Human Rights Watch Report Shows Little Progress in Iran

As the world watches Iran’s ballistic missile program and attempts to put controls on the influence of Iran throughout the Middle East, human rights organization continue to voice concerns about the situation in Iran and the suppression that is becoming systematic. It starts with the frequent use of the death penalty.

Executions, especially for drug related offenses, continue at a high rate. On August 13, 2017, the Iranian parliament approved an amendment to their drug law that raises the bar for a mandatory death sentence for drug-related offenses. The law went into effect on November 14 and by November 21, the #Prosecutor for Tehran, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, noted that 3,300 individuals convicted of drug offenses have filed for appeals.

Judges have the discretion to not sentence children to death. Individuals have been retired under this 2013 amendment to their penal code, but after being retired, most were just resentenced to the death penalty.

The crimes that are considered to be punishable by death under Iranian law include “insulting the prophet”, apostasy, same-sex relations, adultery, and certain non-violent drug-related offenses. Many of these mean that the regime is entering into individuals’ family and home life to dictate how they live and those who defy the regime are risking death. “Insulting the prophet” is an umbrella charge that the regime and its judiciary use against anyone that they see as a potential threat.

Once an individual is arrested, they are at risk of receiving torture and other ill-treatment before their trial, if they are even allowed a trial. None of this follows the international guidelines for due process and fair trials, which Iran has signed onto, but ignores in practice.

Those who have been charged with #national security crimes, often live with a lack of care and even adequate access to medical care. Zeinab Jalalian, a Kurdish prisoner who is serving a life sentence, has been denied medical care for her eye. Those who are imprisoned continue to protest using hunger strikes to bring international attention to the prison conditions and their treatment.

Part of the reality of living under the #regime is not just the potential of going to prison. It is the complete suppression of the basic freedoms of the Iranian people. The internet is monitored and various apps are constantly being blocked or censored.

#Journalists are at risk of being arrested, but even those who blog on social media and say something the regime finds inappropriate risk prison time, ill-treatment, and even torture. While there are laws in place to protect these freedoms, it is clear that without a #mechanism to enforce these freedoms and protections, the regime will continue to run over the Iranian people.

Authorities from the Judiciary #Intelligence Agency arrested Sasan Aghaei, 34, deputy editor of the reformist daily Etemad, and Yaghma Fashkhami, a journalist for the Didban Iran website, at their offices in #Tehran on August 13 and 22 in 2017, respectively. As of November 2017, authorities have not charged either individual with a recognizable crime.

Those who are attempting to protect the rights of the working classes are also on the regime’s suppression list. When they are jailed, the unionists also receive harsh treatment, in an attempt to limit the leadership of these groups and their ability to mobilize average working #Iranians.

Authorities sent back to prison several prominent trade unionists whom they had sentenced to prison for peaceful activities but later released. Authorities arrested Ismael Abdi, the Secretary General of the Teachers’ Union, and Mahmoud Beheshti Langeroudi, the Union’s Spokesperson, on June 7 and September 13, respectively, while they were out on furlough. On August 9, #Reza Shahabi, a prominent labor activist, returned to prison to serve the remainder of his six-year prison sentence in order to prevent the judiciary from seizing his bail. Shahabi had been released on medical grounds in May 2014.

Speaking out for #human rights and against the regime’s treatment of its citizens is something that receives a harsh response. Scores of human rights defenders and political activists remain behind bars for their peaceful activism.

Abdolfatah Soltani, a prominent human rights lawyer who has been in prison since 2011, is serving a 13-year prison sentence for his human rights work, including co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center. Zia Nabavi, a student activist, is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Karoon prison in the city of Ahvaz.

On March 16, Narges Mohammadi, a prominent human rights defender who was arrested in June 2015 to serve the remainder of her six-year prison sentence, began serving a new sentence of 10 years in prison on charges including “membership in the banned campaign of Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty.”

Over the past three years, authorities have prosecuted several Iranian dual citizens who traveled to Iran. These individuals have been accused of spying and other charges. Additionally, the #Iranian regime does not acknowledge that dual citizenship, so they reject any calls from the other countries to release these individuals.

In the end, the realities of life in Iran is full of human rights violations and systemic suppression of the rights of the individual under the rule of the mullahs.

About Siavosh Hosseini (236 Articles)
My background is in the visual arts, particularly in photojournalism. I have had the opportunity to cover scores of international artistic and news events in the US and across Europe since the mid-1980s. I was active in television newsrooms and production as a graphic designer and producer for more than 12 years in different television and news outfits in Europe.
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