Blog-Archive

Young Activist Sentenced to 12.5 Years in Prison for Facebook Posts

Atena Faraghdani

A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced artist and civil rights activist Atena Faraghdani to a total of 12.5 years in prison for drawings and content critical of the government that the young activist posted on her Facebook page.

Faraghdani’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, stated in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that under Article 134 of Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code, the sentence should be reduced to 7.5 years imprisonment. This article stipulates that in the case of multiple charges, sentencing will be limited to the maximum punishment for the crime with the heaviest sentence.

Moghimi noted that the ruling issued by the judge stated that Article 134 should be “considered.” The lawyer added that a 7.5-year prison sentence was “the maximum punishment for the charge of ‘assembly and collusion against national security,’” one of the charges against her.

“The peaceful expression of dissent remains a red line in Iran,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Campaign, “Cross it and you risk prison time.”

Ghaemi added that the authorities particularly fear social media networks, which have become hugely popular in Iran, especially among the young, and have clamped down especially hard on any content deemed even remotely critical of state policies expressed on them.

“The court ruling was served to her and myself today [June 1, 2015]. We have 20 days to appeal, and we hope this ruling will be overturned by the Appeals Court,” said Moghimi, Faraghdani’s lawyer.

The activist’s charges are “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader, the President, Members of the Parliament, and the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] Ward 2-A agents” who interrogated her.

Following five months inside Gharchak and Evin Prisons, Faraghdani was tried at Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati, a notorious judge who is consistently handpicked to preside over “national security” cases that security and intelligence organizations bring against political and civil activists, because of the harsh and maximum sentences he imposes. Salavati is the judge presiding over the trial of the Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

Moghimi noted that one of the pieces of evidence used against his client was her sharing of a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian Parliament as animals on her Facebook page. Other evidence included Faraghdani’s critical writings on her Facebook page, and her visits with families of political prisoners and protesters who were killed at the Kharizak Police Detention Center in 2009, in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election.

“According to our laws, activities on social networks on the Internet are not recognized as crimes. In democratic countries, drawing cartoons to criticize those in power is an accepted practice. My client is an artist who expresses her thoughts through drawing cartoons, and she meant to criticize those in power,” Mohammad Moghimi told the Campaign.

“Additionally, Article 8 of the Iranian Constitution expresses that it is upon everyone to ‘prevent vice and promote virtue,’ and this is a two-way responsibility both the nation and the state have  vis-à-vis each other. Expressing criticism is also a part of freedom of opinion and expression,” Moghimi said.

Security agents arrested the painter and civil activist Atena Faraghdani on August 24, 2014, and transferred her to IRGC’s Ward 2-A inside Evin Prison. She was released on bail on November 2, 2014. She published a video of herself, in which she spoke about an incident of aggressive strip search by female prison guards inside a solitary cell at Evin Prison. She said in the video that she had been ordered to take off her clothes, which she had refused. The video was widely viewed and discussed on social networks.

After the video was published, she was summoned to Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court on January 10, 2015, arrested, and transferred to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, outside Tehran.

Atena Faraghdani embarked on a hunger strike to protest her transfer to the deplorable Gharchak Prison, where political prisoners are not separated from hardened criminals, in violation of the principle of the separation of prisoners.

After her health deteriorated severely and she was transferred to a hospital on February 26, 2015, judicial authorities ordered her transfer back to Evin Prison on March 2, where she has been ever since.

Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Human Rights Under Rouhani

Since Rouhani took office, the human rights situation has not improved as some had hoped, but has actually worsened in a number of critical ways. For example, the pace of executions has increased to more than two a day in what can only be described as an „execution binge.“

Executions

2013 368
2014 531+
TOTAL 899+

Rouhani has also not fulfilled his promise to ease Internet restrictions, with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube remaining blocked for Iranian citizens. In May, six young men and women were arrested and detained in Tehran for posting a tribute video to Pharrell Williams‘ hit song, „Happy,“ on YouTube.

Iranian facebook users call for mercy in appeals court

Source: ZAMANEH_UR:

The lawyer for a number of Facebook users who were arrested by Iranian authorities for their cyber activities reported on Monday September 29 that his clients have „accepted some of their mistakes and expressed remorse“ in the appeals court.


Caught redhanded!
(cartoon by Mana Neyestani, Iran Wire)

The appeals court hearing of eight Facebook users was held on Sunday September 28 in Tehran, according to IRNA. Their lawyer, Shima Ghosheh, reports that in addition to presenting their defence at the trial, the accused called for Islamic mercy.

He added that seven of the accused were present in court and only one, who has been out on bail, was not in court. Ghosheh said the hearing took four hours and, unlike the preliminary court, the accused were given a chance to speak and defend themselves.

The eight Facebook users were arrested in July and charged with „assembly and collusion against national security“, „propaganda activities against the regime“, „insulting sanctities“ and „insulting the senior government officials and other individuals.“

In the preliminary court, they were sentenced to stiff prison terms, monetary fines and lashes in the preliminary court.

Trading Sex on Facebook, Iranian Style

Trading Sex on Facebook, Iranian Style

The photos are something like the virtual equivalent of an Amsterdam red light district flesh window. They feature semi-nude young women with tattoos and heavy make-up, each introduced with one or two sentences. The picture for Baran is accompanied by this caption: “She is rather expensive, serves only Tehran, and charges double for a full night.”

Early this week Kamal Hadianfar, commander of Iran’s Cyber Police, reported that authorities have identified 135 Facebook pages engaged in online prostitution. “We have taken action against a number of them and others on the list of the Morality Police,” he said.

Despite the Islamic Republic’s strict social codes and severe punishments for sex workers, prostitutes appear on the streets of Tehran every night. Authorities routinely raid brothels, called ‘team houses’ by the police, and arrested women are typically sentences to years in prison and lashes. Occasionally state television broadcasts confessions by prostitutes, their faces camouflaged, who talk about their sad lives and repent.

The severity of the state’s punishment for sex workers who are arrested on the street or through conventional brothels has increasingly pushed prostitution onto social media, where sex workers and their clients can connect more securely than on a Tehran street corner. Facebook pages now serve as online sex shops, where pimps and madams, customers, aspiring sex workers, and pranksters vie for each other’s attention.

One of these pages has more than 21,000 followers. The admin of this page is called “Aunt Mary” and the followers address her as such in their comments. Aunt Mary last posted yesterday, uploading three new photos. “My dears, this is Sahar, my sexy love…only in Tehran,” the post reads. “She does not go anywhere else. The cost for the night is half a million [about $190]. Whoever insults her will be blocked. Cash up front.”

I do a Google search on the pictures. All three have been published before on Facebook pages Duff Persian, Hot Duff II, andDuff Tehran. In the course of one day the pictures received more than 2,000 ‘likes’ and 823 comments. Some comments have objected to what Sahar, or perhaps Aunt Mary, charges, and some have tried to bargain the price down. Others have posted sexual jokes and a few have left a telephone number and asked Aunt Mary to contact them swiftly.

A few women have posted comments to advertise themselves, edging in on the space Aunt Mary has created for the girls she runs. “If you are looking for good sex, please include your phone number in your Facebook message along with a fully charged pay as you go SIM card writes Negar. “The priority is with those who pay for more for the SIM card …I am not a SIM card thief. If you don’t trust me, don’t waste my time.”

Pay As You Go SIM card thief or “charge thief” is a common refrain on these pages. These profiles customarily require a fully-paid SIM card number first before contacting male customers, a practice that seems largely designed to defraud potential customers. The profile names are usually a combination of a female name and a lewd prostitution term. Many users have purchased the credit for Pay As You Go from Iran Cell mobile company, but have not received the expected service. An example can be seen right below the above comment. “Please don’t trust them,” Hamed writes. “They are all alike. Twice I have purchased credit for…but when I sent it I got no answer and was immediately blocked.”

Many have posted comments similar to that of Hamed. That is likely why other pages have emerged with names such as “Fighting Charge Thieves” or “Introducing Charge-Stealing Prostitutes.” Some pages or profiles use phrases like “Real Sex Without Charge” to advertise themselves, like one page that has 14,000 followers.

The page’s administrator explains that the page is not a charge thief and lists certain rules. “This page has become like a zoo,” reads the admin’s latest post. “I have said a hundred times that if you want sex, send us a message with your phone number + the name of the person you want + your town. We do not verify numbers posted in our comments section, so you might get swindled. To have your turn you must get the account number of the person you want by phone and deposit 100 thousand tomans [around $37] into the account.”

The admin has said similar things in previous posts, but this time, in a more patient tone, he points out the difference between a ‘real prostitute’ and a charge thief. “A real prostitute is so busy that she has no time to answer your message, but a charge thief answers you immediately because she wants your payment.”

Despite the admin’s admonishments they are many phone numbers included in the comments which follow. I begin dialling them one by one. The first number I dial does not answer, and I scan through comments on various pages and dial numerous numbers. Most do not answer or do not ring at all. At last a young man picks up. He is 25-years-old, from Varamin, a city near Tehran and knows nothing at all about the page on which his number has appeared. When I explain he laughs aloud and says, “I have never visited such a page. They are pulling my leg. I mean my friends. Please, please give me the page address. I want to visit it and see what they have written about me.”

Among the comments there is one from someone who calls herself Annaz. “I don’t want credit or money before sex,” she writes. “I just want good sex.” I call the number and after a few rings a man with a deep voice and a Kurdish accent picks up the phone:

– Sorry to bother you, but I would like to speak to Annaz.

– That’s me.

– You’re Annaz?

– Lady, a bastard has published my number on the Internet under the name of Annaz. I have been going crazy. I have no idea what they have written, but every day seven or eight people call and ask how much for Annaz. As God is my witness, I don’t know any Annaz.

The next person who answers is Parsa, who talks without embarrassment. “I left my number and two days later Auntie called me,” he says, “But I found the price too high…I had to deposit the money upfront. I didn’t go for it. When they get the money they disappear.” Parsa is 21, knows all the pages, and says that his friend has been swindled. The friend deposited the money but was not contacted afterwards. Parsa says he too has been duped like this. “One time I bought credit and the guy turned out to be a thief,” says he. “Now I am not fooled so easily.”

Once he managed to find a woman through the pages. I asked him whether he found her picture attractive. “No way. I think these pictures are all fake. I just posted a comment below the picture. Then a man who had seen the comment sent me a private message with the number of a woman. He wrote that she does her job well and she is not very expensive. I was with her a few times, she charges 30 thousand tomans. If you don’t have a place of your own you can go to her place for 40 thousand tomans. It has become a little repetitive, that’s why I left a new message.”

I ask Parsa for the number of the now repetitive woman, who checks with her first and later tells me that she is expecting my call. Her name is Mahnaz and Parsa says that she is around 40, but when she picks up her voice is thin and she doesn’t sound that old. I ask her whether she has seen the Facebook pages. “No, I have not!” she answers immediately. “But I’ve heard about them.”

I don’t ask anything else, there is a pause of a few seconds. “I’ve heard that they put up pictures,” she says, finally. “You can be sure that someone in this job would never publish her picture or her number. And they would not take money upfront. The money has to be counted before your own eyes and be left where you can see it. When you have done your job then you pick up the money. These people are a bunch of con artists. I don’t know why men are so clueless and fall for it. But of course men deserve what they get.”

She laughs out loud when she finishes her sentence. She had agreed to speak to me on the condition that I did not ask her any personal questions. “I answered the call and talked to you because Parsa is very dear to me. Otherwise I would not answer the phone if I cannot recognize the number.”

I go back to the Facebook pages, and select ten photos from each page to run through Google search. I find most of them on other pages and some have been copied from foreign magazines, though it appears the admin has chosen only those who strongly resemble Iranian women. Only one-page features pictures that I cannot find elsewhere, but here the faces are completely covered, only the bodies show. Each day the admin posts the specifications of the women who are available that day. “For the weekend Nila: 168 height, 59 weight, 85 chest. 250 thousand tomans per hour.” Previous posts explain that the money is paid after sex.

I read the comments below the posting. “Don’t trust this bastard,” writes a user named Hamid. “Yesterday he gave me number to call and make arrangements with a girl called Shadi. I rang. Now the Cyber Police has called and has summoned me to go there on Saturday. Be careful, guys. It is all lies, I swear. I am worried sick until Saturday.”

A few hours later when I revisit the page Hamid’s comment has been deleted.

Lange Haftstrafen für acht Facebook-Nutzer

Wegen regierungskritischer Kommentare auf der Online-Plattform Facebook sind acht junge Iraner zu langen Haftstrafen verurteilt worden.

Ein Gericht verhängte Freiheitsstrafen zwischen elf und 21 Jahren gegen die namentlich nicht genannten Angeklagten, wie iranische Medien am Montag berichteten. Ihnen wurden demnach „Aktivitäten gegen die nationale Sicherheit, Propaganda gegen die Regierung und Beleidigung religiöser Werte sowie der iranischen Führung“ zur Last gelegt. Weitere Details wurden in den Berichten nicht genannt. Die iranische Regierung versucht systematisch, die Nutzung sozialer Netzwerke wie Facebook oder Twitter zu unterbinden. Dennoch äußern sich dort immer wieder Aktivisten mit Kritik. Der politisch moderat auftretende Präsident Hassan Ruhani hatte den Iranern zu seinem Amtsantritt im Juni 2013 mehr Freiheiten im Internet versprochen, trifft dabei aber auf den Widerstand konservativer Hardliner.

Quelle: n-tv/afp

U2 message for Iran – پیام یو۲ برای ایران

In a message sent today to ‚Bono‘ the highly praised singer of the pop group ‚U2‘, Amir Hossein Jahanshahi, the Founder of Green Wave expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the continuous support that Bono and his Group have given to struggle of the Iranian nation for the liberation of their country.

This message was delivered in the aftermath of the release of a new musical video by this internationally renowned Group, which has now been made available to Iranian audiences via Amir Hossein Jahanshahi’s Facebook and Youtube.
In his message to ‚Bono“, Jahanshahi has said:

„While expressing my thanks to you as a great international performer who has always been a bastion of support for the cause of struggling people and freedom loving movements everywhere, I am confident that your moral support for the Iranian nation will serve as an important impetus to further boost their efforts for the establishment of a civilized order in line with the aspirations of all Iranians. Your support comes at a time when Iranians more than ever are in need of international support and solidarity as they prepare themselves to confront the dictatorial regime governing our country at this time. Bono and U2 have demonstrated yet again their support and solidarity with the freedom loving people of Iran and the regional quest for democratic change.“

امیر حسین جهانشاهی بنیانگذار موج سبز امروز در پیامی از بونو خواننده سرشناس گروه یو۲ به دلیل حمایت های همیشگی او و گروه پرآوازه اش از جنبش آزادیخواهانه ملت ایران ابراز قدردانی کرد.

در پیام امیرحسین جهانشاهی آمده است:

ضمن تشکر از اقدام شایسته شما هنرمند برجسته بین المللی که همواره حامی ملت های تحت ستم و جنبش تحول خواهی در ایران، منطقه و جهان بوده اید، اطمینان دارم که با پشتیبانی معنوی شما جامعه ایران با عزمی قاطع تر برای رهایی کشور و برقراری نظامی متمدن و درخور ملت ایران کوشا خواهد بود.

این حمایت شما در شرایطیست که ملت ما بیش از هر زمانی به حمایت و همبستگی جهانی در برابر دیکتاتوری حاکم بر ایران نیاز دارد.

بونو و گروه خوشنام یو2 بار دیگر در این شرایط حساس و سرنوشت ساز نشان دادند که در کنار مردم آزاده ایران و جنبش تحول خواهی در منطقه ایستاده اند.

از طریق صفحه فیس بوک امیرحسین جهاشناهی میتوانید نظرات خود را با ما در میان بگذارید و یا پیام‌های خود را مستقیما به ایشان برسانید:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amir-h

امیرحسین جهانشاهی را روی توئیتر دنبال کنید:
https://twitter.com/Jahanchahi

 

Campaign Posters Capture Rivalries

by Garrett Nada

In flashy campaign art, Iran’s six presidential candidates are pulling at public heartstrings and playing on haunting moments in Iranian history to rally votes. Posters are now plastered across billboards, fences, office blocks and the sides of cars as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus accounts—some of which are actually banned in Iran. Each candidate has his own buzzwords drawing on his past as a war hero, top adviser to the supreme leader, moderate cleric or peace negotiator. 

SAEED JALILI
      Jalili is a war veteran who lost a leg fighting Iraq in the 1980s—and his posters ooze with sacrifice and nationalism. His slogan, “Resistance is the key to success,” draws on imagery from a war that ended a quarter century ago but still influences politics. This poster encourages Iranians to fulfill their national duty to vote while recalling their past duty to defend the country. A hardliner, Jalili has run the most ideological campaign of the six candidates. He is currently secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Jalili accuses other candidates of being too soft on national security issues.
MOHAMMAD-BAQER QALIBAF 
      Qalibaf is a “man of action”― and his posters gush with images of him on the job. Websites and blogs by the “Lovers of Qalibaf” depict the Tehran mayor overseeing the building of bridges, highways and parks to illustrate his slogan: “Jihadi management versus capitalism.” A pragmatic conservative, Qalibaf balances his image as a manager with security credentials. Four pictures on the left are from his days as a Revolutionary Guard on the Iran-Iraq war front.

THE TEXT OF MY OPENING SPEECH AT THE HOPE CONCERT FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRAN

Text of the opening speech at the Hope Concert for the People of Iran
(The entire text is also available in فارسی / Farsi)
My name is Roxana Saberi, and I composed much of this piece in prison in Iran. I didn’t have a piano there, but in solitary confinement, I practiced by tapping my fingers on the wall of my cell.

I’m not a professional musician like the many talented artists you will hear tonight, but I wanted to share this piece with you, and to dedicate it to the hundreds of prisoners of conscience in Iran who are being punished for peacefully exercising their basic human rights.

These prisoners include journalists and bloggers, human rights advocates, student activists, and attorneys.

They also include two women who were my cellmates, members of Iran’s minority Baha’i faith who are serving 20-year sentences for practicing their religion.

These prisoners cannot hear our concert tonight, but there’s a great possibility that they will hear about it because news about events like this can travel through cement walls and steel doors.

I’d like to ask you to please close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you are in a prison cell, alone, accused of a crime you didn’t commit. No one knows where you are and you’re denied access to an attorney. And no matter how much you might dream that the raindrops on the roof are the footsteps of your saviors coming to rescue you, there is no escape.

Now imagine that you learn people outside prison not only know where you are, but they are also calling for your release. They are signing petitions, spreading the word on Facebook, and praying for you.  Even little children are praying for you!

These people are focusing not only on your plight but also on the reasons behind your imprisonment:  They are highlighting issues greater than yourself:  freedoms we’re all entitled to.

And you realize: You are not alone!  You don’t have to stand up to injustice by yourself anymore!  You feel empowered.  You feel hope.

Please open your eyes.

I felt this way in 2009, when I was in Tehran’s Evin Prison, facing a fabricated charge of espionage. When I learned – through my interrogator and later, my parents — that friends and strangers around the world were calling for my release, I realized something crucial:  When we don’t have a voice, we need others to speak out for us, and when we do have a voice, we have the responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless.

While we each have just one voice, together, our voices can make a difference.

Tonight we want to use our voices to make a difference—through music. Music can unite people across cultures, countries, and continents …

This evening’s artists speak different languages, but we don’t need to understand each other’s words to grasp each other’s plights … and to show solidarity with Iranians striving for human rights, freedom, and dignity. These Iranians are not only prisoners of conscience but also many who are outside prison. They want to write openly in their newspapers, surf the Web freely, to rally peacefully in the streets, to exercise their basic rights without fear and with hope that they can play a role in creating a better future for their country.

The proceeds from tonight’s concert will be donated to two non-profit organizations:  the Children of Persia, which helps needy children in Iran, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

We are broadcasting this concert live into Iran on the radio, TV, and the Internet.

The Iranian authorities will likely try to block people from watching and listening, but we have faith that many Iranians will still find ways to tune in.

And now I want to say a few words in Farsi for people in Iran:

:به عزیزانمان در ایران

در حالی که ممکن است مرزها و حکومتها ما را از هم جدا کند، همه ما در نهایت بخشی از بشریت هستیم و به عنوان  برادر و خواهر در کنار هم می‏ایستیم. هر چند فاصله‏ها ما را از هم دور می‏کنند، در غمها و شادیهایمان، در بیم و امید و از همه مهمتر در مهر و محبت با هم متحدیم. ما برای همبستگی با شما اینجا جمع شده‏ایم تا بگوییم که در تلاش مسالمت‏آمیزتان برای دستیابی به حقوق بشر، آزادی و کرامت انسانی تنها نیستید. هر یک از ما تنها یک صدا داریم، اما جمع صداهایمان می‏تواند تأثیری مثبتی بر جای بگذارد. این کنسرت به شما تقدیم می‏شود

 

 

Medien protestieren gegen verschärfte Internetüberwachung im Iran

Drohungen von Regierungsseite mehren sich im Vorfeld der Präsidentenwahlen

Teheran – Mehrere Vertreter iranischen Medien haben gegen die verschärfte Überwachung des Internets im Vorfeld der Präsidentenwahl am 14. Juni protestiert. „Die Internetüberwachung ist zu einem der größten Probleme für die Medien im Iran geworden“, heißt es in einer Erklärung der Nachrichtenagentur Mehr vom Samstag.

Sicherheitsorganisationen hatten mehrere Nachrichtenagenturen und Online-Dienste entweder geschlossen oder mit Drohungen eingeschüchtert. „Diese Entscheidungen entbehren jeglicher juristischen Grundlage und wurden ohne eine rationale Rechtfertigung getroffen“, heißt es weiter. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Eye on Iran: Dictator’s Account – Now Also Pressure on Twitter

Top Stories

Die Welt (German): „Twitter is now subject to criticism for hosting the accounts of Iranian officials who are forcibly denying their electorate access to the internet in their country. Recently, the American lobbying organization United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) appealed in an open letter to Facebook, calling for a shutdown of the Supreme Spiritual Leader Ali Khamenei’s site. Now the initiators have contacted Twitter in relation to Khamenei’s account: ‚The Iranian regime is using the account to spread its propaganda, while it excludes its own citizens from Twitter,‘ reads a letter from UANI boss Mark Wallace, who was the U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2006 to 2008. Wallace also reminds Twitter CEO Dick Costolo of the cruel persecution of opposition supporters who used the platform to publicly protest in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election. But the restriction of Internet freedom in Iran is also associated with brutal repression in other ways. Just last year, the well-known dissident blogger Sattar Beheshti was arrested and died in prison – apparently as a result of torture. The UANI activists are asking Twitter CEO Costolo how this fits with his own remarks praising Twitter’s role in the ‚Arab Spring‘ and declaring that the short message service could ‚change the world‘ by giving a voice to ‚people who have not previously had one.‘ Unlike the oppressed Iranian opposition, the Supreme Spiritual Leader used his Twitter account for rabble rousing. Thus, the letter quotes Khamenei’s tweets to the protesters of the ‚Arab Spring‘: ‚The activists of the Islamic awakening must be vigilant against the unpleasant and horrific experience of Western lifestyle.‘ Or: ‚Israelis a vile entity in the Middle East, which will undoubtedly be destroyed.'“ http://t.uani.com/186x9Rc  Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

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