What began as the most iconic protests against violation of human rights in Iranian history has now turned into a full-blown revolution. As a result, the authorities there continue to repress their own people.
Authorities brutally repressed widespread protests in 2022 demanding fundamental rights, with security forces unlawfully using excessive and lethal force against protesters.
Iran’s government arrested and sentenced scores of peaceful human rights activists on vague national security charges while failing to investigate reports of abuse or torture by police and security forces.
Security agencies targeted ethnic and religious minorities and violently enforced discriminatory dress codes for women.
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Impunity further remains rampant as Ebrahim Raeesi, a serial human rights violator, took over the presidency in unfair and unfree elections. Now, videos and pictures of administration’s brutality have been doing the rounds on Twitter, with #IranRevolution going viral since Thursday morning.
Let’s understand what’s happening in Iran and why.
September 16, 2022: Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from Sanandaj in western Iran, died in the custody of the morality police after being arrested for an “improper” hijab, sparked demonstrations across the country, including in schools and universities.
October 2022: Human Rights Watch documented security forces using shotguns, assault rifles, and handguns against protesters in largely peaceful and often crowded settings.
November 14, 2022: Human rights groups were investigating the reported deaths of at least 341 protestors, including 52 children.
December 2022: In Iran, one of the world’s top executioners, at least a dozen people were sentenced to death in closed-door hearings.
Here are few of the many cases of execution and brutality inflicted upon dissenters by the administrations. Take a look at the recent incidents.
As of January 7, the Iranian authorities executed two men based on charges of alleged killing and injuring of security forces, “using a weapon to spread terror,” and “disrupting society’s order and safety” in connection to the protests following grossly unfair trials. Several more detained protestors are at imminent risk.
State-affiliated Fars News reported that Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged early Saturday morning.
The pair, who allegedly took part in anti-regime protests last year, was convicted of killing Seyed Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the country’s Basij paramilitary force, in Karaj on November 3, according to Iran’s judiciary news agency Mizan.
Iranian courts, particularly revolutionary ones, regularly fall far short of providing fair trials and use confessions often coerced under torture as evidence in court. Authorities have failed to investigate numerous allegations of torture against detainees meaningfully and routinely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel, particularly during the initial investigation period.
#Iran: We deplore the execution of two more protesters, #MohammadMehdiKarami & #MohammadHosseini, following unfair trials based on forced confessions. It’s shocking that Iran continues to execute protesters despite international outcry. We urge Iran to halt all executions.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) January 7, 2023
On January 26, Iran sentenced an ethnic Iranian-Kurdish 4 months pregnant woman being held in Urmia Central Prison to death, according to a report by IranWire.
Shahla Abdi, from the north-western province of West Azerbaijan and said to be in her early 20s, received the death sentence after being accused of setting fire to a portrait of former Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
On February 2, after a video of a couple dancing in Tehran’s main square surfaced, they were sentenced to 10.5 years in prison. Additionally, the couple is forbidden from using the internet or travelling outside Iran for two years. Their case was heard by Judge Abolqasem Salavati, who handed out the punishments.
Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, and Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, can be seen dancing in Azadi Square while Haghighi was without a headscarf in the video that has gone viral on social media. The couple, both social media influencers, published the video themselves.
Iran prohibits women from dancing in public, much less doing so without a hijab and with a guy. Before Haghighi’s arrest, the police also searched her home.
Iranian couple filmed dancing in Tehran were just given a 10-year prison sentence for “promoting corruption, prostitution and propaganda.” In the video that they posted to Instagram, Astiazh Haqiqi and her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi are dancing by Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Tower. https://t.co/xWdGFatDpd pic.twitter.com/r6iWmRGAL6
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 1, 2023
Meanwhile, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed that WhatsApp and Instagram will remain blocked in the country, blaming the online platforms for stoking protests that started over four months ago.
Raisi charged that the two platforms, owned by US internet giant Meta, “were at the root of the insecurity in the country during the recent riots”, speaking on national television Tuesday evening.
As many as 41 more protesters have received death sentences in recent months, according to statements from both Iranian officials and Iranian media reviewed by CNN and 1500Tasvir, but the number could be much higher.
The number of street demonstrations in Iran has decreased in recent weeks – but they have not gone away, defying some of the early predictions that they would fade and yet failing to shake the foundations of the Islamic republic.
If anything, the protest movement has proven to be resilient. It has been more than 100 days since the protests erupted across Iran.
Iran is not on the verge of regime change, but the protests have fundamentally changed the relationship between the state and the population, according to Sina Azodi, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council think-tank.
The protests have also significantly deteriorated relations between Tehran and the West. The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have imposed human rights sanctions in response to what they have called a “brutal suppression” of protesters.
In response, Iran has said that those countries were not qualified to condemn human rights abuses in Iran due to their own history of violations and has imposed its own sanctions on American and European officials and entities.
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