Amnesty International released its annual report on Wednesday, April 7, with a section on human rights abuses in Iran. In this report, with a sharp criticism of the human rights situation in Iran, it announced that the Iranian government in 2020 was increasingly using executions as a tool for political suppression of protesters and opponents and members of the minorities.
Execution, tool of suppression
Amnesty International said executions in Iran were being ordered in extremely unfair courts and a large number of the executed are from the Kurdish minority of Iran.
Amnesty International referred to the execution of the Ruholllah Zam, director of the Amad News telegram channel, and emphasized that the Iranian government uses executions as “weapon of political repression.” Amnesty International pointed to secret executions and executions of people who were under the age of 18.
According to the report: “The authorities continued to commit crimes against humanity by systematically concealing the fate and whereabouts of several thousand political dissidents forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret in 1988. Mass graves believed to contain their remains were subject to ongoing destruction.”
Breach of freedom of expression, association and assembly
In another part of the report, it pointed to the suppression of freedom of expression, illegal use of forces to suppress protesters and the arrest of hundreds of protesters, dissidents, and human rights defenders. Another part of this report pointed to institutional violence against women, ethnic and religious minorities, as well as forced disappearance, torture and other brutal and inhuman behaviors which are widespread and organized, and of course the impunity that exists for the preparators of such crimes.
“The Ministry of Interior as well as security and intelligence bodies continued to ban independent political parties, and human rights and civil society groups. Censorship of media and jamming of foreign satellite television channels continued. Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube remained blocked.
Hundreds of people remained arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their human rights. Among them were protesters, journalists, media workers, political dissidents, artists, writers and human rights defenders, including lawyers, women’s rights defenders, labour rights activists, minority rights activists, conservationists, anti-death penalty campaigners and those demanding truth, justice and reparation for the mass extrajudicial executions in the 1980s. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience were excluded from pardons and temporary releases.”
Downed Ukrainian airplane by the IRGC
Amnesty International referred in another part of its report to the Ukrainian aircraft which was shot downed by the Revolutionary Guards and the secrecy of the Iranian authorities from the beginning. In the following, it referred to the suppression of protesters who referred to this crime and wrote:
“In January, security forces used unlawful force, including firing pointed pellets from airguns, rubber bullets and tear gas, and using pepper spray, to disperse peaceful protesters demanding justice for the Ukrainian plane crash victims. They also kicked, punched and beat protesters and carried out scores of arbitrary arrests.”
Inability in dealing with COVID-19
Amnesty International assigned part of its report to the coronavirus and government officials’ behavior dealing with this epidemic. Amnesty International emphasized that the Iranian medical system was heavily stressed, and more than 300 medical employees has lost their lives. At the same time, government officials conducted measures to prevent the publication of independent reports and in order to silence criticism on its dealing with this epidemic.
Amnesty International referred to the fact that the Iranian Health Ministry provide the media a daily report about the victims and deaths by this disease, but there are serious doubts about the correctness of these statistics. Particularly, the Iranian Medical Education organization consider victims of three to four times official statistics.
The situation of prisons
Amnesty International assigned part of his report to prisons. Prison authorities and prosecutors deliberately deprive political and prisoners of conscience from medical care. The health status of prisoners remained brutal and inhuman in many prisons and detention centers. These conditions have placed more prisoners at risk of coronavirus disease.
The organization noted that at least 160 people were sentenced to flogging last year, several male prisoners lost their lives in suspicious conditions. Video evidence suggests that at least two of them were tortured before death.
The Iranian government has refused to accept the United Nations Special Reporter and other UN experts or independent human rights observers, and generally rejected their cooperation requests.
Unpredictable trials, broadcasting “torture-tainted confessions” from television, immunity of human rights violators from punishment. Disappearance and torture because of protests, are also other human rights violations, which has been addressed by Amnesty International. The organization emphasized that many detainees, including prisoners of consciousness, have been disappeared by keeping them in uncertain places and hiding them from their families.
Fate of the 1988 political prisoners’ massacre
Part of the annual report of Amnesty was dedicated to the continuation of the Iranian government’s secrecy about the fate and place of the 1988 massacre victims, and it described it as a crime against humanity.
“The authorities continued to commit the crime against humanity of enforced disappearance by systematically concealing the fate and whereabouts of several thousand political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret in 1988 and destroying unmarked mass gravesites believed to contain their remains.
Security and intelligence forces threatened victims’ families with arrest if they sought information about their loved ones, conducted commemorations or spoke out.
“Impunity prevailed for past and ongoing crimes against humanity related to the 1988 prison massacres, with many of those involved continuing to hold top judicial and government positions, including the current Head of the Judiciary and the Minister of Justice.”