Tag Archives: Iran

Iran: Rights lawyers on trial for lawsuit against Supreme Leader over vaccine ban


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”.











https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/case/human-rights-defender-arash-keykhosravi-released-bail (FRANCAIS)

Interview: Rights Lawyer Turned Political Prisoner Condemns “Shameful” Acts Against Lawyers in Iran


Defense attorney Amirsalar Davoudi was imprisoned in Iran for running a social media channel that provided information to lawyers.

Human rights lawyers in Iran are a crucial lifeline for individuals accused of crimes against the state—yet they’re few and far between. For decades, the Iranian government has been working to eliminate independent lawyers through various tactics, including harassment and imprisonment. “What the state is trying to do to lawyers is shameful,” Amirsalar Davoudi, a defense attorney who knows this story all too well, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Back in June 2019, the same year Davoudi was granted the Human Rights Award by the Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe, he was sentenced to 111 lashes and 30 years in prison, of which he must serve 15 years. The sentence was for the charge of forming “an illegal group”—a news channel for lawyers on the Telegram messaging app. Davoudi was imprisoned until recently, when he was allowed to go home on furlough (temporary leave), which could end at any time.

Davoudi is but one of many human rights lawyers who have been harassed, threatened, suspended or banned from work, arrested, and unjustly imprisoned by the authorities in Iran. Despite the constant threat of re-imprisonment hanging over his head, he remains committed to defending and promoting human and civil rights in his country: “We must convey human rights principles to society in the shortest possible time and when people become aware, then society itself will step into action.”

CHRI: What are the characteristics of a human rights lawyer in Iran?

Davoudi: Ever since human rights became a primary topic in foreign policy matters of the Islamic Republic of Iran… there has never been an organized and logical approach to dealing with human rights issues. Whatever that has been accomplished amounts to personal experiences of individuals who are active in this field.

Of course, in the early 2010s, for the first time Iranian universities added human rights to their curriculum as a separate branch in legal studies. These schools include Shahid Beheshti, Allameh Tabataba’i, and Tehran universities. But like all new subjects in Iranian universities, it will take time for it to take root and form connections in society.

That aside, the ruling establishment continues to resist demands for human rights, especially when it regards them as part of the Western paradigm. As an ideological state, the Islamic Republic considers itself as the guardian of new, positive, and practical ideas on human rights. So, there is this friction between the official view on human rights and international principles.






L'avocate iranienne Nasrin Sotoudeh, chez elle, à Téhéran, le 18 septembre 2013, libérée après trois ans de prison

Nasrin Sotoudeh, militante pour les droits humains en Iran, avait été incarcérée en 2019, puis relâchée en 2020 pour des raisons de santé. Plusieurs avocats français demandent l’annulation de sa condamnation.

Cela fait maintenant plus de vingt-cinq ans qu’elle lutte pour les droits des femmes dans son pays. Après avoir été condamnée en 2019 à douze ans de prison et 148 coups de fouet pour “incitation à la débauche” en Iran, l’avocate et militante Nasrin Sotoudeh avait obtenu une permission de sortie en 2020 pour des raisons de santé. Elle serait sur le point d’y retourner, une situation que dénoncent plusieurs avocats français.

Julie Couturier, bâtonnier de Paris, a notamment déploré dans un tweet une condamnation injuste de l’avocate: “Nous nous insurgeons contre l’imminente incarcération de notre consœur Nasrin Sotoudeh, injustement condamnée et dont l’état de santé est particulièrement préoccupant”.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh serait susceptible d’être incarcére à nouveau alors qu’il n’y a aucune amélioration de son état de santé”, affirme quant à lui Jérôme Gavaudan, président du Conseil national des barreaux.



https://ir.voanews.com/a/nasrin-sotoudeh-saba-kordafshari/6402115.html (FARSI)




https://www.diariosur.es/internacional/latigazos-anos-carcel-20220116000727-ntvo.html (ESPANOL)

Iran: Human rights lawyer Mustafa Nili released on bail


On 18 December 2021, human rights defender Mustafa Nili was released on eight billion IRR bail after spending more than four months under arbitrary detention in Evin prison, in Tehran.

On 14 August 2021, Iranian authorities arbitrarily arrested a group of seven human rights defenders, including Mustafa Nili, four other lawyers and one journalist, as they were preparing to file a complaint against the country’s National Task Force Against Coronavirus, the Minister of Health and other officials responsible for the mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.

Mustafa Nili is a human rights defender and lawyer, who has represented many political prisoners, including student union activists. He was arrested in December 2009 as a result of taking part in peaceful protests against the results of the 2009 presidential elections in Iran. In November 2010, Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court convicted the human rights defender to three years on the charge of “gathering and collusion to act against the national security” and an additional six months in prison on the charge of “propaganda against state”, due to him taking part in the protests and publishing critical content against violent crackdowns on the peaceful protests in 2009. Branch 54 of the Court of Appeals confirmed the prison sentences in April 2011 and consequently the defender served his sentence from 18 July 2011 to 18 November 2014.





https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/repression-des-iraniens-emprisonnes-pour-avoir-ose-denoncer-la-politique-anti-covid (FRANCAIS)


Iran Rights Lawyer: Judicial Process is a “Means to Settle Political Scores”


One of the few remaining defense lawyers in Iran willing to take on human rights cases, Nasser Zarafshan is an expert at navigating the Islamic Republic’s judicial system, which criminalizes dissent and imprisons lawyers like Zarafshan for doing their job.

Usually tried under trumped-up “national security” charges, his cases often involve individuals who’ve been targeted by the state’s sprawling security establishment for publicly criticizing the government. In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Zarafshan spoke about these cases with deep frustration because it’s state security agencies—not the rule of law—that dictate their outcomes.

In the Islamic Republic, those detained under trumped-up national security charges are guilty until proven innocent, Zarafshan told CHRI in the interview that was translated to English from Persian. Intelligence agents carry out the arrests and fabricate the charges and the “judicial process becomes a means to settle political scores.”

Zarafshan is currently representing Farzaneh Zilabi, a lawyer prosecuted under national security charges for defending striking sugar mill workers. Lawyers like Zilabi who operate independently from the state and who choose to represent activists and dissidents are under constant threat of imprisonment and torture in Iran.

As of November 2021, at least five defense lawyers had confirmed prison sentences in the country based on false charges. Of these, Mohammad Najafi and Soheila Hejab are still in prison. Nasrin Sotoudeh is temporarily out of prison on sick leave. Giti Pourfazel and Payam Derafshan are free on parole.

Another lawyer representing laborers, Mohammad Hadi Erfanian-Kaseb, has been tried and sentenced to prison on sham charges, but like Zilabi is currently out of prison as both their sentences have not yet been finalized on appeal.

Meanwhile, three other human rights lawyers, Arash Keykhosravi, Mostafa Nili, and Mohammad Reza Faghihi, are awaiting trial on trumped-up charges because they tried to sue the government for its failed COVID-19 response. Of the three, only Mohammad Reza Faghihi is out of jail on bail, and the other two are still in detention.

In the following interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, Zarafshan discussed the difficulty of representing a fellow human rights lawyer in a judicial system where judges take orders from intelligence agents.






https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasser_Zarafshan (FRANCAIS)

Iran: Joint letter on the reported torture of Payam Derafshan


Joint letter on the reported torture of Payam Derafshan

In a joint letter Lawyers for Lawyers and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) express concern over the reported acts of torture against Iranian human rights lawyer Payam Derafshan.

Payam Derafshan is a well-known human rights lawyer who has worked on various high profile cases in which he represented individuals facing politically motivated charges.

According to the information received, human rights lawyer Payam Derafshan, who was arrested in June 2020 and sentenced to 2,5 years in prison, was kept in solitary confinement, during which the lights in his cell were always kept on. It is reported that he was then injected with unknown substances in Evin prison, which resulted in physical and psychological damages. Indeed, it is reported that after these substances were injected, he experienced serious convulsions, lost consciousness and bit off part of his tongue. It is reported that after he experienced further side effects and convulsions, he was forcibly transferred to a psychiatric hospital where he was subjected to a shock therapy which resulted in damages to his brain. It is reported that lawyer Payam Derafshan has now been released on parole and receives medical treatment.

In the letter, Lawyers for Lawyers and the CCBE condemn these reported acts of torture against lawyer Payam Derafshan. Lawyers for Lawyers and the CCBE therefore respectfully urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that a full and impartial investigation into these reported acts of torture is being carried out, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards. Lawyers for Lawyers and the CCBE wish to recall that all lawyers in Iran should be able to carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation or harassment in order to preserve the independence and integrity of the administration of justice and the rule of law.

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‘Maximum Psychological’ Pressure: Iranian Rights Lawyer Tortured, Drugged During Detention


Iranian human rights lawyer Payam Derafshan is currently out on parole and receiving medical treatment.

Payam Derafshan was confined in a dark, windowless room inside a safe house run by the feared intelligence branch of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The human rights lawyer was then transferred to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where he was drugged with unknown substances that triggered violent convulsions. During one seizure, Derafshan bit part of his tongue off.

Derafshan was then subjected to electric shocks after he was forcibly transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

These are the allegations made by Saeid Dehghan, an Iranian human rights lawyer who represents Derafshan, who is currently out on parole and receiving medical treatment.

Derafshan, who has represented several high-profile political prisoners, is the latest victim of Iran’s crackdown on human rights lawyers, activists say. Prominent lawyers who have defended dissidents, women’s rights defenders, and political activists have been subject to state harassment, imprisonment, and forced into exile in recent years, they say.

In many cases, the lawyers have faced the same charges that the authorities have brought against their clients. “The goal is to scare others and warn them not to be the voice of the voiceless,” Dehghan, who is currently based in Canada, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda in a telephone interview.

Derafshan was arrested in June 2020 and sentenced weeks later to 2 1/2 years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state,” “spreading falsehoods,” and “unauthorized disclosure.” The sentence was upheld by an appeals court in July 2020.






https://www.radiofarda.com/a/payam-derafshan-iranian-human-rights-lawyer-was-tortured/31515270.html (FARSI)

Iran: Imprisoned Lawyers: Why We Planned to Sue the Supreme Leader


A group of detained Iranian lawyers have published an open letter declaring their intent to sue Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, former president Hassan Rouhani and ex-health minister Saeed Namaki, as well as all members of the National Coronavirus Taskforce and the Prosecutor-General.

Mustafa Nili, Arash Kaykhosravi and Mehdi Mahmoudian were among six people detained in mid-August as they prepared to file a lawsuit against the Supreme Leader for gross mishandling of Covid-19 in Iran.

The news website Emtedad published their letter on Sunday, quoting it as follows: “As a group of Iranian citizens, we wanted to speak out about the unprofessional speeches, the simplifications, the carelessness and arrogance of the country’s officials during the coronavirus pandemic.

“From preventing the timely purchase of a coronavirus vaccine to delaying its import due to political motives; from the extrajudicial establishment of the National Coronavirus Taskforce to the deposit of billions of dollars in non-specialist corporations and selected institutions, instead of reputable ones; from the murder and painful deaths of tens of thousands of our compatriots, to the deaths of hundreds of health workers.”

Nili, Kaykhosravi and Mahmoudian wrote that they had decided to file the complaint against those officials who had “sent millions of our compatriots into mourning” by “recklessness, bigotry, inaction and prioritizing factional, political and economic interests over the health of the people. We file charges against them for involuntary manslaughter, amongst other things.”

Before they had a chance to file it, however, the three said 15 agents of the judiciary had raided their offices in Tehran “violently and without authorization… after three hours of useless quarrelling, they detained us to prevent us from filing a complaint.”

Since then, they said, they had been held in Ward 241 of Evin Prison, blocked from having visits or phone calls, and subjected to 23 days of solitary confinement. This, they said, would be added to their complaint as a “clear example of torture” and a violation of Iran’s own Constitution.






Iran rights lawyer on hunger strike due to harassment in prison


سهیلا حجاب

“Soheila Hejab has continued from inside prison to denounce the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and unmistakably call for overthrow. The fierce courage in her voice is chilling”

The Iranian civil rights lawyer Soheila Hejab started a hunger strike in prison over two weeks ago to protest the Islamic Republic’s harassment of her and her family members.  Hejab suffers from severe health problems and Iranians on social media are urging the regime to release the attorney. The National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI) tweeted “The Islamic Republic has kept #SoheilaHejab, an Iranian lawyer and activist, in jail without proper access to medical care for months. She has launched multiple hunger strikes and is in dire circumstances.”

The Iranian-American expert on human rights in Iran, Mariam Memarsadegh, said that “Despite suffering torture and threats to her life, Soheila Hejab has continued from inside prison to denounce the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and unmistakably call for overthrow. The fierce courage in her voice is chilling.

“Memarsadeghi, who advocates for democracy in Iran and is a fellow for Macdonald-Laurier Institute, added that” Like many who have dissented from the Islamist totalitarian regime, she is an advocate for democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy and a supporter of Reza Pahlavi.”

The Center for Human Rights in Iran tweeted on Tuesday “Imprisoned rights lawyer Soheila Hejab was assaulted by prisoners convicted of ‘dangerous crimes’ in Iran’s Gharchak Prison, reports HRANA [Human Rights Activists News Agency]. The assault was instigated by a prison official. Hejab had ended a hunger strike on Oct. 3 after receiving pledges from the authorities.”



https://www.radiofarda.com/a/soheila-hejab-hunger-strike/31491785.html (FARSI)





Iran’s New Government Moves to Silence Dissent by Muzzling Leading Activists


The Iranian security establishment’s attempt to imprison four prominent human rights defenders, only a few months after the inauguration of the country’s new presidential administration, signals the beginning of a new and intensified era of repression.

“This is a clear attempt to enchain the country’s top rights defenders and create a climate of fear as this illegitimate government tightens its grip on power,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“Raisi’s government is assuming that Iran’s international negotiating partners will look the other way while it tramples human rights,” Ghaemi added. “Yet silence is complicity. Failing to condemn this outrageous behavior is a green light to the Iranian government’s most brutal actors.”

The internationally renowned human rights activist Narges Mohammadi announced this past weekend that she has received a new sentence of 80 lashes, 30 months of imprisonment, and two monetary fines—less than a year after she completed an 8.5-year sentence for engaging in peaceful activism.


Two prominent human rights lawyers, Arash Keykhosravi and Mostafa Nili, meanwhile remain detained in Evin Prison after being arrested last month with a group of lawyers and activists that included Mahmoudian as they were preparing to sue state officials over their ineffective and deadly response to the pandemic.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s ban on importing vaccines from major vaccine-producing countries including the U.S., UK and France was followed by surging infections and deaths throughout the country as the vast majority of Iranians were unable to access safe vaccines.

Khamenei lifted his ban eight months later, after hospitals and cemeteries were overflowing and more than 100,000 people had officially died from COVID-19, though the actual number is believed to be much higher.

Keykhosravi and Nili are among only a few defense attorneys willing to accept human rights cases in the country amid a state campaign to bar independent lawyers from being able to work. The charges against the two remain withheld from the public and they have been denied bail with no set trial date.

This latest campaign of repression is a harbinger of the state’s growing campaign to crush peaceful dissent, which has intensified since President Ebrahim Raisi and Judiciary Chief Mohseni Ejei—both major human rights violators—took power in Iran this past August.

“This is a test for the international community,” said Ghaemi. “To see if we will sit by silently and continue to carelessly treat Iran as only a nuclear file while this government tries to decapitate the country’s civil rights movement.”


https://ir.voanews.com/a/arash-kheikhosrawi-medi-mahmoudian-mostafa-nili-activist-lawyer-prisoner-iran-/6226427.html (FARSI)