At least 11 women from Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish religious minority have been arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions, without access to their lawyers, since 20 February following the violent dispersal of a protest held by Gonabadi Derivshes in Tehran. Some urgently need medical care for injuries sustained from beatings at the time of their arrest.


Amnesty International (29.03.2018) – – On 19 February, security forces violently arrested at least 60 women from Iran’s persecuted Gonabadi Dervish community for participating in a protest in Tehran which turned violent after security forces resorted to beatings, firearm use, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. The women were taken to Vozara detention centre where they said they were subjected to intrusive body searches by female officers, intimidating interrogations, insults and yelling. In the following 24 hours, the authorities transferred 10 of the women to the quarantine section of Shahr-e Rey prison near Tehran and released the rest. Those transferred are Shokoufeh Yadollahi, Sepideh Moradi, Maryam Farisani, Nazila Nouri, Sima Entesari, Shima Entesari, Shahnaz Kiani, Maryam Barakouhi, Elham Ahmadi, and Avisha Jalaledin. After several days, an 11th woman, Sedigheh Safabakht, who was apparently held in Evin prison before, was also transferred to Shahr-e Rey prison. There are reports that some women are undergoing late-night interrogations involving verbal abuse and threats.


Shahr-e Rey prison is a disused chicken farm that holds hundreds of women convicted of violent offences in conditions falling far below the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). Common complaints include urine-stained floors, lack of ventilation, insufficient and filthy bathroom facilities, prevalence of contagious diseases, poor quality food containing small pieces of stone and salty water. In recent days, women prisoners have complained that fumes have escaped from the drainage system, filling their rooms with foul odours. As a result, Shima Entesari, who suffers from asthma, has experienced severe breathing difficulties requiring supplemental oxygen. Additionally, eyewitnesses have said that security forces severely beat Shokoufeh Yadollahi at the time of her arrest, resulting in head injuries. The authorities have denied her access to medical care apparently after she refused to be transferred to hospital in handcuffs and leg cuffs. There are reports that several women are suffering from vaginal bleeding due to blows inflicted to their perineum at the time of arrest.


Please write immediately in Persian, English or your own language calling on the Iranian authorities to:

  • Release Shokoufeh Yadollahi, Sepideh Moradi, Maryam Farisani, Nazila Nouri, Sima Entesari, Shima Entesari, Shahnaz Kiani, Maryam Barakouhi, Elham Ahmadi, Avisha Jalaledin and Sedigheh Safabakht immediately and unconditionally as they are held for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of association and assembly;
  • Ensure that, pending their release, they are granted access to their lawyers, provided with any medical care they need, and protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Take immediate steps to improve prison conditions at Shahr-e Rey prison in accordance with international law and standards, including the Nelson Mandela Rules, and allow international monitors to conduct inspection visits;
  • Conduct an independent and transparent investigation into reports of the excessive use of force by security forces to suppress the protest held by Gonabadi Dervishes and bring those suspected of responsibility to account in fair trials.



High Council for Human Rights Head of Shahr-e Prison And copies to:
Mohammad Javad Larijani Mehdi Mohammadi President
Esfaniar Boulevard, Niayesh Intersection Highway, Gharchak Hassan Rouhani
Vali Asr Avenue, Tehran, Iran Shahr-e Rey Iran Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Salutation : Your Excellency Salutation : Mr. Mehdi Mohammadi Tehran, Iran
Twitter: @HassanRouhani


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