Annual Report: Iran 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Iran 2013

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  • Reza Shahabi, treasurer of a bus workers' union detained since 2010, learned in February that he had been sentenced to six years' imprisonment for “gathering and colluding” against “state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. He was reported to be in poor health following torture and denial of prompt medical care.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Government critics and opponents were arbitrarily arrested and detained by security forces. They were held incommunicado for long periods and denied medical care. Many were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Tens were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials.

Dozens of peaceful government critics detained in connection with mass protests in 2009-2011 remained in prison or under house arrest throughout the year. Many were prisoners of conscience.

  • Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi and the latter's wife Zahra Rahnavard remained under house arrest imposed without a warrant in February 2011.
  • Mansoureh Behkish, a member of the human rights NGO Mothers of Laleh Park, was sentenced on appeal in July to six months in prison after being convicted of threatening national security “by establishing the Mourning Mothers group” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. She also received a 42-month suspended prison term. She remained free at the end of the year.
  • Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was among dozens of relief workers and human rights activists arrested at a camp for earthquake victims in East Azerbaijan province in August. A former prisoner of conscience serving a 15-year prison term imposed in 2010, he had been released on medical grounds seven weeks earlier, after paying a substantial bail. He said he was tortured after his rearrest at a Ministry of Intelligence facility in Tabriz. He was released in November.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders, including lawyers, trade unionists, minority rights activists and women's rights activists, continued to face harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and imprisonment after unfair trials. Many, including some sentenced after unfair trials in previous years, were prisoners of conscience. The authorities persistently harassed activists' families.

  • Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, a journalist and founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, continued serving a 10-and-a-half-year prison term because of his journalism and human rights activities. He went on hunger strike in May and July to protest against the authorities' refusal to allow him access to his gravely ill son, causing his own health to deteriorate. He was denied appropriate medical treatment.
  • Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer who formerly represented Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, continued serving a six-year prison term imposed in 2011 for “spreading propaganda against the system” and “membership of an illegal group aiming to harm national security”. A prisoner of conscience since 2010, she ended a 49-day hunger strike in December when the authorities agreed to lift restrictions against her 13-year-old daughter.
  • Lawyers Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Abdolfattah Soltani and Mohammad Seyfzadeh, co-founders of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), which was forcibly closed at the end of 2008, were held as prisoners of conscience at the end of the year. The CHRD's Executive Chair Narges Mohammadi was granted temporary medical leave from prison in July. In November, Abdolfattah Soltani's wife received a suspended sentence of one year and was banned from leaving Iran for five years in connection with a human rights award received by her husband.

Unfair trials

Political and other suspects continued to face grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary and Criminal Courts. They often faced vaguely worded charges that did not amount to recognizably criminal offences and were convicted, sometimes in the absence of defence lawyers, on the basis of “confessions” or other information allegedly obtained under torture. Courts accepted such “confessions” as evidence without investigating how they were obtained.