Nabz News Review - May 29, 2015
This week in human rights in Iran
The trial of Jason Rezaian, the imprisoned Washington Post Tehran correspondent, began on May 26, approximately 10 months since Rezaian was arrested on unknown charges, which were recently revealed to include espionage. The closed-door hearing lasted about two hours before proceedings were adjourned, but no timeline has been provided as to when the trial will continue.
Shortly before the end of his six years of imprisonment, it was announced that Ahmad Zeidabadi would be sent to exile upon completing his sentence, which ended on May 21. Zeidabadi, a reform journalist and newspaper editor who was arrested in the post-election crackdown of 2009, was sent to Gonabad in northeastern Iran to serve his five-year exile.
In an interview published by Manoto TV on May 26, human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh criticized the Iranian judiciary’s order banning 12 woman lawyers from all judicial facilities in the province of Tehran on the pretext of disobeying the Islamic hijab.
On May 19, the trial of outspoken artist and women’s rights activist Atena Farghadani began, and she was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Farghadani is known for depicting parliamentarians as animals in her cartoons and was re-arrested last year after publicly detailing her treatment in prison.
The Campaign to Defend Civil and Political Prisoners in Iran reports that labor activist Mahmoud Salehi saw his prison sentence extended again on May 26. Salehi was arrested a month ago in Kurdistan province in the days leading up to International Workers Day (May 1).
On May 19, civil activist Negar Haeri was arrested and transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, two days after she had been summoned for questioning. Saham News reports that it is likely that Haeri was arrested over the interviews she had given on the poor conditions in Gharchak Prison in Varamin. Haeri was released ten days later.
On May 17, journalist and political activist Keyvan Samimi was released from prison after serving six years behind bars. Samimi has been arrested multiple times, starting before the Revolution, and his latest imprisonment was part of the 2009 arrests.
On May 27, Minister of Education Ali Asghar Fani sent a letter to the judiciary calling for the pardon and release of jailed teachers. In recent months, teachers throughout Iran have protested the persistence of low wages, and many have been arrested as a result.
On May 25, Ali Akbar Baghani, a senior member of Iran’s teachers’ union, was sent to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj to begin serving his one-year prison sentence (to be followed by two years’ exile). Baghani’s sentence arises from his arrest five years ago, though he also holds a discretionary sentence of five years from an earlier episode.
In a discussion aired live on Iranian television, Arman Zakeri, a doctoral candidate and lecturer at Tehran University, strongly criticized the imprisonment and dismissal of professors and researchers in the social sciences.
In a May 26 address to seminary students and clerics, Sadegh Larijani, head of the judiciary, defended Iran’s human rights record by calling into question the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly its definition of “inherent human dignity”.
Kurdish human rights groups report that few of the approximately 160 protesters arrested in Mahabad a few weeks ago have been released, and that those still behind bars have been subjected to torture.
It was reported on May 23 that Yusef Abkhorabat, a Mahabad worker who has been in prison for 14 months for taking part in labor gatherings, is at risk of losing his vision.
Three people were executed in public in Mashhad on May 27 for charges including armed robbery. In one of their actions, the three men killed an individual, but the victim’s family did not pardon them.
On May 25, 22 prisoners were hanged in Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj. All 22 prisoners were executed following convictions for drug-related crimes. According to IHRDC, Iran has executed over 250 people in 2015 for drug-related charges.