All of the inmates held at the Women’s Ward in Evin are political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. They have been put behind bars for holding and ex- pressing views or beliefs, or participating in peaceful activities, with which the government of the Islamic Republic disagrees.
They have been imprisoned for “crimes” such as campaigning for political and cultural freedoms in Iran, participating in peaceful protests, reporting on events for reformist publications, speaking to foreign officials about human rights issues in Iran, defending basic human rights, and peacefully critiquing the polices of the Islamic Republic.
Peaceful dissent is treated as a national security crime in Iran, in violation of the country’s own laws. The constitution of the Islamic Republic guarantees freedom of belief (Article 23), press freedom (Article 24), privacy of communication (Article 25), freedom of association (Article 26), and freedom of assembly (Article 27).
The denial of the right to expression and peaceful dissent also violates international treaties the Islamic Republic has signed, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religion (Article 18), freedom of expression (Article 19), the right of peaceful assembly (Article 21), and freedom of association (Article 22).
The judicial proceedings in their cases, from arrest to prosecution to conviction, also violate Iran’s constitution. These women have typically been arrested with- out cause, held for lengthy periods under “temporary detention” during which time they are not charged and are denied access to counsel, and are convicted in brief and often closed trials where their lawyers are denied full and timely access to case files (and sometimes are not even present). The women are convicted on the basis of evidentiary standards well below international standards. They are then sentenced by judges whose patterns of case assignments indicate they are hand-picked by the Judiciary to hand down harsh sentences to political prisoners.
Yet Article 32 of Iran’s constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, Article 34 guarantees the right to a competent court, Article 35 guarantees the right to legal counsel, Article 36 guarantees the right to competent sentencing, and Article 37 states the presumption of innocence.
The ICCPR guarantees similar protections: Article 9 prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, and Article 14 guarantees the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial and other due process protections including the right to counsel of choice.
The harsh and punitive incarceration conditions in Evin’s Women’s Ward, described in this report through the testimonies of current and former prisoners, also violate both Iranian and international law. As this report will detail, these women are routinely subjected to conditions explicitly forbidden under Iran’s constitution, its State Prison Procedures, the ICCPR, and other UN Standards, Rules and Principles regarding the treatment of prisoners.
As of this writing, the Campaign was able to con rm that there are at least 25 inmates currently held in Evin’s Women’s Ward; the exact number is not known and fluctuates. The following is a list of known (or, in a few cases, believed) inmates of the ward (the list names 27 individuals, two of whom were just recently released after the drafting of this report), with a brief summation of their cases.
*This list of prisoners was revised and updated on June 24, 2016 as the Campaign accessed new information.
BAHAREH HEDAYAT, age 34, is a well-known women’s, students’ and human rights activist. She was arrested on December 31, 2009. On August 17, 2015, when she was due for release, a two-year suspended sentence from 2007 was enforced, even though its statute of limitations had expired. Her peaceful activism has included participation in the 2009 post-election pro- tests; acting as women’s and students’ rights defend- er, serving as member of the central committee and cofounder of the women’s commission of the Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat nationwide student organization and as a leader in the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Change of Discriminatory Laws against Women, and making videos and giving interviews on the state of human rights in Iran. She was charged with “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “insulting the President.” Hedayat’s health has deteriorated severely during her imprisonment.
NARGES MOHAMMADI, age 43, is also one of Iran’s well- known human and women’s rights activists. She was sentenced in May 2016 to serve ten years of a six- teen-year prison sentence for “membership in the Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty,” “assembly and collusion against national security,” and “propaganda against the state.” She has been imprisoned several times over the last few years, most recently since May 5, 2015, after a six-year prison sentence originally is- sued in 2011 was enforced. She has been prosecuted for her outspoken support for women’s and human rights, her activism against the death penalty, and for meeting with EU foreign officials to discuss human rights in Iran. Mohammadi was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2011 on national security-related charges, later reduced on appeal to six years. In 2013 she was released from Zanjan prison for medical reasons. Her May 2015 arrest, ostensibly on these older charges, was more accurately related to official displeasure with Mohammadi’s visit with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and her continued activism. Mohammadi’s health has deteriorated severely in prison.
REYHANEH TABATABAEI, age 35, is a reformist journalist. Originally arrested on November 30, 2014, she be- gan her one-year sentence on January 12, 2016, for her journalism (including interviews with Iranian Sunni leaders), Facebook posts criticizing the government, and support for reformist political figures and presidential candidates. She was charged with “propaganda against the state.”
ATENA FARAGHDANI*, age 29, is an artist and human rights activist. She was arrested on January 10, 2015 and sentenced to 12 years and nine months imprisonment for posting a drawing she made depicting Iranian legislators as animals. She also provided support to the families of protesters killed during the 2009 post-election protests. She was charged with “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader, the President, Members of the Parliament, and the [Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization’s Ward 2-A] agents” who interrogated her. *Faraghdani was released on May 3, 2016, after the drafting of this report.
AFARIN CHITSAZ, 41, was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization on November 1, 2015. She is a journalist who wrote on Iran’s foreign policy and other subjects for the Iran daily, the official publication of the Rouhani administration. She was accused of being part of an “infiltration network” with links to western countries, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for “collaboration with foreign governments” and “assembly and collusion against national security.” Afraid Chitsaz was held inside the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization- controlled Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, in solitary confinement, for six months, but has since been moved to the Women’s Ward.
FARIBA KAMALABADI, age 53, is one of the seven imprisoned Baha’i community leaders. She was arrested on May 14, 2008, charged with “management of the Baha’i organization,” “espionage for Israel,” “insulting the sacred,” and “propaganda against the state,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
MAHVASH SHAHRIARI SABET, age 64; is one of seven imprisoned Baha’i community leaders. Arrested on May 5, 2008, she was charged with “management of the Baha’i organization,” “espionage for Israel,” “insulting the sacred,” and “propaganda against the state,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Tahereh Jafari, age 54, was arrested in November 2012 on charges of “propaganda against the state” for interviews with domestic and foreign media, in which she voiced alternative spiritual beliefs. She was released on bail in January 2013. In summer of 2014, she was sentenced to one year in prison and an appeals court subsequently upheld the sentence. She began serving her one-year prison sentence in September 2015.
FARAN HESAMI*, age 41, was a lecturer at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education Online University, and provided support to young Baha’is barred from higher education for practicing their religion. She was arrest- ed on July 15, 2012, charged with “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security through membership in an illegal organization,” and sentenced to four years in prison. *Hesami was released on April 15, 2016, upon completion of her sentence, after the initial drafting of this report.
AZITA RAFIZADEH, age 35, was a lecturer at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education Online University, and provided support to young Baha’is barred from high- er education for practicing their religion. She was first arrested in June 2011, charged with “membership in the illegal and misguided Baha’i organization with the aim of acting against national security through illegal activities in the BIHE,” and sentenced to five years in prison. She began serving her term in November 2015.
NASIM BAGHERI, age unknown, was a professor at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education Online University. She provided support to young Baha’is who were barred from higher education due to their religion. She was arrest- ed on April 27, 2014, charged with “propaganda against the state,” and “acting against national security through membership in an illegal organization” (the Baha’i Online University), and sentenced to four years in prison.
ELHAM FARAHANI, age 34, practices the Baha’i faith and participated in Baha’i community activities. She was arrested May 11, 2014, charged with “membership in the Baha’i community organization,” and sentenced to four years in prison.
MARYAM NAGHASH ZARGARAN, age 37, is a Christian con- vert who organized and conducted house-church (un- official, home-based places of worship) activities and was involved in the orphanage of the formerly imprisoned Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini. (Abedini was just recently released from prison in Iran as part of the US-Iran prisoner exchange in January 2016.) She was arrested on July 15, 2013, charged with “propaganda against the state,” and “assembly and collusion against national security,” and sentenced to four years in prison.
ZIBA POURHABIB, age unknown, is a follower of Dr. Mohammad Ali Taheri, the imprisoned leader of the banned alternative peaceful spiritual group Erfan-e Halgheh. She was originally arrested on October 8, 2014, and surrendered herself to serve her three-year sentence on July 1, 2015 on charges of “insulting the sacred.”
ROYA SABERINEJAD NOBAKHT, age 49, wrote posts and shared information on Facebook. She was arrested in October 2013, charged with “collecting information to act against national security” and “insulting the sacred,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
FAHIMEH A’RAFI, age unknown, is a follower of Dr. Mohammad Ali Taheri, the imprisoned leader of the banned alternative peaceful spiritual group Erfan-e Halgheh. The open practice of unrecognized faiths in Iran is typically treated as a crime. She was arrested on August 25, 2015, charged with “insulting the sacred,” and sentenced to five years in prison.
MARYAM AKBARI MONFARED, age 41, was a homemaker and participated in the 2009 peaceful protests that followed the widely disputed results of the presidential election in Iran that year. She was also accused of making phone calls to family members inside the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization’s (MEK) Camp Ashraf. (The MEK is an Iranian opposition group in exile that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.) She was arrest- ed on December 31, 2009, charged with moharebeh (enmity with God), and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
SEDIGHEH MORADI, age 56, is an alleged Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization sympathizer and a former political prisoner. She was arrested on May 1, 2011, charged with “effective support of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization,” and sentenced to ten years in prison in exile.
FATEMEH MOSANNA, age 47, is an alleged former sympathizer of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization and a former 1980’s political prisoner who served three years in prison with her mother and sisters at the age of 13. She was arrested on October 5, 2015, and charged with “effective cooperation with the Mojahedin-e Khalgh.” Her sentence is unknown. It is possible that she is being held at the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209 at Evin Prison, rather than the Women’s Ward.
BEHNAZ ZAKERI ANSARI, age 51, is a dual citizen of Denmark and Iran and a resident of Sweden. She was arrested in 2012 when she was returning home from visiting Iran and charged with “effective support of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization.” She was sentenced to ten years in prison in exile.
RAYHANEH HAJ EBRAHIM DABBAGH, age unknown, is alleged to be a Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization sympathizer. She was arrested on December 26, 2009 in the after- math of the disputed 2009 election, charged with moharebeh (enmity with God) and sentenced to death, which was subsequently commuted to 15 years in prison at the appeals level.
ELHAM (ELAHEH) BARMAKI, age unknown, is a dual citizen of Iran and Cyprus. She was arrested in August 2012 on charges of “espionage” for the United Kingdom and sentenced to five years in prison.
ZAHRA ZEHTABCHI, age 46, was arrested on October 16, 2013. She is a social sciences researcher. Zehtabchi was charged with “effective support of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization” and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Leila Jafari, age unknown, is a supporter of the banned alternative spiritual group Erfan-e Halgheh, and was arrested following a peaceful gathering in 2015. She was later released on bail. Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Masha’allah Ahmadzadeh sentenced her to two years in prison. She began serving her two-year prison sentence on June 7, 2016.
Paniz Azimi, age unknown, was arrested for her postings on Facebook, and was sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the state.” At press time, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran was unable to gather additional information on her judicial case.
Zahra Sharifi (Tehrani), age unknown, is an Internet activist who was arrested earlier in 2016 for her spiritual beliefs and is currently being held inside the Women’s Ward at Evin. At press time, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran was unable to gather additional information on her judicial case.
Nazila Hamidova, age unknown, is a Republic of Azerbaijan citizen from Baku, and is currently held inside Evin’s Women’s Ward, allegedly on national security-related charges. At press time, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran was unable to gather additional information on her judicial case.