Evin Prison Protesters Receive Suspended Prison Sentences
An Appeals Court upheld 91-day prison sentences against 18 people who were arrested while peacefully protesting outside Evin Prison in Tehran but suspended most of the sentences for three years, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
Suspended sentences operate like bail conditions; defendants are expected to keep a low profile and not engage in any form of activism for the duration of their term.
Sixteen of the defendants are followers of formerly imprisoned Shiite mystic Mohammad Ali Taheri: Masoud Hamidi, Farideh Tousi, Mohsen Haseli, Khadijeh Mirghaffari, Abdolazim Orouji, Ehsan Kheybar, Parvin Soleimani, Mohsen Shoja, Azam Najafi, Arshia Rahmati, Shermin Yamini, Ali Babaei, Esmaeil Hosseini, Zahra Modarres, Sara Saei and Reza Malek.
The founder of the Erfan Halgheh spiritual group, Taheri was imprisoned from 2010-19 after being arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and convicted of “insulting the sacred,” “immoral contact with women,” and “carrying out illegal medical procedures,” and “corruption on earth.”
Iran’s security establishment has come down hard on Taheri and supporters of his Erfan Halgheh spiritual group, viewing it and any other alternative belief system, especially those seeking converts, as a threat to the prevailing Shia order.
The other two defendants had no affiliation with Taheri or his followers: Hashem Zeinali, the father of Saeed Zeinali, a University of Tehran student who has been missing since he was arrested in 1999, and Simin Eyvazzadeh, the mother of formerly imprisoned children’s rights activist Omid Alishenas.
Family members and other supporters of political prisoners often gather outside the gates of Evin Prison demanding justice for their loved ones.
Mohammad Moghimi, the lawyer representing four of the defendants, told CHRI on July 3, 2019, that all 18 had been charged with “disrupting public order” after they were arrested outside the prison on November 21, 2015.
The Appeals Court verdict was issued on May 15, 2019, he added.
The prison sentences against Saei and Malek were not suspended because the former did not appeal her preliminary sentence and has since left the country and the latter is currently behind bars in a different case, according to Moghimi.
All 18 were initially tried at Branch 1060 of the 2nd Criminal Court in Tehran presided by Judge Farshid Dehghani on February 9, 2016.