Overview of human rights abuses under the government of Hassan Rouhani
From day one the regime of Iran has been based its rule on the pillars of domestic crackdown, and exporting terrorism and a reactionary, religious mentality.
It does not make any difference which faction is taking the office, the systematic and widespread violations of human rights in Iran have continued unabated for the past 40 years.
Even after the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani came to power, despite pledging to hold the “key” to Iran’s problems, he has failed to provide even an iota of the freedoms the Iranian people crave and deserve.
His record has revealed an unrelenting loyalty to the regime establishment in regards to social oppression and continued crackdowns.
During the 1980’s, Hassan Rouhani called for the public execution of political dissidents in Friday prayers, and as the secretary of the Supreme Security Council in 1999, he played a major role in suppressing the uprising of Tehran’s students and people.
An atrocious number of executions, continued public punishments and an escalating trend of oppression has been Hassan Rouhani’s report card during his tenure.
Security forces continued to harass, interrogate, and detain hundreds of activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and members of ethnic and religious minorities.
The unbelievable scale of executions and brutal tortures in prisons and arrest of more than 7,000 individuals during the 2017-2018 uprisings manifest the continuing human rights abuses that remain unaddressed, under Iran’s “moderate” leadership.
The following constitutes an overview of the serious human rights abuses in Iran, and a corresponding set of queries that will serve as a litmus test for the authenticity of Hassan Rouhani’s commitment to justice and human rights for the Iranian people.
Iran’s Penal Code allows executions to be carried out by many different methods, such as hanging, stoning, and firing squad.
At least 3,800 people were executed during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure. This made Iran second in the world when it came to the number of people it executed, and first in terms of the number of executions per capita.
Nevertheless, the actual figures are definitely higher, as most executions in Iran are carried out secretly without anyone knowing except those who carry it out.
It is not only the number of executions that is appalling, but also the nature of some of them. The executions involved 38 juveniles, 93 women, 91 political prisoners and 219 individuals hanged in public. It also includes individuals from ethnic and religious minority groups, including Ahvazi Arabs, Kurds and Sunnis.
Although Iran has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Hassan Rouhani’s government has made no effort to alter the country’s Penal Code, which allows girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 to be executed.
Torture has been institutionalized in the regime’s punishment laws and is sanctioned by the Judiciary as well as the regime officials.
One such example is flogging, used for more than 100 offenses in Iran, which has been institutionalized by the regime in its Islamic Penal Code.
The regime denies the use of torture despite thousands of reports from as early as the 80’s that prove the use of torture to extract forced confessions from prisoners or to break the spirit of political prisoners.
At least 14 detainees arrested during the December 2017 – January 2018 protests so far have been identified by name as having died as a result of torture in Iran’s prisons. In an act of propaganda, authorities have attempted to downplay some of these deaths by insisting that they actually were instances of suicide.
No officials were held accountable.
The vast majority of the 8,000 detainees had been arrested by Hassan Rouhani’s Ministry of Intelligence, which under his watch has become one of Iran’s major human rights violators.
3. Political prisoners
Iran is holding numerous in jail on political charges while Iranian officials deny the existence of political prisoners in Iran time and again.
Because of the Judiciary’s refusal to accept detainees as political prisoners, they are usually tried at revolutionary courts, where rules and regulations are even stricter and sanctions are harsher than the courts of justice.
Political prisoners in Iran include peaceful political dissidents, journalists, online media workers, students, filmmakers, musicians and writers, as well as human rights defenders including lawyers, women’s rights activists, minority rights activists, trade unionists, environmental activists, anti-death penalty campaigners, and those seeking truth, justice and reparation for the mass executions and enforced disappearances of the 1980s.
Many of them are kept in solitary confinement subjected to horrendous treatment by the authorities.
Iranian regime deliberately delays or refuses urgent specialized medical care for political prisoners. Prison authorities have regularly downplayed or dismissed the seriousness of their medical problems, treated serious ailments with simple painkillers and withheld essential medication. Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are commonly targeted. Political prisoners Arash Sadeghi, Atena Daemi, Soheil Arabi, Majid Assadi, Zeynab Jalalian, Arzhang Davoudi, Mohammad Bannazadeh Amirkhizi, Mohammad Habibi, Abolghasem Fouladvand, and Saeed Shirzad… are among those have been deliberately denied medical access.
One shocking example of the rampant violence perpetrated against the Iranian political prisoners in the murder of a 21-year-old Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali.
The political prisoner was stabbed to death by two prisoners on June 10 in Fashafuyeh Prison.
His mother and his cellmate believe that Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali was killed upon orders of prison officials.
The young political prisoner was sentenced to eight years of prison on charges of “blasphemy”, “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic”, “insulting the leader” and “spreading propaganda” against the regime; all of which the regime considers “security” violations.
4. Persecution of the religious minorities
Widespread and systematic attacks continued to be carried out against religious minorities.
The Iranian regime’s systematic persecution of the religious minorities has resulted in widespread religiously motivated hate crimes against them, with none of the attackers yet prosecuted or brought to justice.
Among religious groups, Baha’is and Christian converts from Islam were seriously discriminated against. They faced systematic discrimination, including in education and employment, and were persecuted for practicing their faith.
In a recent case on July 1st, eight newly converted Iranian Christians were arrested in the southern city of Bushehr at their houses; some of them were members of the same family. Security forces raided and searched their houses and confiscated their Bibles, Christian statues and signs, wooden crosses, paintings, laptops, cellphones, ID cards and credit cards. The children witnessed all of these events as well as the cruelty by security forces in arresting their parents.
Such cruel behavior toward the religious minorities in Iran happens while according to article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
5. Persecution of ethnic minorities
The Iranian regime also incites hatred and violence against ethnic minorities, violating their political, social, religious, economic, cultural, linguistic and educational rights.
Among other abuses, hundreds of people were arrested around Ahvaz last year amid protests against the regime’s discriminatory policies, water and power cuts and poverty.
Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activists have also been targeted.
Iranian authorities arbitrarily detained 120 people in connection with two separate Azerbaijani Turkic cultural gatherings that took place in July and August 2018.
Other ethnic minorities, including Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen, continue to face entrenched discrimination, curtailing their access to education, employment and adequate housing.
Members of minority groups have been imprisoned on spurious charges such as “spreading corruption on earth.”
During the last four decades and especially in the last six years, Hassan Rouhani has played a key role in all of the regime’s human rights violations as the President and the chairperson of the clerical regime’s Supreme Security Council.
It is incumbent on the international community, particularly the UN, to hold the Iranian regime and its president accountable for allowing such egregious human rights violations.