Iran Human Rights

Amnesty International continues to document serious human rights violations in Iran including detention of human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, unfair trials, torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody and the application of the death penalty. Iran executes more people than any country in the world, other than China. Ethnic, religious and linguistic minority communities face persistent persecution. However, some signs of hope have appeared since the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. In September 2013, human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, on whose behalf Amnesty International activists and its partners campaigned since her arrest three years ago, was released from prison, along with other prisoners of conscience.

Human Rights Concerns

For the past several years, Iranian authorities have been engaged in the brutal repression of Iranian civil society. Targets include labor activists who seek to form independent trade unions, women’s rights activists, in particular those involved with the Campaign for Equality who work for equitable treatment under family law, students, journalists, bloggers, and those who advocate for cultural rights for Iran’s ethnic and linguistic minorities. Hundreds of people are in detention; many of those serving prison terms have been convicted in unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts on vague charges including “propaganda against the state” or “endangering the security of the state.” Iranian authorities have used these vague charges to suppress the right of its citizens to peaceful expression and association. The Iranian government has also endeavored to prevent Iranians from accessing information by blocking internet sites and even harassing the family members of journalists for BBC Persian and VOA Persian, which continue to broadcast news into Iran.


Many people have reported having been tortured in order to force them to make public confessions that can be used against them in legal proceedings. Some detainees – including Sattar Beheshti – have died in custody after being subjected to torture. Furthermore, Iran executes more people than any other country in the world except for China. Iran executed at least 544 people in 2012. Iran is also one of the handful of countries in the world that continue to execute juvenile offenders. Most of the people executed have been convicted of drug-related offenses while many executions are carried out in public.


Upcoming Iran Programs on Repression of Academic Freedom

In anticipation of Amnesty’s upcoming campaign on the persecution of students, scholars and scientists in Iran, AIUSA is holding two public programs: one at the New School University in New York on November 13 (in partnership with the New School’s Center for Public Scholarship, Scholars at Risk, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the other at Georgetown University in Washington on November 16 (in partnership with the Committee of Concerned Scientists, the American Physical Society, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran). Hundreds of students in Iran have been banned from continuing their higher education because of their political activities or involvement in peaceful expression of their opinions, while scholars are fired from their jobs or even imprisoned for their scholarly activities.

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Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi

Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and Cleric Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi are in Urgent Need of Medical Care

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Nowruz Action

The Persian holiday Nowruz (“new day”) is an ancient holiday celebrated on the first day of spring to welcome in the new year. On this Nowruz we want to remember several courageous prisoners of conscience in Iran with Nowruz greetings. Please send cards with Nowruz greetings to let our imprisoned friends know we are thinking of them at this time.

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Baha’i Community Leaders

The seven Baha’is – two women and five men – were sentenced to twenty years in prison on 7 August 2010, They are prisoners of conscience, persecuted solely for exercising their right to freedom of religion. The estimated 300,000 members of Iran’s Baha’i community-Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority-are subjected to systematic persecution, including the exclusion from higher education.

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Iran Newsroom

March 5, 2019 • Press Release

Iran: Release eight wildlife conservationists following unfair trial on trumped-up spying charges

Wildlife conservationists in Iran who have been accused of espionage after using cameras to track endangered species could face the death penalty or more than a decade in prison, said Amnesty International, ahead of a verdict in their case in the coming days. The eight scientists, who work with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, were …

February 26, 2019 • Report

Human rights in the Middle East and North Africa: A review of 2018

The international community’s chilling complacency towards wide-scale human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has emboldened governments to commit appalling violations during 2018 by giving them the sense that they need never fear facing justice, said Amnesty International as it published a review of human rights in the region last year. …

January 23, 2019 • Press Release

Iran’s ‘year of shame’: More than 7,000 arrested in chilling crackdown on dissent during 2018

The Iranian authorities carried out a shameless campaign of repression during 2018, crushing protests and arresting thousands in a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, said Amnesty International, a year after a wave of protests against poverty, corruption and authoritarianism erupted across the country. The organization has today revealed staggering new figures showing the extent of the …

December 9, 2018 • Report

Oppressive, sexist policies galvanize bold fight for women’s rights in 2018

Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state of human rights over the past year. The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and …

December 4, 2018 • Report

Iran committing crimes against humanity by concealing fate of thousands of slaughtered political dissidents

By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a damning report published today. The report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity …

November 30, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty and Sofar Sounds partner for Write for Rights concert and letter writing event

On Saturday, December 8, human rights organization Amnesty International USA in partnership with live music events startup Sofar Sounds will host a powerful evening of collective action along with an intimate concert experience in New York City. The event, Write for Rights, is aimed at securing justice for women human rights defenders under threat and …

November 28, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International launches world’s biggest human rights campaign

Women human rights defenders around the world are facing unprecedented levels of abuse, intimidation and violence, said Amnesty International as it launched its global Write for Rights campaign, in a bid to shine a spotlight on brave women who have been harassed, jailed, tortured or even killed for their human rights work. Women continue to …

October 2, 2018 • Press Release

Iran: Victim of domestic and sexual violence, arrested as a child, is executed after unfair trial

Responding to the horrific news that 24-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Zeinab Sekaanvand was executed early this morning in Urumieh central prison, West Azerbaijan province, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “The execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand is a sickening demonstration of the Iranian authorities’ disregard for …

September 4, 2018 • Press Release

Iran: Husband of hunger-striking human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh arrested

Responding to the arrest in Iran this morning of Reza Khandan, the husband of prominent jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said: “First the authorities jail Nasrin Sotoudeh on bogus charges, then harass, intimidate and threaten her family and friends, …

August 23, 2018 • Press Release


Responding to news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been granted a three-day “furlough” release from Evin Prison in Iran, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: “This is welcome news and a much-needed respite for Nazanin. “We hope two things will now happen – first, that this three-day period will be extended, but far more importantly …