Human Rights Activists (HRA) Submit Comprehensive Report for Universal Public Review on the Islamic Republic of Iran

Press Release: On 16 July 2024, Human Rights Activists (HRA) submitted a comprehensive report to the Universal Public Review on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The information contained within the report covers five key thematic areas. The submission contains information drawn from investigations, interviews,  and reports published by HRA. 

Human Rights Activists (HRA) Submit Comprehensive Report for Universal Public Review on the Islamic Republic of Iran

Human Rights Activists (HRA) have submitted a comprehensive report to the Universal Public Review on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The information contained within the report covers five key thematic areas.These reports are based on extensive investigations, interviews, and published materials by HRA. Each thematic area includes carefully prepared recommendations aimed at addressing the identified human rights issues. HRA urges the UPR Working Group to utilize the aforementioned submission in its Review Session with the Islamic Republic. In addition, HRA looks forward to engaging with the working group both in advance of and throughout the review period.

1. LGBTQ+ Rights Violations: This report details the human rights violations against the LGBTQ+ community in Iran, focusing on discriminatory laws, violations of privacy, and the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. It also addresses issues of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. HRA’s recommendations call for the repeal of discriminatory legislation and the protection of LGBTQ+ rights.

For More information Read Factsheet: Fact Sheet LGBTQ+ Rights Violations

2. Prohibition of Torture and Prison Conditions: Drawing from a prior HRA report, this document examines the dire conditions in Iranian prisons, highlighting medical neglect, torture, ill-treatment, overcrowding, and inhumane conditions. It includes statistics on medical neglect and deaths in custody, as well as several emblematic cases of prison abuse. 

For More information Read Factsheet: Fact Sheet Prohibition of Torture and Prison Conditions

3. Right to Life and the Death Penalty: Focused on Iran’s use of the death penalty, this report underscores the country’s status as one of the world’s leading executors. HRA provides statistics on total executions, including those of women and juveniles, and executions for political and drug-related offenses. The report emphasizes that many death sentences are the result of unfair trials, contravening international law.

For More information Read Factsheet: Fact Sheet Right to Life and the Death Penalty

4. Labor Rights Violations: This report documents numerous violations of labor rights in Iran, including wage theft, unsafe working conditions, suppression of labor unions, and arbitrary arrests of labor activists. It also highlights discrimination against women and minorities in the workplace.

For More information Read Factsheet: Fact Sheet Labor Rights Violations. 

5. The Right to Health with special attention to Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women: This report documents the stringent laws and discriminatory practices that undermine women’s rights and health.  HRA provided statistics on clinic closure and an account of a medical professional who was indicted and lost their medical license. 

For More information Read Factsheet:Fact Sheet The Right to Health. 

Each report contains specific recommendations by HRA, aimed at addressing these critical human rights issues in the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, ([email protected]) Deputy Director, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS (HRA)

Iran Prepares for a Presidential Election. Guardian Council Vets Six Candidates with Questionable Records

Iran Prepares for a Presidential Election. Guardian Council Vets Six Candidates with Questionable Records

In the wake of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s death last month, Iran is gearing up for a presidential election. 

Historical Lack of Free and Fair Elections in Iran Dating Back Decades

Iranian elections have a dark past, consistently marked by a lack of free, fair, and transparent processes. In 2009, the highly disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to widespread allegations of vote-rigging and fraud, sparking the largest protests since the 1979 revolution. The Green Movement, as it came to be known, saw millions of Iranians take to the streets demanding democracy and more. The government responded with a violent crackdown, resulting in numerous arrests, injuries, and deaths–some of those arrested remain detained today. 

The 2021 election saw the lowest voter turnout in history, highlighting growing public disillusionment. Despite this, the ruling elite persist in claiming legitimacy, even as each election sees diminishing public participation. This lack of engagement underscores the deepening disconnect between the ruling elite and the general populace. 

Six Candidates Cleared for Upcoming Iranian Presidential Election 

As the upcoming election approaches, six candidates have been approved. The approval process for presidential candidates in Iran is overseen by the Guardian Council, a powerful body comprising six Islamic jurists appointed by the Supreme Leader and six jurists approved by the Parliament. This council rigorously vets each applicant, assessing their qualifications, political and religious beliefs, and backgrounds—not on true merit. As a result, numerous candidates are often disqualified, leaving only a select few approved to run in the election.

Iran has had a significant history in manipulating the elections. The 2009 presidential election in Iran was marred by significant controversy and accusations of fraud. After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced as the winner with nearly 63% of the vote, widespread protests erupted, driven by opposition candidates who claimed vote manipulation. These protests, part of the Iranian Green Movement, persisted into 2010. The government’s violent suppression of these protests, resulting in deaths and arrests, further fueled beliefs of a rigged election. Prominent opposition figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, leaders of the 2009 Green Movement, have been under house arrest since February 2011. Despite international outcry their situation remains unchanged, with severe restrictions on their communication and movement. Mehdi Karroubi, vocal in his criticism of the Iranian government’s actions, including its handling of incidents like the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, has faced worsening health conditions under house arrest. His attempts to hold the Iranian leadership accountable have led to increased restrictions on his freedoms. The continued detention of these opposition figures without trial has been condemned internationally, with entities such as the UN calling for their immediate release.

In the 2021 presidential election, controversy arose even before voting began, with the Guardian Council disqualifying many popular candidates, seen as a move to ensure the victory of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi. This election saw the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic, at around 49%, with a significant portion of protest votes. International observers and human rights organizations dismissed the election as neither free nor fair, labeling it a “show election.” Voter turnout in Iran’s presidential elections has been on a declining trend over the past two decades, reflecting growing public disillusionment with the electoral process. Notably, turnout was around 85% in 2009, despite controversies, likely due to a highly polarized environment. It saw a slight decline to around 72% in 2013, remained stable at about 73% in 2017, and drastically fell to a record low of approximately 49% in 2021. This decline has been attributed to widespread skepticism about electoral integrity and the pre-selection of candidates by the Guardian Council. Statistics on voter turnout are usually provided by the Iranian government, which is often accused of reporting higher participation figures than the reality.

This rigorous and  vetting process lacking any transparency narrows the pool of candidates presented to voters, limiting genuine political competition and reducing the electorate’s ability to choose from a diverse range of political views. The skewed candidate selection process undermines the claim of a democratic nature to the elections, reinforcing the status quo of the ruling elite and perpetuating the brutal suppression of human rights across the country.

The upcoming election is a stark example of this process. The Guardian Council has officially announced the list of approved candidates. The final slate of candidates includes:

 

Masoud Pezeshkian: b.1954 (70), Mahabad. Former Minister of Health. He had previously ran for the presidency in 2013 but withdrew and in 2021 was disqualified by the Guardian Council for the election. Pezeshkian has a demonstrated history of involvement in restricting access to the highest attainable standard of health while additionally being implicated in unethical practices involving condoning the violation of women’s rights. 

 

 

Mostafa Pourmohammadi: b.1959 (65), Qom. Former Minister of Interior and Justice, and Revolutionary Prosecutor notorious for his involvement in the mass executions of the 1980s. He was a member of the “Death Squad” in 1988, notorious for the mass executions of political prisoners that summer.  Since 2021, he has been the President of the Center for IslamicRevolution Documents. More details

 

 

Saeed Jalili: b. 1965(59), Mashhad. Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (2007-2013). Member of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, has a history of systematic repression of political activists and notable complicity in the brutal crackdowns on peaceful protests. Notably, Saeed Jalili was the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council when the house arrest decision of the aforementioned Green Movement leaders was carried out in 2010.  More details

 

Alireza Zakani: b. 1965 (59), Rey. The current mayor of Tehran and former head of the Basij Student Organization, he was involved in the events of July 9, 1999, and the attack on Tehran University dormitory. Alireza Zakani has a long history of persecuting minorities and political opponents. He was previously disqualified from the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections. During Zakani’s tenure, a group called the HijabBans was established to oversee women’s dress codes in Tehran’s metro. Zakani has been sanctioned by the UK for his involvement in serious human rights violations.. More details

 

Seyed Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi: b. 1971 (53), ​​Fariman, Khorasan Razavi Province. Former Deputy Speaker of Parliament (2020-2021) Current Vice President of Iran and head of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs and Member of the Islamic Revolution Stability Front since 2019. Hashemi has been a staunch supporter of the so-called Hijab bill as well as the ‘Protection of Users’ Rights and Basic Applications in Cyberspace’ which seeks to restrict free access to the internet among other things.  More details

 

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf: b. 1961 (63), Torghabeh, Khorasan Razavi Province.  Former Commander Of the IRGC Air Force (1997-2000). Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, has long maintained leading involvement in the illegal crackdown on peaceful protestors including their arbitrary detentions and torture. Ghalibaf himself has spoken publicly about his involvement in and support in such actions. In addition, Ghalibaf is a staunch supporter of the so-called Hijab bill. More details

 

The elections, rather than serving as a tool for the people to express their will, act as a mechanism for the ruling authorities to present outward legitimacy. This can be seen notably in the candidacy of individuals who played leading roles in the arrest of protestors in 2010 following disputed elections. 

It is noteworthy that several other prominent figures applied but were not approved by the Guardian Council to run in the upcoming election. This list includes:

Eshaq Jahangiri: Former First Vice President
Mehrdad Bazrpash: Current Minister of Roads and Urban Development
Sowlat Mortazavi: Current Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare
Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash: Former IRGC commander
Mostafa Kavakebian: Former representative of Tehran in the Parliament. More details
Sayyid Shamseddin Hosseini: Former Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance
Abdolnaser Hemmati: Former Governor of the Central Bank
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Former President
Mohammad Mehdi Esmaeili: Current Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance. More details
Vahid Haghanian: Former Executive Deputy of the Office of the Supreme Leader
Ali Larijani: Former Speaker of the Parliament. More details
Elias Naderan: Former MP
Hasan Sobhani: Former MP
Hasan Kamran: Former MP
Ahmad Akbari: Former MP
Ghasem Jasemi: Former MP
Hamideh Zarabadi: Former MP
Mohammad Nazemi Ardakani: Former Minister 

The current configuration severely limits any potential for significant political change from within the system, effectively making the elections a mere formality. The process ensures competing interests do not become a true threat to the ruling elite. Moreover, the Guardian Council’s role extends to overseeing the presidential elections themselves, further ensuring that the elected president will align with the broader interests of the ruling elite, thereby maintaining the status quo.

This system reveals a façade of democracy, where the true power dynamics operate on a level that is far removed from the democratic ideals professed to the public. The system not only undermines the democratic essence of elections but also perpetuates a cycle of power that is self-serving for those at the helm.

Iranian Prisons are Places of Relentless Suffering

Incarcerated Individuals tell HRA: “Abuse of power is rampant. We are left at their mercy”

 

Iran’s prisons are harrowing places where abuse and neglect are rampant. The following report is based on testimonies from former and current incarcerated individuals in Iran. Conversations between individuals and HRA reveal severe and systemic issues that fly in the face of Iran’s international human rights obligations as well as universally agreed upon minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners. 

In Iran, the management, administration and regulations of the prisons falls under the jurisdiction of the Prisons Organisation which operates directly under the supervision of the Head of the Judiciary. The Head of the Judiciary appoints the head of the Prisons Organization who is responsible for the implementation of corrective measures, rehabilitation programs, and ensuring the rights and welfare of prisoners. This investigation was prompted by a notable void in reporting on prison conditions, which is likely attributed to the restricted nature of such reporting and the considerable challenge faced by third-party monitors in accessing penal facilities directly. The administration of prisons is tightly integrated with the judicial system’s broader goals and policies, and they have notably been known for their lack of transparency.

 

 

Conditions described by current and formerly incarcerated individuals in Iranian prisons such as Evin, Rajaei Shahr, Vakil Abad, Ghezel Hesar, Qarchak, and Adel Abad reveal significant breaches of international human rights law. In addition to clear violations of international human rights law, the testimonies detail blatant disregard for upholding the Mandela Rules.The Nelson Mandela Rules, while not legally binding, are considered “soft law” and represent essential principles

In 2015 The UN General Assembly adopted the Mandela Rules as the universally agreed minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners and several UN Member States have since incorporated the provisions of the rules into their domestic legal frameworks. Iran’s lack of overall adherence to these principles can be seen as a failure to uphold the universally agreed upon minimum standards. 

The Mandela Rules on the Standard Minimum Treatment of Prisoners 

Testimonies collected by HRA indicate grossly inadequate healthcare within prisons, with limited access to medical professionals and neglect of serious health conditions. This situation is a clear violation of the right to health as stipulated in the Mandela Rules.

Accommodation and Hygiene: 

“Adel Abad was a place of relentless suffering. The rooms were semi-dark and poorly ventilated, making it hard to breathe. Temperature extremes were common, with freezing winters and scorching summers.”

Mandela Rule 12 requires that prison accommodations provide adequate living space, ventilation, and lighting. 

Mandela Rule 13 stipulates the need for sanitary facilities that are hygienic and accessible. 

Mandela Rule 15 emphasizes the provision of adequate clothing and bedding.

The detailed testimonies collected by HRA highlight the violation of basic accommodation standards. Poor ventilation, inadequate lighting, and extreme temperatures directly contravene the Mandela Rules, creating inhumane living conditions that fail to respect the dignity of prisoners.

While engaging with HRA, Zahra, a political prisoner who spent 5 years in Evin Prison said “The cells were dimly lit and poorly ventilated, making the air thick and oppressive. Summers were unbearable, and winters were freezing.” Another individual detailed a similar situation describing “semi-dark and poorly ventilated [rooms], making it hard to breathe.” They continued, “Temperature extremes were common, with freezing winters and scorching summers.”

 

Food and Water

“Since the merger of the prisoner populations from Rajaei Shahr and Ghezel Hesar (Qezalhasar), the dynamics here have drastically changed. The overcrowding has worsened, and food shortages have become more severe.” 

Mandela Rule 22 ensures prisoners receive nutritious and sufficient food and drinking water.

Throughout HRA’s conversations, incarcerated individuals  consistently report inadequate and poor-quality food, with those unable to afford additional supplies from prison stores suffering from malnutrition. This testimony reveals stark violations of the Mandela Rules’ requirement for nutritious and sufficient food.

Ali, a 28 year old male incarcerated at Rajaei Shahr Prison four years told HRA, “The food was inedible, and many relied on the expensive prison store to supplement their diet.” Another individual currently incarcerated at Ghezel Hesar Prison said “The food is insufficient and often spoiled, forcing those with money to buy from the expensive prison store.”

The dire situation in these prisons, as described by the incarcerated individuals, underscores a critical failure to meet the basic nutritional needs mandated by Mandela Rule 22. The overcrowding exacerbated by the merger of incarcerated individuals populations from Rajaei Shahr and Ghezel Hesar has only intensified food shortages, leaving many inmates malnourished and dependent on expensive prison stores for survival. This blatant disregard for providing adequate and nutritious food highlights a profound violation of human rights within Iran’s prison system.

 

Healthcare

“The denial of these essential services is a clear reflection of the system’s failures.”

Mandela Rule 24 mandates that prisoners have access to the same standard of healthcare available in the community, without discrimination.

Testimonies indicate grossly inadequate healthcare, with limited access to medical professionals and neglect of serious health conditions. This situation is a clear violation of the right to health as stipulated in the Mandela Rules.

In Evin Prison one individual described that “Healthcare was minimal, with only an inexperienced nurse available and a doctor visiting infrequently.” Another serving time at Vakil Abad Prison from 2019-2023 disclosed to HRA  “Medical services were grossly inadequate, with many serious conditions ignored.” Another individual informed HRA that the existence of medical care “was a farce”. 

The denial of essential healthcare services within Iranian prisons is a damning indictment of the system’s failures to uphold basic human rights. Mandela Rule 24 unequivocally mandates that prisoners have access to healthcare equivalent to that

available in the wider community, without discrimination. These testimonies reveal a systemic failure to provide the necessary medical care, further underscoring the urgent need for reform within Iran’s prison system.

International Human Rights Law 

International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): The Right to Humane Treatment

Article 10 of the ICCPR states that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

Indeed the degrading treatment described in great detail in conversation with almost all individuals including the pervasive violence reported violates Article 10 of the ICCPR, which emphasizes the humane treatment of all prisoners.

Nasrin, who is serving time since 2021 in Qarchak (Shahre-Rey) Prison, recounted to HRA “The humiliating behavior of some guards, who conduct nude body searches and degrade us in front of others, only adds to the misery.” Mehdi, a 40 year old male serving time at Ghezel Hesar Prison, in dialogue with HRA informed that : “The prison is a hotspot for violence, with easy access to weapons like large handmade knives that many of us carry for protection.”

Individuals described brutal violence. One stated that “Physical abuse by guards was common, and there were frequent hunger strikes in protest.” Another, age 60, incarcerated since 2006, stated “Some guards exploit these conditions, demanding bribes for basic necessities or the promise of safety.”

Physical abuse by guards and the exploitation of prisoners for bribes constitute inhuman and degrading treatment, falling under the purview of torture. The reports of frequent abuse and the calculated neglect by authorities indicate systemic issues within the prison system.

Conclusion

The systemic issues within Iranian prisons highlight a severe failure to adhere to international human rights obligations and principles. The harrowing testimonies from both current and former incarcerated individuals expose a grim reality of widespread abuse and severe neglect. Healthcare in these prisons is grossly inadequate, with limited access to medical professionals and widespread neglect of serious health conditions. Combined with appalling hygiene standards, subpar food and water provisions, and violence and degrading treatment by guards, it is evident that Iranian prisons fall alarmingly short of international standards and principles.

Iran must urgently address these violations to align itself with international standards and obligations, ensuring the humane treatment and dignity of all incarcerated individuals. 

HRA urges the international community, including international human rights organizations, governments, and the United Nations, to take immediate action regarding the stark realities revealed by these testimonies. It is imperative that in all dialogue concerted efforts be made to pressure Iran to adhere to international human rights standards, ensure the humane treatment of incarcerated individuals, and allow independent monitoring of prison conditions. 

 

*For a more in depth look at the unlawful conditions of Prisons mentioned in this article, please visit www.spreadingjustice.org and search the name of the Prison in the top right hand search bar.

*For a brief overview see below related Individuals involved in rights violations associated with unlawful prison conditions subdivided by Prison and General Associations: 

Shiraz Central Prison (AKA Adel Abad Prison): 

  1. ISHAGH EBRAHIMI: Director-General of Fars Province Prisons Since Sep 2019
  2. RUHOLLAH REZAEI DANA: the director of Shiraz Central Prison Since June 2020
  3. ALI MOZAFFARI: Chief Justice of Qom Province Since August 2019 

 

Evin Prison:

  1. ALI ASHRAF RASHIDI-AGHDAM: Deputy of Health and Correction and Education of Tehran Prisons General Administration Since August 2015
  2. GHOLAMREZA ZIAEI: Head of Evin Prison From July 2019 to June 2020
  3.  ALI CHAHARMAHALI: Head of Evin Prison from August 2016 to July 2019
  4. HAMID MOHAMMADI: Director of Evin prison from June 2020 to September 2021
  5. HASSAN GHOBADI:  Head of Evin Prison Security At least from March 2012
  6. SEYED-HOSSEIN MORTAZAVI-ZANJANI: Warden of Evin Prison From 1986 to 1988 
  7. MOHAMMAD MOGHISEH: Judge of the Evin Prison from 1989 to 1991 

 

Ghezel Hesar Prison

  1. ASHKAN KAMALI: Head of Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj Since August 2020
  2. HAMID MOHAMMADI: Director of Ghezel Hesar Prison From  2019, to June 2020
  3. MOHAMMAD MOGHISEH: Assistant judge of Ghezel Hesar Prison in 1985   1986 – 1988 Head and Judge of Rajaei-Shahr Prison in Karaj 

 

Rajaei-Shahr Prison (AKA Gohardasht Prison): 

  1. ALLAH KARAM AZIZI: The head of Rajaei-Shahr Prison From July 2019 to  August  2023
  2. GHOLAMREZA ZIAEI: Head of Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj From October 2017 to July 2019
  3. HAMID MOHAMMADI: Prior to his appointment as the director of Ghezel Hesar Prison, he was the director of Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj
  4.  ALI HAJI-KAZEM: The warden of Rajaei-Shahr Prison
  5. HAMID NOURY: Prison guard and assistant prosecutor of Rajaei-Shahr Prison Until 1991
  6. HASSAN GHOBADI:  Deputy health of Rajaei-Shahr Prison at least from January 2019
  7. SEYED-HOSSEIN MORTAZAVI-ZANJANI: Warden of Rajae-Shahr Prison From 1983 to 1986
  8. MOHAMMAD MOGHISEH: Head and Judge of Rajaei-Shahr Prison From 1986  to 1988

 

Tehran Province Women’s Penitentiary (AKA Qarchak Prison in Varamin) 

  1. SOGHRA KHODADADI: Head of the Women’s Ward of Qarchak Prison Since December 2020

Mashhad Central Prison (AKA Vakil Abad Prison): 

  1. ALI ABDI: Head of Vakil Abad Prison From September 2019 to December 2021. And since December 2021 he is the deputy of Judiciary and Execution of Judgments of the General Administration of Khorasan Razavi Prisons Organization
  2. HADI ESMAIEL ZADEGAN: Acting and then Director of Vakil Abad Prison Since November 2021

 

General:
1. SEYED HESHMATOLLAH HAIATOLGHEIB:

  • Dorud city prison chief
  • Police Deputy of the General Directorate of Prisons in Lorestan Province
  • Deputy General Directorate of Prisons in Markazi Province
  • Deputy of the General Directorate of Prisons in Isfahan Province
  • Head of the Isfahan Central Prison (while maintaining the organizational position of deputy director general of prisons in Isfahan province)
  • Deputy of the General Directorate of Prisons in Isfahan Province
  • Head of the General Directorate of Prisons in Isfahan Province
  • 2011-2015: Director-General of Yazd Province Prisons
  • 2015- 2019: Director-General of Fars Province Prisons
  • July 2019 to August 2021 and again February 2022: Director-General of Tehran Province Prisons
  1. ALI CHAHARMAHALI:
  • Vice President of Health, Correctional and Education of Prisons in Tehran Province
  • 11 August 2016- 28 July 2019: Head of Evin Prison
  • 28 July 2019-16 February 2022: Head of Great Tehran Penitentiary
  • 16 February 2022-now: Director-General of Alborz Province Prisons
  1.  IRAJ FATTAHI: 
  • 2016- January 2023: Head of Karaj Central Penitentiary
  • January 2023: Vice President of Health, Correctional and Education Department of Prisons of Alborz Province
  1. ALI HAJI-KAZEM: 
  • Former head of Karaj Central Penitentiary
  • June 2005: the warden of Rajaei-Shahr prison
  • From February 2022: Special advisor to Alborz governor on prisons

 

  1. MOHAMMAD MAHDI HAJ-MOHAMMADI
  • 2019 – June 2020 Deputy Justice of Tehran Province
  • June 2020 – November 2021 Head of the State Prison and Security and Corrective Measures Organization
  • From July 2023: Head of the Judiciary Office of Special Inspection and Citizen Rights.
  1. MOHAMMAD-JAVAD ARDESHIR LARIJANI
  • June 2005 – January 2020 Secretary of the High Council for Human Rights of Judicial system of Islamic Republic
  1. GHOLAM-ALI MOHAMMADI
  • July 2005 – September 2020 Deputy Chief Justice of Tehran Province
  • September 2020 – November 2021 Deputy Head of the Judiciary chief office
  • Since November 2021: Head of the State Prison and Security and Corrective Measures Organization

 

 

Joint Statement: Civil Society Calls on the International Community to Urgently Condemn Iran’s Assault on Women’s Autonomy and Right to Health

HRANA News Agency – Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), along with 15 other human rights organizations, have released a joint statement urging the international community and human rights activists to unite in condemning Iran’s restrictive policies on sexual and reproductive rights. They also call for using diplomatic channels to demand the abolition of discriminatory laws. These organizations request that the Islamic Republic revoke laws restricting abortion and reinstate comprehensive family planning programs. The signatories of this statement emphasize that the Iranian government must comply with international health standards and cooperate with the United Nations to ensure women have access to the highest level of reproductive health care.

Read the full statement below, and find the Persian version here.

Washington D.C. Friday, May 10, 2024 –In the past decade, Iran has intensified its efforts to limit women’s fundamental rights, notably in the sphere of reproductive autonomy. This trend underscores a broader pattern within the country, where women’s rights are facing persistent and escalating restrictions. Under the guise of addressing declining population growth, the government has introduced increasingly discriminatory legislation severely limiting access to vital sexual and reproductive healthcare and family planning services such as access to abortion, essential prenatal screening and contraception. These measures criminalize healthcare providers and strip women of bodily autonomy, perpetuating systemic discrimination, now widely acknowledged.

Considering the persistent discriminatory legislation against women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare and with insights from HRA‘s latest report, Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Iran: Battling Restrictive Laws and Discriminatory Practices, which includes grim conversations with women and providers directly affected, the undersigned organizations urge decisive international action to address systemic violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Iran.

The undersigned organizations call upon the international community to:

🔳 Immediate Condemnation The international community and activists must unite in condemning Iran’s restrictive sexual and reproductive policies, urging the repeal of discriminatory laws including through diplomatic channels, where available.

🔳 Engagement with International/Intergovernmental Institutions Engage with international and intergovernmental institutions to raise awareness and advocate for action. Importantly, UNFPA, in its work toward the goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning, it is imperative that in all engagements under the UNFPA Country Programme and the 2024-2025 joint work plans between UNFPA and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is a strong emphasis on the need to repeal restrictive legislation that criminalizes abortion and imposes punitive measures on individuals seeking or providing abortion services.

🔳 Educational Initiatives Introduce public awareness campaigns aimed at challenging norms perpetuating gender inequality. It is imperative to ensure that these campaigns reach minority areas and are linguistically inclusive, thereby facilitating broader dissemination and maximizing their transformative impact.

🔳 Monitoring and Accountability Maintain specialized monitoring to hold Iran accountable for violations of women’s rights, namely sexual and reproductive rights violations. Seek to hold individuals directly involved in violations responsible through targeted action across jurisdictions.

 

The undersigned organizations urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to:

🔳 Support Family Planning Reinstate comprehensive family planning programs providing contraception, prenatal and antenatal healthcare, and linguistically inclusive education to empower all women in making their own reproductive healthcare choices.

🔳 Repeal Restrictive Legislation Immediately revoke laws criminalizing abortion and ensure access to safe and legal abortion services and eliminate all punitive measures against healthcare providers and institutions.

🔳 Adhere to International Health Standards Commit to upholding international health standards and obligations, including the right to health as outlined in the ICESCR.

🔳 Combat Gender-Based Discrimination Take concrete steps to address systemic gender discrimination and promote gender equality across all societal domains.

🔳 Cooperate with the United Nations Engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms, granting unrestricted access to the country. This not only enables comprehensive monitoring and reporting on the prevailing situation but also serves to enhance accessibility to sexual and reproductive healthcare assistance while addressing ongoing challenges.

Iranian women are not alone in their struggle to attain access to safe sexual and reproductive healthcare. However, Iranian women face systemic discrimination alongside the barriers to sexual and reproductive healthcare, perpetuating their subordinate status in law and ultimately endangering their lives. Iran must implement recommendations, ensuring access to improved sexual and reproductive health for all citizens.

Signatories:

🔸Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran   

🔸Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran   

🔸Baloch Activists Campaign  

🔸Centre Against Racism in Iran

🔸Haalvsh

🔸Human Rights Activists 

🔸Human Rights Watch 

🔸HYRCANI 

🔸Kurdistan Human Rights Association – Geneva 

🔸Kurdpa Human Rights Organization 

🔸Miaan 

🔸OutRight International 

🔸Rasanak 

🔸Siamak Pourzand Foundation 

🔸Tuhra 

🔸World Organisation Against Torture, OMCT

 

For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) skylar[at]hramail.com

Echoes of Injustice: The FFMI Interactive Dialogue at HRC55

HRANA – In a groundbreaking session at the Human Rights Council’s 55th meeting, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran revealed extensive human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and gender persecution. Despite presenting a detailed 470-page report documenting systemic violations and calling for accountability, Iranian officials dismissed the allegations as ‘riots,’ highlighting a deep-seated culture of impunity. The findings, emphasizing the urgent need for reform and international cooperation, prompt a strong recommendation for the renewal of the mission’s mandate to continue documenting abuses and advocating for justice for Iran’s citizens.

The FFM Interactive Dialogue at HRC55

On March 18th 2024, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran presented their findings to the Human Rights Council in their 55th Session. Despite facing challenges in establishing communication with Iranian authorities, the FFM meticulously documented various incidents and patterns of rights violations. From the tragic death of Mahsa Amini to the use of violence against peaceful protesters resulting in unlawful killings, the report paints a troubling picture of systemic abuses. Moreover, the documented violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and gender persecution, underscore the urgent need for accountability and justice for the victims and survivors..

Response from Iran: 

In response to the  findings presented by the FFM, Iranian representatives, who were present at the session, exhibited a dismissive stance, refusing to acknowledge the gravity of the situation. Instead, they opted to label incidents as mere “riots,” deflecting accountability and downplaying the systemic issues at hand. The limited recognition of crimes against humanity, particularly gender persecution, further highlights the reluctance of Iranian authorities to address the root causes of rights violations. Additionally, during the speeches by civil society organizations, the Iranian representatives continued to interrupt the speakers.
This response not only undermines efforts towards accountability but also perpetuates a culture of impunity, leaving victims and survivors without recourse for justice.  

Conclusion

The presentation of the FFM’s findings underscores the urgent need for concerted action to address human rights abuses within the Islamic Republic of Iran. It serves as a clarion call for both domestic and international stakeholders to prioritize accountability, justice, and reform. On the 19th of March the , which contains a deep analysis and detailing findings made by the FFM as well as notes the opportunities for further analysis. 

Moving forward, it is imperative for Iranian authorities to engage constructively with the international community and take meaningful steps towards upholding fundamental rights and dignity for all individuals within the nation.  Additionally, HRA strongly recommends the renewal of the FFMI mandate, ensuring ample time and resources for documenting ongoing human rights violations and potential breaches of international law. Moreover, HRA advocates for the mandate to continue to acknowledge the Iranian people subjected to decades of systemic human rights abuses.

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HRC55 Side Event Focuses on Persecution of Gender, Ethnicity, and Religion in Iran

GENEVA- On March 18,2024, Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability, contributed to a pivotal side event during the Human Rights Council 55th Session, focusing on the escalating persecution in Iran on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, and religion.

Thompson participated alongside distinguished chair of the FFMI Sara Hossain,who earlier in the day presented the findings to the Human Rights Council. During the side event, she highlighted the disproportionate discriminations towards minorities, particular in regard to the violence shown during the protest. Further, she also addressed the extreme violence towards women and girls that amounted to crimes against humanity of murder, torture, and persecution on the grounds of gender intersecting with the persecution of minorities.

Other panelists included Taimoor Alliassi, Monireh Shiran, Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan and, Nushin Sarkarati.

The session provided a platform to address the worsening human rights situation in the country, highlighting the plight of marginalized groups, particularly women, minorities, and LGBTI individuals. Further, the panel discussed the findings by the FFMI, the historically high number of executions, and pathways to accountability through international mechanisms.

Thompson spoke about acts committed notably against women and girls for non-compliance with mandatory hijab laws or for opposing established gender norms and discriminatory policies which are deeply embedded into the domestic judicial system. She emphasized the urgent need to continue to document extensively the ongoing crimes occurring in Iran, stressing that these events are not isolated incidents but rather systematic oppression targeting specific groups of individuals on the basis of their membership in those groups.. She highlighted the treatment during the protests, but also the long-standing persecution endured by women, minorities, and LGBTI individuals within Iran, stating, “All these acts surrounding the protests have been happening for decades. Iran has persecuted women, they have persecuted minorities, and they have persecuted LGBTI individuals.” Thompson’s call to action included renewing mandates for fact-finding missions and special rapporteurs, underscoring the imperative for international intervention to address the egregious human rights violations perpetrated in Iran.

HRA welcomes the United Nations Special Rapporteur report on the situation of human rights in Iran

UNSR Dr. Javaid Rehman presents final report as mandate holder to the U.N. Human Rights Council, 18 March 2024

Today, Dr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, presented his final report as mandate holder to the United Nations Human Rights Council .

HRA welcomes Dr. Rehman’s analysis, particularly his spotlight on the alarming prevalence of death penalty charges, including for drug related offenses and for juvenile offenders.  Despite the clear violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR, Iran persists in executing individuals on drug-related charges and other crimes that do not amount to “most serious” under international law. Furthermore, the report exposes the egregious mistreatment of women, girls, human rights defenders, lawyers, and minorities, illustrating instances of forced confessions, unfair trials, and discriminatory practices. The aforementioned– all themes HRA has worked diligently to document and work closely with the mandate to share insights throughout the reporting period.

HRA embraces the recommendations outlined in the report , advocating for a moratorium on executions, the abolition of the death penalty, and improved legislation concerning child offenders.. It also underscores the imperative to uphold the right to a fair trial in accordance with the ICCPR, prevent threats, harassment, and arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, and release individuals detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms. See HRA’s latest report on the situation of female political prisoners for more on our work in this regard.

HRA is proud to be present at the United Nations Human Rights Council in its 55th Session, standing in solidarity with and bringing the voices of Iranians to the international stage. In light of the expansive issues touched on in the report, it is imperative that Member States of the Human Rights Council vote to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. This will ensure the continuation of vital work such as documentation, reporting, and archiving in the manner exemplified today.

HRA Unveils Groundbreaking Report on Iran’s Use of Child Soldiers in Armed Conflicts

HRANA – In a groundbreaking publication today, Human Rights Activists (HRA) has released an extensive report detailing Iran’s longstanding practice of recruiting the economically disadvantaged segments of society, including asylum seekers, immigrants, and using child soldiers in armed conflicts. The report particularly spotlights the exploitation of Afghan minors within the Fatemiyoun Division. This comprehensive investigation sheds light on a series of violations of international humanitarian law and international children’s rights, revealing the depth of Iran’s involvement in the recruitment, training, and deployment of children in combat zones.

The primary focus of this report, prepared by Spreading Justice (a database of human rights violators), the Pasdaran Documentation Initiative, and the HRANA news agency, is on the use of children—specifically individuals under 18 years of age—in war zones, who are predominantly of Afghan nationality and, to a lesser extent, Pakistani.

Purpose of Publishing the Report:

[Click on photo to Download the Full Report]

Unmasking the Exploitation of Vulnerable Populations: The primary aim of this report is to unmask the systematic exploitation of vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on Afghan immigrants and minors, by Iran’s military and paramilitary forces. Through detailed accounts, testimonies, and evidence, HRA endeavors to bring to the forefront the realities of these practices that have long been shrouded in secrecy and obfuscation.

Highlighting Violations of International Law: The report meticulously documents Iran’s breaches of several international agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. Through this documentation, HRA aims to underscore the stark contrast between Iran’s international commitments and its actions on the ground, emphasizing the need for accountability and adherence to international humanitarian law.

Advocating for the Rights and Protection of Children: At its core, the publication aims to advocate for the rights and protection of children caught in armed conflicts. By revealing the recruitment and utilization of child soldiers, HRA urges the international community, policymakers, and human rights organizations to take decisive action. The report serves as a compelling call to action, highlighting the urgent need for measures to prevent the ongoing exploitation of children in conflicts and to uphold their rights as outlined in international law

Promoting Transparency and Accountability: This report also aims to encourage transparency and accountability regarding the recruitment and use of child soldiers. By conducting a thorough analysis of Iran’s recruitment networks, training centers, and the roles played by various institutions and commanders, HRA seeks to ensure that those responsible for these violations are held accountable.

Encouraging International Action and Dialogue: This report aims to spur international action and dialogue on the urgent issue of child soldiers.It calls for a united global effort to address and mitigate the factors driving the recruitment of child soldiers, advocating for policy reforms and the implementation of protective measures in line with the principles of international humanitarian law and children’s rights.

Through this report, HRA not only highlights the grave injustices experienced by child soldiers but also provides a roadmap for change, urging all stakeholders to commit to protecting the most vulnerable in conflict zones.

Executive Summary: A Deep Dive into Iran’s Recruitment of Child Soldiers

HRA’s report is a comprehensive analysis that exposes Iran’s systematic recruitment and exploitation of child soldiers, particularly focusing on the use of Afghan minors within the ranks of the Fatemiyoun Division, a paramilitary group fighting in Syria under the auspices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This investigation is the result of meticulous research, including interviews with former child soldiers, analysis of recruitment tactics, and examination of the training and deployment processes.

Key Findings of the Report:

Systematic Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers: The report exposes Iran’s long-standing practice of systematically recruiting child soldiers, a practice dating back to the Iran-Iraq War and persisting through its involvement in the Syrian conflict. It details how Iran targets vulnerable populations, particularly Afghan refugees and immigrants, many of whom are minors, coercing them into military service with promises of financial rewards or legal residency.

Violation of International Laws and Conventions: The HRA’s findings reveal Iran’s egregious violations of international law, encompassing both International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Despite its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which prohibits the use of children under 15 in hostilities, Iran has been documented recruiting children as young as 14. This flagrant disregard for international norms extends to Iran’s failure to adhere to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on child soldiers and Customary International Law. These actions highlight Iran’s blatant disregard for its international commitments and the urgent need for accountability.

Inadequate Training and Preparation: The investigation details the insufficient and hastily conducted training provided to these child soldiers and other recruits, often lasting only three to four weeks. The training primarily focuses on combat tactics rather than imparting a comprehensive understanding of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This lack of proper training not only exposes these children to immense danger on the battlefield but also contravenes the principles of IHL, which Iran is obligated to teach its armed forces.

Exploitation and Coercion: The report exposes the exploitation and coercion inherent in Iran’s recruitment practices. Testimonies from former child soldiers and other former members reveal a troubling pattern of manipulation, where minors and individuals in precarious visa situations are coerced into combat roles under threats of violence or death. Promises of financial compensation and legal status made to them are consistently broken.

High Casualty Rates and Lack of Support: One of the most harrowing findings is the disproportionately high casualty rates among the Fatemiyoun Division’s child soldiers. Testimonies and data point to instances where a significant amount of child soldiers were deployed in combat operations with minimal support, resulting in significant loss of life and injury. Furthermore, the report criticizes the lack of adequate support for injured child soldiers and the families of those killed in action, highlighting a neglectful and dismissive attitude by the IRGC towards these individuals upon their return from Syria.

Call to Action:In light of these findings, the report urges immediate action from the international community, including the implementation of targeted human rights sanctions for human rights abusers, support from international organizations and non-governmental organizations working on the ground to protect vulnerable populations from recruitment. Emphasizing Iran’s duty to uphold international standards, the report urges Iran to immediately halt its recruitment of child soldiers and to initiate comprehensive measures for the rehabilitation and support of those already impacted by such egregious practices.

The report by HRA is not just a condemnation of Iran’s actions but a plea to safeguard the rights and well-being of children caught in conflicts. By shedding light on these issues, HRA seeks to catalyze global efforts to ensure that no child is coerced into bearing arms and that those who have suffered receive the support needed to rebuild their lives.

Methodological Challenges:

HRA report on the recruitment and use of child soldiers by Iran represents a significant accomplishment, prepared despite considerable security and information challenges. Conducting research in a context where access to reliable data is heavily restricted, and where subjects of investigation face significant risks, required innovative approaches and steadfast determination. The organization’s commitment to uncovering the truth led to the deployment of undercover investigations, extensive interviews with survivors, and collaboration with a network of local activists, all undertaken while ensuring the safety and anonymity of those involved.

The International Community’s Role

The international community cannot afford to overlook the findings of this report. The documented violations have profound implications for global peace, security, and human rights. Addressing the use of child soldiers requires a concerted effort from nations worldwide to:

  1. Implement Sanctions and Diplomatic Pressure: States must use diplomatic channels and targeted human rights sanctions to pressure Iran to cease the recruitment of child soldiers and to comply with international humanitarian and human rights laws.
  2. Support Rehabilitation Programs: There is an urgent need for programs focused on the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, providing them with psychological support, education, and vocational training to help them rebuild their lives.
  3. Enhance Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms: The international community should support the establishment of independent monitoring bodies to track violations involving the use of child soldiers and ensure accountability for perpetrators.
  4. Foster International Dialogue and Cooperation: Global forums and discussions should be leveraged to raise awareness about the issue and to foster cooperation among nations in eradicating the use of child soldiers.
  5. Provide Support to Civil Society and NGOs: Organizations working on the ground to protect children and all vulnerable individuals from recruitment and to offer aid to those affected by conflict should receive financial and logistical support from the international community.

Invitation to Engage

HRA urges all concerned individuals, organizations, and government entities to engage with this critical issue by reviewing the full report. By understanding the depth and severity of the violations against children in armed conflicts, collective work can be done to safeguard the rights of the vulnerable.

To access the comprehensive report and learn more about the findings and recommendations, please download the full PDF version by clicking on the image below. HRA encourages readers to contact us with any questions, insights, or support for our ongoing efforts to protect human rights worldwide.

The active involvement and support of individuals are instrumental in addressing the use of child soldiers and upholding human rights globally. Collaboratively, efforts aim to contribute to positive change, fostering a safer, more just world for future generations.

Click Here to Download the Full Report in English (PDF)

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For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) skylar[at]hramail.com


 

HRA welcomes FFMI findings of Gender Persecution in Iran

HRANA – HRA hailed the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran (FFMI) for its report highlighting severe human rights abuses and crimes against humanity, including gender persecution, during the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests. This recognition follows HRA and UpRights’ December submission, which urged the mission to acknowledge these crimes, sparked by Mahsa Zhina Amini’s death in custody. The FFMI’s findings detail egregious violations by Iranian security forces, including extra-judicial killings and torture, calling for urgent international action against systemic impunity. HRA emphasizes the importance of identifying perpetrators and explores international avenues for accountability, with Advocacy Director Skylar Thompson highlighting the significance of these findings for victims’ recognition and the pursuit of justice.

Read the HRA Statement Below:

HRA welcomes the findings presented by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFMI) regarding serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the civilian population, particularly women and girls, during the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests.

In particular, HRA welcomes the FFMI’s recognition of the crime against humanity of gender persecution. 

In December 2023, HRA with our partner, UpRights, submitted evidence and legal analysis on the crime against humanity of gender and political persecution urging the mission to recognize the commission of such crimes. 

The protests, sparked by the tragic death of Mahsa Zhina Amini in detention, were met with brutal force, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives and leaving numerous individuals with irreversible injuries. The disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by security forces against peaceful demonstrators represents a blatant disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Iranian people.

The documented violations, including extra-judicial killings, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and gender persecution, underscore the urgent need for accountability and justice for the victims and survivors.

The comprehensive report by the FFMI emphasizes the the need for immediate action to address the systemic impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of human rights violations in Iran and crimes under International law. 

The government’s systematic denial of due process and fair trial, coupled with its continued repression of dissent and denial of basic rights, perpetuates a culture of impunity for violations dating back decades. 

HRA’s Spreading Justice Initiative (SJ) welcomes the FFMI’s dedication to documenting those responsible and conducting investigations into the identities of the direct perpetrators who committed, ordered, solicited, or induced the commission of violations. SJ believes this type of investigation is crucial.

HRA further welcomes the discussion on avenues for accountability outside the Islamic Republic of Iran and encourages Member States to explore avenues for international and domestic accountability as recommended in the report. 

Skylar Thompson, Director of Advocacy and Accountability, when speaking about the findings today, said “Recognizing crimes against humanity that have been committed paves a real path forward, opening the door to additional domestic and international accountability mechanisms. It also assures that victims know they are seen and heard. A failure to to recognize the gravity of crimes perpetrated by Iranian authorities in the context of the protests would have been a grave failure for the very women and girls who have suffered for so long. Instead, these findings offer a glimmer of hope. Now, it is absolutely essential that Member States ensure the mandate is extended alongside the Special Rapporteur.”

HRA looks forward to engaging with Member States, partners, and the FFMI throughout the session.

 

 

Unveiling Injustice: Advocating for Women’s Rights and Accountability in Iran

HRANA – In a powerful call to action on International Women’s Day, Human Rights Activists demand an immediate expansion of the International Fact Finding Mission on Iran’s mandate, spotlighting systemic gender discrimination and human rights abuses. Amidst the backdrop of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 55th session, this plea emphasizes the dire situation of Iranian women, facing executions, forced hijab regulations, and violent oppression. Urging global attention, the activists seek to unveil the layers of injustice and push for accountability within the Islamic Republic of Iran, aiming for a future where women’s rights are unequivocally respected.

Read the full statement of Human Rights Activists in Iran below

Introduction 

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global observance dedicated to envisioning a world free from bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, where diversity, equity, and inclusivity thrive. Unfortunately, in Iran, women continue to grapple with entrenched gender disparities amidst persistent abuse, violence, and legal obstacles. Despite nationwide protests engaging all segments of society and the courageous defiance of Iranian women against fear, the ruling elite persists in enforcing draconian sentences and oppressive legislation.

Human Rights Council 55th Session:

The fifty-fifth regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council commenced on February 26, 2024. On March 18, the International Fact Finding Mission on Iran (FFMI) is scheduled to present its findings to the HRC regarding allegations of human rights violations by Iran after September 16, 2022. Human Rights Activists (HRA), with legal support from UpRights, in the submission to the FFMI,  have concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity, including gender and political persecution, have occurred in the Islamic Republic of Iran since at least September 16, 2022.

Current Human Rights Situation: 

The ongoing state of women’s rights in Iran remains deeply concerning. On the 31st of January, Zahra Nazarian, a 27-year-old inmate was executed, marking her as the first known woman to be executed in 2024. Iran has the highest rate of female executions globally, with many cases being intertwined with broader societal issues, including instances of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. Additionally, over the past 10 months at least 100 girls were killed by their male relatives, often related to issues of family disputes or so called ‘honor-killings. 

Since the commencement of the 2022 protests, in a significant number of cases, the Iranian judiciary has been using defendant’s online activity in their trials. Recently, Leila Nakhdi Pari, a member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Cinema Designers Association, was sentenced by Tehran Criminal Court No. 2 to pay a fine, cancel her passport and be banned from leaving the country for eighteen months. She was at the  funeral of Daryush Mehrjui, a prominent filmmaker, where an image of her was uploaded with her not wearing a hijab while at the funeral. For an in-depth look at the situation of imprisoned women in Iran, reference the HRANA Report: Comprehensive List of Female Political Prisoners in Iran

The enforcement of mandatory hijab regulations persists, resulting in numerous arrests, imprisonments, and severe sentences being imported by authorities, exacerbating human rights violations.  

Roya Heshmati, a Kurdish woman, faced a distressing ordeal recently when she received a sentence of 74 lashes. Her arrest stemmed from posting pictures online without a hijab, an act of protest by Heshmati. The sentence was executed on January 3rd, and she later shared her harrowing experience: 

“The judge said, ‘Don’t hit too hard.’ The man started hitting me hard. My shoulders, my back, my buttocks, my face, my legs. I lost count of the number of lashes. Under my breath, I was reciting in the name of woman, in the name of life, the garment of slavery was torn, our dark night turns into dawn, all the shackles break”

The United Nations has previously regarded forms of corporal punishment as a violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, which is enshrined as a fundamental right under international law.

For an in-depth look at individuals and institutions involved in serious human rights violations related to women’s rights in Iran reference the Spreading Justice report: The State of Women’s Rights in Iran: Institutional and Individual Violations

Hijab and  Chastity Bill 

The contentious “Hijab and Chastity Bill,” resubmitted to the Guardian Council by the Iranian Parliament, follows President Ebrahim Raisi’s commitment to allocate necessary implementation funds. Parliament’s scrutiny of the bill, fraught with disputes and delays due to numerous inconsistencies and errors, reflects its contentious nature. Despite criticism from certain members, the bill advances with President Raisi’s approval and budget allocation. Introduced by Raisi’s government in May, the bill advocates severe penalties for violating mandatory hijab regulations, classifying non-compliance as “nudity.” Offenders risk substantial fines, job loss, social media bans, and imprisonment. Despite intensified enforcement efforts by the Ministry of Interior, a growing number of Iranian women assert their agency by appearing in public without head coverings.

Conclusion

The situation of women in Iran remains deeply concerning, as the Iranian government systematically targets them based on gender. This systematic discrimination is evident through the use of derogatory language, degrading sentences, and heinous acts such as sexual violence and rape.

HRA strongly urges for the renewal and expansion of the FFMI mandate. Enlarging the mandate is crucial for conducting a thorough analysis of the structural issues underlying both current and historical violations against women. Moreover, an expanded mandate would empower investigators to scrutinize individual accountability for serious violations, effectively bridging the widening accountability gap within the Islamic Republic of Iran, aligning with international legal frameworks.

 


For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) skylar[at]hramail.com