Nabz News Review - September 19, 2014
This week in human rights in Iran
A drawing by four-year-old Mohana Ahmadi, depicting a man at the gallows as a woman and girl look on, has been making the rounds on Iranian social media. The man in the drawing is her father, Hamed Ahmadi, who has been on death row since November 2010 along with three other Sunni Kurds, all accused of “involvement in the assassination of a senior Sunni cleric” in September 2009. The accused did not have access to a lawyer during their trial and were condemned for vague charges such as moharebeh (“enmity against God”) and fasad fil-arz (“corruption on earth").
On September 14, the head of Iran’s Prisons Organization reported the transfer of a number of inmates in Ghezel Hasar Prison in Karaj to solitary confinement. This step came in response to a violent protest by inmates a few weeks earlier over mass executions of fellow prisoners; a video of the protest was leaked out and published online.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian woman who was arrested for attempting to enter an arena to watch a men’s volleyball match in Tehran on June 20, has now been held at Evin Prison for almost three months. Amnesty International has been campaigning for her release.
Prominent human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh will be allowed to practice law again after a ten-year ban on her professional activities was overturned. Sotoudeh was imprisoned in September 2010, and though she was released one year ago, she had been barred from legal practice.
Freedom of Expression
On September 17, the participants of the popular YouTube video “Happy in Tehran”, a music video of Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” set in Tehran, were sentenced to suspended prison sentences and lashings. The six youths were arrested in April and made to confess on television for their participation in the video. Five of them received suspended six-month sentences (one year for the filmmaker) and were condemned to 91 lashes, also suspended.
The film “Shiftegi (Infatuation)” by director Ali Zamani Esmati has been denied permission for screening in Iran. Abbas Naderi, head of the office that issues permits for film screenings in Iran, said that the presence of a female character with a shaved head was the official reason for the denial.
Yahoo! has once again allowed Iranian users to open accounts and access Yahoo Messenger, one year after the company removed Iran from the list of countries in which its services are accessible. Proponents of digital freedom had campaigned for Yahoo! to restore these services for Iranians.
On September 12, the head of Iran’s cyber police announced that any messages insulting Ayatollah Khomeini sent via mobile communication apps (such as WhatsApp and Viber) would result in the prosecution of the users who publish such messages. This was a direct acknowledgement by a senior Iranian security official that authorities monitor citizens’ digital correspondence, in violation of Article 25 of the Iranian Constitution. On September 17, HRANA reported the arrest of a number of individuals in Fars Province for posting remarks deemed insulting to Khomeini on social media. One day earlier, the International Campaign for Human Rights reported that the blogger Soheil Arabi was sentenced to death for insulting the prophet Muhammad on Facebook.
The head of Iran’s Research Centre for HIV/AIDS announced that the rate of AIDS infection among child laborers in Iran is 45 times that of the general population. Most of these children are infected with HIV as a result of rape.