human rights

Human Rights

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Iranian regime has instituted an especially rigid brand of Islamic fundamentalism that has denied its people basic human rights. These oppressive measures have reached new lows in the aftermath of the disputed June 2009 elections. The regime’s post-election abuses prompted the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution in November 2009 expressing its “deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Iran repeatedly has ignored recommendations made by various UN human rights entities, and is one of six countries in the world that refuse to allow independent international human rights organizations access to their country. The ones who suffer most as a result of the regime’s abuse are the Iranian people.

Iran Restricts Freedom Of Expression. Iran uses its “security laws” to prohibit a wide range of free expression. According to Human Rights Watch, “Iranian authorities systematically suppress freedom of expression and opinion by imprisoning journalists and editors and strictly controlling publishing and academic freedom.” In the aftermath of the June 2009 elections the regime closed a total of 23 newspapers, and the independent dailies that continue to exist heavily self-censor themselves The Iranian government also systematically blocks access to websites containing political news, whether they originate abroad or from inside Iran. Journalists and human rights activists are frequently prevented from traveling abroad to discuss their work, and in many cases, their passports are confiscated. Those activists who do manage to leave the country are sometimes detained and interrogated upon their return. As of 2010, Human Rights Watch reports that over 100 journalists have been detained as a result of the post-election crackdown in 2009.

Iran Restricts Freedom of Assemby. The Iranian government routinely arrests peaceful political activists, often without a warrant or any legal basis. Among those detained have been teachers calling for better wages and benefits, students working for political reform, and dozens of members of the Iranian women’s movement. According to Human Rights Watch, the Iranian regime detained more than 4,000 protestors in the aftermath of the June 2009 elections. Intimidation by the Basij militia and government monitoring of cell phones and the Internet have all but eliminated the ability of Iranians to assemble in protest of the government.

Cruel and Inhumane Treatment in Iran’s Criminal Justice System. Iran continues to sentence convicted adulterers to death by stoning. As of July 2010, 15 people are awaiting such punishment. According to both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, sentences of flogging and amputation continue to be handed down by Iranian authorities. Torture is common in Iranian prisons -- many Iranians imprisoned for peacefully expressing their political views have reported beatings, sleep deprivation, and prolonged solitary confinement. In August 2009, it was reported that detainees who had protested the June 2009 elections were raped with batons and bottles by their jailers.

Iran Executes Juveniles. Iran executes more juvenile offenders than any other country in the world and has ignored calls to stop the practice from the United Nations and leading international human rights organizations. From 1990-2007, Iran executed 24 child offenders, more than any other country in the world. As of January 2010, Amnesty International reports that 133 juvenile offenders remain on death row.

Iran Persecutes Ethnic and Religious Minorities Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities face widespread discrimination at the hands of the Iranian government. Iran’s Bahais cannot publicly practice their religion. Since 1979, Iranian authorities have killed more than 2,000 Bahai leaders, arrested and imprisoned thousands more, and dismissed more than 10,000 Bahais from government and university jobs. In July 2010, the demolition of 50 Bahai homes inaugurated a new crackdown on the beleaguered religious group. Ethnic minorities are also targeted. Kurds, Azeris, Baluchis, and ethnic Arabs are subject to limits on cultural and political activities, to arbitrary arrests and executions, and widespread discrimination

Unequal Treatment of Women. Iranian women do not enjoy equal rights under the law. Men have greater rights in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Girls younger than 13 can be married off to much older men. Women cannot serve as judges or run for president. Crimes against women are punished less severely than similar crimes committed against men. On top of this fundamental unfairness, thousands of women are arrested every year for violating stringent dress codes, and a new July 2010 crackdown has instituted fines of up to $1,300 for “immodest dress”.

Persecution of Homosexuals. Consensual homosexual conduct is a crime punishable by death in Iran; homosexuals are perennially subject to surveillance and harassment by the police. In June of 2007, 24 men were tried for “facilitating immorality and sexual misconduct” after police raided a private party in Esfahan. Most were sentenced to 80 lashes and a substantial fine, but the regime has executed homosexuals in the past. In the summer of 2010, reports emerged of homosexuals fleeing to Turkey alongside persecuted members of the opposition.

No Rights for Workers.Iranian workers have few legal rights. Even though Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right to association, independent labor unions are banned in Iran and according to Amnesty International “union activists are regularly beaten, arrested, jailed and tortured.” On June 14, 2010, top officials of the large but unrecognized Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company were arrested and held incommunicado at a hidden location, in a crackdown inspired by the one-year anniversary of the June 2009 elections.