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Students Arrested During Iran Protests, Now Sentenced to Prison


  • Students Arrested During Iran Protests, Now Sentenced to Prison

    22 July – Many Iranian students joined the December/January protests earlier this year, rallying against economic hardship, and chanting slogans against Supreme Leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, calling for the downfall of the theocratic system and longing for Freedom and Democracy.

    According to Iran HRM, Many of these students were subsequently arrested. Now, they are being sentenced to prison terms, and their sentences are being upheld by Iran’s Appeals Courts.

    In Tabriz, northwest Iran, on July 10th, the Appeals Court upheld a two-year sentence against Roya Saghiri, who has publicly opposed compulsory hijab, published her own verdict on Wednesday, July 11, in her Instagram account. Meanwhile, in another legal case, Ms. Saghiri has been condemned to a one-year suspended sentence and ten lashes for “disturbing public order, through participation in an illegal rally”, and “removing her headscarf in public”.

    The court also upheld a six-month prison term for Ali Ghadiri.

    As well, a three-month sentence was also upheld by the Appeals Court against Ali Kamrani, a student of English Literature at Tabriz University.

    Students Sina Darvish Omran and Ali Mozaffari were convicted of the charges of acting against “national security” and waging “propaganda against the state”. They were each sentenced to eight years in prison in June, for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security.”

    Several students from Tehran University have received harsh sentences, including Leila Hosseinzadeh, a student of anthropology, who was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in March of this year, and theater student, Mohsen Haghshenas, who was sentenced to two years’ incarceration, as well as Sina Rabeiei, a social sciences student, who was sentenced to a year in prison and a two-year ban on leaving the country.

    Fereshteh Tousi, a graduate student of Allameh Tabataba’i University in Tehran, was detained for giving a speech on Student Day 2016. He was sentenced to one and half years in prison and a two-year travel ban. His charge was “propaganda against the regime” because he attended a ceremony marking Students Day on December, 6, 2016, that was licensed from the university.

    The head of the women’s faction in the parliament, Parvaneh Salahshouri, recently admitted that the number of students being prosecuted for attending December 2017/January 2018 protests is much higher than earlier estimates. In an interview with state-run ILNA news agency on July 10th, 2018, she said, “A list has been put together of the students detained in the December 2017 incidents and they number more than 150, so we’re not talking about just 55 or 90 students. Unfortunately, the issue of student detentions is much more extensive.” Salahshouri added, “The Intelligence Ministry is involved in some of the cases against these students and therefore the government and the ministry itself should explain what’s going on here.”

  • Iranian Farmers Protest Water Shortages

    20 July – Farmers in Iran are protesting the government’s failure to deal with the severe drought problem that has left many unable to grow crops to feed the people.

    Just outside the city of Varzaneh, farmers have been gathering on a daily basis, next to a dry canal that once irrigated their farms, to plead for help from the mullahs, while holding up signs that read “How long will you eat your bread made with our blood?”.

    Protester Mostafa Benvidi said: “We are the people. Help the people. At night they go to bed hungry!”

    These protests, which form part of the nationwide Iranian uprising, have only grown in recent weeks despite a violent crackdown by the mullahs. Benvidi, 30, lost sight in his left eye and suffered more than 100 pellet shots in his body as a result of clashes between police and farmers in March, when the farmers held a sit-in strike in Varzaneh.

    In early July, 11 protesters were wounded in Khorramshahr when police broke up a protest by residents over the brown water coming from their taps.

    The people are angry that a drought, which is affecting about 97% of the country and the most sever for 30 years, is being ignored by the mullahs and even exacerbated by their mismanagement and corruption.

    Benvidi said: “Officials just come and promise to deal with the crisis and then just leave.”

    He and his family used to survive on their 3-hectare farm, but they haven’t been able to farm in years because of the water shortage, which means they are reliant on seasonal construction work.

    While most of Iran suffers from drought, the south has been hit particularly hard, but natural disaster has been made worse by a government that diverts water to ethnically Persian areas of Iran and to factories and steel mills rather than farms.

    Reza Khalili, an environmental activist in Varzaneh, said: “The water cycle has been annihilated. The entire water of the river has been allocated to industry.”

    One of the concerning side effects is that with the Gavkhouni wetlands drying up and sandstorms a regular occurrence, more Iranians are being exposed to the dangerous chemicals in the earth, like mercury, lead and cadmium.

    Hamid Safavi, a professor of water resources management and environmental engineering at the Isfahan University of Technology, said: “More social conflict may be on the way. Officials do not have the necessary expertise to manage water resources… [Unless policies change,] we are heading from a water crisis to a disaster. This is not conjecture. It is a certainty.”

  • Teachers’ Protest in Iran Grows

    19 July – Iranian teachers have launched a protest movement over their low salaries, which has gained momentum in recent days, according to social media reports.

    The campaign, which has the slogan “No! to Payslips and Salaries”, was launched by several teachers’ rights activists following an announcement by the Ministry of Education that they would be increasing teachers’ salaries six to ten per cent for the 2018-19 school year, according to local news website Khabar Online.

    Khabar Online reported that the decision to boost salaries has only come after months of delay and that Teachers Trade Union activists believe that the increase does not match the current inflation rate, which is currently rising high thanks to an uncertain economy, meaning a real-terms cut in salary.

    This move is unacceptable for teachers, who are already one of the lowest paid employees in Iran and suffer from very irregular payments.

    The campaign began on Wednesday, July 11, and will continue for ten days, according to Ja’afar Ebrahimi, the Inspector of Coordination Council of Teachers’ trade unions across Iran.

    He said that the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) refusal to account for the hardships and demands of the educators’ and the Management and Planning Organization’s (MPO) inability to provide an “appropriate budget for educators’ salaries” is creating a deep crisis for teachers and students.

    Many activists are also reporting that the MPO and MoE have eliminated certain bonuses for teachers, including extra pay for hardship, while teachers are calling for a complete review of their insurance policy and the payment of extremely overdue bonuses for their retired colleagues.

    Video footage and still images, which are being widely circulated on social media, show angry teachers and educators tearing up their payslips in protest.

    The online campaign has recently made its way to the streets, with large protest rallies being held outside the MoE’s offices across the provinces of Qazvin and Fars, which form part of the overall Iranian uprising.

    In recent years, Iranian teachers have repeatedly held protest rallies to demand respect for their rights, including trade union membership, but the authorities have failed to deal with these protest appropriately, instead arresting protesters and charging them with vague crimes including “propaganda against the establishment”, “disrupting public peace and order”, and “attempts against national security”.

    According to human rights organizations, there are three prominent teachers’ rights activists in prison on these charges: Esma’eil Abdi, Mahmoud Beheshti Langarudi and Mohammad Beheshti.

  • Iran Planned Terror Attack in Europe Through Its Embassy

    20 July – Iran attempted to bomb the rally of their organised resistance in Paris last month, but thankfully, their would-be bombers were caught before they could carry out the brutal attack.

    On June 30, an Iran-linked Belgian couple were arrested by Belgian police and found to have explosives and a detonator in their car. Their plan was to attack the opposition rally, organised by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which around 100,000 people were attending.

    This attack was organised by Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who was stationed in Vienna and served as the head of Iran’s European intelligence network. Assadi, an officer in the Quds Brigade, part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recruited the couple and provided them with the explosives.

    Iran has denied their involvement, called the accusations against Assadi “baseless”, and even accused the MEK of staging the attack to hurt Iran’s negotiation with Europe over the 2015 nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    However, a report from MEK intelligence sources inside the government reveals that this terrorist attack was planned months ago and has the approval of the highest-ranking officials in the government.

    Foreign Minister Javad Zarif even tweeted that Iran condemns violence and terror, despite the fact that Iran is widely known as the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism.

    Thankfully, the terrorists were captured before the attack could happen and the rally, which attracted many foreign officials including former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, went ahead as planned.

    The US has openly stated that this attack was perpetrated by Iran and that if they could plan attacks on Paris, then they could use their embassies anywhere for terrorist activity. They have urged European nations to join with them in withdrawing from the nuclear deal and cutting off the mullahs’ access to funds in order to reduce their spending on terrorist attacks.

    Despite Europe’s attempts to save the nuclear deal, Iran has made numerous threats over restarting their nuclear programme and closing the Strait of Hormuz if their demands are not met. And their demands are big. Iran recently asked Germany for permissions to withdraw over $350 million in cash from Germany’s central bank, which may well be used for terrorism. They have also asked Europe to fully make up for the financial loss from the US.

    Assadi, the “terrorist diplomat”, was charged with commissioning the Belgian couple to bomb the MEK meeting on July 11.







  • The Iran Regime Hit With Severe New Sanctions

    By Staff Writer

    On Wednesday 16th May, the Treasury of the United States and its Persian Gulf Allies made a common decision to impose new sanctions on senior leaders of Hezbollah (who depend with the regime of Mullahs) including their deputy and other connected entities.

    Reuters News reported more on this topic: “This is Washington’s third sanction of the week, since the United States pulled out of its nuclear deal with (the regime of) Iran.. for the past several days, Trump’s government has been trying to eliminate the sources behind Iran’s international activities, such as its support for Hezbollah”.

    In January 2016, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrollah, gave special thanks to the president as well as the supreme leader of Iran (also referred to as ‘Vilayat-e-Faqih’) for their full support of their organisation and said: “we are transparent about Hezbollah’s budget and acknowledge that all that we eat or drink, all that we earn or spend, and all our missiles and rockets, are provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran”. He continued: “we are very transparent, maybe more so than the rest of the world, in that we honestly reveal the source of Hezbollah’s budget, in terms of its income, food, and weapon; we are supported only by the Islamic Republic of Iran, not other banks or entities. We have money for as long as Iran has money. How much clearer can we be! I’d like to thank Iran’s government, especially Ayatollah Khamenei and the president, for their ongoing and solid support over the years. (ISNA News Agency, 24th January 2016)”.

    The sanctions from the US, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the Emirates, have been imposed on 10 leaders and agents of Hezbollah, as well as 4 affiliating entities”. The cooperation of Qatar in these sanctions has especially been noticed, as it proves effective in fighting the terrorism and interference of the Iranian regime. On the day that these sanctions were decided, the foreign minister of the United States also released a statement about its phone conversation with the foreign minister of its counterpart, Qatar: “(in this conversation) the foreign minister approved the request of the prime minister (of the United States), and agreed that the tensions (between the countries) of the (Persian) Gulf … must be reduced and eventually eliminated; because (the regime of) Iran benefits from this tension.”)

    The US Treasury also commented on the sanctions against Hezbollah, which were announced on Wednesday, and stated: “the Department of Treasury, as well as the Counter Terrorism Centre together imposed sanctions on the senior leaders of Hezbollah…Today, the 7 members of the Counter Terrorism Centre have taken significant measures against the senior leaders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah which is supported by (the regime of) Iran”.

    The minister of the Treasury pointed out in his statement: “The decision made (by the United States) last week against the listed terrorist entities, aims to end America’s cooperation in Iran’s Nuclear Deal, and to resume its non-nuclear sanctions on Iran’s regime. Our decision is in response to the malign and destabilising activities of (the regime of) Iran in its surrounding area, including its support for the Hezbollah”.

    The statement specifies: “These sanctions, which were decided (on Wednesday) last week, target the currency-exchange network between Iran and Emirates; a network that allows the transfer of millions of dollars to the ‘Quds’ force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran. The sanctions also target the Head of the Central Bank of (the regime of) Iran as well as the Balad Bank in Iraq; which form another pathway for the transfer of millions of dollars to the ‘Quds’ force; (the money the ‘Quds’ force receives is used) towards the enrichment and support of the extreme and violent orders of Hezbollah”.

    The Treasury of the United States also commented on its sanctions on the senior leaders of Hezbollah: “these leaders are the deciders of Hezbollah in terms of religious, military, and strategic affairs; these leaders are also the controllers of affiliating institutions that contribute to management, design, and policy-making (of this group). If these leaders reach a dead-end (in other words, if they fail to reach an agreement), the supreme leader (of the regime) will have the final say”. This statement also includes a list provided by the Gulf countries, in which the agencies and institutions that affiliate with Hezbollah are mentioned along with their histories of terrorism.

  • Human Rights Watch Calls on Iran to Halt Death Sentence of Protester

    16 May – Human Rights Watch has said that the Iranian judiciary should halt the execution of a member of the Gonabadi Dervish community and release all Dervish members who have been arbitrarily detained since February 2018.

    On February 20, the Iranian authorities arrested over 300 Dervishes (by some counts as many as 430) after clashes between the Shia religious order and the Iranian police, during which Mohammad Sallas was accused of killing three police officers by driving a bus into a crowd of security officers.

    The clashes, which left dozens more injured, began after the authorities cracked down violently on a peaceful protest by the Dervishes, who simply wanted members of their community released from prison and for the Iranian government to stop spying on their leader, who is now under house arrest.

    Sallas, 46, was sentenced to death on March 18, following an unfair trial that didn’t meet international standards for legal proceedings as no lawyer was present and the so-called investigation took all of 48 hours. Sallas also reported being beaten by the police to the extent that he received head injuries.

    He said that he never meant to kill anyone and that he made a desperate choice out of anger and frustration.

    Despite this, his sentence was upheld by Iran’s supreme court on April 24.

    Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Iranian authorities repeatedly punish minority communities for protests seeking treatment as equal members of society. Iran should end its crackdown on its minority groups and immediately halt the execution of Mohammad Sallas and grant him a fair retrial.”

    Many of the arrested Dervishes are still being held on vague charges, which is often how Iran treats prisoners of conscience, and activists revealed, on May 14, that 11 Dervish women are being held for disobeying the police and acting against national security.

    The Iranian authorities have also taken to pressuring the families of the imprisoned to say that the initial protests weren’t peaceful and threatening the family of Mohammad Raji, a Dervish who did in custody, against speaking out.

    Many family members also report that the detainees are not being given access to their lawyers or their families, even via the phone. Additionally, several of those injured on February 20 have not received access to medical treatment, including Ahmad Barakoohi, Nima Azizi, Mohsen Noroozi, and Mehdi Mahdavi, who have serious eye injuries, and Shokoufeh Yadollahi, who has a head injury.

    Human Rights Watch said that while attacks on the police are criminal acts, this does not give Iran the right to detain an entire group of protesters. Instead, the detainees should be charged with a recognisable crime or immediately released.

  • Teacher Protests Throughout Iran Faced With Security Force Brutality

    11 May – Incoming reports indicate a number of teachers being “beaten and detained” during a protest by retired and employed teachers in Tehran, “in the aftermath of crackdown by security forces.”

    The protest took place on Thursday May 10th, in front of the Planning and Budget Organization in Tehran, and held in front of the Education Department in other cities throughout the country.

    According to reports, agents arrested 6 people at the protest in front of the “Plan and Budget Organization” in Tehran, whose location and fate is still uncertain.

    At the protests organized by the Coordinating Council of Teachers, Teachers throughout Iran held posters protesting the lack of budget needed for necessary training and wages below the line of poverty.

    Teachers oppose the privatization of education and demand fair wages, stating that Iranian government has shown time and time again that they have no regards to education.

    According to incoming reports, in addition to basic demands, including increasing educational budgets and fair salaries for teachers, teachers also voiced their opposition to the education system which is practically endangering “free and quality education for all children”.

    Declaring that the government’s strategic plan to implement the privatization of education, is increasingly depriving children of impoverished families of literacy and education.

    In the resolution of the teachers’ protest it is stated, “The lack of attention to the lives and livelihood of retired and employed teachers and the lack of attention to the quality of education in schools shows that education is not a priority for state institutions and government officials. The Coordinating Council is protesting against this situation and warns officials of the consequences of continuing its negligence. “

  • Foreign Social Media Networks Banned in Iranian Schools

    On Sunday 15th April, it was reported by state media in Iran that the ministry of education would be banning the use of foreign social media in schools. It is apparently part of an effort by the government to encourage the use of domestic social networks.

    Clearly is it an attempt by the government to limit the influence from foreign social media applications in a country where the people are oppressed in many areas of life.

    The people of Iran are very keen on social media applications, especially the young people, like their peers across the world. However, the Iranian stablishment sees this as a major threat as it is exposing to the people to other ways of thinking and living. It is via these types of apps that the Iranian people can see the freedom of expression that many others in the world can enjoy without fear of punishment or arrest.

    Telegram is an extremely popular chat application that has around 40 million users in Iran. Another popular app is Instagram. It is used by many Iranian companies to communicate information to clients, as well as being used as a personal social app.

    The Iranian government has already blocked several social media platforms, in particular Twitter and Facebook. However, this does not mean that they are not popular in Iran because they are. The tech savvy people of Iran are able to bypass the government blocks with the use of a VPN (virtual private network).

    At the end of last year, the people took to the streets in large numbers to protest against the Iranian official’s mismanagement of the country’s resources and the widespread corruption. The Telegram app was used during the organisation of the protests and the government decided to temporarily ban it (it described the use of the app as being “counter-revolutionary” and condemned the foreign intervention that was spreading unrest).

    So that it can exert even more control on the people, the Iranian government is trying to develop domestic networks. The government is very dubious of all foreign services and wants to keep an eye on the people with its own service.

    The government is telling the people that conversations with the domestic applications will be private and will not be monitored. The Supreme Leader himself even said that the government must ensure that the people’s privacy and security on the internet is guaranteed.

    There have also been media campaigns about the new domestic apps that have tried to reassure the people that service will continue even if other messaging apps are banned.

    Yet, the people of Iran cannot be so easily fooled. They are very aware that they will have no security or privacy on the domestic apps. The people will not willingly give up one vestige of the very little freedom they currently have. If Telegram or any other applications that are widely used in Iran are banned, one thing is certain, this will not stop the people finding a way around it.

  • Iran: Sufi Clashes With Government Lead to 300 Arrests

    22 Feb – Over 300 Sufi protesters were arrested during overnight clashes with the police in Tehran on Monday night.

    The Sufi group Gonabadi, known locally as Gonabadi dervishes, held their protest in front of a police station in northern Tehran to demand the release of the members of their faith and the removal of security checkpoints around the house of their leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh.

    When Iranian police tried to disperse the protestors, who were marching towards Tabandeh’s home, things turned violent and, according to police spokesperson Saeed Montazer Almehdi, five members of Iran’s so-called security forces were killed, including two members of the paramilitary Basij force.

    A video circulating on Iranian social media claims to show the moment when cars ploughed into the security forces, but this video could not be independently verified.

    The Sufi’s Majzooban Noor website reports that at least one protester was killed and several injured when the police opened fire into the crowd. It also says that the actual figure of Sufi detainees is much higher than reported, adding that several members were arrested at the airport.

    Sufism is a denomination of Islam that has between two and five million followers in Iran, although there are no official statistics. Iran regards them as heretics and subjects them to intense and routine harassment.

    Iran has been criticized often for its treatment of religious minorities.

    Last year alone, the Iranian Sufis were a subject of concern for:

    • A UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, who said that the Sufi “continue to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention and are often accused of national security crimes”

    • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, who said in a report that Sufis are often targeted for not conforming to Iran’s interpretation of Islam and face horrific abuses, including attacks on their prayer centres and community cemeteries as well as harassment, arrests, and physical assaults.

    Hemin Sayidi, a London-based Iranian expert, said that the Sufis’ clashes with Iran could be another example of nationwide anti-government protests that have resulted in at least 50 protester deaths and over 8000 arrests.

    Sayidi said: “These protest movements, be it in the name of poverty or religious oppression, indicate that people are weary of the current oppressive rulers.”

    This is not the first time that the Sufis and Iran have clashed over the religious minority’s rights and freedom. In both 2006 and 2007, the Iran’s decision to close a Sufi shrine led to protests by the Sufis and a crackdown by the government forces.

  • Husband of British Aid Worker Taken Hostage by Iran Desperately Tries to Meet With Iranian Officials

    22 Feb – The husband of the British-Iranian charity worker held on bogus spying charges in Iran has written to the Iranian embassy in London to try to arrange a meeting with a visiting Iranian official.

    Richard Ratcliffe, who has not seen his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and their baby daughter, Gabriella, since the pair visited family in Iran in 2016, wants to meet with Abbas Araghchi, the deputy for legal and international affairs in Iran’s foreign ministry, in order to bring his family home.

    Ratcliffe said: “If we manage to get this meeting, I will obviously be much more hopeful. If we don’t get the meeting, I will be keen to know what happened when [Araghchi] met with the British officials. I haven’t given up hope, but so far there is no evidence that the meeting is going to happen.”

    False Charges and Ransom Demands

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked with the Thompson Reuters Foundation, is currently serving five years for the false charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

    She has always denied these charges and many believe that this is just another example of Iran taking a dual-national hostage to extract a ransom from the other nation.

    The idea is that Iran will charge the dual-national with a vague national security charge and then ask the other country for more trade deals, better political relations, or even an outright cash payment.

    In late 2017, Iran demanded £400 million, a British bank account for their embassy, and increased trade between Europe and Iran in order to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

    It is unknown just how many dual nationals are being held on bogus national security charges in Iran, but current estimates are between 12 and 30 people, including a former UNICEF worker from the US, a Princeton doctoral student, and a Swedish disaster medicine expert.


    On Wednesday, February, 21, human rights activists and ordinary people sympathetic to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s plight held a protest outside the Iranian embassy in solidarity with the Ratcliffe family.

    Ratcliffe said: “I was very touched and pleased that they have come. Knowing that she is cared for and we are cared for is very important. I think it is important for [Nazanin] to know that she is not alone.”

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent eight-and-a-half months in solitary confinement and her physical and mental health is suffering greatly because of this imprisonment.

    She was promised a temporary release in order to spend time with her daughter, but Iran changed the plans at the last minute.