Nabz News Review - June 12, 2015
This week in human rights in Iran
Freedom of expression
On June 8, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance announced that its venues administration denied permission to Kayhan Kolhar and the band Brooklyn Rider to organize a concert at Milad Tower. In recent months, the cancellation of concerts in various Iranian cities has been a point of contention. In addition, on June 10, a Parvaz Homay concert that had been organized in the salon of the Interior Ministry was called off just hours before it was scheduled to begin, even though tickets had already been sold.
On June 9, Tehran Attorney General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi warned conservative parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakoli that he might be tried again if he continues speaking out regarding his trial. Tavakoli, who is also the director of the website Alef, was sentenced to a discretionary sentence of six years for publishing the comments of singers on his news site.
Rights of religious minorities
On June 4, Laura Hemmati, a Baha’i with British-Iranian citizenship, participated in a TEDx Talk and spoke about the right to learn for Baha’is in Iran. In recent months, a global movement has started to support the right to education of Iranian Baha’is, and many famous artists have also joined the movement. Due to their faith, many Baha’i students have been barred from continuing their education in recent years.
On June 12, 25 members of Erfan-e Halgheh were sentenced to a total of 61 years in prison and 74 lashes. Lately human rights groups have expressed concern over the impending execution of Mohammad Ali Taheri, the leader of this group.
On May 26, the Majles began its discussion on the bill to support transgender persons in Iran. Even though the government of the Islamic Republic supports the rights of this group, there are still concerns over other kinds of LGBT rights, such as gay rights. In recent years, there have been many reports of cases in which gay Iranians were encouraged or forced to undergo sex reassignment surgeries. Homosexuality is a crime in Iran and in some cases treated as an illness.
More than 60 days have passed since the start of a hunger strike by Basma Al-Jabouri, an Iraqi woman imprisoned in Gharchak Prison. Al-Jabouri, who was sentenced to prison for five years on the charge of spying for the United States, has been on a hunger strike since April 8 to protest prison conditions, lack of access to medical services, and the refusal to return her to Iraq. Reports indicate that she suffers from a variety of illnesses and that her condition is becoming dire.
Defense attorney Negar Haeri was released recently after 10 days of detention. Ostensibly, the reason for her arrest was authorities’ worries that she would leave the country. According to Haeri, her release is conditional on her reporting weekly to Evin Prison and signing in.
On June 7, an 83-year-old man named Khodadad Moradi was arrested on the charge of propaganda against the regime for organizing an environmental meeting in his home. Moradi was hosting a group of environmental activists and had been trying to stop the aridification of the Alughare spring in the Bakhtiari mountains at the hands of the IRGC. His son Reza Moradi was also arrested.
On June 18, six days after Hossein Zolfaghari, security deputy of the Interior Ministry, reported the establishment of an election security body to oversee the digital space, the judiciary reported in two separate announcements that seven people were arrested for activities on the Internet. One of these individuals is accused of managing groups via the apps WhatsApp, Telegram, and Line, and the other six were arrested on social media-related charges.
On June 8, former television producer Mostafa Azizi, who was arrested in Tehran on February 1, was sentenced to eight years in prison. The charges announced against him include insulting the Supreme Leader, assembly and collusion against national security (both inside and outside Iran), and actions against national security (for online activities). PEN Canada had previously called for the unconditional release of Azizi, who was a resident of Canada for several years.
This month, children’s rights activists Atena Daemi, Atena Farghadani, Omid Alishenas, and Asoo Rostami were sentenced to a total of 43 years and 9 months in prison. The severity of their sentences has drawn global protest. Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned these sentences, and Amnesty International has called for the release of Farghadani and Daemi.
On June 8, the second session of the trial of Jason Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi, and one other person charged in this case took place behind closed doors. Washington Post Tehran correspondent Rezaian has been in prison for months without clarification of the charges against him.
Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur for the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, stated in a speech that the silencing of journalists in Iran will lead to a weakening of the human rights situation in the country.
On June 1, four prisoners accused of narcotics-related crimes were executed in Urmia Prison.
On June 9, two prisoners were hanged in public in Shahr-e Babak.
On June 10, the new wave of executions in Iran became one of the hottest points of discussion among Iranian Internet users.