Iran

In the name of national security, Iranians pay a heavy price – new report

June 2020

Measures taken in the name of national security and combating terrorism have led to grave and widespread violations of human rights in Iran, according to a new report published jointly by Minority Rights Group International and the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights.

Read the report here: In the Name of Security: Human Rights Violations under Iran’s National Security Laws (in English) and in Farsi.

In the Name of Security: Human rights violations under Iran’s national security laws details how Iranian authorities have imprisoned, tortured and killed their own citizens in pursuit of a national security imperative that has dominated public life in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Those targeted for the worst treatment include political dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities, dual nationals, and migrants.

‘Iran’s securitised worldview sees all political challenge as an existential threat,’ says Drewery Dyke, the report author. ‘This has led to unfettered and illegal killings during recent state-wide protests over the dire economic situation and botched efforts to deal with Covid19 effectively.’

The report finds that the threat posed by COVID-19 was treated by the Iranian authorities not just as a public health challenge but also as a national security issue, with state media reporting that the virus could be a US-manufactured ‘bioweapon.’ The security services detained thousands of people for challenging the government’s narrative of its handling of the virus, including over social media.

The dominance of the national security narrative in Iran has led to the growth in power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which plays a decisive role in the intimidation and prosecution of those whom it considers a threat. Its anti-riot units, formed by the paramilitary Basij, are the country’s most important units to suppress public protests and riots.

Its conduct has exacerbated poor relations with minority communities in Kurdistan and Baluchistan, as well as with Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks and Turkmen, all located on Iran’s borders. Minority rights activism in Iran is often falsely and deliberately conflated with separatism and terrorism, the report argues.

The report also reveals the IRGC’s shocking role in trafficking and forcibly recruiting large numbers of Afghan and Pakistani migrants to fight on its behalf in the Syria conflict. While the IRGC promised recruits a good income and the possibility of acquiring Iranian citizenship, many Afghans and Pakistanis died in the fighting and never returned to Iran.

‘The Supreme Leader, government and new parliament must work to end this approach to restore dignity to Iran’s varying ethnolinguistic, religious and other communities that are suffering,’ urges Dyke. ‘The Islamic Republic does face real security threats, but for how long can it continue treating its own people as the enemy?’

Note to editors:

For more information or to arrange interviews: contact@ceasefire.org

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Beyond the Veil: Women in Iran continue to face discrimination

September 2019

PDF: Beyond the Veil: Discrimination Against Women in Iran in ENGLISH and PERSIAN

The human rights environment for women in Iran continues to be characterized by inequality and exclusion in all areas of Iranian society, says a group of human rights organizations in a comprehensive new report.

Beyond the Veil: Discrimination against women in Iran by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, Minority Rights Group International and the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR) delineates how Iranian women and girls face discrimination in all aspects of their lives, from participation in public life to access to education and employment, as well as in marriage and other family matters. In addition, the report highlights how the many ongoing efforts at reform within Iran have been obstructed, with recent protests by women activists against state repression being met by an escalation in official surveillance and intimidation.

‘President Rouhani’s repeated promises to improve the situation of women’s rights have rung hollow’ says Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate and Chair of CSHR. ‘Instead, Iran has increased its repression of women human rights defenders. Women who have peacefully protested compulsory veiling laws have been attacked, detained and imprisoned.’

Iran is one of just six UN member states that have not signed the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and its national legislation enshrines many barriers to accessing basic rights in areas such as employment, marriage and citizenship.

‘These issues are especially pronounced for minority women, who often face intersectional discrimination on account of their ethnic and religious identity,’ says Joshua Castellino, Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International (MRG). For instance, while the gap in literacy rates between women and men has narrowed, girls from ethnic minorities remain particularly disadvantaged when it comes to education, not least because many of the provinces home to ethnic minorities are among Iran’s poorest and most marginalized.’

Despite certain advancements for gender equity in Iran in recent years, such as an amendment enabling women to pass on nationality at childbirth for the first time, continued resistance to equality by conservative forces has largely curtailed meaningful progress. Women’s rights were not a focus of the 2017 election, and Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has called gender equality ‘one of the biggest mistakes of Western thought’.

The report concludes with recommendations for women’s and girl’s rights for the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of Iran, scheduled for November of this year. It also recommends that states that have established bilateral human rights dialogues with Iran in the past continue to prioritize human rights and follow up on any women’s rights recommendations they might have already made.

Notes to editors

  • The Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights is an initiative to develop ‘civilian-led monitoring’ of violations of international humanitarian law or human rights, to pursue legal and political accountability for those responsible for such violations, and to develop the practice of civilian rights.
  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is the leading international human rights organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
  • The Centre for Supporters of Human Rights is a non-governmental organisation established in the UK in 2012. Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2003, is one of its founders and the chair of the Centre. The objectives of the Centre are the advancement of education and increased awareness of human rights in the Middle East, in particular in Iran.
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