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Jailed Researcher Transferred From Tehran as Punishment

October 12, 2021
Amir Hossein Miresmaeili
4 min read
Jailed Researcher Transferred From Tehran as Punishment

Researcher and translator Mojgan Kavousi has been transferred from Evin Prison to Kachuei Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, a friend told IranWire. The academic from Kurdistan was reportedly subjected to a days-long, gruelling detention at a Karaj police station along the way.

Kavousi was detained by intelligence agents at her home on November 20, 2019. She was later sentenced to 36 months in prison on charges of "inciting the people to disrupt the order and security of the country" in connection with the November 2019 protests.

The source told IranWire: “In a completely illegal act, the judge has ordered for Mojgan to be transferred from Evin Prison to Kachuei Prison in Karaj, which is totally outside the norm. She lives between the cities of Tehran and Nowshahr [in Mazandaran province] and she should normally be held in one of these two cities.

“This sudden transfer was, naturally, not unrelated to Mojgan's protests in the past year over the dire prison conditions. The judge wants to punish her. Now Mojgan has been deported, it has become very difficult for her family to visit her."

Punishment by Jail Transfer: a Growing Phenomenon

The transferral of political prisoners who have spoken out against their detention to remote locations – as a form of implicit punishment – is becoming a familiar tactic deployed by the Iranian judiciary.

Last year British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was transferred to the abysmal Qarchak Prison after she asked to be taken off a ward of Evin Prison run by the Revolutionary Guards. The same happened to human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh last October after she went on hunger strike in Evin.

"The strange thing,” Kavousi’s friend told IranWire, “was that on the way from Evin to Kachuei last Wednesday, she was detained for three nights at a police station in Karaj on the pretext that the administrative offices of Kachuei Prison were closed on Thursdays and Fridays.

“Here she was deprived of the minimum health and well-being provisions, and was kept along some dangerous criminals in a cramped, dark environment.” She was given just a dirty blanket to sleep on, they said, and not allowed outside for a break. “Mojgan described the incident to me last night in a brief call from Kachuei Prison. She said they didn’t pay any attention to her protests over the police officers’ behavior, which was both illegal and inhumane."

“Didn't the judge in the case know that new prisoners couldn’t be handed over two days a week? Why didn't they just order the transfer on Saturday? Why is a researcher and a writer, who is already serving her sentence, being harassed like this?”

Normally, only prisoners who have not yet gone before the court and are considered a flight risk are kept at police stations. Kavousi was given temporary leave earlier this year after coming down with Covid-19, and voluntarily returned to prison.

Despite this, the friend said, she had had to borrow a friend’s phone card to call them because she herself was being denied access to the phone.

“The truth is that Mojgan never kept silent in the face of illegal and cruel behavior,” they said. “That’s why she was transferred to Karaj prison. Instead of welcoming the revelations of abuse in Iranian prisons and correcting the shortcomings, judiciary officials only permit further repression to stifle protesters’ voices.”

Cut Off From the Outside World, Researcher’s Protests Continue

Mojgan Kavousi received an initial sentence of 30 months in prison from the Revolutionary Court in Nowshahr in December 2019. Apart from the incitement charge, she was accused of “membership in opposition groups” and “propaganda against the regime”.

When she appealed the sentence, Branch 28 of Mazandaran Court of Appeal changed it to a heavier one, adding another month and a half to her jail time. She was finally summoned to Evin Prison in May last year, in the middle of a pandemic.

Kavousi is also a member of the Yarsani faith: a peaceful minority religion in Iran that dates back to pre-Islamic times, with a large number of Kurdish adherents. Yarsanis have faced continuous discrimination and undermining under the Islamic Republic, with the Ministry of Intelligence repeatedly blocking their annual ceremonies in Kermanshah.

Kavousi has gone on hunger strike twice so far to protest prison conditions. Her first lasted for six days last September and related to the non-granting of leave, blocking of telephone calls and gender discrimination at Evin Prison. In May 2021 she went on hunger strike again to protest the ill-treatment of her fellow prisoners.

Kavousi’s lawyer, Mustafa Nili, is unable to defend his client due to currently also being in Evin Prison. He and a group of attorneys were recently jailed after trying to sue the Supreme Leader and other officials for mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Related coverage:

Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Cellmates Appeal to Judiciary to Save Her Life

The Women’s Ward at Evin: Prisoners Denied Medical Treatment and Family Visits

Official Report Calls Yarsan Religious Minority a “Security Threat”



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