Centre for the Defender of Human Rights Issues Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran during Esfand 1394 [20 February to 19 March 2016]
“Officials Should Take Action to Improve the Living Conditions and Economic Welfare of People”
In continuation of its monthly reports, the Centre for the Defender of Human Rights has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran during the month of Esfand 1394 [Iranian month corresponding to 20 February to 19 March 2016].
In its report, the Centre for the Defender of Human Rights, which is presided over by Shirin Ebadi, has referred to the poverty and administration corruption in the society and asked the officials to use the available financial resources, bolster hope and optimism in the future of the economy, and make investments in the economy following the implementation of the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, i.e. the nuclear agreement between Iran and the major world powers], in order to improve the living conditions and economic welfare of the people.
Therefore, the report by this people-instituted organization has emphasized on creating the necessary grounds for competition by all the economic activists working in the genuine private sector; trying to bring about transparency in the business environment; preventing the spread of quasi-state corporations which are affiliated to the military and security institutions; and gradually curtailing and reducing the grounds which can generate corruption and exclusive privileges.
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 Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, the text of the report by the said center for the month of Esfand 1394, which has been published on 29th of Esfand 1394 [19 March 2016], is as follows:
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in February-March 2016
Studies of changes in the economic growth rate in Iran in 1394 show that although the economy of Iran has been freed from the nightmare of negative rates, still the eleventh government has not been able to bring restore boom and prosperity in the economy.
The experience of a small growth of about one per cent will not be able to restore the lost purchasing power of the low-income groups. Therefore, the low income groups still have no option but to carry on living at a lower quality life.
Moreover, the continuing recession in the Iranian economy has affected the labour market and the stability of the official unemployment rate at just under 11 per cent – which increases by twofold or even more when it comes to the youth and women – indicates the current critical situation in the Iranian employment and labour market.
This is while in Esfand, Iranian officials announced that the dependents of any Palestinian, who loses his life in the course of the Palestinian Al-Quds Intifada [Uprising] operations, will receive the amount of seven thousand dollars as a gratuitous aid. Although providing humanitarian aid to the oppressed people, such as the Palestinians, is desirable, the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are also expected to manage the country’s resources correctly so as be able to take the necessary steps to resurrect and rejuvenate the Iranian economy once again – now that it is no longer awaiting the outcome of the nuclear talks and the eventual implementation of the JCPOA. After all, although the continuing decline in the inflation rate during 1394 was the most notable economic achievements – and the average rate of inflation continued to decline and the point to point rate of inflation was lowered to a single digit for the first time after five and half years of waiting – there are still a considerable number of experts and pundits have who attributed the declining inflation rate to the continuing state of recession and downturn in the economy.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in February-March 2016
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political, Cultural and Social Activists
1. During this month, more than 26 people were detained and the names of them have been specified as the following: Nazak Afshar – a cultural activist; Baqer Namazi –a civil activist; Sina Qalandari – a journalist; Jalil Mohammadi, Behruz Afruz, Faramarz Abbasabadi Moqaddam and Mohammadreza Mokhberian – four labour union activists; Tara Hushmand, Ruhieh Safaju, Behzad Zabihi and Sarmad Shadabi – four Baha’i citizens; and finally Ebrahim Fazli, Mohammad Ali Sa’di and Asghar Karimi – three Gonabadi Darwishes Sect.
Moreover, the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guard Corps has reported the detention of some Gilani citizens due to their involvement in the “dissemination of banned books”. The report did not specify their names, or give the number of individuals who were arrested. In addition, a Judiciary official has reported the detention of one individual in Qazvin without mentioning his name due to engaging in propaganda against the state and spreading falsehoods about the clergy in the cyberspace. On the other hand, some websites that have been licensed by the Government of Iran have reported the detention of a university professor in Sistan Va Baluchestan Province, due to the publication of a cartoon in Telegram.
This is while the police have reported the detention of 110 citizens in the year 1394, whom they have described as counter-revolutionary elements.
On the other hand, some news media have reported the detention of Fuzieh Hosseinzadeh and Avat Hosseinzadeh – two citizens of the town of Saqqez; Baqer Gholami (Na’ami), a citizen from Ahwaz; Masud Mahdavian, Moslem Hemmati, Vahid Fallahi, Mohsen Karimi and Farshad Azimzadeh – five supporters of the Mystic Ring; and Asgar Akbarzadeh – a citizen from Ardabil; and Shirzad Sallahi, a citizen from the town of Baneh.
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. The sentences of exile for Saeed Madani – a national-religious activist – to Bandarabbas and Ali Akbar Baghbani – a trade union activist – to Zabol were carried after they were released from the prison.
3. Hossein Rafiei Fonud – a university professor and a national-religious activist – was sentenced to six years of imprisonment, a two years ban from membership in political parties, groups and associations, as well as from activities in cyberspace and the media. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 3,000,000 Rials; Mehdi Rajabian, Yusef Emadi and Hossein Rajabian – three cultural activists – were each sentenced to three years imprisonment, three years of suspended jail term and a fine of 20,000,000 Tomans each; Reza Shahabi – a labour activist – was sentenced to three years in jail; Tohid Amir Amini, Saleh Pichganlu, Meysam Jolani, Mostafa Parvin Joda and Morteza Parvin Joda – five civil activists – were each sentenced to three months in jail and 33 lashes; Nahid Gorji – a civil activist – was sentenced to three years in prison; Keyvan Karimi – a movie maker – was sentenced to 223 lashes, a fine of 20,000,000 Tomans, one year in jail and one year of suspended imprisonment; Rasul Bodaqi – a cultural activist who is currently in prison – was sentenced to three years imprisonment once again; Arash Sadeqi – a civil activist – was sentenced to 15 years in jail; Golrokh Iraei (Ebrahimi) – a civil activist – was sentenced to six years imprisonment; and Navid Kamran and Behnam Musivand, two civil activists, were each sentenced to one year in prison in the Appeal Court.
In addition, Mostafa Tajzadeh – a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front Party [Jebhey-e Mosharekat-e Iran-e Eslami], who is currently in prison – was sentenced to four months in jail once more, while Puria Ebrahimi – a civil activist – was sentenced to two years imprisonment, five years of suspended imprisonment and 30 lashes. Moreover, Shokufeh Azar Masuleh – a civil activist – was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of suspended imprisonment; Fattah Yusefpur – a citizen from Bukan – was sentenced to six months imprisonment; Zartosht (Esmaeil) Ahmadi Ragheb – a civil activist – was sentenced to six months in jail; Esmaeil Abdi – a trade union activist – was sentenced to six years in prison; Mahmud Beheshti Langarudi, Mohammadreza Niknejad and Mehdi Bohluli – three trade union activists – were sentenced to five years imprisonment each; Salahoddin Balideie – a citizen from Sarbaz – was sentenced to seven years imprisonment; and Sahar Tirandaz Lalehzari, Hedieh Fathi Rostami, Soraya Azarhava, Farshad Sadeqi Khiavi, Shayan Dolatabadi, Safar Beirami Qulan, Ramin Behzad Nahand, Milad Asghari, Baqer Faramarzi, Soheil Qaderi, Reza Baqeri, Mohammad Shafaeian Koveij, Naser Purkhadiv Mayan, Sajed An’ami, Bahram Jodat Mayan, Tohid Alijani, Teyyeb Alijani, Omid Hatami Aqdam, Ali Pejman Akhuleh, Adel Amirpur Sefideh Khan, Hamed Nasibi Sis, Alireza Abdollahi Miran, Alireza Shaban Qeshlaq – 23 citizens from Tabriz – were each sentenced to 74 lashes, as well as to one year imprisonment terms, which were suspended for a period of three years.
4. The court trial sessions of Saman Safarzaye and Ehsan Mazandarani – two journalists who are currently in temporary detention; and Davud Asadi – a cultural activist; Zartosht (Esmaeil) Ahmadi Ragheb, Davud (Hushang) Nemati, Hamed Gudarzi, Ali Ebrahimi, Zahrasadat Ebrahimi – five civil activists – have been convened. In addition, the Appeal Court has convened its session regarding the case of Esmaeil Gerami Moqadam – a member of the National Trust Party [Hezb-e Etemad-e Melli].
Morteza Nurmohammadi – a civil activist – was released temporarily on bail of 20,000,000 Toman after his court trial session.
5. Roqayeh Alizadeh, Ali Lesani and Mehdi Lesani – three citizens from Ardabil; and Asadollah Asadi – a civil activist – were interrogated in the magistrate court. Moreover, Fatemeh Hashemi Rafsanjani – a civil activist [and daughter of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani] – and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi – a political activist – were summoned to the magistrate court and Ghaleb Hosseini, Khaled Hosseini, Mozaffar Salehnia and Foad Zandi – four labour activists – and Simin Chaychi – a civil activist – were summoned by the security and law enforcement institutes. On the other hand, a Judiciary official has reported the start of legal action against Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi, because she had alleged that all of the men in a village in Sistan Va Baluchestan Province had been executed.
6. “Ana News Agency”, which is affiliated to the Iranian state, has reported the issuing of summons to nine university students to attend the Tehran University’s Disciplinary Committee.
7. Relevant officials prevented Seyyed Mohammad Khatami – the former president of Iran – from leaving his house to attend the wedding ceremony of the daughter of Mir Hossein Mousavi – the candidate in the presidential elections of 1388 who protested against the election results, and is currently living under house arrest.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. The Press Jury has found the editor in chief of “Entekhab” Website guilty.
2. The relevant officials in the Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran [state-owned radio and TV organization, or IRIB] have once again blocked the appearance of any image of the cinema actress, Pegah Ahangarani, on the Iranian TV screens.
3. Some individuals have prevented Ali Motahhari from delivering a planned speech at the Azad University premises in Parand, while the relevant officials did nothing to intervene. In addition, some individuals prevented the holding of tuition sessions by Asu Rostami – a civil activist – at a non-governmental educational centre, without being in possession of a judicial warrant. On the other hand, some people attacked the worship venue of the Yarsan religious sect followers, while the law enforcement force personnel present at the site, did nothing to deter the assailants.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. At least one individual was executed in the course of this month. His name has been given as “M-H” and he was executed in the city of Qazvin. A Judiciary official has said he had been found guilty of the crime of first degree murder.
2. The Judiciary’s spokesperson has reported the issuance of a death sentence against Babak Zanjani and two other individuals in the famous [financial corruption] case known as “the oil” and other Judiciary officials have reported the issuance of a death sentence against two individuals in the town of Pardis due to the crime of robbery. State-controlled media have announced the issuance of a death sentence for one individual in Tehran because of the crime of first degree murder.
Moreover, some unofficial news websites have reported the issuance of a death sentence against Jaber Saburi in Sarbaz City, for his alleged crime of conspiracy to act against the country’s national security.
3. The Supreme Appeal Court has upheld a Qisas verdict, ordering the removal of the offender’s eye [as punishment for the offender’s crime which led to the victim’s loss of an eye]. Furthermore, some media sources close to the state have reported the issuance of the sentence of 100 lashes against an individual.
4. The health situation of some political prisoners is still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that some of them – such as Mohammad Sedeq Kabudvand, Afshin Sohrabzadeh, Alireza Ahmadi – are sick but no serious action has been taken to provide them with the appropriate treatment.
5. Misaq Yazdan Nejad has been transferred to the Semnan Prison. It should be noted this transfer has been carried out without any specific reasons and contrary to the regulations and rules of the prisons internal affairs.
6. The Judiciary has reported the detention of 27 individuals in Shandiz and Torqabeh cities [near Mashhad in the northeast] due to holding “Co-ed Parties”. A Judiciary spokesperson also has reported the detention of eight individuals because of what has been mentioned as engaging in modelling in the social media networks.
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
Reports concerning situation regarding social and economic areas also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in sectors. For example, there are news of unfavorable employment and legal status for workers who are employed at Cheshmeh Podaneh Mine, Sadra Ship Making Factory, Madanju Mine, the “Elegant” Textile Factory, Sepanta International Cooperation Company, “Ahvaz Railroad Project” and contract companies working in Phases No. 20, 19, 14 and 21 of Asaluyeh [natural gas project], and in the Mirjaveh Municipality, Andimeshk Municipality, Gorgan Municipality and Hamedan Municipality, as well as workers employed at the Setareh Khajl-e Fars Refinery, the retired workers of Tarzeh East Alborz Coal Mines, unemployed workers of Steel Mill of West of the Country, nurses working at the Medical Science universities across the country, and teachers working with casual employment contracts.
1. The payments of 28 workers of the Zagros Steel Company have not been paid for five months; some 12 workers of “Sanaye Osveh Iran” Factory have not received their salaries for three months; some 3,800 workers at the Kerman Coal Mine have not been paid for two months; around 275 workers of the Industrial Machinery Factory of Tabriz have not received their payments for several months; some 168 workers of Gilana Tile Factory have not been paid for four months; around 40 workers of “Damash” Mineral Water Plant have not received their salaries for four months; and around 6,000 workers of the Bafq Iron Ore Mine have not had any pay and benefits for three months. In addition, at the time of compiling this report, the salaries of 1700 workers the Polyacrylamide Company and its subsidiary companies had not been paid for periods ranging between two and four months, and the salaries of 14 workers of “Saha Teb” Biomedical Engineering Industries Company had been delayed for nine months.
2. Some 30 workers of Abnus Tile Factory and 80 workers of Iran Chub Factory have lost their jobs after the closure of the said factories. In addition, the contracts of 55 workers of Alborz Steel and 64 workers of Sazeh Sim Puyesh Company were not renewed. Some 130 workers of Irana Tile and Ceramic Factory were not allowed to enter the premises of the said factory.
3. Three workers were fired from their jobs in the Asaluyeh Special Zone.
4. The business premises of Behzad Zabihi Mahfarujaki – a Baha’i citizen – was shut down and placed under official seal.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning the situation of cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas during the month of Esfand, to the extent that, the government officials have reported that there was no water, or in some cases, no healthy drinkable water, in several regions of the country, such as the towns and cities of Khuzestan Province, some villages in Lorestan Province, a number of villages near the city of Sari, and the village of Chinab near the Hurand township.
1. The severity of dust in Ahvaz reached to levels 24 times more than the standard safe levels during some days of the month of Esfand.
2. Latif Aliyarom Falfalu and Mehdi Khorasanian – two citizens – were injured due to land mine explosion in Ilam Province [in Western Iran near the Iraqi border].
At the end of the report for the month of Esfand of 1394, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has drawn the attention of the relevant state officials to the problems of poverty and administrative corruption in society, and has called on them to use the available financial resources, and bolster hope and optimism in the future prospects for investment and the economy in the wake of the implementation of the JCPOA , so as to be able to take steps to improve the living conditions and economic welfare of the people.
Therefore, The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, has emphasized on the need for creating the right conditions for competition by all economic activists within the genuine and real private sector; making endeavours to bring about transparency in the business environment; preventing the spread of quasi-state corporations which are affiliated to the military and security organs and institutions; and gradually curtailing and reducing the grounds which spawn corruption and exclusive privileges.
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