July 2020 was marked by the Iranian regime’s pervasive use of the death penalty and torture, suppression of freedom of expression, and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.
Despite having to deal with a catastrophic outbreak of Covid-19, which has killed more than 80,000 people, the Iranian authorities have not stopped their horrendous executions.
The clerical regime executed an average of one person per day in the month of July, to further step up the atmosphere of repression in society. Most notable were the executions of two Kurdish political prisoners and the hanging execution of a man, married with two children, for drinking alcohol. Death sentences issued for protesters arrested during the protests in December 2017 and November 2019 aroused public outrage in the country.
Heavy-handed treatment of political prisoners, restricting freedom of religion and belief and cruel conditions in many prisons and detention facilities are also stark indications of mounting repression in Iran.
The regime has also geared up its efforts to counter the wave of discontent by handing down heavy prison sentences to dissidents and apprehending rights activists.
The clerical regime executed at least 31 people in July. Twenty-four of the executions were related to murder, while the rest were related to drug-trafficking, security and politically motivated charges.
Three men were also executed in late July for rape charges in the western city of Hamedan.
Amnesty International said on July 15 that “There has been an alarming escalation in use of the death penalty against protesters, dissidents and members of minority groups in Iran.”
On July 13, two Kurdish men were executed in Urmia prison in West Azerbaijan province.
Diaku Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh Abdollah, who were in their early 20s and 30s respectively, had been on death row since 2015. They were sentenced to death 2015 based on torture-tainted “confessions”. Their lawyer has said that they were innocent and that no evidence was presented at their trial other than confessions extracted under severe torture.
On July 8, the savage execution of a man charged with “consumption of alcohol” was carried out in the Central Mashhad Prison, northeastern Iran. According to the man’s lawyer, Hossein Habibi Shahri, Morteza had been arrested in 2017 or 2018 and had been charged with consumption of alcohol for the sixth time. Shahri said Morteza was also charged with driving without a license and the possession of alcoholic beverages.
Iranian courts have also issued or upheld execution sentences in connection to repeated protests against the economic mismanagement, corruption, inflation, and unemployment over the past two years.
These sentences have been issued on vaguely defined national security charges, and defendants have had restricted access to lawyers and said that the authorities tortured them to make coerced confessions.
Iran’s Judiciary Spokesperson confirmed today that the death sentence for three young protesters had been upheld by the Supreme Court.
The death sentences for Amir Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saied Tamjidi had not been officially confirmed by the regime before this, although their lawyers had announced the confirmation by the Supreme Court.
UN experts say the men confessed under torture and were subjected to “unfair trials”.
On July 15, Iran’s judiciary was compelled to suggest it might rescind the death sentences for the three young men after the Persian hashtag #do_not_execute against the execution was used millions of times online. The judiciary said its chief would consider any request from the men to review their sentences.
Iran’s Supreme Court have also sentenced five other protesters to death. The men were arrested in Isfahan, central Iran, for participating in widespread protests in late 2017, early 2018.
Mohammad Bastami, Hadi Keyani (Kiani), Abbas Mohammadi, Majid Nazari Kondori, and Mehdi Salehi- Qaleh Shahrokhi, received “two death sentences” each for “waging war against God” and “taking up arms against the state.”
On June 26, the Chief-Justice of Isfahan had announced that the death penalty for eight inmates arrested in the province during late 2017, early 2018 protest rallies had been upheld.
Freedom of expression, association and assembly
The authorities have suppressed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The state security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters gathered on July 16 in the southwestern city of Behbahan in the oil-rich Khuzestan Province. Security forces arrested at least 50 protesters during and after the peaceful protests.
The authorities continued to issue heave prison sentences and flogged people who voiced dissent.
A court in western Iran sentenced three young Iranians to hefty prison terms for burning a banner of Qasem Soleimani, the now dead commander of the Quds Force. Arman Hosseinzadeh, 20, Bahman Rahimi, 19 and Milad Hosseini, 19 were sentenced to overall 16 years and six months or prison by a Saqqez court. The Saqqez Revolutionary Court charged them with “spreading propaganda against the state by torching banners depicting Qasem Soleimani” and “membership in a Kurdish party”.
On July 26, Ahmadreza Haeri, a Kurdish activist was flogged 74 times at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. He surrendered himself on Saturday, July 25, to be punished by 74 lashes and start serving a six-month sentence. Ahmadreza Haeri has been transferred to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary. Tehran’s appeals court in February sentenced Haeri to prison and lashes on the charges of “spreading propaganda against the state” and “disrupting public order”.
Human rights lawyers
Human rights lawyer Narges Mohammadi held at the Prison of Zanjan have developed dangerous symptoms of the Covid-19 disease while being denied access to tests and treatment.
On July 16, a clip which had been filmed secretly as proof that Narges Mohammadi was getting medical attention was broadcast on Iranian state TV, claiming to show the rights activist being tested for the coronavirus in the prison’s clinic.
In her diaries from Women’s Prison in Zanjan, Narges Mohammadi said that she had been given injections to prepare her for a staged video showing her on the state-run television.
A group of UN human rights experts said in a statement on July 22, “We are extremely concerned for Ms. Mohammadi’s well-being.”
“We previously raised concerns that she and other individuals in Iranian prisons are at great risk if they contract COVID-19 and we called for their immediate release,” the experts said.
The U.N. rights experts also deplored the publication of the video which “represents a violation of Ms. Mohammadi’s privacy rights and has no value as the content cannot be verified in any way”.
Mohammadi who was infected with coronavirus in prison on July 5 said that after showing COVID-19 symptoms prison authorities quarantined her with eleven other patients and that she and her cellmates were deprived of the most basic medical care for COVID patients.
The authorities ramped up pressure on political dissidents.
Political prisoner Majid Assadi previously held in Gohardasht Prison of Karaj, west of the Iranian capital of Tehran, has been transferred on July 22 to ward 209 of notorious Evin Prison where he is under interrogation.
It seems that the authorities have opened a new case against him which allows the regime to prolong his detention rather than release him.
Majid Assadi has suffered spinal and digestive problems for years due to poor living conditions inside the prisons where he has been detained.
Majid Assadi, a former student activist who had been working as a translator for a private company has been in detention since February 2017, when he was arrested at his home in Karaj, near the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Freedom of religion and belief
Freedom of religion and belief was systematically violated.
The persecution of Iranian Baha’is continued with dozens of Baha’is being sentenced to prison, deprived of education or being employment.
An Appeals court in Fars Province, southwestern Iran, sentenced 12 Iranian Bahais to overall 33 years of prison.
A 19-year-old Baha’i man, Kiarash Moieni, was thrown out from the Shiraz fire department in because of his religion. He had finished his training and worked as a volunteer firefighter without any wages.
Adib Vali, a 15-year-old elite Baha’i student in Karaj near Tehran, was banned from continuing his education due to his religious beliefs.
Adib Vali was not allowed to register for the tenth grade. Despite having received several medals for his achievements he was told in a call from the principal at Salam School on July 8 that he could not continue his studies at the school.
Adib had studied grade 7 – 9 at Salam School and was the top of his class.
An informed source said that the elite Baha’i student was banned from education after he wrote he was Baha’i in a school form.