Prominent civil activist and spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Center Narges Mohammadi was arrested earlier this Tuesday during a ceremony honoring Ebrahim Ketabdar, who was killed by security forces in Karaj during the November 2019 protests.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, a gathering of the victim’s family and some civil activists at Ebrahim Ketabdar’s burial place in Karaj city turned violent after the interference of security agents, and Mohammadi was subsequently arrested.
This year, Branch 1177 of the Criminal Court in the Ghods Judicial Complex in Tehran sentenced Narges Mohammadi to 30 months in prison and 80 lashes, as well as fines. She had been charged with “propaganda against the regime through the issuance of a statement against the death penalty”, “sit-down strike at prison office”, “property destruction by breaking glass” and “libel and assault”.
According to a report published by HRANA, in an open statement, Narges Mohammadi stated of these charges that she will not, “under any circumstances”, attend any court hearing, and will refuse to accept any verdict from the judiciary courts.
From May 5, 2015, until October of last year, Narges Mohammadi was imprisoned.
In December 2019, Mohammadi and seven other political prisoners in the women’s ward of Evin Prison announced in a letter that they would go on a sit-down strike in support of bereaved families who lost loved ones in November 2019 national protests. Evin Prison officials threatened to deport her and others who participated in the strike to prisons known for their harsher conditions. Subsequently, she was punitively transferred from Evin Prison to Zanjan Prison in December 2019.
Based on Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code and the charges against her, a severest punishment of 10 years was enforceable, but after five years and six months in prison, Narges Mohammadi was finally released from Zanjan Prison. Mohammadi has since been denied a passport and barred from leaving the country to visit her husband and children even though her previous conviction did not mention a supplementary ban on international travel.
NOVEMBER 15, 2019: A sudden and substantial hike in the cost of fuel sparks unrest across Iran. Individuals across the country pour into the streets in what soon becomes mass protests covering a reported 104 cities across Iran.
As the anniversary of the November protests approaches, HRA has spoken with Iranians calling for concrete action against those responsible for violent crackdowns against protesters including arbitrary and incommunicado detention, illegal use of force, and torture among other serious violations. For nearly two years, perpetrators have, for the most part, enjoyed widespread impunity. Domestically, some have even seemingly been rewarded. Indeed, individuals such as now-President Ebrahim Raisi, a known and serious violator, have risen to top positions of power.
Soheila, a 45-year-old mother whose son was shot in the November 2019 protests, highlights the shortcomings of the judiciary in Iran, telling HRA, “I hope that accountability will mean that next time, my child, instead of taking to the streets, can work through established pathways to hold corrupt people accountable for their actions.”
November 2019 saw the deaths of several hundred Iranians (227 were verified by HRA) in what is arguably a state-sanctioned arbitrary deprivation of life. In addition over 7,100 were arbitrarily detained, some remain detained today. Although the violations noted above have been extensively documented, little has been done to hold perpetrators accountable.
Elika, 25, told HRA, “Without accountability for violations that occurred in November 2019, the cycle of repression and violence will not end. Those that intend to perpetrate future abuse [on us] need to see accountability. Maybe then they will take a moment to think before pulling the trigger.” In a recent post in the Atlantic Council IranSource blog, Skylar Thompson, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator, stated similarly, “Without concrete action to fight the plague of impunity that covers Iran, these violent events will only continue to occur and the Iranian people will continue to suffer.”
Iran has proven unwilling to investigate and prosecute those responsible through domestic judicial frameworks. This unwillingness is paired with the fact that Iran’s judiciary is in no way impartial and is in fact led by the very perpetrators responsible for the noted violations. Unfortunately, violations of fair trial standards have become status quo.
When asked what accountability looks like to him, Hafez, 22, told HRA, “They should handcuff the perpetrators. […]. They should be prosecuted in a public court and imprisoned.” He continued, “Once handcuffed, perpetrators should have to look the victim’s mother in the face to calm her heart.” Nazanin, 32, told HRA that accountability, in her view “is [the Islamic Republic] honestly and openly admitting wrongdoing.”
HRA has identified 54 individual and seven institutional violators connected to the November 2019 protests. It Is noteworthy that a number of those violators have also been complicit in numerous additional acts of repression against protesters including in 1988, 2020 (protests over the shooting down of Ukrainian airliner), 2021 (protests over resource mis-management in Khuzestan), and many instances in between. This repeated action is a direct consequence of the lack of accountability.
The following section lists notable individuals responsible for repeated serious and widespread rights violations. Extensive and credible documentation is readily available. HRA calls on the international community to hear the pleas of Iranians like Hafez, Nazanin, and Elika and utilize available documentation to take concrete action against those responsible.
*For a more in-depth look at the listed violators visit www.spreadingjustice.org or select a name and be directed to a violator profile that includes several data points including an overview of violations, employment history, as well as additional evidentiary documentation.
Mojtaba Raei Special Governor, Najafabad City of Isfahan Province Deputy Governor of Isfahan