Monthly Report – June 2024: Human Rights Situation in Iran

HRANA – HRA’s Statistics Department has released its monthly report for June 2024, highlighting ongoing human rights violations across Iran. This month, 8 individuals were executed, all men, with only 1 execution officially reported. Alongside these executions, 10 individuals were sentenced to death, underscoring a persistent use of capital punishment in Iran, often for offenses that do not meet international standards, notably drug-related crimes. This practice starkly contradicts the right to life as articulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). 

Freedom of expression remains severely curtailed, with 167 individuals arrested in relation to this issue during June. Among them were journalists Saba Azarpik and Yashar Soltani, who were imprisoned under allegations of publishing content deemed detrimental to societal psychological security. Additionally, political activists such as Matin Hasan faced harsh sentences, with Hasan receiving a 31-month prison term for alleged involvement in protests against the regime. 

Prison conditions continue to deteriorate, with reports of 19 cases of medical neglect and significant delays in judicial processes affecting 94 cases. Political prisoners like Reza Khazaei and Muhammad Girgij faced severe mistreatment, including solitary confinement and suspicious circumstances leading to deaths in custody. 

Women’s rights violations persist under Iran’s “Operation Noor,” with incidents such as the forcible detention of over 100 students for violating mandatory hijab laws at Azad University and violent arrests of women in Tehran and Behbahan for non-compliance with hijab regulations. Atena Farghdani received a harsh six-year prison sentence for her civil activism, including charges of insulting sacred things and propagating against the regime.

Workers in Iran endure hazardous conditions, with 44 fatalities and 183 injuries recorded from work-related accidents in June. Additionally, over 820 workers reported unpaid wages, exacerbating economic hardships in the face of unsafe working environments.

This report underscores ongoing human rights abuses in Iran, including executions without transparency, suppression of dissent, dire prison conditions, systematic violations of women’s rights, and unsafe labor practices, warranting urgent international attention and action.

Executions

This month in Iran, the execution of 8 individuals took place, comprising 8 men and 0 women. Additionally, of the 8 executions only 1 were reported by official sources. A total of 10 individuals were sentenced to death. Iran persists in executing individuals for offenses falling short of the standards outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Notably, there remains a consistent trend of individuals being executed for drug-related crimes, a practice in clear contravention of the right to life as stipulated by the ICCPR. This month, 6 people were executed for drug-related offenses.

This month the Supreme Court of Iran, upheld the death sentence for Sunni Cleric Mohammad Khezrnejad. He was arrested during the nationwide 2022 protests. He was found guilty on the charge of “spreading corruption on earth,” “compromising national security by threatening the country’s integrity or independence,” and “engaging in propaganda against the regime. Similar to other cases the conviction was largely based on coerced confessions extracted during interrogations, where Khezrnejad allegedly confessed to “leading protests in Bukan and affiliating with anti-regime factions.” 

Freedom of Thought and Expression 

Iran continues to crack down on anyone who protests or criticizes the regime, persistently violating the right to freedom of expression and thought. This month alone, 167 individuals have been arrested related to freedom of expression, 55 trials, and 2 cases of assault and battery by police Among those affected are journalists Saba Azarpik and Yashar Soltani, who were arrested and taken to prison to serve their sentences. Azarpik was sentenced to two years in prison on five counts of publishing lies,

defamation, and threats, following complaints from the Islamic Council, Mohsen Dehnavi, Zahra Sheikhi, and two others. Additionally, Azarpik also faced a miscarriage due to her treatment and stress while being imprisoned,

Soltani, the director of Scan News channel, was charged with “publishing content aimed at disru pting the psychological security of society.” Iran continues to imprison journalists for content deemed contrary to the regime’s interests. Additionally, journalists Hadi Kesaizadeh, and Vahid Ashtari have been arrested due to their work. Mohammad Parsi currently has an active case against him for writing about the death of Nika Shakrami, Kesaizadeh was arrested for the same issue.

Moreover, politically motivated sentences are still being handed down. Matin Hasan received a thirty-one-month prison sentence for his role in the 2019 protests, with charges including “incitin

g people to engage in warfare with the intent to disrupt national security” and “propaganda against the regime.” Similarly, Mehdi Sabeti was se

ntenced to two years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and an additional year for “propaganda against the regime.”

In Astra, several citizens were arrested for their reaction to the late president Ebrahim Raisi, according to the governor, a video was posted on social media of the citizens celebrating his death, like burning the president’s banner and images. 

On June 17th, Reza Babranjad, the brother of Mehdi Babranjad—one of the victimsof the 2022 nationwide protests—was arrested. No information has been provided regarding the reasons for his arrest or the charges

 against him. Furthermore, Narges Mohammadi was sentenced to an additional one year in prison for ‘propaganda against the regime’, her lawyer claims this is for words about Dina Qalibaf , her letter about boycotting the parliamentary elections, and the letter to the parliaments of Sweden and Norway. Lastly, Atena Farghdani, a cartoonist and civil activist imprisoned in Evin prison, was sentenced to six years in prison by the twenty-sixth branch of Tehran Revolutionary Court for insulting sacred things and propaganda against the regime.

Prison Conditions

In Iran, there have been 19 cases of prisoners lacking medical care and 94 cases of uncertainty due to excessive prolongation of the judicial process and delays in determining the individuals’ status. Additionally, there are 25 cases where no information about the person has been available after their arrest, leaving families in the dark about the prisoners’ fates due to a lack of contact. Meanwhile, 8 political prisoners have been granted medical leave.  Furthermore, 4 prisoners have been transferred to solitary confinement, 21 prisoners have had no access to a lawyer, and 6 have gone on hunger strikes in protest of their conditions.

 

Prisoners continue to be treated violently. On June 9th, Reza Khazaei, an inmate at Qazalhasar Prison, was beaten by prison offi

 

cers and subsequently transferred to solitary confinement. Khazaei was beaten following the publication of a video from inside the prison, showing prisoners, including Khazaei, protesting the implementation of numerous death sentences, poor conditions, and misconduct by prison officials. 


Additionally, on June 25th,
Muhammad Girgij was arrested by anti-narcotics forces while on his way to his father’s house. Unaware of his arrest, his family feared for his safety and searched for him. Three days later, on June 28th,

 Zahedan’s drug department contacted his father, informing him that his son had died in their detention center. Despite the father’s demands for an explanation and to see his son’s body, no information was provided, and he was told to return the next day to collect the body. This case is part of a troubling pattern of suspicious deaths in police and judicial custody in Iran, with many cases remaining unresolved and uninvestigated.

Prisoners in Ward 4 of Evin Prison are facing many problems, especially overcrowding. Ward four of Evin prison has four halls. Halls 3 and 4, which have a capacity of 120 people, are now crowded with more than 300 people.

In conclusion, the treatment of prisoners in Iran remains a critical human rights concern, with ongoing reports of medical neglect, violence, lack of legal representation, and punitive actions against political dissent.

Women 

A notable incident occurred at Azad University Central Tehran Branch on June 9th, where at least 100 students were forcibly detained for not adhering to mandatory hijab laws. They were released only after signing a commitment letter to comply with hijab rules, with some being allowed to leave only after changing their veils.

On June 27th, police officers in Tehran violently arrested a young woman for not observing the mandatory hijab, as depicted in photos circulating on social media. The woman initially resisted arrest but was eventually forced into a police van. Her identity and whereabouts remain unknown. This incident is part of Iran’s “Noor” plan, initiated on April 25th, to enforce the mandatory hijab, which has led to numerous reports of violence and arrests of women.

Additionally, a video on social networks shows another arrest for non-compliance with the hijab laws in Behbahan National Park. On June 22nd, a woman was arrested by several officers of the Noor Project, who used violence during the arrest. Women’s rights activists reported that she was insulted after being taken to the “Headquarters of the Public Order of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps” and was later released on bond. Her identity and the specific charges against her remain unknown.

Workers 

Workers in Iran face ongoing challenges and hazardous workplaces. In a tragic turn of events, this month saw 44 fatalities resulting from work-related accidents, with an additional 183 workers left injured. Moreover, 820 workers reported unpaid wages, while 2000 others were denied their insurance rights. 

Due to unsafe environmental conditions and poor working environments, four workers have died in accidents in the cities of Urmia, Selmas, and Meybod. Additionally, two workers trapped under rubble following a mine collapse in Shazand city lost their lives. In another incident, two well diggers died from gas exposure in a sewage well in Selmas city. Specifically, in Golan village of Selmas city, West Azarbaijan province, the two well diggers succumbed to gas exposure before rescuers could arrive.

About eighty workers from the municipality of Sisherd have reported 21 months of salary arrears, attributed by the employer to “lack of financial resources.” 

One worker shared their frustrations, stating that this year they only received a small portion of their April salary, while the salaries for February, March, and the Eid bonus of 1402 remain unpaid. Additionally, since 2019, they have accumulated 21 months of unpaid wages. Despite the change of several mayors, none have addressed the outstanding wage demands from previous administrations. The worker also highlighted further issues, including a seven-month delay in insurance premium payments, which has prevented some colleagues from accessing pension services for several years.

Lastly, in June, there were 3 killings of Kulbars and nine injuries. On the 31st of Arkan Balwaseh, and Dana (surname unknown), were killed during a military shooting in the border areas of Horaman.

International News Update:

On the 20th of June the Secretary-General published his report, including information provided by HRA, to the General Assembly detailing the state of human rights in Iran from August 2023 to March 2024. It highlights increased engagement by Iran with human rights bodies, but expresses grave concerns over the high number of executions, including those related to drug offenses and the execution of minors and protest participants. Civic freedoms remain severely restricted, with targeted repression against journalists, artists, lawyers, and human rights defenders. The report criticizes the Chastity and Hijab Bill for imposing strict dress codes on women and underscores ongoing economic hardships exacerbated by mismanagement and sanctions. Additionally, issues such as the lack of education for children with disabilities, child marriages, and discrimination against minorities are addressed. Despite some positive steps, such as referencing international human rights conventions in judicial decisions and efforts toward accountability for protest-related abuses, significant human rights violations and the need for continued cooperation and reform remain major concerns.

In response to the Secretary General’s report, Ali Bahreini, Iran’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, expressed Iran’s opposition to selective mandates within the Human Rights Council, arguing that such approaches do not effectively protect or promote human rights. He emphasized the importance of cooperation with concerned countries as the genuine path to promoting human rights. Iran pledged to enhance cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and announced its participation in upcoming sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Universal Periodic Review cycle. Bahreini highlighted concerns about Iranians’ deprivation of economic, social, and cultural rights due to unilateral coercive measures, lamenting the suffocation of human rights monitoring mechanisms on this issue. Iran’s commitment to minimizing the application of the death penalty to the most serious crimes was underscored, with ongoing efforts noted to further reduce its scope. Lastly, Bahreini asserted that Iran’s upcoming national elections would showcase its dedication to democracy and the empowerment of its citizens.

On the 27th of June, a group of independent experts called on Iran to release Narges Mohammadi and all women human rights defenders imprisoned for their activism. Narges Mohammadi, serving over 13 years with additional sentences for her advocacy, faces unfair charges framed as “national security” violations to silence dissent. The experts highlight her multiple convictions related to her human rights work, including advocating for female prisoners. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has deemed her imprisonment arbitrary. The experts criticize Iran’s discriminatory justice system and the impunity for violations against women, urging respect for fundamental rights such as access to legal and medical support, which Mohammadi has been denied. They condemn the repression of women’s rights activists, particularly those opposing compulsory veiling, and stress that such repression violates Iran’s international human rights obligations.

 

 

Download Full Pdf: Monthly Report June

 

 

Monthly Report – May 2024: Human Rights Situation in Iran

HRANA – HRA’s Statistics Department has released its monthly report for May 2024, revealing a concerning surge in human rights violations throughout Iran. This month witnessed the execution of 64 individuals, comprising 57 men and 3 women and includes 1 juvenile offender.. Shockingly, only 6 of these executions were reported by official sources, indicating a severe lack of transparency. Furthermore, 7 individuals were sentenced to death, reflecting a persistent trend of capital punishment in Iran.

Freedom of expression continues to be suppressed, with 363 cases related to this issue reported this month. Arrests of journalists and individuals critical of the regime persist, with 4 journalists detained and prominent figures like Mehrshad Kalini arrested for protesting against death sentences. Additionally, the recent death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash led to arbitrary arrests and interrogations of citizens posting about the incident on social media.

Prison conditions remain dire, with reports of medical neglect, prolonged judicial processes, and lack of legal representation. Recent incidents, including solitary confinement of political prisoners like Zartasht Ahmadi Ragheb and Hamzeh Darwish’s attempted suicide, highlight the urgent need for improved conditions and fair treatment within Iran’s prison system.

Women’s rights continue to be violated, with increased surveillance and arrests for non-compliance with hijab regulations under “Operation Noor.” Aida Shakarami and Zhina Modarresi Gorji are among those facing charges related to their activism, demonstrating ongoing crackdowns on dissent and stringent enforcement of hijab laws.

Workers face hazardous conditions and economic strain, with numerous fatalities and injuries resulting from work-related accidents. Additionally, trade activists like Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi face legal persecution for their activism.

 

Executions

This month in Iran, the execution of 64 individuals took place, comprising 57 men and 3 women. Additionally, of the 64 executions only 6 were reported by official sources A total of 7 individuals were sentenced to death. Iran persists in executing individuals for offenses falling short of the standards outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Notably, there remains a consistent trend of individuals being executed for drug-related crimes, a practice in clear contravention of the right to life as stipulated by the ICCPR. This month, 38 people were executed for drug-related offenses.

It is deeply concerning that Iran continues to sentence and execute juvenile offenders. Ramin Sa’adat, who was only 16 at the time of his arrest, was executed on May 18, 2024. International human rights law explicitly prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders, yet Iran persists in this practice.

Hatem Ozdemir, a Turkish national, has been sentenced to death for the second time. After his initial death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court, he was re-sentenced to death. Furthermore, Iran has recently executed two more Sunni religious prisoners, Anwar Khazari and Khosrow Basharat, following a highly controversial trial. The trial, which involved the alleged murder of a man, was marred by significant human rights violations, including the lack of effective legal representation for the defendants.

Additionally, Iran continues to execute political prisoners. Mahmoud Mehrabi was sentenced to death on the charge of “corruption in the world” based on allegations that he published falsehoods on his Instagram page. This situation highlights ongoing concerns about the fairness and impartiality of Iran’s judicial system and its adherence to international human rights standards.

 

 

Freedom of Thought and Expression 

Iran continues to crackdown on anyone who protests or criticizes the regime, and continues to violate the right to freedom of expression and thought. This month there have been 363 cases related  to freedom of expression. This includes Wafa Ahmadpour and Daniyal Moghadam, who were arrested for producing a protest music video. Since the 2022 protests, many artists who have used creative outlets to call attention to the protests have been arrested. On the 18th of May, Mehrshad Kalini, a pediatric specialist living in Lordegan city, was arrested by the security forces while he was holding a banner protesting the death sentences in one of the streets of this city.

Additionally, journalists continue to be arrested, mainly on charges of propaganda against the regime. This month 4 journalists were arrested. Journalist Ali Moslehi was summoned and imprisoned for this exact charge. Recently, Shirin Saidi was sentenced to five years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. Saidi’s travels abroad to South Africa and Lebanon for journalism were used against her in the case.

This month, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president, died in a helicopter crash, causing a significant media stir. As a result, several citizens were summoned, arrested, and interrogated for their posts about the incident. In Amlash city, 10 individuals were arrested for publishing material related to the crash, with the police claiming that the content was intended to disturb the public’s mind. Hayman Mam Khosravi, the brother of Hajar Mam Khosravi, one of the victims of the nationwide protests of 2022, was summoned to the Bukan Intelligence Department for publishing information related to the crash. Maryam Daulatabadi, a resident of Sabzevar, who was arrested after publishing material about the helicopter crash, is still in custody despite the passage of three days, and her family is unaware of her condition.

 

Prison Conditions

In Iran, there have been 16 cases of prisoners lacking medical care and 92 cases of uncertainty due to excessive prolongation of the judicial process and delays in determining the individuals’ status. Additionally, there are 45 cases where no information about the person has been available after their arrest, leaving families in the dark about the prisoners’ fates due to a lack of contact. Meanwhile, 8 political prisoners have been granted medical leave, and there have been 2 cases of suicide among the incarcerated. Furthermore, 26 prisoners have been transferred to solitary confinement, 6 have had no access to a lawyer, and 4 have gone on hunger strikes in protest of their conditions. 

Amidst these alarming trends, recent incidents have highlighted the harsh realities faced by detainees. Zartasht Ahmadi Ragheb, a political prisoner in Qazalhasar prison in Karaj, was transferred to solitary confinement after protesting the treatment of another inmate. In Lakan prison in Rasht, Hamzeh Darwish attempted suicide and was returned to prison despite needing further medical attention. Another case in Qazalhasar prison involved Reza Khazaei, who was beaten by prison officers and transferred to solitary confinement after exposing the prison’s dire conditions in a video. Meanwhile, Varishe Moradi and Paharhan Azizi, political detainees in Evin prison, initiated a hunger strike to protest Moradi’s transfer to Ward 209 and the delay in their court hearing. These incidents underscore the urgent need for improved conditions and fair treatment within Iran’s prison system.

 

 

Women 

The implementation of ‘Operation Noor’ has led to a significant increase in arrests and warnings related to improper hijab wear. In May alone, 602 women were arrested for violating hijab laws, and up until May 30,602 warnings were issued for improper hijab use. A notable incident occurred at Azad University Central Tehran Branch on May 26, where at least 100 students were forcibly detained for not adhering to mandatory hijab laws. They were released only after signing a commitment letter to comply with hijab rules, with some being allowed to leave only after changing their veils.

Aida Shakarami, the sister of deceased protester Nika Shakarami, has been formally charged with “inciting immorality and indecency” and “disobedience to officers.” Additionally, Zhina (Jina) Modarresi Gorji was sentenced to a total of 21 years in prison: ten years for “forming illegal groups aimed at overthrowing the regime,” ten years for “collaborating with hostile countries and groups,” and one year for “propaganda against the regime.” These cases highlight the ongoing crackdown on dissent and the stringent enforcement of hijab laws in Iran.

 

Workers 

Workers in Iran face ongoing challenges and hazardous workplaces. In a tragic turn of events, this month saw 37 fatalities resulting from work-related accidents, with an additional 34 workers left injured. Moreover, 8345 workers reported unpaid wages spanning 67 months, while 4100 others were denied their insurance rights. Additionally, 3 businesses faced closure due to hijab violations, adding to the economic strain. 

Furthermore, workers continue to commit suicide due to dire financial constraints and the pressure placed on them by employers and city officials, which makes both their work and personal situations difficult. Additionally, trade activists continue to be summoned to court and sentenced for their activism. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, a teachers union activist was summoned on the charge of ‘propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran”. He is being tried based on his instagram posts. 

Lastly, Kulbars (border couriers) continue to be killed and injured due to military activists at the border. Ajvan Kiani, was in a car when military officials, without warning, opened fire on the car. Mohammad Saran, Ghulam Sarani, and  Nabi Sarani, were all killed due to indiscriminate firing of military officials. This killing of border workers continues to be a significant issue in Iran, where border workers are often killed or injured due to military activities. This month 5 Kulbars were killed and 3 were injured.

 

International News Update:

On the 13th of May, Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran along with other UN experts are calling on Iran to revoke the death sentence imposed on anti-corruption activist Mahmoud Mehrabi and to stop sentencing people to death for expressing their opinions. Mehrabi was convicted on vague charges of “corruption on earth” related to his online activism on justice and corruption in Iran. The experts argue that critical views, even if expressed online, do not warrant the death penalty under international law. They express alarm over Iran’s use of severe punishments for freedom of expression, including death sentences and long-term prison terms, citing the recent case of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi. The experts emphasize that freedom of expression is fundamental to a free and democratic society and call for amendments to Iran’s Constitution and penal code to prohibit executions and commute all death sentences. They highlight the chilling effect Mehrabi’s arrest and sentencing have on freedom of expression in Iran, particularly in the wake of nationwide protests in 2022.

Additionally Australia has sanctioned five IRGC individuals and three entities for human rights violations, this includes Amir Hatami, Esmail Qaani, Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, Rashid Gholam, Mehdi Gogerdchian

 Lastly, On the 30th of  May several UN Experts published a statement  about the violence and threats against journalists in Iran. The statement discusses the condemnation by UN experts of violence, threats, and intimidation against the Persian language news service Iran International and its journalists, staff, and owner, Volant Media UK Limited. The experts express deep concern over the escalation of such acts, culminating in the violent stabbing of journalist Pouria Zeraati outside his home in London. They highlight the broader pattern of repression against Persian language media services and the chilling effect these attacks may have on journalists both inside and outside Iran. The article also outlines instances of transnational repression targeting journalists reporting on Iran, including physical assaults and the imposition of travel and financial sanctions. The experts call on Iran to refrain from violence, threats, and intimidation against Iran International and other journalists reporting on Iran from abroad, urging investigation and prosecution of those responsible for such acts.

 

Download Full Pdf: Monthly Report May

Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Iran: Battling Restrictive Laws and Discriminatory Practices

HRANA News Agency –In the past decade, Iran has ramped up stringent policies aimed at restricting women’s rights, particularly their reproductive autonomy, under the guise of bolstering national security and economic growth. Spearheaded by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s advocacy for population growth, Iran introduced measures like the 2015 Bill 446 and 2021 Population Rejuvenation and Family Support Act, which limit access to contraception and abortion while reinforcing traditional gender roles. Recent legislation like the 2023-2024 Population Youth Bill further criminalizes abortion, imposes discriminatory workplace practices, and restricts prenatal screenings, disproportionately affecting rural and marginalized women. These systemic violations jeopardize women’s health, autonomy, and human rights, prompting calls for international intervention to address Iran’s deepening gender inequality.

The detailed report below addresses the latest developments in this area in Iran.

Read the comprehensive report by Human Rights Activists in Iran, published simultaneously with a joint statement by civil society organizations.

“When I realized I couldn’t meet the stringent requirements for a legal abortion, I felt desperate and trapped. This led me to seek an illegal abortion. The entire experience was cloaked in secrecy and fear. I was scared for my health and well-being, knowing the risks involved with unregulated procedures. The fear of legal repercussions loomed large, adding to the stress of the situation.”

Introduction

Over the past decade, Iran has implemented increasingly stringent policies aimed at curtailing women’s fundamental rights. These measures, partly driven by concerns over declining population growth, have been repeatedly purported by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei since 2012 to mitigate the challenges of an aging populace. In 2012, Khamenei denounced the existing policies as an imitation of western policies. He wanted an increase from Iran’s population from 78 million to around 200 million. He advocated for an end to contraceptive methods and Family and Population planning programs. Iranian leadership argues that a higher population would drive economic growth and national security, drawing on a traditionalist view of family and gender roles.

Unfortunately, lawmakers have chosen to address this demographic issue by imposing restrictions on women’s reproductive autonomy. This includes denying access to essential reproductive healthcare and information, as well as enforcing discriminatory policies that reinforce traditional gender roles, compelling women into the primary caregiving role. The following analysis provides a comprehensive examination of the decade-long population growth laws, shedding light on the systemic violations of international women’s rights alongside insights from women who have endured the direct consequence of the implementations.

In Iran, religious ideology plays a significant role in shaping discussions on reproductive rights. Particularly unique to the country is the emphasis on increasing the Shia population, driven by concerns about preserving cultural and religious dominance. Religious authorities assert that boosting fertility rates among Shia adherents is not only a religious duty but also essential to offsetting perceived threats from the Sunni population and Afghan immigrants. To inspire compliance with these objectives, religious figures such as Lady Fatima, revered for her divine femininity in Islam, are invoked. This serves to instill women with a sense of religious obligation and merit, aligning personal choices with state and religious imperatives.

2015: The Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline (Bill 446) & The Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill (Bill 315)

The legislative proposals under scrutiny, namely Bill 446, known as the Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline, and Bill 315, referred to as the Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill of 2015, represent significant policy shifts aimed at altering Iran’s approach to family planning.

Bill 446 seeks to restrict access to modern contraceptives and outlaw voluntary sterilization, marking a departure from previous policies that supported family planning measures. Additionally, the bill aims to limit the dissemination of information regarding contraception, including initiatives by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education to promote family planning programs.

Meanwhile, Bill 315 introduces discriminatory measures targeting women in the workplace. Under Article 9, it mandates preferential treatment for men with children, married men without children, and women with children during the hiring process in both public and private sectors. This effectively sidelines childless women from employment opportunities. Furthermore, the bill incentivizes employers in private sectors to prioritize hiring women with children through receiving a 6% reduction in insurance contributions to employees salaries for 5 years. 

The legislation also extends its discriminatory reach into the education sector, where schools are encouraged to favor married applicants over single individuals for teaching positions. Moreover, Article 16 imposes marriage as a prerequisite for obtaining licensure to practice family law, further entrenching gender-based barriers within the legal profession. These provisions collectively reinforce societal norms that prioritize marriage and childbearing for women while restricting their access to the workforce.

Furthermore, under article 10  in public and private schools, teachers and other educational roles should not employ single individuals, unless no married applicants are available. Article 16 makes marriage a precondition for obtaining a license from the Iranian Bar Association to practice family law. 

2021: Population Rejuvenation and Family Support Act

On November 1, 2021, Iran’s Guardian Council greenlit the “Population Rejuvenation and Family Support Act.” Despite its title, this legislation imposes stringent limitations on women’s reproductive rights, including access to birth control and sterilization, a ban on abortion, and perpetuates systemic discrimination against them.

Prior to this law, an abortion could be performed during the first four months of the pregnancy, however this would  require the approval of three different doctors who would need to agree that the pregnancy is either a threat to a woman’s life or that the child would have several physical or mental disabilities that would impair the life of the mother. . 

Several articles further limit already restricted access to safe abortion. Article 56 mandates the Health Ministry to establish a committee that includes doctors, Islamic jurists, and representatives of the judiciary and the parliamentary health committee to draft new regulations for abortion that could lead to further restrictions

Article 52 of the law specifically outlaws voluntary sterilization, a permanent contraceptive method relied upon by both men and women. Additionally, Article 51 prohibits the free distribution of contraceptives within the public healthcare system. Moreover, the legislation mandates the collection and sharing of patients’ fertility, pregnancy, and abortion histories across all Iranian medical institutions, flagrantly violating patients’ privacy rights.

While the bill ostensibly offers benefits to pregnant women and protects them from discriminatory practices, it fails to address pervasive workplace discrimination against women. Despite guaranteeing nine months of fully paid maternity leave under Article 17, Iran lacks legal safeguards against discriminatory hiring practices, effectively sidelining women from the workforce.

Moreover, each new bill in Iran mandates additional requirements for various ministries. For instance, the Ministry of Education and Science must develop educational materials, yet these materials are biased, promoting increased childbirth while downplaying the benefits of contraception and abortion. Furthermore, the Ministry of Intelligence is tasked with cracking down on illegal abortion drugs and advocacy, further limiting women’s reproductive choices.

In essence, while presented as supportive of families, the “Population Rejuvenation and Family Support Act” in reality reinforces gender inequality and curtails women’s autonomy over their bodies and futures.

2023-2024 Population Youth Bill 

Recent legislation in Iran proposes harsher penalties for abortion, ostensibly to boost the country’s population. This draft revision of the Penal Code not only criminalizes abortion in broader circumstances but also extends punitive measures to individuals providing abortion services and sharing related information. Such measures threaten women’s autonomy and health, potentially leading to unsafe practices and reinforcing traditional gender roles.

The Ministry of Health’s decision to remove prenatal screening, aiming to boost population growth, has sparked controversy and concern. Previously, screening for chromosomal abnormalities was optional and conducted during pregnancy at level 1 healthcare centers. However, the new law prohibits healthcare providers from suggesting or offering these screenings, shifting responsibility to specialist doctors at level 2 care. This change disproportionately affects those with limited resources, particularly in rural and underserved areas where access to specialist care is limited. The removal of prenatal screening from level 1 care continues to show the deep-rooted need to control women’s  autonomy. It is a procedure. that prioritizes the health of the baby and also of the mother, and removing it can lead to serious, but also preventable, health complications for the baby and the mother. The move raises questions about the government’s commitment to balancing population growth with ensuring healthy births, as it may inadvertently lead to a rise in disabilities without effectively addressing the root causes of population decline.

This legislative push reflects a broader attempt to control women’s roles within society, disregarding their diverse circumstances and right to make reproductive choices. It implicates multiple governmental bodies, from lawmakers drafting repressive laws to law enforcement agencies implementing them. This comprehensive network of control not only limits women’s autonomy but also jeopardizes their well-being, highlighting a systemic violation of human rights within Iranian governance.

In a conversation with HRA, one woman stated that This law makes me feel suffocated, like I’m being boxed into a role that society has chosen for me. The focus isn’t on our well-being or choice but on fulfilling a role as child-bearers. This isn’t just about reproductive health; it’s about controlling women’s bodies and, by extension, their lives.”

This new law has also raised concerns amongst medical professionals. Concerns about women’s health and the treatment available to women. One doctor disclosed the following to HRA; “The closure of specialized clinics has been disastrous for women’s health. We are seeing an increase in medical complications because women delay seeking help due to reduced access. This hesitancy often results in more severe health issues by the time they reach us, complicating treatment and endangering lives.”

Consequences 

In recent years, the intersection of reproductive rights and healthcare has become increasingly vital for women’s access to comprehensive healthcare. As some nations progress in legalizing abortion and affirming it as both a personal choice and a legal entitlement, significant milestones are achieved. Notably, on March 4, 2024, France fortified this commitment by enshrining abortion as a constitutional right, thereby cementing it as a fundamental freedom guaranteed to all.

However, June 2022 marked a significant turning point when the United States Supreme Court overturned the historic precedent set by Roe v. Wade in 1973, which affirmed a general constitutional protection for the right to abortion. This decision has triggered a profound regression in reproductive rights across the United States. Presently, abortion is prohibited in 14 states, resulting in harrowing scenarios where women are compelled to carry stillborn fetuses and are denied essential medical assistance. Furthermore, some states have enacted punitive measures, including criminal and civil penalties, exacerbating the situation.

Iranian women are not isolated in their struggle to attain access to reproductive healthcare. Nevertheless, the systemic discrimination, infringements upon the right to health, and the extensive legislative measures employed to subdue Iranian women, perpetuating their subordinate status in society, inherently contravene their right to health and their inherent rights as women, consequently jeopardizing their lives. One woman, in a conversation with HRA stated the following after receiving an illegal abortion: “When I realized I couldn’t meet the stringent requirements for a legal abortion, I felt desperate and trapped. This led me to seek an illegal abortion. The entire experience was cloaked in secrecy and fear. I was scared for my health and well-being, knowing the risks involved with unregulated procedures. The fear of legal repercussions loomed large, adding to the stress of the situation.”

Right to Health

Iran has committed to upholding the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which encompasses the right to health, particularly articulated in Article 12(a). This provision emphasizes the imperative to reduce stillbirth rates and infant mortality while promoting the healthy development of children. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has issued various general comments, notably in 2000 through General Comment 14, elucidating the scope of reproductive rights. According to this comment, Article 12(a) encompasses access to essential services such as family planning, prenatal and postnatal care, emergency obstetric services, and comprehensive information. Furthermore, it underscores the necessity for states to ensure unhindered access to contraceptives and other resources vital for sexual and reproductive health. States are also urged to refrain from censoring, withholding, or distorting health-related information, including sexual education, and from impeding individuals’ participation in health-related decision-making processes. 

The international human rights system does not outwardly support the right to abortion in all cases, they have advocated for the need to decriminalize it and that denying access to abortion can amount to a violation to the right to health and at times even considered to be cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. The Special Rapporteur on torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment has especially highlighted that “the denial of safe abortions and subjecting women and girls to humiliating and judgmental attitudes in such contexts of extreme vulnerability and where timely health care is essential amount to torture or ill treatment.

Iran has clearly been violating the right to health, the current bill seeks to criminalize abortion and to advocate for women to have more children, regardless of their health and informing women of potential risks. The Iranian government has gone on a very public campaign to manipulate women into having more children. This includes a public billboard starting “Enjoy a better life through the birth of more children”. Additionally, there have been multiple billboard depicting a better life with more children.

Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that Iran has implemented comprehensive bans on reproductive education and family planning services. Such restrictions not only hinder access to vital information but also deprive women of their right to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Despite these setbacks in Iran’s approach to reproductive rights, it has been a recipient of support and funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since the 1970s. This longstanding support underscores the commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive rights for women and young people. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that challenges persist. The UNFPA recognizes the alarming rise in gender-based violence and harmful practices, as well as the persistent high rates of preventable maternal deaths. Despite considerable financial investments, there remains a pressing need for sustained efforts to address these issues effectively. Within the framework of UNFPA’s 2023-2024 Country Programme and the 2024-2025 collaborative agendas with Iran, it is imperative for UNFPA to advocate for the revision of existing laws that unjustly criminalize abortion and enforce severe penalties on both seekers and providers of abortion services, including healthcare practitioners.

Family planning had been essential to decreasing unsafe abortion in Iran, however the trends over the years have shown a significant shift in safety. One doctor, in a conversation with HRA stated that: “Initially, we observed a decrease in abortion rates, thanks to effective family planning and education. However, the new restrictive laws have reversed that trend. Now, more women are seeking abortions under riskier circumstances, often without adequate medical oversight.”.  Additionally, these new laws have also significantly hampered the relations between medical professionals and patients, a relationship that should be void of any political or religious pressures. Women are feeling more anxious and discussing something as personal as contraception or abortion feels risky and like it could possibly lead to legal consequences. 

Conclusion

The examination of reproductive rights infringements in Iran reveals a troubling reality where women’s autonomy over their bodies and reproductive health is systematically undermined by restrictive legislation and discriminatory practices. From the implementation of laws criminalizing abortion to the imposition of preferential treatment for men in the workplace, Iranian women face significant barriers in accessing essential reproductive healthcare and exercising their fundamental rights.

Moreover, the recent trend of legislative measures aimed at increasing population growth has further eroded women’s autonomy, perpetuating traditional gender roles and reinforcing societal norms that prioritize childbearing over women’s well-being and individual agency. The consequences of these policies are dire, leading to increased risks of unsafe abortion practices, exacerbated health complications, and heightened gender inequality in various spheres of life.

In response to these challenges, it is imperative for the Iranian government to take immediate action to repeal restrictive legislation, promote comprehensive family planning programs, and eradicate discrimination against women in all aspects of society. Collaboration with international organizations can provide valuable expertise and resources in advancing reproductive rights and improving women’s health outcomes.

Furthermore, public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives are essential in challenging societal attitudes and norms that perpetuate gender inequality and discrimination. By upholding international standards of health and human rights, Iran can demonstrate its commitment to advancing gender equality, empowering women, and ensuring the full realization of reproductive rights for all its citizens.

In conclusion, the protection of reproductive rights is not only a matter of individual autonomy but also a fundamental aspect of human rights and dignity. It is incumbent upon the Iranian government to prioritize the health and well-being of its population by enacting policies that respect and uphold women’s reproductive rights, thus fostering a more equitable and inclusive society for all.

See the Joint Statement on Women’s Reproductive Health Here

Monthly Report – April 2024: Human Rights Situation in Iran

HRANA – HRA’s Statistics Department has released its monthly report for April 2024, shedding light on a troubling escalation of human rights violations across Iran. The report reveals a disturbing total of 66 executions, a significant increase from previous months, with 56 men and 3 women among the victims. Of particular concern is the fact that 44 individuals were sentenced to death for drug-related offenses, a practice that contravenes international norms.

The case of protest rapper Toomaj Salehi has garnered widespread attention, as he received a death sentence for “spreading corruption on earth.” This decision has sparked outrage both within Iran and internationally, with many condemning the severity of the punishment and advocating for Salehi’s release.

Furthermore, the report highlights ongoing repression of freedom of expression, exemplified by the imprisonment of university students Hasti Amiri and Zia Naboi for their activism. Disruptions during cultural events, such as the Nowruz ceremony, and security confrontations in Kurdish regions underscore the government’s crackdown on dissent.

Women’s rights continue to be a cause for concern, with increased surveillance and arrests for non-compliance with hijab regulations under the Iranian police’s “Operation Noor.” Cases like the arrest of Aida Shakarami, sister of a protester killed in 2022, and the detention of Nafisa Latifian and Negar Abedzadeh further highlight the challenges women face in Iran.

Executions

This month in Iran, the execution of 66 individuals took place, comprising 56 men and 3 women. A total of 16 individuals were sentenced to death. Iran persists in executing individuals for offenses falling short of the standards outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Notably, there remains a consistent trend of individuals being executed for drug-related crimes, a practice in clear contravention of the right to life as stipulated by the ICCPR. This month, 44 people faced execution for drug-related offenses.

In a startling development, the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan handed down a death sentence to protest rapper Toomaj Salehi for “spreading corruption on earth.” This decision sparked outcry, prompting over fifty civil and trade union activists in North Khorasan province to issue a statement condemning Salehi’s death sentence. They argued vehemently that composing and performing protest songs should not warrant capital punishment. The sentence has led to more public outcry, protests, and intense reactions on social media. A group of Iranian lawyers, non-Iranian lawyers and artists issued a statement condemning the death sentence issued for Tomaj Salehi, a protesting rapper, to draw global public attention to this “inhuman and unjust” sentence. A group of political prisoners, in an open letter, stated that the sentence was a ‘show of power’ by the government. Lastly, according to Toronto police, more than 8,000 demonstrators demanded the immediate cancellation of Tomaj Salehi’s death sentence and the cessation of enforcement against women regarding the hijab.

Freedom of Thought and Expression 

Iran continues to crackdown on anyone who protests or criticizes the regime, and continues to violate the right to freedom of expression and thought. This month two university students, Hasti Amiri and Zia Naboi, started serving their prison sentences. They were sentenced last year after protesting the serial poisoning of school students, they were both sentenced to a year for “propaganda against the regime”. 

On Friday, April 3rd, the Nowruz ceremony in Kale Jub village, Firozabad district, Kermanshah, encountered interruptions and remained incomplete, under the directive of the governor and in the presence of law enforcement. Simultaneously, media outlets reporting on Kurdish regions conveyed incidents of security confrontations during Nowruz celebrations in western areas of the nation, notably near Mehsa (Gina) Amini’s tomb in Saqez city. The IRGC also detained  Mohsen Ghader-Rash and Omid Ghader-Nejad for participating in the Nowruz celebration gathering.

Lastly, protestors who participated in the Women Life Freedom Protest that started in September 2022, continue to get sentenced for their participation. Ayoub Gheibipour was sentenced to 11 years in prison with the charge of “enmity against God (Moharebeh)” and  “propaganda against the regime.” Additionally, during his detention he was also denied medical care.

Women 

This month, the Iranian police announced a plan called ‘Operation Noor’, this plan includes increased surveillance and arrest for non-compliance with hijab rules. Additionally, the IRGC have also implemented a new surveillance body. The implementation of this plan has led to an increase in arrest and violent behavior towards women. Additionally, Aida Shakarami, the sister of Nika Shakarami who was killed by officials during the September 2022 protests, was recently arrested by Tehran’s Morality Police for non-compliance with hijab regulations. Nafisa Latifian and Negar Abedzadeh, the wife and daughter of  Iranian football veteran Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, were arrested in Tehran for not observing the “mandatory hijab”, they were released shortly after.  Lastly, Authorities in Bushehr Province have arrested seven women for sharing social media content related to modeling and photography.Their Instagram posts were removed, and electronic devices were confiscated.

Women continue to be sexually assaulted by officials after being arrested. Journalist Dina Ghalibaf shared on social media that she had been detained by police at a Tehran metro station for allegedly wearing an improper hijab. She described being taken to a room, where she endured electric shocks and sexual assault. This public account led to her arrest the next day by security forces. The whole ordeal was videoed and pictures were taken and published online.

Workers 

Workers in Iran face ongoing challenges and hazardous workplaces. In a tragic turn of events, this month saw 100 fatalities resulting from work-related accidents, with an additional 49  workers left injured. Moreover, concerning 2000 workers reported unpaid wages spanning 43 months, while 37000 others were denied their insurance rights. Additionally, 11 businesses faced closure due to hijab violations, adding to the economic strain. 

Given the context, HRANA News Agency has recently released three comprehensive reports, each delving into the challenges faced by Iranian workers. The first report presents a Statistical Analysis of Iranian Workers spanning from May 1, 2023, to April 27, 2024. Within this timeframe, a concerning 84,226 workers did not receive their paychecks, alongside witnessing 428 worker protests and 1,448 trade union demonstrations. The other report underscored the grim toll of unsafe working conditions, revealing that over the past year, at least 1,680 workers lost their lives and 8,199 were injured. The last report detailed the rise in casualties among cross-border laborers and fuel carriers, with 15 and 9 fatalities respectively, and a combined 152 injuries, primarily attributed to indiscriminate military shootings. The final report 

International News Update:

This month, significant attention was directed towards the human rights situation in Iran.  On 4 April 2024, the Human Rights Council voted to extend the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Iran’s mandate for an additional year through resolution 55/19. Additionally, this resolution also extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. This resolution also calls for Iran to grant access to the country and provide all necessary information to both bodies. 

The US State Department released its 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Iran on April 22nd. The report underscores grave human rights violations, such as unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and instances of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. HRA contributed valuable insights to this report, revealing that authorities executed 37 percent more individuals compared to the previous year and exposing the staggering statistic that over 3,337 workers were owed a cumulative total of more than 262 months of backpay.

Lastly, the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jeremy Laurence released a press statement regarding the new body created by the IRGC to enforce hijab regulations.He also expressed concerns regarding the Guardian Council’s near approval of the Supporting the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab bill, which would impose even more severe punishments for non compliance. Lastly, he also expressed concern regarding the sentence of rapper Toomaj Salehi, urging for the sentences to be overturned. 

 

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