Annual Report: Iran 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Iran 2013

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  • Mohammad Ali Amouri and four other members of the Ahwazi Arab minority were sentenced to death in July on vague capital charges, including “enmity against God and corruption on earth”. They had already been in custody for up to a year because of their activism on behalf of the Ahwazi Arab community. At least four were reported to have been tortured and denied access to a lawyer. An appeal had not been heard by the end of the year.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The security forces continued to torture and otherwise ill-treat detainees with impunity. Commonly reported methods included beatings, mock execution, threats, confinement in small spaces and denial of adequate medical treatment.

  • Saeed Sedeghi, a shop worker sentenced to death for drug offences, was tortured in Evin Prison after his scheduled execution was postponed following international protests. He was hanged on 22 October.

At least eight deaths in custody may have resulted from torture, but none were independently investigated.

  • Sattar Beheshti, a blogger, died in the custody of the Cyber Police in November after lodging a complaint that he had been tortured. Contradictory statements by officials called into question the impartiality of a judicial investigation. His family were pressured by security forces to keep silent.

Discrimination against women

Women faced discrimination in law and practice in relation to marriage and divorce, inheritance, child custody, nationality and international travel. Women breaching a mandatory dress code faced expulsion from university. Some higher education centres introduced gender segregation, or restricted or barred women from studying certain subjects.

A Family Protection Bill that would increase discrimination remained under discussion. The draft Penal Code failed to address existing discrimination, maintaining, for example, that a woman's testimony holds half the value of that of a man.

  • Bahareh Hedayat, Mahsa Amrabadi and seven other women held at Evin Prison went on hunger strike in October to protest against humiliating body searches and the removal of personal possessions by guards. Subsequently, 33 women political prisoners signed an open letter calling body cavity searches a form of sexual abuse and demanding an apology from prison officials and an undertaking that they would not be subjected to further abuses.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

LGBTI people continued to face discrimination in law and practice.

Discrimination – ethnic minorities

Members of ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijanis, Baluch, Kurds and Turkmen, were discriminated against in law and practice, being denied access to employment, education and other economic, social and cultural rights on an equivalent basis with other Iranians. The use of minority languages in government offices and for teaching in schools remained prohibited. Activists campaigning for the rights of minorities faced official threats, arrest and imprisonment.

  • Jabbar Yabbari and at least 24 other Ahwazi Arabs were arrested in April during demonstrations commemorating a 2005 demonstration against discrimination.

The authorities failed to adequately protect Afghan refugees from attack and forced some to leave Iran. In Esfahan, local authorities banned Afghan nationals from entering a city park.

Azerbaijani activists criticized the Iranian authorities' response to the 11 August earthquake in Qaradagh, East Azerbaijan, calling it slow and inadequate, and accused them of downplaying the destruction caused and the number of lives lost while detaining some of those helping with relief efforts. In September, 16 minority activists received six-month suspended prison sentences for security-related convictions in connection with their relief work.