Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Iran: Deepening Crisis on Rights

For Immediate Release
Iran: Deepening Crisis on Rights
Huge Spike in Executions; Lawyers Targeted for Championing Freedoms

(New York, January 26, 2011) – The Iranian government’s high rate of executions and targeting of rights defenders, particularly lawyers, in 2010 and early 2011 highlights a deepening of the human rights crisis that gripped the country following the disputed June 2009 presidential election, Human Rights Watch said in issuing its World Report 2011 Iran chapter. According to Iranian media reports, authorities have executed at least 73 prisoners – an average of almost three prisoners per day – since January 1, 2011.

The 649-page report, the organization’s 21st annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights issues in more than 90 countries worldwide. In Iran, since November 2009 authorities have executed at least 13 people on the vague charge of moharebeh, or “enmity against God,” following flawed trials in revolutionary courts. The government also harassed, arrested, detained, and convicted several lawyers in 2010 for their work defending the rights of others. At the same time, scores of civil society activists have spoken out against the government crackdown despite facing harsh consequences.

“The noose has tightened, in some cases literally, around the necks of activists in Iran,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s crackdown has gone beyond silencing post-election demonstrators and is now a broad-based campaign to neutralize Iran’s vibrant civil society and consolidate power.”

The executions and mounting pressures against lawyers took place amid a broad crackdown following the election, and resulted in the killing of dozens of demonstrators by security forces and the detention of thousands of political opposition members and civil society activists. In early 2010 security forces announced that they had arrested more than 6,000 people in the months following the June 12, 2009 election. Those arrested included demonstrators, lawyers, rights defenders, journalists, students, and opposition leaders, some of whom remain in prison without charge. Iran’s revolutionary courts have issued harsh sentences, in some cases based on forced confessions, against dozens convicted of various national security-related crimes.


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