Monthly Report – An Overview of the Human Rights Situation in Iran in March – April, 2015

HRANA News Agency – The Department of Statistics and Publications of the Human Rights Activists Association of Iran has published the following monthly report on the human rights situation in Iran during the period of March – April, 2015 (Persian calendar month of Farvardin, 1394). This report cannot perfectly and comprehensively reflect the details of human rights concerns in Iran for obvious reasons including the existing governmental limitations and ban on the free exchange of information. It should be emphasized that in addition to the monthly reports, the Department of Statistics and Publications of the Human Rights Activists Association of Iran publishes a comprehensive and analytical annual report at the end of each year.

Moreover, it should be noted that the consistent report of human rights violations was significantly declined and interrupted due to the long New Year holidays, which mainly resulted from lack or significant decline in the activities supported by organizations, media, and human rights activists.

An Overview of the Human Rights Situation in Iran March- April, 2015

The systematic violation of human rights in Iran continued in the month of Farvardin (March – April, 2015) of the Persian calendar year, 1394. Due to the New Year holidays, there was significant decline in the number of human rights violations reports at the beginning of the year. However, the executions of 14 individuals in the cities of Maragheh, Mashhad, and Shiraz were momentous cases of human rights violations in this month. Some of the most noted cases of executions in this month include the executions of six prisoners in the prison of Rajayee Shar Karaj, execution of one individual charged with armed robbery, and mass executions in the prisons of Rajayee Shahr and Ghezelhesar, which were mainly carried out in secret and without public media coverage.

In its most recent report (in 12April2015), the Amnesty International reviewed the death sentence and the number of executions in 2014 in the world. Based on this report, the registered cases of death sentences in the world increased by 541 and reached 2466 ruling last year. Amnesty International reported that Iran is a leader in the number of execution.

The good news of this month was suspension of death sentences of six wildlife security forces in 2014. Masoumeh Ebtekar, the head of the environmental monitoring organization, indicated that the execution sentences of 6 out of 8 wildlife securities who were initially sentenced to death were suspended. She positively speculated that the sentences of the remaining two securities will be similarly suspended.

On the other hand, the violations of ethnic minorities rights continued in this month: a citizen of Baluchistan was shot and killed by the security forces; a young shepherd from Baluchistan was shot and killed by the revolutionary guard forces; and killing of eight border petrol guards who were killed in the Iran-Pakistan border and highlighted the intensity of the problems and insecurity at the borders of the country.

In the category of violations of Baha’is rights, the violations continued as usual, and several reports including the start of imprisonment terms of Iman Rashidi and Shabnam Motahhed in the prison of Yazad as well as the imprisonment of Farahnaz Misaghian were reported. In one of the most exceptional reports on the violations of Baha’is rights, there was a report on banning the burial of a Baha’I citizen in the city of Tabriz. According to this report, the authorities at the Tabriz Vadi-Rahmat cemetery stopped the burial ceremony of Mr. Morovati who was deceased in February 2015 and buried his body in the city of Miandoab without permission from his family and in the absence of a religious ceremony.

Further to the violations of religious rights, four Sufi citizens of small city of Kovar who were driving to their hometown where arrested. Moreover, raiding a cultural institution related to Sufis and their cultural activities, arrest of two Gonabadi Sufis, and deporting four Gonabadi Sufis were amongst the most important cases of violations of Sufis rights.

Regarding continual harassment of convert Christians, there were reports of the arrest of several individuals. Also, Ebrahim Firouzi, the convert Christian and prisoner of the Rajayee shahr prison was sentenced to five years in prison.

Regarding children’s rights, there was a report about the punishment and transfer of a primary school female student in the city of Hamedan. Moreover, Aliasghar Fani, the minister of the education also  indicated that a third of the country’s schools do not have the required standard and need to be reconstructed.

In the category of women rights in Iran, there were several reports of onslaughts against Iranian women, among the most significant of which was the number of women facing the employment discrimination and the death of one victim of acid attacks.

Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare indicated that the unemployment rate for women is twice that of men. He added: the Ministry of Labor is working with the appropriate policies to improve the situation of female workers. Ali Rabiey also indicated that one of the biggest challenges of the system is relatively young population of the unemployed women when compared to men.

In the last month, there were several reports related to the labor rights movements or violations of labor rights including the gathering of petrochemical complex of Tabriz employees in front of the office of the ministry of labor, lack of news about the situation of a labor rights activist named Koorosh Bakhshandeh,  and issuing imprisonment decrees plus lashes against  five mine workers in the city of Chadormaloo, and the arrest of one workers’ rights activities  in the city of Sanandaj.

Moreover, two representatives of the syndicate of bakers in the city of Sanandaj were sentenced to five months imprisonment and 30 lashes. This decree was later converted to five years imprisonment by the judge.

There were also a couple of reports about fatal work accidents including the death of two workers due to safety issues at work and another four workers due to the same safety problems in the city of Shirvan.

In the field of trade union and union rights, there were a few incidents in this months including the arrest of Alireza Hashemi, the Secretary General of Iranian teachers, as well as gathering of the literacy coaches in front of parliament was the most important news.

Fortunately, a few reports were published this month in the field of culture, including positive report of the release of Ardeshir Ahmadi, an Iranian-Canadian young imprisoned filmmaker.

While everybody has been waiting for the positive reforms that the president promised during his presidential campaign, there has been numerous disappointing news concerning cancelation of several music concerts. These news could indicate that there has not been significant changes in the area of culture, which may have led several cultural activists to abandon their activities in this field. The government of the president Rouhani has a new discouraging record – the cancelation of 20 concerts in about two years.

In the field of health and the environment protection, there have been several distressful reports in this month including the killing of dogs in Shiraz. According to one report, dogs have been killed inhumanly by injecting poison and acid in one of the industrial towns of Shiraz and the contractors have received 15 thousand Touman (5-6 dollars) per each dead dog. The unacceptable treatments of animals along with the environmental pollution have been the main focus of the civil and environmental rights activists in this month.

Specific Attention to the Violation of Human Rights

In this section of this monthly report, it is necessary to highlight the most controversial and publicly sensitive cases of violations of human rights in Iran. It is obvious that more attention does not necessarily mean that it is a measure of the magnitude of the violations of human rights in that specific category.

The first case to underline is the imprisonment of Mostafa Azizi, the writer and movie director in the Evin prison that resulted in significant public reaction. Moreover, the censorship of the social networks (including Instageram), the release of Ardeshir Ahmadin, and the arrest of Ayatollah Nekounam are among the most publically noted reports about the human rights situation in Iran.

The least underlined human rights violations

In contrast to the reports indicated in the previous section, many human rights reports received little or no attention from media, Facebook and internet activists, who are considered key contributors of the public opinion. It should be note that some of these unintentional or intentional negligence has resulted in further spread of human rights violations in Iran.

The dismissal of the secretary of the Mizan News agency after reporting the name of former president Mohammad Khatami, summoning one of the journalist of the ISKA-news agency to the ministry of intelligence, and the imprisonment decree of two young members of the Neda-Iran party were among the least publically noted news.

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