In continuation of its monthly reports, the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which is presided over by Shirin Ebadi, has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran during the month of Dey 1392 [Iranian month corresponding to 21 December 2013 to 21 January 2014].
In the introduction to its report for Dey, this people-instituted organization has referred to the publication of a recent report about the spread and proliferation of lung and respiratory diseases, as well as the increase in the rate of cancer in Iran, and has underlined the need to formulate some strategic measures and regulations to counter this problem.
In addition, the report by the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) has voiced objection to the refusal to grant leave to Mehdi Karrubi to take part in his sister’s funeral and memorial services. Mehdi Karrubi, a former election candidate who has been under house arrest due to protesting the result of the 1388 [June 2009] presidential election, was not given permission to attend the funeral and memorial services of his sister. Therefore, the Centre has drawn the attention of the relevant authorities to the Code of Procedures of the State Organization for Prisons Affairs and Security and Penitentiary Measures.
Furthermore, in its report, which is published in both Farsi and English languages, this people-instituted organization has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran under the three main headings of: “Civil and political rights”, “social and economic rights”, and “cultural heritage and the environment”.
In the section of the report dealing with the situation of political, cultural and social activists, the names of the arrested political, civil and cultural activists have been given. The economic and the labour situations are among the other topics which the report has discussed.
According to the website of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), the text of the report by the said centre for the month of Dey 1392, which has been published on 1 Bahman 1392 [22 January 2014], is as follows:
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in December 2013-January 2014
According to the news received, there has been a spread and increase of lung and respiratory diseases, as well as an increase in the rate of cancer in Iran. Based on the content of a report by medical doctors, the main reason for this development is in the severe air pollution in Tehran and other major cities of Iran. In addition, environmental experts say improper and excessive use of motor vehicles, as well as defective burning of sub-standard petrol are the main causes for the current situation.
Therefore, in view of the preliminary agreements that the Iranian government has reached with the European countries about the nuclear energy issues, the most important and pressing course of action following the easing of sanctions is attention to environment issues. For this reason, there is clearly a need for formulating a series of strategic laws, for instance exemption of imported electric cars from customs duties, development of the metro system, and preventing excessive and unregulated housing constructions.
Furthermore, in the opinion of experts, another reason for the increase in cancer, as well as the sharp increase in miscarriages in the last two years, is the emission of electronic jamming waves, which are aimed at preventing people from receiving satellite TV programmes in Iran. Therefore, in addition to imposing restrictions on the free flow of information, the said measure also endangers the health of the country’s citizens, and it should be immediately halted.
While emphasizing the points made above, which is an emphasis on the need for the human rights defenders and organizations to pay increasing attention to the field of environment protection, what follows now is a summary of the human rights situation in Iran during the month starting 21 December 2013. This report is based on information published by various media channels and websites, whose accuracy has been verified. The report is appearing under three separate sections, and in Farsi and English languages.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in December 2013-January 2014
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During the month, around 27 people were arrested, who were: A group of young people residing in the village of Dayal, near the town of Gachsaran [in southwest Iran]: Mojtaba Purhasan, Abbas Sadeqpur, Hamid Bozorgzadeh, Hamid Mazaheri, Mehran Zakinezhad, Ehsan Rashedi, Mohammad Reza Mobaraki and Alireza Nezhad; three Kurdish citizens: Hossein Zare’, Firuz Zare’ and Sirvan Saeedi; film-maker Keyvan Karimi; Mohammad Mataji, after he sent an SMS to the Majlis deputies; nine people who have recently converted to Christianity: Sara Rahiminezhad, Majid Sheyda’i, Mostafa Nadri, George Isa’iyan, Ahmad Bazyar, Fa’eqeh Nasrollahi, Mastaneh Rastegari, Amir Hossein Ne’matollahi and Mr Hosseini; a member of the Ahl-e Haq Darwish sect (Yarsan), Amir Ali (Mehrdad) Mehran-Niya; a Baha’i citizen, Mozhdeh Zohuri; A Sunni activist, Mahmud (Javid) Akrami; and two poets, Mehdi Musavi and Fatemeh Ekhtesari.
It should be noted that after a few days in detention, some of the arrested individuals were released temporarily on bail until the date of their trials.
2. Ali Rashidi, a university lecturer, the of the Association of Iranian Economists, and a member of Iran National Front, has been transferred to the Evin Prison to serve his two year prison term. Student activist, Ahmad Shah-Reza’i, was sent to the Evin Prison to serve his prison term of 18 months, while another student activist, Mohsen Barzegar, was sent to the Babol Prison for his two-year jail term. Other dispatches to prisons included: Civil activist Seyyed Ali Abtahi to Khomeyni Shahr Prison for his 6-month prison sentence; civil activist Javad Abuali, to the Behbahan Prison for his jail sentence of 26 months; and finally three Baha’i citizens, who were sent to Semnan’s Prison to serve their jail sentences: Ardeshir Fana’iyan (nine months), and Shidrokh Firuziyan and Golrokh Firuziyan (both six months).
3. Ebrahim Fazli, Mohammad Ali Sa’di and Asghar Karimi, three members of the Gonabadi Darwish Sect, have each been sentenced by the Appeal Court to two years in prison. Other sentences handed down by the Appeal Court included: Afshin Nadimi and Mehrdad Saburi, two members of the coordination committee for establishment of workers’ trade unions, each receiving 6 and 8 years custodial prison sentences respectively; Priest Robert Avanessian, three and half years in prison; Hossein Saketi-Aramsari, who is a newly converted Christian, to one year in prison; Fathi Mohammad Naqshbandi, a Sunni cleric, 15 years imprisonment and exile to the town of Khalkhal; Mowlavi Abdolghaffar Naqshbandi, a Sunni cleric, 15 years in jail and exile to an unknown location; and Ali Kheyrju, a civil activist, who was sentenced to six months custodial prison term.
4. Marziyeh (Minu) Mortazi-Langarudi, a religious-nationalist and women’s rights activist, was summoned to the magistrate court, where the accusations against her were explained to her, and she was then released on bail. Also, Hamidreza Moradi, Farshid Yadollahi, Mostafa Daneshju, Amir Eslami, Afshin Karampur, Omid Behruzi and Reza Ansari – seven imprisoned lawyers who also belong to the Gonabadi Darwish Sect – as well as Mehdi Khazali, were summoned to the court. Seyyed Abuzar Alavi, a political activist; Kurosh Za’im, a member of the Iran National Front; and the parents of Mohammad Mataji (who had sent SMS messages to a group of Majlis members) were summoned to the magistrate court. Finally, Amin Naqshbandi, a Sunni activist, was summoned by the Intelligence Ministry where he received threats.
5. A number of political and ideological inmates at Ward 350 of Evin Prison have been deprived of the right to have visits from their families. These inmates are: Masud Pedram, Mohsen Mirdamadi, Alireza Raja’i, Qorban Behzadiannezhad, Abdollah Mo’meni, Saeed Madani, Mohammad Sadeq Rabbani-Amlashi, Mohammad Amin Hadavi; Emad Behavar, Hasan Asadi Zeydabadi, Behzad Arabgol, Seyyed Hossein Ronaqi Maleki, Siyamak Qaderi, Mohammad Reza’i, Ja’far Ganji, Majid Asadi, Hani Bazarlu, Mohammad Mataji, Hasan Sadeqi, Asadollah Hadi, Salar Sotudeh, Mostafa Abdi, Mostafa Rismanbaf, Ali Salanpur, Reza Akbari Monfared, Asghar Qatan, Amir Eslami, Gholamreza Khosravi, Reza Entesari, Ahmad Hashemi, Mohammad Sa’emi, Peyman Kasannezhad and Hamidreza Karvasi. In addition, an imprisoned Baha’i citizen, Manuchehr Kholusi, has been prevented from having visitations from his two daughters in the Mashhad Prison.
6. The residences of Mohsen Armin, a member of the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, and Behnam Irani, a newly converted Christian who is currently in jail, and two of his friends, with the names of Amin Khaki and Reza Rabbani, were subjected to search by the security forces.
7. The Appeal Court has begun to hear the case of Mohammad Tavassoli, a member of the Iran Freedom Movement.
8. Political prisoners, Emad Behavar, Hasan Asadi Zeydabadi, Behzad Arabgol and Ali Kazemzadeh, have been transferred to the solitary cells at Ward 240 of Evin Prison. In addition, Hamidreza Borhani has been sent to exile in the Raja’ishahr Prison of Karaj; Hani Yazlu has been exiled in the Vakilabad Prison of Mashhad, and Kasra Nuri has been sent to exile in Prison No 2 of Fars Province.
9. Newspaper journalist Isa Saharkhiz has been banned from leaving the country.
10. According to IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the dossier pertaining to the Tehran Prosecutor’s official complaint against Ali Motahhari, a member of the Islamic Majlis, has been sent to the Magistrate Court.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. The planned winter solstice celebrations by Chelcheraq magazine was called off due to an order by the Prosecutor.
2. The Press Supervisory Board has banned the publication of weekly newspaper Ya Lesarat al-Hossein. In addition, the Press Jury Board has found the newspaper Bahar guilty in six of the seven accusations levelled at it.
3. The head of the Literacy Movement of Iran has reported that 15 per cent of the Iranian population are illiterate.
4. A number of websites have been hacked by the cyber forces of the intelligence unit of the “Sarallah Corps” of Kerman Province. The affected websites were: Neda-ye Sabz-e Azadi, Sabznameh, Sabz Proxy, Nowruz, Ostanban, Si Mail, Nogam, Iran Opinion, and Degarvajeh
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. Some 11 individuals have been executed in this month: Five people were executed in Shiraz. The media sources affiliated to the Iranian state announced the convicts had been found guilty of the crime of possession and transportation of drugs. Furthermore, two people were executed in Gilan Province. State-affiliated media have said these two individuals had been convicted of the crime of rape. Also, Mohammad Qezelbash, Hiwa Mozhdehi, Mehdi Aghajani and Hasan Khabbazi were executed in the city of Orumiyeh. News media gave the crime of these convicts as first degree murder.
2. Nezameddin Mollazadeh, Malek Mohammad Abadian, Javad Abadian and Jaber Abadian, four Sunni activists, have been given the death sentence. Hossein Karami was another individual who received the death sentence during the month. Media sources affiliated to the Iranian state said Karami had been convicted of committing premeditated murder.
3. Security forces prevented the staging of ceremonies to mark the 4th death anniversary of dissident cleric, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. As a result, a large number of people were not able to attend the ceremonies. Furthermore, security forces prevented a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the Hosseiniyeh Ershad in Tehran. The official permit to allow Sadeq Zibakalam, university lecturer, to deliver a speech in the town of Shahreza, has been revoked. Furthermore, the appropriate officials have also revoked the public speech permit for Saeed Jalili, the former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
4. The conditions of political prisoners are still reported to be unfavourable. For instance, a number of inmates, for example Bahareh Hedayat, are ill, but nothing is being done to ensure they receive the necessary medical assistance and treatment.
5. Ma’sumeh Ebtekar, the head of the Environment Protection Organization, was prevented from delivering a speech during the Tehran Friday prayers.
6. In accordance with an order by the Prosecutor, a number of Evin Prison inmates have been prevented from sitting the entry examination for post-graduate studies at the Payam-e Nur University [distant learning]. The names of these inmates are: Mohammad Sediq Kabuvand, Omid Kokabi, Farshid Yadollahi, Hamid Eslami, Amir Behruzi, Afshin Karampur, Mehdi Dolati, Mehdi Fazelifar and Sina Azimi.
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
1. The economic conditions in the country are still reported to be unfavourable. For example, the workers in factories in different cities of the country have staged industrial action in connection with their problems. Among these actions, one can name the workers at the Kamyab Sugar Mill in Khomeyni Shahr of Esfahan; the workers of the Damavand Power Station and the Tabriz Tractor Manufacturing Factory. Furthermore, the fixed term contract workers at the Razi Petrochemical Complex and the Sugar Refining Plant in Ahvaz have voiced their protests and grievances during the President’s recent visit to Khuzestan Province.
2. Following his involvement in activities to fulfil the demands of the fixed-term contract workers, an extension was not granted to the employment contract of Mohammad Sadeq Zare’, one of the workers with a direct contract with the Fajr Petrochemical Complex. Similarly, Heydar Vala’i, a representative of workers at the Shuka Glass Plant, has been given his dismissal order in the wake of his attempts to secure the workers’ demands. Furthermore, Hasan Me’marian, was not allowed to enter the Ghu Vegetable Oil Plant, following protests by the workers at the plant. A workers affairs activist, Reza Rakhshan, has been threatened with dismissal after he publicized the problems of his fellow workers. In addition, 10 workers at the Estahban Cement and Farapaks factories near Shiraz have been sacked and referred to the judicial officials after they followed up the fulfilment of their demands. Finally, more than 20 workers at the Polyacryl Factory of Esfahan have been threatened with dismissal because of their insistence on their demands.
3. Workers at several different plants and factories have been facing delays in the payment of their wages. Some examples include: Workers at the Lake Orumiyeh bridge construction project have not been paid two to four months of wages; 410 works at the Iran Electricity-Meter Factory have wage arrears of 2.5 months; 60 workers at the “Arvand Fanavaran” plant are facing payment delays of around seven months; around 200 workers employed at the granite mines of Shahkuh near Nahbandan are facing arrears of three months; the employees of three companies based at the export port of Mahshahr have not been paid for three months; some 140 workers at “Fakhr va Zafar” company are facing delayed payments of up to four months; and finally, more than 50 workers at the “Penguin Carpet” factory have not been paid their wages for around three months.
4. Some 150 workers of the “South Pars” [oil and gas] project have been sacked after working for two months without any pay. In addition, the employment terms and conditions of 200 workers of the Raniran Car-Making Plant were readjusted. At the same time, 150 workers at the Samand Tile Factory have lost their jobs after working without any salary for six months. The same fate awaited 150 workers at the Kamyab Sugar Mill, who were owed their wages for four to 11 months; and at the Mahtab Industries, where they had not been paid for nearly 4.5 months. In addition, 180 workers of the Lushan Cement Factory are currently awaiting their fate following the closure of the factory.
4. Teachers who entered retirement in Mehr 1392 [September-October 2013] have not yet received their end of service bonus, their formal retirement decree, and their salaries for the last three months.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas.
1. The director general of the Environment Protection Organization in Tehran Province has said that according to a report by the Health Ministry, every year, around 2700 people of Tehran die due to air pollution. This is while vice-president Ma’sumeh Ebtekar has said that the country’s environment-related projects and programmes have been suspended during the last eight years.
2. Despite the high volume of pollutants around inter-city passenger and cargo public transport terminals, people working at such locations are not supported by protective laws and regulations.
3. The process of destruction of heritage site of Jamshidiyeh Orchard still continues although some legal decrees have been issued to prevent damaging ancient trees.
4. In the last eight years, the Supreme Administrative Court has removed 58 historical buildings from the list of Iranian national heritage sites.
5. A section of the historical complex of Babak in the town of Meybod has been destroyed, even though the complex has a history of around 700 years.
At the end of this report, the attention of the relevant officials of the Iranian state is drawn to the fact that in the section on granting leave to prisoners, in the Code of Procedures of the State Organization for Prisons Affairs and Security and Penitentiary Measures, it is stipulated that the inmates can exercise their right to receive leave of absence from their prison when one of their immediate family members dies. This is a regulation which has been neglected, in particular in relation to people imprisoned for their political and ideological beliefs. For example, Mehdi Karrubi, a presidential candidate who protested against the results of the 1388  election and has been under house arrest for some time now, was not allowed to take part in his sister’s funeral and memorial services. Therefore, the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) considers as erroneous these kinds of behaviours towards political and ideological prisoners and voices its protest against them.
Shirin Ebadi, The head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), 1 Bahman 1392 [22 January 2014]
Note: For further information regarding the above reports, please refer to the following news websites: Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), Fars news agency, Mehr news agency, Young Journalists Club news agency, CDHR website, JARAS, Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Nedaye Azadi, Baztab, HRANA, Ghanoon, Kaleme, Mohebbat News, Sunni Online, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Majzooban-e Noor, Melli Mazhabi, Nedaye Sabze Azadi, Radio Zamaneh, Radio Farda and BBC.