A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in December-January 2014-15
The month of Dey [21 December 2014 to 21 January 2015] finished with the closure of newspapers and magazines and restrictions for art and cinema. The license of “Mardom-e Emruz” Newspaper was revoked in a questionable move by the Press Supervisory Board and its chief editor was prosecuted. On the other hand, police and security forces prevented the literary meeting of Iranian Writers Association which was exclusively for the members and was held in a closed space with the presence of a small number of individuals. The police and security forces prevented a gathering of Iranian journalists in order to express their sympathy with individuals who were killed in Paris. These bans and restrictions were imposed while the associations and groups affiliated to the military-security centres were able to hold their gatherings.
The unfriendly behaviour of the government was not only imposed on the literati, but also some unusual restrictions were imposed in the field of music, such as the cancellations of some concerts in Tehran and other cities. Forcing the women in music bands and groups to leave the performance halls was also another one of the astonishing actions of the security and military officials during this month. With regards to cinema too, one can refer to the officials preventing the screening of a number of movies.
Security officials also did not deprive virtual networks from their transgression, and blocked the public’s access to some of them. This is while the leader and president and some ministers use virtual networks and have their own pages and profiles.
Restrictions on freedom of expression are evident even in the Majlis. Ali Motahhari – the representative of Tehran – was attacked by some representatives during his pre-agenda speech because they were against his speech. This incident forced him to abandon his speech before completion.
The above-mentioned cases demonstrate that the ideas and opinions which are different to the views of the state’s official tribunes are not allowed to be expressed. Therefore, banning newspapers and imposing restrictions on arts and cinema show the intolerance of the political system towards hearing different voices and opinions.
Furthermore, in its report, a brief account of human rights situation in Iran in the month of Dey [December-January 2014-2015] has been given, as follows. This report is based information that have been published in different websites and media sources, and their validity has been verified. The report is in three parts, and is published in both Farsi and English languages.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in December- January 2014-2015
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During this month, about 31 people were detained and the names of them have been specified as follows: Yaghma Fashkhami, Ehsan Akbari, Zahra Khandan, Saeid Churheidar – four media activists – Mohammadreza Nekunam – a religious activist and seminary teacher – Farshid Rastegar – a Baha’i citizens – Atena Farqadani and Soha Mortezaei – two civil activists.
Some news sources have reported the detention of Fereshteh Tusi, Sajad Darwish, Parastu Beiranvand – three civil activists – Mehdi Kian, Ali Sadrodin, Mohammad Kazemi, Azin Forudi, Mohammadhossein Moridian, Maryam Narimani, Alireza Naseri, and Baradar Matin – eight newly converted Christians – Mohsen Daryanush, Shahab Zarrin, Majid Khakdan, Kamil Nejati, Reza Mokri, Reza Soltaniazar, Nader Rasuli, Mansur Hosseinzadeh, Mansur Naderi, Sediq Kakehmemi, Jalil Badavi and Ahmad Dahnad – 12 Kurd citizens.
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. Jafar Qafuri, a Sunni religious activist, was sent to prison to serve his six month imprisonment term, Susan Tabianian – a Baha’i citizen – was sent to prison to serve one year in jail and Ebrahim Qadirifar – a Sunni religious activist – was transferred to prison to serve five years in jail.
3. The ten year imprisonment term of Omid Kokabi – a jailed researcher – was confirmed in an Three others prisoners also had appeal hearings with the following outcomes: Behnam Ebrahimzadeh – a labour activist – was sentenced to nine and half years imprisonment again; Farshid Fathi, a newly converted Christian, was sentenced to one year in prison again plus 74 lashes and a fine of two million Rials, and Arash Moqaddam – a civil activist – was sentenced to one year imprisonment plus 74 lashes and a fine of three million Rials. In addition, Arash Honarvarshojaei – a religious activist and blogger – was sentenced to four years imprisonment plus a fine of 800 thousand Toman and 50 lashes. He was alsodefrocked and banned from acting as a cleric for the rest of his life. Peyman Aref, a political activist, was sentenced to one year imprisonment in the Appeal Court and Reihaneh Tabatabaei – a journalist – was sentenced to one year in jail and two years ban from membership in political parties, groups, organizations and activity in media and press and cyberspace.
4. Majid Derakhshani – a musician – was barred from travelling abroad.
5. Security official have detained Narges Mohammadi, Hossein Rafiei, Ruein Otufat, Mahmud Saber, Mohammad Maleki, Nasrin Sotudeh and Reza Khandan for several hours because they wanted to attend the commemoration ceremonies of Mostafa Karimbeigi – one of the individuals who was killed in the post-election incidents in 1388 [June 2009].
6. Tahmineh Milani – a movie maker – and Hadi Ghafari – a religious and political activist – were summoned to the magistrate court. Zahra Yazdani, Mohammadreza Farahmandnia, Surush Azemikhak, Parvin Baharzadeh, Masumeh Zia and Malihe Biganian – six followers of the “Erfan-e Halqeh” group (Mystical Ring) – and Jafar Azimzadeh – a labour activist – were summoned to the court. Reza Bukani – a former political prisoner –was interrogated in a court and then released after posting a bail of 70million Toman. Saeed Razavi Faqih, a journalist and political activist, who is currently in jail, was once again briefed about the allegations against him, and a bail of 400 million Toman was set for him. Also, Sahar Beheshti – Sattar Beheshti’s sister – was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence.
7. The court trial sessions of Akbar Aminiarmaki, a political activist, Farzad Bahadori, Simin Bahadori, Sahar Bahadori, Nasim Bahadori, Shabnam Isakhani and Rashin Saberi – six Baha’i citizens – were held.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. The license of the “Mardom-e Emruz” Newspaper was revoked by the Press Supervisory Board and its case file was referred to court. “Ruzan” Newspaper was also banned.
2. The Press Jury has announced that Mehrnameh Monthly and the editors in chief of Entekhab and Salam-e No web sites are guilty. Also, the Jury found Mosayeb Naeimi – the former editor in chief of Iran Newspaper –guilty. Amir Arabameri – the editor in chief of “Lahzeh online” – was summoned to the court.
3. The screening of the movie “Khaneh-e Pedari” was stopped by the orders of the relevant officials.
4. Homayun Shajarian’s concert was cancelled in Tehran and the second night of his concert also was cancelled in Bandarabbas. Furthermoer, Sirvan Khosravi’s concert was called off in Bushehr and the concert of the “Lian Band” also was cancelled in Shiraz. In addition, the officials prevented the presence of Harir Sharieatzadeh – a female music performer – in [male singer] Salar Aqili’s concert. In the same connection, the officials did not permit [female music player] Forqaneh Qasemof to perform in a concert by Tehran’s Wind Instruments Orchestra.
5. Officials prevented the meeting of the Iranian Writers Association. Also, security and law-enforcement forces prevented the gathering of Iranian journalists, staged to sympathize with the dead in Paris.
6. Nura Masami – a Baha’i citizen – was excluded from further university study. Some other students were also subjected to punitive measures. Omid Ahmadi was sentenced to two terms of suspension from his course of study (and these will be counted towards the total duration of his course). He was also barred from using the university’s welfare services for the remainder of his course. Exactly the same sentences were issued for the following students as well: Ehsan Purkheiri and Farhad Shafizadeh (it should be noted that last week, Farhad Shafizadeh had been sentenced to one year imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court of Marivan). Furthermore, Esmaeil Mahmudi was sentenced to one term of suspension from his course of study (and the term will be included in the total duration of his course). He was also barred from using the university’s welfare services for the remainder of his course. Mahmud Seifian was also sentenced to one term of suspension from his course of study (and the term will be counted towards the total duration of his course). He was also barred from using the university’s welfare services for the remainder of his course.
7. Access to the social media network “Instagram” has been blocked.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. Some 19 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: “A-D” in Yazd and three others in Bonab were executed. The Judiciary’s officials said they had been found guilty of the crime of murder. “A-B”, “Nahid” and ‘Majid” were executed in Alborz, one individual was executed in Mashad, “A-Kimasi Salkhuri” was executed in Qazvin and “M-S” was executed in Torqabeh. State-controlled media announced that they had been convicted for the crime of first-degree murder. Also, “Mehdi-V” and “Ehsan-K” and “Mahmud-V” were executed in public in Torqabeh; Abdollah Mokhtari and Sajad Mokhtari were executed in public in Shiraz and one individual was executed in public in Mazandaran. The Judiciary’s officials said these individuals had been found guilty of the crime of rape. Mehr News Agency has reported the execution of one individual for the crime of possession and transportation of drugs in Bueinzahra.
Also, some news sources have reported the execution of Abdolaziz Shahali in Zahedan due to the crime of murder and Saber Mokhladmavaneh in Orumieh due to the crime of murder and membership in opposition groups.
2. State-controlled media reported the execution of a hand amputation sentence against an unnamed person, due to the crime of robbery in Mashad.
3. The police commander of Fars Province has reported the public parading and humiliation of three defendants without mentioning their names due to the crime of hooliganism and thuggery in Shiraz. An unnamed defendant was also given the same treatment and was paraded all over the city of Ilam, after being convicted of crime of hooliganism in Ilam.
4. Saeid Beheshtifar – the assailant of women in Jahrom – was sentenced to death due to the crime of “waging war against God”.
5. The health situation of some political prisoners is still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that some of them – such as Seyyed Mohammad Seifzadeh, Abdolfatah Soltani, Akbar Aminiarmaki, Mohammadamin Hadavi, Sajedeh Arabsorkhi, Mohammadali (Naser) Hashemi, Mohammadreza Purshajari, Abolqasem Fuladvand, Mohsen Daneshpurmoqadam and Motahareh Bahrami – are sick but no serious action has been taken to ensure they receive their treatment. In addition, Keivan Samimibehbahani, Ali Salanpur and Mashalah Haeri were returned to the prison before the course of their medical treatment was completed.
6. Soheil Arabi – a prisoner who is sentenced to death – was transferred from the ward No.350 to the ward No 2-A of Sepah [Islamic Revolution Guards Corps]. Seyyed Hadi Hosseini and Sediq Mohamamdi – two jailed Sunni individuals who are sentenced to death – were transferred from Qezelhesar prison to Rajaei Shahr Prison.
7. The central prayer hall of Sunnis in Tehran has been closed and put under official seal.
8. Officials have prevented the Friday Prayers of the Sunnis followers, which were led by Mowlavi Abdolhamid [a Sunni cleric] in Tehran. In addition, the officials prevented the holding of a meeting with the title of “Women, Security and Urban Space”.
9. The officials refused to issue a burial permit for a Baha’i citizen “Shamel Bina”.
10. The house and office of Hassan Salehi, a Baha’i citizen, were searched by the relevant officials.
11. Mohabat News Website – which covers news about the newly converted Christians – has reported the prevention of holding a Christmas ceremony in a private residence in Tehran and the detention of Priest Victor Bet Temerz, Shamiram Isavi, Ramiel and 13 other individuals (whose surnames have not been given) who had attended that ceremony.
12. State-controlled media reported the detention of 84 individuals in a night party in Mashad and 20 young girls and boys in a party in Amol.
13. Ebrahim Firuzi – a newly converted Christian – is still being held in prison despite the fact that his sentence ended on 23 Dey [13 January 2015 ].
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
The economic conditions in the country are still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that the Statistic Centre of Iran has announced that the unemployment rate of in the country has reached a double-digit number in autumn of this year, when the rate rose to 10.5 per cent.
1. The salaries of 220 workers of “Ajor Jil” Factory have been delayed for 19 months (inclusive of their paid leave entitlements); about 60 workers of Luleh Va Navard Safa have not been paid for four months; 900 workers of Kisun Contracting Company (Urban Railway project of Ahvaz) have not been paid for four months; more than 300 workers of Negin Mining Company have not been paid for three months; 500 municipal workers in Khoramabad have not had their wages paid for five to seven months; 140 employees of Telecommunication Company in Khuzestan Province have not been paid for three months; 150 workers of Steel and Iron Factory of Durud have not received their wages for three months, and 630 workers at “Qeshlaq” Coal Mines have not had any wages for three and half months.
In addition, the insurance premiums for strenuous and hazardous occupations of the some workers of Parsilun Factory in Khorramabad have not been paid. These workers are covered by the law on retirement of employees with strenuous and hazardous occupations.
2. The employment terms of some 350 workers of “Talay-e Aqdareh” Mine in West Azarbaijan Province were reviewed and adjusted. Also, the employment contract of “Ali Derakhshandehbakht” – the chairman of Islamic Labour Council at the Wagon Pars Factory – has not been renewed.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas during the month of Dey.
1. The Committee for Searching for the Missing in Action [during the war with Iraq] at the General Staff of the Armed Forces, have been digging graves in the Amirchakhmaq historical Square in Yazd without obtaining the necessary permits.
2. Thousands of square meters of natural resources and forests stand on the brinks of destruction due several fires in different regions and cities of Iran, as well as because of mismanagement and the lack of resources and facilities.
3. According to the UN World Index, Iran is now officially classed as a country suffering from “severe water crisis”
At the end of the report on the month of Dey 1393, the Defenders for Human Rights notes that, the unrelenting media and arts censorship shows the increasing strength of a minority who see the world through its own narrow interests, and through censorship, threats and intimidation, is aiming to prevent the spread and publication of opinions that are contrary to their interests. They assume that they can hide deep social and political crises with censorship and postpone the public demand for freedom and democracy.
Therefore, the Centre for the Supporters of Human Rights considers the banning of newspapers as a threat to moderation and reform. This is because the progress and development of the country depends on a free and open dissemination of ideas and thoughts, and tolerance for opposing views and postures.
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.
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