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 Esfand 1392 [Iranian month corresponding to 21 February to 21 March 2014].
In its report, the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) has emphasised that Iranian officials have not taken any steps towards improving human rights situation, and has censured them for making accusations against the UN Secretary General. The UN Secretary General had recently reviewed the human right situation in Iran in his report.
Furthermore, this people-instituted organization described as painful the cancellation of leave for political prisoners in Nowruz of 1393 [Year starting 20 March 2014] by the Judiciary. It said some statements - suggesting that the cancellation of the Nowruz leave for the political prisoners was aimed at countering the UN report - was another proof for the validity of the report compiled by that organisation and indicated the unfavourable situation of human right in Iran.
On this basis, the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) asked the Iranian government to be committed to the international conventions on human rights which it has signed.
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”.
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 Esfand 1392, which has been published on 5 Farvardin 1393 [25 March 2014], is as follows:
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in February-March 2014
The year of 1392 which had been called “the Year of Political and Economic Epic”, came to an end while a small number of economic sanctions have been reduced due to the flexibility of the government in the negotiations with the West. Unfortunately, this event did not have any impact on the purchasing power of the people and there is still a huge gap between the minimum wage and the poverty line. This issue has caused severe worries among workers, and in general, among all wage earners and everyone with a fixed income.
Regarding the human rights situation and respect for the citizens’ freedom and rights, the election of Hassan Rouhani as the President of Iran, has not changed the situation. This is something that also has been mentioned unanimously by the UN Secretary General, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in Iran and the other international institutions safeguarding human rights. Up to now, the new president has not been able to fulfil the expectations of the people who have voted for him.
Not only the Iranian officials have not done anything to solve the problems and improve the situation of human rights, but also, they have labelled as biased the reports on violation of human rights in Iran – such as the report by the UN Secretary General – and have levelled all kinds of unfair accusations against its authors. Even more painful is the fact that the Judiciary has cancelled the Nowruz leave of the country’s political prisoners. Some people have suggested that the cancelation of the Nowruz leave for the political prisoners was aimed at countering the UN report. If this is the case, this is another proof for the validity of the report compiled by that organisation and the unfavourable human rights situation which continues in Iran.
While emphasizing the points made above, what follows now is a summary of the human rights situation in Iran during the month starting 21 February 2014. 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 February-March 2014
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During this month, about 322 people were detained and their names have been announced as follows: Alireza Jahanshahi, civil activist; and Mohsen Shirazi, the manager of “Yaran 57” web site; 13 others people were detained in Qom; Seyyed Hossein Fali and Seyyed Hamid Seyyed Mahdavi, religious activists; Maryam Naseri, civil activist, Jafar Chaldavi, a newly converted Sunni citizen of Ahvaz; Seyyed Hossein Musavi, student activist; Ahmad Sohrabi, a citizen of the town of Iranshahr; Rahim Rashi and Hossein Osmani, two citizens of Mahabad; Abbas Bozorgmehr, managing editor of Aseman Daily Newspaper and Hossein Saeedi and Morteza Kamsari, two trade union activists.
Also, a large number of Gonabadi sect Darwishes and their families, who had gathered in front of the Tehran Prosecutor office to protest against the lack of medical treatment for jailed Darwishes, were physically assaulted by security and police forces and about 200 of them were arrested and were released after a maximum of 48 hours. This is while a large number of Darwishes have resorted to hunger strike to protest against the lack of attention to the situation of infirm Darwishes and the exiled of Reza Entesari, Saeed Madani and Farshid Yadollahi to Raja'i Shahr Prison. Furthermore, Kasra Nuri, Farshid Yadollahi, Reza Entesari, Hamidreza Moradi, Mostafa Daneshju, Amir Eslami, Afshin Karampur, Omid Behruzi and Mostafa Abdi [all in prison Darwishes] refused to go to visitation hall of the prison. On the other hand, some news websites reported the detention of around 20 Sunni activists during a Quran and Arabic language teaching section in Ahvaz.
In addition, the official web site of the General Office of the Prosecutor of East Azarbaijan Province reported the detention of 59 civil activists in Ahar on the International Day of Mother Tongue, without identifying them. On the other hand, the Commander of Police in Mazandaran Province announced the detention of 13 girls and four boys on the accusation of attending a “night time mixed party” without identifying them.
It should be noted that, some of the detainees were released temporarily on bail after a few days, until the date of trial.
2. Saeed Razavi Faqih, political activist, has been sent to prison to serve his one year imprisonment term.
3. Maryam Shafipur, a student activist who is currently in the women ward of Evin Prison was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Faruq Samani, Reza Rasuli and Rasul Khezr Morovvat [three citizens who are serving their prison terms] were sentenced 91 days in jail once again. The Appeal Court sentenced Nika Kholusi to six years imprisonment, Nava Kholusi to four and half years, Adib Shoa’i to six months and Mahsa Mahdavi to three months and one day in jail. All four are Baha’i citizens.
4. The sentences of 20 lashes were carried out against Hossein Farzin, a civil activist who is currently in jail, and Peyman Nodinian, a trade union activist.
5. Hadi Ehtezazi, Hossein Mojahed, Mohammad Amin Faridian, Hossein Sabaghian, Fakhreddin Heydarian, Majid Asiaban, Mohammad Hassan Faramarzi, Masud Hesami (eight reformist activists in Hamedan) were interrogated in the office of the Hamedan Deputy Prosecutor and Security Police. Also, the bail of 30 million Toman was issued for Fakhroldin Heydarian and the others were after bail was posted for them by third parties. In addition, a Darwish, Ebrahim Sadeqi, was interrogated by the Security Police in Shiraz; while two other Darwishes Javad Esmaili Sheshdeh and Mohammad Zeynai were interrogated in the General Intelligence Office in Bandarabbas. On the other hand, Rasul Bodaqi and Shahrokh Zamani, two prisoners of the Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, have been briefed about their charges once again in the Magistrate Court of Karaj after spending three days in solitary confinement. Maryam Sharbatdar-e Qods, a teacher and civil activist, were summoned to the Revolution Court, Mahdieh Farahani, a civil activist, and Hossein Ghadayani, a political activist, were summoned to the Magistrate Court.
6. The officials of the Islamic Republic have prevented Molavi Abdolhamid Esmail Zehi (the Friday Imam of Sunnis and the head of Sunni seminary of the city) from travelling to Mecca.
7. Jailed newspaper journalist, Adnan Hassanpur, has been exiled in a jail in Sistan va Baluchestan Province. Also, a political prisoner, Shahrokh Zamani was sent to exile in the Qezel Hesar Prison in Karaj; Rahman Asakareh, an Ahvazi prisoner has been exiled to the Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad; and Khosro Kordpur, a jailed newspaper journalist was sent on exile to the central prison of Tabriz.
8. The court session has been held for three labour activists, Musa Hendijani, Mazyar Rahimzadeh and Gholamhossein Heydari. In addition, the trial of Nasrin Sotudeh has been held in branch number one of the Lawyers’ Disciplinary Court in presence of two of her lawyers.
9. The lawyer license of Masud Shamsnejad was temporarily suspended.
10. Shahin Dadkhak, a political prisoner in Evin Prison, and Mohammad Sadeq (Arash) Honarvar Shoja’i, who is a currently held in a special clergy ward; were transferred to solitary cell. Also, Mehdi Mo’tamedi Mehr, a political prisoner in the Raja’i Shahr Prison has been deprived of the right of face to face visitation for the third month, and Loqman Moradi has been beaten up during his transport to court for refusing to wear the official prison uniform.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. Aseman Daily Newspaper was temporarily banned from publication by the Magistrate Court and the “9th Dey” Weekly was temporarily closed down by the Press Supervision Board.
2. Bahar Daily Newspaper was sentenced to six months closure. Also, Saeed Purazizi, the managing editor of that newspaper was sentenced to 91 days in jail which will be suspended for two years.
3. Security forces entered Ferdowsi Printing House in Ahvaz and arrested two employees and confiscated 500 calendars and posters which had the images of dignitaries of Darwish sects.
4. The religious publications of Mohammad Omar, a Sunni cleric, were banned from Zahedan Book Exhibitions.
5. Two Baha’i students, Setayesh Asadi and Sama Hashemi, were expelled from the university.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. Some 21 individuals have been executed during this month. The complete names of some of them are still not clear but judicial authorities or government-controlled media have confirmed their executions. Some of the names are as follows:
“M-R”, “H-A”, “A-P” and “Y-A” have been executed by the verdict of the Rudan Court. State-controlled media announced that they had been found guilty of the crime of possession and transportation of drugs. Also, Farzaneh Moradi was executed. State media said she was found guilty of murder. Mehran Reza’i was executed in Juybar. News web sites mentioned that his crime was first degree murder.
According to the Justice Department of Gilan Province “M-M” and “M-P” were executed for the crime of sexual assault, and “A-Sh”, “H-M”, “M-S” and “M-B” were executed for the crime of possession and transportation of drugs and “F-J” was executed for murder. The chief of Salmas Prison reported the execution of one person for the crime of possession and transportation of drugs; the Justice Department of Semnan Province announced the execution of “H-N” and “A-N” for the crime of first degree murder; and the Justice Department of Hormozgan Province reported the execution of “M-R”, “M-F” and “E-F” for the crime of abduction and rape and the execution of “H-T” for the crime of homicide. Iranian Newspaper Khorasan reported the execution of one person in Mashhad. It said the crime of that person was first degree murder.
2. Iranian Newspaper Sharq reported that the Supreme Court has confirmed the verdict of Qisas [an article of Islamic laws similar to the “an eye for an eye” principle] for an eye, the right ear lobe and the nose of young person called Jamshid who blinded the girl he loved by attacking her with acid. Furthermore, according to the commander of the security unit of the General Office of Natural Resources and Water Reserves of North Khorasan Province, the judicial officials issued the verdict of Qisas for the murderer of staff member guarding a protected area. The General Chief of Justice Department of Sistan va Baluchestan Province reported that death sentences have been issued for three main perpetrators of the assassination of the Prosecutor of Zabol.
3. Some 29 candidates for the 28th round of election of the Management Board of the Association of Iranian Lawyers have been disqualified.
4. The situation of political prisoners is still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that some of them - such as – Nader Jani, Akbar Amini, Shahram Ahmadi, Mohammad Amin Agushi, Mehdi Khodayi and Arash Sharifi - are sick but no serious action has been taken to provide them with medical treatment.
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
1. The economic conditions in the country are still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that the New Year bonus and insurance contributions of some workers have not been paid. For example, the salaries for the month of Bahman and the New Year bonus of 500 workers of “Abgineh” glass factory in Qazvin have not been paid. At the same time, according to the Wage Committee of the Islamic Labour Councils in Tehran Province, the monthly expenses for a four person working family has been calculated as 17,603,000 Rials; which does not include the cost of four items of tobacco, home furniture, cultural affairs and leisure, restaurant and hotel. But, the income of some of the wage earners is less than the above sum. At the same time, the Deputy of Health Ministry reported that 24 per cent of Iran’s population do not have sufficient food.
2. The payment of salaries of 200 workers of the textile factory of “Moqadam” has been delayed by four months. The details of other delayed wage payments include: 180 workers of Hoveyzeh Municipality whose wages have been delayed by two months; around 50 contract workers of Tabas Municipality by two months; 95 workers of “Sadid” Foundry Factory by three months; 45 workers of Saleh Karan Sepahan contractor company by four months; 250 workers of Meybod Steel Factory by six month; 60 workers of “Alda” factory by three months; 196 workers of Iran Barak Rasht factory by nine months; 130 workers of contractor company for building and installing of petrochemical industries by three months and 2400 workers of the pipe line making factory of Ahvaz by two months.
3. Some 100 workers of “Tahvieh” Factory in industrial estate of Alborz were sacked. Also, around 100 workers at the distribution and sales offices of the Chastpasand (Hani) dairy industries were downsized on the eve of the New Year.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas in months of Esfand.
1. The elected chief of the Scientific Society of Iranian Psychiatrics said the new statistics of mental patient is 25 per cent of adult population in Iran.
2. The managing director of the company in charge of exploitation of the irrigation networks of Bushehr Province has announced that the Dalaki River has become acidic as a result of 25,000 litres of acid entering the river. In addition, the head of the Secretariat for the “Green Road – Clean Coasts” Project has announced that 64 per cent of all wastes are buried in the forests in the three northern provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan and Golestan, while 26 per cent is deposited in the rivers and the remaining 10 per cent in the pastures. This is while according to the General Director of Durable Development Department at the Environment Protection Organization has announced that according to the latest ranking of performance in the area of environment, out of 132 countries, Iran currently stands at the 114th rank. He also announced that sewage waste was the main reason for the country’s lagoons drying up.
3. The Iranian Oil Minister has confirmed that the petrol produced by the [Iranian] petrochemical sites is causing pollution and fails to meet the accepted standards. This is while Tehran, Esfahan and Ahvaz are among the ten most polluted cities in the world.
4. The managing director of the Sabzchia Society in Marivan has announced that the condition of the Zarivar Lake has deteriorated to one degree above the “dangerous” status, and the lake is on its last breaths. Furthermore, the Aq Gol lagoon in Hamedan Province has gone dry.
5. According to the Energy Ministry, the current volume of water in the reservoirs of Tehran dams is 394 million cubic meters, which represents a drastic reduction compared to the volume of 617 million cubic meters which was present in the same reservoirs at the same time last year.
6. The highly valued tiles and decorations of the residence of Mohammad Mirza Kashef ol-Saltaneh, who is known as the founding father of Iranian tea, have been plundered, and the said residence is on the verge of collapse. Furthermore, in a joint action aimed at confronting homeless and drug-addict citizens, the Police Force and the Municipality of the city of Shiraz have embarked on destroying some historical houses in Shiraz.
In view of the fact that the Iranian government has joined the international conventions of human rights and is committed to their implementation, it should pay attention to the reports that have been issued on the basis of these commitments and heed their advice and recommendations. Not only directing insults and accusation at the authors of these reports is not going to undermine their legal value but if anything, it will only strengthen the credibility and validity of the said reports. “Let us not blame moonlight for our sickly, pale face” [a verse from a Persian poem].
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.