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Amirsalar Davoudi, an imprisoned Iranian lawyer, is the winner this year of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize, awarded this Friday, September 23 in Bordeaux, we learned from the organization.
The Warsaw Bar is named for its part “bar of the year» by this jury made up of representatives of around ten European bar associations and lawyers’ associations.
Amirsalar Davoudi, who has acted as a lawyer for many human rights defenders before Iranian courts, and hosted a Telegram group for Iranian lawyers, was arrested at the end of 2018 for, in particular, insulting the Supreme Leader and propaganda against the ‘State. He was sentenced to a total of thirty years in prison and 111 lashes.
Released last June for irregularities, he was reincarcerated thirteen days later to serve a ten-year sentence in Evin prison in Tehran, where he is still. In 2018, the Ludovic-Trarieux prize had already gone to an Iranian lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh.
“By once again awarding the prize to an Iranian lawyer, hit by real judicial harassment and imprisoned for several years, the jury wanted to underline that the forces of democracy and human rights defenders were falling asleep in the face of the ever-renewed threat from Iran, and the fate reserved for its lawyers“, told AFP Me Bertrand Favreau, creator of the prize and president of the jury.
Amirsalar Davoudi is singled out as at least 17 people have been killed in recent days in Iran in protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothingby the morality police, responsible for enforcing the dress code of the Islamic Republic. The jury also awarded the prize for the bar of the year to that of Warsaw “for his defense of the independence of magistrates while the Polish government puts them under the yoke“.
The Court of Appeals of Tehran province confirmed the prison sentences of the defendants in the case of “Health Petitioners”.
The case of “Health Petitioners” is related to a group of lawyers and civil activists who filed a complaint against senior officials of the Islamic Republic last year, accusing them of endangering the lives of citizens and the death of thousands of people with their decisions in the field of Corona management.
Mustafa Nili, a lawyer and one of the defendants in this case, announced the details of the sentences on Tuesday […] by publishing the picture of the court verdict on his Twitter.
He announced that he was sentenced to four years of imprisonment and two years of deprivation of law and media activity.
According to the court’s verdict, Arash Kikhosravi, another lawyer, has been sentenced to two years of imprisonment and one year of exclusion from law and media activity.
The six-month prison sentence of Mohammadreza Faqihi, another lawyer, and the 95-day prison sentence of Maryam Afrafaraz, a civil activist, have also been confirmed in the appeals court.
Mehdi Mahmoudian, a civil activist, who has been serving his previous sentence in prison since a year ago, was sentenced to four years in prison and two years of ban from media activity in this case.
These sentences were previously issued to these people in Branch 29 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on charges of “assembly and collusion with the intention of acting against the security of the country”.
The basis of this accusation is the complaint that these people filed in March of last year against Iran’s senior officials, including Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic.
Prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has been arrested and sent to prison to serve a sentence he received more than a decade ago for allegedly attempting to overthrow the ruling Islamic system.
Lawyer Mustafa Nili wrote on Twitter on July 20 that Dadkhah had been transferred to the notorious Evin prison to serve the eight-year sentence he received in 2011. Dadkhah has been out on parole since 2013.
Nili quoted lawyer Iman Pirouzkhah as saying that Dadkhah was rearrested under “illegal pretexts.” He did not elaborate.
Dadkhah, who has defended a number of political prisoners in Iran, including a Christian pastor on death row for apostasy, is a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) along with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi.
Since a disputed June 2009 presidential election, several co-founders and members of the DHRC have been imprisoned, including lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani and journalist Abdolreza Tajik.
On the sixth anniversary of a controversial coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, the Turkish government continues to use emergency powers as well as the country’s overly broad and vague anti-terror laws to maintain its repressive control of the people. According to a statement from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, 559,332 people have been investigated or prosecuted in the last six years for terrorism over their links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the coup attempt, although the movement denies any involvement. While 116,702 people have so far been convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, 115,714 are still being investigated or standing trial. According to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, 332,884 people were arrested over their alleged links to the Gülen movement between July 16, 2016 and June 20, 2022, with more than 101,000 put in pretrial detention and 104,000 subjected to judicial supervision.
The government has deployed a set of variables to accuse and prosecute those people for membership in a terrorist organization under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. These variables include (i) being a depositor at Bank Asya, a now-defunct Gülen-affiliated financial institution; (ii) being a shareholder in companies that have been dissolved/seized under a state of emergency declared after the failed coup for alleged Gülen links; (iii) using the ByLock messaging app, considered by Turkish authorities a secret tool of communication among members of the Gülen movement; (iv) police or intelligence agency reports; (v) analysis of social media activity and websites visited; (vi) donations made to relief organizations with alleged Gülen links; (vii) being a resident or student in dormitories or schools that were closed down under the state of emergency for alleged Gülen links; (viii) sending children to those schools that were subsequently shuttered; (ix) subscription to Gülen-linked publications; (x) information received from colleagues or neighbors; and (xi) being a manager, employee or member of a trade union, association, foundation or company closed/dissolved/seized under the state of emergency for alleged Gülen links.
Malicious prosecution is defined as the initiation of a criminal prosecution with malice and without probable cause. All those cases are literally malicious prosecutions since the set of variables used to prosecute hundreds of thousands of people are no more than details of everyday life and were absolutely lawful at the material time.
Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has so far found that pretrial detention based on those criteria is not sufficient to convince an objective observer of the existence of reasonable suspicion for being a member of a criminal organization.
Although Turkish courts are acting as willing executioners of the executive branch and no longer care or give credence to human rights conventions, constitutional principles or the law, when the victims are heard by the ECtHR and UN rights bodies, they are constantly being vindicated. It, therefore, proves the need for maintaining hope and continuing the fight for justice.
Amirsalar Davoodi, a human rights activist and lawyer who was temporarily released from prison in June last year after about 2 years and 7 months in prison, was returned to prison on Sunday.
Mr. Davoodi’s wife, Tannaz Kolahchian, tweeted that the human rights lawyer had been sent back to prison “to continue serving his sentence.”
Amirsalar Davoudi was arrested on November 20, 2018, by security agents in his law office.
He learned on May 28, 2019that Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran had sentenced him to a total of 30 years imprisonment and 111 lashes, on account of six charges including “insulting the Supreme Leader”, and “spreading propaganda against the system” and “forming a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” in relation to his human rights work.
After Mr. Davoodi’s appealed the verdict, it was overturned by the Supreme Court, however, Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court upheld his 30-year prison sentence in August last year.
He was released on bail from Rajaie Shahr prison in Alborz province on 13 June 2021.
His temporary release was followed by the decision of Branch 41 of the Supreme Court to accept his request for a retrial, due to irregularities in the legal process of his trial.
For trying to sue Iranian leaders for their grossly negligent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, three lawyers and two civil rights activists have been sentenced to prison.
“These individuals are being punished in order to send a message to the people of Iran: Seeking an accountable government in the Islamic Republic will land you in jail,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“This ruling reflects Iran’s judicial system, which works in lock step with the state security apparatus to crush dissent,” he added. “Iranians seeking justice are treated as enemies of the nation, while those in power who are destroying it enjoy immunity.”
A revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced Mostafa Nili (lawyer) and Mehdi Mahmoudian (civil rights activist) to four years in prison each, Arash Keykhosravi (lawyer) to two years in prison, Mohammad Reza Faghihi (lawyer) to six months in prison, and Maryam Afrafaraz (civil rights activist) to 95 days in prison.
Their attorney Babak Paknia, who announced the verdicts on June 21, 2022, said they would be appealed.
The prison sentences come at a time when the government is increasingly trying to crush peaceful rights advocacy and attempts to hold officials accountable for their actions.
State forces have been violently repressing protests occurring around the country for months, while scores of activists including laborers and teachers have been detained.
Health Defenders Denied Justice, Punished as Enemies of the State
Referred to on Persian social media as the “health defenders,” the lawyers and activists had attempted to file a lawsuit against senior Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for banning the import of COVID-19 vaccines made by U.S. and British pharmaceutical companies for political reasons, forbidding factual numbers about the extent of deaths and infections from being publicized, and mismanaging response efforts.
UN human rights experts* today expressed serious concerns about a violent crackdown against civil society in Iran, including members of workers’ unions and teachers arrested for protesting against their low salaries and poor working conditions, and urged those responsible for using excessive force to be held to account through comprehensive and independent investigations.
“We are alarmed at the recent escalation of allegedly arbitrary arrests of teachers, labour rights defenders and union leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders and other civil society actors,” the experts said.
In the past year, the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association has organised several nation-wide protests over working conditions and low wages, as well as to protest the arrest of teachers and restrictions on public education for all. On 1 May 2022, on the occasion of the International Workers’ Day and the Teachers’ Day in Iran, teachers held protests in a number of cities across the country, joined by workers’ unions, including the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company.
Prior to the 1 May protests and until 24 May 2022, over 80 teachers were arrested or summoned by security forces or the judiciary, and the houses of several trade unionists and teachers were raided. None of the teachers were given access to a lawyer. The authorities issued statements claiming that the arrests were due to “infiltration of foreign-affiliated elements into the ranks of teachers and workers” which threatened the order and security of the country. State television broadcast footage of several of the arrested teachers and labour rights defenders, accusing them of engaging with “hostile enemies” and calling their unions illegal.
“The space for civil society and independent associations to carry out their legitimate work and activities is becoming impossibly narrow, exemplified by the large scale arrests of civil society actors and the recent Court of Appeals decision to dissolve the Imam Ali Popular Students Relief Society,” the experts said.
The trial of five activists who had filed a lawsuit against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for “Covid mismanagement” was held behind closed doors Saturday.
The group of five, who were put on trial at Branch 29 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, has come to be called ‘Defenders of Right to Health’ by the media. They are: Mehdi Mahmoudian, Mostafa Nili, Arash Keykhosravi, Mohammadreza Faghihi and Maryam Fara-Afraz
Khamenei ruled out importing United States- and British-made Covid-19 vaccines in January 2021, arguing that the US and Uk cannot be trusted. At the time, the US-German Pfizer, US-made Moderna and the British-made AstraZeneca were the only vaccines approved internationally and available in early 2021.
The group’s litigation apparently sought to establish that decisions by Khamenei, former President Hassan Rouhani, and others led to thousands of unnecessary deaths when a severe wave of infections hit Iran from June to August 2021.
The members of the group were arrested on August 15 last year while holding a meeting to prepare legal action against authorities for mismanagement of the pandemic and delay in in mass vaccination. All, except Mahmoudain, were released after spending more than a month in solitary confinement.
In an unexpected move in early March, Iran’s Judiciary accepted to register the group’s lawsuit against the authorities, including Khamenei.
While Khamenei banned the Western vaccines, hundreds of millions of dollars were distributed among government-run companies with no experience in vaccine development to produce a homegrown variant.
The five activists have been charged with “acting against national security”, an often-used vague charge often brought against dissidents and critics of the Islamic Republic. They are accused of forming a “hostile group aiming to harm the country’s security and make propaganda against the state”.