NCRI Women’s Committee Monthly Report – Nov 2015
The month of November witnessed numerous developments regarding women’s activities and protests as well as crackdown on them and arrests, in Iran.
Rouhani’s government executed another woman and intensified its repressive measures in the streets one step further.
November also saw significant changes as mothers were seen protesting outside Evin Prison. They rallied and staged protests to have their loved ones released. Of course, security agents responded by arresting the mothers and depriving them of their fundamental right to freedom of speech. This led to a wave of protests and hunger strikes.
Another development which began in October and continued into November was security forces launching various street patrols. Under official orders from the police chief, these patrols launched their efforts in a much harsher fashion compared to the previous month and began arresting and detaining young women and girls.
Nonetheless, women did not back down and continued their protests. During rallies staged in Iran’s Azerbaijan region, women and girls were seen as being very active everywhere in the protests staged in universities and across cities, demanding their freedoms.
Systematic violations of the right to life
Executions, arbitrary killings, deaths in custody, and death sentences
In mid-November, Hajar Safari was hanged in Tabriz Central Prison’s courtyard. The charges raised against her were never published in any state-run media outlet.
Inhumane treatment and cruel punishments
Amputation, flogging, torture and humiliation
Two girls aged 20 and 22 were victims of acid attacks in the month of November.
The report was officially announced by state-run media. The incident took place in the city of Marand in East Azerbaijan Province, northwestern Iran. The two attackers fled the scene and their identities were not determined, according to state-run sources.
Once again the case of civil activist Narges Mohammadi’s imprisonment was raised in the media. Despite severe illnesses, she was returned to Evin Prison from hospital under pressure imposed by prison officials without completing her medical examinations and treatment. Ms. Mohammadi is suffering from emboli in the lungs and muscle paralysis. After being returned to Evin, she wrote a protest letter describing her conditions, emphasizing that despite her physical conditions, state agents had cuffed her to a hospital bed in the emergency section. This led to a nervous breakdown for this prisoner.
Another case was Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian. She is in her eighth year behind bars in Khuy Prison, and she wrote a letter to Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Representative for human rights in Iran, describing her dire conditions. State agents have deprived her of even minimum medical care despite her deteriorating physical conditions. Jalalian is suffering from major eye problems caused by tortures she has undergone in prison.
Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran was threatened by Tehran’s public prosecutor, and returned to Evin Prison despite the fact that diagnosis of her illness was incomplete. This prisoner has been condemned to 4 years in jail on charges of measures against national security. Furthermore, Sulmaz Ikdar, journalist and social activist, was condemned to three years in prison. She had been imprisoned before for taking part in memorial ceremonies held for political prisoners executed in the summer of 1988.
Security agents on November 21 attacked and arrested a number of relatives of political prisoners rallying outside Evin Prison. Simin Avaz-zadeh – the mother of political prisoner Omid Ali Shenas – Leila Mir Ghafari and Shermin Yamani were among those arrested. They were transferred to Gharchak Varamin Prison where they staged a hunger strike.
Her protest finally forced agents to back down and release the detained women.
Basic freedoms and rights abused
The Iranian regime’s leader, Ali Khamenei, entered the scene ordering further crackdown and pressures against women and youths under the pretext of clothing regulations and cultural activities.
“They have mistaken cultural activities in universities with staging concerts and co-ed gatherings!” he said in a meeting with university deans and higher education center directors.
Following these remarks, Ali Jannati, Rouhani’s cultural affairs minister stipulated, “There will be no permits issued for women to perform solo songs.”
16 days after these statements, the state-run ISNA news agency reported cancellation of the national anthem by Tehran’s Symphonic Orchestra because of presence of female musicians.
“The national anthem was cancelled for the Tehran Symphonic Orchestra at the Azadi Sporting Complex because nearly half of the orchestra members were women,” the report read.
Further restrictions were also imposed on women’s cultural activities; the control on hijab and enforcement of mandatory hijab regulations were also boosted. The deputy police chief announced that the guidance patrol had multiplied forty fold! Police spokesman Montazer al-Mehdi declared in a press conference that improperly veiled women would face specific punishments, including prohibition on their sale and purchase of vehicles. Montazer al-Mehdi then reported on the arrests and detentions and said 10,000 drivers had been issued hijab and other warnings. 2,000 vehicles were also confiscated, he added.
The state-run Tabnak website reported increasing security patrols roaming across Tehran’s streets. This state source issued a visual report on the presence of agents across Tehran emphasizing that such measures against improperly veiled women is going to be firm!
The World Economic Forum issued a report on gender gap in today’s world, providing a clearer picture of discrimination and pressure imposed on women in Iran. This report states that Iran is at the bottom of the list of evaluated states and has the worst gender gap status.
Religious and ethnic minorities
As for religious and ethnic minorities, Christian convert Mahtab Mohammadi was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents in Tehran; prior to that her mother and sister had been harassed by security forces. In another development an imprisoned Baha’i professor who had received a leave for her child’s surgery, returned to Evin Prison. Faran Hesami had been arrested along with her husband, Kamran Rahimian, and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment on charges of teaching in an online Baha’i university.
Young women were in the front lines of Azerbaijan protests – The people and youths of Azerbaijan protested an insult aired by state TV and continued their rallies for days.
The presence of women and female college students in these rallies were significant, demanding their rights and making sure that officials heard their voice.
Students in various universities continued their rallies and protests compelling the regime’s chief of state-run TV & radio to apologize and sack a number of employees responsible in this regard.