Iran, October 17, 2020—Over 126,300 people have died of the novel coronavirus in 458 cities checkered across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to reports tallied by the Iranian opposition as of Sunday afternoon local time, October 18. The official death toll declared by the regime stands at 30,375, around a fourth of the actual figure.
The coronavirus death toll in various provinces include: 30,311 in Tehran, 9465 in Razavi Khorasan, 6599 in Isfahan, 5702 in Mazandaran, 4478 in East Azerbaijan, 3558 in West Azerbaijan, 3468 in Alborz, 3343 in Hamedan, 3311 in Fars, 2763 in Kermanshah, 2251 in Kurdistan, 2154 in North Khorasan, 1948 in Kerman, 1801 in Yazd, 1630 in Hormozgan, 1448 in Ardabil, 1039 in Ilam, 962 in Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari, and 879 in Kohgiluyeh & Boyer Ahmed. This is in addition to reports obtained from other provinces.
“The number of cities in red conditions have increased from 187 to 215. This week the number of people seeking medical treatment for Covid-19, those hospitalized, and the death toll escalated in comparison to the week before,” said the spokesperson for the regime’s Health Ministry on Sunday. “The average number of people hospitalized in each hospital has reached 15.8 people for every 100,000 and we continue to witness a rise in the number of people hospitalized. The highest number of people hospitalized are in the provinces of Qom, Lorestan, Ilam, Kurdistan, Yazd, Semnan and South Khorasan. Conditions in Qom and Lorestan are far more concerning than the others. The average death toll is reported at 23.5 for each million people. This is around three people per million more than last week. The highest Covid-19 death toll are reported from the provinces of Qom, Markazi, Ilam, West Azerbaijan, Alborz and East Azerbaijan. The provinces of Qom, Markazi and Ilam are far more concerning than other provinces,” she added, according the regime’s official IRNA news agency.
An Iranian regime court issued an inhuman ruling to separate a 2-year-old toddler from her Christian parents despite her “strong emotional bonds.” The little girl was subsequently separated from her parents and handed over to the Welfare Organization.
The 2-year-old toddler called Lydia was born Muslim but adopted by a Christian couple when she was only ten weeks old. The Revision Court of Bushehr ruled on September 23, 2020, that since the little girl was born Muslim she could not be adopted by a Christian couple.
The court ruling came despite the “strong emotional bonds” between the 2-year-old toddler and her Christian parents, Maryam Fallahi and Sam Khosravi.
Lydia suffers from heart and GI problems. She would face an uncertain future if sent to the orphanage of the Welfare Organization. It is unlikely that any other family would adopt her due to her illness.
Maryam Fallahi worked for years as a nurse in the Heart Hospital of Bushehr. The Welfare Organization’s observer and the Forensics Office confirmed that she had taken best care of Lydia over the past two years.
Amnesty International 12 September 2020
The secret execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari, without prior notice to him, his family or lawyer, after a grossly unfair trial, is a horrifying travesty of justice that needs immediate international action.
“Navid Afkari was a young man with a promising future ahead of him. Carrying out his death sentence with such utter disregard for the basic principles of justice further demonstrates the cruelty of the death penalty. A series of judges in different courts used forced ‘confessions’ obtained under torture to convict him, and consistently failed to investigate his complaints of torture.”
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa
Before his secret execution Navid Afkari, 27, was subjected to a shocking catalogue of human rights violations and crimes, including enforced disappearance; torture and other ill-treatment, leading to forced “confessions”; and denial of access to a lawyer and other fair trial guarantees.
“This young man desperately sought help in court to receive a fair trial and prove his innocence. Leaked voice recordings of him in court expose how his pleas for judges to investigate his torture complaints and bring another detainee who had witnessed his torture to testify were unlawfully and cruelly ignored,” said Diana Eltahawy.
By Jubin Katiraie
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has called for urgent action to save the lives of three female political prisoners in Qarchak Prison, following a reliable report that they will be killed soon.
The August 31 report says that Qarchak Prison Warden Mehdi Mohammadi and his deputy Mrs. Mirzaii have paid prisoners convicted of dangerous crimes to attack and murder Zahra Safaei, her daughter Parastoo Mo’ini, and Forough Taghipour, under the guise of a fight, which will throw off the suspicion of deliberate murder.
The report quoted a Qarchak Prison inmate, who said: “The prison’s chief has hired us to beat these prisoners and get into fights with them. But we do not know why we must do so? These three women are very nice and calm, and they have not hurt anyone.”
The report explained that Safaei, Mo’ini, and Taghipour were told by Mohammadi not to talk to the other inmates for fear that they would convert people into supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and that the trio often has to go to the workshop to avoid threats and attacks from those hired by Mohammadi.
Safaei told Qarchak Prison authorities: “We do not have any security here. We do not feel secure at nights in the room and not even when we intend to go to the bathrooms complex.”
The trio was arrested on February 24 and taken to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, otherwise known as the Ministry of Intelligence Detention Centre, before being banished to Qarchak Prison in April.
Safaei was previously a political prisoner from 1981 to 1989 and was arrested again in 2006 before being banished to Qazvin Prison in 2009. Her father was executed in 1982 for supporting the MEK.
On June 3, Safaei was threatened with violence and death by several inmates hired by the Intelligence Ministry. She was then attacked on August 27 by two dangerous criminals, who were sent into her room and struck her on the head and face, before other inmates stopped them.
The women who attacked her were Zeinab Ghanbarnejad, 44, and Narges Amir Ali, 42, who are both from Tehran and are convicted of theft and drug use.
It is clear that Safaei, Mo’ini, and Taghipour are in danger. The regime is infamous for using dangerous criminals to murder political prisoners, which is what happened to protester Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali, 21, on June 10, 2019.
A new report by Javaid Rahman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, reveals other dimensions of the crimes of the Iranian security forces.
In a new report, the Special Rapporteur revealed that the Iranian government dealt violently with protesters over the high price of gasoline in November 2019, killing hundreds, detaining thousands, torturing them, and imposing harsh sentences. Execution sentences were also handed down by unjust courts.
“The Special Rapporteur is alarmed by the unprecedented violent crackdown against protesters across the Islamic Republic of Iran in November 2019. Excessive force by State security forces has led to hundreds of deaths and injuries and thousands of arrests.
“Detained protesters have faced torture and ill-treatment, with some receiving harsh sentences, including the death penalty, after unfair trials. While the Government has created a victim compensation scheme and ordered investigations, those processes lack transparency and independence and are failing to hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account. Victims’ families have also reportedly faced harassment by authorities for speaking out.
“The violent response to the January 2020 protests concerning the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 demonstrated that the Government continues to use excessive force to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
In the new report to the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, Rehman stressed that he was “shocked” by the “unprecedented use of excessive and lethal force” against the protesters by the police, the IRGC, and the Basij during the November 2019 protests.
“The Special Rapporteur expresses his shock at the unprecedented use of excessive and lethal force by State security forces during the November 2019 protests, including by the police, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Basij militia. According to credible sources, at least 304 people, including 23 children and 10 women, were killed between 15 to 19 November 2019 in 37 cities across the Islamic Republic of Iran, although the death toll is believed to be much higher. Most of the deaths were reported in Tehran (130) and Alborz (33) provinces, as well as the majority ethnic minority provinces of Khuzestan (57) and Kermanshah (30).
“The Special Rapporteur expresses his particular alarm at the reported arbitrary use by security forces of firearms that killed at least 22 boys and 1 girl. On 16 November, 15-year-old Mohammad Dastankhah was shot dead, while returning from school in Sadra, by Basij forces shooting from their building rooftop. A 17-year-old boy, Mohsen Mohammadpour, also died after suffering head injuries during protests in Khorramshahr.
Mohammad Dastankhah and Mohsen Mohammadpour
Mohammad Dastankhah and Mohsen Mohammadpour
“Analysis of nearly half the victims’ corpses reveals they were shot in the head or neck in at least 66 cases and in the chest or heart in at least 46 cases. The pattern of shooting at vital organs, established by eyewitness accounts, video footage, and the documented causes of deaths, demonstrates that security forces were “shooting to kill” or with reckless disregard as to whether their actions caused death.”
While criticizing the regime’s common yet irresponsible behavior, he said: “The Government denied responsibility for protesters’ deaths, stating that firearms had been used by “rioters” and “agents of foreign enemies” and not State security forces, or, contradictorily, that security forces had used lethal force but that it had been justified as armed protesters had posed a threat to life or property. In its comments, the Government reasserted that law enforcement had exercised “maximum restraint”.
“Information received disputes those assertions. First, video footage and eyewitness testimonies confirm that police, Basij, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps security forces had been the entities to use firearms on unarmed and peaceful protesters who posed no imminent threat to life. Evidence supporting that finding included accounts that those shooting at protesters had worn security force uniforms, shot from government buildings, and used weapons and equipment associated with security forces. While the Government claimed a “large number” had been killed by non-government-issued weapons, no corroborating evidence was provided.”
The report was submitted to the Secretary-General on 21 July 2020 for submission to the General Assembly. The UN General Assembly begins on September 15 with the participation of the Heads of State.
Two days ago, Amnesty International issued a detailed report on the November protests, alleging “rape, enforced disappearances, torture, and other ill-treatment” of protesters over the price of gasoline.
During the November protests, Iran’s internet was cut off in an unprecedented way, and the means of communication and transmission of news were very limited.
Summary of Javaid Rehman’s report on the November 2019 protests
Most of the deaths are related to the two neighboring provinces of Tehran with 130 people and Alborz with 33 people killed.
Also, in the two minority provinces of Khuzestan with 57 dead and Kermanshah with 30 people, most casualties have been recorded.
An examination of nearly half of the bodies showed that 66 people had been shot in the head or neck, and 46 had been shot in the heart and chest.
This shows that the security forces fired with the intention of killing or that the lives and deaths of the people were insignificant to them. The families of the victims have been threatened to keep silent.
By Pooya Stone
The daughter of an Iranian political prisoner has been arrested on vague charges in order to put pressure on her mother; the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is already on a hunger strike in Evin Prison.
Mehraveh Khandan, 20, was arrested in a raid on her home at 11 am on Monday; taken by five Judiciary agents to the Security Courthouse of Evin without explanation.
Khandan was temporarily released on bail after a few hours, but, this is not the first time she is being subjected to harassment by the regime. She has been banned from leaving the country since she was 12, prevented from visiting her mother under the guise of the misogynous mal-veiling law, and harassed and threatened by Prison authorities when visiting her mother.
On September 16, 2018, Khandan went to visit her mother, but instead of being allowed to see her mother, she was called before the director of the visiting hall and told to “observe her hijab” or she wouldn’t be allowed in, even though she was dressed the same as on previous occasions.
Then, Sotoudeh was told that she was not allowed to receive visitors unless she was fully covered, so in protest, she gave up her family visits; refusing to sign a written pledge that she would wear a veil that only showed her face and hands.
Khandan said: “After waiting in the visitation hall for half an hour, (my mother’s) cellmates told me that when she was asked to sign a pledge to fully observe the hijab, she objected and then protested by refusing to go to visitation, saying that she won’t be making phone calls, either.”
Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike on August 11 to protest prison authorities’ failure to respond to demands by political prisoners or address the dire conditions in prison during the coronavirus outbreak. She is demanding the release of all political prisoners.
It is believed that therefore her daughter was arrested; to put pressure on Sotoudeh to end her hunger strike.
Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, was arrested in September 2018 and jailed for several months; shortly after Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike.
Sotoudeh was first arrested on June 13, 2018, and has been held on the women’s ward of Evin Prison ever since, charged with “collusion against national security”, “dissemination of falsities”, “distortion of public opinion”, and “insulting the state officials”. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.
By Jubin Katiraie
The Iranian regime executed three inmates this weekend in a shockingly callous disregard for human life.
Early on Monday, August 17, they hanged juvenile offender Arsalan Yasini in Urmia, northwest Iran, after moving him to solitary confinement on Sunday. He has been in prison there for a decade. He was just 17 when he was arrested 12 years ago.
On Sunday, two prisoners were executed in Mashhad Prison, in northeast Iran, and Yasuj Prison, south-central Iran. They were not named, but, according to reports, they had been imprisoned for two and three years, respectively.
The regime’s courts are well known for their lack of due process and other legal rights that we take for granted, with those arrested often tortured for making false confessions to be televised. An example of this coercion is telling someone that they will be released if they just admit to the crime.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have reported that from 2014 until the end of 2017, the regime executed at least 25 people for crimes that they supposedly committed as children. (Supposedly because, as mentioned above, the regime often forces people to confess under duress.) In 2018, the regime executed seven people for crimes that they allegedly committed before they turned 18.
In related news, the regime transferred political prisoner Abbas Mohammadi, arrested during the December 2017 / January 2018 uprising across Iran, to solitary confinement either late Friday or early Saturday. Mohammadi, who is held in Juy-Abad prison, in Isfahan, central Iran, is believed to be headed for his execution if it has not already taken place in secret.
Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) Saturday urged international human rights organizations to take action and save his life and get his death sentence revoked.
Mohammadi and four other protesters, all under 30, were sentenced to two counts of executions on the intentionally vague charge of “enmity against God” and the fake one of “violating others’ rights”. Of course, these five brave souls who were fighting for a Free Iran have all been under incredible interrogation and torture to obtain false confessions, so their convictions are more than doubtful.
Iran recently executes Mostafa Salehi, who was arrested during the nationwide Iran protests in 2018 in Isfahan. The regime accused him of killing a member of the security forces, despite having any pieces of evidence and repeated denial by Salehi.
By Pooya Stone
Following is the excerpt from the monthly summary of the Iran Human Rights Monitor’s report. As always, more information can be found here.
July 2020 saw the regime violate international norms and laws with its use of the death penalty and torture, as well as suppressing the people as a whole by clamping down on freedom of expression and specifically targeting ethnic and religious minorities.
The regime killed 31 people in July, with at least seven of the prisoners convicted on non-violent crimes like drug-trafficking and political activism, with many of them not able to access a lawyer. The rest of the prisoners were convicted of murder, but it’s important to remember that the regime relies on unfair trials and false confessions extracted under torture to get their convictions.
On July 15, Amnesty International said: “There has been an alarming escalation in the use of the death penalty against protesters, dissidents, and members of minority groups in Iran.”
Meanwhile, a total of eight protesters had their death sentences upheld by the Supreme Court, including three men – Amir Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saied Tamjidi – whose initial sentence caused outrage on social media and forced the temporary delay of their executions.
The regime sought to deny the Iranian people their basic rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, by cracking down on protest.
In Behbahan, a peaceful protest broke out on July 16, but security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters and arrested at least 50, while three Iranians were sentenced hefty prison terms for setting fire to a poster of dead-Iranian regime terrorist Qasem Soleimani
Kurdish activist Ahmadreza Haeri was flogged 74 times and began a six-month prison sentence for “spreading propaganda against the state” and “disrupting public order”.
The regime increased pressure on political dissidents in several ways, including opening up a new case against prisoner Majid Assadi to avoid releasing him. Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Narges Mohammadi is being denied medical care after showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
Freedom of religion
The regime is also systematically violating freedom of religion; particularly when it comes to the Baha’is.
12 Baha’is were sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison because of their religion, while others face discrimination in employment and education.
Kiarash Moieni, 19, was told that he could not work at the Shiraz fire department because he was a member of the Baha’I faith, even though he’d finished his training and worked without pay as a volunteer fire-fighter already.
While 15-year-old Adib Vali, who had received several medals for his achievements, was told by the principal at Salam School, where he had been studying for three years already and was at the top of his class, that he was not allowed to return for the tenth grade.
A source said that this came after he wrote he was Baha’i on a school form.
On Thursday, an international campaign forced the Iranian regime to temporarily halt its death sentences for three men who participated in the nationwide Iran protest last November. The sentences had been upheld by the regime’s Supreme Court two days earlier, leading to widespread protests on social media. A Persian hashtag meaning “don’t execute” was reportedly used five million times and gained support people from all walks of life, foreign lawmakers, and international human rights defenders before the judiciary responded to the pressure.
Yet that response consisted only of a vague statement regarding the possibility of the death sentences being halted. It expressed no actual commitment to justice, and seems tailor-made to deflect some portion of the criticism in hopes of making the issue fade from public awareness. The international community must not allow this to happen. And after more than 40 years of dealing with the same behaviors from the Iranian regime, veteran policymakers should certainly know better than to fall for its schemes.
The Iranian regime has a very long history of this sort of thing. And unfortunately, because of the appeasement policy, Western governments deliberately closed its eyes on the regime’s human rights violations. Since the 1980s, they have been eager to embrace any of the regime’s so-called “moderate” official or policy. This impulse was on clear display in 2013, when the regime’s apologists portrayed the “selection” of Hassan Rouhani as the regime’s president was as a great opportunity and change.
Rouhani became the regime’s president amidst a number of high-minded promises regarding freedom for political prisoners, fewer restrictions on media and the internet, and more peaceful relations with the country’s neighbors and adversaries. Now, more than three years after his 2017 “re-selection,” there has been no progress toward any of these supposed goals. In fact, Iran’s human rights situation has arguably gotten worse, especially in the wake of activist uprisings that have normalized the demand for a real alternative to avowed hardliners and faux reformists.
It goes without saying that the people are unaffected by the judiciary’s statement on recent death sentences. After all, many of them have borne direct witness to the extent of Tehran’s bloodlust where pro-democracy activism is concerned. The regime’s unwillingness to compromise with such activists was apparent during the first uprising at the beginning of 2018, which led to dozens of participants being shot dead and several being tortured to death while detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
But the brutality became absolutely undeniable less than two years later, with the November uprising that has now been used to justify capital punishment for Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi. They were not the first to be handed such a sentence and they will most likely not be the last. But even if everyone who is currently detained in connection with the uprising is spared from the hangman’s noose, it will have little impact on the final death toll among peaceful protesters. Iran’s leading opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has reported that 1,500 people were killed, mostly by the IRGC, during just several days’ protests.
This is another area of the regime’s human rights record in which it is relying heavily upon Western credulity in the face of coordinated disinformation. At the beginning of June, the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee released its first official estimate of the death toll, insisting that only 230 people had died, while shifting the blame on a “third party” who shot and killed many of them. This was a desperate move by the regime, using the COVID-19 pandemic, to downplay its crime and somehow quell the restive Iranian society.
The 1,500-person estimate of the MEK was ultimately confirmed both by Reuters News Agency and the US State Department. But for more than six months, Tehran simply rejected all foreign and independent estimates, then provided no explanation for why it had taken so long to calculate a lower death toll than those provided by both domestic and foreign sources.
This penchant for manipulation is something that international community must keep in mind as they consider how to respond to the latest developments in the case of Moradi, Rajabi, and Tamjidi. The same can be said of any other human rights issues that come under international scrutiny in the near future. And there are tremendously many that could.
There are also larger lessons to be learned, beyond just avoiding the assumption that Tehran is being sincere when it appears to bend to pressure from human rights activists. That assumption is based on a fantasy about the regime’s potential for internal reform, which has been roundly rejected by the Iranian people, especially in the past few years. The Iranian resistance has been warning for years against Western policies that anticipate such reform and provide concessions in hopes of facilitating it.
Those protesters’ willingness to risk their lives for the democratic cause ought to inspire shame in Western policymakers who seem unwilling to so much as risk the status quo in Iranian relations. As long as they remain so wary of a truly assertive strategy for dealing with Tehran’s abuses, they will only amplify the threats already facing the Iranian people, the organized Resistance movement and the world.
By Pooya Stone
The Iranian regime executed two Kurdish prisoners in the central prison of Urmia on Tuesday on the intentionally vague charge of waging war on God (Moharebeh).
Diako Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh Abdollah were arrested in 2014, subjected to a year of torture by agents in the Intelligence Office of Mahabad, and then sentenced to death by the city’s Revolutionary Court. This verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Then, following weeks of controversy, the spokesperson for the judiciary announced that the Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentences of three people arrested during the November uprising calling for regime change.
The political prisoners – Amir Hossein Moradi, 26, Saeed Tamjidi, 28, and Mohammad Rajabi, 26 – were given the death sentence after a long period of being tortured to extract false confessions.
The judiciary representative also announced the execution of the retired Ministry of Defense employee Reza Askari.
On July 11, five people were executed in Gohardasht Prison. The regime also executed a 55-year-old man on July 8 because he had drunk alcohol on multiple occasions – a “crime” that never used to involve the death penalty in Iran. Two other prisoners were executed in Gorgan Prison that day.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said: “The crisis-ridden clerical regime, fearing a popular uprising, is desperately trying to prevent the eruption of another uprising by creating an atmosphere of terror, through executing and issuing long-term sentences.”
NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi urged the United Nations Secretary-General, Security Council, High Commissioner on Human Rights, and Human Rights Council, as well as any other relevant human rights group to take immediate and effective action against the regime for continuing to torture, execute, and arbitrarily arrest people.
Rajavi tweeted: “I strongly condemn the executions of two Kurdish political prisoners in the Prison of Urmia, and urge the international community to take effective measures against daily executions in Iran by [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and his executioners.”
She further stressed that an international delegation must-visit Urmia Prison to investigate the case of the Kurdish political prisoners who were brutally executed in front of regime mercenaries and their families.
The NCRI wrote: “The regime aims to intimidate the public against participating in the uprising and to also use the mercenaries’ families for repression and espionage… the ruling religious fascism in fear of an eruption of widespread anger continuously sheds blood to forestall its inevitable downfall.