Iranian human rights violations following the disputed presidential election in June were among the worst in the past 20 years, according to a report published Dec. 12 by Amnesty International. The report, “Iran: Election contested, repression compounded,” contains testimony from individuals detained during the protests that ensued after the election. According to AI, individuals were unlawfully detained, beaten, tortured, and raped, resulting in numerous deaths in detention.
According to the report:
The presidential election on 12 June 2009 heralded sweeping repression and the eruption of mass protests on a scale not seen since the revolution that established the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Long-standing patterns of human rights violations, including severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, intensified during the protests, and have continued since, leading to the most severe period of repression since the end of the revolutionary period which culminated in the “prison massacre” of 1988. As a result, the many Iranians who dispute the outcome of the election are living with a heightened fear of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, unfair trial and even execution.
AI called on the Iranian government to conduct a full and independent investigation into the allegations to hold accountable those responsible for rights violations. AI has also urged Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to allow UN human rights experts to visit Iran to help conduct the investigation.
Thousands were arrested during the protests following the contested June election, and about 140 have been tried in court to date. Of those tried, 81 have been convicted and sentenced, including former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi. The government’s response to the protests has been widely criticized, and human rights groups have called for the UN General Assembly to appoint a special envoy to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Iran since the election. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings, and forced confessions. (Jurist, Dec. 10)
See our last posts on Iran and the torture testimony.
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More protests in Tehran
Some 200 were arrested in anti-government protests in Tehran Dec. 7, which marked Students Day in Iran. Students clashed with police and consciously broke Iran’s political taboos. Taking direct aim at Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, they chanted, “Khamenei knows his time is up!” They held up flags with the “Allah” symbol—added after the 1979 revolution—removed. Some even burned an image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the revolution. (NYT, Dec. 11; Xinhua, Dec. 8)
Tehran protests continue; students charge provocation
Hundreds of students at Tehran University renewed protests for a second week on Dec. 13, and accused government provocateurs of being behind images of demonstrators burning photos of the Islamic Republic’s revered founder. Students charged that authorities are using images of the burning photos as a pretext to crack down on protests.
State television has repeatedly shown the images, ostensibly taken during student-led protests on Dec. 7, of unidentified hands burning and tearing up pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Revolutionary Guard have called for the trial and punishment of those responsible. (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 14)
Basiji militiamen stormed the campuses of two Tehran universities Dec. 8 and attacked hundreds student protesters. Despite an intimidating presence by the authorities, protests continued for a second day at Tehran University and Shahid Beheshti University.
That same day, plainclothes security personnel on motorcycles surrounded the downtown office of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who dared them to act. “You are officers,” he told them, according to his website, Kalamehnews.com. “If your mission is to kill, beat or threaten me, go ahead.” The security personnel eventually dispersed.
Iran’s prosecutor-general, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, vowed to come down harder than ever on protesters in comments that day, calling them a threat to the nation’s security and warning of harsh consequences for those who continue to take to the streets. (LAT, Dec. 9)
Majid Tavakoli becomes symbol of Iran student movement
Majid Tavakoli, an Iranian student leader who had been imprisoned twice before for his defense of human rights, was violently arrested on Dec. 7 after he gave a speech at a gathering of students at Amir Kabir University (Tehran) to commemorate Students’ Day. Three years earlier in December 2006, he had been among students who protested Ahmadinejad’s speech at Amir Kabir University and called him “a source of prejudice and corruption.” This year, Tavakoli was speaking to Amir Kabir students in the midst of student demonstrations throughout the country. The website Iranian Progressives in Translation offers excerpts from two articles which defend Tavakoli and address the meaning of the Iranian government’s claim that he was arrested while dressed in a woman’s hijab. The first article is by Mujtaba Saminejad, a journalist, human rights activist and blogger. The second is by Shakiba Shaker Hosseini, a young feminist activist. Read more…
Students arrested in Khomeini provocation?
Iranian authorities have arrested several people accused of destroying photos of Ayatollah Khomeini as well as the current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at student demonstrations. In campus protests last week, students apparently burned and trampled pictures of Khamenei, but denied government claims that they also tore up a photo of Khomeini. A Tehran prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, said the authorities are preparing indictments against those arrested, but gave no details on their identities. (AP, Dec. 14)