Repression Intensifies Despite Rouhani’s Promises
The Iranian Judiciary should immediately halt its new wave of repression of the media and civil society and stop its numerous rushed executions, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
In the past three days alone, the Judiciary has banned the reformist daily Bahar, sentenced the prominent actress Pegah Ahangarani to 18 months in prison, and put to death 18 individuals who are ethnic minorities.
“President Rouhani has an immense responsibility to uphold his promises to protect citizenship rights and use all means at his disposal to stop this latest onslaught against civil and human rights,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s executive director. “His silence in the face of such an affront is emboldening hardliners in the Judiciary and Intelligence who insist that Rouhani’s election will not change the status quo.”
On October 26, judicial authorities in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan announced the execution of 16 Baluchi prisoners, which they said was in response to an attack by a group of armed men on a border post that took the lives of 14 government soldiers.
“These retaliatory executions mark a new low for the Iranian Judiciary. The hurried execution of the 16 prisoners was an impulsive act of revenge and demonstrates the Judiciary’s lack of due process and its arbitrary decision making,” Ghaemi said.
On October 25, judicial authorities in West Azerbaijan Province carried out the death sentences of two Kurdish political prisoners, Habibollah Golparipour, 29, and Reza Ismaili, 34. Both men had been sentenced to death following brief trials that lacked basic due process. According to credible reports obtained by the Campaign, the authorities subjected both men to torture during their interrogations and imprisonment. In an audio file the Campaign obtained, Golparipour describes his torture and coerced confession in detail. He also asks the Iranian Judiciary not to allow an innocent person to be hanged; authorities hanged him before contacting his family or lawyer.
In an assault on freedom of expression, the authorities shut down the reformist daily Bahar on October 28, five days after the publication of a controversial article perceived to be questioning a historical event in Shia Islam. A Bahar journalist told the Campaign, “Security and judicial authorities have made it clear that nothing has changed since Ahmadinejad’s administration, and all the changes Mr. Rouhani has been talking about are meaningless.”
Also today, the mother of prominent actress Pegah Ahangarani told the Iranian Student News Agency that Ahangarani has been under a travel ban since 2011 and that Judge Moghiseh of a Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 18 months in prison. While the details of her charges are unknown, Ahangarani was a public supporter of the opposition candidates in the 2009 presidential election.
In addition, Iranian Judiciary officials have failed to follow through on their announcement in September to release more than 80 prisoners of conscience during the recent religious holidays. They have only released 42 prisoners of conscience, many of them having completed or being near completion of their prison terms. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience remain behind bars. Three political dissidents and leaders of the post-2009 protests, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard, will mark 1000 days under house arrest on November 10, 2013.
Security forces insisted on a strip search of Mousavi and Rahanavard’s daughters during a visit to their parents on October 24. According to the daughters, when they refused to submit to the humiliating request, security forces beat them.
“President Rouhani has a mandate in the votes of millions of Iranians who propelled him to office to pursue the changes he promised. Now is the time for President Rouhani to show his willingness and determination to defend the rights of the people by condemning such gross human rights violations. His silence is a tacit approval of these violations,” Ghaemi said.