Iran’s judiciary and security services have perpetuated a crackdown on human rights activists by defaming and imprisoning those who dare speak out since Rouhani took office in 2013, Amnesty International said in a report on Wednesday.
The report entitled “Victims in the trap of repression: human rights defenders in Iran under the yoke of the attacks” details the Iranian regime’s oppressive tactics towards dozens of human rights defenders, including Ahwaz activists Rahman Asakra and Mohamed Ali Amouri. The report stressed that Iranian judicial bodies and security services often describe these detainees as “agents of foreign parties” or “traitors” – trying and imprisoning them on fabricated charges of “national security.” The prolific nature of these practices is a huge blow to those hoping to see the human rights reforms Rouhani promised during his first election campaign.
The report added that some activists targeted by the regime have been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for minor acts, including contact with the United Nations, the European Union, or human rights organisations such as Amnesty International. “Instead of echoing the dangerous myth that human rights defenders are a threat to national security, the Iranian authorities must focus on addressing the legitimate concerns raised by these people,” said Philip Luther, director of research and lobbying activities for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. “Human rights defenders have risked everything in order to build a more just and humane society, and it is appalling to be punished aggressively for their courage.” “It is a painful irony that the Iranian authorities boast of strengthening their relations with the United Nations and the European Union, especially following the agreement on the nuclear program. At the same time, the human rights defenders who have contacted these organisations are treated as criminals,” Luther continued.
In its report, the organisation calls on the European Union, which announced in 2016 plans to resume a bilateral dialogue with Iran on human rights, to condemn in the strongest terms the persecution of human rights defenders in Iran. “The international community, and the European Union, in particular, should not remain silent about the disgraceful treatment of human rights defenders in Iran,” said Luther. “Instead of appeasing Iranian officials, the European Union should strongly demand the immediate and unconditional release of all those imprisoned for their peaceful human rights activities and an end to the abuse of the judicial system to silence activists.”
The report provides a comprehensive overview of the Iranian campaign’s targeting a large number of human rights defenders working in various areas of human rights in Iran. The report highlights 45 cases, including the case of Ahwazi Arab activists who are members of the Al-Hewar Cultural foundation who now face execution.
The report confirms that 40 year old teacher Mohammad Ali Amouri and 38 year old chemistry professor Rahman Asakereh are human rights activists who have been detained by Iran for their human rights work. The report points out that their sentences are incredibly harsh, as their confessions were extracted under torture. Mohammed Ali al-Amouri spent five years in Iraqi prisons on charges of illegally crossing the border during his escape from the Iranian authorities. However, authorities in Iraq handed him over to Iran at the end of his sentence despite international and Arab pleas to protect him and his cohort Shahid Amuri.
Due to their activities in the Al-Hewar Foundation, Muhammad Ali Al-Amouri and Rahman Asakra were arrested in 2011 along with a number of other Ahwazi activists, such as Ahwazi poet Hashem Shabani, and Hadi Rashedi. Shabani and Rashedi were executed by the Iranian regime authorities on trumped-up charges of “threatening national security”. Many others have been arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, including Jaber Al- Boushoukouka and Mokhtar Al-Boushoukouka.