Nabz News Review - December 4, 2015
This week in human rights in Iran
On November 25, on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, women’s rights groups and individual activists launched a Farsi-language Twitter storm with the hashtag #خشونت_علیه_زنان (“#ViolenceAgainstWomen). Twitter users utilized this hashtag to speak out about the various forms of violence against women in Iran. In its new Global Gender Gap Report, the World Economic Forum ranks Iran near the bottom of country rankings, alongside Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, and Chad.
On November 15, two shops operated by Baha’i citizens were shut down because they had closed their businesses in observance of Baha’i religious holidays. According to HRANA, in the first six months of the Iranian calendar year, Baha’i businesses have been shut down more than 1,700 times.
On November 16, at least 15 Baha’is were arrested in Tehran, Isfahan, and Mashhad. No reason has been announced for these arrests.
On November 17, a Revolutionary Court sentenced journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei to one year in prison and barred her from any media or political activities for two years. Her trial began on November 30 of last year, but the court’s verdict was issued this year.
On November 20, Nabz-Iran launched its channel on Telegram. By joining the channel, Iranians inside and outside the country can keep abreast of the latest news, information, and analysis on the situation of human rights and citizens’ issues in Iran. You can join the Nabz-Iran Telegram channel via this link.
On November 16, Shahrvand newspaper cartoonist Hadi Heydari was arrested at the newspaper’s offices. It is still unknown why she was arrested and where she is being held.
On November 23, filmmaker and government critic Mohammad Nourizad and eight other civic activists in Iran were arrested. On the day of their arrest, these individuals had intended to gather in protest in front of the offices of the Dena Tire Company.
On December 1, poet Yaghma Golroueewas arrested at his home.
On December 2, more than 90 Iranian journalists issued an open letter calling for the unconditional release of four imprisoned journalists: Isa Saharkhiz, Ehsan Mazandarani, Saman Safarzaei, and Afarin Chitsaz. Last month, in the wake of the Supreme Leader’s remarks against Western influence in the country, the IRGC began arresting a number of journalists and civic activists, marking the beginning of a new wave of arrests in Iran. The day after this letter was published, MP Ali Motahari called on the Ministry of Intelligence and the Ministry of Justice to explain why the IRGC’s intelligence branch has been arresting journalists. Motahari considers these arrests illegal.
On November 16, human rights defense attorney and political prisoner Narges Mohammadi wrote an open letter to Tehran Prosecutor General Mahmoud Jafari Dolatabadi, protesting illegal conduct and torture in prisons and asking him to address this issue.
On November 26, Atila Haghshenas expressed concern over the continuing hunger strike of his wife and son in prison. Simin Eyvazzadeh has gone on hunger strike to protest her arrest by by security forces after protesting in front of Evin Prison for the release of her son Omid Alinejad, who is likewise on hunger strike to protest his mother’s arrest.
On November 27, Arab political prisoner Mohammad Hamidi has lost his life in suspicious circumstances in Shiban Prison in Ahvaz. Prison authorities have given a heart attack as the cause of death, but Hamidi’s family, who spoke with him a week before his death, said that he was in excellent mental and physical condition. Hamidi had been in prison since 2008.
On December 3, Mohammad Beheshti Langroudi published a letter reporting his hunger strike. Beheshti Lengroudi, who is the former spokesperson for the Iranian teachers’ union, has been on hunger strike since November 27 in protest of his nine-year prison sentence. In recent years, efforts by teachers in Iran to increase their wages have been met by suppression and arrests of union leaders.
On November 24, Nabz-Iran published a new issue of the Nabz Nameh. This issue examines the bill to provincialize the elections from a variety of angles, as well as its consequences should the bill become law. In the spring, the Majles passed a bill that would provincialize parliamentary elections in Iran. Even though the bill was rejected by the Guardian Council and sent back to the Majles, it is likely that supporters of the bill will amend it and bring it up again. The Nabz Nameh, an analytic piece published periodically by Nabz-Iran, is available in both Farsi and English. You can also follow the Nabz Nameh by way of Nabz-Iran’s page on Tribune Zamaneh.
On December 3, the Reformist Front Coordination Council called on the Iranian judiciary to combat those who have been obstructing election speeches. In various cities in recent weeks, some election speeches by reformists have been canceled or disrupted by security forces and plainclothesmen.
Freedom of expression
On November 30, Rasoul Khadem’s letter to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance brought the topic of canceled concerts back into the headlines. During the closing ceremony of the World Wrestling Clubs Cup, security officials did not allow the Tehran Symphony Orchestra to perform the national anthem because there were female singers in the orchestra. Khadem, head of Iran’s wrestling federation, wants the Ministry to guarantee that planned concerts will occur in the future.
On December 3, the Washington Post marked the 500th day of arrest for its Iran correspondent Jason Rezaian. Recently, a Revolutionary Court convicted Rezaian of espionage on behalf of the United States, even though international observers and civic activists consider his prosecution flawed and the charges against him political. His brother Ali Rezaian has started a petition for his release, which has gathered over half a million signatures and is to be sent to Iran’s representative office at the United Nations.
On December 4, Hossein Noushabadi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, announced that “according to the laws” of this ministry, any cooperation with satellite (radio and television) networks outside the country is considered a crime, and violators will be dealt with in line with regulations.
The same day, the Court of Administrative Justice in Iran determined in a vote that from now on websites will no longer need permission from the government in order to operate. Before that, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance had interpreted the Press Law to require news websites operating in Iran to secure permission from it. Some observers believe that this is a step by the judiciary to support conservative websites critical of the administration that have been under pressure from the Ministry, rather than a measure to guarantee freedom of expression in Iran.
On November 20, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaber Ansari announced that Iran “attaches no value” to the UN’s human rights resolutions. Lately, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a resolution that criticized the situation of human rights and freedom of expression in Iran and called for free and transparent elections.
On November 30, Alireza Shahi was executed for the charge of murder. Shahi was charged for committing a murder when he was under the age of 18. The execution of child offenders in Iran continues in the face of protests against this practice.
The same day, four prisoners in Rasht and Zahedan were executed on narcotics-related charges.