Nabz News Review - November 14, 2014


This week in human rights in Iran

Women’s rights

Women’s rights continues to be a hot topic among Iranians, with active debate in the digital space about feminism and sexism, women’s security in Iranian society and their active  participation in social life. While Iranian police faces criticisms over its failure to find people behind the acid attacks against women in Isfahan, the right of Iranian women to attend volleyball matches continues to draw extensive international attention.

 Morality police play a prominent role in Iran. How active should they be on issues like hijab? #Iran

On November 13, in response to the pressures on the government and risk of being banned from hosting international volleyball matches, Iran’s deputy sports minister announced that a section of arenas will be set aside to seat female fans at volleyball matches. Ghoncheh Ghavami, an Iranian-british activist, who was sentenced to one year in prison for attempting to enter a volleyball match has been the center of international attention around the issue since her arrest on June 20.

Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president for women’s affairs, announced on November 12 that no progress has been made in investigations into who committed last month’s acid attacks of Isfahan. Activist and lawyer Narges Mohammadi, who has been a prominent figure during the protests against the acid attacks, was summoned for interrogation to a Tehran revolutionary court on November 8. Later, she questioned the authorities by asking why they have cracked down on those who protest the acid attacks rather than the attackers themselves.

After approval of a pending bill by the Majlis on November 10, members of the Basij are now officially permitted to give verbal warnings to women deemed to have improper hijab in public.

An interview by Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the human rights council of the Iranian judiciary, has drawn controversy on Iranian social media. In an interview with a German television station on November 1, Larijani said that women in Iran are allowed to becomes candidates for presidential elections. Though technically this is correct, every time a woman has registered as a presidential candidate, her nomination has been rejected by the powerful Guardian Council. According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, a presidential candidate must be a man.

Human rights

On November 12, Iran’s judiciary announced that it has given permission to two human rights reporters from the United Nations Human Rights Council to visit Iran next year. At the same time, the Iranian government continues to criticize and deny entry to Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.

A video has surfaced online depicting masked Iranian policemen physically abusing and humiliating four young men.

Government accountability

On November 12, the Rouhani administration signed into law a public data transparency act that requires all government bodies to publish their archives within three years. An addendum to the original bill stipulates that organizations reporting to the Supreme Leader (e.g., the IRGC, state television and radio, and a number of foundations) can only reveal information by his direct permission.

Religious freedom

The family of Mahna Samandari, a 12-year-old Baha’i girl who died on October 21, has been denied the right to a proper burial in Tabriz for their daughter. Her body remains at the morgue because authorities refuse to grant permission for a Baha’i to be buried in the city cemetery. Other Baha’is in the area have also experienced difficulties with burying their relatives in accordance with the requirements of their religion.

Animal rights

On November 7, 32 MPs introduced a bill to the Majlis that would criminalize the ownership and handling of dogs and monkeys in Iran. Penalties for violating the proposed law would include stiff fines and up to 74 lashes of the whip.

Digital freedom

On November 9, Iran’s Ministry of Communications announced that it will begin to implement “smart filtering” of the Internet within the next six months. Through this new method, specific portions of websites would be blocked rather than entire sites themselves.

Students’ rights

On November 11, Iran’s Ministry of Culture announced that Reza Darmishian’s film I am not Angry will not be granted permission for screening even though changes were made to the original version. The film tells the story of an Iranian student who was expelled from university for partaking in the 2009 post-election protests.

International standards

Recently, Radio Zamaneh published one of the latest courses by Nabz-Iran, called “Iran and International Human Rights Standards”, on its e-learning platform Academy Zamaneh. The course provides participants with a better understanding of the international mechanisms to protect human rights in Iran and how they can use them to make the government more responsible towards its human rights obligations.