It is Time that Iran be Held Accountable 

Posted on: November 10th, 2020

HRANA – Last month the world turned its attention to Iran for its seemingly arbitrary transfer of a detained British-Australian academic. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was detained in September 2018 and is serving a ten-year sentence, was moved from the notorious Evin Prison to an unspecified location. When Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) released the report, nearly every major media publication across the globe once again jumped to denounce her detention. Widespread speculation as to Moore-Gilbert’s whereabouts ensued. 

As a human rights professional who focuses on Iran, it was gratifying to see such a swift and appropriate response. However, what about the countless grave and horrific human rights violations that happen every day in this country? Violations that are so numerous that they have become seemingly rote. 

In the week following Moore-Gilbert’s transfer, peaceful protestors outside Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum were violently attacked by Regime Security Forces. In the month of October, at least 130 Iranians were arrested for activities related to their political or ideological beliefs; 83 of which involved the detention of individuals participating in peaceful gatherings related to the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. 

Iran carried out 19 hangings in the month of October alone, sentencing an additional 8 to that same fate throughout the month.

At least 12 members of the Baháʼí religious minority were barred from entering university based solely on their religious beliefs. One man received 80 lashes for converting to Christianity; a thief was sentenced to having his hand amputated.

Iranian courts tried more than 70 political cases which resulted in convictions that totaled 295 years in prison and 2,590 lashes.  A cleric was summoned to court for suggesting there was no problem with women riding a bicycle, an activity for which all women in the country are banned. Two women, sentenced to 33 months each for writing a letter requesting the resignation of the Supreme Leader, were summoned by authorities to begin serving their time. A teacher was sentenced to 45 lashes for drawing a cartoon.

This list is by no means exhaustive. 

These violations are not a secret. HRANA, the very source that initially reported on Moore-Gilbert’s move, reported and continues to report on the numerous human rights violations happening daily in Iran against Iranians, as well as dual and foreign nationals. There remains little to no response.

Detained British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert

Why is this? 

I do not have the answer to that question, but I do know the differences these cases bear. The violations listed above are against Iranian citizens; Moore-Gilbert is a foreigner. Her case is, therefore, more appealing to the press it garners a more widespread response – and outcry. 

 

I’m reminded of a quote from Howard Bakerville, a young American who famously became a martyr of Iran’s Constitutional Revolution; he once said, “The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and that is not a big difference.” Today I fear there are times, unacceptably so, that this is the difference between life and death, between respect for rights and deprivation thereof. Will the world only shine the light on Iran when a Westerner is tangled in its web? Under international human rights law, States have a duty to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of those within their jurisdiction. It’s time that Iran be held accountable to its own citizens just as it is to those dual and foreign nationals that find themselves trapped within the confines of a state where deprivation of fundamental human rights continues to be the norm. 

 

Moore-Gilbert has since been returned to Evin Prison. Her return, much like her move, was documented extensively. The reason for her move remains unknown.

 

Skylar Thompson

Skylar Thompson is a Senior Advocacy Coordinator with Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI). For inquiries please contact email: [email protected]

 


Iranian Parliament Deputy Immune from Prosecution Despite Accusations of Sexual Assault

Posted on: June 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Based on evidence, documents and testimonials HRANA has obtained from reliable sources, there are at least two new allegations of multiple counts of sexual harassment and assault against Salman Khodadadi, a current Member of Iran’s Parliament and the Chair of the Parliament’s Social Committee. Mr. Khodadadi was previously accused of sexual harassment and assault and was detained on the charge of raping his secretary and a visitor to his office. Mr. Khodadadi held the position of MP and was a member of the Parliament’s National Security Committee and Health Committee from 1996 to 2012. However, in 2012, Iran’s Ministry of Interior barred Mr. Khodadadi from running for Parliament. The Guardian Council reversed the ban in 2016 and allowed him to return as a member of Parliament the same year. In 2014, while Mr. Khodadadi was barred from the Parliament, he was appointed an adviser to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif.  

A 28-year-old woman who has asked to be identified as “Z.N.” broke her silence to HRANA. She claims to be a victim of Mr. Khodadadi and that he abused his position of power. Ms. Z.N. claims Mr. Khodadadi sexually assaulted and harassed her for four years. She tells HRANA that she knew Mr. Khodadadi through her father who was Mr. Khodadadi’s colleague in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). After her father’s death, Ms. Z.N. says she was searching for a job due to her mother’s illness and their difficult financial situation.

“One day, I went to the Governor’s office to seek help. I was informed that Mr. Khodadadi would be coming there to listen to the people’s problems. Mr. Khodadadi received my letter and told me to contact him. When I did, he said that he would help me gain a position with the Audit Court.”  

According to Ms. Z.N., she followed up with that promise and Mr. Khodadadi invited her to Tehran. Ms. Z.N. says she went with her mother on her first visit but they left without receiving any results. Ms. Z.N. says Mr. Khodadadi contacted her again and advised her to return to Tehran but alone this time. Once in Tehran, Ms. Z.N. allegedly attempted to track Mr. Khodadadi down until she was finally instructed to meet him at his office.

“Once in his office, he locked the door and raped me. He warned me to not tell anyone. I will never forget that day. It was as though the whole world came crashing down on me. My muscles were locked up and I felt paralyzed. He told me I had to leave immediately because a few of his colleagues were coming to see him. I asked him whether his intention was just to rape me, instead of helping me and my family. He replied that he wanted to help and have sex with me too. I left his office and headed to the train station to return home. On the way back, all kinds of thoughts crossed my mind and I even contemplated suicide, but because of my family and their situation, I decided to keep silent…He contacted me after the incident under different pretexts and managed to get me to come to his residential home in Tabriz where he raped me again.”

“After a long period of intimidation and enticement by Mr. Khodadadi, I finally called him to tell him that I didn’t want the job anymore. I told him to leave me alone or else I would file a complaint against him. He replied that I could not do a damn thing to him and hung up the phone on me. After a while he called me back and said that he likes me and wants to talk to me. I did not accept and didn’t go see him. He was even sending me threatening messages that if I didn’t go see him, he would hurt me. I still did not go, and out of fear for my life, I constantly moved residences.”

Ms. Z.N. claims that Mr. Khodadadi had more than one victim. “Some time later, I was with friends when I heard from one of them that Mr. Khodadadi had promised her a job as well and then raped her. This friend wanted to commit suicide on several occasions. That is when I understood that I was not the only victim, but none of the victims are prepared to file a complaint out of fear for their lives.”

“I waited for some time so that he would stop his harassment, but to no avail. I finally called him and begged him to leave me alone or I would tell everyone about what happened. He replied that if I say anything he would have me killed. I was very afraid. I took a train to Tehran and decided to go to the committee responsible for the supervision of MPs. I did not know how to access this committee so I went to the Parliament’ security and told them. First, they did not listen to me until I threatened to go to the Guardian Council. Finally, they accepted to consider my story but said that I would need to provide proof. I told them that I have voice and SMS messages containing threats.”

Mr. Khodadadi allegedly contacted Ms. Z.N. several times after the complaint was filed and said that if she did not withdraw her complaint that he would harm her.

“I told him that I will go through with my complaint because it was my right. He contacted me several more times and told me to visit him to resolve the problem. Again, he promised me a job and pledged to make everything right if I withdraw my complaint. I refused…Since April 2018, when I filed my complaint, I have contacted the Parliament’s security department multiple times, but each time they tell me that they need more time to investigate.”  

HRANA has obtained a copy of the documents in Ms. Z.N.’s case, including the threatening remarks made by Mr. Khodadadi. HRANA will consider releasing the documents publicly, but will first consider the victim’s safety and the progress made with the legal proceedings.

Salman Khodadadi’s Background:

Salman Khodadadi was born in 1962 and was recruited by the Islamic Republic’s security apparatus in his youth. During the 1980s purge of political dissidents he was working in the East Azerbaijan Intelligence office. He made an unsuccessful run for Parliament in the early 1990s but was appointed as Director of Ardabil’s Intelligence Bureau and later as the IRGC commander in Malekan.

In the sixth Parliament (2000-2004), Mr. Khodadadi was a member of the Parliament’s Health Committee, despite having no background in that field. Toward the end of his third term in Parliament, he was summoned to court on charges of moral corruption and engaging in illicit relationships, after two women pressed charges against him. He was released on bail. Since he had been elected for a fourth term to the Parliament and was sworn in as a Parliament Deputy, his case was closed.

When two women MPs raised objections regarding Mr. Khodadadi’s credentials, his case was sent to the Parliament for further investigation. Although some of the people of Malekan had gathered in front of the Parliament demanding Khodadai’s ousting, the Parliament voted to approve his credentials and allowed him to serve his term. Mr. Khodadadi refused to comment on his case citing ongoing investigation and his reluctance to provide material for enemies and foreign media.

In the parliamentary election that followed, Mr. Khodadadi was barred from running. However, due to his membership in the 1990s in the National Security Committee, he had a close relationship with Hassan Rouhani, the current President of Iran, and other current members of Mr. Rouhani’s cabinet. Mr. Khodadadi supported Mr. Rouhani in the 2013 Presidential election and was being considered for the position of Governor of Bushehr (Iranian southern province). Mr. Rouhani later changed his mind and Mr. Khodadadi was appointed an advisor to Javad Zarif.

In the most recent parliamentary elections, Mr. Khodadadi was once again barred from running for Parliament by the Supervisory Council (operated by the Executive Branch), but the Guardian Council lobbied on his behalf and he was elected one more time.  Mr. Khodadadi had the support of the “Omid List”, a list of candidates aligned with Mr. Rouhani. Once in Parliament, Mr. Khodadadi became the Chair of the Parliament’s Social Committee.

When he first began to serve in the Parliament, Salman Khodadadi was a management studies student. During his many terms in the Parliament, he received a Master’s degree in Political Science and a PhD in International Relations.


Civil Society Institutions, Society’s Need and Todays Necessity

Posted on: December 30th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Hossein Raeesi – Certainly complexity of social relations and diversity of social and individual needs for long has strengthen the necessity for a society, that would not be able to fulfill all its needs, pass all its barriers and problems and earn the public trust, without the existence of the civil society institutes. (more…)


A Glance at The Beginning Days of HRAI’s Activism

Posted on: December 29th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Behrouz Sadegh Khanjani – I met Keyvan Rafiee for the first time in the winter of 2007, in ward 209 of Evin Prison. A young person who was trying to play his part in improving human right in Iran. I remember he was transferred from solitary confinement to our prison cell, and he was holding a few meaningful painting; all of Keyvan’s Painting showed concern for human rights.

Behrouz Sadegh Khanjani

Despite all the dangers of the time, Keyvan Rafiee was trying let the outside world hear the voices of the Political Prisoners. At the time social media’s were not as widespread as today, and those like Keyvan with the little they had tried to let the world hear the voice of the political prisoners so that they would not be forgotten. As I mentioned before, due to the lack of the existence of a widespread social media, quite often political, civil and human right activist would have been imprisoned and nobody would have known. Those years, many were completely forgotten and faced a bitter fate. I believe this is why Keyvan and his friends thought of establishing Human Right Activists in Iran (HRAI). An organization that has become the neutral voice of numerous groups and various spectrums of people. This organization has fought against numerous executions by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have terrified the global society. HRAI regularly publishes the cruelty endured by various political and ideological groups, and reflects the suppression and pressure on the civil society and its activists in Iran. (more…)


Baluchistan and HRANA in Three Glances

Posted on: December 28th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Habibollah Sarbazi – First Glance: Baluch People are deprived of a TV or Radio that would voice their issues. Islamic Republic media have boycotted Baluchistan’s news, and what is being broadcasted of Baluch people has an untrue show like quality. Overall the Islamic republic state TV and Radio programs that are about the violation of human rights of the Baluch people, are not true to the existing reality of these people and they are literally “Blackwashing” and “Lies”. In other hand the lack of independent domestic websites, newspapers, magazines, weeklies or even monthlies that could freely voice the reality of this province which is known as the “most disadvantaged” and the “most security atmosphere” of Iranian provinces, has contributed to the problems.  The weakness of the civic society has also substantially increased these issues; all together they have killed the sparkles of hope among people who are carrying the weight of enormous oppressions and deprivations on their backs. (more…)


HRAI Repudiated the Kind of Human Rights Reporting of “the Human of Our Own Kind.”

Posted on: September 19th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Shahed Alavi – The story of violations of human rights in Kurdistan is full of sorrows. This sorrowful story, this open wound was denied for a very long time, either because it was labeled as a lie and victimization, or because sometimes it was narrated in a way that was too heroic and vague and was hard to believe for the audience. Somewhere on this disastrous land, for many years, people have lived with suppression, prison, torture and executions as part of their daily life; that is for numerous reasons, but foremost because of their inevitable resistance. More heart breaking is that they were used to screaming in silence, even worst, they were used to hearing the cheers coming from the opposition of the center which itself is wounded by the suppressive system.

The suppression of the margin was not by the centre or the opposition of the center. The real tragedy was the silence in favor or the endless doubts by the movements and peoples who were so called human rights activist and human rights organizations, and it was their duty to report human rights violations. For those who had followed their political opinions to lead them to human rights activism, were the real example of the kind of human rights reporters and watches, were the one was considered “human” if it was one of their own. (more…)


The Human Right Activists in Iran and 10 Years of Experience and Team Work

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Ali Kalaei – Out of the ashes of a great incident something new will always be born; something that perhaps is part of the evolution of that incident itself. A phoenix is born from its own ashes; although the new phoenix might be reborn with a different form each time, yet it will be the continuation and evolution of the same story, which has taken a new shape. (more…)


An Inner View to the Human Rights Activists in Iran

Posted on: May 13th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Keyvan Rafiee – February 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment and activism of the “Human Right Activists in Iran, HRAI”; an organization that has been subjected to great vicissitudes and has endured enormous amount of pressures, and yet it has been able to leave a constructive and positive impact behind. Certainly, this organization has also had its share of weaknesses and mistakes that call for criticism. As the founder and director of HRAI during the past decade, by avoiding repetitions, I will share my own experiences and will try to discuss the less mentioned aspects of the history of this organization in order to create more transparency. (more…)


The Continuation of a Team Effort towards Iran’s Transition to Democracy

Posted on: April 29th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Kouhyar Goudarzi – It was May Day, the first of May, the international worker’s day, I was there to report on the rally of the workers of the Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (SWTSBC). It was about noon and the crowd kept growing, citizens, worker’s families and students. A young bearded man with long hair was taking pictures and videos in the middle of the crowd. (more…)


An Innocent Laughing by the Gallows; the Story of my Life at HRAI

Posted on: April 27th, 2016

Peace Line Monthly / Simin Rouzgard – The external view of the “Human Right Activists in Iran, HRAI” is visible to all, mostly through its news Agency HRANA and at a different level through its monthly journal of “Peace Line”; however the interpretations and perceptions of it may vary. How is the internal view of this organization, especially from the eyes of “one of its own”?! Perhaps there is the need to dig deeper and farther than what is visible on the surface. Walter Benjamin speaks of this as two different views of the same country road, the view from the eyes of the person walking along the road, and the view from the eyes of a passenger flying over the road by an airplane: “The power of a country road when one is walking along it is different from the power it has when one is flying over it by airplane… The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscapes, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns of the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of is turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front.” (One-way Street, 1978, P. 27-28) (more…)