Shirin Ebadi, Human Rights Defender and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, in continuation of her monthly reports, has reviewed the human rights situation in Iran in Azar 1391 [November- December 2012]. According to the website of the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights [CDHR], Dr. Ebadi starts her Azar report by addressing the plight of children in Iran. She highlights the fire incident at a school in northwestern Iran in which about 31 schoolgirls suffered burns or died. . She also addresses the issue of HIV and AIDS in Iran which now involves individuals at a lower age. The human rights defender continues her report by criticizing the government officials' ignorance of the future of the “most voiceless” sect of society, i.e. children, calling for more attention to be paid to these future-builders.
The Nobel Laureate continues her report by examining the human rights situation under three categories: “civil and political rights”, economic and social rights”, and “cultural heritage and environment”. The civil and political rights section, in addition to identifying the political and civil rights activists who have been summoned to prison to serve their sentences, highlights the pressure imposed on the family of the political prisoners.
The following is the text of Mrs. Ebadi’s report for Azar 1391, published on 1 Dey [22 December 2012].
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in Azar 1391[November – December 2012]
According to a report published by the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) in Azar, 31 schoolgirls of a school in West Azerbayjan Province were injured owing to a fire incident caused by an oil spill and explosion of a heater. Two of them namely, Hay Seydan Yeganeh and Elham (Ameneh) Esmaeil Poor died later. Unfortunately, the above report is an example of the appalling condition of schools in Iran, which are old and dilapidated. Consequently, similar incidents are reported in at least one of the schools across the country each year.
During the past two months, a number of buses carrying students to visit the remains of the Iran-Iraq war zones crashed due to substandard facilities. As a result, more than 50 students were either killed or wounded. Unfortunately, students are still forced to go on these trips as it is introduced as part of their social course.
Government officials' ignorance of the future of the most voiceless sects of society i.e. children, led the Economist magazine to rank Iran 58 out of 80 countries, in a table naming the best countries for the future of the children. Iran was ranked 48 in a similar table in 1988 just after finishing eight years of war with Iraq.
On the other hand, according to the head of the Iranian Parliament's Health Committee, the age of children infected with HIV has dropped to as low as 11-13. Sexual relations is the most common reason for the increase in the number of those suffering from AIDS. Also, according to another report, four percent of children are infected with HIV. In such circumstances not only schools do not provide any educational program, the Media also fail to discuss it. However, according to a bill ratified by the Cabinet of Ministers last month, condoms are considered luxury items and their imports have been banned.
Another point is the decrease in child welfare in Iran. According to Iranian Government reports, every year a million students drop out of school and end up on the streets due to poverty. These children are forced to beg for a morsel of bread.
According to the chief of the literacy movement, there are over ten million illiterate individuals in the country, three million and five hundred thousand of whom are in the age group between 10 and 40 years. In this situation the Supreme Leader has ordered a halt in the birth control programme. Therefore, the official policy makers are encouraging citizens to have more children by providing them with more facilities as incentives. They are trying to increase the population of the country to 120 million people.
So, wrong educational programs and macroeconomic policy, which is focused on military priorities, coupled with mismanagement and corruption, threatens the future of Iranian children. "Children are the future-builders, today we have to think about tomorrow."
The report on human rights situation in Iran in Azar 1391, which has been based on material taken from various newspapers and websites, will appear in both English and Persian in three sections, upon verification of the sources.
Section 1: Political and Civil Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political-Social Activists
1.Twenty-three individuals were arrested this month. Some of them were released on bail after several days. Those arrested include the following: Hossein Falah, a civil rights activist, Behruz Ghobadi, Milad Dehghan, Hojat Kalashi, Ujan Akbari and Akbar Javid, four members of Pan-Iranist Party, Kurosh Zaim, Isa Khan Hatami, Mohammad Oveisi and Mohsen Rahami, four members of Iran National Front and 15 citizens from Ahvaz Province namely Ali Chabishad, Hossein Chabishad, son of Ali, Salahodin Chabishad, son of Ali, Habib Silaveh, Seyed Yasin Moosavi, Salman Chapan, Mohammad Chapan, Karim Chapan, Ashur Shamikli, Jalil Tatureh, Ghasem Zargani, Rahim Hamidi, Maki Barihi, Mohammad Naseri and Omid Dehdar Zadeh.
2.Mohammad Sadegh Rabani Amlashi, university professor and a member of the National Council for Peace, was summoned to prison to serve his three-year prison term. Saeid Haeri, a former member of the Human Rights Reporters Committee, was transferred to prison to serve his two-year prison sentence and receive 74 lashes; Asal Esmaeilzadeh, a civil rights activist, was summoned to prison to start her four months prison sentence and receive 74 lashes, Ali Zakeri, a citizen objecting to the result of 2009 presidential election, Hassan Ark, Ahmad Riyazi, Hamidi Shafigh and Azizolah Purvali, civil rights activist from Azarbayjan, were summoned to prison to serve their respective sentences.
3.Jamshid Zarei, Taghi Salahshur, and Vahid Sheykhbeyglu, all civil rights activists from Azarbayejan, were summoned. Mohammad Maleki, a retired university professor, was also summoned to prison to serve his sentence after his house was searched.
4. Ali Rashidi, an economist and a member of the leadership board of the National Front of Iran, was convicted to two years in prison and five years deprivation of social rights; Maryam Behraman, a women rights activist, was sentenced to an eight-month suspended jail term. Ataolah Mohammadian, Asadolah Saed Mucheshi, Abedin Saed Mucheshi, Ali Mohammad Saedpanah, Fardin Saed Mucheshi, Saber Ayubi and Hamed Osati, eight members of the House of Quran House (Maktab-e Quran), in the city of Muchesh were sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term.
5.Mohammad Jiyan Moftizadeh, Hossein Alai, Foad Mardukh Rohani and Abubakr Amini, all followers of Sanandaj Quran House, were summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence. Hashem Aghajari, a university professor and a member of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, and Ahmad Montazeri, son of Ayatollah Montazeri, were summoned to court. Said Montazeri, another son of Ayatollah Montazeri, was summoned to court and released on bail.
6.The court sessions of Kazem Dehghan, Hamid Arayesh, Mohammad Ali Shamshirzan, Omid Ali Akbari, Gholamali Beyrami and Mehrdad Keshavarz, six Dervishes living in the city of Kovar, were held.
7.The situation of some political prisoners has been reported as poor. For instance, Mohammad Seifzadeh, a founding member of the Centre for Supporters of Human rights, Abdollah Momeni, a member of the Alumni Association of Iran (Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat) and Seyed Mohammad Ebrahimi have not been transferred to the hospital despite doctor’s recommendation. Investigators of the Ministry of Intelligence, despite the request of Tehran’s prosecutor, have not permitted a medical examination of Mir Taher Moosavi
8. Another instance of human rights violation concerns the unfair punishment of relatives of political prisoners who attempt to inform the public about the plight of their imprisoned family members. In this month, a month after the arrest of Mehdi Khazali, his wife, his daughter and his brother, Hossein Khazali, were summoned to court. One of the daughters of Mir Hossein Moosavi and Zahra Rahnavard, has been deprived of visiting her parents because she had informed others about the situation of her parents. Kamal Sharifi, a political prisoner and Habibolah Golpari Poor, a Kurdish political prisoner, on death row, have been refused the right to visit their families. The investigator of Alireza Rajaei, a member of the National- Religious Movement and a journalist, who is serving his prison term, has told his wife to divorce him.
9. Security forces who were present at a memorial ceremony marking the fortieth night after the death of Sattar Beheshti, a blogger who died in prison, attacked his family and beat up his mother.
10. Azar Mansuri, a member of the central council of The Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been deprived of teaching in Azad University, the Shahr-e Rey branch.
11.Ahmadreza Ahmadpoor, an imprisoned clergy, has gone on hunger strike in protest at his prison conditions.
B) Situation Regarding Books, Media, Writers and Journalists
1.Mehrdad Sarjoi, a journalist working in the Majles, reported to prison to serve his three-year prison term. Mostafa Badkubei, a poet and critic of the government, was transferred to prison to serve his 18-month sentence.
2.Shahu Hosseini, a journalist and teacher from Mahabad, was convicted to a five-year jail sentence.
3.“Nasir Booshehr” weekly, was closed down on the orders of Bushehr prosecutor. “Varesh”, a local newspaper in Mazandaran Province, was also shut down.
4. Ahmad Zeydabadi, an imprisoned journalist and Secretary-General of the Iranian Alumni Organization , who was on a sick leave, was taken back to prison. Hamidreza Moradi, Mostafa Daneshju and Reza Entesari, three imprisoned directors of the “Majzoban-e Nur” website, who were in hospital, were taken back to prison.
5.Isa Saharkhiz, an imprisoned journalist, who is in hospital, was beaten by the security forces.
6. The editor-in-chief of “Sabzpoosh” news agency, and Mohammad Nurizad, a journalist and a writer, have been summoned to court.
7. Baran Kusari, an actress, announced that she has been banned from acting.
8. Iran's government announced that sections of the movie "I am a mother," had been censored and declared that the release of the film was prevented in religious cities. Also Seyed Ali Salehi, contemporary modernist poet and critic, declared that his book would only receive a licence if he removed 120 pages of his 150-page book, a poetry anthology. Hormuz Homayun Pur, director of “Ketab-e Roshab” publishing house, announced the closure of the latter after its license was not renewed.
c) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1.Seven individuals were executed in the month of Azar. The public prosecutor of Kermanshah Province announced the execution of four individuals. Government news agencies declared the charges against three of them as possession of drugs and one was charged with rape. “M. H”, in the city of Semnan, “Iraj. M”, “Mahmud. T” and “Nematolah. A” were executed in the city of Zahedan. Government news agencies declared their charges as possession of drugs.
2.Security forces prevented a meeting of political and civil rights activists in Isfahan with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Expediency Council.
3. The attorney general declared the arrest of two people in connection with the case of Mehdi Hashemi, son of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
4.Some official Iranian media reported that a large number of underground studios, which were promoting vulgarity and were related to "counter-revolutionaries and enemies" of the Iranian nation, had been discovered and 30 Members of these networks had been arrested.
Section 2: Economic and Social Rights
1.The economic situation in Iran continues to be deteriorate, for example, the inflation rate reached 26.1 percent in Aban 1391[November 2012]. This level has been unprecedented in the past 15 years. Due to the bad economic conditions and shortages of raw materials, mainly because of adverse economic management and political sanctions, many workers have not been paid their overdue salaries for several months. For instance, Vice President of North Tea Factories Union announced that more that 65 of of 180 tea manufacturing units have been closed in the north of the country owing to improper government policies regarding purchase of tea leafs. Also 30 workers of the metal industry of Iran have become unemployed after the termination of their contract. Moreover, some 400 workers of the Zagros Khodro factory and 55 workers of Ahvaz urban railway companies have also become unemployed upon the closure of those factories. Meanwhile, the workers of Mahabad livestock complexes have not received their salaries for seven month. Also about 2400 workers of Saveh rolling mills and Safa tube factory went on strike in protest at the non-payment of their wages for six months.
2. The annual report of the Transparency International ranked Iran 133 among 170 countries in terms of government corruption. Iran’s rank was 120 in the 2011 report, which means its rank has fallen by ten grades.
3. Father of Hadi Daneshyar, a labours’ rights activist, who was sentenced to three years prison term, was arrested.
4.Shahnaz Sogand, wife of Ali Nejati, a board member of the syndicate of workers of Haft Tepe, was charged after he was summoned to court.
5. Reza Shahabi, a board member of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), went on hunger strike to express his objection to the authorities for not pursuing his deteriorating physical condition and the offensive behaviour of the prison guards in hospital
6.Ramin Zandnia, Baha Maleki, Peyman Nodinian, Ali Qureyshi, Kamal Fakurian, Mostafa Sarbazan, Ezat Nosrati, Parviz Nasehi, Mohammad Sadigh Sadeghi, Hiva Ahmadi and Reza Vakili, eleven members of the Teachers Union of Kurdistan, were each sentenced to four months in jail, which have been suspended for two years. The banishment verdict of Mokhtar Asadi, a member of the Kurdistan Teachers Association, was renewed for the fifth consecutive year, and the travel ban of Hashem Khastar, a cultural activist, was renewed.
7. Forty-seven employees of Kerman Cultural Heritage Organization have not received any salary for about five months.
8) Payam Noor University officials refused the requests of some of the members of the university communities to hold a gathering to show their sympathy with children from the city of Piranshahr who lost their classmates in a fire incident.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning cultural heritage and environment in the month of Azar also serve to indicate the unfavourable situation in those sectors.
1.Governmental statistics suggest that the wood harvested from forests in northern Iran in the year 1389-90 [2010-2011] amounted to over 1.5 million cubic meters.
2. Two hundred and fifty trees of the forest park “Jahan Nama” were cut down by contractors of the Ministry of Urban Development.
3.Water penetration into the foundation of the Freedom Tower, of Tehran threatens the foundation of the tower.
4.The explosion of an unidentified object in Larak Island, which according to residents of the island was like a sea mine, took the lives of two children.
In conclusion of this monthly report, I would like to draw the attention of the Islamic Republic's authorities to the plight of Iranian children especially those who either lack proper guardianship or have no guardians at all. I also would like to attract their attention to the necessity of providing minimum welfare and free education for all Iranian children. “Children are our future-builders; today we have to think about tomorrow."
Human Rights Defendant and 2003 Nobel Laureate
22 December 2012
Note: For further information regarding the above reports, please refer to the following news websites: Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), Fars news agency, Mehr news agency, Young Journalists Club news agency, CDHR website, JARAS, Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Nedaye Azadi, Baztab, HRANA, Ghanoon, Kaleme, Mohebbat News, Sunni Online, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Majzooban-e Noor, Melli Mazhabi, Nedaye Sabze Azadi, Radio Zamaneh, Radio Farda and BBC.