Iran: Judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of 3 human rights lawyers

Urgent Appeal
en fa
L to R: Shamsnejad, Houshmand Rahimi and Mohammadi

IRN 002 / 0219 / OBS 017
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
February 19, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) about three new cases of judicial harassment and arbitrary detention targeting human rights lawyers: the sentencing and the arbitrary detention of Mr. Massood Shamsnejad, the sentencing of Mr. Mehdi Houshmand-Rahimi and the arbitrary pre-trial detention of Mr. Farhad Mohammadi.

On February 10, 2019, Mr. Massood Shamsnejad, a university professor and lawyer representing several Iranian Kurdish political prisoners, was notified of a six-year prison sentence imposed by Branch 3 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province: one year for “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500 of Islamic Penal Code) and five years for his “membership of a Kurdish opposition party” (under Article 499). During his trial on January 29, 2019, Mr. Shamsnejad was denied the right to have a lawyer. Mr. Massood Shamsnejad was arrested on January 8, 2019, during the trial of one of his clients in Urmia and taken to the Intelligence Department’s detention centre in Urmia. Security agents subsequently searched his house and office, and seized some of his documents.

On January 1, 2019, Mr. Farhad Mohammadi, a Kurdish human rights lawyer, was arrested in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province. The reasons for his arrest, his place of detention, and the charges pending against him are not yet known. Mr. Mohammadi is also an environmental activist. At least nine other Kurdish environmental activists were also arrested on the same day and the following day.

On January 1, 2019, Mr. Mehdi Houshmand-Rahimi was convicted and sentenced in absentia1 by Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Arak, Markazi Province, to two years’ imprisonment for “insulting the head of the Judiciary”and “insulting the Supreme Leader” (Articles 609 and 514, respectively, of the Islamic Penal Code).

In a separate case, on December 18, 2018, Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Tehran had also sentenced Mr. Houshmand-Rahimi in absentia to five years’ imprisonment. According to the court ruling, he “failed to respond to summons” and was tried on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code), and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic" and “the Supreme Leader” (Article 514) by voicing “insulting remarks during a speech on November 17, 2016”.

The Observatory recalls that several other human rights lawyers have been subjected to judicial harassment and sentenced to long-term prison terms.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing wave of repression against human rights lawyers in Iran, which appear to be aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all detained human rights defenders and lawyers, and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical integrity and psychological well-being.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Massood Shamsnejad and Farhad Mohammadi, as well as all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Iran;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Mehdi Houshmand-Rahimi, Massood Shamsnejad and Farhad Mohammadi, as well as all other human rights defenders in Iran;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Mehdi Houshmand-Rahimi, Massood Shamsnejad and Farhad Mohammadi as well as all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;

iv. Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6, 9, 11 and 12;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.


• Leader of the Islamic Republic, H.E. Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email:; Twitter: @khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 644 54811; Email:; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary, H.E. Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: / /
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149;
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Javad Larijani, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email:
• H.E. Mr. Javad Amin-Mansour, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Peiman Seadat, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, February 19, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] In case of rulings issued in absentia, the defendant may appeal within 20 days after being notified of the sentence.

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