Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights Defenders and Nobel Laureate, has reviewed the human rights situation in Iran in Shahrivar 1391 [August-September 2012], in continuation of her monthly reports. According to the website of the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights [CDHR], in the first section of her report, Mrs Ebadi highlights the state of education and teachers, as well as university-related matters in Iran, such as enforcement of the gender segregation policy and its consequences.
Therefore, in her report, Dr. Ebadi draws the attention of the officials in charge to the cultural rights of citizens, and emphasizes the need to remove the difficulties and obstacles they are facing in that regard. She reaffirms that the restrictions imposed on a number of Iranian citizens owing to their gender, religion or economic difficulties are in contravention of Iran’s international obligations in the sphere of human rights.
The human rights activist continues her report by examining the human rights situation under three categories: “civil and political rights”, economic and social rights”, “cultural heritage and environment”. Mrs Ebadi concludes her report, which will appear in both English and Persian, by drawing the attention of the Iranian authorities to the cultural rights of Iranian citizens, and the need to remove obstacles and difficulties in the sphere of education. Under the “civil and political rights” section, the report highlights the arrest of 48 political and civil rights activists who were summoned by prison authorities to start their sentences. The report also refers to another instance of human rights abuse, i.e. punishment of the relatives of political prisoners who attempt to inform the public about the plight of their imprisoned family members. The report also describes the economic situation, including the 60% increase in residential property rents together with examples of non-payment of workers' wages. Discovery of Iranian-manufactured anti-tank mines on the borders of Iran and Afghanistan is yet another instance mentioned in this report, on account of its detrimental effect on the environment. The report goes on to mention that seven individuals have been executed and another 18 have been handed down the death penalty.
The following is the text of Mrs Ebadi's report for Shahrivar 1391, which is s published on 1 Mehr [22 September]
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in Shahrivar 1391[August- September 2012]
This report is published at a time when the school year has just started and reports received from Iran reflect the violation of human rights in the cultural field. According to a report published by the World Economic Forum, Iran has been ranked 94 amongst 144 countries for the quality of the educational system. Iran’s rank is 117 in relation to schools’ access to Internet. Taking into consideration the young population of Iran and the financial resources available to the government, these statistics indicate the education officials' disregard for educational matters.
In the coming academic year, 36 universities have closed 77 academic fields to women and a gender segregation policy has been implemented in some colleges. Jafar Tofighi, the former minister of science, research and technology, has referred to the gender segregation policy as a security and military project.
The enforcement of gender segregation policy in a number of high schools in rural areas has led to the closure of the girls’ section of these schools. As a result, a number of girls have been deprived of education.
A number of Iranian teachers are in prison, and three of them have received death sentences. Dozens of teachers have also been arrested or dismissed from their jobs simply for demanding their professional rights or protesting about their economic difficulties. To support of these teachers, a campaign has been launched by a number of cultural activists to attract the public’s attention to the plight and difficulties of this stratum of society.
Hence, the reports on human rights situation in Iran in Shahrivar 1391, which have been taken from various newspapers and websites, will appear in both English and Persian in three sections, upon verification of the sources.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in Shahrivar 1391
Section 1: Political and Civil Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political-Social Activists
1. Forty-eight individuals were arrested this month. Some of them were released on bail after several days. The following are among those who have been arrested: Rashid Esmaeili, a member of the policy council of Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat Organization, Jamal Sheykhi, Hamed Sheykhi, Mehran Molaveysi and Soleyman Mahmudiyan, all citizens of Saghez, Hashem Hossien Panahi, a Sunni activist from Kurdistan Province, Hossein Yazdi, a reformist political activist and Maryam Salehi, a university student in Tehran, Vahed Kholusi, Shayan Vahdati, Shima Ghusheh, Mishagh Afshar, Vahid Rohani, Maziyar Esmaeil Pur, Morteza Esmaeil Pur, Hamidreza Mosibiyan, Ali Mohammadi, Mohsen Saemi, Masood Vafabakhsh, Human Taheri, Daniyal Hosseini, Nafiseh Shahidfar, Bahram Shojaei, Mohammad Arjomandi Rad, Esmaeil Salmanpur, Baghban Bashi, Nargess Kheyrollahi, Mehdi Salehi, Behruz Alavi, Milad Panahi Pur, Sepehrdad Saheban, Esmaeil Rafati, Amir Ronaghi, Zahra Fayaz, Jaefar Gholami, Kiyana Karimpur, Farnaz Ahmadzadeh, Artemis Varzandeh, Mehrnaz Ahmadzadeh, Amin Ronaghi, Reyhaneh Hesami, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki (father of Hossein Ronaghi Maleki), Ali Taghdiri, Amir Kalhor, Sepehrdad Saheban and Sadegh Rezaei Giglvar, and two student activists, Saeid Shirzad and Saeid Aghapur.
2. Babak Maghaze, a civil rights activist, was summoned to the press bureau of the Intelligence Office in Hamedan in connection with organizing a committee to help the victims of East Azarbayejan’s earthquake. He has also been barred from carrying out any further activities related to the earthquake.
3. Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a blogger who was previously sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but was out of prison on sick leave due to kidney problem, was beaten, arrested and taken back to prison when he travelled to Azerbaijan to help victims of the earthquake. Since his medical treatment has not been completed, he remains very ill and his physical condition reported poor by his family.
4. Shiva Nazar Ahari reported to prison to serve her four-year prison term. Jila Bani Yaghub, journalist and women’s rights activist, sentenced to a one-year prison term, was also summoned to Evin Prison to serve her term. Amin Chalaki, campaign manager for Mir Hossein Moosavi’s 2009 presidential campaign in the town of Saveh, was transferred to Evin Prison to serve his four-year term. Sorush Sabet, a student’s rights activist was taken to prison to serve his two years prison term. Mohammad Yusefpoor-Seyfi, a civil rights activist, was transferred to Evin Prison to serve his five-and-a-half-year imprisonment. Amir Garshasebi, a student rights activist, was also summoned to prison to commence his three-year sentence. Lava Khanjani, a Baha’i citizen who was barred from continuing with her studies, was also taken to prison to serve her two-year sentence.
5. Nasim Soltan Beygi, student activist in Alameh Tabatabaei University and Isa Faridi, social activist, were summoned to Evin Prison to start their prison terms. Abolfazl Ghadyani, a 67 year-old prisoner was summoned to Evin Prison to receive his 40 lashes.
6. Navid Khanjani, a Baha’i citizen who had already been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and his verdict had been upheld, was arrested and reported to the prison authorities to commence his term, when he went to Azarbayejan to help the victims of the earthquake.
7. Samin Ehsani, activist for children’s rights, has been sentenced to five years in prison. Mr. Nosrat Tabasi, a Gonabadi dervish, was sentenced to six months imprisonment and four years and six months of suspended jail term. Behnam and Bahram Jaefari were each been sentenced to a cash fine of 5,000,000 Rials. Omid Rezaei, student activist in Gilan University, was handed down an eight-month prison term. Mohammad Amin Ghaderzadeh, who has been in prison for more than seven months on a security-related charge, was sentenced to four-year imprisonment. Zaniyar Ghaderzadeh, son of Mohammad Amin, was also given a one-and-a-half-year prison term. The Court of Appeal upheld Kohyar Godarzi's five-year prison sentence and banishment to Zabol Prison. Anisa Dehghani, Keyvan Dehghani and Sanaz Tafazoli, all Baha’i citizens, were each sentenced to six-months prison terms.
8. Mohammad Tavassoli, member of the Iran’s Freedom Movement, was summoned to the Revolutionary Court for a case, which had been dismissed previously. Behzad Nabavi, member of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization of Iran, who is currently in jail, was summoned to the court and interrogated for a new case.
9. Ruzbeh Hossein Tehrani, a released prisoner, although ranked 16 in the entrance exam for a masters’ degree in 1391 , was barred from study for a third consecutive year.
10. Seyyed Morad Fathi was summoned to the Intelligence Office in Kurdistan Province.
11. Another instance of human rights violation is unfair punishment of the relatives of political prisoners who attempt to inform the public about the plight of their imprisoned family members. Shahnaz Sogand, wife of Ali Nejati, an imprisoned worker, was put on trial because she had given an interview about her husband’s predicament. Maryam Alangi, wife of Mohsen Dogmeh Chi, a political prisoner who had died in prison in March 2012 whilst serving a 10-year prison term, was handed down a three-year prison term for granting interviews about her husband. Her sentence has been upheld. Zahra (Mahbubeh) Mansuri, sister of Mohammad Ali Mansuri, political prisoner, was convicted to a two-year prison term and five years suspended imprisonment. Mohammad Hatam, father of Siavush Hatam, a student rights activist, was detained for several hours after his house was searched.
12. The condition of several prisoners of conscience was reported as poor. The Tehran prosecutor refused Ebrahim Babaei Zeydi, who had sustained injuries in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, to receive treatment outside prison.
B) Situation Regarding Books, Media, Writers and Journalists
1. Ahmad Nur Mohamamdi Abadchi, a critic and blogger, was arrested in Ahvaz.
2. Mohammad Safar Lafuti, a Journalist, was given a five-year suspended prison term, in addition to a five-year ban from cooperating with or becoming a member of political parties and groups, and from engagement in any media and press activities.
3. Keyvan Samimi and Masood Bastani, both journalist held in Rajaei Shahr Prison, were put in solitary confinement in Ward One of that prison for several days. Isa Saharkhiz, an imprisoned journalist who was in hospital owing to his illness, was returned to Ward 209 of Evin Prison half way through his treatment. In protest at the illegal nature of his case and the authorities' refusal to allow him to see his family, Saharkhiz refused to take his medication. As a result, his health deteriorated and he was once again admitted to hospital. .
4. Shahoo Hosseini, journalist, and Mohammad Khakpur, an Azarbayejani cultural rights’ activist, were summoned to court.
5. “Siavushan”, a quarterly analytical publication whose editor-in-chief is Hossein Mujtahid, was banned. "Avaye Salmas", a weekly magazine edited by Ali Mohamamdi Irvanlu, was also banned.
6. The court sessions of editors-in-chief of “Asr-e Iran” website and “Khaneh” magazine were held. Morteza Shah Karami, editor-in-chief of Bamdad newspaper, was charged.
7. Performance of a play called "Drought and Lie" was cancelled in Shiraz. The performance permit for the play “Antigun” was likewise revoked. The authorities also prevented Mohammad Reza Lotfi from giving a concert in the town of Babolsar.
8. The "Cheshmeh" bookstore in Qazvin, which belongs to Ali Khoshgavari and Mohtaram Rahmani, was shut down.
9. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued a directive prohibiting the press from releasing any negative reports during the Non Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. The directive included bans on reports concerning predictions or warnings about earthquakes, land subsidence in roads, power outages, as well as news about murders, assaults and robberies.
10. Some of the Iranian state media agencies changed the statement of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. The translation of Mohammed Mursi's address, as broadcast on the national TV of the Islamic Republic of Iran, differed from his original presentation.
11.Tehran’s prosecutor refused to grant leave to Mr. Moghiseh, an imprisoned journalist, to attend the wedding of his son.
c) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. The 15 Khordad Foundation, affiliated to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, added a half million dollar to the prize for the killing of Salman Rushdie.
2. The executions in the month of Shahrivar are yet another instance of human rights abuse. Based on reports by government websites and news agencies, the following individuals were either executed or handed down the death penalty [in Shahrivar]: Naser Jalili, Behram Nabavi, Hossein Taghiyan, Kazem Esfehani and Sajad Sadegh Zadeh, were executed. The Prosecutor-General announced that they were charged with possession and storage of drugs. Sadegh Moradi in Tehran and "H. A" in Shahrud were executed in public. According to the state media, they had been charged with rape. Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of Isfahan declared that a death sentence was handed down to an individual in Khomeini Shahr, situated in Isfahan province. And the head of Naja's anti-narcotics police announced that 11 people had been sentenced to death. He described the charges against them as production, procurement, and trafficking of industrial narcotics.
In a famous financial case, Mah Afarid Khosravi, Mr. B. B, the legal advisor of Mah Afraid, Mr. A. Sh, financial manager of Amir Mansur Arya investment company, and Mr. S. K, the head of the Saderat Bank, were sentenced to death. Saman Nasim and Mansur Arvand who are in prison more that one year, were sentences to death. According to the official state news agencies, they were charged with moharebeh through cooperation with enemies of the government.
3. Some high schools will be closed in Buyer Ahmad Province owing to the implementation of the gender segregation policy in rural high schools. Shahid Arjomand high school in Azizi village and Silarestan high school in Ludab are amongst those schools that will be closed.
4. The public security police in Qazvin sealed 15 trade units and issued another eight with written notice for what they claimed to be non-observance of Islamic norms.
5. Siavush Turi, a 40-year-old man from Maragheh who was kept in Ward Three of Zahedan Prison, suffered a heart attack and died owing to the appalling prison conditions.
6. According to the latest statistics announced by the Iran Statistics Center, approximately 16% of the population over the age 15 are illiterate and 25% have primary education, which means that half of Iran's population is illiterate or semi-literate.
Section 2: Economic and Social Rights
1. Iran Statistics Centre has reported a 60% increase in residential property rents.
2. Due to the bad economic conditions and shortages of raw materials, mainly because of adverse economic management and political sanctions, many workers have not been paid their overdue salaries for several months. According to Gallup, only nine percent of the adult population have a full time job. Moreover, 700 workers in the textile mill of Mazandaran including Talar, Guni Bafi, Tabarestan factories have not received any salaries for more that 25 months. Similarly, 27 workers of “Abre- Sanati of Iran” factory have not received any salaries for more than 19 months.
3. Two hundred temporary contract workers of the Ize City Council and 140 workers of "Ferro Alyaj" factory have lost their jobs following the completion of their contract. More than 280 workers of “Keysun” factory, Ahvaz urban railway contractor, were sent on forced leave indefinitely due to financial troubles. “Gharj Malard” company has dismissed 360 workers out of the total number of 430 workers.
4. Farzad Ahmadi, a worker’s rights activist, was sentenced to a four-month prison term.
5. The physical condition of imprisoned workers in Iran continues to be reported as poor. For instance, Mohammad Jarahi had problem in his neck and according to doctor a sample should be taken to detect the disease. The prison authorities have disagreed and only permitted a CT scan to be taken. Evin prison officials and Tehran’s prosecutor have not agreed to grant Reza Shahabi sick leave, despite the infection developed following surgery.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment in the month of Shahrivar also serve to indicate the unfavourable situation in those sectors.
1. More that 70% of Lake Orumiyeh has dried up. In other words, some 300,000 hectares of its total area has turned into salt marsh. This indicates the Lake's deteriorating condition. The volume of water in the reservoir of “Zayandehrood” River at the beginning of the current water year (September- October 2012) has dropped 53 percent compared with the same period last year. Lorestan Province, especially Khoramabad despite being one of the highest rainfall areas of the country, has encountered water shortage owing to mismanagement. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the country's enemies of enacting a sinister plan to create a drought through cloud seeding.
2. The biggest bas-relief of Iran, in Firuzabad, is on the verge of collapse due to severe corrosion.
3. Twenty rings of anti-tank mines made in Iran were discovered on the borders of Iran and Afghanistan. This suggests that the Iranian government has attempted to manufacture and sell mines, although, this is prohibited under the Ottawa Convention.
4. Two thousand hectares of the Golestan National Park's land were removed from the protected area.
At the end of this report, and to mark the beginning of the school year, I would like to draw the attention of the officials in charge to the cultural rights of citizens, and the difficulties and obstacles they are facing in practicing their rights. I would like to reaffirm that access to education is one of the fundamental human rights. The restrictions imposed on some Iranian citizens owing to their gender, religion or economic situation are in contradiction of Iran’s international obligations in respect of f human rights principles. The authorities should take into account that in a country where, according to statistics, half of the population are illiterate or semi-literate, it would be impossible to achieve sustainable development.
Human Rights Defendant and 2003 Nobel Laureate
22 September 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.