Amnesty International report documents human rights abuses by Iran’s government since Hassan Rouhani assumed power in 2013 (AFP)

August 2, 2017


Iran has targeted and subjected human rights activists to surveillance, police intimidation and harsh prison sentences, Amnesty International said in a report on Wednesday morning.

Amnesty’s report, titled “Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack,” details 45 cases of human rights activists who have been harassed in various forms by the government since President Hassan Rouhani assumed power in 2013.

“President Rouhani and his administration have so far failed to take any meaningful steps to stop these abuses,” read the report.

One of those in prison is Narges Mohammadi, the Executive Chairperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, who was handed a 16-year prison sentence. Other people include anti-death penalty activists Atena Daemi and Omid Alishenas, who were each given seven-year sentences for “national security-related charges”. Amnesty says sham trials are often involved in these cases.

“President Rouhani and his administration have so far failed to take any meaningful steps to stop these abuses. On the contrary, they have brushed aside reports of abuses in their media interviews and statements to the UN, claiming that Iran’s judiciary is independent and no one in the country is imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” the report said.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said “It is a bitter irony that as the Iranian authorities boast about their increased engagement with the UN and the EU, particularly in the aftermath of the nuclear deal, human rights defenders who have made contact with these same institutions are being treated as criminals.”

“Rather than propagating the dangerous myth that human rights defenders pose a threat to national security, the Iranian authorities should focus on addressing the legitimate concerns they raise. These are people who have risked everything to build a more humane and just society – it is appalling that they are so viciously punished for their bravery,” Luther added.

Amnesty recommend a wide range of reforms from Iran in the report, from enacting laws that protect human rights workers to the immediate release of every activist in prison.

“We’re urging Foreign Office officials to study this disturbing report in detail as it provides a chilling insight into the way Iran’s judiciary and security apparatus are systematically abusing human rights,” said Lucy Wake, Amnesty International UK’s government and political relations manager.

Amnesty International is also calling on other countries to press the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders imprisoned solely for their peaceful activities.

Middle East Eye

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