Protests in Iran face repression
Iranian authorities are violating the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. In July 2016, 92 student union groups expressed their grave concerns about the “atmosphere of fear and intimidation in Iran’s universities.” University authorities have reportedly prevented student groups from gathering and organising activities. Other protests organised by teachers and trade unionists, and demonstrations in support of political prisoners and spiritual leaders, have been met with excessive force by the authorities and protesters have been arrested, detained and sentenced to flogging.
Human rights lawyers, journalists, bloggers, women’s rights defenders, student leaders, trade union leaders and others have been arrested, arbitrarily detained, deprived of adequate medical treatment, subjected to torture and denied access to their families and lawyers for carrying out their legitimate activities in defence of human rights.
A report released by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on 20th June 2016 found that women political prisoners held in Evin prison in Tehran have been subjected to numerous violations while in detention, including being denied contact with their families. Amongst the women human rights defenders held in Evin prison is Narges Mohammadi, former vice-president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and President of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran. Narges Mohammadi received a 10-year sentence on 17th May 2016, for “membership in the Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty” (known by the acronym LEGAM). In addition to her 10-year sentence as a consequence of her work in campaigning against the death penalty, she received a five-year sentence for alleged “collusion and assembly against national security” and one year for “spreading propaganda against the system.”
Narges Mohammadi has been denied access to medical treatment while in detention. On 27th June 2016 she began a hunger strike in protest against the refusal of the authorities to allow her to speak to her children. On 16th July she was allowed to speak to her children once and so halted her hunger strike temporarily, but Narges reportedly resumed her hunger strike a few days later, to protest against the poor conditions of the prison ward in which she is being held, and because she is not allowed to speak to her children further. Her sentencing and treatment have provoked widespread international condemnation, including from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Other human rights defenders held in Evin prison include prominent human rights lawyer Dr Abdolfattah Soltani and student activist and women’s rights defender Bahareh Hedayat, who has been held in prison in violation of international law since being arrested on 31st December 2009. In April 2016 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) adopted the submission of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, ruling Hedayat’s detention to be arbitrary and demanding her immediate release.