Iranian pupils start the month of Mehr [beginning 21 September 2014] and the new academic year while witnessing the dire financial difficulties that their families are facing in their effort to meet life’s basic needs.
People who are on fixed salary are particularly badly affected. This is because for several years, the increase in their salaries has not been appropriate and proportional to the rising rate of inflation, and this has led to a decline in the purchasing power of families. The situation has gone so far that according to economic experts, in the last year, the amount of foodstuff available to average Iranian families has declined by 25 per cent to 30 per cent.
At the same time, since the government of Hassan Rowhani has come to power, although the pace of the constant growth in the rate of inflation has been brought under control, the inflation rate still remains in double figures, and Iran is currently experiencing one of the highest inflations in the world. On the other hand, based on the official statistics, not only the continuing economic recession affecting the Iranian economy has not led to any reduction in the unemployment rate, but in fact it has worsened the unemployment situation.
According to the latest figures issued by the Iranian Statistics Centre, the unemployment rate in Iran during this spring has been 10.7 per cent. Of course, estimates by independent experts put the rate at much higher than the official figures.
Together, these conditions have created a very difficult economic situation for people on fixed salaries and incomes. On the other hand, many factories are operating at the lower ends of their production capacity, and many others have stopped production altogether. In addition, workers at a large number of production units have not received their wages for several months now. This situation can adversely impact the quality and standards of life among households, and it can lead to a decline in how much families can spend on health, hygiene and education.
Unfortunately, however, under these conditions, not only the state officials have failed to give the necessary attention to the protests of workers, but these protests have at times invoked the anger of the country’s judicial, security and law enforcement institutions. For example, in the past month, a number of workers have been subjected to punitive measures, including imprisonment and lashing, simply because of their objections to the undesirable economic conditions, or their insistence on restoration of their rights.
This is happening while we are witnessing the widening of the income gaps between different classes in the Iranian society, contrary to the clear provisions of the Constitution, including its Article 3. The import of 43,986 foreign-made cars (at a total value of more than 865 million dollars) into Iran during the first five months of 1393 [which began on 20 March 2014], has taken place at a time when the living standards of people in some provinces in Iran, including Sistan va Baluchestan Province, clearly prove that the political system has not been entirely successful in redistribution wealth and provision of equal opportunities for everyone in the country.
On the other hand, the continuation of the approach and behaviour of the previous government towards the workers’ independent syndicates and associations, has led to a situation where the legitimate protests and objections of the workers have to be pursued at a higher than necessary cost for the social partners of labour (that is to say workers, employers and the government)
The report also provides a summary of the human rights violations in Iran during the month of Shahrivar 1393 [starting 21 August 2014], as follows. 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 August-September 2014
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During this month, about 40 people were detained and the names of them have been specified as follows: Seven labour activsts, namely Mohammad Hassan Tashakori, Alimohammad Tashakori, Kazem Kargaran, Reza Dehestani, Reza Khajehzadeh, Irani and Jalil Kamali; Zanyar Samanpur and Kamran Qoreishi, two cyber activists; Behruz Abdollahi – a university student – Ammar Kalantari and Farzad Sadri, two media activists; Saqi Fadaei, Nushazar Khanjani, Farhad Sarafraz, Shahram Mansur, four Baha’i citizens; Atena Farqadani – a children’s rights activist – Salam Ahmadi, Mohsen Shoja, Omid Alishenas, three civil activists; Sheykh Mojtaba Raufi – a religious activist – Mohammad Taslimi, Mehdi Vaziri, Amir Kian, Hamidreza Borhani, Zeynab Akbari, Moluk Ruhani, six newly converted Christians; Mohammad Modarresi – a Sunni religious activist – and Ghassan Chaldavi-a civil activist-.
In addition, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps of Shiraz has reported the detention of 11 individuals that have published insulting contents about Ayatollah Khomeini in social networks. Also, a large number of the members of the Gonabadi Darwishes Sects were detained and physically assaulted in front of the Tehran Prosecutor Office. They had gone there to express their solidarity with the Darwishes who are currently in prison.
On the other hand, some news web sites have reported the detention of Arash Sadeqi, Golrokh Iraei, Keyvan Yusefzadeh, Mehdi Majdam, Torki Albukhanfar, Amin Zobeidi and Ali Zoheiri.
It should be noted that some of the detainees were released temporarily on bail after a few days until the date of their trial.
2. Seyyed Aliasghar Gharavi – a writer and researcher and a member of the Iranian Freedom Movement Party [Nehzat-e Azadi] – was detained and sent to prison to serve his six months’ imprisonment term, while Farhad Eqbali – a Baha’i citizen -was detained and sent to jail to serve his five years imprisonment term, and finally, Afshin Shahbazi- a student activist – was detained and transferred to prison to serve six months in jail.
3. Reza Aqakhani – a member of the Council of the Nationalist-Religious Activists – was sentenced to three years imprisonment in the Appeal Court; Mahmud Sorush – a civil activist – was sentenced to one year in jail, Susan Tabianian- a Baha’i citizen- was sentenced to one year imprisonment, Adnan Yazdanpanah – a Baha’i citizen- was sentenced to one year in jail in the Appeal Court; Badi Hosseinpanahi – a political activist, who currently serves his imprisonment term – was sentenced to seven years in jail, Mohammad Rahnama Khatibi was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Also, the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) has reported the suspended sentence of 50 lashes and six months imprisonment for four workers employed at the Razi Petrochemical Complex.
4. Hossein Rafi’i Fanud – a member of the Council of the Religious Nationalist Activists – was released from prison on bail after he was briefed in the magistrate court about his charges. Yosuf Hassanzadeh who is currently serving his imprisonment term, was briefed about his crime of establishing contacts with the centres of Christianity abroad. In addition, the accusation against Ghoncheh Qavami, who is in detention for three months, is not clear yet and her lawyer has not been allowed to study her case file.
5. Alireza Yahya’i, Mehdi Keshavarz, Musa Mohseni, Esma’il Jamshidi, Gholamali Chegini, Jahan Salimi, Javad Azizkhani and Tahereh Fathi – eight labour activists – and Amin Abbasi – a Yarsa’i religious activist – have been interrogated by the police force. Also, Karim(Ghiasoldin) Qoreishi – a civil activist – was summoned to the Intelligence Office. Finally, the house of Vahideh Dana, a Baha’i citizen, was searched by the Ministry of the Intelligence officials.
6. Mohammadreza Khatami – the vice speaker of the sixth Majlis – has been banned from travelling abroad.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. Saeed Purazizi, the managing editor of the banned daily, Bahar, was sentenced to pay a fine of 10 million Toman instead of an imprisonment sentence. In addition, the managing editors of the Ruzan and Mardomsalari daily newspapers, were found guilty by the Press Jury.
2. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has refused to grant publication licence to a play by the writer Bahram Beiza’i.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. Some 28 individuals have been executed in 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: “H-B” and lady “H-S” were executed in Rasht, “Y-D”, “M-Kh”, “M-A”, “A-H”, “M-B”, “S-A”, “M-M”, “F-M”, “A-R”, “H-R” and “A-N” were executed in Bandarabbas and “Gh-S” was executed in Qom. The judiciary officials said they had all been found guilty for the crime of possession and transportation of drugs. Also, “M-P” and “M-H” were executed in Rasht, “Soheil Saharkhiz” were executed in Sari, “M-H” were executed in Bandarabbas and “Mohsen-D” was executed in Mahmudabad. The judiciary officials announced the executed individuals had been found guilty of the crime of murder.
Furthermore, “A-A” was executed in Savadkuh. The police said his crime was first-degree murder. The Prosecutor of the Dashtestan town has reported the execution of an individual because of the crime of murder in Borazjan. On the other hand, Bahram Kiani, Edalat Rahimi Shurbakhlo, Mohammad Jamshidi and Jahanbakhsh Borumand were executed in public in Shiraz. The judiciary officials said they had been found guilty for the crime of kidnapping and rape. A judiciary official in Fars Province has reported the execution of one individual due to the crime of kidnapping and rape in Marvdasht. “Vahid-Q” and “Bahman Musavi” have been executed in public in Hamedan. Police said that they were violent and criminal thugs.
2. The state-controlled media have reported the confirmation of the death sentences for Gholamhossein Khaledi – an environmental watch guard in the Dena protected region – in the criminal court of the province and another convict, without mentioning his name, in the Supreme Court. Also, some news websites have reported the issuing of a death sentence against Soheil Arabi because he insulted the Prophet of Islam on Facebook.
3. The former prosecutor of Esfahan has reported five hand amputations during last year in that city. He said the individuals punished had been found guilty of robbery.
4. Two individuals, who have been labelled as “Dangerous Hooligans”, have been paraded before the public [as humiliation] in the streets of the city of Ilam.
5. The situation of political prisoners is still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that some of them such as Zahra Rahnavard, Abdolfattah Soltani, Seyyed Mohammad Seyfzadeh, Omid Kokabi, Omid Behruzi, Keikhosro Sharafipur are sick but no serious action has been taken to ensure they receive medical treatment.
6. Hamidreza Moradi Sarvestani, Afshin Karampur, Farshid Yadollahi, Reza Entesari, Amir Eslami, Omid Behruzi, Mostafa Daneshju, Mostafa Abdi and Kasra Nuri – nine prisoners belonging to the Darwishes Sects – have gone on hunger strike to protest against increasing restrictions in the prison.
7. Farshid Yadollahi, Reza Entesari and Saeed Matinpur were not allowed to have face-to-face visitation with their families, because they refused to wear the prison uniform during visiting time.
8. Shahu Ebrahimi – a Kurdish Sunni prisoner – has been prevented from receiving vists from his family for more than five years.
9. Mahdieh Golru, a former political prisoner; Tara Hushmand, Nura Sabet, Shadan Shirazi – three Baha’i citizens – were banned from studying in the university.
10. A commemoration ceremony for the deceased Iranian writer, Sadeq Hedayat, was not allowed to be held.
11. The presence of female musicians in concerts is banned in many cities such as Esfahan and Shiraz.
12. The police of Fereydunkenar township have reported the apprehension of 24 individuals at a night-party. Also, Khorasan daily newspaper has reported the apprehension of a 26 years old singer due to producing “vulgar video clips”.
13. The police has announced that the employment of women in coffee shops is prohibited.
14. Reyhaneh Taravati was sentenced to one years imprisonment term and Sasan soleimani, Neda Motameni, Afshin Sohrabi, Bardia Moradi, Roham Shamekhi and “Sepideh” were sentence to six months imprisonment and 91 lashes, which is suspended for three years. These individuals are the members of the “Happy Band”.
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
1. The economic conditions in the country are still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that the number of the unemployed was 2,530,000 individuals in spring, according to the latest statistics provided by the Statistic Centre of Iran.
1. The Director of the Department for Improving Nutrition, in the Ministry of Health, Hygiene and Medical Education, has reported the prevalence of malnutrition and food insecurity in five provinces, namely Kohgiluyeh Va Boyer Ahmad, Sistan Va Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Kerman and Khuzestan. Also, a member of the Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Commission in the Islamic Majlis has announced that the nutrition of 45 million people in the Iranian population is not satisfactory.
2. The salaries of one thousand workers in Navard Factory and Luleh Safa plant have not been paid for the months of Khordad (May-June), Tir (June-July), Mordad (July-August) in the current Iranian year. Details of other delayed payments include: 32 contract workers of the Zagros Khodro Corporation have not been paid for five months, 80 workers of the Negin Sabz Khavarehmianeh Corporation in Bandar-e Emam for three months, the workers of the desalination project in the “Petro Part” Corporation in the months of Ordibehesht (April-May), of Khordad (May-June), Tir (June-July), Mordad (July-August); Municipal workers of the Zabol for two months, 103 workers of the “Iranit Kerman” for seven months, several workers of the “Shahdab Orumiyeh” for seven months, 160 workers of dairy factory “Palud Parsian” for four months, about 2,000 service workers and the workers of the municipal green zone in Borujerd for two months, 110 workers of the “Gostaresh Manasaz” Factory for three months, 260 workers of the “Qand-e Qahestan” Factory for five months, the workers of the Alborz Gharbi-West Alborz-for two months and more than 150 contract workers of Ahvaz’z city train (Kisun) for four months. Some 30 per cent of the salaries in Tir (June-July) months and 100 per cent of the salaries in Mordad (July-August) of the Wagon Pars’s workers were delayed. Also, the payments of the benefits of several retired workers of the Nasaji-e Mazandaran is deferred for four years and the salaries of the unemployed workers of the “Pol-e Miangozar” [a bridge over the lake] in Orumiyeh Lake have not been paid for nine months.
3. Some 12 contract workers of the “Mashin Lent” Factory in Semnan, and Mehdi Kazemi and Ahmad Mirza’i, two workers of the Kashi Gilana [tile-making] Factory-were sacked from their jobs.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and the Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas during the month of Shahrivar.
1. The protected area of Miankaleh in Behshahr, the forest in the Ajgil zone in Izeh, Ashuradeh (the only Iranian island in the Caspian Sea) some parts of the natural areas and forests in the south of Bojnurd, some parts of the forests in the town of Chamhendi in Dehloran, 10 hectares of the pastures in the Kamyaran city, more than 23 hectares of the pastures in the Abmalakh and Vardasht in Samirom, the forests of the Gonaveh in Gachsaran, some parts of the Mikadareh forests in the Amol city, 79 hectares of the forests and pastures in the Ardabil Province, one hectare of the Dashtshad Kalpush forest in the Miami City, about 15 hectares of the pastures and forests of “Darasht” in the west of Yasuj, more than 200 hectares of the pastures in the Zanjan City and about five hectares of the wildlife refuge in Lovandvil in Astara have been burnt in fires. Also, The Development Affairs Deputy of the Governor General of Kohgiluyeh Va Boyer Ahmad Province, has reported that the losses caused by the fires in that Province’s forests amounted to around 200 billion Tomans.
These fires have happened in a situation that according to the experts, the lack of facilities for firefighting and also the lack of the facilities and resources for fire prevention were the main reasons for the spread of these fires.
2. The Head of the of Iran’s Environment Protection Organization has said the drought problem in Iran is serious and the Deputy of the Energy Minister has reported that nearly 78 per cent of country’s prairies are on the verge of destruction due to the extreme loss of the subterranean water resources. This is while the wetlands in Astara City have suffered a sharp decline in their water levels to the extent that the water of two wetlands – Bozorg Aq and Estil – has declined by up to 70 per cent.
3. The majority of the swimming sites in the Caspian Sea are in critical condition due to microbial contamination to the extent that the amount of pollution in some parts of the Caspian Sea shores is ten times more than the acceptable standards.
4. Habibollah Sadeqi, a citizen of the town of Qasreshirin, was injured due to a landmine explosion in Qasreshirin.
5. Some historical monuments of Shiraz that are several hundred years old were destroyed under the pretext of developing the Shrine of Shahcheraq (the burial place of a close relative of one of the Shi’i Imams).
The Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) believes that paying attention to social equality and economic recovery through waging a genuine campaign against administrative corruptions and supervision over the distribution of national wealth should be among the government’s priority programmes.
The widening of the gaps between social classes in Iran is a warning which the government officials should not ignore. Such conditions can cause low-income and working class people to become weak and frail, and they could become deprived from the basic human rights. In addition, recognizing the right to strike for workers and to have independent workers’ unions and organizations (based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles enshrined in the Iranian Constitution) are essential in order to reduce the costs that can be incurred by the workers pursuing their protests and demands.
Therefore, the answer to the protests of those who earn fixed salaries such as workers, is not prison and lashes. The answer is instead the redistributing of wealth and providing equal opportunities for all people in all fields.
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.
Translated by: Hamid Reza Mohammadi