Annual Report: Iran 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Iran 2011

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  • Mahboubeh Karami, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was detained for the fifth time in March and held until 18 August. In September, she was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for membership of the HRAI, "propaganda against the state" and "conspiring against the state". She remained free pending appeal.
  • Two women, Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bigdeli, who had been convicted on charges relating to their peaceful collection of signatures for the One Million Signatures Campaign, were facing six months' imprisonment at the end of the year after an appeal court upheld the convictions.

In April, the Supreme Leader called for renewed attention to enforcing the state imposed obligatory dress code. In May, a "chastity and modesty" campaign based on a 2005 law was launched, targeting those who do not comply with the dress code in public, including on university campuses. In September, reports suggested that women's enrollment in universities had dropped substantially.

Discrimination - ethnic minorities

Iran's ethnic minority communities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijanis, Baluch, Kurds and Turkmen, suffered ongoing systematic discrimination in law and practice. The use of minority languages in schools and government offices continued to be prohibited. Those who campaigned for greater political participation or recognition of minorities' economic, social and cultural rights faced systematic threats, arrest and imprisonment.

  • In September, four Ahwazi Arabs held since June 2009 were reported to have been sentenced to death on charges including "enmity against God and corruption on earth".
  • Around 20 Azerbaijani activists arrested in May around the anniversary of mass demonstrations in 2006 against a cartoon in a state-run newspaper which many Azerbaijanis found insulting were released in November. Akbar Azad, a writer, remained held as his family could not meet the high bail set.
  • Mohammad Saber Malek Raisi, a Baluch youth aged 15 from Sarbaz, was reported in July to have been held without charge or trial since September 2009, possibly to force his elder brother to surrender to the authorities. In December, 11 Baluch men convicted after unfair trials were executed in Zahedan, apparently in retaliation for the PRMI bomb attack five days earlier.
  • Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, a Kurdish human rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was held between February and May, including 80 days in solitary confinement. His trial on national security charges began in October.
  • In October, Arash Saghar, a Turkmen activist in the election campaign of Mir Hossein Mousavi, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of "spying for Turkmenistan".

Freedom of religion

Members of religious minorities, including Christian converts, Sunni Muslims, dissident Shi'a clerics, and the Ahle Haq and Dervish communities, continued to suffer discrimination, harassment, arbitrary detention, and attacks on community property. Members of the Baha'i community, who remained unable to access higher education, faced increased persecution.