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New Video: Iranian Expats Face Arrest upon Return to their Homeland

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.21.45 PMIranhumanrights —The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran released a video today highlighting the plight of the thousands of Iranians who wish to return to their homeland, yet fear likely imprisonment upon arrival for the peaceful expression of their beliefs, art, or lifestyle.

Dozens of Iranian expatriates who have traveled to Iran following assurances by President Hassan Rouhani regarding their safe passage, have been arrested, interrogated, prevented from leaving by having their passports confiscated, and, in many instances, imprisoned upon their return.

The video, Iranian Expats on the Right to Return (Youtube – Facebook), features commentary by four prominent Iranian artists and writers, including journalist Masih Alinejad, author Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, painter Nikzad Nojoomi and singer and songwriter Melody Safavi.

"Iranians should not fear returning home because of views or lifestyles that the government disagrees with," said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Campaign. "The administration beckons them, and then the Judiciary imprisons them; the Government of Iran needs to address this disconnect."

As singer and songwriter Melody Safavi laments in the video, "I am creating art. Something that should normally be appreciated but, unfortunately, I am treated in the same way as a criminal."

During his visit to the UN General Assembly in September 2013, and shortly following his election into office, President Rouhani told a jubilant crowd of Iranian-Americans at a reception at a New York City hotel that visiting their homeland was their "incontrovertible right."

Some Iranian exiles, like journalist Seraj Mirdamadi, took Rouhani at his word.

Today, Mirdamadi is serving a six-year prison term in Evin prison on trumped up charges of "propaganda against the state" and "conspiracy against national security."

Other returning expatriates have met a similar fate.

Most recently, Mostafa Azizi, an author and television producer who was a longtime resident of Canada, returned to Iran in January 2015, only to be arrested shortly thereafter on February 1 and placed into solitary confinement at Evin prison.

Mirdamadi and Azizi are part of a growing group of expatriates arrested since returning to Iran following Rouhani's election. They include political activist Kazem Barjasteh, journalist and reformist politician Hossein Nouraninejad, PhD student Hamid Babaei, and PhD student Masoumeh Gholizadeh.

Following his inauguration, President Rouhani reportedly asked Iran's Intelligence and Foreign Ministries to facilitate the return of Iranians living abroad. In November 2013, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Iranian Expatriate Affairs announced the formation of a committee to help exiled political activists return to Iran. Yet if the arrests over the past year and a half are any indication, it seems the right of safe return—as interpreted by the Iranian authorities—only applies to those who do not express any dissent against the state.

As the Spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, stated in 2013, "We do not ban people from entering the country or say they do not have the right to enter the country... but when they enter they will be charged and prosecuted."

This is in violation of Article 13(2) of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."



Arbitrary detention

Nabz Iran - On April 5, Mostafa Tork Hamadani, lawyer of Ali Motahari, announced that Motahari's attackers have been freed on bail and that the judiciary has summoned officials from Shiraz University. This university had organized the conference for which Motahari had traveled to Shiraz and on the way to which was attacked by plainclothesmen.


On April 6, five members of parliament issued a letter to Sadegh Larijani, head of the judiciary, in which they expressed discontent with the lack of attention to the case of Saeed Mortazavi. Although Mortazavi, the former head of the Social Security Organization, is currently free on bail of 2 billion tomans, the judiciary maintains a file on him with various criminal accusations.
On April 10, three Kurdish political activists from Mahabad were sentenced to death. A Revolutionary Court branch condemned Saber Sheikh Abdollah, Hossein Osmani, and Diyako Rasoulzadeh on the charge of "moharebeh" for planning bombings and for membership in the Kurdish party Komala. These three prisoners are currently held in Urmia Central Prison.
On April 10, HRANA announced that the trial of television producer Mostafa Azizi will take place in the month of Khordad (May-June). Azizi is accused of insulting the Supreme Leader and propaganda against the regime, and his trial will take place in Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, under the direction of Judge Salvati.
On April 16, 2 labor activists in Sanandaj were sentenced to 5 months in prison and 30 lashes for participating in a demonstration of solidarity for Kobane. The accused assert that during the gathering they were at a different meeting and have four witnesses to ascertain their claims.

Women's rights

After months of tension, arrests, and imprisonments, the by-law allowing women and families to attend volleyball matches was finalized. Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president for women's affairs, announced the news but said that the by-law is not set for implementation yet. This would allow women to watch some types of sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and tennis, but attending boxing, swimming, and wrestling matches is still impossible for women.
Labor rights

On April 7, authorities in Tehran attacked Abolfazl Cheraghi, son of the street vendor who was killed in a clash with the same authorities last year. Even though many families in Tehran rely on peddling for their livelihood, the municipality has no specific regulations on this kind of work, which sometimes leads to tension between vendors and authorities.
In a note published on April 7, traditional Iranian singer Mohammad Motamedi criticized the delay in the issuance of a distribution permit for his new album, which has now been set back over six months.

Rights of minorities

Officials of Vadi-e Rahmat, a public cemetery in Tabriz, moved the corpse of a Baha'i citizen who died on March 20 to the city of Miandoab and buried him there, without the family's permission. Over the last year and a half, the public cemetery of Tabriz has not allowed the burial of any Baha'i citizen, and in all cases, the corpses have been buried in surrounding cities without the permission or knowledge of the families.
On April 8, the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz issued sentences of exile for four Gonabadi Dervishes. With this sentence, Mohammad Ali Shamshirzan has been exiled to Bandar Abbas for life. Mohammad Ali Sadeghi, Ebrahim Bahrami, and Mohsen Esmaeili have been exiled for seven years to the cities of Maragheh, Sardasht, and Dezful, respectively.


On April 17, Minister of Justice Mostafa Pourmohammadi said that electoral laws must be clarified and made transparent in order to stop the influence of dirty money in electoral campaigning. The issue of dirty and illicit money has been a hot topic in Iranian politics for the last several months, although to date no individual or group has been charged with using such funds.

43 Executions in 3 Days: One Juvenile and One Public Execution Among Wednesday’s Six Executions - At least 43 prisoners have been executed during the last three days in Iran. A juvenile offender with serious mental illness was among the five who were executed in Karaj on Wednesday. Reports indicate that more mass-executions might take place in Karaj the coming weeks. Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly calls on the international community to immediately react.

Iran Human Rights, April 14, 2015: One man was hanged publicly in the city of Shiraz (southern Iran) Wednesday morning April 15, reported the Iranian state media. The man who was identified as "Rashid D" (35 year old) was convicted of Moharebeh (waging war against God) for armed robbery, said the report.evin-small

According to IHR's sources five prisoners were hanged in the Rajaishahr prison of Karaj (west of Tehran) early Wednesday morning April 15. All of the five prisoners were convicted of murder. One of the prisoners, identified as Javad Saberi, was reportedly sentenced to death for a murder he had committed when he was under 18 years of age. Javad Saberi had a serious mental illness and had stayed at "Amin Abad" mental hospital, according to these sources. The other prisoners were Farzad Zanjaninejad, Morteza Saber, and two men who were not identified by name. One of the men was an Afghan citizen.

Execution of Morteza Saber was announced by the state media while the other four executions have not been officially announced yet.

In addition to Wednesday's executions, 37 prisoners have been executed in the Rajaishahr and Ghezelhesar prisons of Karaj on Monday and Tuesday 13. and 14. April. All these prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges. Reports indicate that more mass-executions might take place in these prisons in the coming weeks.

Iran Human Rights strongly condemns the wave of execution by the Iranian authorities and calls on the international community to react. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said: "Lack of condemnation by the international community sends the wrong signal to the Iranian authorities. The world's must not shut its eyes on the Iranian authorities' on going mass-executions".

26 executions in Rajaishahr prison: 17 prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement on Saturday April 11. They were hanged two days later, on Monday April 13. They were all sentenced to death for drug-related charges. All of them had been transferred from Ghezelhesar prison following a prison riot last year. Nine other prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement on Sunday April 12 and executed on Tuesday April 14. All the prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges. Four of the prisoners are identified as: Sajjad Mokhberi, Ali Khandani, Rahim Najafi and Reza Ghorbani.

11 executions in Ghezelhesar prison: The prisoners were from ward 2 of Ghezelhesar prison and were all arrested in connection to drug related charges in Shahriar (a county in Tehran). Two of the prisoners were identified as:Bayat Zahmatkesh and Masoum Ali Miri.

Official Iranian media have announced execution of eight of the prisoners.

Post Executive: Iran Denying Jailed Reporter Legal Counsel

PayvandNews - The Washington Post's executive editor said Tuesday that the newspaper's Iranian correspondent, jailed in Tehran on unspecified charges, was being denied acceptable legal representation. Martin Baron said that Jason Rezaian, who was arrested last July, had been allowed only one meeting with a lawyer and that they were not allowed to discuss the charges against him.

Jason Rezaian
"The idea that Jason, or anyone, could be allowed only one hour with a lawyer before standing trial on serious charges is simply appalling," Baron said.

Rezaian holds both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gave no information about Rezaian's case during a visit to Madrid on Tuesday, except to say it was a judicial matter and that the charges might be very serious.

Iran's Fars news agency, which is regarded as pro-hard-liner, said this week that Rezaian, 39, was suspected of spying.

Rezaian, the Post's correspondent in Iran since 2012, was arrested July 22 along with his Iranian wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who is a reporter for The Nationalnewspaper in Abu Dhabi, and two other journalists whose names have not been made public. All but Rezaian have since been released.

U.S. officials have repeatedly urged Iran to release Rezaian and other Americans jailed in Iran, including during talks on the sidelines of negotiations about the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

Some information for this report came from AP.

Six Prisoners Hanged in Iran - In addition 16 other prisoners were hanged in the Ghezelhesar prison of Karaj, according to unconfirmed reports.evin-small

Iran Human Rights, April 13: Six prisoners have been hanged in two different prisons according to the official Iranian sources.

Official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Hormozgan province (southern Iran) reported that two prisoners identified as "M. Gh." and "A. A." were hanged in the prison of Bandar Abbas on Thursday April 9. The prisoners were charged with murder in two separate cases said the report.

The judiciary in Markazi province (central Iran) reported about the execution of four prisoners convicted of drug-related charges on April 12. These prisoners were identified as "Nematollah N." charged with possession and trafficking of 6950 grams of heroin, "Mohammad L." for possession of 667 grams of heroin, "Mahmood S." for trafficking of 20 grams and possession of 880 grams of heroin and "Hamed N." for possession of 536 grams of the narcotic substance crystal, said the report.

According to unofficial reports 16 prisoners were hanged in the Ghezelhesar prison of Karaj (west of Tehran) early Monday morning April 13. All these prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges. There are no more details available at this moment.

Eight Prisoners Hanged for Drug-Related Charges in Iran This Morning - Iran Human Rights, April 14, 2015: Eight prisoners were hanged in Alborz province (west of Tehran) this morning, reported the Iranian state media. Rajaishahr

According to the official website of the Judiciary in Alborz Province, the prisoners who were executed this morning were all convicted of drug-related charges.

Haji Reza Shah Karami, the prosecutor of the Revolution Court of Karaj said: These eight prisoners were involved in manufacturing and selling narcotic drugs such as crystal.

Non of the prisoners were identified by name.

According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least 2052 prisoners have been executed between 2010 and 2014. Drug convicts are tried by the Revolution Courts behind the closed doors and many of the prisoners are sentenced to death based on the confessions they have given under torture.

Southern Azerbaijan: Civil Rights Activists’ Arrests in February and March

UNPO - The Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran published a report with updates on the situation of several Iranian Azerbaijani civil rights activists. In February, five activists were arrested, while one was fired from her job. Others, who have been in prison already for several months, have now started a hunger strike. The report states that a few activists have recently been released, while the situation of others remains unknown or is deteriorating in prison.

Below is a report published by the Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran:

Iranian security forces arrested Hossein Alimohammadi an Azerbaijani civil right activist on 1 March 2015 at his friend's workplace belonging to Mr. Salar Toury. After serving 10 days on security forces place of detention, Alimohammadi was transferred to section 12 of Tabriz Central Prison on 10 March 2015.

Alimohammadi was previously arrested on June 2014 and was then sentenced to 3 years in prison by the judge Bagherpour at third branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province. He has been accused of propaganda against the regime and insulting the Iranian supreme leader. After serving 6 months imprisonment at Tabriz prison and security forces detention, Alimohammadi was released on bail on 15 April 2014. The reason for his arrest is not clear if it is related to his open case or based on new accusations.

Following AHRAZ February report on the arrest of the Iranian Azerbaijani civil rights activists on the occasion of International Mother Language Day in Iran, here is an update regarding detained Azerbaijani civil right activists:

Alireza Farshi Yekenli was arrested on 21 February 2015 at his house in Tehran. He is still in Evin prison in Tehran and his situation is not known.

Aydin Zakeri was arrested on 21 February 2015 in Meshkin-Shahr, Ardabil Province. He was then released on bail (IRR five billion) on 14 March 2015 from Meshkin-Shahr prison.

Fardin Nobakht was arrested on 21 February 2015 in Meshkin-Shahr, Ardabil Province. He was then released after serving 11 days imprisonment from Meshkin-Shahr prison.

Amin Hajilu, Eslam Aliakbarlu, and Araz Khaseh Tarash were arrested on 16 February 2015 in Khoy city, West Azerbaijan Province. They were then released on 28 February 2015.

Ali Rezaei was arrested on 04 February 2015 at Tehran Airport. He has been in solitary confinement in Evin prison and has been deprived of basic prisoners' rights for 40 days. His wife Ms. Shiva Dadashzadeh met him after 40 days of his arrest, on 15 March 2015 at Evin prison for 10 minutes. She describes her husband's situation gloomy as he has dramatically lost his weight. After serving 46 days in solitary confinement at Evin prison, Mr Rezaei was transferred to public section of Evin prison.

It has to be mentioned that Ms. Shiva Dadashzadeh is now dismissed from her workplace, Karaj Payam Nour University. She is being accused of speaking to the media regarding her husband's situation.

Another update on the Iranian Azerbaijani activists who were and are in prisons in Iran:

Bagher Ebrahimpour is a cultural activist. He was in charge of "Lachin" cultural group. Tabriz-based minors group "Lachin" organizes and provides training on traditional Azerbaijani dance and music. The group was prevented of participating in a festival in Istanbul city in neighboring Turkey by the Iranian authorities. The group was planning to participate in 20th Children of Turkic World Festival, which was held from 28 May 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. On 7 September 2014, Ebrahimpour was summoned to branch 20 of interrogation section of Tabriz court and was accused of propaganda against Islamic regime and establishment of an illegal group. He was sentenced to 6 month in prison. He was then released on bail of IRR two billion.

Saeid Matinpour, a popular Azerbaijani cultural activist did not get leave from Zanjan prison for Nowrooz New Year holidays in spite of his family requests.

According to some reporting sources Ali Rezaei and Alireza Farshi Yekenli have been on hunger strike. Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ) is highly concerned about the fate of Ali Rezaei and Alireza Farshi Yekenli in Evin Prison as their situation deteriorating.

One Prisoner Hanged Publicly in Central Iran

20141025081034-تتتت - 16 prisoners scheduled to be executed in the coming days.

Iran Human Rights, April 12, 2014: One prisoner was hanged in the city of Mehriz 20141025081034-تتتت(Yazd Province, Central Iran) early Sunday morning April 12, reported the Iranian state media. The prisoner who was not identified by name was convicted of murdering a 9 year old child, said the report.

According to unofficial reports two prisoners were hanged in the prison of Zahedan (Baluchistan Province, Southeastern Iran) Saturday morning, April 11. Several unofficial sources have also reported about transfer of 16 prisoners for execution in Karaj (west of Tehran). These prisoners are scheduled to be executed in the coming days.

Iran: A prisoner hanged in Zabol

NCRI – The Iranian regime's henchman in the city of Zabol (southeastern Iran) secretly hanged a man on Saturday in the city's main prison.

The victim identified as Amir Qaemi, was transferred to isolation last Wednesday to await his execution. He had been sentenced to death on drug related offences.

The execution in Zabol takes place after secret hanging of at least 12 inmates on Thursday (26 March 2015) in prisons in cities of Shiraz and Mashhad, according to a statement by the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

A group of five prisoners were hanged in a prison in the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran while another six were collectively hanged in Pirnia Prison in the city of Shiraz in southern Iran. On the same day, another prisoner was also hanged in Adelabad Prison in the same city.

The growing number of executions, including many carried out in secret, are just trivial examples of the nationwide repression that continues to take place in Iran since Hassan Rouhani became president of the clerical regime.

The latest report on the death penalty by Amnesty International published on April 1 indicates that 607 recorded executions have been carried out in 22 countries around the world in 2014, a reduction of almost 22 percent compared to the previous year.

The reported executions were carried out in Iran more than any country in the world.

In Iran the authorities officially announced 289 executions, but hundreds more were carried out which were not officially acknowledged, Amnesty report said.

Iran is among the countries highlighted by Amnesty International as having used the death penalty "as a tool to suppress political dissent".

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, reported on March 25 that some 1000 executions had been carried out during the past 15 months in Iran. Prior to that, on March 16, he told a news briefing in Geneva: "There is a lot of concern amongst the Iranian society that the nuclear file may be casting a shadow over the human rights discussion."

The U.N.'s special investigator added that the human rights situation and repression in Iran has worsened since Hassan Rouhani became president.

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