In continuation of its monthly reports, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran during the month of Esfand 1395 [Iranian month corresponding to 19 February to 20 March 2017].
The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, which is presided over by Shirin Ebadi, has referred to the arrest of some reporters and researchers, and also some of the managers, activists and users of online social media, and announced that political rivalries once more have led to more restrictions on the freedom of expression, and to the illegal arrest of political, civil and cultural activists, in a manner reminiscent of the events surrounding the disputed presidential election in 1388 .
This people-instituted organization has said: “a part of the sovereign ruling power that intends to expand the range of its extra-legal powers and authority, wants to create an atmosphere of intimidation which mutes any critical voice in its infancy.”
Therefore, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has said that the citizens are the ones who pay the price, with their lives and freedoms.
Furthermore, in its report, which is published in both Farsi and English languages, this people-instituted organisation 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 Centre for the Supporters of Human Rights, the text of the report by the said centre for the month of Esfand 1395, which has been published on 30 of Esfand 1395 [20 March 2017], is as follows:
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in February-March 2017
The year 1395 comes to its end while some reporters and researchers and some managers, activists and readers of virtual social media networks have been arrested because of their comments, or for publishing news. The detention of Morad Saqafi, Ramin Karimian, Ehsan Mazandarani and Tahereh Riahi - all of whom had criticized the existing conditions, with the aim of informing the public - indicates that a part of the ruling elite intends to expand the range of its extra-legal powers, and by creating an atmosphere of intimidation, it wants to be able to mute any critical voice in its infancy.
Restrictions on freedom of expression are to the extent that in the final days of the year, the general prosecutor reported that around 16,000 to 20,000 Telegram channels are blocked every week. He also complained about the failure to implement the directive to ban the use of Telegram. This is while the Minister of Communications and Information Technology has said that his ministry is under pressure to block Telegram.
The simultaneous blocking of Telegram channels such as Eslahat (Reforms) News, Reformists’ Assembly (Majmae Eslahtalaban), Zende Bad Eslahat (Long Live Reforms) and the Reformist Students (Daneshjoyan-e Eslahtalab), all of which used to disseminate news, was one of the most remarkable events during the month of Esfand. This was to such an extent that the advisor of the president, in a number of Tweets he has posted, has linked the arrests of some managers of reformist and pro-government channels to the presidential election in 1396.
Therefore, it seems political rivalries once more have led to more restrictions on the freedom of expression and also to the illegal arrests of political, civil and cultural activists, as it happened at the time of the disputed presidential election in 1388.
The report also provides a summary of human rights situation in Iran during the month of Esfand 1395, 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 February-March 2017
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During this month, more than 36 people were detained and the names of them have been specified, as follows: Morad Saqafi – a researcher and Journalist; Ramin Karimian – a researcher; Hengameh Shahidi, Ehsan Mazandarani – two journalists; Farzaneh Jalali – a civil activist; Sepideh Qalayan (Qulian), Payam Shakiba – two university students; Mohammad Hassan Davudi – a political activist; Asad Moludzadeh – a labour activist; Balazadeh and Ansari – two teachers; Farhad Maleki – a citizen from Saqez; and Seyyed Ali Babazadeh and Ali Ahmadinia, two media activists.
Moreover, the prosecutor of Ramhormoz town has reported the detention of some individuals - without mentioning their names or specifying how many they were – because of what has been called as activity in news channels, while the prosecutor of Qazvin has reported the detention of a university faculty member due to what is called as “Blasphemy”. On the other hand, the Deputy Speaker of Majlis has reported the detention of 12 managers of the reformist or pro-government Telegram channels by a military intelligence agency. Accordingly, access to these channels has been blocked as well.
On the other hand, some news sources have reported the detention of Anusheh Rezabakhsh and Soheil Zargarzadeh – two newly converted Christians - Naji Dahimi, Adnan Abiat and Lefteh Ghavabash (Jalali) – three citizens from Ahvaz; Morteza Moradpur – a civil activist; Majid Asadi – a university student activist; and Asadollah Hadi and Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi – two former political prisoners.
It should be noted that some of the detainees were released temporarily on bail after a few days until the date of their trial.
Besmellah Barahavi – a Sunni religious activist – and Nana Badrian and Andre Vartanian – two citizens from Tajikistan – were detained during the last month.
2. Faezeh Hashemi – a political activist [and daughter of late Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani] – was sentenced to six months in jail; Mohammad Hossein Karrubi – a political activist – was sentenced to six months imprisonment; Mohammad Nuri – a civil activist – was sentenced to three months in prison; Fathali Hosseini – the governor of Razan – was sentenced to 91 days in jail; Gharib Abdi – a political prisoner – was sentenced to five years imprisonment, and Hossein Daneshpayeh – a political prisoner – was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Additionally, Akbar Azad – a cultural activist – was sentenced to 10 years in jail and a two year exile; Alireza Farshi – a civil activist – was sentenced to 15 years in prison and two years of exile; Behnam Sheikhi – a civil activist – was sentenced to 10 years in jail and two years of exile; and Hamid Manafi – a civil activist – was sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years of exile. Moreover, the Appeal Court has sentenced Mohammad Hassan Tashakori – a labour activist –to pay a fine of 18,000,000 Rials, as well as 30 lashes, with the latter punishment suspended for two years; and Zia Savari – a citizen from Ahvaz – was sentenced to six years imprisonment in the appeal court. Emadodin Molazehi – a prisoner held on security charges – was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and another security prisoner, Hafez Yaqubjahandideh, received a jail sentence for 10 years.
3. Sorush Farhadian – a journalist – was released on bail after he was briefed about the allegations against him.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. “Shakheh Sabz” Newspaper has been banned by the order of Judiciary official.
2. Judiciary officials prevented a speech by Mehrdad Bazrpash – a former Majlis member [and close aide of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] – in Bojnurd University.
3. Relevant officials prevented Afruz Zabihi – a Baha’i citizen - from continuing her education at the university.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. At least seven individuals were 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:
One person was executed in public in Yazd. State-controlled media have said his crime was robbery and murder. One individual was executed in public in Boeinzahra. A Judiciary official has reported that his crime was robbery and murder. In addition, two individuals were executed in Sari and a person identified as “Mehdi” was executed in Qazvin. Their crime was murder according to some news sources. Furthermore, Reza was executed in Qazvin and one individual was executed in Semnan. News media have reported that their crime was possession and traffic of drugs.
On the other hand, some unofficial news websites have reported of executions in the prisons of Maragheh, Zahedan, Shahrud, Orumieh, Hamedan, Garmsar, Qezelhesar, Karaj, Bandarabbas, Kordestan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Shiraz and Chabahar. This news has not been confirmed or rejected by the Judiciary officials or state-controlled media.
2. State-controlled media have reported the issuance of death sentences for “A-S” in Arak due to murder, five individuals in Tehran because of murder, one individual in Yazd because of first-degree murder, one individual in Razavi Khorasan because of the crime of murder, one individual in Tehran Province because of rape, three individuals in Kerman due to kidnapping and three individuals in Tehran Province because of kidnapping and rape. In addition, the prosecutor of Tehran has reported the issuance of death sentences against four individuals because of armed robbery and two individuals due to the charges of “corruption on earth” because of activities in a newly emerging sect. Moreover, some news sources have reported the issuance of death sentence for Marjan Davari – a translator. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence against an individual in Tehran convicted of the crime of rape and theft.
3. The Supreme Court has confirmed the lashes sentence against an individual in Tehran found guilty of rape and theft.
Mrs “F-M” was sentenced to lashes due to financial corruption. In addition, a Judiciary official has reported the issuance of lashes sentences for two individuals due to negligence and lack of supervision, as well as participation in forgery of documents in Hormozgan Province.
4. The health situation of some political prisoners is still reported to be poor to the extent that some of them - such as Saeid Rezaei, Mohammad Nazari, Abdolkarim Shahbakhsh and Gholamreza (Rubin) Shahini are sick but no serious action has been taken in order to provide them with treatment.
5. Golrokh Iraei and Arash Sadeqi – a prisoner couple – were not allowed to visit each other.
6. Relevant officials prevented the holding of ceremonies marking the death anniversary of Behnud Ramezani – a university student who was killed in 1389.
7. Some news sources have reported the detention of 30 individuals in Ahvaz and 14 individuals in Sepidan, while Judiciary officials have reported the detention of 44 individuals in Mashhad and 120 others in Pardis due to attending a party.
8. Police have reported the arrest of 1,437 individuals at Chaharshanbeh Suri ceremonies [Iranian bonfire night falling shortly before Nowruz].
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
Reports concerning the situation regarding social and economic also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas for example: news reveals unsatisfactory employment terms and conditions and salary and wage situation for workers in a number of units such as: Okia Khodro, Sufian Cement, Parsilun, Pars Qu, Farnakh, Naznakh, Esfahan Polyacryl Company, Mamasani sugar mill, Bolurak, Ahvaz National Steel, Esfehan Tile, Azarkhak Cooperation, Azmun Felez, Kayson, Neybar of Haft Tapeh Agro-Industry Complex, Rudbar Municipality, Ahvaz Municipality, municipalities of Meshkin Shahr, Asaluyeh, Zobahan of Ardabil, Ahvaz Steel, Meshkin Shahr Abfa, Road Construction Project in Ramian City, Coach Transport Cooperative No 1, Aq Darband Mine in Sarakhs, Ardabil Iron Foundry, security guards of Gachsaran Oil and Gas Exploitation Company, Ahvaz National Steel Industries Group and staffs of hospitals and medical centres of Gilan Medical Science.
1. Many workers have not received any payments for several months. The names of the offending units, number of workers affected, and the period of time when they have not paid (at the time of writing this report) are as follows:
Some 80 workers of Ahvaz Municipality for three months, some workers of Raja Cooperation for two months, around 80 workers of Abadan Refinery for two months, 300 workers of Ball Bearings Making of Tabriz for three months, workers of Electric Meter Device Making for six months, workers of Borujerd Municipality for six months, workers of Payandan Cooperation for six months, Compressor Making Factory of Tabriz for four months, 80 workers of Iranian Low Consumption Industries Factory for nine months, workers of Mashinsazi Factory of Tabriz for three months, 370 workers of Pars Steel in Sabzevar for four months, 230 workers of Esfandaqeh Mine for four months, 350 workers of Qazvin Glass for five months, 50 workers of Negin Coal Mine for three months, 350 workers of Nakh Alborz for three months, workers of Arak Mashinsazi for four months, 100 workers of Zarrin Nakh Shomal for three months, 500 worker of Persian Gulf Star Refinery for four months, workers of Bahr Gostar Hormoz Cooperation for two months, 400 workers of Kavir Yazd Tile for three months and the guards of forests for four months and drivers of Tarzeh Coal Mine for five months.
2. Some 50 workers of one of the provincial representative offices of Iran Khodro [major car-making company] in Gorgan lost their jobs due to the closure of the office.
On the other hand, around 70 workers of “Kayhan Bod” Factory, 51 workers of Deniz Petro-Industry, 35 staff of Andimeshk Hospital and 40 workers of Almehdi Aluminum Factory in Hormozgan were dismissed from their jobs as part of financial cuts.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning the situation regarding cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas during this month.
1. The density of dust particles in the air reached to 18 times more than the permitted level in Abadan during some days of Esfand.
2. One individual was killed and another was injured in Dehloran due to land mine explosion. Furthermore, an individual was killed in Mehran because of mine explosion and a teenager was injured in Shush by another mine explosion.
At the end of the report for the month of Esfand of 1395, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has referred to the events of the last year, especially during the month of Esfand, which was characterised by the arrest of some media activists. It emphasised that the citizens are the ones who pay the cost of various political struggles and infighting, with their life and liberty. Therefore, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights points to the continued presence of adverse conditions in human rights situation in Iran during the year 1395, and believes this is the result of the government paying no attention to the rights of citizens.