Documenting Human Rights Violations in Challenging Environments

Who Were the Parties Involved?

  1. Police who arrested the students
  2. Basij forces who assisted in the arrest of the students
  3. Tehran University students who were taken to different police stations
  4. Tehran University students who were taken to a Ministry of Interior basement located four levels below ground
  5. The guards at the Interior Ministry
  6. Human Rights Watch

What are their background, affiliations, and potential biases?

  1. The police who arrested the students are employed by the Iranian government and affiliated with the Interior Ministry.
  2. The Basij is a volunteer paramilitary force established by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 following the Islamic Revolution. Their loyalty is to the Supreme Leader and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
  3. Tehran University students who were taken to different police stations. Assessing the motivations of the students is a bit more difficult. As someone collecting information, you would want to investigate the motivations of the students volunteering information. For example, some questions you would need answered are whether the student(s) are politically involved or had participated in the 2009 post-election protests disputing President Ahmadinejad’s victory. From this article, all we know about these individuals is that they were students at Tehran University. Can you find information about them from other sources? University students in Iran are known for being politically active and vocal; however, do not assume they were all politically inclined or all disputed the electoral outcome.
  4. Tehran University students who were taken to a Ministry of Interior basement– what else can you find out about these students and why were they separated from the students reportedly taken to police stations?
  5. The guards at the Interior Ministry work for the Iranian government, and in particular, the Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for internal security in Iran.
  6. Human Rights Watch is a self-proclaimed “watchdog” organization. While it is independent, its motivations are to report on human rights violations and hold governments (such as the Iranian government) accountable to international human rights standards.