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Amnesty International Annual Report Lambasts Iran

London-based international human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has levied serious criticism against Iran for its continued violation of human rights over the past year.

In its annual report, AI pointed out “systematic unfair trials,” as well as “floggings, amputations, and other cruel punishments carried out in Iran” as examples of human rights violations by the Tehran regime.

The report also noted that, during the past year, “Hundreds of people were executed, some in public, and thousands remained on death row,” adding that those executed in Iran included “people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.”

AI further lashed out at Iran for “widespread torture and other ill-treatment that was committed with impunity.”

Iranian authorities “heavily suppressed” the “rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as freedom of religion and belief, and imprisoned scores of individuals who voiced dissent,” according to AI.

The report noted that peaceful political dissidents, women protesting compulsory hijab, journalist, filmmakers, musicians, and members of ethnic and religious minorities were among those targeted by the regime.

Last week, media covered reports on violent clashes between dervishes and police in Tehran and the arresting of seven members of the Baha’i faith in southern Iran.

The report added that many inmates went on hunger strike in prison to protest unfair trials and unjust imprisonment.

“The authorities endorsed pervasive discrimination and violence based on gender, political opinion, religious belief, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” AI maintained.

Highlighting last year’s timeline of rights violations in Iran, AI observed that Tehran continued to deny entry to Iran to the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur, the late Asma Jahangir, who was appointed in March 2017.

Last week, media covered reports on violent clashes between dervishes and police in Tehran.
Last week, media covered reports on violent clashes between dervishes and police in Tehran.

AI further noted that “several human rights defenders served prison sentences imposed for communicating with EU and UN officials.”

“In May, President [Hassan] Rouhani was elected to a second term in office, following an electoral process that discriminated against hundreds of candidates by disqualifying them based on gender, religious belief, and political opinion,” the report noted.

AI also criticized Rouhani for “appointing individuals allegedly involved in grave human rights violations to ministerial posts.”

The AI timeline concluded that, in late December 2017, “thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest against poverty, corruption, and political repression in the first anti-establishment demonstrations on such a scale since 2009.”

Iranian officials have said some 5,000 people were arrested and at least 25 were killed by security forces during the demonstrations in December 2017 and January 2018. At least five of those arrested died in custody and the government has tried to portray the deaths as suicides.

The regime limited people’s access to social media in the aftermath of the demonstrations, the report added. Meanwhile, the jamming of radio and TV broadcasts beamed into Iran via satellite and censorship of traditional media continued, and the Association of Iranian Journalists remained suspended.

Throughout the year, law enforcement agents “continued their violent raids on private mixed-gender parties, arresting hundreds of young people and sentencing many to flogging,” and despite Rouhani’s election promises dozens of university students were deprived of the right to continue their education.

Independent trade unions were banned and many unionists jailed, and security forces continued to violently suppress workers protesting late payments or non-payment of their salaries, the AI report observed.

At the same time, opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, remained under house arrest without trial.

The AI report went on that “the authorities continued to deprive prisoners detained for political reasons of adequate medical care. In many cases, this was done as a deliberate punishment or to extract ‘confessions’ and amounted to torture.”

Criticizing unfair trials in Iran, the AI report said even trials resulting in death sentences “were systematically unfair” and “there were no independent mechanisms for ensuring accountability within the judiciary.”

The report expressed serious concerns over the fact that “judges, particularly those presiding over Revolutionary Courts, were appointed based on their political opinions and affiliation with intelligence bodies and lacked legal qualifications.”

AI’s criticism of the death penalty in Iran questioned the sentencing of individuals to death for vaguely worded offenses such as “enmity against God” and “spreading corruption on Earth,” while noting that Iran’s Islamic Penal Code continues to recognize stoning as a method of execution.