many cases raped to break their resistance.
In the 1980s, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards raped virgin girls prior to their execution based on a fatwa by Khomeini, the regime’s supreme leader. Maliheh Aghvami, Mahnaz Yousefzadeh, Mitra and Mandana Mojaverian and many other PMOI/MEK women were victims of this misogynist crime.
Elaheh Daknama is another example whose clothes were returned to her family after her execution. The Daknama family found a written message in Elaheh’s own handwriting on her clothes indicating, “I was raped.”
Sexual assault was a method widely practiced even during the 2009 uprising.
A case in point is Taraneh Moussavi who was brutally tortured, raped and her body burnt afterwards.
Generally, in every interrogation session, there are five or six male interrogators who surround the female prisoner and attack and beat her up any time it is needed. The prisoner is blindfolded during the interrogation to increase the fear and pain of the defenseless captive.
These pressures are aimed at breaking the prisoner and forcing her to make the confessions intended by the interrogator to be used against the detainees as the basis for unfair rulings.
Zeinab Jalalian, a Kurdish political prisoner, has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Khoy Prison. She is suffering from GI infections and internal bleeding due to the brutal tortures she endured at the Kermanshah Intelligence Department.
She is also suffering from severe eye injury as a result of the head bashings.
In the absence of any medical care, these damages have led to the blinding of one eye, with her second eye following suit. The medical negligence still continues.
Afsaneh Bayazidi, is another Kurdish political prisoner who is detained in Kerman’s Prison.
In a letter in September 2016, she wrote, “For 90 days, I was tortured by any conceivable means and method. In the early days of my detention, I was tortured so much that I was unable to walk. My legs and back were badly bruised all over. They beat me to the point that I was bleeding from my mouth and nose. They had absolutely no empathy. I was only a step away from death. Every time I mentioned the name of God, they would beat me even more and say, ‘there is no God in the Intelligence Department.’ At least twice, I was hung for several hours by my hands and feet.
“I was blindfolded during the entire time of detention, interrogation, and torture such that my eyes have suffered injury and my vision is blurry.
“I have had asthma for 4 years but they took away my inhaler to torment and make me confess.
“I was threatened with ‘sexual assault’, with death and with detention of my mother. I was held in the bathroom of Orumiyeh’s Intelligence Detention Centre for 11 days and they gave me my food right there. Even animals are not treated in such a way. They treated me horribly. Every night the agents passed by my cell and threw a kick so that I would not be able to rest. All of them called me a whore. I was forced to make false confessions so that they could make up a case against me, their inhumane trick was ultimately realized.”
Qadriyeh Qaderi, a Kurdish political prisoner in Yasouj Prison was held two months in solitary confinement and under torture. As a result of the extreme tortures she had endured, Qadriyeh was unable to eat or move for about two weeks after she was relocated to the general ward.
Husband of Behnaz Zakeri, a political prisoner in Evin, said, “As soon as I saw her during my first visit, I could tell she had been tortured. All of her teeth were broken.”
Esrin Aminzadeh, who is presently incarcerated in Sanandaj Prison, has been suffering from GI bleeding as a result of three months of extreme torture in the detention center of the Department of Intelligence in Saqqez.
Farideh Khoshnam has been sentenced to 14 years of prison. She has received 80 lashes after 5 months of interrogation and torture. She is suffering from eye and foot injuries.
There are other reports available on the torture of Hajar Peari, Safieh Sadeghi, and Shahla Mohammadiani.
Clearly, all international laws reject all forms of humiliation as well as mental and physical pressure as torture. The Convention Against Torture, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, as well as the international standards for prison officials prohibit use of such measures.
3 Solitary confinement and isolation
Political prisoners are directly transferred to solitary confinement following their arrest for a period of intensive interrogation under the control of agents of the Intelligence Ministry and/or the Revolutionary Guards Corps Intelligence. This process is accompanied by physical and psychological torture and various types of humiliating treatment.
Interrogation could last from a few days up to over a year and there is no law to define the length of this stage.
The Intelligence Ministry interrogators enjoy full authority. They are the ones to decide when they are done with prisoners and what kind and what amount of pressure the prisoners must endure.
Prisoners are held in absolute isolation, deprived of all interaction with the outside world. It is even impossible for them to have contact with their families. Officials do not provide any information on the prisoner’s conditions or whereabouts to her family or anyone else.
The prisoner is only allowed to have two sets of clothes and three army blankets. The cell door is opened only three times a day for three meals and the prisoner is taken to the bathroom three times a day. It is impossible to control the heating or cooling system.
A lamp, embedded into the wall, is lit 24 hours a day and the prisoner is not able to turn the light on or off. Prisoners do not even have access to the time and the only way they estimate what time it is, is from the prayer call.
Isolation and solitary confinement is also used as a punishment and is widely applied to political prisoners. The prisoner is sent to solitary confinement whenever she protests the prison authorities’ inhuman treatment. Solitary detention is also used when the prisoner manages to secretly send a letter out of prison.1
The use of solitary confinement or isolation is not accepted in international laws.
Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners clearly express that solitary confinement, as a form of punishment, should be used infrequently and exceptionally.
It also stipulates in Article 31 that corporal punishment or punishment by holding a prisoner in a dark cell and any other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment are prohibited as a disciplinary measure.
The Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners encourage the restriction or abolition of solitary confinement as a punishment.
4 Judicial proceedings and illegal measures
Judicial proceedings do not conform to the regime’s own laws, let alone the international laws.
The prisoner is confined to a solitary cell after being arrested to be forced to make confessions against herself under pressure and torture. During this period, the prisoner has no contact with the outside world to inform her family of her arrest and place of detention. Under such circumstances it is totally impossible for the prisoner to have a defense attorney.
Charge: Waging war on God through membership in PEJAK
Sentence: Life in prison
Initially, she was sentenced to death for waging war on God through membership in PEJAK. Later, her sentence was commuted to life in prison but in the first place, it had been illegal to charge her with Mahrebeh (waging war on God) according to the Iranian regime’s laws.
Chapter 8, Article 279, of the Punishment Law defines Moharebeh as the following: “Moharebeh (or waging war on God) is using weapons to shoot or terrify one’s life, property or family such that the environment becomes insecure.”
Whenever someone, with personal motive, aims a gun at one or more specific persons and their act does not target the public, also if a person aims a gun on people, but because of disability does not cause insecurity, this is not considered Moharebeh.
Zeinab Jalalian did not possess any guns at the time of arrest or any other time.
Article 288 of the same law states: “Whenever members of an outlaw group are arrested before confrontation and use of arms, they are sentenced to third-degree imprisonment sentence if that organization and its central committee exists. If the organization and its central committee have been already destroyed, they are sentenced to fifth-degree imprisonment.”
The third-degree imprisonment in this law is between 10 to 15 years. While the verdict for Zeinab Jalalian initially was execution and then life imprisonment despite the fact that she did not have any weapons with her.
The Iranian regime’s officials who are aware of the illegal nature of the sentences they issue, have pressured Ms. Jalalian time and again to do television interviews and make confessions against herself.
They have even made her medical leave contingent on such interviews while one of her eyes has become blind under torture and due to lack of treatment, and the other is going blind, as well.
Charge: Waging war on God through collaboration with the PMOI
Sentence: 15 years
The sentence for Ms. Mossanna has been decided as 15 years according to Article 288 of the Punishment Law which is the maximum imprisonment sentence issued for a member of an outlaw group.
Fatemeh Mossanna and her husband, Hassan Sadeghi, were simultaneously imprisoned for holding a funeral ceremony for Mr. Sadeghi’s father who was a member of the PMOI.
Article 141 of this law states that “penal responsibility is personal.”
In addition to such blatant violation of the law, the family’s business and their source of revenue has been confiscated and shutdown. They also intend to confiscate their house where Ms. Mossanna’s mother and children presently reside.
Fatemeh Mossanna’s two brothers were executed in the 1980s. Ms. Mossanna was 13 at the time when she was incarcerated along with her mother who was imprisoned for supporting the PMOI.
Reyhaneh Haj Ebrahim
Charge: Waging war on God through collaboration with the PMOI
Sentence: 15 years imprisonment
Reyhaneh Haj Ebrahim has also received the maximum conceivable sentence for someone who is accused of membership in an outlaw group.
Ms. Haj Ebrahim is not a member of the PMOI and she has never had any publicity or political activities.
The only reason for her arrest is that she was visiting her relatives, the Daneshpour Moghaddam family at their house when they were arrested all together.
Charge: Waging war on God through membership in PEJAK
Sentence: 15 years
Safieh Sadeghi was viciously beaten up by intelligence agents during her interrogation period while she was in solitary confinement to have her make confessions.
Forcible extraction of confessions is a routine practice of the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) in dealing with prisoners, in general, and with political prisoners, in particular.
This practice is illegal according to the Iranian regime’s laws. Articles 169 and 218 of the Punishment Law clearly state this.
Article 218 – Note 2: Confessions are religiously credible only when they are made at the court and before the presiding judge.
Article 169: Any confession that is extracted under compulsion, coercion, torture, or mental or physical duress is not credible and the court is obliged to re-investigate the accused.
Charge: Collaboration with Kurdish dissident groups
Sentence: 9 years in prison
Ms. Qaderi was deprived of having visits until 2016.
In January and February 2016, prison officials ordered her to memorize the Quran if she wanted a leave, although the judge presiding over her case had issued her a leave and her family had deposited 100 million toumans as bail bond to have her released.
Article 18, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that no one should be forced to believe in a religion or creed against his/her will.
The principle of categorizing the crimes are frequently violated in the case of female political prisoners. All the prisoners affiliated with the Erfan-e Halgheh and all the prisoners who are incarcerated on political grounds in cities other than the capital, are imprisoned along with common and dangerous criminals.
Article 8 of the United Nations Standards Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners emphasizes the need for categorization of crimes in the treatment of prisoners.
Another means by which the Iranian regime puts pressure on female political prisoners is holding them in an undecided status.
A prisoner with undecided status is someone whose interrogation has been completed and the Ministry of Intelligence has filed suit against her but her trial has not been convened. Sometimes, her court has convened but no sentence is issued for her for a long time.
Detaining a prisoner in undecided status gives her interrogators an open hand to make any decision at any time on her fate or harass her by any conceivable method.
This practice has been rejected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and many other international laws.
Some of the prisoners who have been detained with an undecided status are:
Marjan Davari has been in prison with an undecided status since September 24, 2015.
Zahra Ka’abi has been detained with an undecided status since June 20, 2014.
Rahil Moussavi was arrested on December 9, 2016, for protesting the desiccation of Karoun River. There has been no news on her and she has had no contact with anyone outside prison.
Negar Afsharzadeh has been detained in Evin Prison for at least two years in an undecided state.
Sheilan and Kowsar Rahmani, and Gita Rezaii Zeinali have been imprisoned for writing a protest letter to Khamenei. They are held in an undecided status.
Zahra Sharifi has been detained since February 2016 on the charge of insulting the sanctities, in an undecided status.
Golnaz Ahang Khosh who was arrested in 2014 on the charge of attempting to join a Kurdish party, is still detained in an undecided status.
Mahvash Shariari, Bahaii prisoner with a sentence of 10 years in prison, was held in an undecided state for three years in Evin’s Ward 209.
Na’imeh Taghavi, from Erfan-e Halgheh, was arrested on August 25, 2015, but there has been no information available on her legal status and detention conditions since then.
5 Depriving prisoners of medical care
The Iranian regime’s prison authorities do not see it as their responsibility to provide medical services to prisoners. The prisoners’ health depreciates in prison; the sick get sicker and the healthy suffer various disorders as a result of psychological and mental pressure as well as the inhumane and insanitary living conditions in prisons.
Prisoners are deprived of access to their medications even for terminal and dangerous illnesses.
Amnesty International has reported that the Iranian regime has taken treatment of the prisoners hostage and has exploited their basic right, to pressure them even further.
Most prisons have clinics but they do not provide the simplest services and prisoners must buy painkillers and cold medicine from the prison’s shop.
Special medications must be procured by the prisoner’s family and go through a lengthy process of approval by the Prosecutor and intelligence officials before it gets to the prisoner and in many cases, the packages never reach the recipient.
Most prisons do not have emergency medical services. When a prisoner suffers in an accident or her health suddenly fails, it takes hours before the prisoner is issued permission to be transferred to a hospital. Clearly, this process is often ineffective.
International laws require that prisoners have free access to the highest medical care available to everyone in the country. International human rights standards also stress that prison officials are not authorized to decide about the health of prisoners and this can be done only by the medical staff.
The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders also clarifies that only the medical staff shall be present during medical examinations and the guards and other people must leave the room, something that is too often violated by the Iranian regime.
Charge: Disseminating propaganda against the state, association and collusion with the intention of acting against national security, formation of the illegal group, LEGAM (Against the Death Penalty)
Sentence: 16 years imprisonment
Nargess Mohammadi suffers from emboli in the lungs and muscular paralysis.
She was previously arrested in July 2012 but released on a court verdict indicating that she could not endure detention because of her illnesses.
Three years later on May 5, 2015, however, she was arrested again in a violent raid on her residence and transferred to Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward.
Prison officials have hampered her treatment despite her dangerous physical condition and need to consume 23 medications every day. As a consequence, she has been suffering from heart palpitations and high blood pressure.
In a letter written in May 2015, Mohammadi wrote, “I went to the infirmary six times to get my medications but they didn’t give me my full dosage. A judiciary official, Nassiripour, threatened me and said, ‘Because of all the commotion created for you, the judge will issue a heavy sentence for you.’ ”
In December 2015, new problems emerged for Mohammadi upon her transfer to a hospital.
Agents transferred her with handcuffs and did not remove them in the clinic. The doctor wanted to examine her and asked her to take off her jacket. Ms. Mohammadi asked the agents, “Don’t you think you have to remove the handcuffs?” The agent answered, “This is for the agents to decide. If they want to remove them, they will and if not, they won’t.”
The agents even stood between the patient and the doctor to prevent direct conversations during examination. They even went further when Ms. Mohammadi needed to “change her clothes,” to be examined, they did not leave the room. Nargess Mohammadi protested this treatment which eventually caused her high blood pressure to shoot up and she was ultimately transferred back to the prison’s infirmary.
Ms. Mohammadi’s demand for her rights was a new pretext for intelligence officials to initiate a new case against her and request the maximum penalty, as a result of which her prison sentence was increased to 16 years in January 2016.
Nargess Mohammadi has 9-year-old twins who live abroad but she is not allowed to contact them. In protest to this situation, Ms. Mohammadi went on hunger strike in June 2016. Her 18-day hunger strike forced the regime to back off and grant her permission to contact her children from prison.
Maryam Naghash Zargaran
Charge: Association and conspiring against national security and vilifying the regime by promoting “Church Houses” across the country
Sentence: 4 years imprisonment
Maryam Naghash Zargaran suffers from Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and has undergone heart surgery. Doctors instructed her to stay absolutely away from any stress. In prison and due to prison conditions, back disc, arthritis in the neck and hands as well as ear complications have been added to her pre-existing medical condition.
She has been granted occasional medical leaves, once after 11 days of hunger strike. She has never been allowed to complete her treatment in hospital and has been summoned to the prison.
Charge: Waging war on God by membership in PEJAK
Sentence: 15 years imprisonment
Safieh Sadeghi suffers from heart and kidney complications and is about to lose one of her kidneys. Despite medical diagnosis and doctor’s instructions, prison officials have prevented her from being treated in a city hospital.
Charge: Acting against national security through activities in the Bahaii Online University.
Sentence: 4 years imprisonment
She suffers from thyroid deficiency and is denied treatment.
Charge: Waging war on God by collaboration with the PMOI
Sentence: 10 years imprisonment
Fatemeh Rahnama is serving her eighth year in Ahwaz Prison. She suffers from cancer and a special mental condition, but she has been denied treatment out of prison.
Charge: Managing a Bahaii group
Sentence: 10 years imprisonment
The health status of this 64-year-old prisoner of conscience is critical but she is denied the right to sick leave and to meet with her family.
She is suffering from osteoporosis because of malnutrition and poor diet in prison, which has led to hip fractures. Nevertheless, prison authorities continue to refuse her medical leave.
Golnaz Ahang Khosh
Charge: Waging war on God through intending to join a Kurdish party
At the time of her arrest, the Revolutionary Guards were pounding the region and Gonaz Ahang Khosh got injured. She was taken for interrogation despite her injuries.
Charge: Acting against national security through effective communication with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Intelligence
Sentence: 14 years imprisonment, 80 lashes and internal exile
Farideh Khoshnam was injured with shrapnel when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were pounding the region. She was arrested while injured and directly transferred to Orumiyeh’s IRGC Detention Center and interrogated for 40 days.
Charge: membership in the PKK and acting against national security by disseminating propaganda and organizing city networks for PKK
Sentence: 7 years in prison, internal exile
Qadriyeh Qaderi suffers from ear infection, severe headaches and numbness in one hand. Specialist doctor has asked for CT scan, but prison authorities have refused to allow her to go to hospital.
Charge: Waging war on God by intending to join PEJAK
Revolutionary Guards forces shot and injured Razieh Hakimi upon arrest. The Revolutionary Guards initially took her to a hospital, but transferred her to Orumiyeh’s IRGC Detention Center for interrogation only two days later before completion of her treatment. She remained injured in solitary confinement and was interrogated for one month.
Razieh Hakimi was arrested in September 2014 and remains in prison on security grounds without receiving care for her infected injuries.
Charge: Acting against national security, assembly and collusion against the state, insulting religious sanctities, disseminating anti-government propaganda, spreading lies.
Sentence: 34 years and 9 months in jail
The 64-year-old political prisoner suffers from schizophrenia. Due to her age and illness, she has been denied punishment, however, she is still kept in prison.
6 Prevention of visitations and phone calls
There are no criteria or standards for prisoners’ visitation rights in the Iranian regime’s prisons. Family visits and phone calls are used as a tool by prison authorities to exert more pressure on the prisoners.
The Women’s Ward of Evin Prison has no telephone facility for the political prisoners to make phone calls to their family and children.
Prisoners can only communicate with first-degree family members for twenty minutes via a cabin meeting. A cabin meeting is a visit through a dirty and blurry window and through a headset that is controlled by prison authorities.
Many prisons, including the prisons of Khoy, Sanandaj and Yasouj, do not consider any visitation rights for the prisoners.
Female political prisoners in Sanandaj Prison are prohibited from visits and telephones are usually dysfunctional for long periods.
Visits are hastily done under stress in Yazd prison. Headsets usually fail in the middle of meetings and there is no compensation for the time lost.
In Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison, visitations are called off for various reasons. Prisoners are also denied the right to send and receive letters.
Sometimes, visitations and telephone calls are denied to punish prisoners. Political prisoners are punished when they protest arbitrary behavior and inhuman treatment by revolutionary guards or when they convey prison conditions to their families. If a prisoner sends a letter out of prison, she is severely punished. Punishments range from denial of visitations and telephone calls, to incarceration in solitary cells, to adding new charges to the prisoner’s case, and in some cases sending the prisoner to internal exile.
7 Hunger strike
Hunger strike is a last-resort measure that has turned into a common act of protest and resistance by Iranian political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The prisoners’ frequent use of hunger strike indicates the regime’s flagrant violation of their basic rights which leaves them nothing but their health and life to express their protest with.
In other words, a prisoner goes on hunger strike only when she has already tried all other legal avenues to achieve her right, to no avail.
Hunger strike has serious and irreparable effects on the health of female prisoners.
During the hunger strike, prison authorities do not provide any medical care for the prisoner. Rather, they increase their threats and harassment to make her give in.
Once the hunger strike is over, there is nothing in the prison to help the prisoner recover. Prison guards do not receive the things the prisoner’s family bring and prevent any other assistance to the prisoner as well. Consequently, the adverse effects of hunger strike remain on the prisoner’s health and get worse over time.
Nevertheless, political prisoners are willing to pay the high price to voice their protest and convey their message out.
When the prisoner’s message echoes among the families, the public opinion and international forums, the regime has to step back and retreat.
The regime’s retreats are sporadic and transient and the prisoner never fully achieves her demands.
Nonetheless, in light of the oppressive nature of the ruling regime, they should be considered a great victory for the female political prisoners who are held in inhuman conditions under torture and unbearable pressure that do not conform to any extent to international standards.
Maryam Naghash Zargaran
Maryam Naghash Zargaran was a children’s music teacher whose actual crime is proselytizing Christianity. She has been imprisoned since July 15, 2013, in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison.
She went on hunger strike for the first time for 11 days on June 6, 2016, to protest the status of her case, the lack of medical care, and the refusal to grant her conditional release or medical leave.
As a result of Ms. Zargaran’s hunger strike, she was granted medical leave on a bail bond of 70 million toumans. Nevertheless, she was forced to return to prison before completion of her treatment when prison officials threatened to confiscate her bail if she does not return.
After returning to prison, she went on another hunger strike for 27 days on July 5, 2016.
Ms. Zargaran has been sentenced to 4 years in prison on the charge of assembly and collusion against national security but she has never been formally informed of these charges.
Nargess Mohammadi went on hunger strike for 18 days in July 2016 to protest being denied telephone contacts with her children.
She forced the Iranian regime’s officials to back down and grant her request.
Former political prisoners Nasrin Sotoudeh and Atena Farghadani also went on hunger strike for lengthy periods to gain their basic rights.
Atena Farghani was on hunger strike for at least 24 days and Nasrin Sotoudeh was on wet and dry hunger strikes for at least 60 days of her prison sentence.
8 A case in point: Maryam Akbari Monfared
Maryam Akbari Monfared, 41, with three daughters, was arrested in late December 2009, after she contacted her siblings who are members of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). She was arrested and charged with Moharebeh or waging war on God through collaboration with the PMOI.
Maryam Akbari was essentially deprived of access to legal counsel and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a 5-minute trial.
Defending this unfair verdict, the court judge said, “I was nice not to issue a death verdict because of her children.”
Maryam Akbari has served eight years of her sentence without any leave in Qarchak Prison of Varamin, Gohardasht Prison of Karaj, and the Metadon Ward of the Evin Prison. Presently, she is incarcerated in the Evin’s Women’s Ward.
Her family has paid 1150 million toumans as bail in two payments, but prison officials have refused to grant her medical leave.
The verdict issued for Maryam Akbari contradicts not only international standards but the laws of the Iranian regime.
According to Articles 19 and 288 of the Punishment Law in Iran, the punishment for Moharebeh is between 10 to 15 years or a maximum amount of 550 million Rials in cash fine. The same law defines Moharebeh as “using weapons to target or terrify one’s life, property or family such that the environment becomes insecure.”
Maryam Akbari has never taken up arms and has never been a member of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The court judge told her, “You are paying the price of your sister and brothers.”
Maryam Akbari suffers from various illnesses. Twice, she developed gall bladder stones but the Prosecutor’s Office did not authorize her transfer to hospital. Her surgery was ultimately done after several months of delay and after her family appealed to the public opinion to pressure the authorities. She suffers from severe pain in muscles and bones and acute pain in the knees and needs to see a rheumatologist. She also suffers from thyroid problem.
Maryam Akbari is a survivor of a family most of whose members have been massacred. Maryam’s brother, Abdolreza Akbari Monfared was arrested in 1980 at the age of 17 and sentenced to three years in prison for selling the PMOI newspaper. Judicial officials refused to release him after finishing his sentence and finally executed him in 1988.1
Alireza Akbari Monfared was executed on September 19, 1981, for supporting the PMOI. Security forces raided Alireza’s funeral ceremony and arrested his mother and sister.
Maryam’s sister, Roghieh Akbari Monfared, who had a young daughter, was sentenced to eight years in prison. She was serving the last year of her prison term when she was hanged in the 1988 massacre.
Maryam’s third brother, Gholamreza, was arrested in 1983 and executed in 1985.
Maryam’s mother suffered a heart stroke and died after the execution of her children.
Another brother of Maryam, Reza Akbari Monfared, is presently serving a 4-year prison sentence at Rajaii-Shahr Prison in Karaj.
Maryam Akbari has put up a courageous resistance against the regime’s illegal pressures since the beginning.
On October 15, 2016, she filed a formal complaint with the Judiciary demanding investigation into the executions of her siblings in the 1980s. She urged other families to undertake similar measures.
She also wrote a letter to international organizations in December 2016, and urged the UN to prosecute the perpetrators and masterminds of the 1988 massacre.
Prison authorities deprived her from access to medical services in reprisal while she had already arranged her appointments. The assistant Prosecutor of Evin told the Akbari family, “Her treatment plans have been cancelled because she has become too brazen.”
She was subsequently deprived from having family visits while the Women’s Ward of Evin does not provide any telephone facility for the inmates.
9 Prison Conditions
Systematically, the Iranian regime’s prison officials do not abide by any international standards. At the same time, the laws of the Velayat-e Faqih regime do not contain any standards for prison conditions and treatment of prisoners. As a consequence, the prison conditions are deplorable and the conditions in women’s prisons are even worse. Iran’s prisons are fundamentally structured for male detainees and their limited facilities are mainly at men’s disposal.
Women are generally held in deserted buildings, rooms or warehouses, sometimes with no roofs or walls. These places have not been built in the first place for the residence of human beings. So the conditions in women’s prisons are indeed calamitous.
The overcrowding of prisons has been a major problem in recent years. The number of women in the women’s wards is usually two to four folds greater. In some prisons, the prison is so packed that prisoners have no room to walk.
The women’s wards are essentially places for incarcerating and depriving women of their rights and the infrastructures were not originally intended for a prison.
Women are in need of clean and sanitary places but hygiene is deplorable in the women’s wards. There is not a sufficient number of toilets. In the Qarchak Prison, for almost 190 women in each silo, there are only four toilets and four baths half of which are always out of order. Warm water is available for only one hour a day and most prisoners bathe with cold water. Although there is no water for most hours of the day. In some prisons, the prisoners’ bathing time is limited to ten minutes per week.
The restrooms are also the only place where prisoners can drink water, do their dishes and wash their clothes.
In the Vakilabad Prison of Mashhad and Adelabad Prison of Shiraz, baths and toilets are inside the cells. The bath is comprised of a relatively long hose which brings water from the dish-washing sink to the toilet. The prisoner has to bathe a short distance away from where other prisoners are sitting. The waste water from doing the dishes and bathing flows on the floor of the cell.
Many prisoners in the Qarchak Prison shave their hair because otherwise they cannot prevent lice from breeding in their hair. There are no cleaning detergents in the prison.
There are snakes, mice, and other pests in some prisons.
The inhuman prison conditions have caused neural illnesses for many prisoners. They also cause osteoporosis, arthritis, rheumatism as well as knee, joint and back pain.
Prison dispensaries are under equipped. There are no emergency medical services. No medicine is given to prisoners. The medications procured by families are not given to the prisoners under the pretext of controlling entry of narcotic drugs.
Prisoners have great difficulty in referring to civil medical centers. Even if the prisoner is in an emergency state, first the head of the dispensary and then the coroner must confirm the need. Then is the turn for the Prosecutor who helps advance the policies of the Ministry of Intelligence. It usually takes months just to obtain a permit for such a referral.
Infectious diseases, hepatitis and AIDS are common among prisoners and officials do nothing to improve the situation, not even by separating the ill prisoners.
Air conditioning and ventilation
Prison cells do not have any form of ventilation and all the windows are sealed. This creates a horrible breathing condition. Air conditions are also usually out of order.
Most prisoners also suffer from various problems because of insufficient natural light.
Exercise and open air facilities
Open air spaces for female prisoners are usually very small. These are not open areas but closed rooms with high walls and no roofs. Usually, there is not enough space for all prisoners. These spaces are also used for drying clothes.
No place has been considered for rest in the women’s wards. There are a limited number of iron beds with no mattresses. Thin, rough blankets are the only liner between the prisoner’s body and the metal bed.
The number of beds are not sufficient, either. In some prisons such as the Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, there is not even a single bed and the prisoners have to spend all the night on the cold, wet and insanitary floor of the cell.
The amount and quality of food is not adequate. Prison meals lack the basic nutritional ingredients.
Usually, the food is consisted of a small amount of boiled potatoes, macaroni, some beans, and bread. Meat, milk, vegetables, and fruit are essentially non-existent. The quality of rice is very low and is cooked with camphor. The best meal is boiled eggs and potatoes served only once a week.
Ironically, one of the punishments is to deprive the prisoners from this meager food.
The food usually contains hair and insects. In the Qarchak Prison, there is no good drinking water. The prisoners who do not afford to buy mineral water, have no options but to drink salty water.
Security, separation of categories
Basically, prisoners are not separated according to their crime categories. The only prisons where female political prisoners are separated are the Evin Prison in Tehran and the Vakilabad Prison of Mashhad.
In other prisons, political prisoners are detained among social convicts who are sometimes dangerous. In the Qarchak Prison of Varamin, political prisoners are held with nearly 45 death-row prisoners and inmates convicted of other crimes. In Orumiyeh Prison, 100 prisoners are awaiting their execution alongside political prisoners.
Prisoners with mental disorder are also held among other prisoners and do not receive any special treatment. These prisoners have on a number of occasions raped and subsequently murdered other prisoners.
Fights and quarrels are also common among ordinary prisoners without any effort by prison officials to contain them.
Contact with the outside world
One of the registered rights of prisoners is their right to contact their families and close relatives. This right has been taken hostage by the Iranian regime and is violated in one form or another in every prison.
Political prisoners in the women’s ward of the Evin Prison do not have any means for making telephone contacts. In many prisons, political prisoners are held absolutely incommunicado. In other prisons, prisoners do not have the right to send or receive letters.
Depriving prisoners from telephone contacts and visits is one of the tools used by prison authorities to punish the prisoners.
Humiliation and degradation
The treatment of female prisoners by prison guards and officials is unprincipled and very degrading. Humiliation, disrespect, and frequent beating of prisoners have destructive mental effects on the prisoners.
The cells are inspected every two days and the prisoners’ belongings are confiscated or violently destroyed.
Closed circuit cameras are installed in all places, including the toilets, and prisoners are under constant monitoring.
In addition, prisoners are physically inspected in a humiliating manner every time they enter the prison. In the Qarchak Prison in Varamin, prison guards make the prisoners completely undress and use trusted prisoners to examine their private parts. This is done so harshly that the prisoners usually cannot sit down for several days.
As it became evident in this study, the fundamentalist Iranian regime does not abide by any international laws or codes of conduct particularly when it gets to prisons and prisoners, particularly political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and women.
In studying the charges and sentences issued for women prisoners of conscience, it also became evident that the regime does not comply with its own Constitution, Civil and Penal codes, and the Punishment Law.
For the misogynous, fundamentalist clerical regime ruling Iran, women who choose to fight against official restrictions, deprivations and rights abuses to gain their own and their nation’s trampled rights are considered the worst enemies. So, they have to endure maximum pressure and inconceivable cruelty on the part of the prison officials and guards.
In this study, we examined violent and arbitrary arrests of women for exercising their basic right to peaceful expression of opinion, peaceful expression of protest, peaceful demand for justice, peaceful defense of their clients, peaceful opposition to the death penalty, and even for a mere telephone contact with their relatives.
This study also shed light on these women’s interrogation under torture coupled with solitary confinement and isolation, the illegal judicial proceedings that issue unfair sentences for them, and the authorities’ denial of their medical treatment and family visits in reprisal for the incarcerated women’s refusal to cooperate with the regime.
Such unjustified treatment forces women prisoners of conscience to go on hunger strike to get help from outside to reach their minimum demands.
And finally we studied a case in point, the case of Maryam Akbari Monfared, a mother of three who has been imprisoned for calling her siblings in the opposition and enduring an unjustified 15-year sentence for the anti-government activities of her massacred sister and brothers.
Under the misogynist religious fascism of the mullahs, everything a woman does to gain her basic human rights is considered a national security threat and dealt with as Moharebeh or waging war against God, even when these women have not touched a gun or weapon in all their lifetime. While e
Even according to the regime’s medieval laws, Moharebeh happens only when someone threatens other people’s life, property or family by targeting them by some kind of weaponry.
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran draws attention to the inhuman conditions in Iranian jails and particularly to the inhumane conditions of women who are held in detention for their beliefs and political opinion.
Their situation has gotten worse in the absence of any international accountability, sending Tehran a green signal to continue with their arbitrary and outlaw behavior.
The NCRI Women’s Committee urges all international human rights and women’s rights bodies, organizations, advocates and activists to join together in an international campaign to increase pressure on the Iranian regime to free all political prisoners, observe the standards of human rights in its prisons and in treatment of all female prisoners, particularly with regards to women who have young children.
We demand immediate freedom of the women who are imprisoned on political grounds for peacefully exercising their legitimate human rights.
The NCRI Women’s Committee also appeals to the international community, the EU and the US, to make their relations and trade with the Iranian regime contingent on improvement of human and women’s rights in Iran. A situation that is vividly symbolized in the freedom of women political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
The NCRI Women’s Committee believes that the following essential goals and demands must be placed on the agenda of all countries dealing with the Iranian regime:
- Freedom of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, particularly the female prisoners;
- Stopping practice of all forms of torture and cruel punishmens in the prisons of the Iranian regime;
- Improvement of the situation of human rights in Iran and elimination of all forms of physical and psychological torture against prisoners under interrogation and during detention;
- Prosecution of the regime’s officials in charge of the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, including the government Minister of Justice Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, and all others involved, as demanded by female political prisoners from their prison confinement.
Cases of former political prisoners
To better understand the Iranian regime’s illegal treatment of female political prisoners and violations of their most basic rights, studying the cases of a few former political prisoners and prisoners of conscience is enlightening.
Sentence: 10 years in prison, internal exile
Charge: Supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and effectively acting to advance their goals
Time in prison: 6 years
Political prisoner Sedigheh Moradi, 55, mother of an 18-year-old daughter, was arrested in April 2011.
She was interrogated and tortured seven months in Ward 209 of the Evin Prison. Her torturers tried to force her into making false confessions against herself on the state television.
In July 2012, Sedigheh Moradi was transferred to the Qarchak Prison in Varamin and spent several months in inhuman conditions and among dangerous convicts. Soon after, prison authorities were alarmed by her positive impact on prisoners and isolated her from other prisoners.
On August 29, 2015, her blood pressure dropped to 6 over 4. Her cellmates rushed her to the prison’s dispensary, however, the MOIS interrogators did not let her be transferred out of prison and to hospital. She was returned to the ward without any effective treatment.
Ms. Moradi also suffered a meniscus tear and tendon injury while in detention. She had to avoid walking up and down the stairs, something that is impossible in the Evin’s Women’s Ward.
Ms. Moradi also suffered from stomachache, jaw pain, toothache, neck arthritis and sciatica and needed to see doctors outside the prison. Prison authorities did not let her leave the prison to receive medical care.
Sedigheh Moradi had been imprisoned twice before in the 1980s. She is a survivor of the massacre of political prisoners in 1988. In November 2016, she sent out a letter from prison and called for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the massacre. She wrote in part, “In 1981, I was arrested for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. During that time, I witnessed how they took away some of the prisoners from my side and sent them before the firing squads. At nights, we counted the coups de grace. I was arrested again in 1985. In 1988, I witnessed the massacre of prisoners from July to September. A large number of prisoners from the ward where I had been held, were separated from us and taken for execution…. I witnessed the executions of those who had finished serving their sentences. They executed a prisoner who was mentally deranged… There was a ward with only one survivor and the rest had all been executed… I will never forget those days and the images in my mind are eternal.”
Sedigeh Moradi was freed on November 23, 2016, upon the ruling of the Review Court.
Sentence: 12 years and 9 months
Charge: Spreading anti-government propaganda, activity against national security, and insulting parliamentary deputies by her drawing skills
Time in prison: Total of 20 months
Atena Farghadani is a cartoonist, a human rights activist and a children’s rights advocate.
She was first deprived of continuing her M.A. and incarcerated on August 23, 2014, for drawing a cartoon of members of the Iranian parliament. She was detained for two months, 20 days of which was spent in solitary confinement and under interrogation. She was deprived of having access to a lawyer and family visits.
For the first time, she went on a wet hunger strike for 11 days followed by two days of dry hunger strike.
She found closed circuit cameras installed inside the bathroom and toilet. Ms. Farghadani experienced psychological and physical harassment by prison guards which she exposed after getting released.
On January 10, 2015, she was summoned to court for divulging her experiences in prison. She was beaten up in front of her parents, arrested and taken to the Qarchak Prison.
On February 9, 2015, she started another hunger strike. After 21 days, she was hospitalized and subsequently transferred to the Evin Prison.
Ms. Farghadani explained that she wanted to protest against inhuman conditions in the Qarchak Prison and the transfer of political prisoners there including herself. She decided to go on hunger strike after her repeated appeals through legal channels went unheeded.
On June 13, 2015, Atena Farghadani had a meeting with her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, at the end of which they shook hands. Her lawyer was arrested and imprisoned in Rajaii-Shahr Prison and both were charged with having illicit relations. On the basis of this charge, judicial officials forced Ms. Farghadani to undergo virginity tests. The regime’s scheme failed after Ms. Farghadani’s three days of hunger strike and both parties were cleared of the alleged charges.
Ms. Farghadani’s 12-year-and-nine-month sentence was later commuted to 18 months by the Review Court and she was released on May 3, 2016, after serving her sentence.
The human rights advocate and artist won two international awards. In 2015, she received in absentia the Cartoonists Rights Network International’s 2015 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning.
In 2016, just two days after regaining her freedom, Atena Farghadani received the Vaclac Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent.
Sentence: 6 years in prison, 10 years ban on travel abroad and practice of law
Charges: Activities against national security, anti-government propaganda, and membership in the League of Human Rights Advocates
Time in prison: Three years (2010-2013)
A jurist and lawyer, Nassrin Sotoudeh was imprisoned for defending a number of activists arrested in the 2009 uprising. Before being arrested, she had been threatened repeatedly for her legal defense activities.
Sotoudeh was arrested on September 4, 2010. She was detained for 105 days in solitary confinement in the Evin Prison’s Ward 209. During this period, she was denied access to any lawyer or her family. Prison officials informed her with delay of her father’s death and did not allow her to attend his funeral.
After her first trial, security officials filed a new case against her on the charge of “promoting being unveiled.” Nassrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to payment of 50,000 toumans in this regard.
Several times during her three years in prison, Ms. Sotoudeh went on hunger strike to protest illegal violations of her own and other prisoners’ rights.
The first time, she went on hunger strike from September 25 until November 15, 2010, nine days of which was a dry hunger strike.
Her second hunger strike lasted from December 7 to December 20, 2010. She did not even drink water during these 13 days.
On October 17, 2012, she went on hunger strike for the third time to protest the government’s ban on her 12-year-old daughter’s travel abroad. She ended her hunger strike after 49 days on December 4, 2012, after the Iranian regime withdrew the travel ban.
Ultimately, Nassrin Sotoudeh was released from prison on September 18, 2013.
She has received a number of international awards including the 2016 Women Have Wings Award, the 2008 Human Rights International (HRI) Award, the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and the 2011 Pen Club Award.
Time in prison: Detained four times in 4 years
Negar Ha’eri, a civil rights activist and a lawyer, was first arrested along with her mother, Ariya Almassian, on May 1, 2011, for “supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran by sending the video clips of the burial procession of a PMOI member.”
Before that in 2009, her license for practice of law had been suspended for undertaking her father’s defense who was accused of supporting the PMOI.
The second time, she was arrested in July 2012, for following up on the alarming situation of her father, political prisoner Mashallah Ha’eri, who was detained at the time in Rajai-Shahr Prison and suffered from heart and blood circulation diseases. She was also charged with giving legal counsel to the families of political prisoners.
The third time, Ms. Ha’eri was arrested and taken to the women’s Qarchak Prison on June 22, 2014, for “disseminating anti-government propaganda and falsities by giving interviews to alien media.”
She was detained in the Qarchak Prison for eight months in an undecided status. Judicial authorities extended her sentence several times, without providing any legal justification.
Ms. Ha’eri suffered an eye infection while detained in the Qarchak Prison because of contaminated water. She later said that the prison’s hygiene was horrible, there were no cooling systems and water outages were frequent during summer.
This political prisoner was pressured twice as others during her detention in the Qarchak Prison. She was deprived of making telephone contacts for one month while other inmates could make 20 minutes of call every day.
Prison officials detained her in a separate ward and warned other prisoners against contacting her otherwise they would be punished.
In mid-November 2014, prison guards raided Negar Ha’eri’s cell and thoroughly inspected it. They threatened her that if the news of the raid leaked out, she would be pressured even further. They said, “We will do something that you would die right here.”
On October 27, 2014, she was beaten up by ordinary prisoners who had been provoked by the prison’s warden and suffered an injured eye.
She was formally fired from her job in November 2014.
On February 25, 2015, she was released from prison on bail after eight months.
Subsequently, Ms. Ha’eri followed up on the condition of women imprisoned in the Qarchak Prison, for which she was summoned and arrested several times without being informed of any charges.
Ms. Ha’eri was arrested again on May 18, 2015, and imprisoned in solitary confinement of Ward 209 of the Evin Prison for 10 days.
Partial List of Female Political Prisoners Incarcerated in Iranian Prisons