United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Rouhani on ISIS, Nuke Talks

     On August 30, President Hassan Rouhani vowed to resist U.S. sanctions in a televised press conference. But he also said Iran would continue nuclear talks with the world’s six major powers.  “We hope that we will reach [an] agreement... the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted,” Rouhani told domestic and foreign reporters. Just one day before the press conference, Washington sanctioned more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals for supporting Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism and sanctions evasion. Rouhani warned that the sanctions “are against the spirit” of the interim nuclear deal that was implemented in January 2014. 

           The president, who took office a little more than a year ago, addressed both domestic and foreign policy challenges, including the threat of Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq. He accused the United States and the West of supporting the Islamic State (IS) while it was fighting the Syrian regime in past years. Rouhani also criticized U.S. motivations for recent air strikes on IS. “Attacking terrorists on the pretext of protecting a country’s own citizens or embassy is not a true reason to fight terrorists,” he said. 
           The president also said that he did not know whether he would attend the U.N. General Assembly in September. Rouhani said he has “no plans” to meet with President Barack Obama. The following are excerpted remarks, including tweets from Rouhani's quasi-official account.

Nuclear Talks
            “Sanctions are an invasion of the Iranian nation. We should resist the invasion and put the invaders in their place. We should not allow the continuation and repetition of the invasion.
Sanctions on Iran’s pharmaceutical industry constitute a “crime against humanity.”
            “Besides, we basically believe that sanctions are illegal and wrong in essence and their form is also incorrect and unconstructive from our viewpoint. Iran continues to talk until an agreement is made… [but] if an agreement is not reached, sanctions cannot remain like before.”
            “We hope that we will reach agreement in the continuation of the path and the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted.”
            “The United States is the only country that Iran holds deep doubts about its good will for the settlement of the nuclear standoff.”
            “Our people distrust Americans. It would be better if Americans could do something that could help to build some trust in the future. Unfortunately, their moves only deepen distrust.”
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
            “Attacking terrorists on the pretext of protecting a country’s own citizens or embassy is not a true reason to fight terrorists.”
            “The U.S. and Western [countries] kept silent and supported ISIL during some years of terrorists fighting against Syria, but now they claim fight against terrorism in the region.”
Foreign Policy
            “Iranian people are men of ethics, morality and culture, wishing to lead peaceful co-existence with other nations. The reason is that in the past 100 to 200 years, Iran has not made any aggression on any country and has been only defendant to aggression, if any.
            “In the past year, leaders of many countries traveled to Iran. I traveled to several countries as well. Iran seeks good neighborly ties with the neighbors and the regional states with unity and fraternity.”
            “In the new era, we will have better relations with Turkey. We have difference of opinion with Turkey on the Syrian developments. No problem. We hope we will bring the differences to settlement.”
            “We want to have better relations with all the neighbors. Difference, if any, has nothing to do with our bilateral relations, rather, the differences we have about the region, ranging from North Africa to the Middle East, do still exist and may remain as well.”
            “Of course, if we reach an agreement with the P5+1 [on the nuclear issue], the conditions will be more different and it will be much easier to expand economic relations with all countries including China.”
Domestic Issues
             “As for the issues about the previous years and their backlash in the present time, we will act within framework of the law and our yardstick is the law. If the judiciary has sentenced a person to a prison term and he/she are deprived of the social rights. Let’s say, if the court has deprived one of the social rights, we have nothing to do.”
            “The predictions are all on the same basis and God willing, this year, we will witness positive growth, leaving behind recession and entering the era of economic boom.”
             “Efforts have been made to minimize negative growth in 1392 (2013-14) and in 1391 (2012-13) economic growth rate was minus 6.7 and in 1392 (2013-14) being minus 1.1 percent. We tried lower the negative growth to some extent.
             “In the field of energy, the government has made lots of efforts to sell oil and gas liquids to the extent the country needed as you see we are under the sanctions.”

New US Sanctions and Iran’s Response

            On August 29, the U.S. Treasury Department and State Department sanctioned more than 25 individuals, companies and banks for supporting Iran’s nuclear program, helping Iran evade sanctions or supporting terrorism. The punitive measures reflect Washington’s “determination to take action against anyone, anywhere, who violates our sanctions,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. He also emphasized that the United States will continue to enforce existing sanctions while the interim nuclear deal is in effect.
President Hassan Rouhani, however, warned that such measures “deepen distrust” between Iranians and the United States. He added that the latest sanctions are contrary to the spirit of the interim nuclear deal. And Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh vowed to circumvent the measures. The following are excerpts from press releases and remarks by American and Iranian officials. Descriptions of some of the sanctioned entities and individuals are at the bottom.

Statement by U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden
            Today we took additional steps in our effort to maintain pressure on the government of Iran. Specifically, the Departments of Treasury and State imposed sanctions on several companies and individuals engaged in activities such as assistance to Iran’s nuclear program, support for terrorism, or aiding Iran’s evasion of international sanctions. Just as we announced these measures and continue to enforce pre-existing sanctions on Iran, the United States remains committed to working with our P5+1 partners toward a long-term, comprehensive solution that provides confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Our actions today and since the start of the talks are consistent with our commitments under the Joint Plan of Action, which provided limited relief of certain sanctions in exchange for Iranians steps that halted its nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects. 
U.S. State Department Press Release
Actions Targeting Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Proliferators and Their Supporters
           As part of these combined actions, the Department of State imposed sanctions on four companies pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for engaging in or attempting to engage in activities that have materially contributed to, or posed a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of WMD or their means of delivery.  The Department of State’s designations comprise Iran-based entities engaged in efforts to support the development of nuclear weapons, or elements of Iran’s program that could be used to produce nuclear weapons.
Actions Targeting Persons Engaging with the Energy or Petrochemical Sectors of Iran
             Also today, the Department of State imposed sanctions pursuant to the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) on Goldentex FZE, a UAE-based  company involved in providing support to Iran’s shipping sector. 
            In addition, the Department of State took action to impose sanctions on Italy-based Dettin SpA pursuant to the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (ISA), as amended by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA).  According to information available to the United States, Dettin SpA knowingly providing Iran’s petrochemical industry with goods and support whose value exceeded $250,000. 
U.S. Treasury Department Press Release
  • Treasury designated four individuals and two entities pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their supporters.  Treasury also identified two aliases used by a previously sanctioned key Iranian missile proliferator.
  • Treasury designated two entities and three individuals tied to Iran’s energy industry pursuant to E.O. 13645.  Treasury also identified six vessels pursuant to this authority.      
  • Treasury designated one entity pursuant to E.O. 13622 for its provision of material support to the Central Bank of Iran in connection with the purchase or acquisition of U.S. dollar bank notes by the Government of Iran.
  • Treasury identified five Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions under E.O. 13599, which blocks the property and interests in property of the Government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions.
  • Treasury designated four entities and one individual pursuant to E.O. 13224 in connection with Iran’s support for terrorism.  Treasury also identified one alias used by an Iranian airline that was previously sanctioned under this E.O.
Iranian Reaction
President Hassan Rouhani
            “We are not afraid of sanctions. The government has handled the affairs despite sanctions. Sanction is oppression and aggression against the rights of the Iranian nation. It is our duty to put the aggressors in their place.
            “Besides, we basically believe that sanctions are illegal and wrong in essence and their form is also incorrect and unconstructive from our viewpoint. Iran continues to talk until an agreement is made… [but] if an agreement is not reached, sanctions cannot remain like before.
            “Our people distrust Americans. It would be better if Americans could do something that could help to build some trust in the future. Unfortunately, their moves only deepen distrust.
            “We hope that we will reach agreement in the continuation of the path and the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted.”
            Aug. 30, 2014 in a press conference
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh
            “The sanctions are cruel and illegal and we fulfill our duty for circumventing the sanctions. We do not recognize the sanctions.”
            Sept. 3, 2014 according to the press
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
             “The Islamic Republic of Iran denounces any unilateral and biased-interpretation of the Geneva agreement by the U.S. and strongly believes that the sanctions are contrary to the country’s commitments.”
             Aug. 30, 2014 according to the press
Entities and Individuals Sanctioned by the U.S. State Department
Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research:
The Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) is a Tehran-based entity that is primarily responsible for research in the field of nuclear weapons development. SPND was established in February 2011 by the UN-sanctioned individual Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who for many years has managed activities useful in the development of a nuclear explosive device. 
Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute:
Iran’s Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute (NSTRI) implements projects in the nuclear field, specifically at Iran’s 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor at Arak (the IR-40) - a reactor that, as presently designed, would provide Iran the capability to produce plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuelthe could be used in nuclear weapons. 
Jahan Tech Rooyan Pars and Mandegar Baspar Kimiya Company:
Jahan Tech Rooyan Pars (Jahan Tech) and Mandegar Baspar Kimiya Company (Mandegar Baspar) are Iran-based entities involved in the procurement of proliferation-sensitive material, specifically carbon fiber, for proscribed elements of Iran’s nuclear program. 
Entities and Individuals Sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department
WMD-Related Actions under E.O. 13382
Mohammad Javad Imanirad and Arman Imanirad
Mohammad Javad Imanirad and Arman Imanirad are being designated for acting for or on behalf of designated Iranian company, Aluminat.  Aluminat, which was designated in May 2013 under E.O. 13382, is an Iranian entity involved in the procurement of aluminum products for Iran’s nuclear program. 
Nefertiti Shipping
Nefertiti Shipping is being designated for its ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which was designated in September 2008 for providing logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).  Nefertiti Shipping is IRISL’s agent in Egypt. 
Sazeh Morakab, Ali Gholami, Marzieh Bozorg, and New Aliases of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group
Sazeh Morakab is being designated for providing services to Shahid Hemat Industrial Group (SHIG) and Iran's Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).  Sazeh Morakab’s Managing Director, Ali Gholami, and Commercial Manager, Marzieh Bozorg, are also being designated today for acting for or on behalf of Sazeh Morakab.  As of late 2012, Sazeh Morakab held established contracts with HESA and procured composite materials on HESA's behalf.  Sazeh Morakab has also helped procure carbon fiber for SHIG.
SHIG was included in the Annex to E.O. 13382 and is tied to Iran's ballistic missile research, development and production activities.  HESA was designated in September 2008 pursuant to E.O. 13382, and conducts research on the production of, development of, and flight operations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 
SHIG continues to use cover companies to obscure its procurement-related activities including its recent acquisition of metal alloys and controllers.  Treasury today is identifying Sahand Aluminum Parts Industrial Company (SAPICO) and Ardalan Machineries Company (ARMACO) as two aliases used by this key Iranian missile proliferator.
Energy-Related Designations under E.O. 13645
Faylaca Petroleum, Abdelhak Kaddouri, Muzzafer Polat, and
Seyedeh Hanieh Seyed Nasser Mohammad Seyyedi
Faylaca Petroleum makes payments on behalf of the Iranian government’s National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).  Faylaca Petroleum and other Sima General Trading-associated front companies, known to have worked with Iran to market crude oil and petroleum products, have also collaborated to obscure the origin of Iranian gas condensate. 
Abdelhak Kaddouri is the financial chief of U.S.-sanctioned NICO Sarl and owner and manager of U.S.-sanctioned Swiss Management Services Sarl.  Kaddouri also manages Iranian front companies on behalf of NICO.  NICO is a subsidiary of NIOC and was identified by the Treasury Department as being part of the Government of Iran in 2008.  Swiss Management Services Sarl was identified by Treasury in September 2013 pursuant to E.O. 13599 for acting for or on behalf of the Government of Iran.
Muzzafer Polat is the founder, director general, and manager of Petro Royal FZE.  In 2013, the Treasury Department identified Petro Royal FZE as an entity controlled by Seyed Seyyedi, who was identified concurrently pursuant to E.O. 13599 for acting for or on behalf of various Government of Iran entities.  Polat, who is also associated with Faylaca Petroleum, participated in a scheme in which Faylaca Petroleum and other Sima General Trading-associated front companies, known to have worked with Iran to market crude oil and petroleum products, collaborated to obscure the origin of Iranian gas condensate.
Seyedeh Hanieh Seyed Nasser Mohammad Seyyedi, the daughter of previously designated Seyed Seyyedi, is Faylaca Petroleum’s Managing Director and actively manages the company’s operations.  In early 2014, she was involved in start-up operations for Faylaca Petroleum after it was purchased by NICO.
Lissome Marine Services LLC
Lissome Marine Services LLC’s vessels provide support to NITC, Iran’s primary shipper of crude oil, by facilitating ship-to-ship transfers.  In addition, Treasury is identifying six vessels that belong to Lissome Marine Services LLC.   
Sanctions for Material Support to the Central Bank of Iran or the Purchase or Acquisition of U.S. Dollar Bank Notes by the Government of Iran under E.O. 13622
Asia Bank
Asia Bank (formerly Chemeximbank) is an Iranian-owned bank that has provided support to the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian banks.  In mid-2014, Asia Bank converted and facilitated the delivery from Moscow to Tehran of U.S. dollar bank notes valued at over $13 million to representatives of the Iranian government. 
Identification of Additional Iranian Banks under E.O. 13599
The following five Iranian banks are being identified as Iranian financial institutions, which therefore, are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13599.
Khavarmianeh Bank, Ghavamin Bank, Gharzolhasaneh Resalat Bank, Kish International Bank, and Kafolatbank
Kharvarmianeh Bank and Ghavamin Bank are privately owned banks located in Iran.  Gharzolhasaneh Resalat Bank, located in Iran, is also an Iranian financial institution. Kish International Bank is 55 percent owned by the Government of Iran via Refah Bank.  Tajikistan-based Kafolatbank is owned by Sarmayeh Bank, which was identified as an Iranian financial institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in July 2012.
New and Updated Counter-Terrorism-Related Designations under E.O. 13224
Meraj Air, Caspian Air, and Sayyed Jabar Hosseini

Meraj Air is a Government of Iran airline that has been used to ferry illicit cargo, including weapons, from Tehran to the Syrian regime since at least 2013.  Caspian Air is an Iran-based airline that provides support to IRGC elements by transporting personnel, and illicit material, including weapons, from Iran to Syria.

Since at least 2006, senior Iranian official Sayyed Jabar Hosseini has been the Managing Director of Liner Transport Kish (LTK).  LTK, which the IRGC has employed to support terrorist activities outside of Iran, was designated in December 2010 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to E.O. 13224.  As LTK’s Managing Director, Hosseini has coordinated Iranian shipments across the Levant as well as to Sudan. 
Pioneer Logistics and Asian Aviation Logistics
Turkey-based Pioneer Logistics and Thailand-based Asian Aviation Logistics are two key Mahan Air front companies that have served as intermediaries for the sanctioned Iranian airline’s acquisition of aircraft material.  Mahan Air was designated in October 2011 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for providing financial, material and technological support to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).
Pioneer Logistics acts for or on behalf of Mahan Air by receiving and purchasing aviation-related material for the designated airline.  In an effort to help Mahan Air evade sanctions, Pioneer Logistics has shipped aircraft parts to another U.S.-designated Mahan Air front company, UAE-based Avia Trust, for onward delivery to Mahan Air.  Mahan Air has also used Pioneer Logistics as a cutout for the repair and overhaul of aircraft parts and as a cutout to evade sanctions in order to purchase aircraft tires for its aircraft.
Asian Aviation Logistics also acts for or on behalf of Mahan Air and helps the airline evade sanctions by making payments on behalf of Mahan Air for the purchase of engines and other equipment.  Asian Aviation Logistics also employs at least one Mahan Air official.
Yas Air Alias: Pouya Air
Pouya Air is being identified today as an alias for designated Iranian airline Yas Air, which was designated in March 2012 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF for transporting illicit cargo, including weapons, to Iran’s clients in the Levant.


Kerry Calls on Iran to Release US Citizens

            On August 29, Secretary of State John Kerry called on Tehran to release three U.S. citizens detained in Iran and one that went missing on Iranian soil. The following is the full text of the statement.

      The Unites States respectfully calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home.
      Today marks the three-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s detention on false espionage charges while visiting his family in Iran.  Mr. Hekmati is the eldest son; he has long been separated from his family and they need him home.
      Mr. Levinson went missing in March 2007 on Kish Island.  His family has endured years of painful separation and worry.  We are immensely concerned about his well-being and whereabouts.
             On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have been detained for two years in Iran, on charges related to his religious beliefs.  Mrs. Abedini has spoken eloquently about the difficulties her family has faced during this challenging time.
             Mr. Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post, is being detained in an unknown location.  His love of Iran is seen in his reporting – portraits of the generosity and kindness of the Iranian people.
             The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones.  We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian and respectfully request the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home.

UN: Iran Complying with Interim Nuke Deal

             On August 20, the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported that Iran has continued to meet its commitments under the interim deal that was implemented in January and extended through November. Iran has halted its most sensitive activities and rolled back its program in other key areas. The following are excerpts from the latest monthly report.

            The Agency confirms that since 20 January 2014, Iran has
• not enriched uranium above 5 % U-235 at any of its declared facilities
• not operated cascades [of centrifuges] in an interconnected configuration at any of its declared facilities
• completed the dilution – down to an enrichment level of no more than 5% U-235 – of half of the nuclear material that had been in the form of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 on 20 January 2014.
• fed 100 kg of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 into the conversion process at the Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) for conversion into uranium oxide
• had no process line to reconvert uranium oxide back into UF6 at FPFP
• had not made “any further advances” to its activities at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) or the Arak reactor (IR-40 Reactor), including the manufacture and testing of fuel for the IR-40 Reactor;
• fed 1505 kg of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235 into the conversion process at the Enriched UO2 Powder Plant (EUPP) for conversion into uranium oxide;
• continued to provide daily access to the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow;
• provided regular managed access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor
production workshops and storage facilities, and provided information thereon; and
provided, in relation to enhanced monitoring, the following:
• plans for nuclear facilities and a description of each building on each nuclear site;
• descriptions of the scale of operations being conducted for each location engaged in
specified nuclear activities; and
• information on uranium mines and mills, and on source material.
Click here for the full report.

Human Rights Watch: Locked Up in Karaj

            More than 60 prisoners in Karaj, near Tehran, are serving terms for exercising their fundamental rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. The organization also suspects that due process violations may have tainted the judicial process that led to 35 prisoners being placed on death row.
             “The election of a new, avowedly moderate president a year ago raised hopes that many of Iran’s political prisoners would soon walk free, but many remain behind bars,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The lion’s share of responsibility for releasing these prisoners rests with the judiciary, but President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet should be doing more to press for their release.”
            Iran’s judiciary has not responded to the Human Rights Watch inquiry about 175 prisoners in three facilities in Karaj, most of whom are profiled in the report. The following are excerpts.
Journalists, Bloggers and Social Media Activists
             Human Rights Watch has identified nine journalists and bloggers held in Karaj who qualify as political prisoners. All of them are in Rajai Shahr prison except for one.
             According to Reporters Without Borders there are at least 62 journalists and bloggers in Iran’s prisons, making Iran one of the largest jailers of journalists in the world. The Iranian judiciary imposes harsh sentences on journalists and bloggers based on vague and ill-defined press and security laws such as “acting against the national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “publishing lies,” and insulting the prophets or government officials such as the president, or Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
             Bahman Ahmadi-Amoui, a journalist who had written articles critical of the government on his website and in official newspapers, is serving a four-year sentence in Rajai Shahr after his arrest on June 20, 2009. Officials arrested him following the disputed elections and prosecuted him on charges of “propaganda against the state,” “insulting the president,” and “acting against the national security.” A revolutionary court sentenced him to seven years and four months in prison and 34 lashes, which was reduced on appeal to four years.
             The authorities are also holding a 53-year-old blogger, Mohammad-Reza Pourshajari, in Karaj’s Central Prison, a separate facility that normally houses detainees convicted in Karaj courts. In 2010 the authorities tried and convicted Pourshajari, who is also known by his pen name, Siamak Mehr, on charges of “acting against the national security,” “insulting Ayatollah Khomeini,” and “insulting [religious] sanctities” for writings he posted on his personal blog, his daughter told Human Rights Watch. Pourshajari suffers from serious heart ailments and authorities have consistently denied him proper medical care, his daughter said. In a June 10, 2013 audio recording obtained by Human Rights Watch, a voice identified as Pourshajari’s says that authorities beat and tortured him  and threatened to hang him after forcing him to stand on a four-legged stool during his initial detention following his arrest on September 12, 2010. He also says that authorities held him in solitary confinement for eight consecutive months and that interrogators repeatedly threatened to send him to the gallows.
Lawyers and Other Rights Defenders
             Human Rights Watch’s investigation has identified seven rights defenders and one lawyer who are imprisoned in Karaj. All are detained in Rajai Shahr prison.
             Authorities are holding lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh, who is 67 years old, in Rajai Shahr prison. He is a former colleague of Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi who cofounded the Defenders of Human Rights Center with Ebadi and several other lawyers. In October 2010, a revolutionary court convicted Seifzadeh of charges including “acting against national security through establishing the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. An appeals court later reduced his nine-year sentence to two years, but in March 2013, Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Seifzadeh to another six years in prison for “assembly and collusion against the national security” for writing critical letters to former President Khatami and signing several group statements while in prison, Ebadi told Human Rights Watch.
             The authorities are also holding several student and labor rights activists at Rajai Shahr prison. On Student Day in December 2009, students demonstrated on university campuses throughout Iran, to protest the results of the disputed June 2009 presidential election. Authorities arrested student protesters, including Majid Tavakoli, a 23-year-old student at Amirkabir University and member of the school’s Islamic Student Association, who gave a speech criticizing the government. In 2009 a revolutionary court sentenced Tavakoli to eight-and-a-half years in prison on various national security charges related to his speech, including “conspiring against the national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” and president. Authorities later transferred Tavakoli from Evin prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr, according to rights groups. He is currently being held in Ward 4, Room 12, said a former prisoner.
Religious Minority Activists and Community Leaders
             Human Rights Watch’s investigation identified 38 peaceful religious activists and community leaders, the majority of them are members of Iran’s Baha’i minority, whom the Iranian authorities are holding at both Rajai Shahr prison and the Central Prison in Karaj. At least 136 Baha’is are detained in Iranian prisons for their peaceful activities.
             Baha’i leaders Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeed Rezaei, Behrouz Azizi Tavakoli, and Vahid Tizfahm are each serving 20-year prison sentences in Rajai Shahr. Security forces arrested these men, along with two female leaders now in detention at another facility, between May 8 and May 14, 2008. After holding the seven in Evin prison in Tehran for 20 months without charge, officials on January 12, 2010 brought charges that included spying, “insulting religious sanctities,” and “spreading corruption on earth.” All the charges were related to their peaceful activities as leaders of the Baha’i community. Authorities have often leveled the charge of spying against Baha’is because of the faith’s supposed links to Israel (the tomb of the faith’s founder, Baha’u’llah, is near Acre in what is now Israel).
             The authorities are also holding two Christian pastors and two Christian converts in prisons in Karaj. The family of Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor, has said that he is detained in Ward 4 Room 12 of Rajai Shahr prison. A revolutionary court convicted him of “intent to endanger the national security” by establishing and running home churches, and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
             Authorities are also holding Christian pastor Behanam Irani, Hossein Saketi Aramsari (also known as “Stephen”) and Reza Rabbani (also known as “Silas”) at the Central Prison in Karaj, a source familiar with the cases told Human Rights Watch. Armed security and intelligence forces entered pastor Irani’s home in April 2010 and arrested him for performing ceremonies in a private home with a small group of other Iranian Christians. A revolutionary court had previously convicted Irani in 2008 of acting “against national security” and “propaganda against the system” for proselytizing, and issued a suspended five-year sentence against him. After the 2010 arrest, however, a revolutionary court revived the initial sentence, the source said. The court relied on Irani’s admission that he was a Christian convert and pastor, and on testimony from witnesses who accused him of tricking them into adopting the Christian faith. Saketi Aramsari is currently serving a one-year prison term on the charge of “propaganda against the system,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the source familiar with these two cases.
Political Activists
             Human Rights Watch’s investigation has identified eight prisoners in Karaj who have been imprisoned solely because of their peaceful political activism. All are detained in Rajai Shahr prison.
             Throughout Iran members of reformist parties and other government opponents are serving sentences stemming from the government crackdown after the disputed 2009 election. Many had unfair trials before revolutionary courts, whose judges fail to ensure basic due process standards. Revolutionary courts sentenced some after mass show trials during which they were indicted on patently political charges such as “actions against the national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” “membership in illegal groups,” and “disturbing public order.” Some defendants were made to confess before television cameras, in violation of the right under international law to not be compelled to testify against oneself.
Click here for the full report. 

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