Iran: Plight Of Political Prisoners Signals Regime Turmoil

Iran is currently striving to manage a number of increasingly painstaking dilemmas. International spotlight is again on Tehran’s nuclear program, with the United States demanding United Nations inspectors be granted access to its military sites.

Equally troubling is Iran’s collaboration with North Korea to pursue their nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile capabilities. Such dossiers are enough to undermine the spirit of the JCPOA, Tehran now also considers its meddling in the Middle East indispensable in its effort to establish a regional empire reaching the Mediterranean.

As a result, receiving far less attention than it deserves is Iran’s Achilles Heel: human rights violations.

Despite pledges of reforms provided during May’s presidential election season, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has presided over more than 100 executions during the month of July alone. His first tenure, from 2013 to 2017 witnessed over 3,000 being sent to the gallows despite numerous calls for at least a temporary cessation.

In the past month another urgent plight has emerged as dozens of political prisoners in Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) prison of Karaj, west of Tehran were suddenly transferred into a section on July 30th and kept under “suffocating” conditions, as described by Amnesty International.

On this day over 50 political prisoners in ward 10 of Raja’i Shahr prison witnessed authorities resort to force in transferring them to the new location. This slate included prisoners of conscience, human rights advocates, trade unionists, journalists, students, peaceful political dissidents, and members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community.

Already deprived of any access to clean, drinking water and food, the absence of adequate beds are also robbing these political prisoners of any sleep. Even water purification devices purchased at the prisoners’ own expenses were confiscated by authorities and maintained at their previous location.

The cells’ windows are covered by metal sheets, making even breathing difficult. While inmates held in other parts of the prison have access to in-person family visits and telephone calls, such accommodations are no longer available to these political prisoners.

Such circumstances left, according to the last count, 22 political prisoners no choice but hunger striking to demand authorities to at least respect their elementary human needs. The main “charge” of most of these prisoners is supporting the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

Earlier this month a number of prisoners were punished for practicing their right to a peaceful protest in launching hunger strikes, and thus forced into solitary confinement.

To add insult to injury is how the new section is checkered with closed circuit security cameras and audio surveillance devices. This has taken away any sense of privacy from the prisoners, even in private cells and bathrooms, and mounting to a flagrant rights violation.

Such situations leave no conclusion possible other than the authorities’ intention to completely cut off these political prisoners from the outside world. Officials also seek to restrict, to any extent possible, any information leak regarding their regular ordeals in Raja’i Shahr.

One result has been the prison medical clinic becoming far busier as more political prisoners are transferred due to rapid health deterioration. A number of these cases are in need of dire medical care in outside facilities. The prison warden, however, is refusing the authorization of such hospital transfers.

“The horrendous conditions at Raja’i Shahr prison point to a pattern of cruel and inhumane treatment that has repeatedly characterized Iran’s ruthless attitude to prisoners in its custody,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International, is quoted in the organization’s statement on this subject.

Iranian authorities have human rights commitments they are obligated to live up to. Yet detaining prisoners of conscience by the dozens following completely unfair trials is this regime’s response in honoring these commitments.

There is no doubt that despite all the claims of Rouhani being a “moderate,” the existence of such conditions in a country’s prisons signal an urgent need for drastic alterations.

Yet despite all the odds there is no sign of these political prisoners backing down from their demands as they courageously continue their protest. Other such prisoners in different facilities across the country are launching their own similar hunger strikes in solidarity with the Raja’i Shahr political prisoners.

Furthermore, this case brings to light how these protest acts, such as hunger strikes launched by political prisoners inside the regime’s own jails and rallies witnessed across the country, enjoy important influence. The ruling elite in Tehran continue to seek effective measures to counter such movements.

This also goes to show how the entire society in Iran has reached the limits of its tolerance with this regime, and why those with knowledge of Iran’s society consider it a powder keg or a time bomb.

Crackdown wave in Iran & protests in response

Theater actor sentenced to 99 lashes

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Inhumane lashings as punishment in Iran

The mullahs’ so-called judiciary in Iran has sentenced a young theater actor by the first name of Payam to 99 lashes. This inhumane ruling was upheld yesterday by the Iranian regime’s supreme court.

It is worth noting that following the lashing of Agh Dare mine workers and 35 college students in Ghazvin being sentenced to 99 lashes each by the mullahs’ judiciary, the United Nations issued a statement condemning lashings in Iran as inhumane, cruel, humiliating and in violation of international laws.

 

 

Kurdish woman sets herself ablaze

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Women setting themselves ablaze in protest in Iran

A Kurdish woman in Iran who set herself ablaze lost her life on Tuesday, December 6th due to her severe injuries. She was held in a hospital in Isfahan.

Negin Bidkham was from the village of “Faraj Abad” near the city of Kamiyaran, western Iran. She had set herself ablaze 10 days ago.

Women of all ages committing suicide and setting themselves ablaze is the immediate result of the atrocious crackdown imposed on this sector of society by the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

 

 

 

Intelligence agency demands money from family for a prisoner’s dead body

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Bandar Abbas Prison

Agents of the notorious Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) in Iran are demanding ransom money from the family of Reza Hossein Alizadeh in return for his corpse. Alizadeh lost his life in Bandar Abbas Prison, southern Iran, due to lack medical care.

The physical conditions of this prisoner was very dire, yet MOIS agents prevented his transfer to a hospital until he was finally taken to a hospital on Wednesday, November 16 after suffering a brain stroke. However, according to physicians his transfer was very late and there was nothing more they could do to keep him alive.

This prisoner passed away on December 7th and when his family commuted from Maku (northwest Iran) all the way to Bandar Abbas in southern Iran to retrieve his body, MOIS agents said they must first pay 7 billion rials (around $200,000). The MOIS agents said they will not hand over the body otherwise.

 

 

Political prisoner transferred to Tabriz Prison

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Political prisoner Morteza Moradpour

Political prisoner Morteza Moradpour has been transferred from Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, to Tabriz Prison in northwest Iran, while 44 days have passed since his hunger strike.

Kept in solitary confinement and under inhumane conditions until his transfer, he informed his brother in a phone call about the pressures imposed on him by regime agents while in solitary confinement.

“Morteza called on Thursday afternoon. This was the first call he made after his transfer to the Karaj prison. It was completely obvious from his voice that he had become severely weak. His blood pressure is usually 8. Morteza said he remains deprived from direct access to drinking water. They rarely provide him hot water. More than anything else he is suffering from lacking blankets and the cold and dry atmohsphere in solitary confinement. Despite the fact that doctors have emphasized on providing him blankets, the authorities have refused to do so. He said he doesn’t know why but the authorities have closed even the smallest openings in his cell. Morteza insists on continuing his hunger strike to have his demands met,” his brother added.

 

 

Conditions of political prisoner on hunger strike deteriorates severely

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Conditions of political prisoner Arash Sadeghi is deteriorating

Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, on his 45th day no hunger strike, once again began suffering from breathing and heart rate problems. He was transferred to the prison clinic and placed under oxygen.

The clinic resident doctor described his conditions as very concerning.

In the past few weeks Sadeghi has been transferred to the prison clinic many times and each night he has needed to be placed under oxygen. He has lost 18 kilograms of his weight and his blood pressure is very low.

This political prisoner is currently unable to speak and in the past few days he has been vomiting “blood clots,” and transferred to a hospital as a result. However, he was returned to prison without receiving proper medical treatment.

It is worth noting that Arash Sadeghi has been on hunger strike for 45 days protesting inhumane prison conditions and the illegitimate arrest of his wife.

 

 

Residents clash with riot police in Tehran

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Bihaghi complex in Tehran

On Thursday, December 8th the residents of the Bihaghi complex in Tehran fought back a raid staged by Tehran special riot police and municipality agents who were dispatched to force the locals to evacuate the complex.

Clashes broke out as regime agents forced 200 workers to evacuate this complex and be left in the freezing winter cold.

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Protest rallies in Tehran, Mashhad, Neishabour and Sarkhoon

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Rally protesting housing policies of Iranian regime

People from various parts of Iran in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad, Neishabour and Sarkhoon staged protest rallies.

In Tehran, people demanding their homes under the Pardis housing project rallied outside the regime’s Ministry of Road & Construction to voice their protests. They were protesting 7 years of reluctance, delays, embezzlement, money laundering and lies by regime authorities.

In Mashhad, incoming reports indicate a group of people who lost their stock investments rallied outside the regime’s governorate office in Mashhad. They were demanding attention by regime officials to their requests.

A group of people in the town of Sarkhoon, near the town of Ardel in southern Iran, held a rally outside the main oil pipeline and demanded their water pollution problems be resolved.

In Neishabour, northeast Iran, drivers of heavy machinery belonging to the municipality staged a rally protesting their paychecks being delayed for the past 7 months. This rally was held on Wednesday, December 7th.

Furthermore, drivers of private cars in this city also rallied outside the regime’s governorate office protesting not receiving their paychecks for the past few months.

 

 

Human chain in defense of Karoon River in Ahvaz

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Human chain alongside Karoon River

A group of people in Ahvaz rallied in support of Karoon River and against measures of rerouting its waters to Zayandeh River. They formed a human chain to voice their protests on Thursday, December 8th, reports indicate.

It is worth noting that to this day numerous protest rallies have been held, such as forming human chains by Ahvaz locals. However, regime officials have yet to bring an end to their destructive policies in this regard.

 

 

 

Urmia University students chant “Release all political prisoners”

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Urmia University

At a ceremony marking Students Day in Urmia University, northwest Iran, protesting students began chanting slogans demanding the release of all political prisoners.

The students also specifically demanded the release of political prisoner Morteza Moradpour.

“Freedom doesn’t mean that freedom activists must spend their lives behind bars under the most atrocious conditions, including on hunger strike,” they said.