Nabz News Review - October 16, 2015

2015/10/16
Theme: 

This week in human rights in Iran

Freedom of expression

On October 7, it was announced that Iran will boycott the Frankfurt Book Fair because of the presence of Indian-British writer Salman Rushdie. Although in recent years Iranian authorities have attempted to distance Iran’s official policy from the fatwa for Rushdie’s death issued by former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, such events are reminders of the ongoing dangers threatening writers and freedom of expression in general in Iran.

On October 12, the Press Supervisory Board ordered the suspension of the newspaper Rouyesh-e Mellat and referred this case to the Press Court. The reason for this decision is that the newspaper did not use the term “martyr” in its headline on the death of Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, an IRGC commander who was killed in Syria.

The same day, Hassan Sheikh-Aghaei was arrested in the city of Mahabad. Sheikh-Aghaei is the managing director of the news and analysis website Ruwange, which came offline following his arrest. The reason for and location of his detention are still unclear.

Civic activism

This month, United4Iran published a manual called “Safe Activism: Reducing the Risks and Impact of Arrest.” This manual, which was put together with the help of a group of political activists and journalists who had been arrested or imprisoned in Iran before, attempts to make people aware of the threats that might lead to their arrest. It also contains instructions for political and civic activists in Iran to reduce the danger of torture, and in general, the toll that arrest and imprisonment can take.

Also this month, Bahareh Hedayat’s husband Amin Ahmadian started an online petition, along with an open letter to the Supreme Leader, requesting Hedayat’s release. At the time of writing, the petition had collected over 65,000 signatures.

Prisoners’ rights

On October 5, it was announced that Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi’s dry hunger strike is putting his life in danger. Beheshti Langroudi, the former spokesperson of the Iranian teachers’ union, was arrested in 2013 for union activities and sentenced to nine years in prison.

The same day, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, a group of teachers who intended to protest against the arrest of their colleagues were forced to postpone their gathering by five days following threats by security officials.

On October 7, it was reported that Arzhang Davoodi, a teacher and writer on death row who was in the hospital, was expelled from Imam Khomeini Hospital and sent back to Rajaei Shahr Prison due to the prison’s debts to the hospital.

On October 12, imprisoned advocate and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi was transferred to the hospital following a seizure. Mohammadi suffers from a variety of illnesses and is deprived of the necessary medical care. It was reported that Mohammadi’s hands and feet were chained to the hospital bed.

Trials

On October 11, the judiciary spokesman reported that the court had announced a verdict in the case of Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian. However, Rezaian’s family and lawyer still have no information on the specifics of the sentence. The announcement of the guilty verdict has drawn global reactions protesting the legal procedure leading to the sentence.

On October 12, Amnesty International issued a statement calling the virginity test conducted on Atena Farghadani as a humiliation and a violation of human rights in Iran. Farghadani, an Iranian artist who is behind bars for the crime of drawing Iranian parliamentarians, is recently also being tried in court for shaking her lawyer’s hand. Iranian judicial authorities are calling that an act of “illegitimate relations” and compelled her to undergo a virginity test.

On October 13, the Revolutionary Court sentenced the poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi and the filmmaker Keyvan Karimi to a total of 26 years in prison and 421 lashes. The following day, the Iranian Writers’ Association published a statement protesting the verdict. These individuals are charged with blasphemy and propaganda against the regime. The majority of the documents brought forth against them in court are based on their writings in the digital sphere.

Online activism

Iranian Twitter users started a campaign for October 10, World Day Against the Death Penalty, using the hashtag #چرانه‌به‌اعدام (#WhyNoToExecutions) to express their arguments against the death penalty.

On October 7, a group of Arab online activists in Iran started the hashtag #عرب_دیگه (a common pejorative term used for Arabs) on social media to protest discriminatory laws and conduct against Arabs in Iran.

Executions

On October 11, 8 prisoners were executed in Urmia Central Prison. These prisoners were all charged with various narcotics-related offenses.

On October 13, the execution of Fatemeh Salbehi drew international anger and protest against the execution of individuals under the age of 18 in Iran. Salbehi was arrested for killing her husband when she was 17.