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Defenders Under Threat

Amir Eslami Buraki, A Defender Under Threat

Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
January 14, 2020
Report

Name: Amir

Surname: Eslami Buraki

Profession: Attorney at law

Place of Work: Fars Province

Buraki had already been arrested earlier that year in relation to protests that took place in the town of Kavar, Fars Province. Between August and September of 2011, Kavar residents -- under the influence of anti-darvish materials that had been circulated by local clerics -- attacked darvish homes and businesses in their town. Security officials summoned several darvish activists to negotiations in attempts to neutralize tensions. Security forces set up one such negotiation between Buraki and the governor of Kavar for September 4, 2011, and Buraki was arrested on route. He was transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison Ward 209, where he was held in solitary confinement for three months. Although a 500-million Toman bail order was issued for Buraki, judiciary authorities refused to allow him to post bond, and he remained behind bars. According to some reports, authorities suspended Buraki’s license to practice law in 2010, but he was able to obtain his license again thereafter.

Judge Salvati of Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 15 ultimately sentenced Buraki to seven years and six months in prison, plusa five-year ban on membership in groups, sects, and journalistic activities, on convictions of “membership in hostile groups,” “disseminating lies and falsehoods,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.” On February 18, 2014, Buraki’s lawyers published an open letter in which they decried his conviction, and that of his co-defendants, as unjust, citing instances of unlawful conduct on the part of judicial officials, including: “attorneys not being summoned to investigation and trial sessions,” “attorneys being denied access to case files”, “the refusal of attorney-client meetings,” and in some cases, “the barring of attorneys’ entrance into the Revolutionary Court building.” Two years and six months of Buraki’s sentence was later suspended, and he was released on March 3, 2015.

 

Background:

“On Sunday, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on Kish Island attacked a number of Gonabadi Darvishes and subjected them to beatings. Radio Farda reports that a group of darvishes were praying outside the entrance of Hosseinieh, a place of worship, when intelligence agents attacked the group and arrested some of their number. On Saturday, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Kish had changed the locks of the hosseinieh after conducting a search of the place. Security agents had also raided the homes of five darvishes, arresting and transferring them to the local Ministry of Intelligence office. According to one darvish residing in Kish, “the prosecutor told us the arrests are related to the [Ministry of] Intelligence. They want to scrutinize our religious activities in Kish, and that’s why they arrested five people yesterday and one other woman on Sunday […] They went to their workplaces or homes for interrogations and raids, and have taken all of their books, cassettes, CDs, and personal computers to an undisclosed location.”

Radio Farda, December 29, 2008

 

“We, Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami, attorneys and members of the Fars Province Bar Association Human Rights Commission, having taken on the defense of darvish rights, have now come under prosecution [ourselves] on charges from the Ministry of Intelligence of disseminating lies, disturbing public opinion, and forging power of attorney. We were interrogated and tried over five consecutive sessions lasting a total of 20 hours. Despite the fact that Kish Revolutionary Court Branch One has recognized our legal defense of these Gonabadi Darvish clients, and has acquitted them, we - 18 months later - are again being summoned to Branch 102 of Criminal Court, due to pressures from powers that be, who are intolerant of Advocates’ immunity.”

Letter from Amir Eslami Buraki and Farshid Yadollahi to theIndependent Bar Association Campaign, Radio Farda, April 24, 2010

Darvishes Gather outside Kavar’s Municipality

“According to a reporter from Majzooban-e Noor, at 9 a.m. on August 15, 2010, a number of Gonabadi Darvishes gathered outside the Municipal Seat of Kavar to protest the distribution of propagandizing leaflets against the Sufi community and its leaders. Following the gathering, security forces began filming those present, prompting outcry from the crowd. This has been the latest in a series of incidents whereby detractors of Sufism have hosted exhibitions and distributed leaflets disparaging the Gonabadi Darvish community and its leaders. The gathering ended with the drafting and submission to local authorities of a petition against those involved in the distribution of the leaflets … “

Hambastegi Melli, August 15, 2010

 

“Following attacks of Gonabadi Dervishes by plainclothes agents in Kavar, southern Fars Province and the subsequent intervention of police forces, a number of injured darvishes were reportedly arrested and transferred to prison. A spokesperson for the Gonabadi order stated that a few days prior to the attacks, propaganda against local darvishes had been circulating in the community, and a group had been attempting to incite Kavar residents against the order. The source added, “A number of Basijis and seminary students have been arriving in Kavar since August 27. They started an extensive propaganda campaign against Gonabadi Darvishes through the distribution of CDs and DVDs, as well as claims that darvishes are heretics and affiliated with America.”

Radio Farda, September 3, 2011