Iran Focus: An Amnesty International report published on Tuesday called on the global community “not to allow tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme or events in the wider region to distract it from pressing Iran to live up to its human rights obligations.”
An Amnesty International report published on Tuesday called on the global community “not to allow tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme or events in the wider region to distract it from pressing Iran to live up to its human rights obligations.”
The report entitled “we are ordered to crush you: expanding repression of dissent in Iran” details the increasing paranoia of the Iranian government and the disastrous consequences for the human rights of the people of Iran.
Ann Harrison, interim deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme stated that “In Iran today you put yourself at risk if you do anything that might fall outside the increasingly narrow confines of what the authorities deem socially or politically acceptable,”.
The Amnesty report stated that the government crackdown has invaded all corners of society particularly lawyers, students, journalists, film-makers, any one with international connections to the media, religious and ethnic minorities as well political activists and their families. The report singled out the heavy punishments endured by anyone suspected of being connected to the PMOI. The government of Iran considers the democratic desires of this organisation as the main threat to its brutal regime. The Islamic regime has executed relatives of the PMOI under the charge of “enmity against god” many others have been given long prison sentences.
The report went onto state that the regime currently holds around 70 relatives of PMOI members who are serving varying sentences. Many of the sentences that have been issued are based on these individuals having relatives in the PMOI. In particular the report highlighted that individuals who had relatives in Camp Ashraf Iraq were at a greater risk of being arrested.
The Iranian regime recently executed three members of the PMOI in December 2010 and January 2011. They were Ali Saremi, Ja’far Kazemi, Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei.
Student Ziaoddin (Zia) Nabavi was arrested on 14 June 2009 shortly after attending a mass Protest he was sentenced to 15 years for “gathering and colluding against national security he was also given 74 lashes. He stated that during his interrogation he was beaten, kicked insulted and humiliated. Amnesty international believes that his sentences was based on two factors his role in the Council to Defend the Right to Education a body set up in 2009 who are barred from further education due to their political beliefs. Secondly Mr Nabavi has relatives in Camp Ashraf Iraq.
The report highlighted further dual reasons for arbitrary arrests. The common theme in all these arrests was a connection to the PMOI.
The treasurer of Tehran Bus Drivers Union Reza Shahabi was arrested in February 2012 he was charged with spreading “propaganda against the system” he is currently awaiting the outcome of his trial. His arrest is the latest in a long line of arrests on union officials whose arrests are based on peaceful union activities and connections with the PMOI. The prosecution in the Reza Shahabi case is currently trying to bring a further charge of “enmity against god” due to connections with the PMOI.
Unions, as with many other social organisations which are focused on helping the rights of people in Iran, are regularly discriminated against and are repressed heavily.
The Amnesty international report went onto highlight the unfair nature of court cases and the farcical nature of how sentences are decided.
The report referred to an Iranian defence lawyer Behnam Daraeizadeh who stated: “It appears that the judges presiding over the political cases in the revolutionary courts are in effect mercenaries whose job is to execute security policies of the regime. Often these judges do not even possess proper knowledge or expertise regarding the content of the case they are presiding over, have not read the case file, and basically do not know much about the accused at all. In these court sessions, which are barely a few minutes long, the judges merely ask simple and formal questions (limited to the name and address of the accused, the charges and such), and do not probe to uncover the truth or social motivations of the accused.”
This dreadful record of human rights abuses which places Iran at the top of the world’s most brutal regimes highlighted the hypocrisy of the Islamic regime and its supposed support for revolutions in countries such as Egypt and Bahrain.
The run up to the parliamentary elections on the 02nd of March is a motivating factor in the increased repression of the Islamic regime. Iran’s mullahs have become increasingly worried that the Arab Spring will reach their shores and are violating the rights of their citizens to ensure this does not take place.
The increased clamp down of the regime comes against a backdrop of increased human rights abuses and public executions which are used to strike fear into the heart of Iranian society.
“For Iranians facing this level of repression, it can be dispiriting that discussions about their country in diplomatic circles can seem to focus mainly on the nuclear programme at the expense of human rights,” said Harrison.