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Source: Iranintl

Apr 23, 2023

An Iranian Doctor And His Wife Receive Long Sentences For Protesting

Author: Maryam Sinaee

The ordeal of a doctor and his wife in Iran who evaded execution but received long sentences for simply participating in a protest has caught public attention.

Dr. Hamid Qarahassanlou (Ghara-Hasanlou), a fifty-four-year-old radiologist, and his wife Farzaneh were arrested in November in Karaj during protests in which a member of the Basij militia, Ruhollah Ajamian (27), was beaten to death by angry protesters but both have denied any involvement in the incident.

Qarahassanlou was initially sentenced to death and his wife to twenty-five years prison, but their sentences were later reduced due to a strong backlash on social media and lack of evidence of their involvement in a second trial.Yazd and Mashhad, where Hamid and Farzaneh Qarahassanlou will serve their sentences respectively, are nearly 1,000, and 670 kilometers away from their hometown of Karaj.

A statement by the family released on social media Friday, after the announcement of the new sentences Tuesday, said even the footage of the incident made by security agents proves that the couple were not involved in the killing and were only present on the scene on the way home from a protest in Karaj, near Tehran, on November 3.

“He now has to be exiled [to a prison] in Yazd for fifteen years for not having saved the life of that Basiji in the fracas [of the moment] as a humane doctor,” the statement said while describing the very violent arrest of the couple which they say has hugely affected the couple’s teenage daughter.

The large protest rally that turned very violent after security forces attacked protesters was held to commemorate a young girl, Hadis Najafi, who was shot to death by security forces forty days earlier.

“The crime [for which they were punished] was and is nothing other than participating in Hadis Najafi’s 40th day memorial,” the statement said.

Two young protesters, Mohammad Mehdi Karami (22) and Mohammad Hossein (39), were executed over Ajamian’s death in January after a hasty trial which human rights activists have called a travesty of justice.

All of the accused, including Qarahassanlou, were reportedly severely tortured to obtain “confessions” and the hardliner Judiciary assigned lawyers despite several prominent lawyers volunteering to defend them.

The lawyers assigned by the court did very little to defend the accused according to family members.

The convictions were not based on a criminal charge related to the murder per se, but they were charged with ‘moharebeh’, meaning “war against God”, a vague religious concept. The Islamic Republic applies the charge to people who might get into a confrontation with security forces during protests.

The first two hangings triggered strong international condemnations and hundreds of lawmakers in Europe and Australia began sponsoring Iranian detainees in danger of execution to generate publicity and impact their fate.

Twelve other protestors have been jailed for up to 15 years for the Basij agent’s death.

The couple were badly beaten during the arrest and later in detention. Qarahassanlou underwent surgery three times for several broken ribs and damaged lung and the family say he has partially lost his eyesight as a result of the beatings.

The couple who belong to the persecuted Sufi Gonabadi Order were known for active involvement in charitable efforts including building schools for underprivileged children.

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