Weekly Pulse - January 25

This week in human rights in Iran

 Four Iranian members of parliament (MPs) visited Evin prison in an effort to dispel recent criticisms of prison conditions including accusations by human rights groups of rampant prisoner abuse and refusals of access to adequate medical care. One MP referred to the prison as a “hotel,” dismissing complaints leveled by the daughter of former President Rafsanjani, who is serving a six-month sentence for spreading anti-government propaganda. In advance of the visit, officials temporarily released a number of high-profile political prisoners including journalists Ahmad Zeidabadi, Masoud Bastani, Bahareh Hedayat, Mahsa Amrabadi, Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Officials returned Nasrin Sotoudeh to prison three days later despite indications of a longer furlough, prompting speculation that the furloughs were intended to prevent prominent political prisoners from speaking with the visiting MPs.

 On January 23, Iranian activists commemorated the birthday of Neda Agha Soltan, a female activist killed by Basij forces during protests following the 2009 presidential election. Family members, friends and activists used the anniversary to call attention to continuing restrictions on freedom of expression in Iran, re-circulating the video of her death which has been viewed by millions of her supporters since 2009. Meanwhile, the family of Sattar Beheshti, the blogger who died in cyber police custody in November, called for swift action in the case against his interrogators. Meanwhile, neighbors claim that the victim’s father, who was last seen speaking with security forces, has been missing for more than a week. Finally, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urged the release of opposition members Hossein Mossavi, Mehdi Karoubi and Zahra Rahnavard. The three reformist leaders have been under house arrest since February 2011, when they called for protests in Iran following the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.