5-year-old Child Killed by Military Gunfire in Iranshahr

Posted on: May 11th, 2021

According to HRANA sources, quoting Rasanak, on Monday, May 10, 2021, a 5-year-old child was killed by military forces’ gunfire in the city of Iranshahr.

Drug Control Force officers were reportedly chasing smugglers in a similar-looking vehicle, and mistakenly opened fire on the car in which the child sat. 

According to the report, a group of citizens protested this incident later on the same day in Iranshahr. 

Security forces were present at this protest and before long, tensions escalated and violence broke out. 

The report states that the security forces opened fire into the crowd of protesters. Whether there were casualties of this subsequent incident of military violence is currently unknown.

 

International Day of Education; an overview of the right to education in Iran in 2020

Posted on: January 25th, 2021

Hrana- This report prepared by Human Rights Activists (HRA) honors the International Day of Education by bringing attention to the state of education in Iran, specially during the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent challenges of online education. Furthermore, this report includes a statistical overview of the violations of the fundamental rights of students and teachers, as well as violations of the right to education that took place between 24th January 2020 to 20th January 2021 in Iran.

“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” (UDHR Article 26)

The right to education is a fundamental right that should be available to everyone free of charge, at least for children in the elementary and fundamental stages. However, many students in Iran have been deprived of their right to education due to the lack of facilities and educational spaces, and dilapidated schools. According to managing director of Society for Protecting the Rights of the Children (SPRC), there are approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped or in impoverished neighbourhoods in Iran, who are deprived of education. Also 49 thousand children do not attend schools because they lack documents such as birth certificate or are active part of the workforce. This statistic does not fluctuate greatly each year however, during the Covid-19 pandemic there has been approximately a three-fold increase in the number of children deprived of basic education, due to lack of proper infrastructure for online education and a sudden shift from classrooms to online schools during the pandemic.

In the university level, in addition to many systematic challenges for getting into universities, many students have been banned from attending higher education due to their religious belief. Students that believe in Baha’i faith are amongst those that are often deprived of either entering universities or completing their university degrees. In addition, on banning students from completing their higher education in Iranian Universities, many teachers and students or individuals that have any connection to the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) have also been arrested and given long prison terms.

Many student and teachers have also been arrested, suspended, expelled, or reprimanded for expressing their thoughts and opinions or for holding peaceful assemblies and publications.

These acts are violation of Freedom of thought and religion, Freedom of opinion and expression, Freedom of Assembly, and the right to education. It is worth mentioning that the right to education includes equal access to higher education for all on basis of merit.

Primary and basic education

Access to basic and primary education has not been equal for all because of various factors, including lack of infrastructure, lack of access for undocumented children, poverty, and cultural and language discriminations. According to the managing director of Society for Protecting the Rights of the Children (SPRC), there are approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped or in impoverished neighbourhoods in Iran, who are deprived of education. Additionally, 49 thousand children do not attend schools because they lack identification documents such as birth certificate or are part of the workforce.

This statistic does not fluctuate greatly each year however, during the Covid-19 pandemic due to lack of proper infrastructure for online education and a sudden shift from classrooms to online schools across the country, there has been approximately a three-fold increase in the number of children deprived of basic education. According to Minister of Education 3 million and 225 thousand children are deprived of education because of lack of access to internet or devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers.

‘Shad’ online education platform asking for national identification number. Photo: Social Media

Covid-19 pandemic and unequal access to online educational platform of ‘Shad’

With the outbreak of the covid-19 virus and the closure of schools, Education Ministry announced that it would resume educating students via the Internet and using a platform called ‘Shad’. The online platform, which requires Internet, has been criticized by teachers and civil society activists from the beginning of its announcement. The problems of online education in Iran and sudden closure of schools without providing any significant support to deprived students includes, lack of access to reliable internet in many parts of the country specially in rural areas, and lack of financial ability of students and their families to purchase necessary devices such as smart phones for this type of education .

Undocumented children: Another major discriminatory aspect of ‘Shad’ platform is that it requires students to register with their national identification number, which leaves undocumented children without access to primary and basic education.

Children in rural areas: There are also reports from various areas of the country that with lack of proper internet connection children have to climb to high points near their cities to be able to connect to internet and the Shad platform to attend classes.

Children from poor-housing or margins of cities: a great proportion of Iran’s population live on the margins of cities or are living in poor-housing conditions. Children living in these conditions are disproportionately affected by the sudden shift to online education and are further discriminated. According to Assembly of Spatial Planning of the Land, in 2020, 45% of Iran’s population were living in poor-housing or on the margins of cities. He continues, “if we calculate 45% of the 85 million population of the country that is today 38 million people living in the margins of cities or in poor-housing.”

Considering these statistics, almost half of the population of the country are living in conditions that makes online-education inaccessible for them.

Photo: IRNA

University and higher education

Higher education in Iran has limited sits available through a national examination system, where all students who wish to enter university have to pass this exam to enter into universities. Based on participants rank in this exam students will be placed into universities and majors of their choices. This exam is highly competitive and often students do not get accepted into their chosen university or majors. In recent years Supreme Leaders office had announced lower sits available to female students, however female students continue to take up more than half of university sits by higher acceptance rate compared to male students. According to the head of Sanjesh institute responsible for carrying out the national university entrance exam (operating under Ministry of Science, Research and Technology), in 2020, 101 thousand and 912 women passed the national university entrance examination that is 53.6% of all the those who registered.

Photo: FARARU

The following section consist of statistics by the statistics department of Human Rights Activists (HRA)

Methodology: The following statistics have been gathered and prepared by the statistic department of Human Rights Activists (HRA). These statistics consist of aggregation of data from HRA’s exclusive reports and documentation efforts, as well as data gathered from public sources. All the gathered information are fact checked to assure their authentication. This data is not exhaustive as many information and statistics are not available or HRA has not been able to verify their authenticity. However, this is a comprehensive report of the available data that HRA has been able to verify.

University Students

In the one-year period, between January 24, 2020 to January 20, 2021, 7 students were arrested, 3 student’s homes were raided by authorities and their personal belongings were confiscated, and 11 student activists were sentenced to a total of 512 months of imprisonment and 222 floggings.

Violation of the Right to Education: 23 Baha’i students were deprived of continuing their education because of their faith.

Violation of the Right to Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly: 20 students of the Mohaghegh University of Ardabil were reprimanded and suspended from university for gathering and attending the memorial of the victims of flight #PS752 tragedy.

Additionally The student publication of ‘Zed va Forough’ was shut down by authorities.

There has been reports of injuries resulting from the neglect and lack of proper infrastructure at universities and student residencies. On 28th January 2020, 4 students were taken to medical facilities after being poisoned by a methane gas leak from a sewage well at the Buein Zahra Technical University (BZTE) of Qazvin.

In this reporting period 21 student protests took place across the country.

Teachers and Union Activists

In the period of one year between January 24, 2020 to January 20, 2021, 3 teachers were arrested, 13 teachers were sentenced to a total of 334 months of imprisonment, 45 floggings and twelve million and hundred Toman in fines.
On August 10, 2020, a teacher at Jared and Balade a part of Kazeroun city of Fars Province committed suicide by drinking poison and lost his life. The reason behind his suicide has been attributed to failing the adult literacy exam.

 

For media and other inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior advocacy Coordinator at Human Rights Activists (HRA), Email: [email protected]

Domestic violence increased during coronavirus quarantines and stay-at-home orders

Posted on: April 5th, 2020

Mahmoud Aligoo, the head of the department of social harms of the State Welfare Organization reported an increase in the number of domestic violence and child abuse by assessing the number of calls made to the national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline. On April 1, 2020, Behzad Vahidnia, the head of counseling and psychology of the State Welfare Organization of Iran reported that the number of calls related to family conflicts during the quarantine times after coronavirus outbreak has been tripled.

Increasing awareness of families regarding how to treat women and girls especially in small cities and rural areas, teaching life skills from childhood, before marriage, after marriage, and before a child is born, researching on the methods to prevent domestic violence, and finally, revising the laws according to the current situations are some of the solutions to overcome violence against women.

Mr. Aligoo also pointed out that the increase in the number of child abuse and domestic violence during this time is because the Iranian middle-class families have been quarantining more seriously which resulted in heightened risk for domestic violence. Vahidinia added that approximately 60% of calls were related to family conflicts. Moreover, unemployment and financial hardship caused by coronavirus outbreak are important factors to the increased domestic violence. “if there are conflicts and mental conflicts, it is because of the poor economic situation in the society. People have to stay home because of the quarantine and thus, they are affected by the financial hardships, they are more in face-to-face contact with each other, there is a higher chance of quarrels, negligence, and emotional destructions and therefore, these factors will contribute in increasing domestic violence. Specifically, domestic violence against the elderly is a very important category of domestic violence” says Vahidinia.

Increase in violence against children

According to Shahrvand News Agency’s report quoting some of the children’s rights activists, there has been an increase in physical and verbal conflicts with children staying at home. Yasaman Dadvar who is responsible for the Sedaye Yar, the first hotline that offers counsel to children and teenagers, says that “quarantine has caused trouble for the families who were not ready for it. Small income and not having enough savings or the opportunity to work remotely has caused tensions in the families. To overcome such tensions, parents and children would need a set of skills but most of the families lack such skills. And this can lead to increased violence against children.”

In February 2019, Habibollah Masoudi Farbod, deputy of social affairs of the State’s Welfare Organization announced that during the year before, there were a million calls made to the national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline from which about 11 thousand calls were related to child abuse and about 10 thousand were related to violence against women.

According to the report compiled by HRANA in 2019, there were 1290 cases of child abuse, 31 cases of rape and sexual assault of children, 10 cases of children being murdered and 31 cases of child suicides.

The Execution of a Juvenile Offender Was Postponed for a Month

Posted on: January 9th, 2020

Arman Abdolaali was arrested in 2013 on the charge of murdering his girlfriend, Ghazaleh Shakour, in 2013 when he was under 18 years old. During the interrogation process, he confessed murdering Ghazaleh Shakour and said that “I was in love with her and proposed to her, but she refused to marry me, so I pushed her, and she was killed”. But afterward, he denies his confession and claims that he has not killed her. While the body of Ghazaleh Shakour was never found, the court sentenced Arman to death. His case was transferred to the Supreme Court of Iran and later to the Appeals Court but finally, after six years, his death sentence is confirmed.

On December 31, 2019, Amnesty International requested the Iranian Officials to refrain from executing Arman Abdolaali since he was a minor at the time of committing the crime. He is 24 years old now. According to Amnesty International, he was a child at the time of his arrest and his execution is an obvious violation of international laws. The court has claimed that while the convict was a minor at the time of committing the crime, but “he was fully aware of his wrongdoing”. He was transferred to a solitary confinement cell in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj to prepare for execution on the charge of “murder” but according to his attorney, Hossein Shamlou Ahmadi, the family of Ghazaleh Shakour has granted Arman Abdolaali a month to clarify some details regarding this case and thus, his execution is postponed.

In 2019, the Iranian authorities issued the death penalty sentence to 108 individuals and have already carried out 248 executions including 13 execution in public. In addition, 4 juvenile offenders have also been executed in 2019 who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. Secret executions of prisoners reported by the independent sources and the human rights association indicate that 75% of executions are carried out in secret or without any public notice.

48 Cases of Child Brides Under the age of 13 Were Registered in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province

Posted on: December 28th, 2019

On December 25, 2019, Abdolreza Karimi, the head of the National Organization of Civil Registry of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province confirmed registering marriages of 48 girls under the age of 13 and a 16-year old boy in this province in the past nine months; 45 girls were 13 years old and three of them are 12 years old.

He also added that the divorce rate was increased by 0.4 % compared to last year.

Child brides have been growing in Iran in recent years. Children’s rights activists claim that this will negatively affect the wellbeing of Iranian families in the future.

Father Was Arrested for Child Abuse in Tehran

Posted on: December 26th, 2019

The father of a 12-year -old boy was arrested for abusing and torturing his son in Tehran. The boy’s hands and feet were bound, and his mouth was duct-taped. He was found in the trunk of his father’s car.

In addition, more than 1800 cases of child abuse were registered in Isfahan Province between March to September of 2019. On December 15, 2019, Mojtaba Naji, the deputy of Social Affairs of the State Welfare Organization of Isfahan, announced that 62 percent of the reported abuse cases were girls and added that 50 percent of the abuse cases were physical damages, 35 percent were negligence, 4 percent were sexual abuse, and the rest was emotional and mental abuse.

Habibollah Masoudi Farid, the deputy of Social Affairs of Iran’s State Welfare Organization, announced in February 2019 that during 2018, more than a million calls were made to the social services hotline of which 11 thousand calls were regarding child abuse.

A juvenile offender was saved from execution in Faryab

Posted on: July 16th, 2019

A juvenile offender who was arrested with a murder charge at the age of 16, was spared from gallows with consent of the next of kin after spending five years in prison in the city of Faryab. He was released on July 15, 2019 with the intervention of the judicial authorities and elders of the city. He murdered a young boy in a fight after losing the control over his anger in 2014.

The head of justice department of this city added that due to convict’s regret, his good behavior in Jiroft Prison, not having a criminal record, and being 16 year old at the time of crime, the justice department intervene to get the victim’s family consent to save him from execution.

Faryab is in Kerman province.

Young Girl Dies by Suicide

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On the night of Monday, November 12, 2018, Sima Damouri, a student under the age of 18, died by suicide in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province.

A close source speculated that a family dispute drove her to take her own life. Her funeral was held on November 13th. She was a resident of Likak in Bahmayi county.

In another incident reported today, a young woman, in an apparent suicide attempt, landed on a teacher while falling from the roof of a school. As of the date of this report, no further information was available about the incident.

According to Iran’s Coroner Organization, teen suicide accounts for 7% of all suicides in Iran.

Kurdistan Court Condemns Juvenile Offender with History of Mental Illness

Posted on: November 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Sanandaj prisoner Shayan Saeedpour, now 20, has been sentenced to death by Judge Vafayian in Branch 1 of Kurdistan Criminal Court for a murder he committed at age 17, at a time that he may have been under monitoring for a psychiatric condition.

A member of Saeedpour’s family told HRANA that the young man stands accused of murdering Soleyman Azadi in a scuffle on August 16, 2015, just two months shy of his 18th birthday. “Saeedpour said he was acting under the influence of bootleg alcohol and wasn’t in his right mind,” the source said.

Saeedpour turned himself over to police two days after the incident, accompanied by his father.

An appeals request submitted by Saeedpour’s lawyer is currently under review. “[…]Despite evidence and witness testimony, the coroner’s office has left the judiciary to determine whether or not he was intoxicated,” the attorney said. “…[He] was under the influence of alcohol and two witnesses have testified to the veracity of this claim.”

The attorney added that Saeedpour didn’t know the victim prior to the incident.

Saeedpour’s loved ones say he has a history of inflicting self-harm, impulse control disorder, and — since 2014 — consistent psychiatric oversight. According to his family, Saeedpour betrayed no indication of grasping what had transpired after Azadi was killed. The coroner’s office disagreed: as relayed by Saeedpour’s lawyer, they ruled he had “the mental maturity and capacity to distinguish right from wrong and to discern whether his action was criminal.”

Seeking a second opinion, the case investigator sent the case to the Kermanshah coroner, who concurred with the initial evaluation.

In addition to the death penalty, Saeedpour was sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking.

A close source shared with HRANA that Saeedpour was once a member of a traditional Iranian gym. Previously the bodybuilding champion in his province, he once placed third in a national tournament.

The punishment of children — particularly death sentences for minors caught up in skirmishes, crimes of passion, or the drug trade — remains one of the premier human rights battles in Iran.

Iran has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for the past 25 years. Article 37 of the Convention reads, “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age”. In 2017, at least four juvenile offenders were executed in Iran after their 18th birthday. Since the beginning of 2018, multiple child offenders have been executed or sentenced to death.

Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are among the few countries where offenders can be executed for crimes they committed as minors. In response to one of these executions in February of 2018, Human Rights Watch issued a statement urging Iranian authorities to “ …]immediately and unconditionally end the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by children under age 18, and move toward a complete ban on capital punishment.”

Twelve-Year-Old Son of Late Azerbaijani Activist Arrested

Posted on: October 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Araz Amani, the 12-year-old son of a renowned Azerbaijani activist who died under suspicious circumstances 10 years ago, was arrested on October 24th before his father’s commemoration service. Araz’s cousin on his father’s side, Amir Amani, was detained along with him.

Araz’s father Gholamreza Amani died in a car accident along with two of his brothers on October 24, 2008. Many Iranians consider his death suspicious, going as far as speculating that it was premeditated by Iranian authorities.

A source close to the Amani family told HRANA that the two cousins had gone to clean their fathers’ tombstones at the cemetery around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24th when they were detained by eight plainclothes officers. After being interrogated for hours, agents told Araz to call home to let them know he would not be released until Friday, October 26th at noon, i.e. after his late father’s ceremony had ended.

On a phone call to Araz’s mother Gounesh Amani the day before, security agents had advised her to cancel the ceremony. She refused.

As planned, Araz and Amir Amani were both released on October 26th from the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in Tabriz.

That same day, three other attendees — Sajad Afrouzian, Sadollah Sasani, and Ebrahim Ranjbar — were arrested for their participation in the ceremony. Afrouzian and Sasani were released the next day, while Ranjbar’s fate remains unknown.

Tabriz is the capital of the northwestern province of Eastern Azerbaijan, which borders the Republic of Azerbaijan and is home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.