Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights Defender and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, in continuation of her monthly reports, has reviewed the human rights situation in Iran in Mehr 1391 [September-October 2012]. According to the website of the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights [CDHR], Dr. Ebadi started her Mehr report by addressing the issue of early marriage of the girl child, in light of the recent proclamation by the United Nations to designate 11 October as the first International Day of the Girl Child. The human rights advocate has not limited girls’ problems to the issue of early marriage; in her view their situation is even worse under the criminal law. Therefore, Dr. Ebadi draws the attention of the Islamic Republic's authorities to their international obligations, especially those related to juveniles under the age of eighteen. She urges them to amend laws that allow the death penalty and early marriage for juveniles less than 18 years of age.
The 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 civil and political rights section, in addition to identifying the political and civil rights activists who have been summoned to prison to serve their sentences, highlights the arrest of 25 individuals. To address another instance of human rights violation, this report once again refers to unfair punishment of the relatives of political prisoners who attempt to inform the public about the plight of their imprisoned family members. Imposition of limitation on journalists, writers, and artists, and dismissal of 22 teachers from their teaching positions are other issues covered in this report.
The report points out that although the United Nations Secretary-General has asked Iran to stop its killing policy, a total of 22 individuals were executed during the month of Mehr. The following is the text of Mrs. Ebadi’s report for Mehr 1391, which was published on 1 Aban [22 October 2012].
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in Mehr 1391[September-October 2012]
The United Nations marked 11 October as the first International Day of the Girl Child. It was declared in a ceremony in New York that UN-affiliated organizations would attempt to put an end to child marriage by 2030.
In such circumstances, according to statistics released by the National Organization for Civil Registration, 7440 marriages of girls under the age of 15 were recorded in Iran in 2011. The deputy governor-general in charge of political and security affairs of Hamedan Province stated that 1773 marriages of girls between 10-14 years old were registered in the same year.
Unfortunately, according to above-mentioned statistics, child marriage is prevalent in Iran. In fact, according to the Iranian Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child, the number of these marriages has doubled compared to previous years owing to increased poverty as a result of the adverse economic situation.
Article 1041 of the Civil Code of Iran has declared the legal age of marriage as 13 for girls and 15 for boys. Moreover, if a court deems it expedient, it can grant permission for marriage even before the child reaches the aforementioned legal age.
The early marriage is not the only discriminatory provision against Iranian girls. Their situation is worse under the Criminal law. For instance, the age of criminal responsibility is nine for girls and 15 for boys. In other words, girls become criminally responsible six years earlier than boys. Mehraveh Khandan situation is an illustrative example in this regard. She is the daughter of Nasrin Sotudeh, a lawyer and political prisoner. Mehraveh has been prosecuted and barred from travelling in order to impose more pressure on her mother. Even more painful is the fact that girls' blood money is half of that of boys which is a blatant discrimination against children. The Islamic Republic of Iran signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Although, Iran’s officials should respect the Convention and implement its provisions, they violate their obligations by adopting inadequate legislations. One of those is the issue of early marriage.
Having highlighted the above issue, we would now like to draw your attention to the report on human rights situation in Iran in Mehr 1391. The report has been taken from various newspapers and websites and will appear in both English and Persian in three sections, upon verification of the sources.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in Mehr 1391
Section 1: Political and Civil Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political-Social Activists
1.Twenty-five individuals were arrested this month. Some of them were released on bail after several days. The following are among those who have been arrested: Shokrolah Nazari, a political activist, Mani Tavakoli, a blogger and students’ rights activist, Mehdi Hashemi[son of Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani], Negar Haeri, daughter of political prisoner Mashalah Haeri and Mitra Nuri, Shiva Rohani, Sheyda Ghodusi, Pune Sanai, Hilda Aghighiyan, Hata Aghighiyan, Hushmand Dehghan, Farhad Fahandaj, Farahmand Sanai, Fare Sanai, Parivash Fanaiyan, Nazi Tahghighi, Kamal kashani and Parisa Shahidi, all Baha’i citizens, and Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir, Sorush Sarai, Eskandar Rezai, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni and Shahin Lahuti and Roksana Forughi, are among those who had converted to Christianity
2. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a member of the Supreme Supervisory Council of the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights, was transferred to Evin Prison to begin serving his nine-year prison sentence. Nasim Soltan Beygi, students' rights activists was taken to prison to serve her six-year prison term. Faezeh Hashemi, a political activist [and daughter of Hashemi-Rafsanjani] was summoned to Evin Prison to serve her six-month prison sentence.
3. Ehsanolah Amaniyan, a Gonabadi Dervish received his 50 lashes punishment.
4. Mohammad Tavasoli, a member of Iran’s Freedom Movement was convicted to 11 years imprisonment and five years deprivation of any social activities. Afsaneh Toghir Tofir, Vahid Habib Cheshmeh, Vahid Rastgu and Mohammad Eskandarzade, four civil rights activists from Azarbayejan each have been sentenced to one-year imprisonment. Gholamreza Makiyan known as Reza Malek, a former director of the intelligence service, who has been in prison for more than 11 years, was sentenced to another two-year prison term on the charge of insulting the Supreme Leader; he also received 74 lashes. Taher Eskandari, Afrasiyab Sobhani and Puya Tabyaniyan, all Baha’i citizens, have been respectively convicted to three years, one year and six-and-a-half years prison terms by the appeal court. Mohammad Haji Babai, students' rights activist was sentenced to five months imprisonment and a cash fine. Hamidreza Ranjbar, a civil rights activist has also convicted to three years imprisonment and 74 lashes. Alireza Roshan, a Gonabadi Dervish, has convicted to a one-year prison term and a four-year suspended jail term. The retrial request of Seyyed Ziya Nabavi, a student who has been deprived of education and sentenced to a 10-year prison term in banishment, was rejected.
5. Abdolnaser Mahimani, a political activist who was not allowed to attend his father’s death anniversary, has been detained. Mohammad Nazari, a political prisoner in Rajai-Shahr Prison, who has been in jail for more than 19 years, and Feyzollah Arab Sorkhi, a member of Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, and Nasrin Sotudeh, lawyer, have all went on hunger strike in protest at the lack of attention to their situation.
6. Hosein Ma’adikha was transferred from Ward 350 to the security Ward 240 of Evin Prison one week after his arrest to serve his prison term. Seyyed Mostafa Tajzadeh, a member of Islamic Iran Participation Front, who is currently in prison, was summoned to Evin Prison Court after his cell had been searched.
7. Another instance of human rights violation is intimidation and unfair punishment of the relatives of political prisoners who attempt to inform the public about the plight of their imprisoned family members. This month, the parents and aunt of Behnud Ramezani, a student who was killed in February 2011, were given prison terms of eight months each for the parents and four months for the aunt. They were charged with attempt to hold a death anniversary memorial service for their son. Maryam Ghods, wife of Feyzollah Arab Sorkhi who is a member of Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, was dismissed from her office despite being employed for 19 years. Majid Sedghi, brother of Said Sedghi, a prisoner sentenced to death, has been arrested because of his interview with the BBC and V.O.A. Masumeh Dehghan, wife of Abdolfattah Soltani, an imprisoned lawyer, has been threatened and forced to make a confession against her husband and express remorse on his behalf. Family of Hossein Ronaghi, who is currently in prison, were threatened by security officials to not inform the public about their child.
8. The condition of several prisoners of conscience continues to be reported as poor. The Tehran prosecutor refused Asaddolah Hadi, who had objected to going to the hospital in prison uniform, to receive treatment. The prosecutor also turned down a Medical leave request for Mahvash Shahrari, a 60 year-old Baha'i leader who is currently in prison although suffering from a hip fracture. Mahbubeh Karami, who suffers from physical and mental health problems, has been refused sick leave. Also, prison officials have not agreed to grant medical leave to Elmira (Farah) Vazehan. Moreover, Rajai-Shahr prison officials have refused to admit Mishagh Yazdan Nejad to Hospital.
9. Shaheen Zeinali, a student activist, was prevented from meeting his family during a prison visit.
B) Situation Regarding Books, Media, Writers and Journalists
1.Mehdi Rahmaniyan, editor-in-chief of Shargh newspaper, Ali Ranjbar and Hamidreza Abdollahi, both bloggers and translators, have been arrested. Mohammad Mahdi Emami Naseri, editor-in-chief of Maghreb newspaper, financial manager, and public relations manager and vice president of the latter newspaper have also been detained.
2. Nazanin Dehimi, translator of children’s literature reported to Prison to serve her eight-month prison term. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, general director of IRNA and head of Iran Media Institute, was transferred to Evin Prison to serve his one-year prison term.
3. Sam Mahmudi Sorabi, a journalist has been sentenced to a four-year prison term, four-year suspended imprisonment and ten-year deprivation of all Media activities. Sajad Noruzi, editor-in-chief of Farda website has been convicted to 91 days imprisonment.
4. The licences of Vafa news agency, Shargh newspaper and Keyhan Caricature were cancelled.
5. The court session of editors-in-chief of Setareh Sobh and Sokhan Shahrvand publications was held.
6. Mohammad Ali Sepanlu has received permission to publish his new book “Afsaneh Shaer Morde [Legend of a Dead Poet]” after 30 pages of his 140-page book were censored.
7. Performance of a play called “Revayat haye Natamam-e Yek Fasl-e Moalagh” was cancelled. The Music House’s ceremony in Milad Tower was cancelled.
8. Student’s publication, “Arman”, was shut down and its office equipment was confiscated.
9. Several web sites providing information about foreign currency and gold coins were filtered owing to increased prices in the market. Google search and Gmail services were also filtered for a few days.
10. Two activists in the field of Internet were arrested in Gilan Province. Gilan’s Police charged the two men with creating websites and broadcasting "unauthorized" songs online. The conviction verdicts of five young men from Sirjan, who were active in the field of Internet, were issued. Sirjan’s public prosecutor declared their charges as posting illegal issues on Facebook.
c) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
In a month that the United Nations General Secretary asked Iran to stop its killing policy, we observe that according to governmental news agencies and websites the following people were either executed or handed down death sentences: “H.J” in Semnan, “M.M”, “A.M”, “M.R”, “A.A” and “M.N” in Shahrud, “Taj Mohammad. B”, “A.B”, “H.B”, “M.B” and “N.M”, “Sh.P” and “Z.N” three Afghan citizens in Tabas and “A.P”, “A.K”, “M.A”, “”A.S and “A.Z” in Shiraz were executed. Government news agencies declared their charges as possession of drugs. The official news agencies have also reported the execution of four youths in Tabriz. According to these new agencies, they were charged with rape and kidnapping. Ebrahim Isapour and Sirvan Najavy, both citizens of Sardasht, received death sentences. They had been charged with Moharebeh [enmity against God] and Fesad Fel Arz [Corruption on Earth] and membership in groups which are enemies of the government. R. K has been sentenced to death in Shiraz. “Khabar Jonub” newspaper declared his charge as armed robbery. Abdolbasat Rigi, Abdoljalil Kahrazehi and Yahya Chari Zehi have been executed in Zahedan. Some websites declared their charges as political and Moharebeh.
2. The public prosecutor of the city of Dezful has reported that a cutting hand sentence in public had been issued for a theft. A. Z was sentenced to amputation of his right hand and his left feet. “Khabar Jonub” newspaper declared his charge as armed robbery.
3. Nedaye Enghelab website, affiliated to pro-government Javan newspaper reported the arrest of 150 individuals during the recent unrest in Tehran.
4. Vahid Abedini, Tehran University students rights activist, was again barred from continuing his PhD. Sarveh Heydari, Leila Borna and Somayeh Hoshyari, three (resident) MD students in Sanandaj, have been barred from their studies. Security forces in Mazandaran Province did not let Alireza Shahiri to be presented in Babol University of Science and Technology.
5. Technical Colleges of Tuyserkan and Kabudarahang, and management and accounting colleges in Razan [three cities in Hamedan Province], only accept male students. In continuation of the gender segregation enforcement in nationwide universities, the entrances of several colleges of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences were separated for men and women. According to a procedural regulation, students have been forbidden to laugh loudly in Shiraz University of Medical Sciences.
6. The chief of Police in North Khorasan [Province] declared that nine internet cafes have been closed since the beginning of the year.
Section 2: Economic and Social Rights
1. Due to the poor 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. For instance, workers of Poshesh Rah Company in Tabas have not received any salaries for six months. Eighty workers of Alda factory have not been paid for three months. Similarly, 210 workers of Parlu Saveh factory have not received any salary for four months. Moreover, 130 workers of Yas-e Khoramshahr health industry and 55 workers of Hiva Electronic factory in Babol have not received any salaries for six months. In addition, more than 5000 workers of “Giti Pasand” factory of Isfahan have not been paid for five months. Meanwhile, 200 workers of “Ashi Mashi” production group have lost their jobs.
2. The physical condition of imprisoned workers in Iran continues to be reported as poor. For instance, Reza Shahabi, workers’ rights activist has been waiting in Ward 350 of Evin Prison for the prosecutor to make a decision regarding his admittance to hospital. This is despite the fact that a month has passed since a doctor recommended that Shahabi be examined by a specialist.
3. Adeleh Cheraghi, a workers’ rights activist has been arrested.
4. Hamid Hadisi a teacher from Lahijan, who was the candidate of the Meli-Mazhabi coalition forces in the sixth Majlis elections, has been expelled from his teaching position. Abu Bakr Nuri, Hossein Abdi Pour, Mohammad Jamal Habky, Habib Farzam Nia, Khaled Zahiri, Jalal Manouchehri, Malek Zakarai Nasab, Mohamamd Ali Darboy, Osman Abdi, Jalal Karami, Salahodin Ma’rufi, Osman Mohammadi, Abdulolsalam Fatollahi, Yousef Hemeh Veysi, Ebrahim Moradpur, Rasul Khodakarami, and Bahram Soleymani, all teachers in Kurdish-populated areas, have also been expelled from their teaching positions.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment in the month of Mehr also serve to indicate the unfavourable situation in those sectors.
1. The trees in the Nahar Khoran forest, a tourist area in Gorgan, were cut down to build the War Museum. Elaheh Moosavi, a journalist from Golestan Province who had attempted to inform the public about this issue, has been summoned to court.
2. Lake Orumiyeh has shrunk by 120 thousand kilometres and five of its islands have become arid.
In conclusion of this monthly report, I would like to draw the attention of the Islamic Republic's authorities to their international obligations, especially those related to juveniles under 18 years of age. I urge them to amend laws that allow juvenile death penalty and child marriages.
Human Rights Defendant and 2003 Nobel Laureate
22 October 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.