Nabz News Review - August 22, 2014

This week in human rights in Iran

Legislative Developments

Beleaguered cabinet member Reza Faraji Dana was impeached by the Majlis from his post as minister of science, research, and technology on August 20. Faraji Dana, appointed by President Hassan Rouhani as a reformist member of his cabinet, was disliked by conservatives for allowing students expelled following the 2009 turmoil to return to universities. Rouhani had supported Faraji Dana through months of criticism but accepted the impeachment as within the legal framework and called for continued cooperation moving forward.

Women's Rights

On August 12, Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian-born mathematician and a professor at Stanford University, became the first woman to receive the Fields Medal, considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for mathematics. In light of Mirzakhani’s prize, Nabz-Iran asked its users on social media: “Given the many restrictions placed on them, what could Iranian women accomplish if they enjoyed greater opportunities?”

Prisoners' Rights

On August 18, Human Rights Watch released a report on prisoners in the city of Karaj, which contains three prisons. HRW found that of the 189 individual cases it investigated, 63 were political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, and that many of the cases were likely subject to “egregious due process violations”.

On August 12, Kaleme reported the transfer of 50 prisoners to the quarantine section of Ward 7 in Tehran’s Evin Prison. These prisoners had been moved just two weeks earlier from Ward 350, where political prisoners are held, to Ward 7. The latest transfer has raised concerns about the prisoners’ well being since the quarantine section is not suited for long-term accommodation of inmates.

On August 18, opposition site Saham News called on authorities to end violence against prisoners in Ward 350, which in recent months has seen a number of attacks on prisoners by security forces.

On August 21, imprisoned Christian convert Farshid Fathi was transferred to the dangerous prisoners ward of Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj. Fathi was only brought to Rajaei Shahr from Evin Prison two days prior.

Journalists' Rights

On August 20, Saba Azarpeik was released on bail after more than 80 days in solitary confinement in a Revolutionary Guards detention center. A number of political and social activists addressed an open letter to Iranian authorities asking them to respect Azarpeik’s legal and civil rights and expressing concern over her health. Azarpeik is a pro-reform journalist known for covering the death of blogger Sattar Beheshti in police custody in November 2012, and more recently, the violence against prisoners in Evin’s Ward 350 in April.

Ahmed Shaheed wrote of the “wave of journalist arrests” in Iran in an August 11 blog post on his website. Shaheed also recently published a video explaining his appointment, role, and duties as the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.

Workers' Rights

National TreasuresOn August 19, around 5,000 miners went on strike in Bafq in Yazd Province after two of their coworkers were arrested earlier that day. The miners have also occupied the area around the mine, where 16 other miners sought by the police have taken refuge. On the evening of August 20, a special forces unit moved into the area while negotiations were taking place, though there are no reports of violence. This confrontation follows a strike by the miners two months ago over concerns about the privatization of a portion of the mine’s shares; that strike was called off after government officials promised to address the miners’ concerns within two months.

New Nabz-Iran Website

Recently, Nabz-Iran unveiled its upgraded and redesigned website. Among the first pieces of fresh content on the new site are cartoons by Kianoush Ramezani on women’s underemployment in Iran and the 61st anniversary of the 1953 coup.