18 March 2014
Human Rights Council
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran* **
In the present report, the third to be submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to Council resolution 16/9, the Special Rapporteur communicates developments in the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran since his third interim report submitted to the General Assembly (A/68/503) in October 2013.
In the report, the Special Rapporteur outlines his activities since the Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur at its twenty-second session. He examines ongoing issues and presents some of the most recent and pressing developments in the State’s human rights situation. Although the report is not exhaustive, it provides a picture of the prevailing situation as observed in the preponderance of reports submitted to and examined by the Special Rapporteur. It is envisaged that a number of important issues not covered in the present report will be addressed by the Special Rapporteur in his future reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
* The annexes to the present report are circulated in the language of submission only.
** Late submission.
I. Introduction............................................................................................................. 1–9
II. Methodology and activities ..................................................................................... 10–13
III. Legislative developments........................................................................................ 14–23 A. Draft charter of citizens’ rights....................................................................... 14–17
B. Criminal procedure law ................................................................................. 18–22
C. Political crime bill .......................................................................................... 23
IV. Right to liberty and security of persons .................................................................. 24–51
A. Human rights defenders.................................................................................. 33
B. Journalists and netizens .................................................................................. 34
C. Religious minorities ....................................................................................... 35–43
D. Ethnic minorities ............................................................................................ 44–51
V. Treatment of persons deprived of liberty ................................................................ 52–57
VI. Right to a fair trial................................................................................................... 58–79
A. Independence of judges .................................................................................60–65
B. Independence of lawyers ................................................................................66–71
C. Trial proceedings ............................................................................................72–79
VII. Right to life ..................................................................................................80–87
VIII. Socioeconomic rights..................................................................................88–92
A. Right to education...........................................................................................88–91
B. Economic sanctions ........................................................................................92 21
IX. Conclusions and recommendations................................................................93–96
I. Categories of imprisoned persons
II. Case summaries
1. A number of positive overtures have been made by the new Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, apparently aimed at advancing President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign pledges to strengthen human rights protections for civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights, and at remedying some cases of human rights violations. This includes the proposal of a new charter for citizens’ rights. Since September 2013, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has released 80 individuals, some of whom appear to have been prosecuted for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights to expression, belief, association or assembly.1 Some detainees were furloughed for a few days; others appear to have been permanently released, while hundreds of others remain in some form of confinement, including several individuals whose detention was identified as arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (see annex I).2
2. The Special Rapporteur, while welcoming the above-mentioned positive steps, stresses that they currently do not address fully the fundamental human rights concerns raised by the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and its special procedures, the treaty bodies, human rights defenders and international organizations. This includes the need to address laws and practices that infringe upon the rights to life, to the freedoms of expression, association, assembly, belief and religion, to education and to non discrimination.
3. The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the basis of these concerns is primarily the non-compliance of national laws with the State’s international obligations and a lack of adherence to the rule of law, as well as a failure to investigate complaints and to bring human rights violators to justice. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur believes that the recent engagement with the international community presents opportunities for future cooperation, particularly with regard to capacity-building to advance the State’s international human rights obligations.
4. Reports of the arbitrary detention of individuals for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights to expression, association, assembly, belief and religion remain prevalent. Interpreting article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee recognized, in a draft general comment on liberty and security of person, that “liberty of the person is a right of profound importance, both for its own sake and because deprivation of liberty has historically been a principal means by which other human rights are suppressed.
5. Information in the above-mentioned reports also reveal that aspects of Iranian laws, policies, attitudes and practices extensively identified by the United Nations human rights machinery regretfully continue without redress and persist in undermining the independence of the State’s judicial organs, and in nullifying safeguards for fair trials. This is all the more alarming when considering the frequent use of the death penalty, in particular for crimes not considered the “most serious offences” under international law.
6. The present report, far from being exhaustive, analyses the prospects for reform of the administration of justice, in particular with regard to progress made in implementing the recommendations made by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2003,3 during the universal periodic review in 20104 and by the Human Rights Committee in 2011.5
1 David Keyes, “Iran rejails political prisoner Majid Tavakoli”, Daily Beast, 7 November 2014, available from www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/07/iran-rejails-political-priosner-majidtavakoli.html.
2 On 29 August 2012, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in its opinion No. 30/2012, found that the detention of Mir Hossein Mossavi and Mehdi Karoubi was arbitrary (see A/HRC/WGAD/2012/30).
7. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran forwarded a detailed reply to all sections of the present report,6 in which it revealed its ongoing dissatisfaction with credible sources of information, contending that the report violated article 6 of the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders, which directs them to pursue due diligence in gathering and corroborating information emanating from credible sources. The Government asserted that the present report selectively considered comments made by other United Nations human rights mechanisms, and questioned whether visiting a few European countries to collect information on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran was “the correct methodology for the compilation of a report”.
8. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur continues to maintain that he only presents corroborated information, gathered from credible sources, that he has sought clarification on a number of issues and cases through communications with the Government – a majority of which remain unanswered – and that he has accurately presented concerns raised by other human rights mechanisms. He also concurs that the alternatives pursued in the absence of an approved visit to the country are less than ideal.
9. In its comments, the Government also asserted that individuals that are guilty of serious crimes – including alleged acts of violence, the disruption of public order and the promotion of ideas with the intent of inciting “secessionist” activities – were inappropriately identified as human rights defenders in the report. It also maintained that journalists and lawyers are not immune from prosecution when they violate “the boundaries of a duty entrusted to him/her by law and engages in acts that run contrary to his/her standing”. Lastly, the Government continued to maintain that drug trafficking is a serious crime that warrants capital punishment.
II. Methodology and activities
10. The Special Rapporteur conducted interviews with a total of 72 Iranians in the Netherlands, Germany and France between 12 and 22 December 2013 (see annex II). Another 61 Iranians located in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey submitted statements between September and December 2013. These individuals identified themselves as human rights defenders, lawyers and persons belonging to ethnic and religious minority groups. Others identified themselves as former “political prisoners” or relatives of former or current “political prisoners”, including some who had been executed.
11. During the interviews, individuals recounted events spanning several decades, and answered a series of specific questions pertaining to their arrest, detention and prosecution, where relevant. Between1 August 2013 and 3 January 2014, the Special Rapporteur received written reports from human rights organizations on the situation of Baha’i, Gonabadi Dervish, Sunnis, Christian, religious minority communities and the Ahwazi Arab, Kurdish, Baluch and Azerbaijani ethnic minority groups. The information communicated during all 133 interviews and in the written submissions was examined and is contained in the annexes to the present report.
12. The Special Rapporteur addressed 25 communications, including 8 allegation letters and 17 urgent actions, to the Government to enquire about specific cases and express concern about certain trends, including the arrest and prosecution of journalists, political and student activists, trade unionists, artists, human right defenders, lawyers and women rights activists; the situation of religious minorities; lack of access to medical care in prisons, the application of the death penalty, including the execution of persons in secret; and the promulgation of discriminatory legislation. The Government responded to four of these enquiries. On 19 July 2013, the Special Rapporteur also issued several detailed surveys in the form of questionnaires to various government offices for the purpose of gathering further information about the impact of economic sanctions on the country’s humanitarian situation, and transmitted two requests for a visit on 16 May and 2 July 2013, in order to strengthen cooperation with the Government and to investigate further the allegations submitted to him. The Government has yet to respond to these communications.
13. The Special Rapporteur met with the Permanent Representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva and New York to discuss views on the conclusions drawn by the Special Rapporteur in his previous reports, his methodology and the prospects for future engagement. The Special Rapporteur looks forward to future opportunities for engagement and cooperation, including through further meetings and by visiting the country.
III. Legislative developments
A. Draft charter of citizens’ rights
14. On 26 November 2013, the Government announced the publication of its draft charter of citizens’ rights, which was made available for public comment.7 According to the draft, the charter proposes no new rights, but recalls the most important rights currently guaranteed by Iranian law. It states that the charter serves as the Government’s intended “plan and policy”,8 and proposes a framework for cooperation between the various branches of Government to strengthen guarantees for civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
15. Human rights defenders and a number of human rights organizations contend that the current draft fails to address underlying concerns, emphasizing that it frames rights within the context of the current national legal framework, which has been a source of concern for the United Nations human rights machinery for decades.9 Articles 3.11 and 3.16, for example, acknowledge the right to promote and disseminate ideas and opinions, regardless of medium, and highlight the rights to freedom of association and assembly “within the framework of the law”, as long as they do not violate public rights or the principles of Islam.
7 See www.president.ir/fa/72975.
8 See the draft charter, art. 1.6, at http://shaheedoniran.org/english/reported-cases/citizenship-rightscharter/.
9 Amnesty International, “Iran: Charter of Citizens’ Rights must enshrine human rights for all”, 19 December 2013, available from www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/057/2013/en; Human Rights Watch, “Joint Letter to President Hassan Rouhani re: draft Citizens’ Rights Charter, 27 December 2013, available from www.hrw.org/news/2013/12/27/joint-letter-president-hassan-rouhanire-draft-citizens-rights-charter; and International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “Draft Citizenship Charter Will Allow Continued Rights Violations say Human Rights Groups”, 27 December 2013, available from www.iranhumanrights.org/2013/12/ichri-hrw/.
16. The charter currently fails to address laws and policies that discriminate against religious minorities, including the Baha’i, and insufficiently addresses discrimination against women, including their ability to pass their citizenship on to their children. It also fails to address the use of cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment, including flogging, hanging, stoning and amputation; it does not ban the execution of juveniles; and it fails to address concerns about the use of capital punishment, in particular for offences that do not meet the standards for most serious crimes under international law.
17. Several organizations and human rights defenders also recall that a number of laws, including the Constitution and the 2004 Law on Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights, already guarantee the rights described in the charter, but that certain aspects of other laws and practices undermine their protection.
B. Criminal procedure law
18. On 6 November 2013, the Guardian Council approved a new criminal procedure law, which has yet to come into force. The new law incorporates the 2004 Law on Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights. From a rights perspective, the new law presents some notable improvements to the current law, which facilitated a variety of abuses. Nonetheless, the new law also maintains some key shortcomings.
19. The new law continues to provide for the detention of individuals throughout an initial investigation phase, during which security officials gather evidence against suspects. It requires the authorities to adhere to procedures designed to safeguard fair trial standards defined in the law of 2004.10 In order to prevent flight or to maintain “pubic order”, the law allows investigatory judges to extend pretrial detention, once charges have been laid within 24 hours, for serious offences, including for vaguely worded national security offences, for one month at a time and for up to two years or until trial.11 Detainees may appeal against the extension of detention within 10 days of its issuance.
20. The new law allows the access of defendants to a lawyer within the initial investigation phase, upon their request.12 Under the current criminal procedure, lawyers are prohibited access during the initial investigation. Furthermore, the investigatory judge must inform the accused of the right to a lawyer, and offer a court-appointed lawyer if the accused cannot afford one.13When accused persons are charged with a national security or other serious offence, however, they can still be denied the right to counsel for one week. Security forces, with the agreement of an investigatory judge, may also deny a detainee’s communication with family and friends if there is “a need to do so”, which is not clearly defined.14
21. The law also expands the number of judges that preside over serious crimes in public criminal and revolutionary courts to five, with a quorum of three. In addition, the law expanded the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear appeals, including claims that serious procedural violations have invalidated verdicts. The law states, however, that procedural violations do not themselves invalidate rulings unless rights breached are of sufficient importance.15
10 Code of Criminal Procedure. arts. 24 and 127.
11 Ibid., art. 32.
12 Ibid, arts. 48, 346-348.
13 Ibid., art. 190.
14 Ibid., art. 50.
22. Defendants may, if acquitted, seek remedy for defamation, damages and mental anguish to themselves or family members if they have been unjustifiably detained or detained through a mistake or fault of the judge during the initial investigation period. Such claims are to be heard by a provisional commission, which consists of three judges appointed by the head of the judiciary.16C. Political crime bill
23. In September 2103, the “political crime” bill was introduced to Parliament and is currently being reviewed by the Cultural Commission.17 The bill appears to impose further limits on freedom of expression, association and assembly. According to article 1 of the bill, a political crime is any act meant to criticize the State or to obtain or maintain power, without intending to damage the fundamental principles and framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran.18 According to article 2, political crimes are those that defame, insult and publish false information against government officials; it lists crimes defined by the Activities of Political and Professional Parties, Groups, Associations and Islamic Associations or Recognized Religious Minorities Law of 1981.19
IV. Right to liberty and security of persons
24. In February 2003, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, during a mission to the country, visited several prisons and detention centres, and met with representatives of the Government, parliament, the judiciary and non-governmental organizations, as well as with prisoners and their families.20 It made several observations, noting that situations of arbitrary detention were “essentially related to infringements of freedom of opinion and expression”, and “malfunctions in the administration of justice”, in particular concerning due process of law, abuse of solitary confinement, the role of revolutionary tribunals and clerical courts and the failure to take into account the principle of proportionality in passing sentence. It also noted that, while freedom of expression, assembly, association and belief (for recognized religions) are guaranteed by the Constitution, almost all prisoners they requested to visit had been prosecuted or tried for having peacefully exercised these constitutional rights, which made their detention arbitrary under category II of the Group’s working methods.21
25. The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest. It requires that detainees be informed of their charges in writing “without delay”, stipulating in its article 32 that “a provisional dossier should be forwarded to the competent judicial authorities within a maximum of 24 hours so that preliminary procedures to the trial may be completed as swiftly as possible”.
26. The 2004 Law on Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights contains 15 articles that specifically govern the conduct of individuals representing all courts, prosecutor and judicial offices when carrying out their legal duties. Like the Constitution, the law, in its article 5, forbids “arbitrary detention of individuals”, requires that families of detainees be “apprised of any and all developments” and forbids the use of “unknown places” for detention. In articles 6 and 7, it also forbids interrogators from using blindfolds, shackling or humiliating persons during arrests, or sitting behind detainees during interrogation. It directs officials to use questions that are “clear, purposeful and related directly or indirectly to the accusations” and to use “proper methods of investigation and modern techniques” during interrogations. It also forbids the use of torture to obtain confessions, and insists that forced confessions have no legal merit.
15 Ibid., art. 455.
16 Ibid, art. 256.
20 See E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.2.
21 Ibid., para. 42
27. As at 14 January 2014, at least 895 “prisoners of conscience” and “political prisoners” were reportedly imprisoned. This number includes 379 political activists, 292 religious practitioners, 92 human rights defenders (including 50 ethnic rights activists), 71 civic activists, 37 journalists and netizens, and 24 student activists (see annex II).
28. The Special Rapporteur is struck by the magnitude, frequency and recurring nature of certain incidents reported by interviewees. The details given by interviewees depict situations of arbitrary detention, particularly the apparent arrest and detention of individuals for the peaceful exercise of fundamental rights, including the right to expression, association or belief, as described by other special procedures.22 Their testimonies also uniformly convey a pattern of abuse that violates both international and national safeguards for humane and fair treatment of detained and accused persons.
29. A majority of the 61 individuals located in Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran reported having been detained between 2003 and 2008, 11 reported detentions in 2009, and 12 from 2009 onward. Half of all interviewees reported detentions lasting between six months and three years. Some 69 per cent reported that authorities either did not have warrants or refused to produce one when requested.23 In some cases, arrests were made at an intelligence office or revolutionary court after individuals responded to a verbal summons, not a written summons as required by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
30. About half of all interviewees reported that they had been arrested at a private residence. The authorities had conducted extensive searches and often confiscated personal items, such as family photo albums. Several reported verbal and physical abuse of themselves and of family members during the arrest. In two thirds of cases, interviewees stated that they had been arrested on behalf of the Minister of Intelligence. Others reported that they had been arrested by various branches of the security forces, including the police, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or Basij militia.
31. Approximately 85 per cent reported being held in Ministry of Intelligence detention centres or a local prison. It was reported that those taken to local prisons were often held in special intelligence or Islamic Revolutionary Guards wards, such as wards 209, 2A or 240 of Evin prison in Tehran. They were reportedly held in these locations for the course of what appears to be an “initial stage of investigation”. A majority of interviewees reported that they were detained mostly incommunicado during the “investigation stage” for periods ranging from two days to four months, during which they were repeatedly interrogated.
32. Seventy-five per cent of interviewees reported having been held without any charge laid within 24 hours as stipulated by the Constitution. In 59 per cent of cases, detainees were formally charged after more than a week (in some cases, months) or never at all. 22 Ibid. 23 Percentages are based on 29 formerly detained interviewees, with the exception of the number associated with the trials, which are based on the 18 individuals that faced trial only.
A. Human rights defenders
33. Of the 92 human rights defenders currently reportedly detained (see table 1 below), at least 26 were charged with “membership in organizations that aim to disrupt national security” or “relations or collaboration with organizations that aim to disrupt national security” (both charges relate to article 499 of the Penal Code). At least 25 were charged with “propaganda against the system”, and at least 14 were charged with “assembly and collusion against national security”. Other charges less frequently laid against these individuals include espionage and moharebeh (commonly translated as “enmity against God”, but translated by the Government as a crime in which “a person brandishes or points a weapon at members of the public to kill, frighten and coerce them”).24 Since 2010, the coordinated mass arrest of human rights defenders has served to effectively dismantle the most important Iranian human right organizations, including the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (founded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi) and Human Rights Activists in Iran.25
Human rights defenders currently detained, by category
B. Journalists and netizens
34. Of 39 bloggers and journalists currently detained in the Islamic Republic of Iran (including the recent arrest of seven computer technology workers),26 at least 12 were charged with “assembly and collusion”, 10 with “propaganda against the system” and at least six with “insulting the Supreme Leader”. 27 The number of persons concerned in each case is probably higher owing to the unknown circumstances surrounding the cases against some journalists and bloggers currently detained.
24 See United for Iran, “Political Prisoners in Iran”, available from http://united4iran.org/politicalprisoners- database/search/.
25 Human Rights Watch, “Iran: New Coordinated Attack on Human Rights Groups”, 24 March 2010, available from www.hrw.org/news/2010/03/24/iran-new-coordinated-attack-human-rights-groups.
26 Elana Beiser, “Second worst year on record for jailed journalists”, Committee to Protect Journalists, 18 December 2013, available from http://cpj.org/reports/2013/12/second-worst-year-on-record-forjailed-journalists.php.
27 “Political Prisoners in Iran,” United for Iran, URL.
C. Religious minorities
35. As at 3 January 2014, at least 307 members of religious minorities were in detention, of whom 136 were Baha’is, 90 Sunni Muslims, 50 Christians, 19 Dervish Muslims (four Dervish human rights lawyers were also reportedly detained), four were Yarasan, two were Zoroastrians and six were from other groups. A few were members of more newly formed spiritual groups, such as Inter-universalism, founded by Mohammad Ali Taheri. Additionally members of the official state religion Shia Islam, such as Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, have at times been imprisoned for their expression of theological beliefs that challenge those endorsed by the Government.
36. Former detainees often report being subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and prolonged solitary confinement to coerce confessions to accusations or admissions about other people. Many detainees also reported being held largely incommunicado, without access to a lawyer. Some prosecutions reportedly failed to meet international standards, marked by limited access to case files and the right to present a defence. Under the law, religious minorities, including recognized Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, also face discrimination in the judicial system, such as hasher punishments than Muslims for certain crimes, and are barred from serving as judges.
37. At least 734 Baha’is have reportedly been arrested since 2004, and 136 are currently detained. Another 289 have been arrested, released on bail and awaiting trial, while another 150 have been sentenced but are awaiting appeals or summons to serve.28
38. It appears that Baha’is are almost exclusively prosecuted for participation in their community affairs, including by facilitating educational services and publicly engaging in religious practices, such as attending devotional gatherings. The violations appear to be rooted in the unrecognized status of the faith, as well as a pervasive view held within the Government that Baha’is represent a heretical sect with ties to foreign enemies.29 They are typically charged with political and security crimes, such as espionage or “propaganda against the ruling system”. According to an unpublished submission from the Baha’i International Community, multiple revolutionary courts recently held that membership of “the misguided Baha’i sect” constituted a criminal offence. The same publication noted that, in a 1993 case involving the murder of two Baha’is, the Constitutional exclusion of Baha’is made them “unprotected infidels” within the justice system. Other sources report that judges are often openly hostile towards Baha’i defendants.
39. In recent years, Christians, many of whom are converts from Muslim backgrounds, have faced a similar pattern of persecution. At least 49 Christians were reportedly being detained in the Islamic Republic of Iran as at January 2014. In 2013 alone, the authorities reportedly arrested at least 42 Christians, of whom 35 were convicted for participation in informal “house churches”, association with churches outside the Islamic Republic of Iran, perceived or real evangelical activity, and other standard Christian activities. Sentences range from one to 10 years of imprisonment.
28 Ataollah Rezvani, a Baha’i resident of the city of Bandar Abbas, was allegedly murdered on 24 August 2013. It has been alleged that his murder might be linked to his religion. The Government claimed, however, that the case was currently under investigation and that, on the basis of existing evidence, the cause of death was more likely suicide than murder. Some reports indicate, however, that the forensic findings contradict Government statements.
29 See A Faith Denied: the Persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, available from www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3149-a-faith-denied-thepersecution- of-the-baha-is-of-iran.html#.UtRKfWRDt9E.
40. The Christians most commonly prosecuted appear to be converts from Muslim backgrounds or those that proselytize or minister to Iranian Muslims. Iranian authorities at the highest levels have designated house churches and evangelical Christians as threats to national security.30
41. While most cases involving Christians are tried in revolutionary courts for national security crimes, some Christians face charges in public criminal courts for manifestation of religious beliefs; for example, a court sentenced four Christians to 80 lashes each for drinking wine during communion in October 2013.31 Sources also reported that, although prosecutions for the capital offence of apostasy are very rare, officials routinely threaten to prosecute Christian converts for apostasy, which, while not found in any Iranian criminal law, has been prosecuted based on an Islamic law interpretation commonly used by Iranian courts.32
3. Dervish and Sunni Muslims
42. Muslims are not immune from arrest, prosecution and judicial harassment in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent years, authorities have targeted Dervish (namely, Sufi) Muslims, including members of the Nematollahi Gonabadi order. According to information submitted to the Special Rapporteur, since 2008, 90 Gonabadi Dervishes have been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence for questioning, 391 have been summoned to public and revolutionary courts, and at least 238 Gonabadi Dervishes have been arrested. Altogether, these actions have resulted in at least 970 prosecutions since 2008, with some cases still open.
43. Human rights groups have reported numerous cases of detention of Sunni Muslims, the majority being imams or religious leaders. They often hail from ethnic minority communities, and routinely face multiple levels of discrimination and limits on their religious practices. Some Sunnis appear to be prosecuted for crimes that involve alleged acts of political violence, including capital crimes such as moharebeh (see para. 33 above). Human rights groups and a former political prisoner told the Special Rapporteur that the majority of Sunnis are detained for peaceful religious activism or theologically-based opposition to the political system in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some have alleged that their convictions were based on confessions made under torture.
D. Ethnic minorities
44. As at January 2014, at least 50 ethnic rights defenders, 28 civic and cultural activists and 200 ethnic political activists were reported detained or imprisoned, many convicted of association with armed opposition groups. Sources challenge the legality of these detentions and convictions, alleging torture and denial of fair trial standards for a majority of these individuals.
31 “Iran: Four Christians sentenced to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine”, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 23 October 2013, available from http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=press&id=1595.
32 See “The Cost of Faith: Persecution of Christian Protestants and Converts in Iran”, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, New York, 2013, available from www.iranhumanrights.org/wpcontent/uploads/Christians_report_Final_for-web.pdf.
45. The Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned about the five Arab Ahwazi members of the Al-Hiwar cultural institute, who were arrested by the security forces in early 2011 and sentenced to death in July 2012. Their sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court on 9 January 2013. They were reportedly prosecuted for protected activities and convicted of moharebeh, efsad fil-arz (“corruption on earth”) and “spreading propaganda against the system”, reportedly in the absence of fair trial standards.33
46. According to reports submitted to the Special Rapporteur, five Azeri political and cultural activists, arrested between 31 December 2012 and 6 February 2013, were convicted and sentenced by branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court of Tabriz to nine years in prison for “founding an illegal group” and “propaganda against the State”. The five Azeri activists reportedly promoted the right to self-determination and the cultural and linguistic identity of Azeris in the Islamic Republic of Iran.On 16 June 2013, the Court of Appeals upheld the sentence.34 On 13 July 2013, the five activists embarked on a hunger strike to protest their alleged unfair trial and detention conditions.35
47. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned about the alleged reprisal for the killing of Iranian border forces, with the execution of 16 prisoners in the Sistan and Baluchistan province, the execution of four Ahwazi Arabs and the execution of two Kurdish political prisoners. In his statement on the executions, the Zahedan Revolutionary and Public Prosecutor maintained that the “wicked forces and opposition grouplets” had been warned that “we will retaliate against any action that harms innocent people and security and police forces. This morning, in response to the martyrdom of border forces in the City of Saravan, we executed 16 bandits that were connected to State opposition groups.”36
48. The head of the judiciary in Sistan and Baluchistan province reported that eight of the 16 individuals executed were charged with moharebeh and efsad fil-arz owing to their membership and cooperation with the Soldiers of Satan group and “participation in terrorist events in the province in recent years”, while the other eight were reportedly executed on drug-related charges.37 According to a number of reports, at least one juvenile offender was among the 16 persons executed.38
49. The Special Rapporteur remains concerned at reports of the extrajudicial killing of Kulbars by border forces39 and the injury or death of civilians as a result of land mines; 17 such cases were reported from March to October 2013.40
50. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned about the prosecution of cultural and labour activists. According to reports, labour activists were prosecuted for being members of the Coordination Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations in the Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan provinces and for participating in its general assembly.41
33 Human Rights Watch, “Iran: Stop Execution of Ahwazi Arab Political Prisoners”, 24 January 2013, available from www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/24/iran-stop-execution-ahwazi-arab-political-prisoners.
34 Human Rights Watch, “Iran: Free Ethnic rights Activists”, 21 August 2013, available from www.hrw.org/news/2013/08/20/iran-free-ethnic-rights-activists.
38 See HRANA, “Two Baloch teenage political prisoners sentenced to death were transferred to exile prisons”, 14 September 2012, available from http://hra-news.org/en/two-baloch-teenage-politicalprisoners-sentenced-to-death-were-transferred-to-exile-prisons#more-2010, and http://hrdai.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1440:1392-08-05-08-31-52&catid=1:2010-07-21-10-18-57&Itemid=4.
39 See www.kurdpa.net/farsi/index.php?cat=idame&id=13417 and www.kurdpa.net/farsi/index.php?cat=idame&id=13408.
40 Report of the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights and Association of Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G) submitted to the office of the Special Rapporteur on 6 December 2013.
51. Officials have reportedly mandated management of Internet cafes in Paveh city (Kurdistan province) to record information on the citizens entering their venues. On 13 December 2013, seven Kurdish cultural activists from Kurdistan province were sentenced to seven months of imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court of Paveh for reportedly promoting propaganda for Kurdish opposition political parties through social websites.42
V. Treatment of persons deprived of liberty
52. The Government accepted seven recommendations related to the treatment of detained persons during its universal periodic review in 2010, including to improve human rights education and training for judicial and law enforcement officials, to eliminate torture and other forms of ill treatment, to ensure an effective and impartial judicial system in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is guaranteed, and to take measures to ensure that government and security officials implicated in human rights abuses relating to extrajudicial and arbitrary detention and the possible use of torture are investigated, prosecuted and punished.43
53. Although the prison system in the Islamic Republic of Iran has an official capacity of 113,000, in 2010 there were more than 204,000 inmates, an occupancy rate of 192 per cent, namely, nearly twice its maximum physical capacity (and a sharp increase over the 101,801 prisoners registered in 1993). The International Center for Prison Studies estimated that the rate of prisoners per population at 276 per 100,000 persons (2010), the 39th highest rate in the world. 44 In 2011, the head of the national prison organization stated that the rising number of prisoners had thrown the penitentiary systems into crisis, and that the system faced a two-month budget shortfall every year.45 Living conditions for inmates are routinely reported to range from poor to inhumane. Access to medical services is often limited, and hygiene and nutrition are poor.46
54. A total of 69 per cent of the 133 interviewees reported having been held in solitary confinement for periods ranging from a few days to nine months. Solitary cells typically measure 2 to 2.5 m2 and contain little more than a blanket and a sleeping mat. They reported that they had been refused access to fresh air, books or a pen and paper, and had no human contact other than with guards and interrogators. In some cases, interviewees stated that they had been allowed to make brief telephone calls to their families in the presence of prison officials to report they were “fine”.
55. Almost all former detainees claimed that authorities had blindfolded them during transfers from cells to interrogation rooms or bathrooms. Nearly all reported having been made to face a wall or a corner during interrogation and being interrogated from behind by one to three interrogators. Interrogations allegedly lasted several hours, during which time interrogators usually attempted to coerce detainees to confess in writing to certain activities, and/or to sign other documents. In nearly all cases, former detainees reported having been subjected to torture or ill-treatment during interrogation and detention.
41 Report submitted to the office of the Special Rapporteur by the Association of Kurds Living in France on 23 December 2013.
45 “Iranian prisoners held in appalling conditions”, Radio Zamaneh, 21 December 2011, available from http://archive.radiozamaneh.com/english/content/iranian-prisoners-held-appalling-conditions.
46 A/68/503, paras. 19-20.
56. In 90 per cent of cases, former detainees claimed that their interrogators had subjected them to psychological abuse, including prolonged solitary confinement, mock executions, threats to life, sexual harassment, threats to family members, harsh verbal abuse and threats of rape and other torture. Some 76 per cent also alleged that their interrogators physically abused them in the form of severe beatings to the head and body, often with a baton-like object. Some reported having been subjected to suspension and pressure positions, sexual molestation, electric shocks or burning. Some also reported having been transferred to general prison wards and shared cells after the investigation period, after which interrogations largely concluded. Some interviewees stated they were released shortly thereafter on bail.
57. In total, only 18 interviewees (34 per cent) stated that they had faced actual prosecution. Such persons were mainly charged with national security offences, while a few faced additional morality charges in public criminal courts. All interviewees reported various deviations from fair trial standards.
VI. Right to a fair trial
58. In 2003, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended the abolition of revolutionary and religious courts; the establishment of safeguards for legal counsel against intimidation; and the involvement of legal counsel from the beginning of a case, regardless of the nature of the allegations against the accused.47
59. In 2011, the Human Rights Committee recommended that the Islamic Republic of Iran should take immediate steps to ensure and protect the full independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and guarantee that its functioning is free from pressure and interference from the executive power and clergy. The Committee also recommended that the State should also ensure that judges, in interpreting legislation as well as in relying on religious principles, do not reach verdicts that are in contravention to the rights and principles laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.48
A. Independence of judges
60. The independence of the judiciary is provided for in article 156 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The judiciary comprises multiple district courts, the jurisdiction of which is governed by the nature of the allegations against the accused. The revolutionary courts, before which most individuals identified as “prisoners of conscience” are prosecuted, preside over cases involving offences against “internal or external security”, drug offences and activities aimed at “fortifying the Pahlavi regime, suppressing the struggles of the Iranian people by giving orders or acting as agents, plundering the public treasury, and profiteering and forestalling the market of public commodities.”49
61. According to article 157 of the Constitution, the Head of the Judiciary is required to be a “doctor of religious law” and to possess knowledge of judicial matters. He has the power to appoint and dismiss judges, to define their jobs, to issue judicial promotions and transfers (arts. 158 and 164), and to appoint the Prosecutor General and the President of the Supreme Court (art. 162), which are therefore subject to the whims of the head of the judiciary.50 Under the Law on the Qualifications for the Appointment of Judges of 1982, Shia Muslim women may be appointed as advisory judges but may not preside over a court.51
47 See E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.2 and Corr.1.
48 CCPR/C/IRN/CO/3, para. 22.
49 Human Rights Watch, “Religious minorities”, 1997, available from www.hrw.org/reports/1997/iran/Iran-05.htm.
62. The head of the judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader, who is responsible for, inter alia, supervision of general policies governing the system, the command of the armed forces, and “signing the decree formalizing the election of the President of the Republic by the people”.52 The Supreme Leader’s influence over the judiciary was already noted with concern in 2001 by both the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran following a statement reportedly made by the First Deputy to the head of the judiciary that “judges must obey the Supreme Leader and have no independence in judgement”.53
63. Judges are called upon to adjudicate cases on the basis of codified law and, when the law is silent, to issue judgements on the basis of authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwas.54 Candidates for judgeship or prosecutorial positions are required to “have faith, be just and possess a practical commitment to Islamic principles and loyalty to the system of the Islamic Republic”.55
64. The above-mentioned qualifications are vetted through the gozinesh process, which involves investigations conducted by the Supreme Selection Council and the Ministry of Intelligence into the acceptability of an applicant’s beliefs, previous political opinions and affiliations, and repentance of any former political opinions and affiliations set forth in the Selection Law based on Religious and Ethical Standards of 1995.56
65. Lawyers reported that they believed that judges, particularly those in revolutionary courts, made their decisions almost exclusively on the basis of reports submitted by arresting and investigating intelligence officials (and confessions, if available). This approach was indeed reflected in the revolutionary court verdicts reviewed by the Special Rapporteur, which made extensive reference to the reports of the Ministry of Intelligence. Lawyers also reported that, in their experience, judges rarely considered evidence provided by the defence, and frequently chose to ignore allegations that confessions had been obtained under torture.
50 Amnesty International, “Iran: Violations of human rights 1987-1990”, 1 December 1990 (available from www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/021/1990/en), para. 2.1.2.
51 Submission by Amnesty International to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 49th session (available from http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=442&Lang= en), p. 5.
52 Constitution, art. 110.
53 E/CN.4/2001/65, para. 116.
54 Constitution, art. 167.
55 Law on the Qualifications for the Appointment of Judges, approved on 14 May 1982, Code Collection (1982), Official Gazette.
56 Submission by Amnesty International to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (see footnote 51), p. 5.
B. Independence of lawyers
66. As found by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2003,57 the Special Rapporteur notes that lawyers are intimidated, detained and prosecuted for carrying out their professional responsibilities in defence of their clients.
67. More than 42 lawyers have reportedly faced detention, prosecution or harassment by security forces since 2009. Several have been stripped of their professional licences by the courts. Several lawyers also reported that they and their colleagues were often harassed or intimidated by judicial and/or intelligence authorities for carrying out their work, including for their defence of political (“security”) detainees. They also reported that, in more serious cases, judges threatened lawyers with prosecution for their work and that they were charged and/or had been sentenced for “insulting” judges or “disrupting the court” in apparent retaliation for their professional defence of individuals accused of political or “security” crimes.58
68. Mohammad Olyaei Fard, a human rights lawyer, reported that, in one of his cases, a judge ordered a prosecutor to file charges against him for publicizing false information about the Ministry of Intelligence, and requested that the bar association revoke his license in response to his assertion that his client’s confession had been obtained under duress and was therefore inadmissible. Mr. Olyaei Fard also reported that he also had to represent a lawyer colleague, Abdol Fatta Soltani, who is currently imprisoned, when Mr. Soltani was prosecuted for submitting allegations of torture on his client’s behalf.
69. Lawyers also reported that judicial and/or intelligence authorities intimidated lawyers or otherwise prevented them from carrying out their work by, for example, withholding necessary and relevant case documents or preventing timely face-to-face client meetings. One lawyer reported that, on several occasions, judges had refused entry to the courtroom when the lawyer attempted to make procedural requests, and had been threatened, in many cases by the judges themselves. The same lawyer also reported that, when attempting to present his/her defence in a “security” case, a presiding judge told the lawyer to “save it for your own trial”. The lawyer further reported that, in another trial where a group of women alleged having been raped by members of a criminal gang, a judge commented at the end of the trial that the plaintiffs certainly “also had something to do with it”, despite the conviction of the men. When the lawyer requested a record of the judge’s statement for the purposes of filing an official complaint, the judge threatened to charge the lawyer instead. The lawyer also claimed having witnessed judges denigrate female lawyers by, for example, ignoring procedural objections or requests made by the lawyers and, in turn, demanding that they adjust the positioning of their head covering or by having courtroom security guards do it.
70. According to sources, incidents against lawyers such as those mentioned above have led to a decline in the number of those willing to take on sensitive cases. The lawyers that do accept such cases are either in prison, have fled the country or in constant fear of arrest or other negative repercussions.
71. Lawyers also reported that this culture of intimidation deters them from raising reports of torture in their clients’ defence for fear that judiciary and security forces might retaliate, including through prosecution or the revocation of their professional license, and often deters individuals from hiring legal counsel in order to avoid the accusation that hiring a lawyer is an admission of guilt.
58 Information was based on an interview conducted by the Special Rapporteur with an Iranian lawyer on 20 December 2013. The source’s background was vetted prior to the interview, and all information provided was cross-checked with outside sources for credibility, accuracy and internal consistency.
C. Trial proceedings
1. Access to legal counsel
72. Article 35 of the Constitution recognizes the right to elect an attorney in all courts, and clearly requires the courts to provide opportunities for the realization of this right. Article 3 of the Citizenship Rights Law of 2004 requires courts and prosecution offices to respect the right of the accused to a defence, and to provide the accused with the services of a defence attorney. Similar protections have been prescribed by the Criminal Procedure, as noted above.
73. All persons interviewed for the present report stated that they had had no access to a lawyer during the initial investigation stage of their case, which is precisely the period when most violations of fair trial standards occur. Some 56 per cent of interviewees who were prosecuted reported that they did not have a lawyer during their trial. In three cases, judges reportedly refused to allow the defendants to retain a lawyer of their choice.
74. In one case, the judge reportedly informed the defendant that if he did not bring his lawyer with him to trial, he would be given a lighter sentence. In several cases, a lawyer was actually present at trial, although the defendant did not have contact with the lawyer until a few days or just hours before trial. Some 27 per cent of interviewees stated that their lawyer did not have access to their case files, or obtained access only a few days earlier (or even just on the day of trial).
2. Fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal
75. For 45 per cent of interviewees who faced trial, the court allegedly did not permit the defendant to present a defence, or only allowed partial defence. In 43 per cent of cases, trials lasted only minutes. In 70 per cent of the trials, interviewees reported that coerced information or confessions had been reportedly used by the judge or made up at least part of the intelligence report presented by the prosecution. Some 65 per cent of interviewees reported that the judge had displayed signs of bias, such as by reproaching or interrogating defendants, and limiting their ability to speak and present a defence.
76. All interviewees reported that a court had found them guilty of most or all charges. Several interviewees stated that their lawyers had not been provided with copies of the verdict handed down by the revolutionary court; instead, they had been forced to copy the text of the verdict by hand, which was used to formulate their appeal. In some cases, appeals resulted in lighter sentences, but never acquittals. In all cases, final verdicts reportedly included a combination of prison sentence, suspended prison term, flogging, bans on professional activity or education, or fines.
77. One lawyer who has been practicing in the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than 10 years reported irregularities observed during the representation of the more than 40 individuals in the country’s revolutionary courts. The lawyer reported that a number of clients with “security” cases had been forced to confess to charges regardless of available evidence, and the lawyer had often not been permitted to review case files before trials, to meet with clients before and/or after trials, to present a full defence to the presiding judge or to be present in the courtroom throughout the pre-verdict trial proceedings, in accordance with the law.
78. The lawyer also further reported that individuals accused of drug offences were often severely mistreated while in detention, often deprived of access to hygienic facilities, handcuffed and shackled together in court, and that their trials “never last more than a few minutes”.
79. The lawyer recalled that Iranian law allows for women who report rape to be prosecuted of adultery in cases where they are unable to convince a judge of their charges, given that the allegations imply that the women had engaged in extra-marital relations. The lawyer also pointed out that rape cases were very difficult to prove and put women wishing to report the crime at risk of being prosecuted for a capital offence, which likely deterred women victims from coming forward. Moreover, women alleging rape must often subject themselves to intrusive “virginity” tests.
VII. Right to life
80. It has been estimated that some 1,539 individuals have been executed, including at least between 955 and 962 for drug trafficking, since the establishment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in 2011 (see table 2 below).59 Some 687 individuals are thought to have been executed in 2013 (369 of which were announced by official or semi-official government sources), an increase of 165 over the figures recorded for 2012, despite the fact that executions effectively ceased for several lengths of time that year: from 1 March to 15 April, during which only four persons were executed;60 during the presidential elections between 23 May and 16 June, when only two were executed;61 and during Ramadan, from 8 July to 13 August 2013, when three people were executed.
Executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran: 2003 – 2013 (see PDF Table)
81. In 2013, at least 57 individuals were hanged publicly (one of whom was pardoned after surviving the execution), including at least 28 women. A number of individuals were reportedly convicted in the absence of fair trial standards and executed for the crimes of moharebeh, efsad fil-arz or for “acting against national security”.
82. In late October and early November 2013, three Kurds were executed for moharebeh and for “attempting to overthrow the Government”. In November, four individuals from the Arab Ahwazi minority community were executed for “acting against national security”, moharebeh and efsad fil-arz.62
59 IHRDC Chart of Executions by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, available from www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/3420-executions-in-iran.html#.UsNwaV4F94 (2011), www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/1000000030-ihrdc-chart-of-executions-bythe-islamic-republic-of-iran-2012.html#.UsN-Z6V4F94 (2012) and www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/1000000225-ihrdc-chart-of-executions-by-the-islamicrepublic-of-iran-2013.html#.UsNGC6V4F94 (2013).
83. Four additional Kurdish individuals – Jamshid and Jahanghir Dehgani, Hamed Ahmadi and Kamal Molayee – appear to be at imminent risk of execution for the “crimes” of moharebeh and efsad fil-arz.63 Sources have reported that they were convicted in the absence of fair trial standards. The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to halt these executions, commute their sentences and investigate complaints of violations of fair trial guarantees.64
84. While the new Islamic Penal Code has excluded the possibility of execution for “security crimes” in which weapons were not used,65 it retains the death penalty for certain crimes not meeting international standards for “most serious”, including recidivist alcohol consumption, adultery, consensual homosexual sex and drug possession or trafficking.66
85. The drug problem faced by the Islamic Republic of Iran is both significant and complex. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated in 2011 that some 1.2 million Iranians were opiate users, one of the highest rates globally. Drug trafficking and related crimes have posed major law enforcement and security challenges. Iranian officials have estimated that the fight against drug addiction and trafficking costs $1 billion a year.67
86. The Islamic Republic of Iran prescribes the death penalty for a variety of drugrelated activities, including drug manufacturing and trafficking, but it can also be applied to the personal possession of 30g of heroin, morphine or specified synthetic and non-medical psychotropic drugs, such as methamphetamines, without an effective right of appeal.68 Drug offences continue to account for most cases of capital punishment in the country, resulting in the highest known per capita level of executions globally. It was estimated that at least 302 of the 624 executions held in 2013 were for alleged drug possession or trafficking,69 although the actual number is possibly higher, given that the reasons for the execution of another 90 individuals remain unknown. This application of the death penalty in the Islamic Republic of Iran affects many of the most vulnerable in society, and accordingly has a disproportionate impact on minorities.
62 Iran Human Rights, “Iran Human Rights condemns execution of four Ahwazi political prisoners”, 5 December 2013, available from http://iranhr.net/2013/12/iran-human-rights-condemns-execution-offour- ahwazi-political-prisoners-3/.
63 Amnesty International, “Iran: Death sentences upheld, executions imminent: Jamshid Dehgani, Jahanghir Dehgani, Hamed Ahmadi and Kamal Molayee”, 19 September 2013, available from www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/037/2013/en.
64 Amnesty International, “Iran: Halt the execution of four Kurds on death row”, 20 September 2013, available from www.amnesty.org/en/news/iran-halt-execution-four-kurds-death-row-2013-09-20.
65 Information based on an interview conducted by the Special Rapporteur on 20 December 2013 with a lawyer currently practicing in the Islamic Republic of Iran and acquainted with the New Islamic Penal Code.
66 Human Rights Watch, “Codifying Repression: An Assessment of Iran’s New Penal Code”, 28 August 2013, available from www.hrw.org/reports/2012/08/28/codifying-repression.
67 “Iran’s FM says next year “drug tsunami” to hit region”, Trend, 26 April 2013, available from http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2143925.html.
68 The new Anti-Narcotics Law of 2011 provides for mandatory death sentences for the heads of drug gangs or networks, but also for trafficking or possession of more than 30 g of crystal methamphetamine or other psychedelic substances, such as crack and heroin. See Amnesty International, “Addicted to Death: Executions for Drugs Offences in Iran”, 2011, available from www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/090/2011/en/0564f064-e965-4fad-b062-6de232a08162/mde130902011en.pdf.
69 Iran Human Rights, Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran 2013, 12 March 2014, available from http://iranhr.net/2014/03/report-death-penalty-iran-2013/.
87. UNODC has been engaged in the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1999, providing the Government with significant technical assistance and capacity-building. In 2010, UNODC and the State concluded a multilateral programme of technical cooperation for the period 2011-2014.70 Under the programme, UNODC and the State have worked together on subprogrammes that include a focus on law enforcement and on crime, justice and corruption. The Special Rapporteur encourages the Islamic Republic of Iran to take advantage of the support offered by UNODC to address the concerns identified above, in particular in the area of criminal justice reform.
VIII. Socioeconomic rights
A. Right to education
88. According to Daftar Tahkim Vahdat, an Iranian student organization, from April 2005 to March 2013, at least 935 university students were deprived of continuing education for either one or more semesters for political activities, including publishing articles, organizing political events and engaging in student rights organizations perceived to be problematic by Iranian security forces. These individuals were routinely expelled or suspended during the period 2011-2013.71
89. The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology proposed the return of these students.72 According to the proposal, the students expelled after 2010 would be able to return to the schools previously attended, while those expelled between 2006 and 2010 would be required to retake national entrance exams, but they would not be subject to the gozinesh process upon acceptance.73 It has been reported that, in most cases, expelled students have been able to return only after pledging to the Sanjesh Oorganization that they would abide by university rules and not participate in any anti-government activities.74 On 23 December 2013, the Gozinesh Central Committee announced that 126 of the 400 students who had been deprived of education had been able to continue their education,75 although some students maintain that their appeals against expulsion had been rejected.76
90. A member of the Education and Research Committee of Parliament stated that the Ministry of Intelligence was currently vetting students that had returned to school, and that students with negative vetting results would be removed again.Another Committee member stated that the Committee would like the Ministry to vet the political background of the students that had returned to school; if no “acute” security issue was identified, they would be able to continue their education. The Committee member clarified that, if the vetting result was negative, it would be up to the Ministry of intelligence to propose a course of action to the Committee.77
70 See UNODC Country Programme for the Islamic Republic of Iran (2011-2014) at www.unodc.org/islamicrepublicofiran/en/country-programme.html.
71 Report on violation of right to education of students in Iran, Daneshjoo News, Right to Education and the Human Rights Commission of the Office for Strengthening Unity, 2013, available from http://www.right-to-education.org/node/79.
75 See www.isna.ir/fa/news/92100200858.
91. At least 41 professors have been reportedly expelled from their universities. A special committee has been reportedly created to investigate complaints concerning the forced retirement of professors deemed to hold views departing from those of the Government.78 Reportedly, 18 of the professors have been invited to return to work, while the requests of 10 to 12 others are under review.79 According to Mohammad Sharif, a university professor and lawyer who was reportedly expelled from university for his human rights activities, to date retired professors have returned as visiting professors without nullifying their retirement, while those expelled have not received any compensation.80
B. Economic sanctions
92. The Special Rapporteur has repeatedly urged sanctions-imposing countries and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take steps to ensure that sanctions do not undermine human rights, including by strengthening humanitarian safeguards that appear to be falling short of their intended purpose. Sanction relief measures reportedly embedded in the recent agreement on a joint plan of action reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the five plus one group, if properly administered, would likely have a positive impact on the enjoyment of economic and social rights in the country, which would be a welcome development. According to the agreement, the parties are to take tentative steps towards establishing a banking channel to facilitate humanitarian trade. The Special Rapporteur would welcome such an outcome, as it could alleviate some of the right-to-health challenges and other hardships identified in previous reports.81
IX. Conclusions and recommendations
93. The Special Rapporteur recalls his view that the Islamic Republic of Iran possesses the basic tools necessary to observe its international human rights obligations. They include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and various aspects of a number of national laws. He affirms that human rights could be better secured if the principles and regulations stipulated by these laws were consistently implemented.
94. The Special Rapporteur also stresses that, despite recent welcome amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure, and the proposal for a new charter of citizens’ rights, these documents do not appear to resolve fully the issues previously raised by United Nations human rights mechanisms and recommendations made during the universal periodic review of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2010. Certain national laws continue to undermine and/or contravene rights guaranteed by these legal instruments through extensive restrictions and discriminatory practices.
80 See http://etemaad.ir/PDF/92-08-26/11.pdf and “Lawyer Dismissed from Faculty Position for Human Rights Work after 25 Years of Teaching”, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 7 April 2011, available from www.iranhumanrights.org/2011/04/sharif-dismissed/.
81 See A/68/503.
95. Reports received by the Special Rapporteur continue to detail cases of frequent infringement of the rule of law established by national laws and international standards, resulting in the arbitrary detention of hundreds of individuals peacefully exercising rights guaranteed by the above-mentioned treaties. The violation of the rights and guidelines enshrined in the Constitution, the Law on Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens’ Rights and the Criminal Procedure has also apparently resulted in the psychological and physical torture of persons for the purposes of extorting information that is reportedly used as evidence in court, the basis for convictions and the application of lengthy or capital sentences.
96. Most of the said violations are reportedly committed during pretrial detention or court sessions. The Special Rapporteur therefore urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to consider the following recommendations: (a) To facilitate the unconditional release of individuals imprisoned for exercising peacefully their rights to expression, association, assembly, belief and religion; (b) To strengthen fair trial safeguards by ensuring access to legal counsel during all phases of pretrial detention and the investigative stage of cases, including during interrogation and arraignment, and allow for legal counsel to advise the accused during these proceedings; (c) To improve access of legal counsel to all files containing evidence against the accused; (d) To investigate all allegations of mistreatment and/or psychological and physical torture, and to prosecute the parties responsible; (e) To prevent the intimidation of lawyers, including threats of detention and prosecution for discharging their ethical and professional responsibilities, including when submitting client grievances and addressing international and national media on their client’s behalf, which should be possible without fear of prosecution under national security and defamation laws; (f) To prohibit capital punishment for juveniles and for crimes that do not meet the most serious crimes standards under international law, including for drug offences and perceived sexual offences.
Annexes [English only]
On Categories of imprisoned persons Information submitted to the office of the Special Rapporteur (January 2014) Human rights defenders (SEE PDF TABLES)
Interviews from a selection of the meetings held by the Special Rapporteur during his December 2013 fact-finding mission in the Netherlands, Germany and France, or otherwise conducted during the reporting period for this report.
Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall - former prisoner/brother of prisoner, who allegedly died in detention.
In May 2008, Mr. Alborz Ghassemi-Shall, a retired Iranian army officer, was arrested by military police in Tehran while attempting to pick up his passport, as required by Iranian law for certain retired military officials. Twelve days later, his brother Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall was also arrested at a military intelligence office while attempting to pick up his own passport, which had allegedly been seized upon his brother’s arrest.
Both Alborz and Hamid were reportedly held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for 70 days at a military detention facility number 36 in downtown Tehran, at which point they were taken to an investigative judge. They were then allegedly returned to solitary confinement at the same facility, and only brought to trial at the Revolutionary Court’s Branch 29 on 30 December 2008, a date eventually postponed to 29 April 2009 due to a procedural requirement by the judge assigned to the case. The brothers were reportedly only able to access a lawyer shortly before the trial, and to meet with their counsel for 15 minutes prior to the trial, which lasted a total of two hours. They were sentenced to death for alleged connections to the Mujahidin e- Khalq (MEK) Organization, although they were apparently not officially notified of this judgment until December of that year.
On 13 May 2009, both brothers were transferred to solitary confinement at Evin Prison, where they remained until 29 November 2009, when they were transferred to Ward 350 (Evin’s general population ward for political prisoners).
On 19 December 2009, the brothers were reportedly transferred to the army’s Intelligence center and offered sentence-reductions in exchange for apology letters. Mr. Alborz Ghassemi-Shall apparently suffered a panic attack and was taken to a military hospital from the site where they were to write the letters. He was released on 25 December 2010, but his health continued to deteriorate to the point that he could not see or walk by the end of January 2010. By this time, Evin officials confirmed that he suffered from a tumor in his stomach, but were allegedly not permitted by intelligence officials to release him to be treated outside of the prison. Mr. Alborz Ghassemi-Shall died in Evin Prison on 19 January 2010.
In November 2011, a representative of the Prosecutor’s Office contacted Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall in prison to inform him that he did not believe there was sufficient state evidence to implicate anyone in his family of the activities for which he was still serving prison time. After further intercession by an Intelligence officer and continued pressure from the official in the Prosecutor’s office, Mr. Ghassemi-Shall was re-tried and given a new five-year sentence for espionage only, despite the fact that he had apparently been cleared of that particular charge already in 2008, during the investigative phase of his case. After further pressure from family members and officials, authorities agreed to count his first year in detention as prison time toward the new five-year sentence, such that he had completed service of his sentence. He was released in September 2013 and returned to Canada, where he is a citizen and where he had lived prior to his arrest.
Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall’s conviction and sentence were apparently upheld three times by the Iranian Supreme Court before he was eventually granted a re-trial.
Mr. Yashar Khameini worked for a satirical Facebook page which used religion to satirize the Iranian authorities’ reported sensitivity to criticism of religion.
In May 2012, his family contacted him and told him that authorities threatened to take his father to prison if he did not cease his participation in the page. He did stop his involvement but his family told him that authorities took his father into custody anyway.
Mr. Khamenei’s father was eventually “exonerated” of his son’s “crime” of insulting Islam, but in October 2013, he found out that his father has been sentenced to jail for one year for possession of a bottle of alcohol, a satellite television, and pepper spray, for which he had a permit. (They had seized all of these items the first time they arrested him)
In November 2013, his father was summoned and he showed up and introduced himself, but the prison authorities told him he was free to go.
His father therefore remains in a state of quasi-semi legal limbo. Though he is exonerated from the original charge, it is clear that authorities continue to maintain a case against him.
Mohamed Ali Khalili
Human rights lawyer
Mr Ali Khalili was a lawyer in Iran with the Bar. He taught at University, and is also an expert on international law.
In one case he took on, there were several people who were arrested trying to defend Azerbaijani rights. They were arrested without due process and put in the hands of the Ministry of Information. Mr. Khalili took this case on and clashed with the judge on the case. His role was “only to ask that the rights of these individuals -- in accordance with Iranian law -- be respected.”
He had to bring a procedural suit against the Prosecutor-General and judicial officials in Eastern Azerbaijan when he felt he was unable to do this due to his relationship with the judge on the case.
One morning in 2004, four people from the Ministry of Intelligence stormed his office and searched everything. They also seized laptops and other materials. They drove him to his house, where his wife (who had just given birth) was there with her mother. They told him to knock on the door, which he did, and he told his wife that he was there with an officer.
They said they wanted to search his apartment for “the drugs and alcohol that he uses.” He denied using anything. He demanded a warrant and mentioned that he was a lawyer and knew his rights, but they ignored him.
They searched the house, took his computer and satellite dish, and took him to the office of the Ministry of Information. No official even asked for his name for 16 days while he was in detention.
On the sixteenth day, they asked him to hand over his identification documents, but he told them that authorities had seized it in the arrest. So they put him back in a car and took him to the Prosecutor’s office. When they took him to that office, he was handcuffed on both sides of his body to two chairs, in what he believes was meant to be an embarrassing show.
He was handcuffed to a chair for 4-5 hours.
He was then taken into a courtroom and a judge arrived with a full list of documents and demanded that he sign it. Mr. Khalili said that he would not sign, because there was no warrant to arrest him, and because he didn’t know the contents of the document. The judge said: “It doesn’t matter, I will just write here that you refused to sign.”
The judge decided he would be freed on bail for 200 million rials, but did not charge him. Mr. Ali Khalili said he would pay the bond in cash. The judge said: “In that case, sit down.” It was clear to Mr. Khalili that he wanted to wait until the business day ended for banks, so that he would have to spend the night in prison.
He was taken to jail. While they asked for his fingerprints and identification, he asked the guards to tell him what he was charged with. They told him “illicit relations and forming a prostitution ring.” Mr. Khalili points out that in Iran, when a person brings charges against a judge, they often counter-charge him personally with immorality charges.
Eventually, the Prosecutor’s office accepted the bail payment. His colleagues warned him that authorities were compiling a list of charges against him and that he should leave the country. He left through the Turkish border and went to the UNHCR office in Van, where he registered. He was given an interview date by the UNHCR for a month from that time. During his time at a hotel there, he saw some suspicious people in the hotel. He wrote letters to the police in Van, and they called him back and told him they would arrange an interview in their office with him. One day after that, he was arrested by members of the Turkish police. In the car, there were also members of the Iranian Ministry of Information. He was taken back to Iran.
He was taken to Section 350 of Evin prison (controlled by the Revolutionary Guards) and was placed in solitary confinement for three months. They allegedly fed him food with hallucinogens, and he began to see things. Some of his friends, including Mr. Dadkhakh and Mr. Seif, “had the same experience” (“it’s called white torture in Iran”).
He was then transferred to the Revolutionary Guard Prison in Tabriz. When he was there he learned that he had already been charged with: “encouraging corruption and prostitution (1 year in prison), illicit prostitution (99 lashes), working as a spy, working against national security, and exchanging information with foreigners,” which altogether constituted Moharebeh (enmity against God).
He was released based on a claim that he was mentally unstable.
Thereafter he had to prove that he was undergoing treatment at a psychiatric hospital. His file was sent to a chamber in the Supreme Court. During that time he would go to see a psychologist and report to the Branch of Legal Medicine so that he would not be rearrested.
Meanwhile, authorities confiscated all of his belongings and blocked all of his bank accounts. He had been renting out apartments, and the renters arranged with the judiciary not to pay him. He took this case to court, but it was rejected.
He began writing letters to a human rights organization from internet cafes, but authorities tracked him and reinstated the execution order against him. He fled the country.
Ms. Qurbani is the wife of Mr. Mohamed Ali Khalili.
She notes that lawyers have a lot of difficulty working in Iran, and they “would all tell you this.” They cannot defend their clients freely. Lawyers are always treated badly in the Prosecutors’ offices. When lawyers go into Prosecutors’ offices, their phones are seized, and their items are seized “as if they were criminals.”
Moreover, there is currently a bill in Iran meant to strip the Bar Association of “whatever independence it does have.”
There is one case, in Chamber 1 of the General Court in Tabriz, regarding a young woman named Azzam Malekpour. She has been in Tabriz Prison since 2012 without charge. She is the daughter of a man who owns a textile company. A few years back, her father gave a check as a loan payment, but the amount bounced. The intended recipient charged the daughter as a way to pressure the father, since she was at the time managing his factory.
Even though it is illegal in Iran to charge an individual for someone else’s crime, she was allegedly convicted in absentia, as she was not aware of the charges and thus did not show up (“the person who is supposed to deliver the summonses in ‘bogus cases’ never showed up; they just put a stamp on the document saying the address was invalid.”).
At the time, Ms. Malekpour was living her fiance in Tehran. The Tehran prosecutor authorized authorities to arrest her from that house, from where they transferred her to Tabriz.
When they took her to prison, her family went to the Bar Association and requested a lawyer. That lawyer was not able to do much. So they came to Ms. Qurbani.
When Ms. Qurbani got into the Prosecutor’s office, the secretary there saw the file she was looking at and told her that one of the chief Prosecutors had been involved in that case, and that he would not drop it unless he personally received half the amount of the owed money.
Her fiance is now leaving her, since a woman who has been in prison “is looked down upon.”
Another case she works on: Five people in Tehran got together and decided to offer loans, independently from the Government. Another bank, run by the Revolutionary Guards, could not compete with them, so the latter tried to force them to merge, but they refused. After this meeting they sent texts to everyone they knew in town to protect themselves, since they knew the Revolutionary Guards now “had it in for them.” Two hours later, they were taken into detention. Ms. Qurbani tried to meet with them, but was told they were still under investigation. She was able to meet with families of the victims four months later, who said they had since lost 20 kgs. each. They are still in detention and their case is with Court Chamber 4.
A final case: Criminal Court, Chamber 170; about nine months ago, during the evening of mourning for Imam Ali, a young man happened to be in the street instead of at mosque. He was arrested by Basijis with weapons. Ms. Qurbani was called in and arrived at the station, but was herself threatened by Basijis. They are now accusing the victim of attacking the Basijis.
Foad Sajoodi Farimani
Mr. Farimani was publicly advertising his beliefs about religion, where he was a PhD student.
He was arrested for this in front of his university on September 2010 by plainclothes officers. He was “scared that they would arrest and disappear him,” so he ran inside the university building so that they would have to get “real police to arrest him.” But they pursued him, they pushed him against the wall, pulled him up from the floor, handcuffed him, and held a gun to his head.
They took him to Evin Prison, which relieved him because it’s an “official prison.” He had no lawyer, no charges were presented to him, and he was put in solitary confinement for more than 40 days (in a 2 by 1.5 meter room).
One of his interrogators asked why he did not necessarily believe in (the Governmentapproved version of) Islam. He tried to make the argument for it, and one of them put a rope around his neck and pulled to the side. “This was mental torture,” according to Mr. Farimani.
“When you have a physical wound, you can see a scar, but when you have a mental wound you can’t see it.”
He was sentenced to five years for blasphemy, additional time for acting against national security, and three months for each political figure he insulted. (The Revolutionary Guards had actually asked the prosecutor to seek the death penalty for blasphemy).
After 105 days, he was released on five million tuman bail, which a family member eventually had to pay for by selling his house.
“There’s no difference between keeping me in jail or forcing me to work 12 hours a day to pay off a debt; either way I can’t carry out my human rights work.”
Mr. “Jamshid” left Iran in after the 2009 election crisis. Before that, he had been working with a western filmmaker. During the election, he was filming others and was beaten by forces in the street and taken to the Interior Ministry. He was quickly released.
A few days after his arrest, Mr. Jamshid received a suspicious and threatening phone call, so he looked to flee the country.
Just a few weeks ago (December 2013) a friend of his was arrested and was asked about his whereabouts. He is worried, therefore, that authorities are still interested in his case.
Mr. Bardia Taherpour left Iran three years ago.
He had been politically active in Iran for 10-12 years before leaving Iran. He began his activities one year before university, then went to Dubai after university, returned to Iran, and was arrested upon return.
Before leaving Iran, he was arrested three times for protests (related to, inter alia, workers’ rights): once for five days, once for two, and once for 15. He was always in detention centers, though, and never in prison per se. He was sometimes treated well, for what he believes were “propaganda purposes.”
When he went to Dubai, he and other friends in the West and other countries established a blog. The blog was not mostly political; it was meant to expose religious hypocrisy. In Dubai, he protested in front of the Iranian Embassy on three occasions following the events of the 2009 election. Iranian authorities were filming all of the demonstrators from the roof of the building, and, he now presumes, identifying them and looking into their backgrounds.
He returned to Iran because his father was gravely ill. (His father eventually died while he was in jail).
He was taken to the Ershad Prosecutor’s office (north Tehran). He was kept this time for 43 days before his release. He had two interrogators while in detention.
Dr. Sohrab Razaghi
In the (Persian) year 1390 (2011-2012), 84 associations (publications) were shut down.
Many publications are closed down without any sort of process, prior notification, or trial, according to Dr. Razzaghi. His own organization was shut down in 2007 in this way, and he was arrested then.
Moreover, a number of publications that were shut down under the prior administration have approached the authorities for renewal and been denied on dubious grounds. Neshat, for example, was already cleared of charges during President Ahmadinejad’s second term, and had gone through the whole process of re-registering, but was recently prevented from re-opening through an intervention by the judiciary.
Journalist and former political prisoner
Mr. Saharkhiz is a journalist and human rights activist. He was chief of the Iranian news agency (IRNA) in New York from 1992-1997. When Mr. Khatami (a former colleague of his) was elected President, he returned to Iran and become Director-General for all internal newspapers in Iran (part of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance). His plan was to develop journalism by giving permission to an increasing number of publications and through contacts at the international level. He helped found the Association for the Protection of Press Freedom in Iran, “a sort of Iranian equivalent of CPJ,” but more of a trade union for journalists.
When “non-reformists” were elected to the Parliament (and later to the Presidency), it became increasingly difficult to work, and he resigned around the time the judiciary began to build a case against him. He worked in the private sector and for the semi-governmental committee which approves media publications.
In 2009, this association was shut down, and many of its members were arrested, including him. A number are still in prison, and many have been forced to leave the country.
Mr. Saharkhiz was also charged with insulting the Supreme Leader. His trial was held “in violation of the Constitution, Article 168 in particular, which provides for the right to a lawyer and trial-by-jury.” In reality, he was tried behind closed doors.
When he was arrested, he was severely beaten and injured, but he survived the beating and was sent to Evin Prison section 209.
He was kept in solitary confinement initially, in a small cell (two-by-three meters) for three months. He had been fainting and lost consciousness a number of times due to kidney and other problems. At one point, another prisoner -- an Afghan drug dealer -- was put in the cell with him in order to alert guards if he would lose consciousness. He was not permitted necessary access to the toilet, and since he had prostate problems his uric acid level built up, leading to more kidney problems.
One night in January, he was forced to go to the prison roof and stand there in only a t-shirt and no shoes for two hours (it was -6 or -7 degrees Centigrade). His toes would stick to the ground when he walked, so he would run and his toes became covered in blisters. He became frostbitten, which is still an issue for him to this day. He also got a sinus infection and a cold from that experience. He became more and more ill, until finally he was transferred to a hospital. He was required to take 32 different pills for anemia, prostate problems, and blood pressure problems. The doctors feared he would have heart failure. Usually under such conditions, one is granted furlough or permitted to obtain proper medical treatment. In his case however, he was kept under guard (three guards at all times) in the hospital for 20 months.
He still suffers from blood pressure problems, and his kidneys have lost 70% of their function.
He has been a Christian since 2010, when he converted. Christians in Iran are face difficulty practicing their religion -- not only converts but also individuals who were born Christian. Often “individuals who visit Christian websites have a virus implanted on their computer.”
The Supreme Leader made a speech in 1389 (2010-2011) concerning House Churches, and the Revolutionary Guards from that point cracked down more harshly on them. The entire task of “dealing” with converts has been placed under the authority of the Intelligence and security structures of the Revolutionary Guards. They operate independently and outside the scope of the law, since they are only accountable to the Leader.
In his own case, in early 2013 authorities came to arrest him because of his affiliation with a Church group, (which he says was a prayer group, although he notes that authorities believe they have political activities), but they mistakenly arrested a different family member after spending three hours in the house with members of his family.
In general, Christian religious practice is monitored and heavily regulated. For example, Muslim converts to Christianity cannot enter Armenian or Assyrian Churches, as all churchgoers must register with the Government. Authorities often place cameras in churches. Christians, especially converts, are careful to use certain euphemistic language in communications.
When ministers or other visible Christian figures are arrested, they are most often pressed to reveal foreign contacts or financial connections/benefactors. According to Faraz, though, the Protestants in Iran have no political ambitions or aims to overthrow the current Government or the Islamic Republic.
Author/former political activist
He left Iran in 1996.
He was first arrested in 1979 because of trade union activities, and then was arrested again in 1980 on charges of passing out brochures for the fedayeen. It was still early after the Revolution, and the Islamic Republic “had not yet consolidated.” He was asked to pledge not to continue his activities, but he refused, and spent six months in jail.
In the winter of 1982, he was arrested a third time and spent six years in prison. He was released around the time of the mass executions of 1988. His trial lasted minutes. He mistakenly believed that things would get better after his trial; that he would go to prison and that the mistreatment would stop, but this was not the case. He notes that at the time there was a cycle in Iran; interrogators would torture confessions out of prisoners, then when prisoners would deny them in court, they would be sent back for interrogation. In a way, he says, they would not consider the case closed until a confession was obtained and confirmed.
Regarding the 1988 executions: Word had spread amongst prisoners that the MEK had crossed into Iran. A fatwa from the Supreme Leader around that time proclaimed that all affiliated would have to be punished for this, but they did not believe the order would be carried out. In fact, authorities began to make statements implying that prisoners would soon be released. However, the executions did begin. They began with repeat offender prisoners, who they seemed to believe “couldn’t be reformed.”
Some individuals were transferred to Revolutionary Guard centers, from where they never returned. Others were executed in prisons, including at Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, where Mr. Esmailpour was at the time (cell number 10, first floor).
Over the course of about six months, authorities purged the prisons of almost all MEK members. He recalls the few people who did return from such scenes reporting having been questioned about their loyalties and whether or not they were willing to die for the MEK. In prison, the administrator announced over the loudspeaker that “now, it will be the leftists’ turn.”
He was transferred along with two others leftist to a Detention Center and was kept in solitary confinement. One of the others was taken away at night, so they assumed he had been executed. Then, Mr. Esmailpour was taken away. Two guards played “good cop, bad cop.” He thought he was going to be executed, that they were preparing the ground for his execution. At one point, he asked them why they were doing this to him, and they responded, “because you are forming political groups in the prison.” He was not executed this time, however, but returned to his cell. He believes he was saved in that particular instance because of pressure that had been applied regarding his case by Amnesty International (friends who had been concerned over his case had contacted the organization).
He spent 2.5 months at this center, during which he was taken for 10 interrogations, and mostly lectured about the virtues of Islam vs. socialism. He was then returned to his cell at Adel Abad. At this point, he realized that he would likely not be killed. In all, 250 or 270 people from just his prison were executed, mostly members of the MEK, during that period. In the end, only a few non-MEK leftists were actually executed. Before he was released in the winter of 1988, he and other leftists were told that they could now “leave and get on with their lives.”
After his release, Mr. Esmailpour was required to check in regularly with the Intelligence Ministry. Authorities also continued to keep tabs on his contacts and travels (he was not permitted to leave the country).
When he later applied for a passport, he was taken into detention, but released when the Intelligence officer detaining him was contacted by a relative who worked in Government.
Mr. Esmailpour tried to live a normal life in Iran, but his record followed him everywhere he went. He had trouble securing or maintaining employment; for example, and he was worried about the educational prospects for his children.
Former political prisoner
He left Iran in the summer of 1995, but his wife, son, and daughter had left three years earlier than that (authorities had opened up a new file on him in the meantime, so he had to go into hiding during that time).
Mr. Nejabat had been in prison in the 80s, until 1988. His first sentence was a few-year sentence (, but was inexplicably extended for an extra two years. He was in Gohar Dashdt, Evin, and Adel Abad prisons throughout his time in detention.
He thought he would be executed in 1988, since he heard about other executions. But he was released.
His wife had also been in prison, and his son was born there. His son is a paraplegic due to heat damage to the brain from prison as a young child.
In 1992, a new file was opened against him. He fled the country.
At one point, a column in Keyhan was written against his current organization’s work abroad.
Mr. “Mani” left Iran right before the 2009 election, because he was a PhD student in political science and had written about politics before.
His father is also in academia and has been politically active and had trouble with authorities due to his own expression. Therefore, Mani cannot return to Iran and his father cannot leave the country to visit him.
His family still gets pressured by security forces because of his own work.
Mr. “Mansour” left Iran eight months ago. He was summoned to Intelligence in Tehran a few days earlier, probably because he is a fairly outspoken LGBT rights activist. Mansour spoke with his lawyer, who advised him that he may be in trouble. His partner has since been summoned by authorities.
He notes that two LGBT parties have been broken up (with arrests) over the past two months, whereas there has only been one in the years before.
There is a general level of societal tolerance for LGBT individuals in the big cities, according to Mansour. Gay people can and do get kicked out of work, etc., but not because of that per se, but rather because the employers often don’t want “trouble.”
Political prisoner/ LGBT activist
Ms Mahnaz was arrested in 1981 for political activities and spent one month in an isolated cell.
In 1984, she was arrested and spent three years at Evin Prison; she was banned from leaving the country for 20 years.
In 1995, she was arrested again, this time for trying to leave Iran without a passport, in violation of her previous travel ban. Authorities had apparently been monitoring her calls, and also got to know that she was a lesbian. She was sentenced to a suspended sentence of three years in prison for her political activities and to 100 lashes for lesbianism.
She then left the country.
She points out that Iran is a hetero-normative society, so it tolerates gender-reassignment surgery; individuals who really should not be reassigned are often pushed to undergo the procedure, sometimes very hastily and without proper prior psychological counseling or necessary medical preparation.
She does believe that there is a sense amongst the younger generation that “human rights” can help bolster their quality of life.
Labour rights activist
Mr Reza was condemned to death in 1970 by the Shah, because he was politically active outside of the country (as a leftist).
He returned to Iran three days before the Revolution, for political reasons (he was already established abroad otherwise).
He was arrested three years after the Revolution, and spent seven months in prison with no trial. He was not tortured, but authorities were very interested in his political affiliations. He was later released, but not permitted to leave the country. He was later able to pay 6 million tumans to a member of the Revolutionary Guard in order to have the travel ban lifted. He then continued to work in Iran.
Mr Reza began running underground guilds of tool-makers and mechanics. He also helped organize a network of groups of civil unions. He and other colleagues printed 1,000 or 1,500 copies of their pamphlet, but they later found out that other people in the country had printed out 100,000.
In 2010, someone stopped, pulled up beside him in a white van, and officers came out and took his watch and his wallet and blindfolded him. He was trying to figure out which route they took; he thinks they traveled to the Intelligence Center at Evin Prison.
This time he was tortured. They would pull chairs out from beneath him, and they beat him with an iron rod; they broke one of the bones on the sole of his foot. It seemed that they wanted him to admit connections to the MEK, although he had none. He requested medical attention for his swollen foot, but instead they put extra pressure on his foot until he lost consciousness. They said: “Ok, now it’s time for you to cooperate with us.” They showed him a picture of his 80-year-old mother-in-law in his own house, laying on the floor, looking like she had been pushed. They threatened to “destroy” his life. He agreed to cooperate.
They put him in a car blindfolded and freed him on the highway. He went to a hospital and had his foot plastered (there is permanent damage). About three months later, he managed to leave the country.
Student/Kurdish rights activist
Mr Goli was a student at the faculty of the University at Oroumiyeh. Toward the end of his time in Iran, he was with the Democratic Kurdish Student Union, a group that promoted the human rights of Kurds.
He had been covering a number of Kurdish cases, but in particular he was covering the case of Ebrahim Lotfullahi, who was killed by authorities, and another case of death-indetention of a Kurdish activist.
His mother and elder brother were already in prison at that time. His mother was sentenced to two years in prison for belonging to a group called “Mothers of Peace.”
In late 2008, Amir was still at university, but after a strike by Kurdish prisoners in Iran, authorities began to watch him (he had been the organizer of this strike). Authorities came to his house and turned his house “upside-down.” He first moved around near Sanandaj for a month or so, then was practically in a new city every day. He left in the autumn of 2010.
Amir would like to mention one particular case, which no human rights groups have mentioned. Habibah Tanhayan was killed in detention in 2003 and his body was returned to his family unceremoniously, with no explanation of his death.
Student Rights Activist
Mr. Goli was arrested in early 2006 for the first time. He spent 11 days in the Intelligence section of Sanandaj. There was not any abuse or torture, but his prison conditions were very unsanitary. Upon release was told that he would be able to finish his university degree, which he was almost finished with at that point.
But after he finished his last course and went to complete his oral exam, he was told that because he had been arrested by Intelligence, he should check with them. Intelligence officials at the office told him, that undoubtedly that they did not want students who took orders from “foreign influences,” and that he should “go get a degree abroad” if he wanted one.
The second time he was arrested, in the autumn of 2006, he was beaten up by Intelligence officials. One would beat him up, and he would fall into the arms of another, who would beat him. They had other prisoners come in and say that they saw him with five pounds of bombs strapped to his chest. They asked him to confess to this, but he refused. They then threatened to bring in his family in to beat them up and well. After 91 days at the Intelligence Center, he was transferred to the Sanandaj prison. During this time, he encountered Ebrahim Lotfullahi, the Kurdish student activist who later died under mysterious circumstance in detention.
Mother’s for Peace/Kurdish rights activist
Ms. Goftari left Iran four years ago. She is the mother of Amir and Yaser Goli.
By 2006, one of her sons had fled, one was in prison, and her husband was also in prison, “so they took me to prison as well.”
When her son Yaser had been arrested (in 2006), prison officials called her to ask her to come get his possessions. He was to pay his university tuition that day, so he had quite a bit of tuition money on him. She told them that her husband would come, but they said no, she should come. They told her not to be scared, that she should come to a kiosk and it would only take two minutes. She decided she would not go alone, so she took her other son Amir. They were not far from the prison when a car pulled up, and she was worried that they were there to arrest her son. But they grabbed her neck and tried to arrest her. She told him: “Don’t worry, take my bag, I will flee from the other side of the car.” But there was someone blocking the way. They treated her harshly and brought her to the Intelligence Center. There, she saw Habibollah Latifi, who was a friend of her son, so she said hello. They banged his head against the wall until he bled. From then on, they were fixated on her connection with him, although, as she kept telling them, she only knew him because he was a friend of her son. They kept her in the Detention Center for eight days and then moved her to a prison. She still had not been presented with charges. She was now in a cell with 50 other women.
One morning in the prison she woke up because she heard terrible crying. She asked two other women what was going on, and they explained that someone was going to be executed. They took her to a bathroom, where they looked through ventilation hole. From there, they could see the hanging rope. The person who was going to be hanged was crying. They would also threaten her often. They did not beat her body, but did slap her face.
After she saw the rope, she decided, along with those two women, that she would embark on a hunger strike. This lasted five days, during which she developed a stomach ulcer. So she and the other women stopped. Three days after this hunger strike, she was taken to a Revolutionary Court. Her trial was five minutes long. At the court, her judge told her: “You are a trouble-maker. Wherever you go, you make trouble.” The court demanded five millon tuman bail. She was sentenced to three years for attacking the Government, in the sense that she had insulted them verbally, which was “true, given the fact that her sons were in prison.” Another charge was signing the One Million Signatures Campaign, and a third for working with Mothers for Peace. She did not have access to a lawyer during the trial, and later she had trouble finding one who would take her case. But later she did find one, and he got the sentence reduced to two years. To this day she has no idea why she was targeted (specifically), although she is fairly sure it’s because of her family’s convictions and because as a member of the Mothers for Peace, they would mourn the deaths of all victims of the Government, including members of the political and other groups, without discrimination.
Early one the morning in Sanandaj, two months after her release from prison, she went to buy bread. Since she had already been to prison, she had a “sort of sixth-sense,” and realized that two people were watching her. She thought this was probably because they wanted to arrest her younger son Amir. She went home and warned him, and told him she would go to her mother’s house. Within 50 meters from that house, two gentlemen with smoky eyeglasses approached her and grabbed her, one from each side, and told her to go to a side street. While they were walking, she was insulting them and trying to make them angry. At the same time, she took off her shoes and tried to flee. When she began running, one grabbed her overcoat and stopped her. She threw dirt into one of their eyes and ran into a public square. She ran into a store and even though the shopkeeper was trying to kick her out, she stayed and called her family and told her she was going to go to her brother-inlaw’s place, 20 minutes from Sanandaj.
She stayed at her brother’s house for two days. Her husband and son Amir joined her there, and one morning, at 4am, they fled to the Suleiymaniyeh in the Kurdish Regional Government, Iraq.
Amjad Hossein Panahi
Kurdish rights activist
Mr. Amjad Hossein Panahi works for the Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners in Iran (particularly Kurdistan) and the Union of Families of Political Prisoners in Kurdistan.
In addition to the two organizations for which he works, there are also organizations in Iran that work nonviolently for the protection of Kurdish rights, although all are operating illegally.
He noted that dozens of Kurdish political prisoners remain are on death row with sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Source close to Kurdish political prisoners on death row
Four of ten remaining Kurdish prisoners are still on death row Jamshid Dehgani, his younger brother, Jahangir Dehgani, Hamed Ahmadi, and Kamal Molayee. All were accused of involvement in the murder of a Friday Imam, and all have suffered forced confession and a lack of due process and forced confession.
One of the prisoners is a child and is married. They claim that they have not had any contacts with Al-Qaeda, Wahabbis, or other extremists groups, despite the fact that the Government has charged them with this. They are “simply Kurds from Sanandaj.” They were supposedly arrested for events affiliated with a Salafist named Sheikh al-Islam, but in reality they were arrested “before his activities.”
They have been kept in solitary confinement, and apparently endure psychological and physical torture. Their trial did not last more than ten minutes. Six of the original ten have been executed already. The rest are reportedly in bad condition or sick, including one who has convulsions and must take 21 pills per day.
Human rights activist
In order to pay the 210 million tuman bail for her after she left the country, her family had to sell their house to the Government (the debt is now paid). They bought a smaller house, and the Government has since razed the house to build an apartment complex.
Mithra Tahimi –
Former leftist political prisoner
Ms. Mithra Tahimi had been taken prisoner in May 1983, because she was a member of the Tudeh Party (a secret branch). She was arrested at home by the Revolutionary Guards. She was taken to a Joint Committee, which is now a museum. She was subject to interrogation for one month and held at the temporary detention center for a full year. In 1984, she was sent to Evin Prison. The charge was that she had worked with others to foment a coup against the Islamic Republic, which was “completely untrue. “She had been tortured and beaten during interrogation to admit this, but not as badly as higher-ranking members of the party (two of them were actually killed, although the official story is that they committed suicide. One of them was Rahman Hatifi). When she was being interrogated, they constantly threatened her with execution, which she knew was unlikely given the lack of evidence for charges. Then they told her that if she confessed on television she would receive a lighter sentence.
She was taken to court in May 1985 and sentenced to 15 years in prison after a trial lasting no more than 10 minutes. There were only two men in the room. It was “more like an interrogation than a trial.” She protested, but to no avail. No evidence was presented against her. They wanted to know why there was a secret wing of the Tudeh Party. (The Tudeh Party still supported the Islamic Republic officially).
She spent her sentence mostly in Evin Prison, with six months at Ghezel Hesar in the middle of the sentence.
In 1988, a number of male members of the Tudeh Party were executed. Ms Tahimi was taken to court again at that time and re-tried, as were many members of Tudeh. Many of the men were sentenced to death, while the women received lashing sentences. A number of women whose sentences had been dually served were not released, because authorities still wanted to extract confessions. In her cell block, the first floor was reserved for those whose sentences were completed. The second was for those who had “repented,” and the third was for those still serving sentences. Women from the first floor were often taken to “repentance” rooms. She herself was required to pray; if she did not, they would accuse her of apostasy.
A few months before she was taken for her re-trial, it seemed that some of the prison officials had been released, and they were no longer lashing women. Some women had by that point been released, but she had no way of knowing how many, since they secretly shuffled people around the prison.
In September of 1988, they took seven women -- five from the bottom floor and two from the top floor. She thought she was going for another interrogation, but they took them to court. The women had already decided that if they threatened them with apostasy charges they would threaten a dry hunger strike. When they got to the court, she was blindfolded. A male voice told her to take her blindfold off. The same judge who had previously sentenced her was there, along with the prison discipline officer. The judge asked her whether she still belonged to the Tudeh party; she said yes. Was her father in the party? “No”. Do you pray? No. “Well then,” the judge said, “the penalty for apostasy is lashing to death.” They said she would be lashed five times for each of the five times per day she refused to pray (which she notes was interesting, since in Shi’a Islam they only pray three times per day), until she would sign a document verifying that she was a Muslim and prayed. When she was first arrested, and for the bulk of her imprisonment, questions revolved around Marxism leanings, but in 1988 they focused on whether or not the prisoners considered themselves Muslims.
In 1990, she was conditionally released -- but not fully released -- from prison. She had been in prison for eight years.
She left Iran in 1994.
Ms. “Noura” Former political prisoner/advocate for Ayatollah Boroujerdi Ms. “Noura” came to discuss the case of Ayatollah Boroujerdi.
She claims that the Supreme Leader is denying him necessary medical help. Ms. Noura claims that the Supreme Leader has contacted Ayatollah Boroujerdi directly. She also claims that prison officials have told Mr. Boroujerdi directly that if he does not write a letter recanting his beliefs, he will never be released.
Since last autumn, the situation of Mr. Boroujerdi has worsened. Authorities have increased their pressure on him to sign confession letters and have called and pressured his wife and family to pressure him to sign in turn.
His supporters have asked for the European Parliament delegation to intervene on his behalf. They have also asked others to intervene, but they have not been successful.
Ms. Noura herself was in prison. She was a college lecturer, and established a center in physical/neuro-chemistry. She was very successful, but because of her political beliefs (liberal) she was exiled to work in a small library. When she returned to university, she was also pushed not to work with certain people. She then tried to establish a journal, and even then when her articles were published, authorities censored her name from journals.
She began working with Ayatollah Boroujerdi, and in 2006, when her son was a baby, authorities attacked her home at night and arrested her. Her mother had heart problems, and after that suffered from a heart attack. She left the country two years ago.
Women’s, children’s and students’ rights defender/journalist
For university students, those who have left the country have enormous trouble obtaining documents proving their educational history, especially the families of students who were or are politically active or who had to leave the country for similar reasons.
Since 2006, she has herself been taken to prison four times. Once, while she was on the phone with her father, notifying him of her arrest, she was slapped and she screamed. In response, her father had a heart attack and required open-heart surgery.
Kurdish and human rights defender
Mr. Kermanshahi notes that in April 2013, 15 to 20 LGBT individuals at a party in Kermanshah were arrested. All were freed within one week to ten days of arrest.
Some were released on bail and their court cases are constantly being delayed. Some of the individuals were physically harmed, but most were verbally insulted for being gay. Many of their families have also come under pressure due to their being gay.
Revolutionary Guards also lectured them and told them to come to lectures so that they could be “put on the right path.” Those individuals, therefore, and others at the party, are still living in an atmosphere of fear.
Gender-reassignment surgeries occur because the Islamic Republic views homosexuality as a sickness. Social and family norms do not help, as families often cooperate with the discourse by condemning their own.
Khavaran activist in Iran
Ms. “Maryam” would like to point out that the families of those individuals executed in the 1980s still suffer today. Many people in Iran and elsewhere feel that this issue is a “thing of the past,” but the pressure against the families continues to this day.
For years the families have been questioned and harassed. They are sometimes threatened by authorities with prison time as well. Despite this, they continue to go to Khavaran, to pay respects to their dead. Of course they do not know the circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones, or even if they were buried at Khavaran, but it has become an important symbol and place of remembrance.
Ms. Maryam herself was summoned by authorities in within the past four years. She was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison in connected to her Khavaran-related activities,
She has also been banned from leaving Iran since then.
Shaheen Navaee Women’s rights activist
She was a teacher and women’s rights activist during the Revolution, and authorities arrested her students. They demanded that she teach Basijis, and she refused. She continued to work for a few years as an activist, but she had to leave the country in 1984.
Kurdish rights activist
Recently, in a school in Kurdistan, a stove caught fire. Two students died and 30 students were burned, and the Government reportedly prevented some donations of people in the community from reaching the victims’ families. Some prominent Iranians also wanted to visit the region (including artists) but were prevented from visiting. Shazram Nazeri, an Iranian singer, apparently organized a benefit concert which raised 52 million tuman, but she was apparently unable to transmit the proceeds to the victims as well. When family members protested, they were arrested for 24 hours for “causing trouble.”
Families have received only a total of 600,000 tumans for their medical costs. One report also surfaced that money was sent from Germany but was also not transmitted to the victims.
In a separate case, in demonstrations following the self-immolation of three members of the Yarasan minority in 2013, 30 people were arrested and many of their locations are still unknown.
Wife of current political detainee
Both she and her husband left Iran over 10 years ago.
Within the past two years, she went to Iran with her son from abroad, where she had been living. During that time, nothing happened, but as she was about to leave, they took her passport and interrogated her four times. She was mostly questioned about her husband’s activities and statements in foreign media.
Her husband started to be politically active at the age of 14. In 2012, he received a letter from authorities that he was not permitted to leave Iran (he was already abroad though at this point). No reason for the travel ban was listed on the letter, so he consulted a lawyer, and the lawyer implied that he should not get involved in such things.
Recently, she and her husband did go back, along with their nine-year-old son, to Iran. Her husband had not been back to Iran since the events of 2009; he agreed to go back “because of President Rouhani’s pledges.” But hers and his passports were taken away. She and her son were eventually able to come back to their home abroad, but he is still in Iran.
When they were in Iran, they were interrogated once together, but he was summoned three more times. The accusations against him are propaganda against the regime and interviewing with foreign media He was told of his charges orally.
He was not tortured or mistreated during interrogations.
He is now free on bail; his father guaranteed a large bail amount in order to secure his release.
Intelligence officials promised him that he would be permitted to leave the country, as long as his father continues to pay the bail. However, in reality, officials did not give his passport back to him, and he now has a new trial summons.
They did agree with the authorities not to speak about the case to others, but after a few months, Iranian state press wrote about his case on its own.
He is 29-years-old. He was arrested in 2009 after the post-election events. His brother had been arrested in 2009, and authorities did not notify the family of the charges initially or allow visits. During the election events, there were rumors that Mr. Moussavi and Kraroubi would be arrested. He received an SMS that in case of arrest, he and other Green Movement supporters would all meet at a certain square. He was arrested for allegedly passing this text on to others.
He worked at a computer shop. Authorities came to his place of work, and searched his computers there. They then went to his home, confiscated both of his personal computers, and took him to Evin Prison. He was at Evin Prison for 16 days, and was interrogated three times. The first time was short, but the third time it began at 8am and lasted until 4 or 5pm. During the stay in solitary confinement, he was allowed to bathe only twice per week, and there was no possibility to go outside. The only three times he was removed from solitary confinement was for interrogation. He had no contact with his family during that time and no one knew where he was.
On the eve of the 16th day, he was transferred from solitary confinement to Section 240. There were always between three and six people in his cell there. He stayed there for 15 days and was freed on the 31st day of prison. He later came to know that family friends had put 20 million tuman down in bail for his freedom.
In March 2010, he received a letter stating that he had to go to court, in order for them to review his case, and then the date was changed to July. He went to court with his lawyer. The whole case took “maybe seven minutes.” His lawyer argued that he did not need to go to prison for what he was arrested for, but a week later he received notice of a three-year prison sentence. He appealed, and a week later the sentence was confirmed at an appellate court. He decided to leave the country.
Amir Reza Bakhtiar
Member of the National Front Party
Mr Reza has been a member since 1382 (2003-2004). He would like to speak about two cases. The first case is of Mr. Abbas Amir Intizam, who was the spokesperson of the provisional government right after the Revolution, and was then a political prisoner for 32 years. Two years ago, due to illness, authorities allowed him to go home periodically and return to prison. He feels that this case has been forgotten by the human rights community, so he wanted to recall it. Mr. Intizam is 78-years-old.
The second case is Mr. Goutan Dawlati, who is in charge of the student section of the National Front. He was arrested around December of 2012 for activities against national security and for being a member of the National Front. He had been on hunger strike for 22 days as of the time of this interview. He is very ill; he has a heart ailment and must take pills five times per day. At the beginning, the prison said they would not pay for his stay at a hospital because it was too expensive; his family then offered to pay but that was refused. Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal on this case last week (December 2013).
This third case is of Abul Fazl Abedini, a member of the pan-Iranist party and a journalist. He was arrested in 1388 (2009 - 2010) and spent three years at Evin Prison. He was beaten badly, which was documented. He has now been exiled to Karoun prison in Ahwaz for the past year. He is also in bad medical condition, but has not been permitted to access necessary medical care.
Lawyer in Iran/human rights defender
Ms. “Yazdani” has been a lawyer for more than ten years. She has worked on dozens of cases in the Revolutionary Courts.
The Bill of Formal Attorneyship was amended under President Ahmadinejad to strip independence of the Bar by the judiciary, according to Ms. Yazdani. However, the Government responded that it could not be amended.
But the bill remained in the Parliament and is now back with the judiciary. She is worried that the same issue may arise.
She would also like to discuss the election for the President of the Bar Association. All candidates must be vetted and approved by the high Disciplinary Court for judges. In 2011, 28 out of 118 candidates were disqualified. In 2009, 36 of 79 were disqualified. This year, there are 116 candidates, and many lawyers are worried that the same thing will happen. The reason she is highlighting this case is because the recent EU delegation in Iran met with the current President of the Bar Association, but that person is not independent; it is very important that independent voices be heard.
The major issue for lawyers in Iran is their general lack of immunity. A number of lawyers are sentenced to imprisonment or to a cash fine each year for insulting the judge or disrupting order in the court.
There is never a member of the bar association permitted to examine whether such charges are based on reality or due to the judge’s personal enmity with the lawyer.
In addition to all of this, the judges “have too much power in Iran,” and lawyers are always denigrated in the court. This is worse for women; the hijab is a way to humiliate female lawyers.” When women lawyers raise an objection, sometimes judges will counter that the hijab is not sitting properly, in front of everyone, in order to humiliate them. Authorities also check lawyers at the entrance of the court room for “proper hijab.”
In political cases she represented (at the Revolutionary Courts), the following are issues which restrained her ability to present a full/proper defense:
Lawyers are restricted in terms of reading dossiers and presenting proper defenses. Lawyers are sometimes threatened that they may themselves receive political charges. In one case, when she tried to defend her client, the judge told her to save her defense of her “own case,” and accused her of defending the MEK. In the case of students who were attacked in their dorms in 2009, when she requested a writ from the investigative agent (which is legal), he told the court guards to refuse her entrance, which they did.
Her clients are sometimes coerced to admit to charges, with methods not related to judicial process.
After the 2009 elections, lawyers were not permitted to enter the courtrooms in many cases.
Lawyers and clients are often forced to wait for long periods.
Lawyers are also not able to visit their clients before the trial, or sometimes after the trial.
Lawyers often do not receive the written rulings, so that they can appeal if necessary.
Another issue is the expulsion of law professors. Since the election of President Rouhani, the situation of universities for current professors is better. However, the original expelled lawyers, including Dr. Mohammed Sharif and Dr. Mohammadi Ghorbani, have not been reinstated.
In all types’ of cases, political and civil, torture exists, and the right of defense of the client is not respected, although due process provisions are in the Criminal Code of Procedure.
In the case of drug offenders, they are deprived of “any humane treatment whatsoever.” They are brought to the court in 10s and 20s in a bus, all in handcuffs and shackled together. They are forced to sit in the corridor in the Revolutionary Courts in a very difficult position. They do not have any chance to clean themselves in detention; the Revolutionary Courts always smell because of it. Their trials never last more than a few minutes and their cases are not examined by the courts but by the court secretary. Sentences are always heavy. “Seeing them always reminds me of the times of slavery.”
In the case of women who have been raped: according to Iranian law, women who complain may be accused of having illicit relations if they cannot prove their charges. The process for examining cases is very wrong and denigrating, especially with regard to the tests that are carried out, including virginity tests. The victim has to explain in minute detail everything that has happened to her, in front of five male judges in the court, a prosecutor, lawyer, and relatives of the victim. The accused is in court and must explain to everyone in public what happened.
Those who are convicted and actually executed for rape are mostly gangs who rape. For example, a gang called the “Black Vultures” were arrested after having raped 50 people. In practice, singular instances of rape are not prosecuted successfully. In cases where a woman goes to court accusing others of rape, if she cannot prove it, she can then be tried for adultery.
Regarding the Islamic Penal Code: Moharebeh and efsed fil-arz (corruption on earth) remain tools of repression. She would like to refer also to Article 220 of the New Code, which states that where the law is silent, the judge can consult Shari’a-based text. This provision also exists in the Constitution. Before the New Penal Code, the Supreme Court would often say that this provision concerns only civil cases and the Criminal Procedure Code, so they would throw out cases where the judge did not have a different reason. Now they can no longer do that.
Articles 120 and 121 of the New Penal Code state that in cases of “doubt,” judges should not issue guilty sentences. But, there are exceptions for Moharebeh and efsed fil-arz.
Another change -- to the detriment of defendants -- in the New Penal Code is that previously defendants could receive suspended sentences, but now all security-related (and some other) cases may not receive suspended sentences and do not enjoy a statute of limitations.
She does note that under the previous code, if anyone committed any sort of Moharebeh and efsed fil-arz, they would be sentenced to death. Now, there is a new category of the Penal Code which only provides for a death sentence if the accused carried a weapon and used it. In the past, membership in an organization was enough. But then all defendants who were previously sentenced to death, including members of the MEK or Peyjak, should now be able to ask for a retrial. But despite the efforts of their lawyers, the courts have not permitted retrials. The Kurdish man who was executed in September along with the Baluchis, for example, was sentenced to death based only on a photo of him with a weapon.
Human rights activist/former prisoner
Ms. Jailani was arrested in 1998 during the events at the University of Tehran. She was arrested with Ms. Ebadi, Mehrengiz Kar, Mr. Lahiji, and others. She was tortured in the presence of these people. She has brought documents and newspaper clippings about this mistreatment, which was widely reported on, because she had been in France for a long time as a PhD student and sociologist. She went back to Iran in 1998 only at the invitation of an activist.
She brought some notes from her trial. She was in prison for 4.5 years. She was kept in solitary confinement in a cell that was 1x1.5 meters. She was subject to “white torture 24” hours per day (with constant intrusive or insulting music, for example).
Today, economic problems in Iran have destroyed the social fabric. Drug use by women is common, whereas this was not the case in the past. There are husbands who push their wives into prostitution. When she was in prison, she was with a 21-year-old woman who told her that her husband was bringing other men to the house in order to force her into prostitution, and that she became pregnant by another man, at which point the husband accused her of adultery. When she was in Iran, she recalls a place called Bahar where the Government would bring street children. It was supposed to be an educational center for them, but there was very little supervision, and the children often fled. She claims that some of the girls taken to prostitution or e even sold by Government officials or their own fathers to Gulf Arab men.
Former political prisoner/husband killed
Both she and her husband have been active for Kurdish parties and in prison. Her husband was in prison for 3.5 years. Due to having been in prison, they were cut off from social opportunities in Iran, and her husband had to work as a freelancer.
Both of them were put in prison in 1365 (1986). Her husband, Mr. Farahman Sadegh Vaziri, who was detained at the Sanandaj Intelligence Detention Center, had been released after the executions of 1988. He had actually been sentenced to death, but at the time, there was the possibility of buying a commutation to a life-sentence.
They both thought that life would get better after release, but even after he was released, he had to report to authorities once per week. Moreover, they had children, and those children were subject to pressure. For example, at school, if her son was at the top of the class, he would never be officially at the top of the class, as he would be excluded from the list. The same happened to her daughter.
In 2003, they decided to leave the country due to this pressure. They made it to Oroumiyeh, but there they were arrested by authorities. They were taken away in a two-car convoy. There was a Revolutionary Guard in the front of the car, and she was trying to explain that they had just come for a summer picnic. He replied: “If it were up to me I would just let you go right now, but the guys in the front car are in charge.”
They were taken to the Sarmaz Intelligence police center. Her son was 16 and her daughter was eight-years-old at the time. Officials told them not to worry; that there was a simple “price” for “what they wanted to do across the border”: 30 million tumans. Then they took her husband away, and left her and her son handcuffed to chairs (her daughter was able to walk around).
However, the next morning, when her husband was brought out and she tried to approach him, the guards restrained her. She could tell that something was wrong. All of a sudden, the bribe offer was off of the table, and they were taken to court and then to the public prison at Sarmaz (for common criminals). She was worried about her son since this province was known for heroin; she assumed that there would also be drugs in the prison. Everyone was being interrogated every day. What she “didn’t know was that [her]” husband had been subjected to harsh torture and was being brought back in front of her son every day.
When she saw her husband for days later, he was unrecognizable and did not respond to her calls in the courtyard. He was being dragged along and his shoulders and arms were slumped. She began to scream and asked the guards what they had done to her; they denied having anything to do with it and said that that’s “how he is.” The next day, they were taken for fingerprinting. She had been involved in political activity before, so it was no problem for her, but she was upset when they tried to fingerprint her daughter. They told her that they finger-printed her husband and son as well. This “put her over the edge”; she did not understand why children should be put into the system as “criminals” when they just obeyed their parents and came with them for a ride.
It had only been seven days when authorities told her that her husband had died.
Her son had known about this and a guard had apparently allowed him to call family, so already two days after she found out family from both sides had arrived. They told her to stay quiet or else they would not even give them the body. She was also concerned that she and her children would be released, so she complied. They were released on bail and told to report to the Intelligence Center in Sanandaj 40 days later. They gave them the body, and they went back to Sanandaj. The body bore marks of physical abuse, and a doctor who looked at the body said that it appeared that a chemical which speeds up decomposition was used.
They were warned not to publicize his death or hold a ceremony, but her husband was so well-known in the city that people lined the streets when they returned, despite the presence of Revolutionary Guards. Her husband was killed at the same at Ms. Zahra Kazemi, a famous case, but their case did not receive any attention, “perhaps because we are Kurds.” The death is still very much with them, especially with her son.
The sentence that had been handed down to them (for trying to exit the country illegally) was for all four family members, so she consulted a lawyer about the status of the sentence given the death of her husband, and she was informed that they could be brought back into detention at any time.
She decided to leave the country. For psychological reasons, she did not want to leave through the same border again, so they arranged for someone to pick them up and take them to Marivan, in Iraqi Kurdistan.
She believes that a local commander was excited to report the “capture of Kumaleh activists,” and that guards abused her husband.
Hassan (Jamal) Poorkarim
Journalist/Kurdish rights activist
In Iran, he worked at weekly publication called Nedayeh Jameh (Persian)/Deni Kumaliyeah (Kurdish); this was licensed under President Khatami. They also had a Kurdish linguistic center. After two years of publication, he was arrested and detained at an Intelligence Center for 45 days. He was released on 20 million tuman bail and fled with his wife to Iraqi Kurdistan. (The editor-in-chief is also now released, but the editor-in-chief of another publication with which they worked -- Payam E-Mardam -- is still in prison).
When they ran the language institute, more than 1,000 students enrolled to study, and the students themselves were also put under pressure. After Mr. Poorkarim was imprisoned, Mr. Abdullah Abbasi took over the school. He was run over with a van belonging to the Revolutionary Guards and killed.
Mr. Poorkarim would also like draw attention to the situation of pollution in the Kurdish provinces, which is increasingly becoming dangerous for the local population.
Finally he would like to raise the issue of the Kulbars, who are still being shot at by Iranian guards in large numbers, and of the land mines in the region, which have still not been cleared by the Government.
Association for Kurds living in France
Women in Iran face discrimination due to Islamic Sharia law in the country, but it is worse in Kurdistan because of local and tribal practices, and well as the lack of economic development in the region. There is a very high rate of self-immolation suicides of Kurdish women. Most girls in the rural areas do not go to school, and many girls are married off at very young ages.
Many other Kurdish women are themselves Kulbars. There is also a very high divorce rate among Kurds, and she would say that one of the reasons for this is the very bad social situation in Iran, including high rates of addiction to drugs.
There is also a high rate of prostitution in Kurdistan, even though it is against tradition of the region.
Women additionally face political repression, although this is partly the result of “positive “integration developments. It is true that there are now women in the Kurdish associations in the region, which is a sign of integration, but they in turn, face political repression as part of the general “denigration” of Kurds by the Iranian Government. There are a number of Kurdish political parties that have now taken up arms, which then means that female political prisoners are treated more harshly, even if they are merely affiliated with these organizations.
Association for Kurds living in France
Mr. “Kazem” would like to draw attention to the “horrendous” condition of human rights for Kurds in Iran. Even those protections which are theoretically provided in the Constitution to others are not provided to Kurds. Kurds who are accused of combatting the regime through violent -- physical or civil -- activities are automatically sentenced to death.
He would also like to discuss the economic situation of the region. There are six members of Parliament representing the Kurdish regions who have recently resigned in protest over what they claim is a lack of sufficient budget allocation to the Kurdistan Province. For the past year, two percent of the budget was allocated to the Province; in the coming year, it will be 0.7%. The province of Kermanshah is also facing budget cuts.
The cultural rights of Kurds are suppressed since they are not permitted to published at all in Kurdish and must use Persian for all administrative affairs.
Finally, although the official unemployment rate in Kurdistan in listed as 20%, it is much higher in reality.
Association of Kurds living in France
A UN delegation went to Iran in 2003, and prior to that visit there had been calls for the release of an activist (Sasson Arekan-An), but he was executed the day the delegation arrived.
The Government “plays with Kurdish political prisoners in Iran” like this.
Mr. Shirko Mo’aerfi was told he was going to be executed 10 times. He was transferred a number of times and underwent a mock execution before being executed in the autumn of 2013. Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Jalal Talabani intervened and his execution was suspended, but then reinstated and carried out. “
Authorities are still playing with Messrs. Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, for example.”
There was a Revolutionary Guard Colonel named Mr. Hiva Tab who was himself executed this year. This man had been known to have killed numerous Kurds, but there was no trial or official complaint being pursued against him so his execution is shrouded in mystery; they feel he may have actually been executed as the result of a private or tribal dispute.
There are 28 political prisoners on death row in Kurdistan at the moment.
Artist/2009 green movement activist
Mr. “Namatabi” from Tehran, was arrested during the February (Ashura) 2010 election protests after being beaten badly. He did not go straight to prison; instead he was taken to a hospital. He remained there for seven days, and had his broken nose set. He was taken to Section 204 (with mostly Kurds who had been arrested for Students’ Day), whereas most other Ashura protestors had been taken to Section 7. After just a few hours he was moved to Section 204. The cell to which he was moved to, was meant to be a solitary cell, but he was squeezed in with five people (with one toilet and sink) and too few sleeping areas. H
e was interrogated three times; the first time was only seven days into his sentence so he had been getting nervous. The first time he was interrogated was from 9am to 3pm. The person asked him very general questions, and did not seem to know who he was. The interrogator was kind, according to Mr. “Namatabi”.
The second time the interrogator wanted him to admit that he was involved in the protests, but they had no photos of him. It became clear they had no evidence, so he maintained that he was not involved.
The third time they brought in a photo of someone else that they said was him, but it was a fake photo, so he disputed it.
When they read his charges to him in court (72 days into prison), he denied being involved in the protests. He said he was just walking by and was a simple worker. He did not have a lawyer at that time, because authorities and even lawyers of some of his friends recommended that he not get a lawyer: “Having a lawyer will just make things more difficult for you.” Unfortunately, according to Mr. “Namatabi”, this was “unfortunately true” for others.
He feels that he was convicted and sentenced because there was a sense that he had been in prison for 72 days and so should be punished or have something hanging over his head, in the minds of authorities. The judge in his case read a statement from the interrogator when he issued his sentencing.
He left Iran in July-August 2010. It was one month after he received his first verdict, and had demanded an appeal.
In September 2010 he received a call from his mother who said that his appeal was rejected and that he received a two-year prison sentence and lashes. Authorities called his parents and they told them he was away studying in Europe, where he decided to stay.
Jaleh Razmi (Tabrizi)
Azerbaijani rights activist
Ms. Ramzi is the ethnic minorities’ representative and a co-founder of Sudwind. She is a human rights activist from the Azerbaijani minority and from the Ahl-E-Haq (Yarsan) religion.
President Rouhani made a lot of pledges to the Azerbaijanis in the election, and as a result they voted for him en masse. For example, he promised to open Azerbaijani cultural rights center, and told them: “You will no longer need to fill Lake Oroumiyeh with your tears; I will fill it with water!”
However, since then the situation has gotten worse. He appointed Mr. Ali Younessi as Governor of the Province, and he has been bad for the people. The prisons are still full, and “nothing has changed.”
“The Azerbaijanis are a peaceful people; they “do not use violence...”
The Yarsan is a religion, just like Baha’is and Dervishes. Until recently, no one spoke about them, and they themselves did not raise their issue. But given the recent self-immolations, she herself, even “even as a secular person,” has decided to speak about it.
There are 4 million Yarsan in Iran. Many have been forced to convert to Islam, and indeed, some have. Recently, when one Yarsan man was made to shave his mustache in jail three people Hamedan and Kermanshah self-immolated; one in front of Parliament who died.
Mr. Mehdi Ghasemzadi was also recently executed.
Regarding the general situation of human rights defenders in Iran, the situation is very difficult. She, for instance, cannot go back to Iran and her family faces pressure.
The Azerbaijanis are facing cultural repression; they cannot use their own language, their Turkish names, and their street names are changed in Tabriz and elsewhere.
Azerbaijani rights activist
Ms. Sabri has come to look at the question of minorities through the lens of a psychologist, especially the issue of mother tongues.
Iran, for academics of her school of thought, is like “a big prison for mother tongues.”
The Azerbaijanis are not a violent group; they never have been. But the Government also suppresses their voices, as with other minorities, and censors much of what they have to say in the news.
She believes that half of the current Azerbaijani political prisoners are detained for protesting the drying up of Lake Oroumiyeh. Another large portion are a group of supporters of the Tractor football team, and were arrested after a game this summer. Usually during the game there are insults chanted between both sides, with the Azerbaijanis being treated as separatists and called “donkeys.” Azerbaijanis in turn chant: “mother tongue is a right for everybody.”
In one particular case, an Azerbaijani guitar player was sent to prison for six months. For the case of Saeed Matinpour, who has a heart ailment in prison, she organized a campaign for him along with Amnesty International; within hours they had over 2,000 signatures.
A last group arrest she would like to mention is when, on the one-year anniversary celebrations of partial self-rule, five people were arrested. One was beaten so badly that his ribs were broken and he was sent to the hospital.
Kurdish rights activist/journalist Both of his parents are Kurdish. He was born in a village called Karagol. On 25 January 1983, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Basijis attacked his village and killed 18 people, from ages 12 to 95-years-old. Soon after, 68 people were killed in another village.
His organization has produced a documentary on this issue; there are also still many witnesses alive who can confirm this case.
Between the Revolution and 1988, altogether around hundreds of people were killed in Kurdish villages in such campaigns. Mostly they were not members of political parties; “their only crime was being Kurdish.”
In his own case: Soon after the Revolution he saw the fighting begin between the Kurds and the Islamic forces. He was in Mahabad, and there were clashes every day. Iranian forces were bombarding Kurdish cities from 1979 to 1983.
In the summer of 1982, there had been a two-day conflict between the Government and Kurds in Mahabad. One of bombs fell into one of his neighbors’ homes, and their son was injured. After he went by to help, he was also injured. His leg is still not fully functional. He was in the hospital for 21 days. He was first in a room with six people in the hospital; four of them died. After ten days, he was removed to another room with three people; two of them died. In the 21 days he was hospitalized, at least 70% of those who came through were killed.
He was also discriminated against at University. He had been accepted, but then he received a letter saying he was “not suitable according to the Islamic Government” to study.
After 1988, there was a “Cultural Revolution” in Iran and he was able to go to school for Applied Physics. However, he was a part of a protest and was eventually expelled from school. He fled to Iraq and later came to Europe.
Former high-ranking politician of the Islamic Republic/former prisoner
Mr. “Hamed” was released from Raja’i Shahr Prison many years ago. There are prisoners there who require urgent medical care, including Mr. Afhsin Barimani, Mr. Siamak Mehr, and Mr Saeed Abedini. Of course Mr. Mansourat Pour and Mr. Osanloo died while prison.
There are some cases, like that of Mr. Mehr Ronavi at Raja’i Shahr, who cannot be treated in prison, so they will die if they are not released. He also spent time at Evin Prison however, and would like to point out that conditions there are also bad for people who require medical attention, as are other prisons.
All of the wardens with whom he has had contact since he was in prison believe that the political prisoners are “against Islam” and so deserve to die by extension. “To them, each prisoner who dies is less of a strain on the security system.”
Aide to the Former Presidential Campaign of Mir Hossein Moussavi
Both Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi suffer from different health problems, in large part due to the conditions of their detention. They do not have proper light or ventilation, or nutrition.
They do not often speak of the health issues in public, in order not to affect the “morale of the Iranian people.”
Ms. Rahnavard is also having heart palpitations. All are “victims of aggression,” and are therefore suffering. Over the past 20 days, for example (December 2013), Moussavi, Karroubi, and Rahnavard have been threatened with execution. They have a sense that authorities are probing general opinion in Iran in order to take “some steps,” but they are not sure what those steps are.
Authorities have tried to justify their detention by making it look like a provisional disciplinary detention.
They are also being constantly monitored. The monitoring of people’s lives, overall, is a big problem in Iran; it is an invasion of privacy. His own house was bugged (including his bathroom and bedroom) for two weeks.
The environment is another big problem in Iran. People are dying every day from negative environmental effects.
As someone who was involved in the original drafting of the Civil Rights Charter under President Khatami, he could tell you that the current draft has nothing to do with the original version; in a way, “it’s like a denunciation of our work.”
He does believe that the current international dialogue is positive, if not at least because it highlights and brings to the fore the “differences between the Judiciary and the Government.”
High-Ranking Official of the National Front
He would like to make three points: he has been in prison for 15 years during different period in the history of the Islamic Republic. In Iran, the “Judicial authorities and the Parliament do not follow the same system as the Government. “So sometimes in order to assert authority or to prove a point, they crack down on activists “in spite of the intentions of the Government. This happened under former President Khatami as well.
Some of the members of his movement, like Massoud Pedram, Keyvan Samimi, Ahmad Aeydabadi, and Emad Bahadabar are still in prison.
Ms. Narges Mohammadi, his wife, asks Dr. Shaheed to ensure that all of the civil associations are free to operate in Iran. People like herself and Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh are released, but once they are out, there is no structure in which for them to work and live, and they find themselves in a “bigger prison.”
The situation of prisons in Iran “is horrendous.” Especially in Vakilabad, where there is an infamous “Section of Death,” where up to 500 people can be on death row at one time.
With the rise of President Rouhani, the “struggle between the Judiciary and the Government is very visible,” especially when one looks at the increase in executions.
On 1 September 2013, there was a “massacre” at Camp Liberty involving cooperation between Iraq and Iran, specifically the Quds Forces. He believes that the reason for this attack is the same for the increase in executions; “internal fighting between Government branches.”
With regard to the attack at Ashraf/Liberty, there are still seven “hostages” being held by the Government. The families of people at Ashraf/Liberty are harassed; for example, his own father, who was an Ayatollah, died 10 years ago, and after that the Government harassed their mother, because he and her sister living abroad have been affiliated with the MEK.
Afshin Karamian Nasab
Human rights defender
Afshin Karamian Nasab was arrested in 19 November 2009 by the security forces. The two officers reported to be from the intelligence office of Kermanshah and stated to have an arrest and search warrant and showed it to him for 3 seconds and confiscated his books and statements.
Mr. Karamian Nasab was reportedly blindfolded and transferred to the intelligence office of Kermanshah, where he spent 4 days in solitary confinement and interrogated 3 times that sometime would last for 5 hours and when upon court orders he was transferred to the Evin Prison, he reportedly spent 52 days in solitary confinement at ward 209 and interrogated 5 times including interrogation at night until the morning. Mr. Karamian Nasab stated that during the interrogations he was seating on a chair with a blindfold while the interrogator would stand behind him and ask questions and was allegedly slapped and punched in the face by the interrogators and be kicked in the stomach. On the second day, he was reportedly taken to branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah and was charged with “inciting the students to violent actions to oppose and overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran State,” “publication and distribution of anti-state and religion statements to weaken Islam,” “cooperation with anti-Islamic Revolution groups,” and “disturbing security and public order.” Mr. Karamian Nasab stated that he did not have access to legal counsel when the judge was being charged, where the judge allegedly threatened his life by stating that people who have been in his situation were executed while Mr. Karamian Nasab maintained that he was a student activist that was critical of the situation of human rights. Mr. Karamian Nasab stated that he was threatened him with rape and arrest of family members. When the interrogators reportedly found out the he is Yarsan, they would allegedly state that he is unclean and insulted him. He was reportedly released on a $30,000 bail and while he was in Kermanshah, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran issued its court ruling without his presence and sent a copy of it to his home address that stated he is a fugitive.
Mr. Karamian Nasab stated that he was sentenced to 10 years of suspended prison sentence, which was allegedly based on the case files discussed at the court and the confessions that were obtained under torture. When the court ruling was reportedly received by Mr. Karamian Nasab, the 20 days’ time for appeal was passed. He continued his activities until he was reportedly summoned to branch 16 of Tehran revolutionary court on 21 January 2013 and faced two new charges “acting against national security” and “propagation against the state.” Mr. Karamian Nasab maintained that he left the country before the court session.
Kaveh Taheri, activist and blogger, reported that he was arrested on 23 September 2012 and take to ministry of intelligence Number 100 detention center. At the detention center he was reportedly beat on his feet and suspended from the celling by a rope attached to his handcuffs. On 15 November 2012, he was reportedly taken to the Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, where his father was summoned the next day to if Kaveh Taheri is released, he would publicize his son’s case. 3 December 2012 he was taken to Number 100 detention center and allegedly forced to confess is interview recorded for television. Taheri was convicted in revolutionary court for acting against national security and insulting Iran’s leader. After appeals he received a 2 years prison sentences and 3 years in exile at Larestan. He was also tried in public court for “blasphemy” and “publishing false information” and sentenced to 40 lashes and a fine.
Masoud Lavasani was reportedly arrested on 26 September 2009 by the security forces with an arrest warrant and was taken to the investigatory branch of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. There his temporary detention order was issued without allegedly allowing him to post bail. He was officially charged with “propagation against the state” for the articles he had written about the Green Movement. The officers reportedly took his wedding album, films, novels, and fiction books, which have not been returned. According to Mr. Lavasani the authorities denied his request to have access to legal counsel and dismissed his appeals to their unlawful conduct, such as allegedly blindfolding him.
Mr. Lavasani was reportedly taken to ward 2-alef of the Evin Prison, where the interrogator allegedly used electric shocker and physically beat him during the interrogation that he would sit facing the wall; Mr. Lavasani maintained that later he had to undergo two surgeries due to the neck injury that was caused by these beatings. The interrogator would reportedly ask Mr. Lavasani about the videos that he uploaded on YouTube from the post- 2009 protests, and the content of his emails, and asked him to confess in front of a camera. Mr. Lavasani stated that one of the interrogation sessions took place at 3:00am. He reportedly spent two years in prison. The court reportedly refused to accept the lawyer chosen by Mr. Lavasani and he was only able to know this on the court date.
In January 2012 Branch 26 of the Revolutioanry Cour of Tehran reportedly charged him with “acting against national security,” “insulting the leader,” “propagation against the State,” and “insulting the president.” Mr. Lavasani was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison and banned from journalism for life, which was then reduced to 6 years in prison and 10 years ban from journalism at the appeal court. In July 2012, he was released on $267,000 bail. Mr. Lavasani stated that the authorities did not provide him with a copy of his final sentence and appeal verdict in writing. On the contrary he was verbally informed and showed the sentence after Mr. Lavasani left the country, his interrogator allegedly threatened his life.
An informed source, Mr. or Mrs. “Hassanpour,” reported that in 2013, s/he was summoned over the phone by the security officers to the local intelligence office. S/he was reportedly blindfolded and taken to search his/her house and parents’ house with warrant. The security officers reportedly confiscated religious photos, books, and his/her computer. The interviewee reportedly spent the 17 days in solitary confinement and spent 7 days at the local intelligence office. The second day the judge officially charged him/her without providing evidence with “propagation against the state,” “membership in association with illegal groups that disrupt security,” and “cooperation with other state enemies.”
The interviewee reported that s/he did not have access to legal counsel. The interviewee maintained that s/he was interrogated 6 times, which would start after 16:00 and last between 2 to 4 hours. The interviewee was reportedly asked to wear a blindfold and face the wall while the interrogator was behind him/her and would slapped behind on the back and threatened with physical punishment. The cell’s light was reportedly constantly on and he/she could hear the sound of other detainees being allegedly tortured, and insults made against the interviewee, his/her family, and beliefs. The interviewee was reportedly detained for 7.5 months, was released with $30,000 bail and has not yet gone on trial. The interviewee reported that the Baha’is that were arrested a few months before him/her were physically beaten and sexually harassed by the authorities.
A student activist, Mr. or Mrs. “Nasrallah,” reported that s/he was arrested by the security officers in 2010. When the interviewee asked for arrest warrant, the officer allegedly showed his walkie-talkie and stated that this is his warrant. The interviewee was reportedly blindfolded in the car and was detained at the ministry of intelligence of Mashhad for seven day, where the interrogation began on the second day and last between 3-4 hours. S/he reported that the interrogators would stand behind him/her. S/he was physically beaten by the interrogators; where they would allegedly hit his/her head on the desk.
The authorities reportedly denied him/her to use the restroom until he/she signed the documents and when on the fourth day, the s/he was taken to the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, the judge asked him/her to sign the documents and refusing the his/her request to read the documents by stating he pulled that s/he should do so without reading them like the previous night otherwise situation will remain the same. The interviewee reportedly signed the documents that s/he later on realized were related to his/her charges, “Propagation against the state,” Insulting the supreme the leader,” “acting against national security,” and “keeping vulgar and unknown information.”
The interviewee was reportedly released on the 7th day. In 2010, the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad reportedly sentenced the interviewee to 10 months in prison, 100 lashes, and $70. The interviewee maintained that at the appeal court was informed by judge that s/he does not have the right to legal counsel, however, his/her friend who was a lawyer was able to submit a defense bill and the lashes were lifted. In 2011, police officers, who stated to have a warrant, arrested the interviewee and transferred him/her to the Vakil Abad prison, where s/he was allegedly raped by other cell mates. He/she allegedly also witnessed mock executions, executions, and lash punishment. The interviewee maintained that the Vakil Abad prison has the capacity for 3800-4100 inmates whereas in 2011, 13,900 prisoners were detained.
A Baha’i father, Mr. “Aslan,” described to the Special Rapporteur how his family repeatedly experienced discrimination related to their economic and social rights. He had been working as a carpenter for several years in a shop. In 2001 he started his own shop and applied for the appropriate license at the semi-governmental carpenter’s guild. Licenses, he said, were typically granted within six months. The guild initially presented seemingly neutral reasons for not granting him a license, such as that fact that his shop was “too small.” But when he would get a bigger workspace they would offer a different reason.
After three years of back-and-forth guild staff allegedly told him that they actually were not approving his license because he was a Baha’i, a fact he had indicated on his initial application. He was forced to work without a license until 2009, when the mayor’s office finally closed his shop, causing him to lose his capital and tools. Also in 2009 his daughter wanted to enroll in a specialized public high school that offered classes in tourism, a subject she was interested in. Upon application the father asked the school’s principal if his daughter’s faith was an issue. A few days later the principal called the father and said that she had contacted the Ministry of Education and it instructed her not to grant admission to his Baha’i daughter.
Green Movement activist Mehdi Noorzar, a lawyer formally employed in a state agency, told the Special Rapporteur that authorities arrested him on 9 August 2011 when he responded to a summons to Evin Prison. He reported being held in solitary confinement for three months and subjected to various forms of torture including: punching, kicking, baton beatings, whipping, blindfolding, and a mock execution. He said that his interrogators were trying to make him confess to connections with monarchist groups or the MEK, both of which he purportedly told interrogators he opposed. He was formally charged 20 days after the start of his detention on charges of acting against national security, insulting the supreme leader, insulting the president, blasphemy, and insulting clerics. At the trial the judge advised him not to bring his lawyer into the courtroom in order to receive a lighter sentence. Yet, the trial purportedly only lasted ten minutes, with the judge taking a very hostile tone, and Noorzar was sentenced to three years in prison. An appeals court reduced the sentence to one year in prison, a one-year suspended sentence, and 74 lashes. On 7 August 2012 his one-year sentence came to an end, but as his release fell on a weekend, he was kept in prison for three more days until the flogger was at work to administer the lashes.