Being a woman and a child makes girl children in Iran the most vulnerable under the misogynist rule of Iran since they neither protect nor promote the rights of women and children.
As the world was preparing to celebrate the World Children’s Day, a 15-year-old girl in Ramhormoz took her own life on 12 November 2020. The state-run media in this small city in the south-western province of Khuzestan revealed that another five high school students in Ramhormoz had preceded the young woman in committing suicide since the beginning of the school year in mid-September.
The fate of these high school students in Ramhormoz is emblematic of the lives of children in Iran.
Poverty, hunger and death coupled by horrific social ills such as child labour, child abuse, children trafficking and sale of children and infants are among the hallmarks of the lives of children in Iran under the rule of the mullahs’ oppressive regime. Add to it, the Iranian Government’s laws that promote violation of the rights of children by sanctioning early marriages, honour killings, etc.
The Iranian government is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child but it does not take any action to safeguard and protect the rights and lives of children in Iran, particularly the girl children.
Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges all states parties to recognize that every child has the inherent right to life and ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
Under the rule of the Iran government, however, the lives of children in Iran are easily spared.
According to the statistics of the Coroner’s Office in Iran, 7 per cent of the suicides in 2017 were committed by children under the age of 18. The numbers are expected to have grown higher in the past 4 difficult years especially after the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
In October 2020, Iran saw the suicide of an 11-year-old boy who did not have an adequate cellphone to attend online classes.
However, suicide is not the only threat to lives of children in Iran.
Iranian government’s decision to reopen schools earlier than every year without taking the necessary protective measures in schools also led to the deaths of many children in Iran and further spread the virus. Various provinces reported infection of hundreds of teachers and students and deaths of dozens, and the decision backfired.
Rampant poverty in Iran is a major contributor to evitable deaths among the populace, including among young children and teenagers.
Children in Iran are also victims of substandard structures of schools and unsafe transportation in light of the irresponsible approach of education officials and staff. Every year, many young girls and boys lose their lives on the road to school, under a collapsed wall or ceiling, or in fire. Unsafe heating systems have also caused repeated poisoning of students.
Donya Veisi died when the wall of her run-down school collapsed on her head
The CRC stipulates that States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It further underlines the need that “With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.”
However, the Iranian legislations and Constitution are the main source of violation of the rights of children in Iran.
The age of criminal responsibility in Iran is discriminatory. The Iranian Constitution sets nine the legal age of criminal accountability for girl children in Iran and the mandatory dress code forces them to cover their hair since the first day of school at age 6.
Instead of ensuring their health and education, the State holds appalling annual coming of age ceremonies, called “jashn-e taklif”, where 9-year-old girls are recognized as religiously mature and have to account before the law.
Romina Ashrafi’s murder at the hands of his father prompted hasty adoption of Children’s Rights Bill in Iran
The legal age of marriage for girls is set at 13. The Legal and Judicial Committee of Iran parliament turned down the proposed bill to increase the age of marriage for girl children in December 2018 for containing “religious and social deficiencies” and for contradicting “the teachings of Islam.”
Finally, the Bill to Protect the Rights of Children hastily adopted in June 2020, after 11 years of being stalled by the Judiciary and the Parliament, fails to protect the rights of the girl children in Iran.
The Children’s Rights Bill fails to address any of the current policies or laws that violate the rights of children in Iran. The bill also falls short of providing any means to ensure the allocation of a budget sufficient to meet the needs of child labourers or child widows. It falls short of addressing the clerical regime’s laws, which set the legal age of marriage for girls at 13 and the legal age of criminal accountability for female children at 9. The bill also fails to include provisions to ensure financial assistance to low-income families to improve their children’s living conditions.
Article 9 of the Bill to Protect Children and Adolescents states that abuses that lead to the child or adolescent death are punishable by imprisonment. According to the Iran Punishment Law, this amounts to a sentence of 2 to 5 years. Thus, a parent who murders their child may be subject to 2 years in prison. This was the final ruling of the court trying the father of Romina Ashrafi who beheaded his 13-year-old daughter by a sickle when she was asleep.
Article 1179 of the Iran Civil Code permits parents to physically abuse their children, provided that they do not exceed conventional limits.
States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are called to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to health care services, and to take appropriate measures to combat disease and malnutrition through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water.
Children in Iran are deprived of clean potable water and adequate nutrition
As mentioned earlier, many parts of Iran are deprived of access to potable drinking water and it often happens that children lose their lives during their effort to drink water.
In the impoverished Sistan and Baluchestan Province, in the absence of piped water, dozens of children lose their lives every year are drowned while trying to drink water from Hootags. More lose their arms and hands when trying to fetch water because crocodiles bite off their arms.
Hootags are natural or artificial ditches used to collect rainwater, which consumed by both humans and animals.
They are also deprived of minimum sanitation in their schools.
The Iranian Health Minister recently acknowledged that there were 1,000 schools in West Azerbaijan Province which lacked toilets. (The state-run Tasnim news agency – 8 November 2020)
Another official in the Education Ministry said that, they needed to construct 2,000 toilets in schools for nomad children (The state-run Khabarban.com – 25 October 2020).
In the meantime, malnutrition is a real problem for Iranian children and especially young girls.
On its official website, the Ministry of Health indicated that in Iran, there are 50,000 children under the age of 5 who are malnourished. However, it is not clear how many of these children are girls (The state-run behdasht.gov.ir – 29 September 2020).
Another source reported that there are 137,000 malnourished children in Iran (The state-run Roydad-24 website – 22 September 2020).
Three years ago, the state-run ILNA news agency reported, “Currently, 200,000 children under the age of 6 are suffering from malnutrition due to poverty in the country” (The state-run ILNA news agency – 31 May 2017).
Obviously, given the rise in poverty in Iran over the past 3 years, it cannot be true that the number of malnourished children has gone from 200,000 to 50,000.
In 2020, Iran’s poverty line was declared 10 million tomans. Of Iran’s population of 83 million, some 60 million are below the poverty line (The state-run Tabnak website – 20 September 2020).
“According to surveys, between 15 and 35 percent of households in the country have eliminated or reduced their consumption of food items… Food items have been removed from the table due to declining family incomes and rising food prices,” a Health Ministry official said (The state-run behdasht.gov.ir – 29 September 2020).
States Parties are required by the CRC to recognize the right of the child to education on the basis of equal opportunity. They shall make primary education compulsory and available free to all. They shall encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and act appropriately such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need. They should also take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of dropout rates.
Many children in Iran go to sub-standard schools without minimum equipment and sanitation
However, in Iran education is neither compulsory nor free. The Iranian Education Ministry is formally asking for tuition from students, which further contributes to school dropouts since more than 80 percent of the populace are living below the poverty line and poverty is rampant.
Poverty of families not affording to pay for their children’s education, child participation in the family’s economic activities, seasonal immigrations, and lacking registered birth certificates, are among the reasons Iranian children deprived of going to school.
The Iranian government announced in 2018 that there were approximately 15 million school-age children in Iran, half of them girls. Estimates varied from 2 to 4 million on the number of children left out of school. Dropout of girl children, 6 years and older, is widespread particularly in the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Western Azerbaijan, and Eastern Azerbaijan.
After the outbreak of Coronavirus, this number has hugely increased.
The state-run Tasnim news agency reported on 20 July 2020, that poverty and lack of access to the internet have left 50 percent of students in Iran out of school. That is around 7.5 million based on 2018 figures of overall population of school-age children in Iran.
36 percent of students in Iran (approximately 5.5 million students) who live in villages and remote areas do not afford to buy a Smartphone or a tablet, wrote the IRGC-backed Javan newspaper on 5 September 2020. Head of the Health Commission of the Iran parliament asserted on 14 October 2020, “3.5 million students in Iran do not have access to Smartphone or tablets.”
In order to prevent any protests and uprisings, the Iran has targeted its protesters and opponents and is trying to stifle any dissent by issuing heavy sentences.
In recent months, Iran authorities have officially warned in the state media that nationwide protests, far more widespread than in December 2017 and November 2018, are very likely. The evidence shows that the authorities have relied heavily on repression to contain the explosive atmosphere of society.
Participants in the peaceful protests face heavy prison and floggings sentences, and even executions.
Detainees are reportedly harassed, tortured, beaten, flogged, given electric shocks, suspended from ceiling, subjected to mock executions, water boarding, sexual violence, and denial of medical care, according to human rights activists.
Eyewitnesses and former detainees have told shocking stories of violence during detention.
Many of them have been interrogated in solitary confinement without the possibility of contacting their families or lawyers and have been tortured to make a televised confession.
Detainees cover a wide range. Women, youths, children, educators, workers, students, athletes, and artists are among them.
The present report is a brief look at the brutal death sentences, floggings, and imprisonment of those arrested in various cities in Iran solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
At least 34 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are currently on death row in Iran. Among the prisoners are 10 people detained during the nationwide protests.
Execution of protesters
Two of the protesters detained during the nationwide protests were recently executed.
Mostafa Salehi, one of the detainees of the December 2017-January 2018 protests, was executed at dawn on 5 August 2020 in Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan.
Navid Afkari Sangari, 27, was executed on 12 September 2020 in Adelabad Prison of Shiraz. He and his two brothers, Vahid and Habib, were arrested in connection with the August 2018 protests in Kazerun and Shiraz.
He had been given two death sentences for participating in the August 2018 protests. In addition, he was sentenced to six years and six months in prison and 74 lashes.
Mostafa Salehi and Navid Afkari were severely tortured in prison to make false confessions against themselves.
The death sentences of Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi, three citizens arrested during the 1998 nationwide protests were upheld by the Supreme Court on 25 July 2016.
The three detainees were denied access to a lawyer during interrogations and are said to have been tortured during that period. Amir Hossein Moradi says he was forced to make “confessions” that were broadcast on state television. These confessions have been used as evidence to convict the prisoners in court.
Hossein Reyhani is another one of the detainees of the November 2019 protests. He is 33 and used to live in Islamshahr, Tehran. He was arrested in December 2019 and charged with sending a text message during the protests. The court charged him with moharebeh. The Revolutionary Court of Islamshahr has sent his case to the Supreme Court for a final decision.
Attribution of Moharebeh to this political prisoner by the Revolutionary Court of Islamshahr may lead to a death sentence for him.
In March 2020, the Second Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Isfahan sentenced five prisoners to death. Hadi Kiani, Mehdi Salehi Qaleh Shahrokhi, Mohammad Bastami, Majid Nazari Kondari and Abbas Mohammadi had been detained during the December 2017 protests. These five prisoners are being held in Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan.
Mohammad Keshvari, son of Hamid from Khorramabad, is one of the detainees of the November 2019 protests in this city. He was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court on 28 June 2020 and is currently being held in Khorramabad Prison.
Flogging sentences for detained Iran protesters
Handing down flogging sentences is a common practice in Iran. But in the past year, the number of flogging sentences against protesters has risen sharply.
Number of people sentenced to flogging: 28
Total number: 1270 blows
Cases in point
Navid, Vahid, and Habib Afkari Sangari, three brothers who were detained during the August 2018 protests, were tried separately by the Revolutionary Court and the Shiraz Criminal Court and eventually sentenced to death, flogging, and imprisonment.
Navid Afkari Sangari was sentenced to two death sentences, six years and six months of prison, and 74 lashes for alleged murder of a security agent among other charges.
His 35-year-old brother, Vahid, was sentenced to 54 years and six months of prison and 74 lashes, for alleged complicity in murder among other charges while the third brother, 29-year-old Habib, was sentenced to 27 years and three months of prison, and 74 lashes.
Navid Afkari was executed on 12 September 2020.
Ali Azizi and Aliyar Hosseinzadeh, two citizens detained during the nationwide protests in November 2019, were flogged on Monday, 8 June 2020. These citizens were convicted by the Urmia Criminal Court.
The death sentences of Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, three citizens arrested during the protests on November 2019, were upheld by the Supreme Court. These individuals were sentenced by the Tehran Revolutionary Court to 222 lashes and execution.
Morteza Omidbiglou, one of the detainees of the November 2019 protests, was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran to 14 years in prison, 222 lashes and 3 months of free service as a hairdresser for 4 hours a day in the State Security Force’s Special Court.
Mohammad Eghbali Golhin, a citizen arrested during the November 2019 protests, was sentenced by the Branch 10 of the Shahriar Criminal Court to 11 years in prison, 74 lashes and one year in exile in Rusk.
Fatemeh Kohanzadeh, one of the citizens arrested during the 40th anniversary of Pouya Bakhtiari, one of the victims of the November 2019 protests, was sentenced by the Karaj Revolutionary Court to one year in prison and two years of cleaning service in a Karaj Hospital. She was also sentenced by the Karaj Criminal Court to six months in prison and a suspended flogging sentence of 50 lashes for “disturbing public order.”
Keyvan Pashaei, Ali Azizi, Amin Zare, Salar Taher Afshar, Aliyar Hosseinzadeh and Yasin Hassanpour, six citizens arrested during the November 2019 protests, were sentenced to pay a fine of 15 million rials in exchange for eight months in prison and 20 lashes.
Six juveniles detained during the November protests, namely Mohammad Reza Heydari, Amir Bavi, Jabbar Fuji, Ali Akbarnejad, Reza Akbarnejad and Salar Fuji, were tried by the Shiraz Criminal Court and received a total of 468 lashes, fines and alternative sentences to imprisonment such as doing unpaid public services. Two of them were sentenced to a total of six months in prison.
Meysam Jolani, a Turkish (Azerbaijani) activist and one of the detainees of the November 2019 protests, was sentenced in absentia by the Ardabil Criminal Court to 6 months in prison and 74 lashes.
Siavash Norouzi, a graphic design student at Shiraz University and one of the detainees of the January 2020 protests, was sentenced by the Shiraz Revolutionary Court to seven years in prison. In the other part of his case, Norouzi was sentenced by Branch 101 of the Shiraz Criminal Court to one year in prison and 74 lashes.
Ayyoub Shiri, one of the detainees of the November 2019 protests, was sentenced by the Tabriz Criminal Court to one year in prison and 74 lashes.
Fatemeh Davand, a political prisoner who had previously been sentenced to a total of five years and five months in prison and 30 lashes in separate sentences in Bukan and Mahabad, was arrested and transferred to Urmia Prison to serve her sentence. The forced confession of this Bukani citizen was broadcast on Channel 2 of the state television a few days after her arrest during the November 2019 protests.
Torture and ill-treatment of detained Iran protesters
Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners is a common practice in Iranian jails. The judiciary has consistently denied allegations of torture during interrogation. However, it justifies torture and mistreatment of prisoners by Sharia laws and its own penal code.
There have been numerous letters and shocking reports from inside Iranian prisons, as well as by former prisoners, indicating that detained protesters have been tortured to make false confessions.
Mostafa Salehi, who was executed in on 5 August 2020, was tortured and harassed during interrogation.
He spent eight months in solitary confinement in the Intelligence Ministry’s prison in Dowlat-Abad and another five months in solitary confinement in Isfahan’s Dastgerd Prison. He was handcuffed and chained on his legs and confined to his solitary cell without a mattress and a blanket. He had no visitation rights for 14 months and was given only a small piece of bread as daily food allowance.
The interrogators broke his limbs and teeth under torture. They severely damaged his neck and spine to force him into cooperating with the Intelligence Ministry and accept to make false televised confessions. But despite the pressure and torture, he kept saying, “I am innocent!”
Navid, Habib and Vahid Afkari were severely tortured after their arrest to testify against each other. So much so that Vahid Afkari committed suicide twice in prison under these tortures.
Navid and Vahid Afkari had stated in audio files from Shiraz prison that their confession had been made under torture. In another audio file released as part of Navid Afkari’s trial, he says that there is a forensic report on his torture and that he has a witness for his claim.
The judge presiding this case however, rejected his request to summon the witness to his torture in Detective’s Office of Shiraz, saying: “There is no need. If the court finds it necessary, it will examine the case.”
Amir Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi protested in all of their trials that their confessions had been obtained by means of torture and that they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings and electric shocks.
Morteza Omidbiglou has written a letter describing how he was detained and interrogated with threats, torture, and beatings. Officers have threatened him that his wife will be raped and abused if he does not comply with their demands. Omidbiglou also stated that in the detention centre, officers broke his teeth and beat him. He was also tortured and beaten for a week.
Abolfazl Karimi, a teenager arrested during the November 2019 protests, is serving a 27-month sentence at the Great Tehran Penitentiary. Aborfazl Karimi was born on 27 November 2001. He was under 18 years of age at the time of arrest. The young detainee described his situation by saying, “One of the agents kicked me in the face and I fell. Another one of them kicked me in the stomach and used vulgar language. Another agent hit me on the head with his gun and my head broke and started bleeding. They put a bag over my head and forced me into a car. Around thirty minutes later we reached the IRGC Intelligence Department in my neighbourhood in Akbar Abad…
“I was interrogated for two days in Evin. They said if you do not speak we will bring your mother here. Then they said they would bring my girlfriend and rape her. I cried. I was mentally tortured. I was in the solitary confinement of Ward 2A of the IRGC for about 50 days. After that, I was in the general ward for 15 days. During all this time, I was able to contact my family only once.”
Hossein Reyhani was denied access to a lawyer for months after his arrest and had no information about his case. He has been repeatedly subjected to physical torture, including beatings with hose on the back and sides, limbs, and to solitary confinement and mental torture. He is at risk of execution in prison.
Following the emergence of the role of women in all aspects of the 2019–2020 social activities in Iran, the Iranian regime has once again targeted women, activist prisoners, fabricating baseless cases against them to keep them behind bars. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 crisis has created an opportunity for Iran to physically eliminate their opponents. Using the pretext of Coronavirus casualties around the world, especially in Iran, they seek to quietly eliminate their opponents and avoid international condemnation.
New repressive measures against social activist women prisoners
Amid the Coronavirus crisis, the most social activist prisoners and distinguished activists are experiencing new cases filed against them, as well as new sentences and other forms of repression and harassment.
Officers from the Prosecutor’s office entered Fatemeh Mossanna’s house without notice. They handcuffed her and transported her to Evin Prison to complete her sentence. The officers performed this brutal act on 6 May 2020, in front of Ms Mossanna’s daughter and son. Ms Mossanna had been released on bail from Evin Prison on 31 March 2020.
Another prisoner, Maryam Akbari Monfared, was orally summoned to the Evin Courthouse on 10 June 2020. The new charges levelled against Maryam Akbari included chanting slogans on the night of 11 February 2020, the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which toppled the Shah. Maryam Monfared is serving her 11th year in Evin Prison without even a day off.
Human Rights defender prisoner, Atena Daemi, was due to be released on 4 July 2020, having already served 5 years. However, she was sentenced to more 5 years and 74 lashes.
While Atena Daemi was serving her sentence in prison, the Intelligence Department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) filed two new cases against her.
Farangis Mazloumi, the mother of a political prisoner who was personally detained for some time last year, was sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of having contact with the opposition and disseminating propaganda against the state in favour of opposition groups.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was re-sentenced after being released from prison – this time to 3 years and 7 months. She has been detained in Qarchak Prison since November 9, 2019, and has been denied leave.
Narges Mohammadi was sent to exile in Zanjan Prison for staging a sit-in protest in Evin Prison, in solidarity with families of the victims killed in the November 2019 uprising.
Ms. Mohammadi has been deprived of her basic rights since being relocated to Zanjan Prison on 5 December 2019. Human rights activist Narges Mohammadi announced that she had been physically attacked and insulted by Gholamreza Ziaii, Evin Prison’s warden.
Intelligence agents moved Zeinab Jalalian, Kurdish activist prisoner, out of Khoy Prison on 29 April 2020, before relocating her to Qarchak Prison after 2 days. Zeinab Jalalian went on a hunger strike on 20 June this year, demanding that she be returned to Khoy Prison or moved to Evin Prison, after being infected with the Coronavirus. However, intelligence agents transferred her to an unknown location on the 6th day of her hunger strike.
According to the evidence presented by the Jalalian family, Zeinab has likely been transferred to Kerman Prison.
Former activist prisoners Sedigheh Moradi and Zahra Akbari-nejad Dorcheh were also each sentenced to 95 days in prison. Their sentences were announced by the Evin Courthouse in early July 2020.
Arrests and repressive measures against other women activists
Among other women prisoners, Parasto Moeini and Forough Taghipour, both were arrested on 24 February 2020, on charges of supporting the opposition group. They were transferred to the detention centre at the Ministry of Intelligence.
In the third week of April 2020, the two prisoners were transferred from Evin Prison to Qarchak Prison. During their 5-month incarceration, they were under intense pressure by interrogators for a television interview.
Sakineh Parvaneh, a Kurdish prisoner imprisoned in Qarchak Prison in Varamin, was sentenced to 5 years in prison and was banned for 2 years from social activities. She was arrested on 7 February 2020 and transferred to Evin Detention Centre. This woman prisoner has been beaten repeatedly since her arrest and has been taken to a psychiatric hospital several times.
In addition, during the last 5 months, Massoumeh Akbari, Somayyeh Ramouz, Akram Rahimpour, Zohreh Asadpour, and Rezvaneh Ahmad Khan Beigi have faced new prison sentences. Soha Mortezaii, Nahid Khodajoo, Mojgan Kavousi, and Shora Fekri were summoned to prison to serve their sentences.
Ashraf (Roghiyeh) Nafari, a mathematics student at Khajeh Nasir Tusi University and a Twitter activist, was arrested on 26 April 2020, in Shahriar. She was then transferred to Qarchak Prison in Varamin.
The Sanandaj court also sentenced Zahra Mohammadi to 10 years in prison. She had been arrested in May 2019 and temporarily released after 7 months in prison.
Covid-19 expansion in prisons
These arrests and harsh sentences come at a time when prison health conditions are reported to be extremely poor and the virus has spread uncontrollably in most prisons.
By the first week of May 2020, more than 50 women prisoners had been infected with the Coronavirus in Sepidar Prison. These prisoners reportedly have no access to medical care. Prison authorities do not even deliver the medicines brought to prisoners by their families. The quarantine ward is separated from other wards by only a few bars.
According to the numerous reports received from Qarchak Prison in Varamin, at least 130 prisoners are infected with the Coronavirus.
Female prisoners infected with the Coronavirus are held in a place called Prison Club, which is an unsanitary environment that lacks proper ventilation. Prisoners are deprived of all medical care.
On 7 July 2020, prison officials issued an order to cut off communication between prisoners held in quarantine in Ward 5 and other prisoners. But these prisoners go to the common corridor or the prison kitchen without any restrictions.
The spread of the Coronavirus can be attributed to a lack of basic services, problems with the sewage system, saltwater, and continuous water outages in the summer. In addition, the lack of medical and health facilities and the high density of prisoners are contributing factors to the spread of the Coronavirus in prison.
On 11 July 2020, political prisoner Narges Mohammadi reported on the dire conditions in Zanjan Prison. She said that 12 of the 18 women prisoners in the prison were infected with the virus. “Twelve of us have been bedridden with symptoms of extreme fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, and the loss of the sense of smell. We have no medication and lack proper treatment or nutrition,” she wrote.
“The lack of medical treatment, inadequate space to quarantine patients, uncontrolled admission of new prisoners without examining their health conditions have all led to the spread of the Coronavirus in prison,” she added.
Human Rights and Social Activists prisoners are victimized
As a result of Iran inhumane policies, a number of Human Rights prisoners and prisoners of Conscience have been infected with Covid-19.
One of the prisoners is Nejat Anvar Hamidi, 62, who has been infected with the virus in Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz since the last week of April 2020. She has not received any medical treatment since contracting the virus and being transferred to prison quarantine. Hamidi was not even given the necessary medication that her family delivered to the prison. This imprisoned woman’s life is in danger due to her advanced age and pre-existing medical conditions.
Kurdish prisoner Zeinab Jalalian was infected with the Coronavirus in Qarchak Prison in Varamin. Her illness was confirmed on 8 June 2020, when she was taken to a hospital outside the prison under strict security measures. According to the CT scans, her lung tissue was damaged due to the Coronavirus and blood clots formed in her lungs. She had previously struggled with asthma.
Political prisoner Narges Mohammadi has also been suffering from worrying symptoms of Covid-19 since the first week of July 2020. She has already suffered from a number of physical problems, most notably pulmonary embolism.
Forough Taghipour, who is being held in Qarchak Prison in Varamin, has also contracted the virus.
The Iranian regime deliberate and criminal intent to end the lives of activist prisoners is evidenced by the lack of medical care for sick political prisoners – who were already struggling with serious illnesses – and the judiciary’s refusal to release them, even temporarily.
Hon David Jones MP: I am very pleased to be here with you today even if only virtually from my home in North Wales. And first of all, can I thank the ILA for hosting this event. We’re all very well aware of the work that the ILA has done to assist the residents of the former Camps Ashraf and Liberty, and I want to thank them too for all they’re doing at the moment to campaign to stop the executions in Iran, about which I wish to speak a little later, and while I’m here I’d also like to send my good wishes to the residents of Ashraf 3 in Albania.
I was very fortunate to visit Ashraf twice last year, and I’d hoped to go again this year before coronavirus intervened. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’m going to get the opportunity to visit them again, and in the meantime, I wish them all the best for their health and well-being and that of their families. This is, of course, a very difficult time for all of us, and I know that many of you who’ve joined this meeting is actually self-isolating.
For my own part, after going into lockdown at home on the 23rd of March, I actually returned to Westminster this week, you probably saw the conga lines, and slowly but surely it does appear that the pandemic is starting to abate here in the UK, and that life may soon be returning to something approaching normal.
The virus has devastated so many countries of the world, and it’s an enormous tragedy that so many of our fellow-citizens have become ill, and in many cases of course sadly lost their lives. It’s a tragedy here in the United Kingdom, but of course also in Iran, where it seems that well over 50,000 Iranians have now died, and sadly only on Friday it was reported that the country is now in the grip of the second wave of infection. I have to say that the response of the regime in Tehran to this crisis has been very regrettable.
It suggests that it’s unable to fight the virus effectively because of the impact of sanctions; however, the truth is that sanctions don’t affect supplies of medicines, and questions have also been asked about the application of funds that were earmarked for medicines and for protective equipment. In due course, the regime will have to answer for its actions in relation to COVID 19. In the meantime, more transparency is essential, and the truth is that the Iranian regime is now in crisis.
The MOIS and the IRGC intelligence organisation have begun arresting large numbers of young activists within the country. I was particularly concerned to hear of the execution of two juveniles, Shayan Sadeghpour and Majid Esmailzadeh, [and I raised this issue in a parliamentary question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who answered by expressing their own deep concern, pointing out that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had stated that the executions were prohibited under international human rights law, and amounted to a violation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran itself is a signatory; and I was equally concerned by the arrest of two gifted young students, Amir Hossein Moradi and Ali Younesi, as well as a number of other young people, and again I raised the issue with the FCO.
This time, the role of charities such as the ILA has become increasingly important. The history of recent years shows that if the forces of democracy can stand together, then right can and it will prevail. And I for one commend the Iranian people for their untiring perseverance, and, friends, I have no doubt that ultimately, one day, democracy will return to Iran.
On 6 June we had Bishop John Pritchard and the Hon. David Jones MP as speakers for our ‘One Hour with ILA’ online event. The programme usually includes poetry and music as well.
Below you will find excerpts of the speeches by Bishop Pritchard and the Hon David Jones:
Bishop John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford:
I’m really pleased to be able to join you. This was an unexpected pleasure and privilege to come along because you’ve obviously been meeting for some time, thirteen meetings, that’s impressive. So well done for doing that, but more important than that, you know, well done for the tremendous work that ILA is obviously doing for Iran and the Middle East as a whole. Yes, I was in Oxford for a number of years and loved it, and I will have met probably a number of the good folk who are here right now, and there’s Peter Watsham I saw.
The thing that joins us all together, of course, is this concern for human rights which of course is indivisible. You can’t have one part of the international body suffering and not have all of us suffering, in a sense. Christians have this understanding of the Church as the body of Christ, and we say if one part suffers, we all suffer, but it’s the same with humanity as a whole, isn’t it, that if one part of humanity suffers, then we’re all suffering. But well done to members of ILA for just keeping that pressure on, for helping so much in getting Ashrafis out of the desperate situation they were in, and also now tackling that executions issue.
This is all really important work. Because the news coming out of Iran, we have to say, simply is not good at all. There’s the increased pressure on prisoners that’s going on, there’s the increased repression against minorities, and I’m particularly concerned of course with religious minorities, Christians, Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, and even Shia Muslims if they’re not, well, if they’re not accepting the repressive interpretations of the regime. But why is all this going on? Why are the officials of the regime so afraid of their population? It must be because the people of Iran are actually fed up with repression and economic mismanagement and most of all the inequality that’s imposed on their society.
Because the majority of people in Iran live below the poverty line, and just those connected with the Supreme Leader, it seems, in a sense, are those who have everything, in contrast. This past week we have been hearing about the environmental disaster that’s enveloping parts of the country: vast areas of forests, across several provinces, are burning, and local volunteers are risking their lives to save the forests, but the government seems to be doing so little.
Local people asked the army to provide helicopters and equipment to help them put out the fires, but the military officials apparently are saying that since the Ministry of the Environment owes them money they’re not providing the services. I mean, what a mess !We’ve just heard of four Iranian Christian converts who’ve been summoned to begin their five-year jail sentences for leading house churches, for which they were convicted of acting against national security, and that’s one of those catch-all phrases, isn’t it? Acting against national security. How can praying and encouraging others to connect with God, how can that be against national security?
Come on! The mullahs do seem to be afraid of their own shadows. And we know several other Christians, of course, who’ve been, had many years in prison across Iran for these kind of charges. But the good news, of course, is that people like you, and so many others, all over the world, are becoming the voice of prisoners. So I want to commend the work of the ILA, and the selfless volunteers across the organisation and so many other organisations, some of whom I did meet when I was at Oxford but good to see you again, working tirelessly against this tide of oppression that there is, standing up for human rights, absolutely crucial.
I’m sure what you’re doing in the ILA is important, and it does get results. We’ve seen the Ashrafis coming out from Iraq to Albania and that was a miracle of its own, a remarkable piece of generosity and wonderfully handled, so I’m sure that with your efforts and those of thousands of others, we will turn the tide on these human rights and religious violations that we see going on. Martin Luther King, do you remember, said: “The arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” And ultimately justice cannot be defeated, it cannot be held back, justice will out.
So I remain very much on your side during this uphill struggle and you are and will remain in my prayers.
The Women’s Ward of Evin Prison is the place of detention for female political prisoners and the prisoners of conscience. Located in the north of the Iranian capital, the notorious Evin Prison is a 40-hectare compound with several wards, one of which is the Women’s Ward.
The Women’s Ward of Evin Prison has two main halls. Hall no. 1 has three rooms. Room No. 1 holds 12 political prisoners, room no. 2 holds 10 political prisoners and room no. 3 holds 8 political prisoners.
Hall no. 2 was previously used to detain the wives and children of male convicts. These detainees were released upon the Judiciary’s ruling in March 2020 after the coronavirus outbreak.
Upon the insistence of political prisoners, Hall no. 2 was used for temporary isolation of female prisoners suspected of contracting the Covid-19 disease.
New arrivals and the quarantine ward
New arrivals are held for 14 days in Hall No. 2, or in a room in the administrative section of the quarantine ward, before being allowed into the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison.
This isolation, however, proves to be ineffective since the prison’s telephones located in the “sports club” and the prison’s store are commonly used by all prisoners and the quarantine is violated in practice.
Only the prisoners’ personal sense of responsibility in observing the hygiene protocols and social distancing, can save their lives.
Prisoners have to procure their own masks and gloves from the prison’s store; each mask or a pair of gloves are sold between 8,000 and 10,000 tomans to prisoners.
Detergents and disinfectants are rationed by prison authorities which is hardly sufficient and inmates have to buy their own detergents and disinfectants at prices much higher than the market price.
Prisoners not separated based on their crimes
The prisoners detained in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison are not separated by the category of their crimes. Women accused of common crimes are transferred to the Women’s Wards of Evin, instead of being detained in the general ward. These inmates are held for several days or several months. The situation gets really problematic when women addicted to narcotic drugs are transferred to this ward and deprived of access to their drugs.
Nutrition of female prisoners in Evin
Most of the detainees in the Women’s Ward of Evin have to buy their own food because of the low quality of food served by the prison kitchen.
The prison’s store sells its goods for prices several times the regular market price.
Medical treatment and healthcare
Even before the outbreak, prisoners had to pay their own medical expenses if visited in civic hospitals, but prison authorities systematically prevented their dispatch to hospitals and medical centres outside the prison.
If a prisoner managed to have a hospital visit, she would be quickly returned to prison without receiving adequate treatment.
Hospital visits have become even more difficult after the outbreak of Covid-19. The needed visits are done either very late or irregularly.
Sick prisoners also encounter various obstacles for going to the prison’s dispensary and specialist doctors rarely visit the women’s ward of Evin.
Court summons unaffected by the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has not cut down the number of summons issued for prisoners or civil activists. On the contrary, more people are being summoned to courts.
Atena Daemi and Maryam Akbari Monfared are two political prisoners who have been repeatedly summoned to court and new cases were fabricated against them.
These political prisoners have refused to appear in court because the guards and soldiers who accompany the inmates to the court do not observe the sanitary protocols and do not wear masks or gloves.
Access to visitations and telephone calls
Female prisoners in the women’s ward of Evin Prison are basically allowed to make telephone calls only three times a week, on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays, and only for ten minutes.
The telephones are located in the “sports club.” Every inmate is allowed to save only five numbers on her telephone card.
During the 10-minute calls, a recording is played several times indicating that the call is being made from Evin Prison. This recording is very disturbing to little children, whose mothers are imprisoned, and mothers are stressed when talking to their children.
After the outbreak, all in-person visitations were cancelled and the cabin visits are done only once a week on Sundays.
Authorities do not provide disinfectants for cabin visits to wipe the telephone receiver and the seats. So, families bring their own disinfectants.
The sports club
Most instruments and equipment in the so-called sports club of the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison are worn out or out of order, and prison authorities have not taken any measures to repair them.
During the pandemic, there have been no sanitary protocols, so if inmates use the equipment, they would risk infection. If they don’t, they would be deprived of the minimum physical fitness they need in the prison’s closed environment.
In the past month, there have been at least 141 violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran. A considerable number of violations have been against women.
At least 121 violations of the rights of Baha’i citizens were documented, in addition to 15 cases of violations of Christian rights and 5 cases of violations against Dervishes.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
In Iran, however, religious minorities are subjected to targeted violence because their free choice of belief is tantamount to challenging the ruling religious dictatorship.
According to statistics obtained from credible sources, a total of 121 violations of fundamental rights have been committed against Baha’i citizens. These include at least 5 prison sentences, 9 arrests, 34 trials, 26 court summons, 10 house searches, 8 property and asset seizures, and 6 cases of return to prison for non-renewal of leave.
• Shahzad Hosseini, a Baha’i citizen, along with his son, Shayan Hosseini, were released on bail on Saturday, 30 May 2020, after a lengthy interrogation in Isfahan. They were allowed to leave with a provisional bail of 200 million tomans until the end of the trial.
• On the same day, Parvaneh Hosseini, a Baha’i citizen living in Isfahan, was arrested and taken to an unknown location following an attack by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence agents.
• Mitra Bandi Amirabadi and Hiva Yazdan Mehdiabadi, Baha’i citizens living in Yazd, were arrested on Saturday, 30 May 2020, after their homes were searched and their personal belongings seized.
• Vida Haghighi Najafabadi, a Baha’i citizen living in Najafabad, Isfahan, was transferred to Isfahan Central Prison on 1 June 2020, to serve 1 year in prison.
• Mahboubeh Misaghian, a Baha’i citizen living in Yazd, was subjected to a home search on June 1, 2020, by security forces. Officers seized her personal belongings and took her to an unknown location.
• Didar Ahmadi, Boshra Mostafavi, and Nahid Naeimi, of Rafsanjan, were arrested on 7 June 2020, after agents searched their homes and confiscated personal belongings.
Branch One of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court summoned the following Baha’i citizens on 9 June 2020, to attend a hearing: Mahyar Sefidi Miandoab, Nasim Kashaninejad, Noushin Zanhari, Vargha Kaviani, Yekta Fahndaj Saadi, Lala Salehi, Mojgan Gholam Poursaadi, Marjan Gholampour, Maryam Eslami Mehdi Abadi, Parisa Rouhi Zadegan, Bahareh Norouzi, Samareh Ashnaie, Shadi Sadehgh Aghdam, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, and Ahdieh Enayati.
• Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i citizen living in Yazd, was sentenced on 20 June 2020, to 6 years in prison. She was accused of “membership in anti-regime groups” and “propaganda against the state.”
Another notable example of violations of the rights of religious minorities is the situation of women in prisons, especially given the dramatic rate of spread of Covid-19.
In this regard, four Baha’i citizens reported that they, along with other prisoners in Birjand, may have contracted the virus.
Saghar Mohammadi, Sheida Abedi, Simin Mohammadi, and Maryam Mokhtari were placed in the quarantine ward of the women’s prison for more than 3 weeks, and were denied the right to return to the public prison ward. These detainees have been denied family visits for several weeks as the meeting room can be accessed only through the public ward.
Citizens of the Christian faith have also been subjected to regime repression, despite the fact that Articles 13 and 26 the Islamic Republic’s Constitution recognizes Christianity. These citizens have been targeted in at least 15 instances in recent months. These instances include 5 court summons, 5 arrests, and 5 cases of imprisonment.
On Sunday, June 21, 2020, the Revolutionary Court of Bushehr sentenced seven Christian converts, including three women – Maryam Fallahi, Marjan Fallahi, and Fatemeh Talebi – to imprisonment, fines, deportation, and deprivation of employment and social rights.
Gonabadi Dervishes have also been targeted by state agents in at least five cases in the past month. The regime’s suppressive measures include two court summons to serve prison sentences, two cases of imprisonment, and one case of imprisonment in exile.
With regard to violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran, the U.S. Department of State’s annual report on religious freedom in the world was published on Wednesday, June 10. Some 33 pages of the report focused on violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran.
According to the report, in 2019, the Iranian regime continued to harass, interrogate, and detain Baha’is, Christians – especially those who have converted to Christianity – Sunni followers, and other religious minorities.
The report noted a shocking example: “In January authorities gave Elham Ahmadi, an imprisoned member of the Sufi Gonabadi Order in Iran, an additional sentence of 148 lashes for speaking out about the denial of medical treatment and poor living conditions in the prison…”
It is worth noting that in Elham Ahmadi’s case, the sentence of 74 lashes was enforced before Ahmadi was released from prison on 13 August 2019.
The examples cited here represent a small sampling of Iran systematic, daily violations of the rights of religious minorities in Iran.
By clamping down on human rights defenders, the ruling dictatorship has prevented the possibility to inform the world about these human rights violations.
Khomeini’s first fatwa on March 7, 1979, targeted Iranian women’s freedoms. By this order, it became mandatory for women to cover their hair and wear the veil in government offices.
Iranian women took to the streets the next day which coincided with the International Women’s Day, March 8, 1979, to protest the oppressive fatwa against women in a massive demonstration.
Hassan Rouhani, the current president, has boasted that he was the one to ban the entry of non-veiled women to the offices and departments of the Armed Forces.
Dozens of schoolgirls were killed and wounded in attacks by the security forces and club wielders during this period. Nasrin Rostami, 16, in Shiraz, Mehri Saremi in Khorram Abad, Sima Sabbagh in Rasht, Sanam Ghoreishi in Bandar Abbas, Fatemeh Rahimi and Somayeh Noghre-Khaja in Ghaemshahr, and Fatemeh Karimi in Karaj were among many who did not succumb to the club wielders’ threats at the cost of their lives.
On April 27, 1981, the Muslim Mothers’ Society who supported the opposition PMOI/MEK staged a demonstration in protest to the beating and killing of their children. 200,000 women participated in this protest rally.
The Iranian people’s resistance for freedom reached a turning point on June 20, 1981, when half a million Tehran residents participated in a historic march for freedom.
On that day, Khomeini’s revolutionary guards opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators. Iran’s pioneering women, too, had to make a choice. They had to choose between the shame of caving into the suppression and the honour of resistance for freedom. Of course, they chose the latter and answered the call of history.
After cracking down on the June 20th peaceful demonstration, the clerical regime began its massacre of opponents. Ironically, the first group of victims comprised of girl students, 16-17 years of age, who had not given even their names to the security forces.
Indeed, what was the message of these young women? Why was it that the first statement of the prosecutor’s office after June 20, bore the pictures of 12 under-18 girls who had not even identified themselves to the officials before being executed?
The murder machine started its endless and indiscriminate killings. Young teenage girls, pregnant women, elderly mothers, workers, farmers, doctors, engineers, artists, and athletes were killed en masse. Sometimes, all or five-six children of the same family were executed in the course of mass executions of the 1980s.
Women’s rights were half of men’s everywhere except in prisons where they had a double quota of torture merely for being a woman. The misogynist government could not tolerate the women who opposed them.
The victims included Nafiseh Ashraf Jahani, 10, who was put on summary trial and sent before the firing squads. Maryam Assadi, 11, Afsaneh Farabi, 12, and 13-year-olds Fatemeh Mesbah, Shahla Ghorbani, Fatemeh Sajedi, and Fatemeh Jabbarzadeh Ansari, and Nassrin Nouri Mani, 15, were also among those executed in the 1980s.
Tahereh Aghakhan Moghaddam was executed while eight-months were pregnant. The names of at least 50 pregnant women are among those executed by Iran. Dozens of elderly women, like Sakineh Mohammadi Ardehali (Mother Zakeri), 70, stood up bravely to the mullahs and defeated their efforts to break them.
Hundreds of former prisoners have attested that women’s resistance in prisons and under torture was inspiring to the imprisoned men, as well.
By their resistance, Iranian women dealt effective blows to the medieval outlook promoted by the clerical regime.
Iranian women, however, were deeply aware of their great role and historic mission and were thus able to endure such inhuman tortures, imprisonment and executions.
They were not just a few isolated examples but a generation of women who regardless of their age, education, profession, ethnicity, and economic class, chose the honour of resistance for freedom to defeat the enemy of their nation.
Following are the categories:
681 women were killed under torture
50 women were executed while pregnant
789 teenagers were executed between 11 and 18 years of age
230 women had high academic education
734 women had bachelor’s degrees
4,010 women were high school graduates
381 women were government employees
73 women were artists
The number of victims of executions by the clerical regime is estimated to be 120,000, one-third of whom are women. The said figures are therefore but a small and incomplete part of the whole picture.
Sir Alan Meale MP and a Member of the Assembly of the Council of Europe was the speaker at one of ILA’s weekly online meetings. Excerpts of his remarks follow: It’s really a delight to come onto your programme, particularly as so many of your viewers will be self-isolating.
I wanted to use the opportunity, actually, to pay tribute to the ILA for the excellent work you actually do, particularly with the Ashrafis and, of course, the old Liberty residents. Some of the campaigns you take up are not easy at all, work on stopping executions being outstanding, and the best way to explain that is to remind people that it’s been recognised at the highest level with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and, of course, Amnesty International itself.
Well, they couldn’t stop there, your organisation; you also worked to highlight the whole presence of the coronavirus in Iran, which was being denied by the regime for a very long time, they said it wasn’t there, then they had it under control. Instead, they’ve got the second-highest death rates in the world, and if you look at the death rate which you’ve exposed to the free world, it’s almost equal to Northern Europe, the death rate and the contamination rate, and without you that wouldn’t have been highlighted. But really, another aspect of the work that you do is the successful effort you’ve fought to change minds and actually get prisoners released from jails in Iran, particularly when the pandemic has been going on, you’ve saved many, many lives.
What I want to say to you today is that your work is outstanding. It’s very, very commendable indeed. However, there’s a lot more to do and probably nobody is better placed than you yourselves. You’ve already influenced the UN. You have to go further and influence them again, and also their member [unclear], the really [unclear] member states. They must not, must not listen to views which are coming from Iran and lift sanctions, international sanctions against Iraq [sic], because if you do that, we all know the history.
History has shown that the mullahs, and the Revolutionary Guard in particular, will use the opportunity and the gains made from that to, rather than get them to the people of Iran which is what it desperately needs at the present time, they’ll actually use it the same old way they always have done, by increasing their warmongering efforts and even supporting terrorism on the international stage. So I say your work is fantastic. However, it needs another step forward, because if there’s any easing to be done at the present time in all of this, whether it’s financial or otherwise on the international borders, it needs to be eased in a way that directs whatever the benefits are to the people of Iran, and not to the regime itself.
One day we’ll have a free Iran. We’ll have a free Iran which is not, perhaps, something which is unattainable, the reality is that what I’m asking for in supporting you in your endeavours is, something that the rest of the free world experiences every single day. They have freedom of movement, freedom of expression, in every way, shape and form. And all I ask is that once again, redouble your marvellous efforts, try and get more support for what needs to be the ultimate objective, which is a free Iran. Thank you!
International Liberty Association: The number of women and youth working as porters (or back carriers) has increased dramatically in the Iranian border provinces of Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan, and Kermanshah.
This was reported by the state-run Hamshahri daily on 22 January.
Unemployment crisis in Iran is one of the reasons why women have been dragged into this job. Women have to carry heavy loads in difficult mountainous paths of western Iranian borders, to provide for part of their economic needs.
The number of women working as porters and carrying heavy loads on their backs has been rapidly growing so that this job is no longer a masculine job, and men have got used to women working as porters.
Porters face a plethora of dangers and threats in the border region. The threat becomes even more significant when you consider the presence of a growing number of women.
Halaleh Amini, representative of the Iranian Kurdistan Province in the Supreme Council of Provinces, said, “It is most regrettable that we face women and girls who have to disguise themselves as men and join the long line of porters.” (The state-run Tasnim news agency – 10 October, 2019)
Many of these women fear losing their jobs, if they talk to the media and only a few of them talked about their sufferings.
A young woman with heavy Kurdish accent introduced herself as Hiva. Her father was also a porter and she used to walk with him to the mountain foot.
Hiva says, “Every time my father went for work, I couldn’t sleep until morning. And when it was time for him to come back, I waited for him… We were five sisters and our father worked as a porter and did whatever he could to pay for our living.”
Hiva added, “One day, seven years ago, my father went to the mountain and never came back. We no longer had any breadwinner, so we had to do something to save our lives.”
“Regrettably, I’m not very strong and I cannot go (for work) very often. Every time I carry the cargoes and come back, I suffer from back pain for several days.”
Maryam is a young woman who works as a porter to earn her own and her daughter’s living. She has divorced her husband because he was an addict.
Maryam says, “I have no other option for paying the expenses of my daughter. In the eight years that I work as a porter, I have met many different people. Every one chooses this job out of some circumstances. Some have master’s degrees, but do not find jobs. Some people are old.
At age 65, they have no insurance to help them in such days. So they have to go through difficult paths to provide for the expenses of their families. Their shoulders break so much that they have to walk through these mountains.”
An old woman cannot speak Farsi. She speaks of her pains over the years, and her daughter translates. She has seen a man walk on a mine right in front of her eyes. She and other porters abandon their loads and take the wounded man to the nearest village clinic by a mule. Their clothes were drenched in blood and they were weeping.
The old woman says, “Every time after saying goodbye to my children, I thought I would not come back and what would happen to my kids?”
She also spoke of the days when she saved her money to buy some goods, but in the middle of the way, security forces seized her goods and sent her back home with empty hands.
The International Liberty Association (ILA) is a Registered Charity (Charity number: 1160607). It was formed to promote a respect for human rights throughout the world and at the same time to do whatever is necessary to reduce the suffering of the victims of such abuses by focusing international opinion on the situation.
In this regard, during the couple of years of activities, ILA along with its hard working volunteers and help from generous supporters has done:
► Campaigns to stop “Forced Marriage”, “Child Labouring”,
►Raise awareness of human rights issues, to support the rights of women, children and minorities,
►Aids refugees who are victims of human rights abuses,
►Has relocated more than 3,000 refugees in a safe place,
►Using all possible public network and communications, considering Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the way of living at peace.
We can continue our activities to reduce people’s suffering and gain more respect for Human Rights, when you help us with a gift in your will to make a huge change in our children’s future life.
Imagine a Middle-East with no Human Rights violation which you have been part of this glorious project.
During all this years we could not do anything without your help. This is an admirable job which comes through with your generous help.
Please contact us today, we are here to help. It is quite easy o leave a gift in your will to ILA, empowering us to follow our commitments which are:
Raise awareness of human rights crises, Supporting Human Rights and its defenders, Protecting refugees and victims of Human Rights Violation, Protecting prisoners of conscience.
One of the main speakers of the International Liberty Association in our North London Event was Struan Stevenson, who represented Scotland in the European Parliament from 1999-2014. He is an author and international lecturer on the Middle East and Human Rights.
He is well known in Europe and Scotland for his in-depth knowledge and understanding of Scottish and EU affairs. Struan was a former President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, President of the European Parliament’s Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development Intergroup, President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq and President of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup.
He is Co-ordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CIC) and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA). Struan is Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Business UK (SBUK), a pro-union business organization. He is a director of The European Bureau for Conservation & Development (EBCD) and is also heavily committed to animal welfare issues.
Moderator: After his talk, you will have time to ask him questions, and there is no one better in this room prepared to take some challenging questions than Struan, so please everyone welcome Struan Stevenson (applause).
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, Secretary of State. It’s a hard act to follow Theresa, but it’s always a pleasure for me to come here (ILA office); I’m beginning to find my way here regularly. My favorite cat lives here as well (laughter). And really, could I start by thanking the International Liberty Association for all of your fundraising, and all of the work, very important work, that you do on behalf of victims of human rights abuse, particularly in support of our dear friends the Ashrafis, now two thousand five hundred of them in Albania.
Now, as we’ve heard this evening and we’ve seen some harrowing videos, the protests are continuing to rage in Iran. Millions of demonstrators are on the streets now in 144 cities and towns across the nation, demanding – and the demonstrations have become totally political now, there is now question of the old adage that we used to hear in the British press that it’s the hardliners against the moderates’ middle ground.
It is now political, they are calling for the downfall of this theocratic fascist regime. And let me give you the figures, the latest figures this evening, of what is happening in these demonstrations where the IRGC and the Bassij have given instructions to shoot to kill, aiming at the heads and chests of the protesters. The latest figures are that 285 people have been killed, four thousand have been injured, ten thousand protesters have been arrested. Ten thousand. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, he is the one who has ordered the regime’s Gestapo, the IRGC, to open fire on these unarmed civilians, many of them children. As we heard this evening, a 13-year-old shot in the head, killed.
In Iran more than half the population of eighty million is under the age of thirty. Around a quarter of these young people are jobless, more in some of the harder-hit regions. And yet the Iranians are among the most pro-Western people in the Middle East, but they are ruled by a clique of elderly, bearded, deeply corrupt mullahs who’ve drained the country’s rich oil resources to feather-bed their own lavish lifestyles, and to fund their revolutionary expansionism and proxy wars. This is why millions of people have taken to the streets inside Iran, but also why they have taken to the streets in Iraq and Lebanon, demanding an end to Iranian meddling in the Middle East and an end to corruption and oppression.
So if Europe’s new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Josep Borrell, takes office, he must now tell the people of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon that they have EU support, that the people of Europe stand shoulder to shoulder with all of these protesters, and that we will not stop supporting them until we get rid of this theocratic regime. Thank you (app
ILA: This is a excerpt report of some of the news agencies and Amnesty International about the recent peaceful protests in Iran against the Gasoline 300 percent increased price.
Iran’s government has blamed foreign enemies for the recent unrest — the severity of which remains unclear because a near-total internet shutdown has halted the flow of information out of the country.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has claimed victory over the ongoing unrest in the country, state media reported Wednesday, six days after nationwide protests erupted following an abrupt spike in gas prices.
The question is: So why is the internet still off?
Human Rights Watch said “occasional video footage of protests posted on social media amid the internet shutdown appear to show security forces directly shooting at protesters in different cities.”
Rouhani has suggested that the protesters were not Iranians but anti-government forces “pre-planned by the reactionary regional regimes, the Zionists, and the Americans.”
David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, told CNN that: “The international community needs to be saying: keep the internet on, do not repress peaceful protest, use only proportionate means to deal with it, and make sure that all your responses to protesters are in keeping with international human rights standards.”
On Tuesday, Amnesty International reported at least 106 people have been killed since the protests against a fuel subsidy cut began over the weekend. The report cites videos and eyewitness accounts that have trickled out of the country, an effort complicated by the internet restrictions.
With internet connections cut off across the country by authorities in Iran after days of bloody protests, Iranians are scrambling to understand what is happening beyond what little has come out in official channels.
Nationwide protests against tripling fuel prices in Iran have resulted in at least 106 protesters in 21 cities in Iran killed, Amnesty International reported Tuesday.
They raised objects to some of the domestic and international policies of the Islamic Republic, by shouting slogans like, “No Gaza, no Lebanon, I give my life for Iran” and “We’ve got no money and no fuel, leave Palestine alone.”
Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International:
“The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy.”
Iran: More than 100 protesters believed to be killed as top officials give green light to crush protests
The authorities must end this brutal and deadly crackdown immediately and show respect for human life
خيلي جمله خوبيه:
Even if a small minority of protesters have resorted to violence, police must always exercise restraint and use no more force than is strictly necessary, proportionate and lawful in response to the violence they are facing. Violence by a few individuals does not justify a widespread reckless response
Iran affairs expert Dr. Reza Taghizadeh, formerly of Glasgow University:
“It appears that the common element of these protests is exactly the same as what we are currently witnessing in Iraq, Lebanon and Chile and that is general poverty and the failure of their governments to provide the basic needs of populations.
“Although the trigger force in Iran is the rise of price of gasoline, the protests in more than 37 major cities are political and against a system of government that is corrupt, undemocratic and resists change”,
Iran’s Interior Minister Abdulreza Rahmani Fazli announced the sudden 300 percent increase in the price of gasoline last Friday, saying that it was a decision by the country’s High Council for Economic Coordination.
International Liberty Association: Please make a donation towards our “Campaign to support the victim of peaceful demonstrations”
Dr Davina Lloyd was another speaker at the International Liberty Association’s event:
“Before I begin I wanted to say two thanks-you. First thank-you is to all my Iranian friends. This might seem a strange thank-you, but before I knew them I knew nothing about Camp Liberty. But what they gave me was the chance to save the lives of other human beings, and I think the one thing you can do in life, the best thing you can do in life, is to save the life of somebody else, and there is nothing better than that; and then, to top it all, they let me go to Albania and meet the people whose lives I’ve saved, and that was overwhelmingly joyful, and for that I say thank you to them all.
I also want to thank you all, everybody here, for everything you do to support this wonderful organisation (International Liberty Association) and for everything you’ve done in the past to make sure that our friends escaped that dreadful, ironically-named Camp Liberty. I think we all know that the current regime of mullahs is only interested in expanding their misogynistic and very cruel version of Islam across the world. And because they obviously have different world-view to everybody else, they see that the best way to do this is to increase their population from 82 million to 150 million, when everybody else in the world is trying to cut back on the expanding population.
Now the slight problem with this is, if you want an instant increase in babies being born, all you can do is take young girls, girls under the age of eighteen, to older men, and that is the state-sanctioned view of what you do with little girls. And so currently 17 per cent, that’s almost a fifth, of all marriages in Iran, are with young girls under the age of eighteen, and one million of those marriages are with girls aged ten to fourteen. And the whole idea is to get them pregnant and expand the population of an Islamic state. I myself, as a biology teacher, I know that it is not right, either physically or mentally, for young girls to be having children at such a young age, and the problems that will then come to them, both physically and mentally, afterwards are extreme; and it is a most awful form of child torture.
The consequence of that is that the suicide or attempted suicide as well, of all these young girls has considerably increased. We have to do something to stop that. The second thing of course, as you saw, is all the problems with work. These girls have a particular problem because they don’t often stay married. Once they’ve done their bit, once they’re no longer virgins, these older men move on to the next one, and there are huge numbers, something like 40,000, very young girls divorced before they get to eighteen.
The problem they’ve got is that they’re now on the scrapheap. Nobody wants them, and how on earth are they going to get any work, except on the streets, because they haven’t got any education, because at marriage the education stops as well ? And they’re not the only ones that don’t get the education. It’s hard with Iran to get hold of actual figures except for the ones that they give you themselves, but there are about 3.2 million children who don’t get any education and about seven million of those actually work on the streets.
The average life expectancy on the streets is ten and that’s because, not only do you become ill because of the life on the streets, but you are trafficked. You are rented out for sex. You are sold and sold for your organs as well, and there are no laws to prevent any of this happening whatsoever.
So the situation for a child in Iran is appalling. I just wanted to say that I give to a number of charities and I’m involved in a lot of charity work, and the ILA is the only charity that I give to that I know that none of the money I give is going to some executive in charge. I know it’s going out there to do good work and I have seen the consequences of their work myself. So children are our future, that’s what it says. Let’s help them. Thank you!
Iran’s Trash Children: A Harrowing Reality
The International Liberty Association found this report good to share about the children situation in Iran, particularly it is about children who are looking for food in trashes our to find something to sell and then share their earning with their families. These children spend their time and life for a basic need to be survived, instead of enjoying their childhood or going to school, be ready to build the country’s future.
ILA invite you to read this report, written by Hamideh.
A garbage lot in Shar-e Rey, south of Tehran, has become very important to locals who earn money from sorting trash, with some being lucky enough to find something edible or valuable in with the rubbish.
While this story would be tragic enough like that, most of the trash sorters are young children whose families are struggling to survive and are forced to send their children to do this dangerous work in order to make ends meet.
Worse still, the Regime has actually been charging the child garbage collectors 35 million rials for access to the lot and 5-7 million rials to rent small shacks to live in. Then, on October 16, several garbage lots in Ashraf Abad of Shar-e Rey were destroyed, forcing the garbage collectors to spend several nights in the neighboring deserts.
Of course, Shar-e Rey is not the only place that children pick through trash and this is not the only dangerous job that children there are forced to do. In Tehran alone, nearly 5000 children are sorting trash, with 40% of them being the only worker in their family. All of them are at risk of infection and developing diseases like Hepatitis and AIDS.
In September, ISNA news agency found out that the “average age of garbage collectors is 12”, but kids as young as four are working out there for “10-20 hours a day” and that these kids “live in makeshift homes made of junk and have no bath”. They concluded that this can only be described as “modern slavery”.
Life for children has only gotten worse under the mullahs’ regime, with many being robbed of a future and forced to do exhausting and humiliating work, where the regime can still exploit these precious children to make money. Even the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)-affiliated Mehr news agency reports that there is a mafia network that has grown around the garbage collector children.
While back in March the state-run ILNA news agency wrote that the government won’t stop the child trash collectors because then the regime would be forced to pay higher wages to workers of legal age, who know their rights and can fight for them through legal channels.
Now, of course, the regime’s media hides much of the crisis, but it is clear that government institutions and officials are exploiting Iranian children to line their own pockets, no matter what damage it might do.
As International Liberty Association one of our main campaigns and works is towards supporting children rights, stopping child laboring and forced marriage.
Our event in North London
The International Liberty Association held an event in North London. The vent was regarding the Child Laboring in Iran. The speakers also talked about it including:
Azadeh Hosseini, a mother of two young children and a secondary school head teacher.
Excerpts of her speech at the International Liberty Association event follow:
“I would like to thank you all for being here and for your endeavours in improving the lives of women and children in Iran. My parents came to the UK as refugees when I was three years old, and my sister was just two months old, knowing that Iran was not a place to raise their daughters. Unfortunately, however, for other young women and girls the harsh life under the mullahs is a bitter reality. Trafficking and exploitation of young girls, some the same age as my own daughter, is commonplace. An unprecedented number of Iranian girls are being forced into child marriage as you know, and this is mostly due to poverty.
This issue sparked a renewed wave of outrage in February after an eleven-year-old girl was repeatedly raped after being forced to marry a man forty years her senior, who already had a wife and seven children. Sadly this is not uncommon, and what is worse is that there seems to be little outcry about this atrocity. Child marriage is just one area where the treatment of women in Iran has prompted concerns. Iran is a country where women are harassed to the extent where it is not even safe to go to work, where women are executed for simply defending themselves against rape by those in power. Those who rise up against injustice against women and children are faced with a harsh prison sentence.
As you’ve seen from the videos, not a day goes by without a new clip being shown of Iranian children either selling chewing-gum and other items in order to feed their families, or children playing instruments on the streets to collect loose change to pay for their parents’ medical bills, or other clips where children describe how they take it in turns to go to school with their siblings, as their parents cannot afford to buy them each a pair of shoes. Or there are other videos of mothers and children sorting through rubbish to find food to fill their empty stomachs. As a young mother, it is such things that break my heart into a million pieces, and bring tears to my eyes. Whilst those in power in Iran line their pockets and use the Iranian wealth to fund terror groups, these innocent children are being robbed of their dignity and their youth on a daily basis.
These children are a generation who would be left damaged and broken whose scars will run deep and may never heal.
As a teacher I am left wondering how these children one day will try to overcome the mental and physical scars inflicted upon them. I often remind myself that these could have been my children, with no food, no shelter or shoes to line their sore feet, forced to marry when very young because I had no means of supporting them – oh how life could have been so different for me! What a shame, and how sad it is to be speaking such words in the context of a country with such a proud history and such a proud people, a country whose oil should see to the needs of the Iranian people ten times over. Even thirty-five years ago when my parents left the country, they could not have imagined what would become of the country that they loved, and what would become of the situation of women and children of their homeland.
Fortunately, the work of organisations such as International Liberty Association, whose work I am proud of, brings this to light. We are all here because this issue has touched us in some ways, and I am so grateful to each and every one of you for being here.
I WANT TO BE THE VOICE OF THE CHILDREN OF IRAN
International Liberty Association had an interview with one of the young volunteers, Rosa. She told ILA a brief story about her background and her motivation in helping International Liberty Association human rights campaigns, particularly, Campaign to Stop Child laboring and Forced Marriage.
As you know the “Report” page is a new page in ILA website, and we wanted to have an interview with one of ILA’s young volunteers. So, please tell us about yourself, you study and your hobbies or how you spend your spare time.”
Rosa: “Hi, I am Rosa, 17 years old. I’m currently doing my last year of A-levels. My parents are both British-Iranians and human rights activists. I have been learning piano 10 years ago and I play piano in my free time, and also I do volunteering for the International Liberty Association one day a week.”
ILA: “We appreciate your excellent work here at International Liberty Association.”
You said your parents are both British-Iranians and human rights activists, please tell us more about them?”
Rosa: “My dad was in prison and tortured for 8 years because of fighting for human rights and freedom of speech in Iran. Many of his friends have been executed. My aunt has also been executed. My father still hasn’t been able to move on from the pain and suffering that he has been through.
My dad says the only way to help me dealing with this pain is by supporting human rights and fighting for the people who are suppressed by the Iranian government in our country. My mother also is a human rights activist and we all are hoping freedom for our country like what I am enjoying here.”
ILA: “Do you have any sisters our brothers here?”
Rosa: “yes, I do. I have a very kind brother, Elia. He was born here like me and we have not seen Iran yet.”
ILA: “You haven’t seen Iran! That’s interesting, so tell us what do you and Elia Know about Iran?”
Rosa: “Yeah! Literally our parents aim to keep me and my brother, Elia, educated on the history and culture of our country; a country in which, unlike the UK, the children have to work instead of going school and having fun; a country where, without their consent, young girls are being married off to men the age of their fathers; where children have to sell their kidneys to be able to put food on the table.
When I ask my father why Iran is like this, he says that Iran is a rich country and with proper use of this money it could end all sufferings, however, the people in charge, are exploiting this money for their own use.”
Rosa: “With my parents, I follow the news on what is happening in Iran. My parents would rather me to focus on my studies than to see the evil in my country. Despite this, I feel obliged to see what is happening to kids my own age in my own country. Just like Maryam Akbari and Soheil Arabi who can’t be with their children, I think that if I was in Iran I could be in the same position as those children. The children of Iran don’t deserve this. Just as my parents put so much of their time and energy in helping them, I want to do as much as I can to be the voice of the children of Iran.
ILA: “Rosa, thank you very much for your time and your hospitality. We wish you all the best at your education and your fight for human rights and a better future for the whole world.”
Rosa: “I should thank you and the International Liberty Association that established these opportunities for people like me who want to do something to support human rights and end the suffering of people whose rights have been violated.”
THE HUMAN RIGHTS PRISONER IS THE MOST VULNERABLE PERSON
International Liberty Association held a social event in Waterloo on 21 September, this year, and the Human Rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, was the keynote speaker at the event.
According to the International Liberty Association’s reporter; “During the half-hour long speech Mr. Robertson laid out the case for the need to hold Iranian regime authorities to account for the crime against humanity they committed in the summer of 1988.
The 1988 massacre was against defenseless prisoners of conscience whom he described as “the most vulnerable” persons. Excerpts from his speech appear below. (ILA)
Let me make a beginning from here. The prisoner, human rights prisoner, is the most vulnerable person because he or she is at the complete command of those in authority… To commit crimes against humanity, which comprises the worst sort of crime, is the killing of prisoners. On July the 29th, 1988, the worst example of the worst of all crimes happened in the prisons of Iran. … The Ayatollah issued a fatwa. Now, on the 29th of July, prisons throughout Iran went into lockdown. The radio wasn’t heard, no newspapers were allowed, prison visits were canceled, and trips to the infirmary were stopped. Prisoners – the only visitors that came to those prisons – Evin, and other prisons in Tehran and all over – were black BMWs with what later was termed a Death Commission, three officers of the state: one, a judge; one, a prosecutor; one, an intelligence officer. At Evin, where most of the prisoners in Tehran were being kept, you had as the prosecutor a man named Raisi; as the intelligence officer, renowned for always voting to execute, you had a man named Pour-Mohammadi. Now, what happened then was that all the prisoners in this category were called up and waited outside the door of the makeshift courtroom.
International Liberty Association reporters that Mr. Geoffrey Robertson continued: “There were two exit doors; they were brought in from the front, and there were two exit doors, one to the right and one to the left, and the prisoner was brought in, and [they] said: “What is your allegiance?” And if the prisoner honestly said “the organization” or “the MEK,” the order was: “Take him to the left.” If the prisoner crumpled and said “I’m a hypocrite, a monafeqin,” he was taken sometimes to the right, sometimes; otherwise, for one reason or another, he was taken to the left, usually because the intelligence officer, Pour-Mohammadi, had decided he wanted everyone taken to the left. Taken to the left, a queue was blindfolded, hand-whopped, hands tied behind back, and led in a conga line to the auditorium of the prison, and there were six ropes hanging and they were strung up, six at a time. There was another group taken to cranes that were outside the amphitheater; four nooses to every crane, four at a time. Thousands of people in this way were killed on the 29th or 30th.
It is worth mentioning that according to many human rights organizations, the International Liberty Association has reported that 30,000 prisoners were executed in the summer of 1988, in Iran.
Mr Geoffrey Robertson added: “It was the worst crime against humanity committed against prisoners since the Pathan death marches in the Philippines of American and Australian servicemen by the Japanese at the end of the war. Those Japanese who ordered that barbaric treatment, to march prisoners to death, were executed in the Tokyo trials. There was a similar situation of course in Srebrenica, when seven thousand Muslim men and boys were executed by the Serbs.
They were imprisoned, but only for a few hours; these, this was a crime against people who’d been kept in prison for seven or eight years, and in many cases were melikesh, had served their sentence. This was a brutal execution without a trial, without an appeal, without mercy.
How is it that when every other crime committed in this world since the Second World War has had some prosecution, some retribution, this has not had any? And the relatives, the families of those who were killed in this barbaric way have not been allowed to mourn. They’ve not been told the location of the mass graves in which their children were put in them.
I think it is important that either the Security Council give a direction to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to develop a case in relation to the mass killings in Iran, or, it could be, but these people up for trial in absentia, in their absence, because we’ll never get them out of Iran while the government stands. But one way or the other, it has become crucial, I think, to the development of human rights law that some retribution, even if it’s only retribution in absentia, should be visited on these people. Set up a prosecutor, set up a court that can hear the evidence that can shame them, that can articulate what happened in those prisons in 1988, so that, hopefully, it will not happen again, so that the world can see what kind of people run this country. Only by telling that truth and having it widely appreciated can the other horrors that this regime is perpetrating be called out. So that would be my plea, that this is the worst of crimes against humanity since the Second World War, nothing has been done about it and now the United Nations, which failed in 1988 to do anything, must step up and do something, because even by authoritatively putting out the evidence, that is one way that the truth can come out. Thank you (applause).
What International Liberty Association is doing regarding the 1988 Massacre is: “…telling that truth and having it widely appreciated can the other horrors that this regime is perpetrating be called out.”