Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights Defenders and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, in continuation of her monthly reports, has reviewed the human rights situation in Iran in Mordad 1391 [July-August 2012]. According to the website of the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights [CDHR], Dr. Ebadi started her Mordad report by addressing the rise of public grievances owing to the bad economic situation and ever-rising cost of living. This human rights activist has continued her report by examining the human rights situation under three categories: “civil and political rights”, economic and social rights”, “cultural heritage and environment”. The report will appear in both English and Persian. Dr. Ebadi has concluded her report by emphasizing that protecting national interest and ending the current crisis in Iran warrants respect for individual rights and freedoms and human dignity of citizens. The following is the text of Mrs. Ebadi’s report for Mordad 1391, which was published on 1 Shahrivar [22 August 2012].
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in Mordad 1391[July-August 2012]
The third monthly report on human rights situation in Iran during the month of Mordad is published at a time when public grievances are on the rise owing to the bad economic situation and ever-rising cost of living. The governmental census centre of Iran announced the inflation rate of Tir [June- July] as 26.2%. It reported that the group of “food, beverages and tobacco” increased by 44.8% in Tir this year compared to the same month last year and the 12-month inflation rate for this group stood at 35.4%. Under the major group of “food, beverages and tobacco”, the highest monthly increases related to bread and cereals at 10.2%, followed by milk, cheese and eggs at 8%, fruit and nuts at 7.5%, and red and white meat and their products at 6.5%.
Although the above-mentioned official figures, announced by the government apparatus, reflect the difficult situation, independent economists do not trust these statistics and have declared a higher rate of inflation. The long queues of people for buying meat and food at a lower price provided by the government indicate a decline in the public's purchasing power. In one of such long queues for buying chicken, a woman was smashed against the cooling system in the shop owing to the crowd and died. Another person was seriously injured.
Increase in housing prices is one of the main reasons for public dissatisfaction. The price for an apartment in Tehran is equivalent to the prices in most expensive cities in Europe and the US. Hosing for many young Iranian has become an inaccessible dream. In this turbulent financial market, administrative corruption has widened the wealth gap to the extent that approximately 90% of Iranian are becoming poorer and 10% richer each day. The society's middle class is on a downward spiral toward poverty. Many workers and even government employees, are forced to obtain second and third jobs, in addition to their official positions, often working 18 hours a day, to eke out a living.
According to experts’ prediction, the continuation of this situation is impossible for a longer time and would lead to street clashes.
It should be noted that this report contains instances of human rights abuse in Iran, which have been taken from various newspapers and websites. Upon verification of the sources, the report will appear in both English and Persian, and categorized as follows:
Human Rights Situation in Iran in Mordad 1391
Section 1: Political and Civil Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political-Social Activists
1. Mir Taher Moosavi, a deputy of the 6th Majles from Karaj Province, has been arrested. Ahmad Shojaei (Farshid), a former member of the Intelligence Ministry, has also been arrested along with his son Sajjad. Abdolghafur Ghalandari, a Gonabadi Dervish, Abdollah Abasi, president of the office of Mufti Hossein Amini and head of the Quran Studies Council in Kurdistan, Habib Halafi and Yusef Bidardel, General Secretary of Azarbaijan Civil Society Association have also been arrested. Iman Rashidi, Farahnaz Misaghiyan (Rostami), Fariba Ashtari (Bagheri), Fariborz Baghi and his wife, Enayatollah Naghi Poor, Shahram Eshraghi, Sasan Haghiri, Saba Golshan and Ms. Poor Khorsand, all Baha’i citizens, have been arrested. Mansoor Asgari, Bagher Gholami (Na’ami), Sabah Sharbaz, Hamid Alsabe’, Hakem, son of Avid, Samer Jamei, Abu Hamzeh, Yusef Mayahi, son of Jan Allah, Mahmud Hamidi, son of Atiyeh, Ahmad Hamidi, son of Atiyeh, Reza Hamidi, son of Atiyeh, Moslem Hamidi and his brother Hamid Hamidi, sons of Rasul, Mansoor Salami, son of Motayer, Mohammad Hamidi, son of Aziz, Abdollah Neysi, Aziz Hamidi along his brothers Naeim and Jome’ (Naser) sons of Abdolreza and Feysal Hamidavi, son of Abdolali, all Iranians of Sunni Arab origin have been detained in various cities in Khuzestan Province.
2. Mitra Āli, a top student at Sharif University was transferred to Evin prison to commence serving her one-year prison term. Ādel Mohammad Hosseini, a student activist and Hesam Firuzi were taken to Evin prison to serve respectively six months and one-year and half of their prison term. Two - political prisoners, Farhad Akbari Fazli and Farid Akbari Fazli, were transferred to Behbahan prison to serve their prison term. Sara Mahboobi, a Baha’i student deprived of education, has reported to Sari Prison to serve her 10 months prison term.
3. Seyyed Hassan Taheri was sentenced to spend four years in prison and was exiled to Zabol, southeast of Iran, to live there for ten years. He was charged with spreading propaganda against the regime, insulting the Supreme Leader, and disturbing public order. Ali Mazrooei, former parliamentarian and a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (Jebheye Mosharekate Iran-e Eslaami), has been sentenced to eighteen months in jail and banned for five years from membership in political parties and press-related activities. Mohammad Hossein Mozafari, a student activist, has been sentenced to one-year prison term, which is suspended for five years. Mohammad Mahmudi from Sardasht has been sentenced to five-year prison sentence. Shir Ahmad Shirani has been handed down a 22-year prison term and banished to Ardebil Prison. Mohammad Hassan Yusef Poorseyfi, a member of Association of the Defense of Child Labors, has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. Ruzbeh Khanpayeh has also been sentenced to a four-and-a-half years in prison term and an eight-month suspended imprisonment. Branch 36 of Tehran Appeals Court has upheld the ten-year prison sentence of Omid Kokabi, an imprisoned post-doctoral student in nuclear physics. His lawyer had previously stated that he was not permitted to talk to his client in court.
4. A Science Ministry advisor and head of the ministry's department of central security has issued an order banning the universities from inviting members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front to participate in lectures and Q&A sessions. He announced that holding any political programme or free discussion is subject to inquiry from the department of the security about the speakers. Political deputy of the Ministry of interior has forbidden any activities by the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the [pro-reform] Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization in the 2013 presidential election. The Eid-Fetr prayers ceremony of the Islamic Society of Engineers was cancelled upon contact by the security forces.
5. The security police has banned Sunni Muslims from holding their own Eid-e Fetr prayers. Mamusta Shafigh was arrested while holding an Eftar (breaking of the fast) ceremony.
6. According to the Tehran prosecutor, on the occasion of Eid-e Fetr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, 130 political prisoners, 90 of whom were serving their prison term and some have already served half of their sentences, received clemency from the Supreme Leader. These people would be immediately release. Prison term of some other political prisoners has been reduced. The prosecutor added that these convicted individuals had been pardoned after they had requested amnesty and expressed remorse and regret for the crimes they had committed. A number of journalists, students, lawyers, civil and political rights activists were among those released. These releases have taken place while it was announced previously that several political prisoners had already been flogged in jail in accordance with their sentences. They include the following: Siyamak Ghaderi, Ebrahim Babaei Zeydi, Hossein Zarini, Kurosh Koohkan, Naser Azarniya, Human Moosavi, Alireza Kiya, Ashkan Alahyari, Rasool Hardani, Kamran Ayazi and Majid Sadeghi Nejad. Amir Lotfi, Rahman Buzari and Mazdak Alinazari, all of whom were flogged three days prior to their release from prison.
The situation of prisoners of conscience in Iran continues to be reported as poor. These prisoners include the following: Medi Karrubi has been deprived of visiting his wife and family, as reported by his wife. The Iranian Medical Forensics Organization had asked that Abolfazl Ghadyani, a member of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, who has experienced severe heart problems, be given a four-month medical furlough. Yet, he has been refused furlough. Isa Saharkhiz, a journalist who has been in prison for more than three years, has been denied furlough in contravention of prison’s regulations. More importantly, Alireza Ghabishavi, a citizen from Khuzestan who was convicted of being a member of an opposition group, died suspiciously in a detention centre in Khalaf Abad.
7. Mustafa Sabti, head of the Central Council of the Islamic Iran Participation Front in Golestan Province, has been banned from travelling.
B) Situation Regarding Books, Media, Writers and Journalists
1. Mehdi Fakhrzadeh, a member of the “Cheshm Andaz-e Iran” Magazin’s editorial, and Ahmad Shariat, blogger, have been arrested. Mohammad Reza Alipayam, a poet and satirist, has been arrested. His house was searched and his computer and writings were confiscated.
2. In another case, the one –year prison term of Mahsa Amrbadi, an imprisoned journalist, has been upheld.
3. Drama’s Supreme Council (Shoray-e Senfiy-e Namayesh) banned all five theatres of the Cinema Azadi from screening movies.
4. The court sessions of editors-in-chief of “Cheshm Andaz-e Iran”, “Gol” and “Khabargozariye Cinamay-e Iran” publications were held.
5. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has not issued permit for the publication of a book entitled “Gozaresh-e Mavaze Hashemi Rafsanjani [A Report on Stances of Hashemi-Rafsanjani]”.
6. Dr. Seyyed Mohamamd Hossein Beheshti’s website has been filtered.
7. “Cherdavol”, a student publication was banned.
c) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. The rise in executions in the month of Mordad is yet another instance of human rights abuse. Based on reports by government websites and news agencies, the following individuals have been either executed or handed down the death penalty: Ilam’s prosecutor announced the execution of a person, identified as “H. B”. According to ISNA news agency, he was charged with possession, use, purchase, and sale of drugs. Bakhtiyar Me’mari, a Kurdish citizen, was sentenced to death on the charge of moharbeh (waging war against God). The Prosecutor-General and Judiciary spokesperson reported the execution verdict for four persons in an embezzlement case. The execution sentence of a person identified as “S. M” was also uphold. According to Fars news agency, he was charged with Rape. Bahaodin Ghasemzadeh, a juvenile from Oromiyeh, was handed down the death penalty. According to some websites, he was arrested in December 2009, when he was 15 years old, on the charge of murder.
2. Habib Afshari, who was charged with membership in an opposition group and sentenced to death, went on hunger strike to object to the Ministry of Intelligence for putting pressure on his family.
3.Intercity roads due to lack of standards, continue to claim victims and the greatest number of deaths caused by road accidents in recent years.
4. For the coming academic year 36 universities have closed 77 academic fields to women. For instance, Arak University has barred women from enrolling in the following courses: English language and literature, education, computer science, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, agricultural engineering and pure chemistry. Isfahan University has also prevented women from attending the following courses: political science, accountancy, business management, governmental management, industry management, electrical engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, railway engineering, and English language translation. Therefore, the number of female students, who have constituted more that 65% of university students for some time, will drop to less than 50%.
5. According to notifications and directives sent by the police in Ardebil to cinema proprietors, they are obliged to separate males and females in their cinemas.
Section 2: Economic and Social Rights
1. Due to the bad economic conditions and shortages of raw materials, mainly due to adverse economic management and political sanctions, many workers have not been paid their overdue salaries for several months. They include the following: a number of workers in the metal industries of Iran have not received any salaries for eight months, workers in the textile mill of Mazandaran for 26 months, workers in Bushehr paint manufacturing factory for five months, 48 workers of Naghshe Iran factory in Qazvin for 15 months, a number of workers in Iran Puya for two months, and workers of Khosh Nush beverage-manufacturing plant in Sari, for three months.
2. In the month of Mordad, several workers lost their jobs. They include, 50 workers of Pars Slat Pencil Producing Company in Amol, 70 workers of Kamkar Sirjan nuts and bolts factory and 300 workers of Oghab Afshan Company.
3. Alireza Asgari, Jalil Mohammadi and Reyhaneh Ansari, three members of the Co-ordinating Committee to help worker's organizations, have been sentenced to one-year imprisonment each. The latter two's sentence has been suspended for three years.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment in the month of Mordad also serve to indicate the unfavourable situation in those sectors.
1. Concern about the environmental situation has prompted Ma'someh Ebtekar, the secretary of the environmental committee of Tehran City Council, to warn on several occasions in recent months of the danger of an imminent tsunami of cancer due to the installation of telecommunications masts by the government and the jamming of satellite television programmes.
2. According to the agriculture committee of the Majles, 50 million cubic meters of sewage has entered the River Karoon in Ahvaz, thereby putting the health of a large number of people in great danger. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Organization has not taken any action to overcome this problem. Some rural areas of southern Iran lack proper plumbing and drinking water and the villagers must walk several kilometres to have access to river and drinking water.
3. In contradiction of legal regulations and urban planning standards, the Municipal authorities of Tehran's District Five has issued permits for construction of 12,000 square meters of land, as a result of which 2700 old trees were cut.
4. Despite the objections of Gorgan City Council and many environmental campaigning NGOs, destruction of some parts of Gorgan’s Nahar Khoran forest continues owing to the construction of the Sacred Defence Museum.
5. The situation of Orumiyeh Lake continues to be reported as poor to the extend that according to some reports more that 65% of the Lake has dried up. In other words, less than 35% of the lake contains water. Meanwhile, Hamid Monafi and Hasan Ghanbari, two of the citizens who participated in a peaceful demonstration in Tabriz against the drying up of Orumiyeh Lake, have each been sentenced to one year in prison as well as a one-year suspended prison term.
In conclusion of this monthly report, I would like to draw the attention of the Islamic Republic's authorities to their international obligations in respect of observance of human rights principles. I would also like to reaffirm that securing national interests and resolving the current crisis warrants respect for individual rights and freedoms and the dignity of citizens.
Human Rights Defendant and 2003 Nobel Laureate
22 August 2012
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.