By Mohammad Sadat Khansari
The Iran Human Rights Monitor has released its report into human rights violations in Iran for the month of January and, as always, it’s a heartbreaking read featuring torture, arbitrary arrest, abuse of marginalised groups, and death. However, it’s important to know what the mullahs’ regime is doing, so that we can demand change, which is why I’m imploring you to read this summary and to click here for the more detailed report. The Regime uses these abuses to suppress the Iranian people and keep a shaky grasp on power, but by exposing their malign behaviour, we can hopefully convince the international community to act.
Perhaps the most obvious example of Iran’s commitment to human rights abuses in January, came from the Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, who expressed his sadness that the Regime could no longer carry out brutal – or as he termed them “divine” – punishments, like amputations, stonings, or blindings, in order to avoid condemnation by international bodies. He tried to claim that these punishments were somehow religious which is a lie, but his timing couldn’t have been less appropriate. While it is true that Iran has not carried out an amputation since January 2018, they are due to carry one out later this month on a man sentenced in October.
Also, the Regime is still routinely implementing flogging as punishment for non-violent crimes (at least 23 were issued and seven carried out in January alone) and has come under fire for the widespread use of torture against prisoners.
In fact, when labour activist Esmail Bakhshi revealed that he had been tortured by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry whilst in custody at the end of last year, he sparked a mass social media campaign of Iranians revealing that they had also been physically or psychologically tortured whilst in jail, using the Farsi hashtag “I was tortured too”. Even a quick glance at the posts using that tag will haunt you with stories of sexual torture, beatings, amputations, and other things that could not be imagined by any normal human. It is well known that the Regime uses torture to extract forced confessions or break the spirit of political prisoners, but knowing that and reading firsthand accounts are very different things.
As you can imagine, a Regime with no qualms about torturing political activists and flogging people for financial crimes is also pretty happy to execute people, often for non-violent crimes in violation of international law.
Iran executed at least 12 people in January; five of them in public, which is barbaric to both the victim and those made to watch. One of the victims was Mohsen Rezaie, who human rights activists are saying was forced to confess under torture and is innocent of the murder he was charged with; something that the Iranian judiciary reportedly admitted to his mother. While a woman, only identified as M.A, became the 87th woman to be executed during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.
Another of the victims, a 31-year-old man who was not named in the report, was hanged in public for allegedly violating Iran’s anti-gay laws. This is yet another reason that the US is urging the EU to take action against Iran, according to US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who said “criminalizing homosexuality or publicly hanging someone for being gay is incompatible with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
The Regime also continued its crackdown on activists from sentencing human rights attornies to trying environmentalists on evidence extracted under torture to imposing communication bans on activists. It also continued to arrest religious and ethnic minorities for peaceful protests against the denial of their rights. While prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience, were often denied medical treatment, due process, and forced into solitary confinement.