This report is the outcome of a joint project by Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI, formerly the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran).
For this report a researcher working for both organizations conducted 58 interviews with people living in Iran. We interviewed 36 people with different disabilities, including 15 women and 21 men, some of whom are disability rights advocates. Interviewees also included: 10 parents of people with disabilities; 3 health care professionals; and 9 specialists including staff of the State Welfare Organization, NGO activists, and other service providers. Names of the cities where interviewees live are often withheld to ensure anonymity, out of concerns for their security.
For the last 30 years, the Iranian government has rarely allowed international human rights organizations—such as Human Rights Watch—to enter the country and conduct independent investigations. Iran’s record on independent criticism and free expression more broadly has been dismal, particularly over the past decade. Hundreds of activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, and journalists have been prosecuted for peaceful dissent. Iranian citizens are often wary of carrying out extended conversations on human rights issues via telephone or email, fearing government surveillance which is also widespread across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and the Telegram messaging application. The government often accuses its critics inside Iran, including human rights activists, of being agents of foreign states or entities, and prosecutes them under Iran’s national security laws.
Where available, Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights in Iran incorporated government statistics and officials’ statements into this analysis.
The researcher sought to interview people from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, but the majority of interviewees were living in urban settings enjoying a relatively good quality of life, largely due to family support. The researcher conducted all of the interviews in Persian (Farsi) over secure messaging applications. Due to communication and security barriers, deaf persons and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities are less represented among the interviewees compared to people with other types of disabilities. Deaf persons were interviewed in writing through secure messaging applications.
The researcher asked interviewees to suggest a time slot and asked them to feel free to interrupt the interview any time if they felt uncomfortable either with the questions or due to any perceived threat to their security.
All participants were informed of the purpose of the interview and the ways in which the information would be used and were assured anonymity. This report uses pseudonyms for all interviewees and withholds other identifying information to protect their privacy and security. None of the interviewees received financial or other incentives for speaking with the researcher.
In February 2017, Human Rights Watch sent letters to the State Welfare Organization, the National Headquarters to Follow-up on Accessibility, the Ministry of Health, and the Vice-Presidency on Women and Family. We received a written response from the State Welfare Organization to some of the questions posed. In May 2018, Human Rights Watch wrote to the State Welfare Organization, the National Headquarters to Follow-up on Accessibility, and the Ministry of Health requesting information related to the findings of this report. This correspondence is included in the online annex to this report.