In her latest monthly report, Shirin Ebadi, human rights defender and winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, has reviewed the human rights situation in Iran during the month of Farvardin 1392 [March-April 2013]. In the introduction to the report for March-April, Dr. Ebadi has emphasized that the judicial officials of Iran are not paying any attention to the complaints by prisoners and their relatives. In her report, this defender of human rights has referred to the continuing hunger strike of Mehdi Khazali in protest against that attitude by the Judiciary. On that basis, Dr. Ebadi has drawn the attention of the officials of the Judiciary and the State Prisons Organization to their duty to ensure the well-being of the inmates, and has warned that these officials will be responsible for anything that may happen to these inmates, and from a judicial point of view, they will become liable to legal action.
In another part of her report, which is published in both Farsi and English, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has set out to give an account of the human rights situation in Iran under three main sections, namely: “civil and political rights”, “social and economic rights”, and “cultural heritage and environment”.
According to the website of the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights, the text of Dr. Ebadi’s report for Farvardin 1392 [March-April 2013], which has been published on 1 Ordibehesht [22 April 2013], is as follows:
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in March-April 2013
The lack of regard by the Judiciary officials for legal principles on the one hand, and the influence exerted by the security officials on the Revolutionary Courts, on the other hand, have led to the constant deterioration in the conditions of political and ideological prisoners. In view of the fact that the Judiciary Branch is not dealing with the complaints of the inmates and their relatives, and is not providing any explanation for the disregard for legal principles, a number of political and ideological prisoners have staged hunger strikes as an expression of their protest. For instance, one can mention the situation of Dr Mehdi Khazali, who was once again arrested and sent to jail at a meeting of the Forum of People of Pen on 9 Aban 1391 [30 October 2012], following his previous arrests on several occasions after the last presidential election. At the present, Mehdi Khazali is in an alarming condition after around 100 days since he started his hunger strike. His family is seriously concerned about his life, but despite this, so far, no attention has been given to the complaint lodged by Mr Khazali.
Following the above issues, what now follows is a summary account of the human rights situation in Iran in Farvardin 1392. This report is based on material published by various media channels and websites, and their accuracy has been verified. The report will appear under three sections, in both Farsi and English.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in Farvardin 1392
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During this month, Jamileh Karimi, a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Party, who is among the personalities who have invited Seyyed Mohammad Khatami to stand in the 1392 presidential election, was arrested. Other arrested were: Hossein Kiyani, an activist from Amol; Abdolghafur Qalandari-Nejad, a Dervish sect member; and three family members of some imprisoned Dervish sect members (named as Behnam Yadollahi-Farsi, the brother of Farshid Yadollahi; Sadeq Moradi-Servestani, the brother of Hamid and Saleh Moradi; and Mehran Sadeqi).
2. Ghazi Heydari, a political activist from the city of Ahvaz, who is currently serving his 10 years imprisonment term in the Karun Jail of Ahvaz, has been sentenced to a further five years in prison on the basis of a new court verdict.
3. Mohsen Qashqaizadeh and Mohammad Parsi, two arrested members of the Forum for the People of Pen, have been put on trial.
4. Applications for leave [from prison] on medical grounds by Masud Ladani, a religious-nationalist activist, and Abdollah Mo’meni, a member of the Association of the Alumni of the Office for Strengthening Unity, were rejected.
5. The security officials prevented the holding of memorial services in public places for Seyyed Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyyed Javadi, one of the founding members of the Iran Freedom Movement and a member of the Provisional Government in 1979.
6. A number of prisoners are ill and nothing is being done to provide them with medical treatment. In this particular connection, one can mention Keyvan Samimi-Behbahani, Sa’id Matinpur and Mohammad Reza Purshajareh.
7. Mehdi Bigdeli has been dismissed from the university.
B) Situation Regarding Books, Media, Writers and Journalists
1. Reza Akvanian and Puria Farazmand, two weblog writers, and Mohammad Reza Ali-Payam, a poet, have been arrested.
2. Mojtaba Daneshtalab, a religious seminary student and weblog writer, has been transferred to the prison in order to serve his six months term.
3. Mohammad Reza Taqavi-Fard, the managing editor of the daily newspaper Khorshid, has been summoned to the Criminal Court of Tehran Province.
4. Siamake Qaderi, a newspaper journalist who is currently spending his term in jail, has been sacked from IRNA [the Islamic Republic News Agency].
5. Alireza Hashemi-Sanjabi, an activist in the guild of teachers and a member of the central council of the Iranian Teachers’ Organization, has been summoned to the Islamic Revolutionary Court.
6. The state institutions have put a block filter on the website set up to call on Seyyed Mohammad Khatami to become a candidate in the June 2013 presidential elections.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. “GH.N”, “M.Z”, “M.A” and “G.A” were executed in Shiraz. Media organs affiliated with the Iranian Government said the crime of these individuals was armed robbery. In addition, “A.N” and “B.D” were also executed in Shiraz during the month. Again, media channels linked with the Iranian Government announced that these two people had been found guilty of armed robbery and armed confrontation which led to homicide. “A.F”, “A.A” and “M.A” were executed in Shiraz too. The state-affiliated media in Iran reported that the crimes committed by these convicts were armed robbery and rape of women. Furthermore, according to a report by the Mehr News Agency, two people were executed in Mashhad after being found guilty of rape.
2. The personnel of the F.A.T.A police [the Iranian cyber crime police] in Qazvin arrested a young boy who was selling filter-breakers [to circumvent the state’s control over access to websites].
3. The student publication of Kermanshah University, Bisotun, has been banned following intense pressures by security organs.
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
1. The economic conditions in Iran are still reported to be unfavorable. The Statistics Centre of Iran has published the details of last year’s inflation and the changes in the price of consumer goods and services, announcing the urban inflation rate at 31.5 per cent, and point-to-point inflation at 40.6 per cent. Also the latest information by the Central Bank of Iran about housing rent index in the urban areas of Iran show the continuing sharp rise in rental rates in the country’s urban areas.
2. The Statistics Centre of Iran has reported that Lorestan, Ilam, Kermanshah and Kurdistan Provinces have had the highest unemployment rates in the country respectively, and in that way, they have had the largest share of the overall unemployment rate which has been announced to be 12.2 per cent in 1391.
3. Some 260 workers of Zagros Steel Mill in Kurdistan have not received their wages for the last three months.
4. The Managing Director of the National Company for Oil Products Distribution has announced that the country’s airlines carry a debt of around 460 billion Tumans. The debt of the Islamic Republic of Iran Airline (HOMA) amounts to 180 billion Tumans, Aseman Airline owes 121 billion Tumans and Mahan Airline’s debt stands at 92 billion Tumans. This is while the price of air travel tickets has increased twice in the last year. Nonetheless, the airline companies have not been able to repay their debts.
5. Sharif Sa’edpanah and Mozzafar Salehnia , two members of the management board of the Free Union of Workers of Iran, were sentenced to six months in prison.
6. Some of the prisoners are ill and nothing is being done to provide treatment for them. In this regard, one can mention Ali Azadi, the labour activist.
7. “Majid.P”, one of the sacked workers of the Islamic Republic Railways Company (RAJA), has committed suicide.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning the environment and cultural heritage in the month of Farvardin also indicate the continuing unfavourable conditions in these areas.
1. Forty wetlands of the country have been dried up between 10 and 70 per cent.
2. The Government's Cabinet officially announced the start of oil exploration operations in the National Kavir Park. The beginning of these operations will lead to the destruction of the environment.
3. The Vice Chairman of the Islamic Majlis Environment Fraction has announced that every year, around 5,000 people die in the large cities due to air pollution.
4. The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the Bushehr Power Station to ascertain that there is no leakage from the installation, and no environmental risks have been caused as a result of the recent earthquake in Bushehr.
In conclusion to this monthly report, I would like to draw the attention of the officials of the Judiciary Branch and the State Prisons Organization to their duty to protect the health and well-being of the inmates, particularly those in prison on political and ideological grounds. I would like to warn that these officials are responsible for any adverse incident that the inmates may suffer from, and from a judicial point of view, these officials will become liable to legal action.
Human Rights Defendant and 2003 Nobel Laureate
22 April 2013
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.