Fall Report by the Center for Defenders of Human Rights – 2009.01.14
Editor’s Note: The following article appeared at Rooz online and is reposted here due to its importance for our readers’ information.
Despite the closure of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, this Tehran-based human rights organization published its quarterly report on human rights violations in Iran for fall.
The Center presented its quarterly fall report on human rights violations in Iran in three parts: part one – political-civil rights, including condition of political, social and dissident activists; part two: social, economic and cultural rights; and part three: issues related to cultural heritage.
The Center emphasized in its report that the group has three main missions according to its bylaws: “pro bono representation of political and ideological defendants, support of families of political and ideological prisoners and sustained and orderly reports of human rights violations cases in Iran.” At the end of each quarter, the Center releases its human rights report.
The report notes that none of the United Nations human rights commissioners were granted visas to visit Iran in the past two years and that many international organizations rely on the Center’s reports to remain informed about human rights conditions in Iran, adding, “The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, in the report that he presented to the United Nations General Assembly in December 2008, which led to the passage of a resolution against the Islamic Republic of Iran, quoted reports by the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, which perhaps partly explains for the closure of the office of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights. The office building was purchased by utilizing a portion of the 2003 Nobel Peace Price, which was awarded to Shirin Ebadi. In addition to the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, another non-governmental organization called ‘Center for Cooperation in Clearing Mines’ which was founded by Shirin Ebadi and a group of her colleagues operated out of the Center’s office.”
The report adds, “While the Center for Defenders of Human Rights is facing the heaviest pressures in continuing its activities, it once again announces its commitment to the institution of human rights in Iran and voices its deep concern in this fall quarterly report over the continuation of unwise policies and trends that have achieved nothing other than public discontent and disillusion and invites lawmakers, administrators and officials to oblige by their legal duties as set forth in the Constitution and binding human rights resolutions.”
The report then references illegal activities by paramilitary groups: “In the previous days, obstacles were placed on the path of Shirin Ebadi, the president of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, such that her office was first searched by officers claiming to be tax officers and some equipment and two personal computers were confiscated. Afterwards, a group of students who called themselves Basiji students gathered in front of Ebadi’s house chanting slogans such as ‘Israel Murders, Ebadi Supports,’ dismantled and trampled her attorney sign and wrote slogans with paint on the walls of her house. Such actions were taken in the presence of two police officers, who were present at the scene at the request of Shirin Ebadi, but who did nothing to prevent the illegal actions of the protestors. In any case, the Center for Defenders of Human Rights will continue to observe its duties in defending human rights and human dignity, as reflected in the Center’s statement condemning violence in the Gaza strip and criticizing Israel’s actions.”
The Center for Defender’s of Human Rights closes its statement by inviting the Iranian regime to “gain accurate understanding of developments in Iranian society and abiding by its international obligations in meeting human rights standards and respecting international conventions governing political and civil rights, to all of which the government is a signatory.”
The report is presented in two parts: Part one – Political-civil rights, and Part two – Social, Economic and Cultural rights.
The Center emphasized that the range of personal freedoms in Iran were shrinking by the day and that the potential and satisfactory fields for political and social activities were subjected to obstacles and wrote:
Among dissident political-social activists, at least 9 were summoned to courts, 75 were arrested, and 22 had received jail sentences. Among writers and journalists, at least 2 had been summoned to courts, 7 had been sentenced, 16 had been tried, 2 publications were banned, and 1 website had been filtered (i.e. denied access). Regarding student activities, there were at least 50 cases of summons to courts or university disciplinary committees, 4 students had been arrested, and 2 students had been barred from continuing their higher education. Regarding women’s movement activists, 4 individuals had received prison sentences. Regarding the death punishment and flogging, 41 adults, 4 adolescents under 18 years of age were hanged while the flogging sentence of 6 individuals was carried out in public.
At the end of the first part of the report, the Council also mentions the growing threats and pressures on the Sunni population of Iran, particularly those in the Sistan and Baluchistan province, and the arrest of Friday prayer leaders of Sunni mosques across the country, and the destruction of religious schools and theological centers as the most serious concerns of human rights activists.
In the second part of the report, the Council presents an encouraging picture in the economic, social and cultural aspects of human rights among Iranians. Because of uncontrolled inflation running at about 30 percent, living conditions of the general public are becoming harsher and the opportunities for engaging in social and cultural activities that are different from the government’s policies are dwindling. Because of this, the lowest income groups such as government workers, teachers and general workers have become more vulnerable and their efforts to acquire their professional and social rights are interpreted as acts against the security of the state and consequently crushed.
Regarding the conditions of teachers in the summer of 2008, at least 51 arrests took place, along with 4 judiciary sentences. Among workers, at least one was summoned to court, 1 was arrested, 13 received judiciary sentences, 71 were expelled from their job and many were not paid for the work they had performed and many faced strikes.
In its report, the Council called on the state to: “realistically understand the developments in Iranian society, review its failed economic, political, social and cultural policies, refrain from invading personal rights and freedoms, and the public rights of people, refrain from creating a police-driven atmosphere, be conscious of the dangers and threats facing the country, and enact a wise foreign policy that is free from tension and yet sensitive to the national image of the government and the public.”
In the end, the reports express its desire for a world in which “freedom of speech and thought that are free from fear and poverty are not only ideals but actually become the reality in people’s lives.”