Nabz News Review - May 6, 2016
This week in human rights in Iran
The second round of parliamentary elections was held on April 29, determining the outcome of 69 remaining Majles seats. Since the political leanings of a large number of independent candidates are unclear, both of the main political factions within the system claimed victory for themselves. Also unclear is the situation of Minoo Khaleghi, candidate number three from Isfahan whose credentials were rejected by the Guardian Council after she had already won in the first round. In remarks following the second round, President Hassan Rouhani likewise noted the number of women elected to the Majles. On the other hand, the influential Principlist Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel referred to electoral violations by government officials before and after the second round. According to him, some authorities in provinces express opinions in favor of certain candidates or factions, which goes against their impartiality. Haddad-Adel did not make reference to any specific incidents. Former President Mohammad Khatami, whose image, voice, and commentary Iranian media are forbidden to broadcast, called on the Iranian people to participate in the second round as well, in a piece that was circulated before the election via social networks and Farsi-language media outside the country.
Freedom of expression
On May 3, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) awarded journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi its “Heroes of Information” prize.
In RSF’s recent 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Iran ranks 169 of 180 countries globally.
On April 22, Abdolkarim Lahiji, head of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), wrote an open letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, drawing attention to the situation of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran.
Similarly, Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, posted on his Facebook page a warning from UN human rights experts to Iranian authorities. These experts see Iran’s prevention of political prisoners from receiving medical treatment as unacceptable.
On April 24, judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei said that a decision regarding the situation of Omid Kokabee, a political prisoner suffering from kidney cancer, depends on the opinions of the Legal Medicine Organization and the Prisons Organization. Kokabee is an Iranian student who had been studying in the United States and who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for refusing to collaborate on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Physicians recently removed one of his kidneys. Over the last two years, prison doctors had only given him painkillers, without a proper examination. Kokabee’s situation has drawn broad protest from inside and outside the country, including from Firouz Naderi, an Iranian-American scientist at NASA, who wrote an article protesting that Kokabee was chained to a hospital bed.
On April 28, 61 university professors from the U.S. and Canada published an open letter to Rouhani, asking him to intervene for the release of ailing political prisoners in Iran.
On April 30, former Majles members Nouradin Pirmoazen, Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Ahmad Salamatian, Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeini, Ali Mazroui, and Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari wrote an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, asking him to end the house release of the Green Movement leaders or to try them publicly.
Rights of minorities
On May 2, 18 shops belonging to Baha’is were shut down in the cities of Babolsar and Bahnamir, Fereydoon Kenar, Sari, and Ramsar. The reason for this action was that the shops had closed in observance of a Baha’i religious holiday on May 1. The owners of these businesses had been advised earlier to keep their shutters rolled up or to at least keep the lights on inside so that their shops would not be shut down.
On April 24, Nazak Afshar, a former employee of the French Embassy in Tehran, was sentenced to six years in prison. Afshar was arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport in March after traveling to Iran to see her mother. The reason for her arrest and the charges against her are still unknown.
On April 26, the four detained journalists Afarin Chitsaz, Ehsan Mazandarani, Davoud Asadi, and Ehsan Safarzaei were sentenced to a combined total of 27 years in prison. Charges against these journalists include assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime, and ties with foreign governments. Reporters Without Borders condemned the severity of the sentences.
On April 27, Davoud Asadi’s father Mahmoud Asadi announced in an interview that Davoud is neither a journalist nor a political activist. He added that Davoud has probably been arrested and sentenced for the activities of his brother Houshang Asadi, a journalist living in France.
On April 27, six prisoners were executed at Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj.