Three Inmates Including a Juvenile Offender Executed in Urmia Prison Despite Pleas from Amnesty International

At dawn on Sunday, July 4, three prisoners, one of whom was a juvenile offender, were executed in Urmia Prison despite Amnesty International’s pleas for the execution to be halted.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the three prisoners, who had previously been sentenced to death for murder, were transferred to solitary confinement the day before the sentence was carried out.

HRANA has confirmed the identities of the three prisoners as juvenile offender Baha-al-din Ghasemzadeh, Baha-al-din’s brother, Davood Ghasemzadeh, a native of the Salmas, and  Anwar Abdollahi, a native of Mahabad City in West Azerbaijan Province.

HRANA previously reported on the deteriorating physical condition of the two imprisoned brothers in June of 2018. The Gasemzadeh brothers were executed this Sunday even though Baha al-din was a child at the time of his arrest, and Davood had severe spinal cord injuries from beatings sustained during his detention.

Recently, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, Secretary of the state-run High Council for Human Rights, MajidTafreshi, said that the Islamic Republic executes juvenile offenders “three to four times a year”, and claimed this should not be considered a human rights violation.

Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per capita, according to international organizations. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) reported that between January 1st and December 20th of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed. One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

“Iranian authorities must immediately stop the execution of Baha al-din Ghasemzadeh,” Amnesty International tweeted the day before the execution took place.  “The imposition of the death penalty on those who were children at the time of the crime is a gross violation of Iran’s international rights and obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Chahardangeh Head of Education says 20% of the District’s School Buildings are Unsafe

The Head of Education in Chahardangeh, one of the six districts of Sari city in Mazandaran Province, recently commented on the effects that authorities’ infrastructural negligence have had on the area.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Chahardangeh suffers from poor roads, water shortages, healthcare, and waste disposal, besides the lack of proper educational facilities for students in this area.

Chahardangeh Head of Education Hamed Khalili said that 20 percent of the district’s schools have unsafe buildings in the district and that three of the schools’ classrooms in the villages of Peshert, Elyerd, and Vestmin are mobile temporary classrooms.

Several schools in this section also need to be demolished and some need building reinforcements.

Khalili stressed the lack of proper educational facilities, worn-out buildings, and the living problems of students in the area. He further said that students’ lives could be endangered by natural disasters such as earthquakes if repairs are not made soon.

Juvenile Defendant Sews his Mouth Closed in Sanandaj Youth Detention Center

On June 19, a teenager in Sanandaj Youth Detention Center sewed his mouth closed to protest the prolonged process of his case by the Second Investigation Branch of Marivan.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, 17-year-old Arman Farahmand is the son of Mokhtar and a resident of Sardush village in Marivan city in Kurdistan Province.

Arman Farahmand is said to have been arrested along with eight others in Marivan in September 2020 following a mass brawl over the murder of a citizen named Pouya Chareh Talab. The rest of the defendants have been acquitted in recent months.

Ali Arjangi, a Juvenile Offender on Death Row, Attempted Suicide in Ardabil Prison

On Saturday, June 12, Ali Arjangifard ghujeh Beiglou, a juvenile offender on death row, attempted suicide in Ardabil Prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Iran Human Rights (IHR), prison officials transferred him to the nearest hospital in Ardabil after the attempt. Beiglou is currently in critical condition in Fatemi hospital.

An informed source said, “Ali Arjangi attempted suicide by cutting part of his neck veins with the motive of ending his life before the execution.”

Ali Arjangi was arrested at the age of 17 on murder charges and has been held in the youth prison of Ardabil Central Prison since.

He was previously sentenced to death by Branch 3 of the Special Juvenile Court for murder, and the sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. The verdict is said to have been issued following a forensic examination confirming his mental development.

According to the HRANA annual report for the year 2020, at least 4 juvenile offenders were executed in Iran last year, and 2 other juvenile offenders have been sentenced to death.

Golpayegani Comments on Ministry of Health’s Failure to Disclose Info on Wound Dressings Given in April 2020

Hamidreza Golpayegani, founder and CEO of the charity foundation EB Health House, gave a statement on the Ministry of Health’s handling of a delivery of 5.8 tons of wound dressings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Golpayegani specifically commented on the lack of communication and regulation from the Ministry.

“In April 2020, the Ministry of Health and the EB House negotiated with the German government and with the support of Germany and UNICEF, 5.8 tons of wound dressings was delivered to the Ministry of Health to be given to us periodically, but unfortunately there has not been a regulation in timing,” Golpayegani said. “We did not receive any wound dressing last October and November and the Ministry never told us how many wound dressings were received from Germany.”

EB Home Foundation is a charity foundation that assists patients with specific skin problems.

“An expert at the General Directorate of Medical Equipment said all 5.8 tons of dressings have been received,” Golpayegani added, “But they also need dressings for burns and diabetic wounds.”

 

 

 

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Student is Injured Attempting to Climb Mountain to Access Internet for Virtual Learning

A student in Pichkan village of Zirkuh city in the South Khorasan Province fell from a mountain and was severely injured in the face and eyes.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Rokna News, the student had gone to the mountains to access the internet and use virtual learning networks.

Talebi, the director of Zirkuh education confirmed the incident happened and said the injured  is a student of Hajiabad vocational school in Zirkuh.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, virtual learning has played a critical role in Iran’s education system, but access to the necessary materials remains limited. Students in many villages of Iran are forced to face the environmental hazards in the highlands to access the internet due to the poor network coverage in their area.

The head of the country’s Exceptional Education Organization stated that 30% of students do not have equipment for e-learning; he said: “5 million students in the country do not have access to smartphones and tablets.”

Javad Hosseini also expressed that 8% of students use their parent’s devices for e-learning which does not provide the students with stable access to learning equipment.

 

 

16 Rallies in 2 Days: Students and Workers Across the Country Protest Unsafe Conditions

On May 5th and May 6th, several protests broke out that were related, in various ways, to political and economic institutions’ disregard for the safety and wellbeing of their members. High school students in at least 14 cities gathered to protest mandatory physical attendance for their final exams. In Tehran, a group of Tehran Metro workers gathered to demand that their medical and economic demands be met. A group of operators of the West Regional Electricity Company in Kermanshah protested the lack of wage regulation in the new year.

 

Police beat the protest students

 

On May 6, 2021, high school students in at least 14 cities including Boroujerd, Tehran, Qazvin, Semnan, Karaj, Shahr-e Kord, Shiraz, Zanjan, Khorramabad, Yazd, Tabriz, Birjand, Ardabil, and Fooladshahr, protested mandatory physical attendance for final exams.  To prevent further spread of COVID-19 and to ensure their own and their families’ safety, these students are calling for “final exams to be held virtually /online”.

Below is footage of students protesting in-person exams

 

The protesting students gathered in front of their respective education department buildings and chanted slogans such as “Do not be afraid, we are all in this together”, and “We do not want to physically attend”.

At some of these demonstrations, police physically assaulted peaceful student protestors. Several student protesters in Yazd and Fooladshahr were reportedly beaten by officers.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran, conducting exams that require physical attendance has raised concern among students and their families. On the Monday before the protests, the Corona Management Committee in Iran claimed that final exams were to be held in person in large and ventilated places.

Jafar Pashaei, Director General of Education in Tabriz Province responded to the protests. “Holding exams in person for the ninth and twelfth-grade is a national decision,” Pashaei said, “And it will definitely be held under protocols and distancing.”

Despite ongoing demands to be given a remote option, and despite the May 6th protests, education officials have maintained the in-person exam schedule.

 

Protests from Tehran Metro Employees

 

According to the official channel of railway workers and technical maintenance staff, a group of Tehran Metro personnel gathered in the company courtyard to protest the lack of attention to their demands for fair treatment,

The protesting workers’ main demands are “Expertise allowance, hardship allowance, prioritized COV-19 vaccination, Job title modification, full implementation of labor wage increase based on the decree of Supreme Labor Council, stop the plan of removing the trains’ co-driver, modify the formula for calculating the personnel salary tax, elimination of discrimination between operational and administrative staff as well as the revival and implementation of mandates to provide personal equipment for drivers.”

 

 

 

Protests from West Regional Electricity Company Operators

 

According to ILNA, on May 5, a group of operators of the West Regional Electricity Company in Kermanshah protested in front of the regional electricity office building in Kermanshah.

The operators said in a statement, “The wage decree of the Ministry of Labor is not being implemented well for us. Our wages and benefits are much lower than those of officials and contractors, and the wage increase has not been properly applied to us in the new year. Our wages are very low considering the inflation and what we do.”

The spokespeople added that what the Regional Ministry of Energy and Regional Electricity Office pay to companies as personnel salaries often do not end up going to the workers. These operators, who carry out dangerous work handling high-voltage electricity, want to sign a contract with the regional electricity itself, rather than the contractors.

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

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, 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

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

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.