April 5, 2019
On the fortieth anniversary of the 1979 referendum that approved the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Justice for Iran (JFI) has published the first in a series of books entitled The Face of Crime. The series aims to be a tool for people to take action for change, address violations of human rights in Iran, and ensure those responsible for these crimes are held accountable.
The non-profit non-governmental organization was founded in July 2010. Its stated mission is “to address and eradicate the practice of impunity that empowers officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to perpetuate widespread human rights violations against their citizens, and to hold them accountable for their actions…To achieve its mission, JFI researches, documents, validates, and litigates individual cases. It further raises public awareness and participates in human rights advocacy through the UN and the EU.”
The Face of Crime is part of JFI’s ongoing investigation into violators of human rights in Iran. The first volume presents the portraits of 100 such violators, to be followed by four more volumes, each covering 100 cases, for a total of 500 profiled violators.
“The purpose of this book is to provide a tool for those who want to take a step toward holding violators of human rights accountable,” says Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and the executive director of Justice for Iran.
Sadr acknowledges that a book alone cannot force the Islamic Republic’s officials to be held accountable. But she believes that this series will render a clear picture of the violations of human rights committed by the country’s government institutions and officials. “In their reports, human rights organizations usually present evidence for the act of the violation itself and focus on the victims,” says Sadr, “but here, using testimonies by many victims, to whom we are indebted, we have looked at the situation from a different angle — from the angle of the authorities who have ordered the violations of human rights and the culprits who have carried out the violations. It is only from such an angle that we can legally pursue the violations.”
The first volume of The Face of Crime, which has been published in print format, puts forth the names of the highest-ranking officials in the Islamic Republic — from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi and former chief justice Sadegh Amoli Larijani to the former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi — known more recently for being one of the leaders of the Green Movement — and many others. Of the 100 human rights violators listed, 25 are currently working under the direct supervision of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, 50 more work in judiciary-related roles, 36 in governmental positions, and one is a member of the parliament.
A Very Long List
The introduction to The Face of Crime explains that the individuals highlighted in the book have been responsible for a long list of human rights violations, including:
- suppressing protests in the 1980s and 1990s, in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election and during the protests in December 2017 and January 2018
- mass executions of prisoners in 1988
- murder and torture of political prisoners, especially sexual torture and rape
- suppressing dissidents and the “chain murders” of the 1990s
- assassinations of opponents outside Iran
- killing of students during the 1980-1983 “cultural revolution” and suppressing their protests in the 1990s
- issuing and carrying out verdicts of death by stoning
- cutting off limbs as punishment
- executing underage offenders
- extensive violations of human rights including the policy of compulsory hijab
- suppression of protests by ethnic groups in the provinces of Kurdistan and Sistan and Baluchistan
- violations of the religious rights of ethnic minorities including the Baha’is, Gonabadi dervishes and Christian converts, and promoting hatred against them
- the arrests of civil and labor activists and journalists
- violating the privacy of internet users and limiting people’s access to information
- confiscation of the properties of political and ideological opponents of the Islamic Republic
Of the 100 individuals listed in the book, 41 have been condemned internationally as serious violators of human rights. The penalties against them include bans on traveling to European countries and the United States and the blocking of their bank accounts and assets in these countries.
One way of making these violators of human rights accountable could be through their families and financial assets based abroad. In recent months a number of civil rights activists have demanded legal action against spouses and children of human rights violators based in the US or in Europe. The Face of Crime does not address this matter, focusing instead on the perpetrators themselves, but Shadi Sadr believes that if legal action is taken against Iranian officials who have violated human rights then their immediate relatives outside the country might become an important focal point. These relatives could be made accountable as well, as some of them are benefactors of human rights violators’ profits and assets.
Nine Years of Investigations
The cases presented in The Face of Crime have been put together over the span of nine years, mostly based on the testimonies from survivors of human rights violations. Over the nine years, the cases have been made available online only, and they are now in print too. Justice for Iran has regularly presented these cases to international human rights organizations, bodies and tribunals, including the European Union. Review of the US and EU sanctions lists reveals that JFI referred at least 12 of these individuals and one institution for consideration. “We have done this throughout the years and will continue to do so to use all existing international and regional mechanisms to hold violators of human rights accountable,” she told IranWire.
An English translation of The Face of Crime is soon to be published, and will be presented to the international community and tribunals.