Iran has continually been targeted on the international stage regarding its human rights record, which reflects the oppression of any individual or group perceived as a threat to the Iranian regime. Through the use of obscurely written laws, the regime can affectively arrest and sentence to death anyone deemed a threat.
One of the frequently used laws is the law against “insulting Islam”. This can be used to cover a variety of written or spoken protests against actions taken by the regime. Even the use of an app can be covered under this law, which allows those who violate it to be sentenced to death. One Iranian man recently received a death sentence for “insulting Islam” through a messaging app.
Sina Dehghan, who was 19 at the time he sent the messages, has human rights groups fighting to save his life and have his sentence to be hung dismissed. Dehghan was tricked into signing a confession with the promise of release if he did so, according to various human rights lawyers. However, once the confession was in the hands of the authorities, the agreement was rescinded and he was sentenced to death in January. He is now 21 years old.
According to reports, he is not feeling well and is being held in a ward with drug convicts and murderers who broke his jaw a while ago.
Other activists have also been sentenced to death under this law, including Mohammad Nouri. His “insulting Islam” charges were based on his social media activity. His death sentence has been confirmed by the Iranian Supreme Court.
Executions that are actually carried out can occur after long prison sentences or even after a near-fatal health crisis. One prisoner, Houshang Servati, was taken to a solitary cell prior to his execution by hanging. The stress of the situation caused him to have a heart attack and he was hung without medical treatment. According to reports, he was married and the guardian of his family, as well as a father to five daughters.
Another issue within the Iranian prison system are the living conditions. Individuals may be held in prison for years without a trial or even knowing what their charges are. In addition, prisoners are often living in filth and without many of the basic necessities. Within these conditions, many prisoners suffer from declining health and several have even died in Iranian custody.
One prisoner who died of a methadone overdose, was taken to the medical clinic and given too much methadone by authorities there. No investigation has been undertaken to explain why he was given the overdose.
If prisoners want to change sections within the prisons, their families are forced to pay prison authorities. In Zahedan Prison, Mohsen Khajeh is the internal prison manager. He has requested $300 to transfer a prisoner. Recently, he has decreased the bread rations and brings in additional bread, which is sold to the prisoners at less than a $1. However, for prisoners who cannot afford the additional bread, they are simply told to go hungry.
Prison authorities clearly see the prisoners as a source of income, often charging for the most basic necessities, such as food and water. Prisoners in Saravan Prison do not have access to drinking water and the water itself is cut off from 9 am until the evening on a daily basis.
Other prisoners are arbitrarily denied access to their family for long periods of time and can suffering from beatings and torture if they protest their treatment in any way. Medical care is also denied various prisoners, despite the fact that many demonstrate a clear need for treatment. Ayoub Asadi, who is a political prisoner, was sentenced on charges of waging war against God because of his communication and cooperation with various Kurd parties. Currently, he suffers from asthma, problems with his kidney and a loss of vision in his left eye. All medical attention has been denied to this prisoner.
Various prisoners have attempted to draw attention to their plight through hunger strikes, which are used to protest a variety of issues within the prisons, but also within Iran itself due to the mullahs. Those who embark on these hunger strikers often suffer severe health issues as a result.
For those who are in prison, but have not been charged, the state of limbo is even worse. Even if your family can afford to pay your bail, it does not guarantee your release. Tahereh Riahi, a journalist and editor, has been held without charges for two and half months. Despite her family paying her bail, the judicial officials have refused to release her.
If a prisoner completes their term, they may find themselves immediately sentenced to another. Human rights activist Narges Mohammadi finished her previous prison term, only to be sentenced to another six-year term. She suffers from various health issues, which have only worsened due to the prison conditions and the stress from repeated arrests.
Another characteristic of the Iranian regime are the arbitrary arrests, often without warrants or even just cause. Raouf Jalili was arrested at his home by agents without an arrest warrant in the middle of the night. There is still no information on why he was arrested over a week ago or where he was taken after his arrest.
Those who speak out about the conditions of the Iranian people also can be arbitrarily arrested by security forces. Hiwa Kiani and Mehdi Salahi were arrested for publishing content regarding the plight of workers and child laborers on their Telegram channel.
These are just a handful of the abuses occurring on a daily basis within Iran. The Iranian people are bearing the brunt of the regime’s determination to maintain power at the cost of basic freedoms and the rights of their people to express themselves and exercise their own free will.