World Report 2010: Abusers Target Human Rights Messengers

Dubai-Human Rights Watch
Section on Iran :

At a news conference in Dubai, the organization released the chapters in its new World Report 2010 surveying human rights conditions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq. World Report 2010, the organization's 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights issues in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide. The chapters on the UAE, Bahrain, Iran and Iraq - among 15 Middle Eastern countries covered - detail torture and repression of human rights defenders, missed opportunities on minority rights, and ineffective measures to protect migrant workers. Human Rights Watch made recommendations to these countries to achieve progress in 2010."The combination of political tensions and economic downturn has brought a heightened hostility toward human rights in a number of Middle Eastern countries in 2009, in some cases reaching crisis proportions," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. "Instead of cracking down on people seeking their rights, these countries need to crack down on abuse and discrimination."
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Iran's government has jailed rights activists and sometimes their family members, as a way of intimidating those who speak out, Human Rights Watch said. Both the UAE and Bahrain have refused to give legal status to human rights organizations that are associated with opposition activists. In Iraq armed insurgents and party militias have targeted women's rights advocates.The report said that in the United States, the Obama administration faces the challenge of restoring US credibility on human rights and that the marked improvement in presidential rhetoric has not been matched in policy and practice.IRAN
"Iran's Post-Election Unrest is Now a Full-Blown Human Rights Crisis"Iran's post-election crackdown following the disputed presidential elections on June 12 has turned into a human rights disaster, Human Rights Watch said. Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Basij militia, and police arbitrarily arrested thousands of peaceful protesters and dissidents, including students, women's rights activists, lawyers, and prominent human rights defenders in a clear effort to intimidate critics and stifle dissent. Government officials confirmed that as of November at least 30 protesters had died as a result of attacks by Basij and anti-riot police or in detention. At least seven more died in clashes on December 27, the holy day of Ashura. The actual number of deaths caused by government-sponsored violence is believed to be much higher."The systematic and brutal targeting of demonstrators and government critics by security forces shows that the regime's crackdown is nothing but an attempt to silence voices of dissent," Stork said. "Iran's post-election unrest is now a full-blown human rights crisis."Many of those arrested reported being beaten or tortured, and in some cases sexually assaulted in prisons and secret detention facilities. A parliamentary inquiry determined in early 2010 that Deputy Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was directly responsible for the deaths of at least three detainees from torture and neglect in Kahrizak prison, which the judiciary had ordered shut down three years ago.Beginning in August, the Judiciary staged show trials of hundreds of prominent reformers and activists allegedly connected with "rioters" attempting to promote a "velvet revolution." During these trials, many of these dissidents gave televised confessions that appeared coerced. These confessions implicated the detainees in vaguely worded security crimes described in lengthy indictments filed by Revolutionary Court prosecutors. Some of those put on trial received lengthy prison terms and several were sentenced to death."The Iranian Judiciary's show trials of hundreds of demonstrators and dissidents ranks among the most absurd displays of prosecutorial abuse I have witnessed in recent memory," Stork said.In addition to the human rights crisis following the election, security forces systematically harassed members of religious minorities, such as Baha'is and Sunnis, and carried out a campaign of arbitrary arrest against Kurdish, Azeri, Baluch, and Arab civil society and political activists.Iran also had one of the world's highest execution rates in 2009. It was the leading violator of the prohibition on capital punishment against juvenile offenders, with three such executions: Molla Gol Hassan, Delara Darabi, and Behnoud Shojai.Human Rights Watch said the government needs to take urgent steps in 2010 to restore rights in Iran:
Immediately free everyone detained for peacefully exercising their rights to free expression, association, and assembly;
Investigate and prosecute government officials and members of security forces responsible for the killing, abuse, and torture of demonstrators and detainees;
Issue a moratorium on capital punishment and prohibit juvenile executions;
Amend Iranian law that allows the government to deny due process rights such as the right to counsel in the investigative phase of pretrial detention.


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