June 15, 2011
On June 15, the Tabriz Court issued a verdict calling the lashing of two activists who were convicted of “conspiring and rallying” during the April 2011 Lake Urumiye environmental protest.
On April 2, 2011, Iranian Internal Security Forces arrested 70 protestors during a rally organized to protest the environmental damage to Lake Urumiye. They opened a legal case against five of the protestors—Habib Pourvali, Jalil Alamdar Milani, Hojjat Mokhtarzadeh, Ali Salimi, and Saeed Sayami—accused of “conspiring and rallying to perpetrate crimes against national security” and “disturbing public order.” Musa Barzin Khalifeloo, the lawyer of these five civil activists stated in an interview with Radio Farda that “With the approval of this verdict calling for the lashing and bail payment three months after their arrest and then their subsequent release, Pourvali and Mokhtarzadeh are still in detention.”
According to Mr. Barzin, in the Tabriz Revolutionary Court’s first branch, all five activists accused of ”conspiring and rallying” had originally been sentenced to six months in prison. Mr. Bazi recounted, “We then wrote a petition to the appeals court. The appeals court acquitted Misters Sayami, Salimi, and Milani, but the six month sentences for Pourvali and Mokhtarzadeh have been approved and still retain their power.”
Mr. Barzin continued that the two of his clients convicted at the Tabriz Public Penalties Court Section 116 have been sentenced to 20 lashes and $300 bail for the charge of “disturbing public order”. The other three clients, acquitted by the Revolutionary Court of the conspiracy and rallying charges, have been excused from enduring the 20 lashes and paying the bail. Mr Barzi stated, “Pourvali and Mokhtarzadeh are still at the Tabriz prison, and of course they object to the verdict calling for them to pay the bail and be lashed. We are waiting for the appeals court to make a decision.”
Mr. Barzin added that, “Until now they have not been permitted to exercise their prisoners’ rights. Since the first day of arrest, they have been in prison and not granted temporary leave… There are benefits spelled out in the charter regarding prison and prisoners: temporary release, conditioned freedom, open vote, etc… Benefits have not been applied to prisoners with security charges against them. For example, a prisoner whose crime is kidnapping or drug trafficking exercises such benefits, but many times we requested these benefits for Rasoul Badali, Hossein Nasiri, Mohammad Reza Hadi (Azerbaijani political and civil activists) and have been turned down.”