Status Quo of human rights in Iran
by Amir Rashidi, ISHR
Nearly every year, the UN general assembly passes a new resolution on severe human rights abuses within the Islamic Republic Iran. The last UN resolution of the general assembly (No. A/RES/64/176), which was passed on March 26, 2010, condemns the Islamic Republic in many cases. Among others the government is blamed with its behavior surrounding the 2009 presidential elections and its heavy limitations of civil rights.
Iran limits the freedoms of speech, press, and the right of assembly; denies the right of personal freedom; and prevents the freedom of religion. The following explains the constant abuses of the human rights by giving some examples:
The Iranian government always denies having political prisoners. Only during the presidential term of Khatami, in 2004, was the existence of political prisoners confirmed. Today there are no exact numbers; however, opposition groups estimate that there are several hundreds of prisoners convicted for expressing their opinion or criticizing the government. In August 2006, Human Rights Watch commented on the death of student activist Akbar Mohammadi in Evin prison and urged the Iranian government to allow an independent investigation of the circumstances of his death. However, the government denies that he ever was a political prisoner.
More than 80 authors, interpreters, poets, political activists and “normal“ citizens have fallen victim to serial killings. They have been killed in very different ways: car accidents, stabbings, robberies, shootings, and injections with potassium to simulate heart attacks. Some believe that the variety of ways of killing is supposed to obliterate any potential traces and evidences. Only in 1998 did a sketch of a “killing strategy” become known, when the well-known politician Dariush Forouar, his wife, and three dissident writers were killed within two months.
The journalists Emadeddin Baghi and Akbar Ganji wrote several investigative reports on those murders. In a series of articles in the newspaper Sobh Emrouz, published by Saeed Hajjarian, Akbar Ganji disclosed the criminals with the code names such as “Excellency Red Garmented” or “Excellencies Gray” and “Master Key.”
In December 2000 Akbar Ganji announced that the former minister of intelligence Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian was hidden behind the name “Master Key.” Additionally, he published several names of clerics, such as Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, who have knowingly signed Fatwas or have encouraged religiously motivated directives for killings.
On December 22, 2005, 10 members of Tehran bus union were arrested. A series of bus drivers strikes in Tehran and surroundings (especially the districts 6, 8 and 10) followed. Those strikes were supported by big parts of the population. Among others, the union leader Mansour Osanloo was arrested. In January 2006, the protests for his release were violently broken down and several people were arrested by Special Forces of the Iranian police. After having spent seven months in prison, Osanloo was released on bail in autumn 2006. Since summer 2007 he is in prison again.
Situation of the Bahai
In Iran, the Bahá'i are considered as apostates of Islam. In contradiction to Christianity, Judaism or Zoroastrianism, the Bahá'i are not allowed to carry out their religion. They are constantly subjugated to persecution and oppression. Since 2005, students were forced to mention their religious background when applying to study at the university. They could only choose between Islam and the other three officially recognized religious groups.
After 2005 they were allowed to participate in the entrance exam; however, they still were rejected from joining the university. Finally in 2008 nearly 200 Bahá'i students were accepted at a public university. In spring 2008, seven leading members of the community were arrested and sentenced to 10 years in Gohardasht prison.
According to official statistics, in January there were 85 executions. At least three of victims were imprisoned in relation to the protest against the fraudulent presidential elections in 2009. Compared to the previous year, this shows a strong increase in operated executions.
The annual report of Iran Human Rights (IHR) shows a dramatic increase of executions for the year 2010. According to IHR, in 2010 at least 546 persons were executed; this is the biggest number of executions since the mass executions in the summer of 1988. According to statistics, China is the world champion of executions; Iran is closely following on the second place. However, considering executions per capita, Iran is the clear leader.
Results of the Iranian presidential elections
The Green Movement, already considered as dead and disappeared, awakened again on February 14, 2011 due to activities of the opposition leaders Karroubi and Moussavi. The people called for new protests against the regime but also for support of the people in Egypt. A new level of the Iranian liberation movement has started.
Many people heard the call and joined the protests. It became clear that the Green Movement was still alive and strong. The government felt the strong pressure. The claims of the protests became more and more general. After such a long time of silence, the slogan of today’s manifestations in the street changed from “Where is my vote?“ to a clear rejection of the government of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.
The leader of the opposition, Mehdi Karroubi, stated, “The existing governing system is not Islamic and it is clearly no republic!” However, from my perspective, it is even worse to be confronted with a regime which plainly lies. Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s government became a symbol for lies, hatred and evilness.
The first king of Iran, King Cyrus, wished us to pray: “Lord of Iran, protect our country from lies, enemies and drought.” This quote shows our high values. However, as we are stuck with a lying government, such high values are ignored and de-valued.