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On Thursday, February 13th a group of Iranian set up a tent and from 15th of February at 00:00 some of them started a hunger strike and the rest of them began a sit-down strike. They want to demonstrate against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the regimes brutal behavior with the Iranian people. They want to be the voice of all Iranian asylum seekers around the world and they are asking the European countries to support them.

You can read more about asylum strike in Sweden.

Please show your support by signing their petition!

You can find them in Facebook, Instagram and Telegram.

 

 

Pastor gick i god för konvertitens tro – Migrationsverket utelämnade vittnesmål

Strax innan jul fick en iransk konvertit avslag på sin asylansökan. Men pastorn som döpte honom i Sverige hävdar att Migrationsdomstolens återgivning av vittnesmålet är felaktigt.

”Jag vittnade om att jag träffade dig vid många tillfällen i kyrkans gemenskap, och att det i dessa möten och samtal blivit tydligt att du har en djup kristen övertygelse. … Domen återger också felaktigt vad de två samtalen handlat om i samband med dop/medlemskap. … Dessa samtal är något vi har med alla som vill låta sig bli döpt. Det är det slutgiltiga säkerställandet av det som vi sedan tidigare, i kyrkans gemenskap, har förstått. … Vi säkerställer att man har en egen personlig tro och en djup övertygelse.”

Sven Bengtsson avslutar med att konstatera att det är förvånande att Migrationsdomstolen kan dra slutsatsen att det inte har skett några djupare samtal ”när hela mitt vittnesmål handlar om att det är just det vi har haft”.

Arash Khosravi: “min klient har haft en utmärkt förmåga att berätta om sin personliga tro och kristendomens teoretiska del inför domstolen. Mot bakgrund av detta har två av nämndemännen bedömt att hans konvertering till kristendomen skett på genuin grund och att han därför riskerar att utsättas för förföljelse vid ett återvändande till Iran där konvertering från islam är förbjudet. Eftersom både min klients och Sven Bengtssons muntliga uppgifter är felaktigt återgivna i domen och domarna har varit djupt oeniga i sin bedömning av de muntliga uppgifter som har lämnats, så väcker det naturligtvis betänkligheter kring om domstolens avgörande uppfyller de rättssäkerhetskrav som ställs i svensk domstol på saklighet och objektivitet”.

Scores injured as security forces use unlawful force to crush protests

Verified video footage, photographs and testimonies from victims and eyewitnesses on the ground obtained by Amnesty International confirm that Iranian security forces used unlawful force against peaceful protesters who gathered across Iran following the authorities’ admission that they had shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane on 8 January.

The evidence indicates that on 11 and 12 January security forces fired pointed pellets from airguns, usually used for hunting, at peaceful protesters causing bleeding and painful injuries. Security forces also used rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse protesters as well as kicking and punching them, beating them with batons and carrying out arbitrary arrests.

“It is appalling that Iran’s security forces have violently crushed peaceful vigils and protests by people demanding justice for the 176 passengers killed on the plane and expressing their anger at the Iranian authorities’ initial cover-up,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The use of unlawful force in the latest demonstrations is part of a long-standing pattern by Iranian security forces.”

Unlawful use of force

Testimonies and photographs obtained by Amnesty International indicate that security forces fired pointed pellets, causing painful wounds and requiring surgical treatment to remove the pellets, as well as injuries consistent with rubber bullet use. Such pellets are used for hunting small game and are completely inappropriate for use in any policing situation.

The organization’s Digital Verification Corps also verified dozens of videos showing security forces firing tear gas into crowds of peaceful protesters.

Security forces deployed on the streets, included the special forces of Iran’s police, paramilitary Basij and plain-clothes agents.

One of the videos verified by Amnesty International shows two women in Tehran lying injured and bleeding on the ground. In another video recorded nearby, a woman is seen lying on the ground in a pool of blood crying out in pain. The people helping them in the videos are heard saying they have been shot. Amnesty International has not been able to establish what type of ammunition was used to cause these injuries.

Another video shows a man with a bleeding head wound. Two X-rays obtained by Amnesty International clearly show pellets lodged in the knee joint of one protester and the ankle of another.

Amnesty International has also verified images of security forces carrying shotguns, but it is unclear what type of ammunition was loaded in them.

The organization has received messages from several injured protesters who shared photographs showing their wounds and said they did not seek hospital treatment to remove the pointed pellets that remain painfully lodged in their bodies, fearing arrest.

Security and intelligence forces are maintaining a heavy presence in some hospitals raising fears they plan to arrest patients. Amnesty International has also received information that security forces have tried to transfer some injured protesters to military hospitals. Some medical clinics and hospitals in Tehran have turned away injured people, telling them that, if the security and intelligence forces find out they were among the protesters, they will be arrested.

One man from Maali Abad in Shiraz, Fars province, who said he went to light a candle in solidarity with the plane crash victims on 12 January, said security forces outnumbered the crowd and created a “terrifying and intimidating atmosphere to frighten people away”.

“They were swearing at and beating everyone with batons all over their bodies, it didn’t matter if they were just passing by. It didn’t make any difference to them if they beat young or old, man or woman,” he said, adding that security forces also fired tear gas into the crowd. He was injured but did not seek hospital treatment for fear of arrest.

Another eyewitness, Mahsa from Tehran, described how security forces fired tear gas into the entrance hall of a metro station to stop people leaving to join the protest.

“There was so much tear gas… I was so mentally stressed and anxious that I initially didn’t even realize that I had been shot… The special forces of the police were firing pointed pellets at people. My coat is now filled with holes and I have bruises on my body… The streets were filled with armed plain-clothes agents firing shots into the air and threating to shoot people… A member of the security forces chased me when they saw me filming the protest and that’s when I was shot in the leg with a pointed pellet… I’m in a lot of pain,” she said.

Mahsa added that the authorities had threatened doctors and that she had been turned away by three medical centres and even a veterinary clinic where she sought treatment. On 14 January, she was told by a doctor in a hospital in Tehran that she had to leave the hospital immediately because, if the intelligence department (Herasat) of the hospital found out that she was among the protesters, she would be arrested.

“The situation in Iran right now is even more painful than death. They are killing us slowly; they are torturing us to death,” she said.

In several videos taken inside Shademan metro station in Tehran, people are heard saying that security forces fired tear gas inside the station. Tear gas canisters are indiscriminate and can result in serious injury and even death, especially when used in an enclosed space. They should only ever be used in a targeted response to specific acts of violence and never to disperse peaceful protesters. They must also never be used in a confined space.

In many cases the actions by the security forces violated the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.

Arbitrary arrests

There are reports that scores of people, including university students, have been arrested in cities where protests have taken place, including Ahvaz in Khuzestan province; Esfahan, Esfahan province, Zanjan, Zanjan province; Amol and Babol, Mazandaran province; Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan province; Kermanshah, Kermanshah province; Sanandaj, Kurdistan province; Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province; Shiraz, Fars province; Tabriz, East Azerbaijan province; and Tehran.

Amnesty International has received information that, in at least two cities, Amol and Tehran, the authorities are denying the families of some detainees information about their fate and whereabouts, amounting to the crime of enforced disappearance under international law.

The organization also received shocking allegations of sexual violence against at least one woman arbitrarily arrested by plain-clothes security agents and detained for several hours in a police station. According to an informed source, while in detention, the woman was taken to a room where she was questioned by a security official who forced her to perform oral sex on him and attempted to rape her.

“Iran’s security forces have once again carried out a reprehensible attack on the rights of Iranian people to peaceful expression and assembly and resorted to unlawful and brutal tactics,” said Philip Luther.

“The Iranian authorities must end the repression as a matter of urgency and ensure the security forces exercise maximum restraint and respect protesters’ rights to peaceful expression and assembly. Detainees must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment and all those who have been arbitrarily detained must be released.”

Background

The protests began on 11 January after the Iranian authorities admitted to having unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian plane, following three days of denials, at first attributing the plane crash to mechanical failure. The protests quickly expanded to include anti-establishment slogans and demands for transformation of the country’s political system, including a constitutional referendum and an end to the Islamic Republic system.

These protests follow a bloody crackdown that saw more than 300 protesters killed and thousands arrested between 15 and 18 November 2019 when Iranian security forces resorted to lethal force. Amnesty International has called on member states of the UN Human Rights Council to hold a special session on Iran to mandate an inquiry into the unlawful killings of protesters, horrifying wave of arrests, enforced disappearances and torture of detainees, with a view to ensuring accountability.

World report 2020: Iran, Human Rights Watch

In 2019, Iran’s judiciary dramatically increased the cost of peaceful dissent, sentencing dozens of human rights defenders to decades-long prison sentences. Repressive domestic security agencies, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization, continue to suppress civil society activists, such as detained environmentalists, including through reported abuse and torture in detention. As broad United States sanctions impact the country’s economy and Iranians’ access to essential medicines, authorities maintain a tight grip over peaceful assembly, particularly labor-related protests.

Right to Peaceful Assembly and Free Expression

Iranian authorities brutally repressed nationwide protests that erupted after the increase of fuel prices on November 25. Video footage and eyewitness accounts that emerged after a near total government shutdown of the internet in the country show security forces directly targeting protesters who posed no threat to life. According to Amnesty International, as of December 4, at least 208 people had reportedly been killed in the protests, and a member of the parliament estimated that security forces had arrested about 7,000 people. As of December 4, the government has refused to announce the total number of deaths, and detainees remained at great risk of mistreatment.

Iran’s judiciary and security agencies continue to use vaguely defined provisions in the penal code to arrest and prosecute activists for peaceful assembly and free expression.

On January 20, authorities arrested Ismael Bakhshi, a prominent labor activist, and Sepideh Gholian, a journalist and labor activist, after they alleged that they had been tortured when they were detained in the aftermath of sugarcane factory labor protests in November 2018. On September 7, rights groups reported that branch 26 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced Bakhshi and Gholian to 14 years and 19 years and 6 months respectively for their peaceful activism. The court also sentenced Amir Amirgholi, Sanaz Allahyari, Asal Mohammadi, and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, members of the editorial board of a labor-related online forum called Gam, who have also been detained since January, to 18 years each in prison on similar charges. If the verdicts are upheld, each of the six labor rights defenders will have to serve at least seven years of their prison sentence. In October, authorities temporarily released the labor activists until the court of appeal issues a verdict in their case.

On May 1, plainclothes police arrested at least 35 activists who had gathered in front of the Iranian parliament in a peaceful demonstration organized by independent labor organizations. Most were released on bail, but in August branch 28 of Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced Atefeh Rangriz, an activist, and Marizeh Amiri, a journalist, both of whom have been detained since May, to 11 years and 6 months in prison with 74 lashes and 10 years and 6 months in prison with 148 lashes, respectively. If the sentences are upheld, Rangriz and Amiri must serve at least seven-and-a-half and six years of their sentences in prison, respectively. In October, authorities released Rangiz and Amir temporarily until the court of appeal issues a verdict in their case.

On August 24, a lawyer reported that branch 15 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced Kioomars Marzban, a 26-year-old satirist, to 23 years in prison on charges including “cooperating with an enemy state.” Marzan has also been convicted of insulting authorities and sacred beliefs. If his sentence is upheld, he will serve 11 years.

In August, authorities also arrested at least 16 activists in Tehran and Mashhad who had called for resignation of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, in an open letter.

Death Penalty and Inhumane Punishment

According to rights groups, Iran had executed at least 227 people as of November 1, compared to 253 in 2017.

The decrease in the total number of executions over the past two years is largely due to a 2017 amendment to Iran’s drug law that increased the requirements for imposing the death penalty for drug-related charges.

The judiciary also executed one person below the age 18 and at least 2 individuals who were sentenced to death for crimes they allegedly committed as children. Under Iran’s current penal code, judges can use their discretion not to sentence to death individuals who committed their alleged crime as children. However, several individuals who were retried under the penal code for crimes they allegedly committed as children have been sentenced to death again.

Iranian law considers acts such as “insulting the prophet,” “apostasy,” same-sex relations, adultery, and certain non-violent drug-related offenses as crimes punishable by death. The law also prescribes the inhumane punishment of flogging for more than 100 offenses, including the “disrupting public order” charge that has been used to sentence individuals for their participation in peaceful assemblies.

Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society Activists

Scores of human rights advocates, including Narges Mohammadi and Atena Daemi, remain behind bars for their peaceful activism.

On March 11, authorities sentenced Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes for her peaceful activism, including defending women who protested compulsory hijab laws. On April 23, the court of appeal upheld the sentence. Sotoudeh, who has been detained since June 2018, will have to serve at least 12 years in prison.

Since January 2018, authorities have detained environmentalists Houman Jokar, Sam Rajabi, Taher Ghadirian, Morad Tahbaz, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Sepideh Kashani, Niloufar Bayani and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, all members of a local biodiversity conservation group, on accusations of espionage. Another environmentalist arrested at the time, Kavous Seyed Emami, a Canadian-Iranian professor and environmentalist, died in detention in February 2018.

While Iranian authorities claimed that he committed suicide, they have not conducted an impartial investigation into his death and placed a travel ban on his wife, Maryam Mombeini, until October. During a trial session in February 2019, Niloufar Bayani stated in the courtroom that the detained environmentalists faced psychological torture and were coerced into making false confessions. Authorities have not publicly provided any evidence concerning any of the detained environmentalists’ alleged crimes, while several senior Iranian government officials have said that they did not find any evidence to suggest that the detained activists are spies.

Due Process Rights and Fair Trial Standards

On March 7, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raeesi, who served on a four-person committee that ordered the execution of several thousand political prisoners in 1988, to lead Iran’s judicial branch. Iranian courts, and particularly the revolutionary courts, regularly fall far short of providing fair trials and use confessions likely obtained under torture as evidence in court. Authorities routinely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel, particularly during the investigation period.

Several individuals charged with national security crimes, as well as human rights defenders Arash Sadeghi and Saeed Shirzad, suffered from a lack of adequate access to medical care in detention.

The IRGC’s Intelligence Organization continues to arrest Iranian dual and foreign nationals on vague charges such as “cooperating with a hostile state.” At least a dozen of these individuals remain behind bars, deprived of due process, and are routinely subjected to pro-government media smear campaigns.

Women’s Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

Iranian women face discrimination in personal status matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody. A married woman may not obtain a passport or travel outside the country without the written permission of her husband. Under the civil code, a husband is accorded the right to choose the place of living and can prevent his wife from having certain occupations if he deems them against “family values.”

Iranian women, unlike men, cannot pass on their nationality to their foreign-born spouses or their children. However, after more than a decade of women’s rights activism, on October 2, the Guardian Council, a body of 12 Islamic jurists, finally approved an amended law that the Iranian parliament had passed on March 13, that now allows Iranian women married to men with foreign nationality to request Iranian citizenship for their children under age 18. A child who has already turned 18 could directly request Iranian citizenship. The law, however, required the Intelligence Ministry and the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to certify that there is no “security problem” before approving citizenship.

On June 26, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion that obliged the state compensation fund to pay the difference in Diya, a compensation paid to a victim’s family, between men and women in cases of death and bodily injuries.

Over the past two years, Iranian courts have handed down harsh sentences to dozens of women who protested compulsory hijab laws in Iran, as well as well-known human rights defenders, including Farhad Meysami and Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh’s husband, who supported their efforts.

On July 31, branch 31 of Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced Yasman Ariani, her mother Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz, who were all arrested for protesting compulsory hijab laws, to 5 years for “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” one year for “propaganda against the state,” and 10 years for “encouraging and providing for [moral] corruption and prostitution.” The court sentenced Keshavarz to an additional seven-and-a-half years for “insulting the sacred.” If these sentences are upheld on appeal, each woman will serve at least 10 years of their sentence.

On August 27, the court sentenced Saba Kordafshari, a 22-year-old woman who was also arrested for protesting compulsory hijab, to 15 years in prison for “encouraging and providing for [moral] corruption and prostitution,” seven-and-a-half years for “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” and one-and-a-half years for “propaganda against the state.” If the sentences are upheld, she will have to serve at least 15 years.

On September 2, Sahar Khodayari, a 29-year-old woman who was arrested in March when she tried to enter a stadium to watch a football game, set herself on fire in front of the court after she was threatened with a six-month imprisonment. Khodayari was reportedly charged with “wearing improper hijab” and “confrontation with the police.” Her death sparked domestic and international outcry with activists as well as football players calling on the International Football Federation (FIFA) to pressure Iran to overturn the ban against women attending stadiums. On October 10, Iranian authorities allowed a limited number of seats for women—around 3,000 out of 85,000 in the stadium—for an international football match. Despite this important advance, the general ban on women attending Iran’s national league games remains.

Iranian law allows girls to marry at 13 and boys at age 15, as well as at younger ages if authorized by a judge. Efforts by a number of parliamentarians to increase the minimum age of marriage have been blocked by the judicial parliamentary commission.

Iranian law vaguely defines what constitutes acts against morality, and authorities have long prosecuted hundreds of people for such acts, as well as for consensual extramarital sex.

Under Iranian law, same-sex conduct is punishable by flogging and, for men, the death penalty. Although Iran permits and subsidizes sex reassignment surgery for transgender people, no law prohibits discrimination against them.

Treatment of Minorities

Iranian law denies freedom of religion to Baha’is and discriminates against them. Authorities continue to arrest and prosecute members of the Baha’i faith on vague national security charges, and close down or suspend licenses for businesses owned by them.  Iranian authorities also systematically refuse to allow Baha’is to register at public universities because of their faith.

The government also discriminates against other religious minorities, including Sunni Muslims, and restricts cultural and political activities among the country’s Azeri, Kurdish, Arab, and Baluch ethnic minorities.

Disability Rights

People with disabilities face stigma, discrimination, and lack of accessibility when accessing social services, healthcare, and public transportation and may receive medical treatment, including electroshock therapy, without their informed consent. Local and national authorities have taken insufficient steps to address the situation.

During the 2018-2019 school year, only 150,000 out of an estimated 1.5 million children with disabilities of school age were enrolled in school, based on government figures, and more than half of them in special schools that segregated them from other students. Estimates put the total number of school-age children with disabilities in Iran at 1.5 million. One serious problem is a mandatory government medical test that deems some children with disabilities “uneducable” and excluded them from education all together. Other barriers include physical inaccessibility of school buildings, discriminatory attitudes of school staff, and lack of adequate training for teachers and school administrators in inclusive education methods.

Key International Actors

The United States has increasingly targeted Iran with broad economic sanctions. While the US government has built exemptions for humanitarian imports into its sanction regime, banking restrictions have drastically constrained the ability of Iranian entities to finance such humanitarian imports, including vital medicines and medical equipment, causing serious hardships for ordinary Iranians.

In February, European Union foreign ministers adopted conclusions reaffirming support for and commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action over Iran’s nuclear activities, and expressing concerns about the human rights situation in Iran. In April, the EU renewed for one year its targeted sanctions responding to human rights violations in Iran, which are in place since 2011.

In March and in September, the European Parliament adopted resolutions on the human rights situation in Iran, focusing on human rights defenders, women’s rights, and the situation of dual nationals in Iran. The resolutions called for the release of arbitrarily detained activists, as well as an amendment to article 48 of the country’s Criminal Procedure Law to ensure that all defendants have the right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice and to a fair trial.

 

Iran’s leader ordered crackdown on unrest – ‘Do whatever it takes to end it’

(Reuters) – After days of protests across Iran last month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared impatient. Gathering his top security and government officials together, he issued an order: Do whatever it takes to stop them.

That order, confirmed by three sources close to the supreme leader’s inner circle and a fourth official, set in motion the bloodiest crackdown on protesters since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.

The toll of 1,500 is significantly higher than figures from international human rights groups and the United States. A Dec. 16 report by Amnesty International said the death toll was at least 304. The U.S. State Department, in a statement to Reuters, said it estimates that many hundreds of Iranians were killed, and has seen reports that number could be over 1,000.

The figures provided to Reuters, said two of the Iranian officials who provided them, are based on information gathered from security forces, morgues, hospitals and coroner’s offices.

The government spokesman’s office declined to comment on whether the orders came from Khamenei and on the Nov. 17 meeting. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

In a statement Monday following publication of this article, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council described the death toll figure as “fake news,” according to semi-official Tasnim news agency.

What began as scattered protests over a surprise increase in gasoline prices quickly spread into one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

By Nov. 17, the second day, the unrest had reached the capital Tehran, with people calling for an end to the Islamic Republic and the downfall of its leaders. Protesters burned pictures of Khamenei and called for the return of Reza Pahlavi, the exiled son of the toppled Shah of Iran, according to videos posted on social media and eye witnesses.

That evening at his official residence in a fortified compound in central Tehran, Khamenei met with senior officials, including security aides, President Hassan Rouhani and members of his cabinet.

At the meeting, described to Reuters by the three sources close to his inner circle, the 80-year-old leader, who has final say over all state matters in the country, raised his voice and expressed criticism of the handling of the unrest. He was also angered by the burning of his image and the destruction of a statue of the republic’s late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“The Islamic Republic is in danger. Do whatever it takes to end it. You have my order,” the supreme leader told the group, one of the sources said.

Khamenei said he would hold the assembled officials responsible for the consequences of the protests if they didn’t immediately stop them. Those who attended the meeting agreed the protesters aimed to bring down the regime.

“The enemies wanted to topple the Islamic Republic and immediate reaction was needed,” one of the sources said.

The fourth official, who was briefed on the Nov. 17 meeting, added that Khamenei made clear the demonstrations required a forceful response.

“Our Imam,” said the official, referring to Khamenei, “only answers to God. He cares about people and the Revolution. He was very firm and said those rioters should be crushed.”

Tehran’s clerical rulers have blamed “thugs” linked to the regime’s opponents in exile and the country’s main foreign foes, namely the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, for stirring up unrest. Khamenei has described the unrest as the work of a “very dangerous conspiracy.”

A Dec. 3 report on Iran’s state television confirmed that security forces had fatally shot citizens, saying “some rioters were killed in clashes.” Iran has given no official death toll and has rejected figures as “speculative.”

“The aim of our enemies was to endanger the existence of the Islamic Republic by igniting riots in Iran,” said the commander-in-chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hossein Salami, last month, according to Iranian media.

The Revolutionary Guards declined to comment for this report.

Iran’s interior minister said on Nov. 27 more than 140 government sites had been set on fire along with hundreds of banks and dozens of petrol stations, while 50 bases used by security forces were also attacked, according to remarks reported by Iran’s state news agency IRNA. The minister said up to 200,000 people took part in the unrest nationwide.

“SMELL OF GUNFIRE AND SMOKE”

For decades, Islamic Iran has tried to expand its influence across the Middle East, from Syria to Iraq and Lebanon, by investing Tehran’s political and economic capital and backing militias. But now it faces pressure at home and abroad.

In recent months, from the streets of Baghdad to Beirut, protesters have been voicing anger at Tehran, burning its flag and chanting anti-Iranian regime slogans. At home, the daily struggle to make ends meet has worsened since the United States reimposed sanctions after withdrawing last year from the nuclear deal that Iran negotiated with world powers in 2015.

The protests erupted after a Nov. 15 announcement on state media that gas prices would rise by as much as 200% and the revenue would be used to help needy families.

Within hours, hundreds of people poured into the streets in places including the northeastern city of Mashhad, the southeastern province of Kerman and the southwestern province of Khuzestan bordering Iraq, according to state media. That night, a resident of the city Ahvaz in Khuzestan described the scene by telephone to Reuters.

“Riot police are out in force and blocking main streets,” the source said. “I heard shooting.” Videos later emerged on social media and state television showing footage of clashes in Ahvaz and elsewhere between citizens and security forces.

The protests reached more than 100 cities and towns and turned political. Young and working-class demonstrators demanded clerical leaders step down. In many cities, a similar chant rang out: “They live like kings, people get poorer,” according to videos on social media and witnesses.

By Nov. 18 in Tehran, riot police appeared to be randomly shooting at protesters in the street “with the smell of gunfire and smoke everywhere,” said a female Tehran resident reached by telephone. People were falling down and shouting, she added, while others sought refuge in houses and shops.

The mother of a 16-year-old boy described holding his body, drenched in blood, after he was shot during protests in a western Iranian town on Nov. 19. Speaking on condition of anonymity, she described the scene in a telephone interview.

“I heard people saying: ‘He is shot, he is shot,’” said the mother. “I ran toward the crowd and saw my son, but half of his head was shot off.” She said she urged her son, whose first name was Amirhossein, not to join the protests, but he didn’t listen.

Iranian authorities deployed lethal force at a far quicker pace from the start than in other protests in recent years, according to activists and details revealed by authorities. In 2009, when millions protested against the disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an estimated 72 people were killed. And when Iran faced waves of protests over economic hardships in 2017 and 2018, the death toll was about 20 people, officials said.

Khamenei, who has ruled Iran for three decades, turned to his elite forces to put down the recent unrest — the Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated Basij religious militia.

A senior member of the Revolutionary Guards in western Kermanshah province said the provincial governor handed down instructions at a late-night emergency meeting at his office on Nov. 18.

“We had orders from top officials in Tehran to end the protests, the Guards member said, recounting the governor’s talk. “No more mercy. They are aiming to topple the Islamic Republic. But we will eradicate them.” The governor’s office declined to comment.

As security forces fanned out across the country, security advisors briefed Khamenei on the scale of the unrest, according to the three sources familiar with the talks at his compound.

The interior minister presented the number of casualties and arrests. The intelligence minister and head of the Revolutionary Guards focused on the role of opposition groups. When asked about the interior and intelligence minister’s role in the meeting, the government spokesman’s office declined to comment.

Khamenei, the three sources said, was especially concerned with anger in small working-class towns, whose lower-income voters have been a pillar of support for the Islamic Republic. Their votes will count in February parliamentary elections, a litmus test of the clerical rulers’ popularity since U.S. President Donald Trump exited Iran’s nuclear deal — a step that has led to an 80% collapse in Iran’s oil exports since last year.

Squeezed by sanctions, Khamenei has few resources to tackle high inflation and unemployment. According to official figures, the unemployment rate is around 12.5% overall. But it is about double that for Iran’s millions of young people, who accuse the establishment of economic mismanagement and corruption. Khamenei and other officials have called on the judiciary to step up its fight against corruption.

“BLOOD ON THE STREETS”

Officials in four provinces said the message was clear — failure to stamp out the unrest would encourage people to protest in the future.

A local official in Karaj, a working-class city near the capital, said there were orders to use whatever force was necessary to end the protests immediately. “Orders came from Tehran,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Push them back to their homes, even by shooting them.” Local government officials declined to comment.

Residents of Karaj said they came under fire from rooftops as Revolutionary Guards and police on motorcycles brandished machine guns. “There was blood everywhere. Blood on the streets,” said one resident by telephone. Reuters could not independently verify that account.

In Mahshahr county, in the strategically important Khuzestan province in southwest Iran, Revolutionary Guards in armored vehicles and tanks sought to contain the demonstrations. State TV said security forces opened fire on “rioters” hiding in the marshes. Rights groups said they believe Mahshahr had one of the highest protest death tolls in Iran, based on what they heard from locals.

“The next day when we went there, the area was full of bodies of protesters, mainly young people. The Guards did not let us take the bodies,” the local official said, estimating that “dozens” were killed.

The U.S. State Department has said it has received videos of the Revolutionary Guards opening fire without warning on protesters in Mahshahr. And that when protesters fled to nearby marshlands, the Guards pursued them and surrounded them with machine guns mounted on trucks, spraying the protesters with bullets and killing at least 100 Iranians.

Iran’s authorities dispute the U.S. account. Iranian officials have said security forces in Mahshahr confronted “rioters” who they described as a security threat to petrochemical complexes and to a key energy route that, if blocked, would have created a crisis in the country.

A security official told Reuters that the reports about Mahshahr are “exaggerated and not true” and that security forces were defending “people and the country’s energy facilities in the city from sabotage by enemies and rioters.”

In Isfahan, an ancient city of two million people in central Iran, the government’s vow to help low-income families with money raised from higher gas prices failed to reassure people like Behzad Ebrahimi. He said his 21-year-old nephew, Arshad Ebrahimi, was fatally shot during the crackdown.

“Initially they refused to give us the body and wanted us to bury him with others killed in the protests,” Ebrahimi said. “Eventually we buried him ourselves, but under the heavy presence of security forces.” Rights activists confirmed the events. Reuters was unable to get comment from the government or the local governor on the specifics of the account.

 

More than 100 protesters believed to be killed as top officials give green light to crush protests

Verified video footage, eyewitness testimony from people on the ground and information gathered from human rights activists outside Iran reveal a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings by Iranian security forces, which have used excessive and lethal force to crush largely peaceful protests in more than 100 cities across Iran sparked by a hike in fuel prices on 15 November, said Amnesty International today.

At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, according to credible reports received by Amnesty International. The organization believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed. State media have reported only a handful of protester deaths, as well as the deaths of at least four members of the security forces.

Video footage shows security forces using firearms, water cannons and tear gas to disperse protests and beating demonstrators with batons. Images of bullet casings left on the ground afterwards, as well as the resulting high death toll, indicate that they used live ammunition.

“The authorities must end this brutal and deadly crackdown immediately and show respect for human life,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy.”

Top government officials including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have issued statements describing protesters as “villains” and giving security forces a green light to crush demonstrations.

Under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Amnesty International is also calling on the Iranian authorities to respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including through lifting the near-total block on internet access designed to restrict the flow of information about the crackdown to the outside world.

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads, using their parked cars as a form of protest. Verified video footage reviewed by Amnesty International shows riot police smashing windows of cars with drivers still inside.

According to eyewitness accounts corroborated by video footage reviewed by Amnesty International, snipers have also shot into crowds of people from rooftops and, in one case, a helicopter.

While most of the demonstrations appear to have been peaceful, in some instances, as the crackdown by security forces escalated, a small number of protesters turned to stone-throwing and acts of arson and damage to banks and seminaries.

“Even if a small minority of protesters have resorted to violence, police must always exercise restraint and use no more force than is strictly necessary, proportionate and lawful in response to the violence they are facing. Violence by a few individuals does not justify a widespread reckless response,” said Philip Luther.

Several eyewitnesses have said that security forces have been taking away dead bodies and injured people from roads and hospitals. In a pattern consistent with past practices, intelligence and security forces have refused to return the bodies of many of the victims to their families or have forced families to bury their loved ones in a rushed manner and without an independent autopsy to establish the causes and circumstances surrounding the deaths. This is contrary to international law and standards on the investigation of unlawful killings.

State media reported that, as of 17 November, more than 1,000 protesters had been arrested since the protests began.

Among those detained is human rights defender Sepideh Gholian, who was arrested on 17 November after taking part in the protests by peacefully holding up a sign about the petrol prices. Her whereabouts are currently unknown and Amnesty International fears that she is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, in light of the authorities appalling track record of torturing detained human rights defenders.

“Anyone detained solely for peacefully taking part in demonstrations, expressing support for them or criticizing the authorities must be immediately and unconditionally released. All detainees must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment,” said Philip Luther.

The organization is calling for immediate action from the international community, including the UN and the EU, to hold the Iranian authorities to account for carrying out unlawful killings and violently repressing the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Internet shutdown

On 16 November, less than a day after the protests began, the authorities implemented an ongoing near-total shutdown of the internet, shutting off nearly all means of online communications for people inside Iran. The resulting information blackout is a deliberate attempt by the authorities to prevent people from sharing images and videos of the deadly force being used by security forces.

According to the NGO NetBlocks, Iran’s connectivity to the outside world has fallen to 4% of ordinary levels since the protests began. All mobile networks have been disconnected and there is a near-total national internet and telecommunication blackout, although some users have still been able to access the internet through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other means.

“Shutting down communications over the internet is a systematic assault on the right to freedom of expression and suggests that the authorities have something to hide. Iranian authorities must immediately lift all restrictions on access to the internet and social media to allow people to share information and freely express their opinions,” said Philip Luther.

Systematic and co-ordinated crackdown

Various government officials including the Supreme Leader, president and head of the judiciary have demonized the protesters and warned that security forces will confront protesters with force.

On 16 November, Iran’s interior minister said that the authorities will no longer show “tolerance” and “self-control” towards the protesters, despite mounting reports of protester casualties.

During a speech on 17 November, Iran’s Supreme Leader described the protesters as “villains” who were incited to violence by counter-revolutionaries and foreign enemies of Iran. He ordered security forces to “implement their duties” to end the protests, effectively giving the green light for the brutality to continue.

Judicial and security bodies have also sent threatening mass text messages warning people to stay away from “illegal gatherings” or face legal action.

“Instead of giving a green light to brutality, the Iranian authorities must rein in their security forces to prevent further bloodshed. The long-standing pattern of impunity for unlawful killings and injuries in Iran is bound to continue unless independent impartial investigations are conducted into all suspected instances of arbitrary and abusive use of force, and those who commit such serious crimes and violations are held to account,” said Philip Luther.

“The UN and individual member states must publicly denounce Iran’s bloody crackdown. They should press the Iranian authorities to give access to independent human rights observers to hospitals and detention centres in the country, lift the blocking of the internet and invite UN mandate holders to conduct fact-finding visits.”

Background

Protests erupted on 15 November following a sudden government announcement about a fuel price hike which will have a detrimental impact on people who are already struggling amid Iran’s economic crisis. Some demonstrators have chanted slogans calling for a radical overhaul of the political system and some have burned posters of Iran’s current and former Supreme Leaders.

Below is a breakdown, by city and province, of the 106 deaths reported so far to Amnesty International. The organization obtained the information from reports whose credibility and reliability it has ascertained by interviewing journalists and human rights activists involved in gathering them. It has then crosschecked the information.

  1. Abadan, Khuzestan province: 2
  2. Ahvaz, Khuzestan province: 2
  3. Bandar-e Mahshahr and its suburbs, Khuzestan province: 14
  4. Behbahan, Khuzestan province: 8
  5. Boukan, West Azerbaijan province: 4
  6. Boumehen, Tehran province: 2
  7. Esfahan, Esfahan province: 1
  8. Islamshahr, Tehran province: 1
  9. Javanroud, Kermanshah province: 14
  10. Karaj, Alborz province: 4
  11. Kermanshah, Kermanshah province: 16
  12. Khoramshahr, Khorramshahr province: 3
  13. Mariwan, Kurdistan province: 9
  14. Ramhormoz, Khuzestan province: 6
  15. Robatkarim, Tehran province: 4
  16. Sadra, Fars province: 6
  17. Sanandaj, Kurdistan province: 1
  18. Shahriyar, Tehran Province: 1
  19. Shiraz, Fars province: 6
  20. Sirjan, Kerman province: 1
  21. Tehran, Tehran province: 1

Amnesty International is working to verify further reports of killings of protesters throughout Iran.

 

Momentous steps towards justice for 1988 prison massacres

Unprecedented steps towards justice for the victims of the 1988 prison massacres have been taken by the governments of Sweden, Belgium and Liechtenstein in recent weeks, sending a message to the Iranian authorities that those responsible for crimes against humanity will not escape justice, Amnesty International said today. The developments should prompt the international community to establish a long overdue UN investigation.

World must condemn appalling deterioration of human rights in Iran

The international community must publicly condemn the deterioration in Iran’s human rights record during the country’s upcoming review session at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 8 November, Amnesty International said today.

The organization urges states taking part in Iran’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to denounce the widespread human rights violations and make concrete recommendations for the Iranian authorities to address them.

“From horrific execution rates, to the relentless persecution of human rights defenders, rampant discrimination against women and minorities, and ongoing crimes against humanity, the catalogue of appalling violations recorded in Iran reveals a sharp deterioration in its human rights record,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“Iran’s upcoming UN human rights review session offers a crucial opportunity for the international community to send a strong and clear message to the Iranian authorities that its shocking disregard for human rights will not be tolerated.

“It is also an opportunity for states to place increased attention on the ongoing enforced disappearance of thousands of political dissidents over the past three decades, a crime against humanity which has been overlooked for far too long by the international community.”

Since Iran’s human rights record was last reviewed in 2014, the level of repression by the authorities has risen significantly.

Thousands of people have been rounded up for expressing their views or taking part in peaceful demonstrations and a vindictive crackdown has been launched against human rights defenders, including activists campaigning against forced veiling laws, in order to destroy the last vestiges of Iran’s civil society.

The authorities have further eroded fair trial rights and have executed more than 2,500 people, including juvenile offenders, in blatant violation of international law.

In a submission to the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the session, Amnesty International concluded that Iran is “failing on all fronts” when it comes to human rights.

The organization is calling on the country’s authorities to lift restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, end discrimination against women and minorities, impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and end torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and ongoing crimes against humanity.

During its last review session, Iran accepted just 130 out of the 291 recommendations it received from other states. Amnesty International’s analysis indicates that the Iranian authorities have failed to deliver on the majority of those promises.

Iran rejected calls during its last UPR to protect the rights of human rights defenders, stop their harassment and release those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

“Instead of strengthening co-operation with civil society and human rights organizations, as Iran had pledged to do, the authorities have instead further undermined these rights, intensifying their crackdown on dissent,” said Philip Luther.

Those unjustly imprisoned include journalists, artists and human rights defenders including lawyers, women’s rights defenders, minority rights activists, labour rights activists, environmental activists and those seeking truth, justice and reparations for the 1988 prison massacre.

Some of those jailed have been given shockingly harsh prison sentences, in some cases lasting several decades.

Human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi was sentenced to 29 years and three months in prison and 111 lashes for his human rights work and is required to serve 15 years of this sentence. Lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes for her peaceful activism and is required to serve 17 years of her sentence.

As well as continuing to subject women and girls to discrimination in law and practice, Iran’s authorities have rejected ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and failed to criminalize gender-based violence, including marital rape, domestic violence and early and forced marriage.

Women’s rights defenders, including those who have campaigned against Iran’s discriminatory and degrading forced veiling laws, have faced arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and lengthy prison sentences. They have also faced harassment and abuse by pro-government vigilantes for defying such laws.

Iran also continues to deny defendants the right to a fair trial, including by refusing them access to lawyers during investigations and trials, and continues to convict people based on “confessions” extracted through torture and other ill-treatment.

The authorities have a dreadful record of flouting prisoners’ right to health, deliberately denying medical care to prisoners of conscience, often as punishment, amounting to torture and other ill-treatment. Human rights defender Arash Sadeghi continues to be tortured through the denial of cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, in a relentless execution spree, more than 2,500 people have been put to death since Iran’s last UPR session, including at least 17 who were under 18 at the time of the crime, in flagrant violation of international law.

he Iranian authorities also continue to commit the ongoing crime against humanity of enforced disappearance by systematically concealing the fate or whereabouts of several thousand imprisoned political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret between July and September 1988.

“The Iranian authorities must reverse the catastrophic deterioration of their human rights record,” said Philip Luther.

“That means releasing prisoners of conscience, ending the persecution of human rights defenders, granting defendants the right to a fair trial and putting an end to their grotesque use of the death penalty by establishing an immediate moratorium with a view to abolishing it completely.

“It also means immediately disclosing the truth regarding the fate of victims of the 1988 massacres, stopping the destruction of mass grave sites containing the remains of the victims, and bringing to justice those suspected to be responsible for these crimes against humanity.”

 

Authorities must not deport Iranian asylum seeker trapped in Manila airport

A 31-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, Bahareh Zarebahari, may be at risk of being deported to Iran where she could face detention and torture, said Amnesty International today. A decision on her case is reported to be imminent. She is entering her fourth week in detention, trapped in the transit area of Manila’s main airport.

“Bahareh Zarebahari has been a vocal critic of the Iranian authorities and a public opponent of forced veiling. If the Philippines authorities send her to Iran she risks arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, and unfair trial and imprisonment,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia.

“The Philippines authorities have an obligation under international law to refrain from sending anyone to a country where they could be at risk of serious human rights violations.”

Zarebahari, who has lived in the Philippines for the past five years and represented Iran at the 2018 Miss Intercontinental beauty pageant in Manila, was detained upon arrival in Manila from Dubai on 17 October 2019. Philippine authorities acted on an Interpol Red Notice placed on her by Iranian authorities. She has still not been told what charges she faces in Iran.

She has since been held in a room in Terminal 3 of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino international airport. According to reports, the Red Notice relates to an offence the Iranian authorities allege she committed in Iran in 2018 but Zarebahari says she has not travelled to Iran since 2014. In her social media posts on Facebook and Instagram, she has claimed that the Iranian authorities want to punish her for her opposition to the Islamic Republic.

A dentistry student in the Philippines, Zarebahari has been vocal about her support for Iran’s former crown prince, Reza Pahlavi. During the 2018 beauty contest in Manila, she waved a poster of Reza Pahlavi and draped herself in the former national flag of Iran, which bears the lion and sun emblem that has become associated with the deposed royal family.

In a media interview on 21 October, Zarehbahari said that her problems in the Philippines began after she participated in the beauty pageant. She said she began receiving threatening messages from an official in the Iranian embassy in the Philippines who told her she had to visit the embassy questioning.

“It’s appalling that she has been detained for so long in airport transit, in such dismal conditions,” said Nicholas Bequelin. “The Philippines authorities have a clear international legal obligation to keep her safe and not return her to Iran, where she could face human rights violations.”

In a series of messages on her social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram, Zarebahari says that airport authorities have detained her like a prisoner and denied her any visitors besides limited access to her Philippines lawyers. She has been shouted at while trying to sleep, is exposed to bright lights 24 hours a day, and has no access to hot water. She says her physical and mental health have deteriorated by her three-week detention. She has not been sleeping and suffers from constant headaches.

Zarebahari says that three weeks ago, security guards handcuffed her, pulled her by her hair, arms and legs and tried to force her on a plane to Iran. In recent days, despite her pending asylum case, airport authorities tried to coerce her to sign papers agreeing to her deportation to Iran. In recent Facebook posts, she says that she has no update from the Philippines authorities about her case, though, according to some reports, a decision on her case is imminent.

Previously, Markk Perete, Undersecretary at the Philippine Department of Justice, said that “the only reason she was held at the airport […] is only because of that Red Notice issued against her.”

On 6 November, Philippines Senator and Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience Leila de Lima raised concerns about Bahareh Zarebahari’s case and urged the Philippines government to consider her asylum application in compliance with international human rights law.

Under international law, all states are entitled to regulate access and residence of foreigners on their territory and return people who are irregularly present on their territory to their country of origin. However, like any other state, the Philippines is bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which is the cornerstone of refugee law, enshrined in customary international law. Under this principle, governments are prohibited from sending anyone to a country where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations.

 

Jag blir starkare med hjälp av Jesus Kristus

Armin Najafali rymde till Sverige 2014. Från första dagen han anlände i Sverige har han varit medlem i samma kyrka som sin mamma har varit aktiv medlem i under många år. Han är en av de nykristna från Iran som öppet visar sitt stöd för alla sina bröder och systrar som kämpar för sina mänskliga rättigheter i Iran. Som han själv har sagt: -”jag blir starkare med hjälp av Jesus Kristus – ingenting kan hindra mig från att fortsätta på vägen som jag har valt”. Armin har bjudit in folk till kristendomen – svarat på deras frågor och delat olika stycken ur Bibeln på sin Facebooksida. Han har visat sitt stöd för olika religiösa minoritetsgrupper i Iran på sin blogg. T.ex. har han skrivit i sin blogg om situationen i Iran för nykristna personer och om hur de blir brutalt behandlade av regimen i Iran. Han har även visat sitt stöd till den nya kampanjen # من نفر پانزدهم هستم (Jag är 15de personen) på sin egen Facebook-sida och Shahrvandyar-sidan på Facebook. Jag är 15de personen, är en kampanj som började med ett öppet brev undertecknat av 14 politiska aktivister i Iran, inriktat mot People of Iran, och kallar Ali Khamenei att avgå sin tjänst som högsta ledare efter en 20-årig mandatperiod. Veckor efter att brevet släpptes gav 14 kvinnliga aktivister i Iran ett liknande uttalande den 5 augusti 2019. Dessa kvinnor sa att teokratiskt styre har lett till ett “köns-apartheid” och “raderat” rättigheterna för hälften av landets befolkning; De uppmanade Khamenei att avgå. Från och med september 2019 har 16 av 28 undertecknare som är bosatta i Iran arresterats. Armin har skrivit en artikel som har blivit publicerad i både Shahrvandyar och Got free give free group i Facebook. Han har där skrivit om vilka problem han möter som en kristen även när han inte bor i Iran längre, samt hur skamlös Irans utrikesminister och Irans regim är som förnekar orättvisor mot personer såsom Armin. Han har fått både positiv och negativ återkoppling, där några hotar honom eller säger fula ord till honom och några personer stödjer Armin. Enligt Armin själv: -”Jag kommer inte sluta min kamp – jag vill hjälpa folk att känna Kristendomens sanna natur och Jesus kärleksbudskap. Irans regim målar en falsk bild av hur Kristendomen och dess utövare är – jag vill visa folk att kristendomen handlar om kärlek och vänskap, inte om våld och hämnd som Irans regim påstår att den gör”.

THE LETTER OF GOHAR ESHGHI TO PRESIDENT TRUMP

Dear President Trump,
I, Gohar Eshghi, mother of Satar Beheshti who was murdered by Kamenei’s agents, greet you.
And by greeting you, I greet the American people.
And by greeting you, I declare that we Iranians love Americans as well as all people of the world.
I personally apologize from every single American for years of chanting of “Death to America” by Iranians.
I apologize to myself, my conscience, for years of intellectual regression that I and others like me have been inflicted with.
We were deceived by Khomeini, Khamenei, and the regime’s clerics.
Many like me have been deceived by corrupt and immoral clergy whose hands are tainted with blood and their pockets filled with a nation’s wealth and blood money. And yet, they invite us to be patient, to endure.
I, without any reservation announce that we were wrong when we sided with the regime in chanting “Death to America”, “Death to U.K.”, “Death to Israel”.
I, in the final stage of my life have evolved enough not to hate anyone, not to seek revenge or death for my son’s murderers. Many times I have said that if my son’s murderer comes to my house as a guest, I will host him and treat him as such.
Seven years ago, before my eyes, Khamenei’s agents dragged my son out of our home and took him to a briefing station. Three days later they returned his corpse to me. His only crime was that he was a blogger talking about the social issues. He had but a handful of followers.
Over the past seven years I have reached out to every conceivable resource, from Khamenei himself, head of judiciary, government officials to members of parliament, to ask not for vengeance or blood money for my son, but for an open and fair court of law to look into my son’s murder. To find the reason for my son’s murder and identify those responsible for this crime. All my efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
Dear President Trump, you may ask yourself why am I writing this letter to you rather than Khamenei, the person responsible for my son’s murder. The answer is simple. To me Khamenei is no more than a corpse. He has been dead for decades. He died when he lied to Iranians, when his hands got tainted with the blood of the children of this land. Khamenei has no ties or allegiance to Iran or Iranians. His allegiance and his devotion is to his ideology. An ideology represented by his turban. A turban drenched in blood and deceit.
I want you to know that August, 23rd is my murdered son’s birthday. After much pondering, I wondered if Americans are heartbroken and disappointed with Iranians for years of chanting “Death to America”. Chants by misguided and deceived people like myself.
By sending this letter to you, I want to tell Americans that we, the people of Iran are prisoners of Khamenei and his regime. That we bear no ill will towards you or anyone else for that matter. That we count the days for this regime’s demise. That we are friends of Americans.
This letter is written by an elderly mother who lost her sole breadwinner. A mother who has been wearing her black mourning clothes for seven years. And this mother extends her hands of friendship to you and asks you to extend her greetings, her message of friendship to all Americans. Please tell them that GoharBeheshti loves all peoples of this world and only wishes death for Khamenei’s regime and diseased ideology.
Dear President Trump, I have an idea, a suggestion, a request. An idea for friendship. I would love to dedicate my son’s life and memory to the friendship between our two nations. And to commemorate it, I ask of you to declare August, 23rd, my son’s birthday, as the day of “Friendship” between our two nations. I wish to have the serenity before I pass, in knowing that my son’s life was not taken in vain. Such beautiful title, August 23rd, SatarBeheshti’s birthday, the day of friendship between people of Iran and U.S.A.
With utmost respect,
GoharEshghi, SatarBeheshti’s mother.

Öppet brev till Margot Wallström med anledning av Irans utrikesministers besök

Bästa Margot Wallström,

Med anledning av att Irans utrikesminister, Javid Zarif, besöker Sverige den 20 augusti, vill vi framställa en vädjan om att utrikesministern tar upp den oerhört allvarliga situationen för mänskliga rättigheter i Iran. PEN International och Svenska PEN är djupt engagerade i ett antal fall där personer dömts till långa fängelsestraff och i vissa fall även spöstraff som ytterligare bestraffning. Samtliga har dömts, enbart för att de med fredliga medel använt sin grundläggande rätt till yttrandefrihet, helt i strid med internationell rätt.

De fall Svenska PEN särskilt vill lyfta är:

Narges Mohammadi
Narges Mohammadi är en central person i kampen för mänskliga rättigheter i Iran. Under flera år har hon fört kampen för kvinnors rättigheter, yttrandefrihet och mot dödsstraff. Hon är en av grundarna till Iranian National Peace Council, som består av författare, artister, advokater och aktivister som arbetar för mänskliga rättigheter i Iran. Hon är även engagerad i Defenders of Human Rights Centre, som förser politiska fångar med försvarsadvokater. Hon har tillbringat flera år i fängelse och 2016 fastställdes ytterligare en dom på 16 års fängelse. År 2011 tilldelades hon den svenska regeringens Per Anger-pris.

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Nasrin Sotoudeh, är advokat och skribent. Hon har under många år försvarat fängslade och hotade författare, journalister och kvinnoaktivister i landet.I november 2018 tilldelas Nasrin Sotoudeh Svenska PENs Tucholskypris.Den 11 mars 2019 dömdes Nasrin Sotoudeh till 33 års fängelse och 148 piskrapp, för att ha ”konspirerat mot regimen” och ”förolämpat” Irans högste andlige ledare Ayatolla Ali Khamenei.

Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan-Mahabadi, och Keyvan Bazhan
Tre medlemmar i Irans författarförbund; Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan-Mahabadi, och Keyvan Bazhan dömdes i maj i år till sex års fängelse. De tre författarna dömdes bland annat för ”spridande av propaganda mot regimen” och ”sammansvärjning mot nationens säkerhet”. Allt pekar på att anklagelserna är politiskt motiverade och kan kopplas till författarnas kritik mot den hårda censuren av konst och litteratur i Iran.

Vänliga hälsningar

Jesper Bengtsson
ordförande i Svenska PEN

Elisabeth Löfgren
ordförande i Fängslade författares kommitté, Svenska PEN

 

Prisoner of conscience flogged 100 times for ‘drinking alcohol and insulting Islam’

The flogging of Kurdish singer and prisoner of conscience Peyman Mirzazadeh 100 times demonstrates the shocking brutality of Iran’s justice system, said Amnesty International.

Peyman Mirzazadeh had been sentenced to two years in prison and 100 lashes after being convicted of “drinking alcohol” and “insulting Islamic sanctities”. The flogging was carried out on 28 July and left him in agonizing pain with a severely swollen back and legs. He is currently on hunger strike in protest at his treatment and sentence.

“It is appalling that Peyman Mirzazadeh was subjected to such an unspeakably cruel punishment. His flogging highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality. He is a prisoner of conscience detained merely for exercising his freedom of expression and the Iranian authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“There can be no justification for carrying out flogging, which amounts to torture and is therefore a crime under international law. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to abolish the practice, as well as other forms of corporal punishment such as amputations and blinding.”

According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), an Iranian human rights group, Peyman Mirzazadeh had been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and 80 lashes for “insulting Islamic sanctities” and 20 lashes for “drinking alcohol”. He had also been sentenced to two years in prison in a separate case on charges including collaborating with an opposition group.

He had also been arrested in December 2017, following which he was sentenced to six months in prison for “spreading propaganda against the system” through singing songs in support of opposition groups. He was released in June 2018 after completing this sentence.

He was arrested again in February 2019 and has since been in prison.

 

Four Women Jailed For Attending May Day Rally: Anisha Assadolahi, Atefeh Rangriz, Neda Naji and Marzieh Amiri

Iranian labour rights activists Anisha Assadolahi, Atefeh Rangriz and Neda Naji and Iranian journalist Marzieh Amiri have been arbitrarily detained, without access to a lawyer, for weeks and accused of spurious national security offences in connection with a peaceful International Workers’ Day gathering in Tehran on 1 May 2019. They were initially held in prolonged solitary confinement amounting to torture or other ill-treatment. Now held next to women convicted of violent crimes, Atefeh Rangriz and Neda Naji are at risk of assault.

 

Lawyer Sentenced To Over 29 Years in Prison: Amirsalar Davoudi

Human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi has been sentenced to 29 years and three months in prison and 111 lashes on charges stemming from his human rights work. He was interrogated in detention without a lawyer present and was convicted and sentenced in his absence. Under Iran’s sentencing guidelines, he is required to serve 15 years of this sentence. He is a prisoner of conscience.

 

Detained Iranian Activist Dies in Prison in Apparent Brutal Killing by Inmates

A lawyer for a detained Iranian social media activist says he has died in a notorious prison in what one rights group described as a brutal killing by fellow inmates charged with drug and murder offenses.

In a Tuesday phone interview with VOA Persian from his base in Tehran, lawyer Mohammad Hadi Erfanian-Kaseb said the body of his client, Alireza Shir-Mohammad-Ali, had been identified by the man’s mother following Monday’s incident at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary.

“We must wait until medical authorities examine his body before considering further legal steps,” Erfanian-Kaseb said, declining to provide further details of what happened.

The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran quoted a source “with detailed knowledge of the circumstances of Shir-Mohammad-Ali’s death” as saying two male inmates confronted the activist and stabbed him multiple times with a sharp object. The CHRI source said one of the assailants was on death row for murder while the other was jailed for drug-related offenses.

CHRI said Iranian authorities arrested Shir-Mohammad-Ali in July 2018 and charged him with crimes including “insulting the sacred,” “insulting” Iran’s supreme leader and “propaganda against the state.” It said he was sentenced to eight years in prison in February and was awaiting the result of his appeal before his death.

CHRI said it also spoke to Erfanian-Kaseb on Tuesday and cited the lawyer as saying Shir-Mohammad-Ali had been jailed because of content posted by the activist on the Telegram messaging app.

Iranian rights activists previously had reported that Shir-Mohammad-Ali and fellow detained activist Barzan Mohammadi started a more than month-long hunger strike at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary on March 14. The rights activists had published what they said was a letter written by the two detainees, in which the men complained of poor conditions at the prison and threats to their personal safety.

“The prison conditions are unacceptable and the holding of political prisoners like Shir-Mohammad-Ali and Gonabadi Dervishes alongside common criminals is a matter of concern,” Erfanian-Kaseb told VOA Persian. He added that Shir-Mohammad-Ali and Mohammadi had ended their hunger strike after being promised that they would be transferred from the prison.

Iran imprisoned male members of its Dervish religious minority at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary after detaining them in February 2018 during anti-government street protests by Dervishes in Tehran. CHRI said the prison was built in 2015 primarily for holding suspects and inmates convicted of drug-related offenses, but the Iranian judiciary also has used it to “unlawfully” incarcerate activists and dissidents.

Article 69 of the regulations of Iran’s State Prisons Organization says prison inmates are supposed to be housed based on the type and duration of their alleged offense, their character and education level, among other criteria.

“A 21-year-old-person has lost his life in prison for charges that should not even be on the book,” Human Rights Watch Iran researcher Tara Sepehri Far wrote in a Tuesday email to VOA Persian, referring to Shir-Mohammad-Ali. Rather than protect the rights of political prisoners, she said Iranian authorities instead appear to have used the “tactic” of detaining them alongside violent offenders as a way to increase pressure on them.

“There is an urgent need for an investigation at highest judicial level focused on identifying if authorities’ lack of oversight or negligence has played a role in this tragedy,” Sepehri Far said.

There was no comment on Shir-Mohammad-Ali’s death in Iranian state media on Tuesday.

 

 

Iran: Proposed law restricting access to lawyer would be crushing blow for justice

A contemptible amendment to Iran’s code of criminal procedure could effectively strip detainees who are facing punishments such as the death penalty, life imprisonment and amputation, of the right to access a lawyer while they are under investigation, said Amnesty International.

An analysis of the bill published by the organization today details how, if passed, the amended law would permit the prosecution to immediately deprive individuals arrested on “national security” and certain other serious criminal charges of access to a lawyer for 20 days, which could be extended to cover the whole investigation phase. In Iran, those charged with “national security” offences include human rights defenders, journalists and political dissidents targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights.

“This is a regressive piece of draft legislation which would effectively remove the right to a lawyer in a wide range of criminal investigations and contravene Iran’s obligations under international law. If passed by MPs it would be a crushing blow to Iran’s already deeply defective justice system and could further consolidate patterns of torture and other ill-treatment against detainees to extract forced confessions during interrogations,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at ‎Amnesty International.

“Denial of prompt access to a lawyer is a serious violation of the right to a fair trial in all circumstances, but it is particularly shocking in cases where individuals are at risk of being sentenced to severe or irreversible punishments such as execution, amputation and life imprisonment.”

Denial of prompt access to a lawyer is a serious violation of the right to a fair trial in all circumstances, but it is particularly shocking in cases where individuals are at risk of being sentenced to severe or irreversible punishments such as execution, amputation and life imprisonment

 

For decades Iranian authorities have failed to ensure that the right to access a lawyer is respected, particularly during the investigation phase.

The proposed amendment is intended to replace an already flawed provision in the Note to Article 48 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This provision requires individuals facing charges related to “national security” and certain organized crimes to select their lawyer from a list of names approved by the head of the judiciary.

Iranian lawmakers involved with the legal and judicial parliamentary commission had announced in June 2018 that they would look into reforming this law to grant detainees access to a lawyer of their choosing, but instead they have taken a huge step backwards.

“Iranian lawmakers should focus their attention on introducing legal reforms that would strengthen rather than further undermine the right to a fair trial. The Iranian parliament must urgently revise this proposed amendment to bring it into line with Iran’s obligations under international human rights law and guarantee the right of all detainees to access a lawyer of their choice from the time of arrest and at all stages of judicial proceedings, including pre-trial detention, questioning and investigation,” said Philip Luther.

Background

Iran’s legal and judicial parliamentary commission announced on 6 May 2019 that it had a prepared a draft amendment to the Note to Article 48 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which came into force in its current form in 2015. The proposed amendment is expected to be scheduled for a vote in Iran’s parliament in the coming weeks.

 

“I miss you my dearest” – Nasrin Sotoudeh’s letters to her children from prison

Iranian lawyer and women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh’s heartbreaking letters from prison reveal the trauma inflicted on families by the government that claims to protect them.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a lawyer who has never shied away from doing what’s right in Iran. In her long and impressive career, she has exposed the injustices of the death penalty and campaigned for children’s rights. Most recently, she defied degrading laws that force girls as young as nine to wear a hijab or face prison, flogging or a fine. Nasrin has been sentenced to a total of 38 years and 148 lashes after two unfair trials because she demanded choice for women and girls. She will have to serve 17 years of this sentence.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is also a mother of two. Her commitment to justice and equality for her clients set Iran’s authorities against her. They have thrown her in jail twice: once in 2010 and now again in 2018. Both times, Nasrin was torn from her beloved children – and her children from their brave and loving mother. Over that period, she wrote a number of letters from prison to her son Nima, now aged 11 and her daughter Mehraveh, now 19. As these excerpts show, Nasrin’s anguish at being what she is – someone who must defend what’s right at all costs – makes her question her own choices as a mother. It is an unjust situation wrought not by her choices, but by a repressive government determined to break her. As many would agree, Nasrin is being the best mother she can be, by showing her children that truth and justice are principles worth fighting for – and that being a good mother doesn’t mean choosing between your values and your kids.

March 2011

Hello my dearest Nima,

Writing a letter to you is so very difficult. How do I tell you where I am when you are so innocent and too young to comprehend the true meaning of words such as prison, arrest, sentence, trial and injustice?

Last week you asked me, “Mummy, are you coming home with us today?” and I was forced to respond in plain view of the security agents: “My work is going to take a while so I’ll come home later.” It is then that you nodded as if to say you understand and took my hand, giving it a sweet, childlike kiss with your small lips.

How do I explain that coming home is not up to me, that I am not free to rush back to you, when I know that you had told your father to ask me to finish my work, so I can come back home? How do I explain to you that no “work” could ever keep me so far away from you?

My dear Nima, in the past six months, I have found myself crying uncontrollably on two occasions. The first time was when my father passed away and I was deprived of grieving and attending his funeral. The second was the day you asked me to come home and I couldn’t come home with you.

My dearest Nima, in child custody cases, the courts have repeatedly ruled that, when it comes to visitation rights, a three-year-old child cannot be left with their father for 24 consecutive hours. This [is] because the courts believe that young children should not be away from their mothers for 24 hours and that such a separation would result in psychological damage to a child.

This same judiciary, however, is ignoring the rights of a three-year-old child under the pretext that his mother is seeking to “act against the national security” of the country.

It goes without saying that I was not seeking in any way to “act against national security” and that, as a lawyer, my only objective has always been to defend my clients under the law.

I want you to know that, as a woman, I am proud of the heavy sentence rendered against me and honoured to have defended many human rights defenders. The relentless efforts by women have finally proven that regardless of whether we support or oppose them, we can no longer be ignored.

Hoping for better days,

Maman Nasrin

 

April 2011

To my dearest Mehraveh, my daughter, my pride and joy,

It has been six months since I was taken away from you my beloved children. Throughout these six months we were only allowed to see each other a few times and, even then, in the presence of security agents. During this time, I was never allowed to write to you, to receive a picture, or even meet with you freely without any security restrictions. My dear Mehraveh, you, more than anyone, understand the sorrow in my heart and the conditions under which we were allowed to meet. Each time, after each visit and every single day, I struggle with the notion of whether or not I have taken into consideration and respected my own children’s rights. More than anything, I needed to be sure that you, my beloved daughter, whose wisdom I very much believe in, did not accuse me of violating my own children’s rights.

I once told you: “My daughter I hope you never think that I was not thinking of you or that it was my actions that deserved such punishment… Everything I have done is legal and within the framework of the law.” It was then that you lovingly caressed my face with your small hands and replied: “I know, Mummy… I know…” It was on that day that I was freed of the nightmare of being judged by my own daughter.

My dearest Mehraveh, just like I was never able to disregard your rights and always sought to protect them to my fullest capacity, I was also never able to disregard the rights of my clients.

How could I abandon the scene as soon as I was summoned by the authorities, knowing that my clients were behind bars? How could I abandon them when they had hired me as their legal counsel and were awaiting their trial?

It was my desire to protect the rights of many, particularly the rights of my children and your future, that led me to represent such cases in court. I believe that the pain that our family and the families of my clients have had to endure over the past few years is not in vain. Justice arrives exactly at the time when most have given up hope.

I miss you my dearest and send you one hundred kisses,

Maman Nasrin

 

September 2018

Hello my dearest Nima,

I don’t know how to start this letter. How can I forget that this year you have to start school without me and even without your father by your side, and simply tell you that this year is a normal year like any other year? How can I ask you to go to school on time, do your homework, study well and be a good boy until we return?

I would hate to speak such words to you as a mother because I know that in your young life you have had to live through the constant trauma of visiting me in prison, being prohibited from visiting me, and the fear of injustice.

As a mother, I cannot ask you to forget my existence and think to yourself that you do not have a mother at all, just so that I can pursue my work and struggle [for human rights] with a clear conscience. May I never be this cruel to you.

***

My job as a lawyer, which is under constant attack in Iran, is pulling me – and this time also your father – into the storm of injustice and cowardice that is destroying the community of Iranian lawyers.

These days I am thinking about you constantly, about how lonely you must feel and about our dear Mehraveh, who has made us proud and who is now forced to care for you and be your mother and father at the same time.

I am sending you my tears of love, hoping they make the injustice of our time a little more tolerable for you.

I send you thousands of kisses for I have not seen you in far too long.

Maman Nasrin

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh sentenced in Iran

Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to an additional ten years — 38 years in total plus 148 lashes — according to her husband. Human rights activists are calling for her immediate and unconditional release.

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Soutoudeh, was sentenced to an additional 10 years in jail on top of the five-year term she is already serving, her husband said Tuesday.

“She was sentenced to a total of 38 years imprisonment with 148 lashes, five years in jail for the first case and 33 years in prison with 148 lashes on the second charges,” Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, told DW noting that she had been told of her sentence while in prison. The new 10-year sentence was the longest of her seven verdicts.

Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, head of Branch 28 at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, said that Sotoudeh had been sentenced to five years for colluding against the system and two years for insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Reza Khandan, however, said in a conversation with DW that he was not aware his wife had been charged with insulting the leader.

“We do not know the case which Judge Moghiseh is speaking about. My wife has been sentenced to 33 years in a court in absentia. Eight months earlier she had been told that the five-year prison sentence issued earlier would be enforced,” he said.

“Only the longest sentence will be served,” Khandan told AFP by telephone.

Khandan likewise expressed his dismay at the sentencing to The Center for Human Rights in Iran.

“It’s shameful for Iran’s judicial system to issue such a heavy sentence against a human rights activist. This verdict shows that making statements in our country comes with such a high price. This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual,” he said.

Sign of ‘deepening repression’ 

The award-winning activist was charged in absentia with espionage and endangering Iran’s national security and was arrested in June 2018. Before her arrest, Sotoudeh, 55, had taken on the cases of several women arrested for appearing in public without headscarves in protest at the mandatory dress code in force in Iran. She began a hunger strike on August 23 from her cell in Evin Prison to protest the charges.

“It is deeply concerning — there is deepening repression,” Javaid Rehman, the United Nations’ top expert on human rights on Iran told reporters on the sidelines of a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

“The state is becoming increasingly intolerant,” the London-based law scholar and human rights lawyer added. The reported conviction, he said, was “a crystal-clear illustration of an increasingly severe state response.”

Sentenced to lashing for defending women

Rehman was not the only human rights activist to have spoken out in Sotoudeh’s defense.  Amnesty International called for her immediate and unconditional release, condemning the latest case against Sotoudeh as an “outrageous injustice.”

“Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights and speaking out against the death penalty — it is utterly outrageous that Iran’s authorities are punishing her for her human rights work,” the organization said in a statement.

Iran Human Rights likewise issued a statement. ”Sotoudeh has been sentenced in a Kafkaesque trial severely lacking in international standards of due process,” said executive director Hadi Ghaemi.

“The Iranian Judiciary is punishing Sotoudeh for trying to uphold the rule of law and the right to a fair defense in cases involving defendants facing politically motivated charges,” he added. “First they went after the journalists, activists and dissidents. Now they’re going after their only line of defense.”

Sotoudeh had received the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offenses committed as minors. She had previously spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.