Nabz News Review - May 1, 2015
This week in human rights in Iran
International Workers’ Day and workers’ rights
Friday, May 1 marked International Workers’ Day. After eight years, workers in Tehran were granted permission to organize a Workers’ Day march. At the end, a statement was read that emphasized the right of workers to organize such marches throughout the country.
At the same time, labor activists in Iran remain under pressure. On April 29, a group of union activists was arrested; among them were Ebrahim Madadi and Davood Razavi, activists from the Tehran bus drivers syndicate, which has been under significant pressure from security officials in recent years and whose directors have been frequently interrogated and arrested.
On April 30, Mehrdad Amin-Vaziri, a Kurdish labor activist from Sanandaj, left the country after his sentence of 5 years and 91 days was upheld and has sought asylum from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Additionally, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) issued a statement condemning the continuation of recent arrests and pressure on labor activists in Iran.
Freedom of expression
On April 20, Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American who has been detained without charges for months, was officially charged with cooperating with the enemy.
On April 30, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated in a television interview with an American network that no one is imprisoned in Iran for journalism or expressing one’s beliefs, and that individuals who are convicted of wrongdoing cannot hide behind the guise of being journalists or political activists. His statement met with swift reactions from political activists, journalists, and Internet activists. Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, a journalist who was freed recently after five years in prison, wrote in an open letter to Zarif that he is an example of a journalist who was arrested and imprisoned for journalistic activities and expressing his beliefs.
On April 21, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Iran as the seventh-most censored country in the world in its latest report. This report also criticized the government of Hassan Rouhani, even though government officials in Iran maintain that no one in the country is arrested or imprisoned for journalism.
On April 28, Hossein Nooshabadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, defended the ban placed on the magazine “Zanan-e Emrooz [Today’s Women]”. The day before, the Press Supervisory Board had banned it for publishing an article on “white marriages,” which the board and the ministry deemed to be a promotion of a phenomenon contrary to national and religious morals. In many cases related to the press, Iranian laws are ambiguous and leave considerable room for varying interpretations.
On May 1, the Boston-based organization PEN New England awarded its Vasyl Stus Award to Sattar Beheshti, the Iranian blogger who was tortured and killed in custody by security forces. The prize is awarded for the freedom to write.
A group of environmental activists in Iran organized an art exhibition in Tehran with a number of artists to raise awareness about the destruction of the marine environment in the south of the country. The group “Cocoon of Paradise”, which organized this exhibition, had earlier organized a similar event on the condition of the migratory birds of the island of Ashuradeh.
On April 20, Ebrahim Firoozi, a convert to Christianity and inmate at Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj, was sentenced to five years in prison for “actions against national security.”
Arbitrary arrests and sentences
On April 21, Reza Heydarpour, the on-duty physician at Evin Prison who refused to provide a false report on the case of Sattar Beheshti, was summoned to court.
On April 27, it was announced that political prisoner Seyed Mohammad Ebrahimi will be sentenced again on new charges. His crime is contact with Ahmad Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, regarding the condition of political prisoners in Evin Prison.
On April 29, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement protesting the widespread arrests of Arab activists in Khuzestan. The Iranian government has in recent years arrested many activists in Khuzestan for participating in peaceful protests, and these activists remain under pressure.
Political prisoner and student activist Majid Tavakoli, who was furloughed from prison on April 20, was brought back to prison eight days later. This happened despite the fact that only 13 days remained in his sentence and many were optimistic that he had been freed.
On April 16 and 17, 16 prisoners convicted of various narcotics-related crimes were executed in the cities of Mashhad and Birjand.
On April 30, Kurdish prisoner Farhad Yousefi was executed in Sanandaj Prison.