Dana Lenj-Abadi Arrested in Marivan

On February 20, security forces in Marivan, Kurdistan province, apprehended Dana Lenj-Abadi, as reported by Kolbar News.

Subsequently, two days later, Lenj-Abadi’s detention period was extended by one month. He faces charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime,” as stated by the Public and Revolutionary Courthouse.

It is worth noting that Lenj-Abadi has a history of previous arrests, convictions, and educational deprivation due to his activities.

According to data collected by the Department of Statistics and Publication of HRA in 2023, Kurdistan Province accounted for 8.3% of reported human rights violations, including instances of arbitrary detentions.

Workers’ Rights Advocate Saeed Yoozi Taken Into Custody by Security Forces

On December 26, Saeed Yoozi, a dedicated workers’ rights advocate, was apprehended by security forces.

According to a source with close ties to Yoozi’s family, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence conducted the arrest at his residence.

As of now, the reasons behind Yoozi’s detention and his current location are undisclosed.

Yoozi, an active member of the Committee for the Establishment of Independent Labor Organizations, has previously encountered arrests and legal challenges due to his commitment to labor advocacy.

In 2023, the Department of Statistics and Publications of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) recorded 64 cases of arrest related to workers’ rights advocacy. Furthermore, 29 labor activists or workers’ rights defenders received sentences totaling 654 months, comprising 568 months of actual imprisonment and 86 months of suspended imprisonment. For a comprehensive examination of the details and statistics surrounding labor rights, refer to HRANA’s report.

 

Executions of Two Inmates Reported in Taybad and Khorramabad Prisons

The Iran Human Rights Organization has reported the execution of two inmates in separate incidents.

Mohammad-Saleh Amini, 35 years old, was executed in Taybad Prison, situated in Razavi Khorasan Province, for his involvement in drug-related crimes, a conviction dating back two years.

Additionally, the organization documented the execution of Taher Do Abi, 43 years old, in Khorramabad Prison, Lorestan province. A resident of Sabzevar and a married father of two, Taher was found guilty of murder three years ago.

No official sources or domestic media outlets within the country have provided coverage of these executions at the time of writing. The lack of official information raises concerns about transparency and accountability in the execution process.

According to data compiled by the Center of Statistics of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), between October 10, 2022, and October 8, 2023, a total of 659 individuals were executed by hanging in Iran, representing a 24% increase compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. Seven of these executions were conducted publicly. Many of the defendants were denied access to a fair trial and due process. For details and statistics, read HRANA’s report.

UNGA-78 Side Event Highlights The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in Iran

NEW YORK, NY – An event titled “One Year of ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’: The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran” hosted by HRA in partnership with OutRight International was held yesterday in New York, at Scandinavia House. The gathering, in the margins of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-78), addressed the ongoing human rights situation in Iran.

The event was a reminder of the challenges faced by minorities in Iran, especially in the wake of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests. The demonstrations, which began a year ago following the tragic death in detention of Zhina Mahsa Amini, have drawn attention to the Iranian authorities’ excessive use of force and rampant human rights violations.

Independent journalist, Deepa Parent, expertly moderated the session. Opening remarks were courageously delivered by Iranian human rights activists, who, despite the risks, provided virtual comments directly from within Iran.

Dr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, offered insightful keynote remarks that outlined the challenges and potential paths forward for improving human rights in the country.

Skylar Thompson, representing Human Rights Activists (HRA) presented three key areas the international community can urgently address the cycle of impunity in Iran including through continuing to support UN-led investigations including through the renewal of the FFMI mandate, the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran and steadfast support for resolutions on Iran. Second, she added the need for pursuing international pathways to justice notably through the use of universal jurisdiction in light of the unwillingness to investigate violations domestically. She concluded that the continued and united condemnation against violations of human rights and international law are essential because as she stated, “silence is complicity.”

Other panelists, including Simin Fahendej from the Baha’i International Community (BIC) and Awin Mostafazade from Kurdpa, provided rich context to the discussion, shedding light on the depth and breadth of discrimination that various minority groups encounter daily.

As the event concluded, the consensus was clear: the international community must redouble its efforts to address the plight of minorities in Iran. The event, which was open to the media, will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on all who attended.

Watch the event here:

Report: HRA at 54th session of the Human Rights Council

As the 54th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council comes to a close, HRA reflects on a month of United Nations advocacy and why sustained international attention on the situation of human rights in Iran is imperative in light of the widespread, ongoing abuse and the disreputable denial by the State.

The 54th Session of the Human Rights Council commenced with a statement by Volker Türk, who acknowledged the passing of Zhina Mahsa Amini and expressed concern over the troubling human rights violations that have unfolded in the past year. This included the introduction of the new Hijab Bill, strict legal penalties, an increased use of the death penalty, and the continued repression at the hands of the morality police.

HRA’s Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability took part in a side event titled “A Year of the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement,” hosted by IHRDC. During this event, she explored the wide-ranging implications of Iran’s new Hijab and Chastity Bill, with particular emphasis on the grave concerns surrounding the expanded authority granted to the Basij forces throughout the country.

Simultaneously, during the 54th session, the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) marked the one-year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s passing by expressing concerns about the Iranian government’s intensified repression and reprisals against its citizens. Additionally, the FFM raised alarm regarding new laws, especially those severely curbing the rights of women and girls. Furthermore, HRA continued its engagement with the FFM and the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, participating in meetings to support their mandates concerning Iran. Furthermore, HRA actively engaged in meetings with member states during this period continually briefing on emerging issue areas.

139th Session of the Human Rights Committee

In an effort to shed light on significant human rights abuses, HRA, in collaboration with its partners, submitted a formal written update to the Human Rights Committee in early October in preparation for its review of Iran. This update specifically addressed the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, media freedom and the safety of journalists, freedom of expression online, the right to privacy, the situation of human rights lawyers and defenders, and access to information. HRA also engaged in informal dialogues with committee experts regarding human rights in Iran, preparing for the interactive dialogue.

During the session, Thompson emphasized the ongoing human rights violations in Iran, particularly with regard to the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. Furthermore, she informed the Committee about the unjust treatment of journalists, charged with national security offenses after trials lacking any semblance of due process, all for simply exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. Thompson stated, “Although repression against the freedom of information was already widespread, with journalists facing arrests, interrogations, imprisonments, surveillance, harassment, and threats, it has escalated since the outbreak of the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ protests triggered by the death in detention of Zhina Mahsa Amini in September 2022.”

*Zohreh Elahian, designated by the European Union for her involvement in serious human rights violations, intervenes as part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s official delegation. She appears sitting next to the Chair of the Human Rights Committee. October 9, 2023.

During the same session, the Committee conducted a comprehensive review of the human rights situation in Iran, shedding light on grave violations, including instances of torture, the excessive use of force in response to recent protests, and the status of LGBTI rights. Regrettably, the delegation from the Islamic Republic chose not to provide substantive responses and even resorted to intimidation tactics when questioned about an individual listed on the EU sanctions list. See the Spreading Justice profile of Zohreh Elahian. Elahian’s position within the delegation and travel to Switzerland as part of Iran’s delegation was questioned by Ms. Marcia Kran as part of the formal dialogue between the Committee and the delegation. Elahian’s travel was also condemned by the Chair of the Delegation for a relation with Iran within the European Parliament, Cornelia Ernst.

Following the session, the Human Rights Committee made a poignant observation, stating, “Most of the substantive questions remain unanswered.” Despite persistent inquiries regarding LGBT rights, torture, and the excessive use of force in recent protests, the Committee received no satisfactory responses.

Reflections

As the session closes HRA remains steadfast in its commitment to amplifying the voices of Iranians on the international stage. Sustained international dialogue and attention are crucial for Iran, as it ensures that the ongoing struggles of the Iranian people are not only heard but also acted upon by the global community. By maintaining a consistent focus on Iran, the international community can play a vital role in holding the Iranian government accountable for violations of human rights.

HRA remains committed to working alongside our partners in civil society, the Special Rapporteur, the Independent and International Fact-Finding Mission, and State and multinational institutions to support justice and accountability for serious human rights violations and possible crimes under international law.

Finally, HRA urges the United Nations to cease allowing known human rights abusers to travel to and participate in high-level dialogues, and to uphold its fundamental principles of promoting peace, security, and human rights. Allowing individuals with a documented history of human rights violations to enter UN premises undermines State parties’ efforts and sends a conflicting message concerning the validity of the sanctions.


For media inquiries please contact, Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

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Execution of Two Inmates in Zanjan and Ardabil

In separate incidents, two inmates convicted of murder were executed in Zanjan and Ardabil Prisons on October 14 and 15, respectively.

According to the Iran Human Rights Organization, on Sunday, October 14, a 39-year-old cab driver named Ali Asghar Cheraghi Far was executed. He had been convicted of the murder of one of his passengers following a dispute that occurred three years ago. As of the time of this report, there have been no official statements or coverage of this execution by domestic media outlets within the country.

On October 15, another inmate, who was convicted of murder, was executed in Ardabil prison, as reported by Tasnim, a news agency affiliated with security institutions.

As per a deputy prosecutor in Ardabil province, on October 28, 2021, this particular inmate, whose identity was not disclosed, fatally stabbed his father-in-law during a family dispute.

According to data compiled by the Center of Statistics of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), between October 10, 2022, and October 8, 2023, a total of 659 individuals were executed by hanging in Iran, representing a 24% increase compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. Seven of these executions were conducted publicly. Concerningly, many of the defendants were denied access to a fair trial and due process. For details and statistics, read HRANA’s report.

Three Inmates Executed in Kerman Prison

Kerman Prison conducted the execution of three inmates on October 9, as reported by Haal Vsh.

One of the inmates has been identified as Narui (Narooie)(first name unknown), who was convicted of drug-related offenses. The identities and convictions of the other two inmates remain undisclosed, though there are indications that they may be Afghan nationals.

As of the time of writing, there have been no official statements or reports from domestic media sources within the country regarding these executions.

According to data compiled by the Center of Statistics of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), between October 10, 2022, and October 8, 2023, a total of 659 individuals were executed by hanging in Iran, representing a 24% increase compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. Seven of these executions were conducted publicly. Concerningly, many of the defendants were denied access to a fair trial and due process. For details and statistics, read HRANA’s report.

HRAs Spreading Justice Urges Governments To Deny Active Members Of Student Basij Entry Visas Abroad

HRAs Spreading Justice issued a statement urging governments to deny visas for Student Basij members.


The following is the full text of this statement:

The Spreading Justice initiative (SJ) of Human Rights Activists (HRA) has received ample evidence and information on the involvement of University Student Basij Forces in the crackdown of protesters during the ongoing protests in Iran, especially at the universities. These involvements include physical confrontation with protesting students, gathering protesting student information and providing them to security forces, and doing so aiding the arrests of students.

However Student Basij members, despite their vital role in the crackdowns are left under the radar and often do not pay any cost for their involvement in the suppression of student movements. Many of the Student Basij members travel, study, or immigrate abroad with full impunity.

The Student Basij was formed by the direct order of the founder of Islamic Republic, Khomeini, on 23 November 1988. This institution was formed in universities with the aim of “the defense of Islam, the revolution, and the values of the ruling system, to link the Hawza and the university”, “explaining, promoting, and realizing the orders of the former and current supreme leaders of Islamic Republic, namely Ruhollah Khomeini and Seyed Ali Khamenei”, and “Identifying and training of loyal, committed, and aligned forces with the characteristics of the Islamic Revolution for the perpetuation of the Islamic Revolution”. Ever since, Student Basij has had offices in universities across the country where students have been voluntarily recruited.

Student Basij is organizationally affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Ground Forces (NEZSA). The commander of the national student Basij is appointed by the IRGC commander, and the provincial commanders of Student Basij are appointed by the provincial IRGC commanders.

The Student Basij have a history of involvement in the suppression of student movements in the universities at least since 1999, and their role in crackdowns on university movements and activists has increased ever since. The Student Basij has a history of violent confrontations, spying on students, and paving the way for the entry of intelligence-security forces to repress student movements.

Student Basij members receive ideological training and are highly loyal to the supreme leader, Khamenei. Often, their role within the system does not end with their studies. Due to their loyalty and training, they are of great value for the government and often they move on to assume governmental and security positions within the system following their studies.

We believe that Student Basij and its affiliations should not enjoy international impunity for three main reasons.

  1. Student Basij plays a vital role in combating democratic seeking movements of Iranian people, especially the student movement.
  2. Student Basij members are the governments ideological reserve for assuming important roles within the system in the future
  3. Student Basij is officially under the command of IRGC

Having said that, we realized the Student Basij members are more likely to consider immigrating or studying abroad. Therefore we have started collecting evidence and data on the active members of Student Basij, and have called on people to share any information regarding the members of this organization with Spreading Justice.

We have compiled the collected data and information, including names of current and former active Student Basij members, especially those that are actively serving the ruling ideology and confronting student movements. We have made the decision to not share this information publicly given its complexity, rather we aim to share with universities and immigration offices globally, and further urge governments to deny active members of Student Basij entry visas.

For media inquiries please contact HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

Human Rights Activists and the Atlantic Council’s joint panel on Iran human rights

HRANA – “A surge in Crackdowns Across Iran” Panel Discussion was held yesterday, 27 September 2022 in person at Atlantic council building in Washington DC. The panel discussion that was hosted jointly by Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) and Atlantic council was also broadcasted online through various channels.

The discussion Moderated by Holly Darges from Atlantic council’s Iran Source included diverse speakers and panelists from US Department of States, Atlantic Council, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Baha’is of the United States, and Human rights Activists in Iran (HRA).

William F. Wechsler the senior Director of Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East programs of Atlantic Council started the seminar by welcoming the guests. He also mentioned that the initial objective of the event at the early stages of planning has been “to call attention to dynamic that was happening inside Iran that was not getting as much attention and now, of course, the world is watching”, then he continues to remind us that Iran threatens neighbors in the region and in the rest of the world however “the first people that it threatens and the first victims are the people in Iran itself.” After setting the tone for the panel discussion ahead, Wechsler introduces the Keynote speaker Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran and Iraq, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Press, and public diplomacy of US Department of State, Jennifer Gavito.

“The government of Iran has denied Iranians their human rights including through severe restrictions on the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression. For decades political decent has been met with violent repression from the Iranian regime”, Das Gavito expressed concerns for the human right situation in Iran.

Das Gavito mentions the recent violent crackdown on peaceful protestors following the Mahsa Amini’s Death and the increased pressure on Iranian women by the Morality Police. Then she speaks of brave women who fight for their fundamental rights and continues to say, “The protests that we are seeing throughout Iran in spite of the government retaliation and attempts to obfuscate reality show very clearly that the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic of Iran do not see eye to eye”.

“The United States strongly supports the human rights of all Iranian women including the right to peacefully assemble and to express themselves without fear of violence” DAS Gavito then emphasizes that Iran’s human rights abuses is not limited to suppression women’s rights and peaceful assembly, rather Iran has a large number of political prisoners. She mentions the violation of rights of religious minorities by Iranian Government who have been targeted for their beliefs as well. DAS Gavito promised the people of Iran that the American government will hold the violators of human rights accountable. As an example, she pointed to the recent sanction of the moral security police and high-rank officials and said that the actions of the American government will not be limited to these cases and sanctions.

After DAS Gavito, Holly Darges, as the Moderator, gave a general explanation about the panel process and the general description of the events of the recent protests in Iran, and noted that the suppression of protests and the human rights situation in Iran is at a very critical stage. Darges then introduces all the panelists and starts the panel by Yeganeh Rezaian.

Yeganeh Rezaian, Journalist and Senior Researcher at the committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) spoke about her experience of encountering the Morality police as a woman who lived in Iran and her arrest and transfers to the same detention center where Mahsa Amini had been taken to. She continues by reminding that many women in Iran have a similar experience and are repeatedly detained for their choice of clothing. She also pointed to the courage of the new generation in Iran and said that the new generation is fundamentally different from its previous generations and does not bow down to the police and the ruling class.

Ms. Rezaian, who as a journalist has a history of being imprisoned in Iran, emphasized the importance of keeping track of arrests and the role of journalists, by saying Journalists working in international media have many restrictions on traveling to Iran, preparing documents and news reports, and that is why they usually only refer to the reports prepared by journalists inside Iran – despite the many restrictions. This is in a situation where the arrest of Iranian journalists and the pressure on them has increased dramatically in recent days, and this issue has made providing information more challenging than before.

Furthermore, she raised concern about increasing arrests of journalists even local journalists in very small towns, she claimed at least half of journalists arrested in recent days have been women and asked the international community to increase the pressure on Iran for the suppression and arrests of journalists in Iran.

Senior Advocacy Coordinator at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), Skylar Thompson, started her remarks by reporting on the alarming situation of women and human rights in Iran. While presenting a heat map of current protests, Thompson highlights that just in the first 10 days of protests, “protests are spanning 93 cities at least there are in 30 of 31 provinces, they are in 18 universities” she then continues by saying that these protests are not just in urban streets of Tehran, but they are spawning geographically, class, gender, and age wise.

Skylar Thompson presented statistics on the repression of protesters in recent days in Iran, stating according to HRA’s documentation received to this point the youngest person killed was a 16-year-old boy, and she added, A 10-year-old girl was also targeted in these protests. she was shot by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but fortunately she survived, although she is in critical condition.

According to Thompson, the senior advocacy coordinator at HRA the situation of human rights has exacerbated during Raisi’s term. She mentioned the upward trends in executions, the return of public executions after two years, and the execution of minor offenders. She also mentioned the surge in inhumane retaliation sentences such as amputation of hands and blinding of eyes.

Mrs. Thompson further pointed to the actions that the international community is obliged to take, such as sanctioning the officials behind suppression, as well as sanctioning institutions that violate women’s rights in Iran, and said: “The fact that the American and Canadian governments have imposed sanctions on the Morality Police and some officials is a positive step, but we do not know who the Canadian government has specifically sanctioned. On the other hand, the silence of countries like England is questionable, and we still do not know the result of the decision and possible actions of the European Union.

In addition, in answer to a question raised by the audience, Mrs. Thompson addressed the difficult livelihood situation of workers and teachers in Iran. She pointed out that teachers had organized many protest rallies in recent months, which led to the arrest of more than 150 teachers’ union activists.

Senior Researcher MENA region at Article 19, Mahsa Alimardani, raised concerns regarding free flow of information due to the internet disruption and blocking of many online services in Iran during recent protests.

Alimardani, as an expert in the field of technology and communication, discussed the challenges of communication in Iran in the last eleven days and that the Islamic Republic has used new methods to limit access to the Internet. She discussed the difference between the communication restrictions in recent events and what happened in November 2019 and explained that even though this time the internet was not cut off completely like in November 2019 and some Iranians have been able to use the internet in recent days. She added that the disruptions are more strategic than before and at hours that protests usually increase after 4pm, outages and other disruptions increase.

Alimardani Also spoke about Satellite Internet (Namely Starlink) and called the lifting of U.S. sanctions in this regard a positive step. She also warned of the vast disinformation in this regard and even malwares and unsafe apps that have claimed by their downloads users in Iran can connect to Starlink.

Despite the existing challenges, Alimardani expressed hope about the possibility of using satellite internet but also warned that the excessive attention to Starlink in recent days has been a bit misleading and has caused attention to be taken away from the actions that can be taken, such as providing safe and secure VPNs for users in Iran.

Anthony Vance, director of public affairs of the Baha’is of the United States, was another speaker at the meeting who addressed the problems of the Baha’is in Iran and said that the pressure on the Baha’is of Iran has increased systematically in the government of Ibrahim Raisi, especially since June. Depriving Baha’is of education, destroying their homes and spreading hatred against the Baha’i community are only a few examples of the oppression that Vance mentioned.

At the end of the joint meeting of the group of human rights activists in Iran and the Atlantic Council, the Panelists Answered questions submitted by the audience.

 

Watch the full video: