Political Prisoners Face Discrimination, Even Amid Iran’s Latest Amnesty
As the COVID-19 crisis became worse in Iran, the Iranian judiciary decided to place many prisoners on a temporary furlough in order to lessen the spread of the illness in the country’s prisons. According to official reports, some 100,000 prisoners were released on temporary furlough during this process prior to Nowruz.
Since that time, some of those released have been returned to prison. However, Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili has stated that the judiciary will be reviewing the cases of these prisoners again, and will determine how many of them may be released permanently in order to reduce strain on the prison system.
According to the judiciary’s policy, prisoners who have been sentenced to 5 years in prison and have served at least ⅓ of their sentence will be eligible for permanent release and amnesty. However, according to data collected by the IPA, political prisoners have been discriminated against in this provision, as many individuals who are technically eligible for release under the judiciary’s policy remain imprisoned.
Based on our data, there were recently around 650 political prisoners held in Iran. Of those, approximately 100 were released based on the judiciary’s rules for amnesty. However, an additional 68 political prisoners are eligible for release based on the judiciary’s decision, but are yet to be released.
The judiciary has stated that they are willing to release prisoners who are non-violent and won’t make any problems for society upon their release. This statement has not been true for many of the country’s political prisoners, however. Few, if any of these prisoners have a dangerous criminal history, and in fact many have had rallies take place on their behalf, as Iranians have protested for their immediate release. As such, it’s clear that the discrimination these political prisoners are receiving is based only on the IRI’s decision to put pressure on the nation’s nascent civil society.
A few prisoners in particular have received neither a short term furlough nor consideration for the amnesty. These include:
Mohammad Hossein Sepehri