Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Iran for "widespread arrests" in the winter of 2018, including thousands of arrests made during the country-wide protests in December 2017 and January 2018, as well as for jailing a large group of environmentalists and women who protested against compulsory hijab (aka Revolution Street Girls).
In its 2019 annual report, the HRW has named Iran's "security apparatus" as well as its "suppressive and non-accountable Judiciary" system as serious hindrances to protecting human rights in Iran.
World Report 2019 is Human Rights Watch’s 29th annual review of rights violations around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events from late 2017 through November 2018.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division, says Iranian officials "blame the world for their own problems" and "refuse to look into the mirror" to find out that how their systematic suppression increases dissent among Iranians.
The report observed that " Iranians participated in numerous protests across the country amid deteriorating economic conditions, perceptions of systematic government corruption, and popular frustration over lack of political and social freedoms. Security forces and the judiciary responded to these protests with arbitrary mass arrests and serious due process violations."
The report says that Iranian security and judiciary officials arrested thousands of Iranians following the 2018 protests for "trying to use their legitimate individual freedom" and handed them heavy sanctions following "unfair trials."
The HRW condemned the Islamic Republic of Iran for publishing a list of exclusive government-designated lawyers that detainees could hire to follow their cases, and for refusing to investigate the suspicious deaths of "at least 30 people" who lost their lives because of "excessive use of force to suppress" them.
The organization also criticized Iran and its IRGC Intelligence Organization for arresting dozens of environmentalists and accusing them of "taking advantage of an environmental project as a cover to gather classified strategic data," and for refusing to investigate the death in custody of academic and environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami.
Elsewhere in the report, the HRW said "Since 2014, the IRGC Intelligence Organization has arrested at least 14 dual and foreign nationals who authorities allegedly perceived to have links with western academic, economic, and cultural institutions. They remain behind bars on vague charges such as 'cooperating with a hostile state,' deprived of due process, and routinely subjected to pro-government media smear campaigns." However, the report did not name the detainees.
Human Rights Watch then condemned the Iranian government for its violent treatment of women protesting compulsory hijab, adding that Iranian courts have sentenced several women to jail and suppressed peaceful protests against the veil.
The HRW in its report also protested to the jailing of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotudeh and her husband Reza Khandan as well as human rights activist Farhad Meysami.
The report said that Iran continued its discrimination against Bahais, other religious minorities and Sunni Muslims; and limited cultural activity among ethnic groups such as Azeris, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis.
Elsewhere in the report, the HRW condemned discrimination against handicapped Iranians and depriving them of social services and medical care, among other things.
Nevertheless, the report praised Iran for stopping the death penalty of those jailed for narcotics related crimes while seriously criticizing Tehran for executing at least five Iranians for crimes they had committed as a child.
The report has been published days before Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri claimed that under international pressure, the Judiciary has stopped amputations of hands or fingers of those convicted of theft.
The Islamic Republic has always categorically rejected all human rights-related resolutions against Tehran as "politically motivated and biased," while denying violation of human rights by Iranian authorities.