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Human Rights Violations Monthly Report: June-July 2010

Aug 24, 2010
In the years following the Islamic Revolution in Iran the country went through such tumult that human rights violations gradually became the foremost concern for international organizations. The tortures and executions that took place in the eighties were only the beginning of such violations.  These violations were exacerbated during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reached a climax in the aftermath of public protests to the tenth presidential election. During this suppressive period, hundreds of students, women’s right activists, workers, human rights activists, and politicians were arrested and imprisoned. All of these groups were condemned to heavy sentences and many people had to go through long prison terms and flee the country.

 
In the past few months alone the Intelligence Office of Tabriz summoned and interrogated a large number of students from Tabriz University. Some were arrested, including Sara Mahbobi, an expelled Baha’i student in Sari who was arrested on Thursday June 24 after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry’s office in Sari. And on Monday July 5 Masood Alavi was arrested by intelligence officers following his publication of a student declaration. On Friday July 9, Yasir Torkaman, a graduate student in the mechanical engineering program of Amir Kabir University was sent to prison to fulfill a one year sentence.

Student periodicals were not spared either and on Wednesday June 23 the student periodical Sadaf published by the Islamic Association of Sharif University of Technology was banned. Imprisoned student activists such as Milad Asadi and Bahareh Hedayat were condemned to nine and a half and seven years respectively in prison. On Monday July 5 three student activists of Khajeh Nasir University were suspended and banned from using dormitory facilities. On the other hand, with the end of the semester approaching last week a few professors in the electricity and mechanics departments did not post final grades for some of their students because of their allegedly non-conformist dress and hair styles.

The sentences that were handed down to student activists came as a surprise to everyone. On Wednesday June 23 Arash Sadeghi was sentenced to six years in prison and seventy four lashes, and on Thursday July 1 Pedram Rafati, a fomer student activist at Tehran’s Polytechnic University was sentenced in the 15th branch of Revolutionary Court, headed by judge Salavati, to two years in prison and fined three hundred thousand tomans. On Saturday July 3 the appeals court sentenced Mehrdad Bozorg, a student activist, to one year in prison. On Friday July 16 the 54th branch of the appeals court upheld a six year prison sentence for Salman Sima, a member of Danesh Amookhtegan Alunmni Organization.

Women

Meanwhile Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran, who said in his electoral campaign that issues such as women’s veils or youth dress codes were not important matters for the country, has acted in a contradictory manner since coming to office. On Wednesday June 30, Tabas prosecutor said, “Women who appear in the public without proper cover could be prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms from 10 days to two months or fined fifty thousand rials to five hundred thousand rials ($5 to $50). Ali Asghar Refahi said, “There is no legal vacuum in the debates on improper dressing and hair styles. In 1996 the legal code of Islamic Penal Law number 638 was passed and approved by the Guardian Council. According to its provisions, anyone who publicly commits an improper act in public could be imprisoned from ten days to two months and be fined anywhere from fifty thousand to five hundred thousand rials.

In this context on Sunday July 11 three members of the paramilitary force of the Basij of Tabriz used their identity cards to abduct a young woman under the pretext of the fight against improperly-covered women and after raping and torturing her shot her fatally and abandoned her body in the outskirts of the city. This has caused ample sensitivity and sorrow to the public opinion of local residents. According to the same officials who had declared stoning as a legal punishment has stopped in Iran, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian mother, has been accused of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning (authorities have halted her case due to an international outcry).

Ethnic and Religious Minorities

Along with the ban against public education of Baha’is, followers of other minority religions and ethnicities have been subjected to threats, arrests, suppression, and loss of basic rights. In this regard, on Wednesday June 23 Nora Nabilzadeh, a Baha’i resident of Mashhad, was arrested by intelligence and security forces and taken to an unknown location. Similarly, Afshin Ighani, a Baha’i resident of Semnan, was sentenced to four years, three months, and one day in prison. On June 24 six Gonabadi dervishes, Saeed Karimaee, Poorya Barati, Mohammad Saki, Komeil Rahimzadeh, Ehsan Dashti, and Saeed Dashti were illegally summoned by the intelligence sevices of the Revolutionary Guard branch in Karaj. On Saturday, June 26 fifty houses belonging to Baha’i residents of Eyval, a village in Mazandaran, were demolished. On Thursday, July 1 Soosan Tabyanian, a Baha’i resident of Semnan, was summoned to the Revolutionary Court branch, arrested on the spot, and transferred to Evin Prison. Artin Ghazanfari, a Baha’i citizen arrested during last year’s Ashoora unrest, was sentenced to one year in prison by the Revolutionary Court. On Saturday July 17 Peyman Kashfi Najafabadi, a Baha’i resident of Tehran who was summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and first arrested and then released under bail, was sentenced to four years in prison.

These suppressive measures, however, are not limited to arrests and intimidations. The Intelligence ministry officers in Birjand requested to inspect the financial transactions of accounts that belong to Baha’i citizens by showing a court order to the city bank. They also went to the businesses of these Baha’i citizens and asked about their income and members of their household.

Culture

The press has always been the target of censorship in the Islamic Republic of Iran and every administration has tried to ban or fine them in an attempt to control the people’s minds. As this ordeal exacerbated during the presidency of Ahmadinejad a large number of periodicals and dailies were banned from publication. This trend still continues. On June 30 the special jury for the press unanimously found the editor-in-chief of the periodical Roozan guilty but claimed that he desrved leniency. On Monday July 5 the Press Supervisory Committee cited three periodicals and banned a local one. The bi-weekly Madineh Goftegoo publication in Markazi province was banned for propagating libel against state organizations and officials and disseminating heresy under the press code number 12. The periodical Nasim Bidari was cited for libel against officials and causing divisions  in society under the fourth and sixth provisions of press code number 6 and was processed for court action. Under the first provision of the same press code, periodicals Razm Avar and Donyayeh Karateh were cited for treating the un-Islamic subject of fake mysticism and cults without providing expert opinion in refutation.

Journalists too have not been safe from such pressures and have been condemned to long prison terms under accusations such as “propaganda against the state.” Some have even lost their professional rights to hold journalism-related jobs. On Tuesday July 6 a journalist by the name of Sasan Aghaee was sentenced to one year in prison.

Guilds and Workers

While the current administration promised to improve the lives of workers, workers too have resorted to scattered protests and strikes in various towns and regions out of poverty and inability to pay for their daily expenses due to long overdue wages. The workers of a telecommunication factory say, “In the past three years that the factory has plunged into a crisis, workers have had to renew their insurance on their own by paying a seven percent share. However, workers get arrested and prosecuted because of their protests. On June 21 Mohammad Ashrafi, a labor activist and member of the Follow-Up Committee was summoned to the third branch of the Revolutionary Court. Then on June 22 he was arrested upon going to that branch and transferred to an unknown location.

On Monday June 28 about three hundred Pars metal workers gathered in front of the president’s office in Pastor Square in Tehran to protest their overdue wages and the firing of contract workers. The employers have reportedly asked the contract workers to settle their accounts with the factory as soon as possible. Khosro Bokany, a labor activist and member of the coordinating committee to help the formation of workers’ associations, received a two-year prison sentence. And the four month jail sentence for Kaveh Golmohamadi, a labor activist in Kamyaran, was confirmed by the appeals court of the province of Kurdistan. Mansour Osanloo, head of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, was summoned to branch number six of Karaj court.

On Monday July 5 about five hundred workers from the Installation Company of Abadan , a subsidiary of the Oil Refinery Company , stopped working due to their unpaid wages and gathered in the phase 3 project area in Abadan Refinery. They were demanding their wages and the reduction of taxes on their income. Meanwhile, about two hundred workers from the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company are on the verge of being layed off. They work in the passenger control section of the company. On Thursday July 8 the workers employed in rapid routes section received a notice stating that they either had to abide by the existing conditions or they would be fired.

On July 10 Javeh Dam workers in Sanandaj went on strike in front of the contractor’s office after several similar strikes during previous months in protest to their wages being five months overdue.

Prisoners

The news that comes from inside prisons often reveals the terrible conditions of prisoners and prisons. Based on reports, the prisoners of sections seven and eight of Evin Prison are kept in horrendous conditions. The hygiene status of these prison sections is very unsatisfactory and many prisoners sleep on the floor due to overcrowding.

Based on the same reports, the physical health of Abolfazl Abedini, a journalist and human rights activist, Majid Tavakoli, a student activist, Hamed Roohinejad, imprisoned in section eight, and Peyman Karimi Azad, imprisoned in section 350 of Evin prison have deteriorated. Their prison doesn’t have adequate medical facilities.

On Wednesday July 14 one of the prisoners of Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj who was suffering from AIDS died because of medical negligence of prison officials. Having phone communication and visitors are among basic rights of prisoners. However, many have complained of not being allowed to visit their families. Ahmad Karimi was accused of having connections with an opposition group and first condemned to death but then his sentence was reduced to fifteen years in prison plus exile to Gonbad Kavoos. In the last two months he has not been able to meet with his family due to illegal procedures.

Executions

Despite the outcry from international and human rights organizations, executions continue in Iran. Those sentenced to death are usually hanged for crimes such as murder, drug trafficking, sedition, or cooperation with the Mujahedin-e Khalq. In this regard, on Monday June 28 the head of the social security committee of Kurdistan announced that twenty execution orders had been issued for those accused of “drug trafficking” in the province and eight had been carried out. Mohammad Marzyeh, the general and Revolutionary Court prosecutor at a press conference in Zahedan said, “Among those involved in the disturbances of the Fatemieh period in Zahedan two have been executed and we have requested death sentences for the other six, and for those who could have intervened to stop it but did not, we are pressing charges and processing their case.” Based on the figures provided by the unit of statistics and publication of human rights activists in Iran, twenty executions were carried out between the months of June and July.

Source: Gozaar
Written by Yasser Solaymani Headlines

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