UN rights office condemns Iran crackdown on dissidents

Representatives for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) voiced their concern Oct. 2 over Iran’s recent crackdown on activists speaking out within the nation. The OHCHR is most notably concerned by the September arrest of human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah. According to a statement by the OHCHR, Dadkhah has been sentenced to nine years in prison for “membership of an association seeking to overthrow the government and propaganda against the system.” In addition to his prison sentence, Dadkhah has also received a 10-year ban on legal practice and teaching. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who had been the press adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was also arrested last month for having “insulted” the Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei.

Also last month, government forces shuttered an independent newspaper, the Daily Shargh, and arrested the newspapers director, Mehdi Rahmanian, for its publication of a cartoon that officials claimed “‘insulted the values of the revolution.” According to Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the OHCHR, “the arrests and harsh sentences imposed on such figures reflect a disturbing trend apparently aimed at curbing freedom of expression, opinion and association, which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a State party.” Colville also noted the timing of this crackdown is particularly troubling in the buildup to next year’s presidential election.

Earlier in September, the daughter of a former Iranian president, Faezah Hashemi, was detained after being sentenced to six months for spreading propaganda. Faezah Hashemi is one of several opposition figures that have been detained and charged in connection with the wave of civil unrest following the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad. In December Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced opposition figure and former Iranian foreign minister Ebrahim Yazdi to eight years in prison for attempting to act against national security. Yazdi was also banned from civic activities for five years in the closed-door trial reportedly held in early November. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said last year that approximately 100 people imprisoned for their participation in the massive 2009 presidential election protests have been pardoned and released by supreme leader Khamenei. In March 2011 Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi  and their wives were arrested and jailed (later commuted to house arrest).

From Jurist, Oct. 3. Used with permission.

See our last post on Iran’s civil opposition.

  1. Iran: economist gets prison for opposing austerity
    There is a petition online to “Free Iranian Economist Fariborz Raisdana,” who last December was sentenced to one year in prison on the usual charges of creating propaganda against the Islamic state. His crime? An interview he gave to the BBC’s Persian service in which he criticized the lifting of state subsidies for basic necessities like food, power and fuel.

    We’ve repeatedly noted Ahmadinejad’s play to extreme but shallow populism as his regime imposes austerity—and use of repression wrapped in nationalism against those who dissent. Smells more than a little of fascism.

    Does this observation loan comfort to the neocons? Maybe it does. But are we supposed to not call it as we see it for fear of loaning comfort to the neocons? And yeah, we recognize that the sanctions play a role in creating the conditions for austerity—but does that let Ahmadinejad and his regime off the hook?

    Just asking.

  2. UN official: Iran threatening human rights activists
    A UN official on Oct. 11 released a report indicating that the government of Iran is torturing human rights activists and threatening the activists’ families with rape or death. In a report to the General Assembly, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed declared that human rights activists in Iran are being subjected to beatings, mock hangings, sleep deprivation and threats that their family members will be killed or raped. Protests in Iran have become more frequent recently due to the nation’s currency decreasing in value allegedly because of sanctions and mismanagement. In the report, Shaheed also noted that Iran has cracked down on freedom of the press by detaining and constantly watching journalists. This report was the third issued by Shaheed on the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.

    From Jurist, Oct. 13. Used with permission.