Women human rights defenders subjected to ill treatment

Association

On 9th March 2018, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch sounded the alarm over the health of two women human rights defenders (WHRDs) detained in Shahr-e Rey Prison. Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are currently being held in quarantine in unsanitary conditions with little access to the outside world. The two WHRDs were imprisoned for defending women’s rights and opposing the death penalty. Reports note that the two activists have been on hunger strike since February 2018 in protest over the lack of clean drinking water and were forcibly administered IV fluids.  

Atena Daemi, whose case was previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, is serving a sentence of seven years for her civic and human rights activism. As reported by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, she was convicted on charges of “insulting the supreme leader, insulting state officials, spreading lies, resisting arrest and assaulting the arresting agent”. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is serving a sentence of three years for writing an unpublished, fictional story on the practice of stoning women to death for adultery. On 15th March 2018, the Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament Pier Antonio Panzeri issued a statement drawing attention to the treatment of the two WHRDS, declaring that: 

"I am gravely concerned by the detention and reported cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee at Shahr-e Rey prison. They are regarded as prisoners of conscience by credible human rights organisations. They are serving lengthy and unjust prison sentences that were handed down solely for their peaceful human rights work." 

In this context, on 23rd March 2018 the Human Rights Council voted to extend the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran for another year during the Council's 37th session. Ahead of the vote, 46 regional and international civil society groups petitioned for the mandate to be renewed, citing a number of human rights issues, including restrictions on civic freedoms.  

Peaceful Assembly

The treatment of prisoners and deaths in detention remain a serious concern for rights groups monitoring the situation in Iran. According to Human Rights Watch, one of the protesters arrested during demonstrations by the Nematollahi Gonabadi Dervish religious community sect in February subsequently died in custody. The protests, which were previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, left dozens of protesters injured and three police officers dead. According to a statement by Human Rights Watch on 4th March 2018, the family of Mohammad Raji, one of those arrested, was informed that he had died in custody. The authorities have refused to provide any explanation into the circumstances around his death and have threatened reprisals against his family if they speak about it publicly. Local monitoring groups note that this is the fourth individual to have died in detention over the past two months in Iran. 

Expression

Freedom of expression is still severely curtailed in Iran. Most recently on 5th April 2018, Iranian authorities threatened again to block Telegram, a widely used messaging app in Iran. The Telegram app had been blocked in Iran during protests in December 2017 and January 2018, but despite extensive lobbying by the Iranian authorities, Telegram had refused to comply with domestic censorship laws. 

The Centre for Human Rights in Iran also reported that state hackers used malware to access private user information, on the same day that Iran’s supreme leader issued a religious ruling ordering the state to refrain from “violating the people’s security and domestic space”. The Centre also found that Iranian authorities have repeatedly violated laws when collecting people's private online information.