Kasra Nouri is a blogger and Sufi activist and has been arrested twice. He is currently serving his sentence at Evin Prison, where he’s gone on repeated hunger strikes to protest against prison conditions for dervishes.
Name: Kasra Nouri
Born: 1990, Bandar Abbas, Iran
Career: Blogger and Sufi activist; member of Mehdi Karroubi’s 2009 campaign team; reporter for Majzooban-e Noor news site, a Sufi order.
Charges: Propaganda against the regime, actions against national security, disclosing state secrets, membership to a deviant gang, insulting the Supreme Leader, misleading the public, disseminating lies and conducting interviews with foreign media.
Kasra Nouri has been arrested twice for working with Majzooban-e Noor, a group of Gonabadi dervishes (Sufis). In the run-up to the disputed 2009 presidential election, the site supported Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist candidate.
Nouri was first arrested on January 11, 2012 after Intelligence Ministry agents in plainclothes raided his home in Shiraz and took him to an unknown location without a warrant. He was detained for a month and a half, 30 days of which were spent in solitary confinement at the Intelligence Office, known as Number 100.
He was released on bail, but, just two weeks later, on March 15, 2012, he was re-arrested after he spoke to foreign news outlets about Sufi maltreatment, including Radio Farda, the Persian service of Radio Free Europe.
His trial was held at Branch 3 of Shiraz’s Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Rashidi, who sentenced him to four years and four months in prison and a year’s suspended sentence. The appeals court upheld the verdict and he was incarcerated at Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz.
According to an Amnesty International report, Nouri and six other prisoners of conscience “were held initially at Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, then moved to Section 350 of Evin Prison, where they remained until they were placed in solitary confinement in the prison’s Section 209, controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence, in January 2013.” They were returned to Section 350 three months later, after Nouri and another prisoner, Saleh Moradi, went on hunger strike.
While he was at Adel Abad Prison, the guards raided Nouri’s cell block and forcefully shaved off the beards and moustaches of Sufi prisoners. The dervishes were then transferred to solitary confinement. For many Sufi orders, shaving off facial hair is a great insult. When Nouri and four other dervishes refused, they were beaten, their heads were shaved and they were transferred to another cellblock. For several days afterwards, the inmates were not allowed to phone their families.
Since then, Nouri has gone on hunger strikes to protest against the plight of dervishes held in solitary confinement. At one point, he refused to eat for 90 days, during which he was beaten and pressured to end the strike. He refused until those in solitary confinement were returned to the general ward. On the 70th day of his hunger strike, he fell unconscious and was taken to the prison’s hospital.
Nouri went on a second hunger strike on March 1,, 2014 to protest against the neglect shown towards three ill dervishes held in Cell Block 350. When news about his hunger strike, and strikes by other prisoners, was published, more than 2,000 Gonabadi dervishes gathered in front of Tehran’s prosecutor’s office to show their solidary. The authorities responded by transfering the three ill dervishes to a general hospital. Nouri ended the hunger strike 15 days later.
Before his arrest, Nouri studied civil engineering at Shiraz University. He is currently studying law while serving his sentence at Evin Prison.
For more information, visit Journalism is Not a Crime, documenting cases of jailed journalists in Iran.
This is part of IranWire’s series Crime: Journalism, a portfolio on the legal and political persecution of Iranian journalists and bloggers, published in both Persian and English.
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