Nabz Weekly - November 22, 2013

This week in human rights in Iran

MINORITY RIGHTS

On November 20, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report accusing Iran of violating its legal obligations towards refugees from Afghanistan and failing to protect them from abuse. HRW claims that thousands of Afghans have been summarily deported from Iran without a hearing of their right to remain.

According to HRANA, this week 15 members of Ghaderi Darwish faith were arrested in the city of Karaj. They were participating in religious rituals at the time of their arrest.

On November 21, families of three Arab prisoners in the city of Ahwaz protested against a program on the state sponsored PressTV, which broadcasted the confessions of the prisoners and the footage of them speaking with their families. The families claim that they were not informed about being filmed and the confessions were taken under duress. Two of the prisoners were sentenced to death by the primary court, but their sentences have not yet been approved by the supreme court .

ARBITRARY ARRESTS

This week, Amnesty International launched a campaign calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Omid Kokabee, an Iranian physicist pursuing a PhD in the USA, now serving a 10-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Amnesty considers Omid Kokabee a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his refusal to work on military projects in Iran.

This week, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, head of Iran’s police stated in an interview that Saeed Mortazavi insisted on sending people who were arrested during the demonstrations after the 2009 election to Kahrizak detention center despite police warnings on the bad conditions of the detention center. This is the first time that a high official police commander has spoke out about the incident. At least three prisoners died While detained in the Kahrizak detention center.

On November 19, 193 Iranian physicians called on President Rhouani to end the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, opposition leaders detained since 2011. Meanwhile, over 150 Iranian activists wrote to Ahmad Shaheed the United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran to request a visit with the opposition leaders who have been under house arrest for over a thousand days.

INTERNET FREEDOM

On November 19, Dariush Poursaeed, head of the cyber police in the Bushehr province, announced the arrest of a 16 years old blogger in that province. The name of the blogger and the city of arrest are still unknown. The blogger is charged for promoting western values via a weblog by publishing satellite tv video clips. In the meantime, eight bloggers were arrested in the city of Rafsanjan. They were charged for insulting Islamic values in their writings.

LABOR RIGHTS

Three hundred workers at Tabriz Tractor Manufacturing Company have not been paid in more than four months. Additionally, the workers' insurance is not being renewed by Social Security office.

EXECUTIONS

This week, a prisoner was hanged at the central prison of the city of Isfahan. He was found guilty of murdering a policeman. Another prisoner was hanged in the city of Zahedan on murder charges.

TRIALS

This week, three Kurdish Sunni’s were sentenced to death by the revolutionary court in Tehran. One of the prisoners was 17 on the time of arrest. The prisoners were convicted for cooperating with Salafi groups.

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY

This week is the anniversary of the beginning of a series of political assassinations that took place in Iran between 1988 and 1998. According to Parastou Forouhar, this year the Iranian government has not allowed anniversary commemorations to take place. Fifteen years have passed since the Iranian government targeted dissident intellectuals critical of the Islamic Republic. The victims included more than 80 writers, translators, poets, political activists, and ordinary citizens.

WOMENS RIGHTS

Late last week, Iran's ministry of sports issued a directive which bans Iranian women from viewing auto-racing events at Tehran's Azadi stadium. This came just days after FIFA called on Iranian officials to lift the ban on Iranian women's participation in sporting events.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

On November 19, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee voted on a resolution concerning the human rights situation in Iran. The resolution, which has been passed annually,  called on Iran to address human rights violations detailed most recently in a report published by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed. While the draft resolution expressed concern over serious rights abuses, it also welcomed  President Rouhani’s pledges on human rights issues such as eliminating discrimination against women and members of ethnic minorities and promoting freedom of expression and opinion.

In the meantime, 25 human rights organizations published an open letter to the UN, to criticize the human rights situation in Iran. The letter emphasizes that the first 100 days of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency has had no impact on the human rights situation in Iran. According to the letter, there is a contradiction between Rouhani’s campaign promises regarding minority rights and the release of political prisoners.