Saturday , 13 August 2022

Borrell, EU Must Speak Out Against Growing Human Rights Crisis in Iran

CHRI – European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who has traveled travel to Tehran and issued multiple public statements in an effort to restore the nuclear deal with Iran, should devote the same level of energy to address the intensifying human rights crisis in the country, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today.

Since May, hundreds of workers, teachers and others have been arrested for peaceful protest, at least five protesters have been killed, and the state has imposed internet shutdowns as growing protests have roiled Iran despite the state’s attempts to violently suppress them.

“The silence on human rights on the part of Borell and the EU is deafening,” said Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI executive director, adding that “President Biden has also been silent on the human rights crisis in Iran, even though he has spoken out against rights abuses in other countries.”

“Hundreds of peaceful protesters are being arrested, with many placed in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, while global leaders express their earnestness for a return to the JCPOA,” Ghaemi said. “The international community needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time—the nuclear negotiations should not preclude attention to the growing human rights catastrophe in Iran.”

CHRI calls on EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, as well as U.S. President Biden and other world leaders, to speak out forcefully and publicly against the Islamic Republic’s unlawful and violent suppression of civil society and its intensifying violation of the most fundamental rights of the Iranian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

In a new policy briefing, Human Rights in Iran and U.S. National Security Interests: A Path Forward for U.S. Foreign Policy Toward the Islamic Republic, CHRI deplored the scant attention given to human rights by the U.S. government, arguing, “The U.S. government cannot hope to influence the Iranian government’s behavior on its nuclear program and other issues while ignoring millions of Iranians who are risking their lives to protest state policies. If the U.S. government wants progress, it must acknowledge the people who are pushing for it inside Iran.”

Teachers Continue to Protest Despite Violent State Repression

While workers in many sectors across Iran have participated in growing protests, teachers have been at the forefront numerically of the current wave of protests. Since late May, more than 230 teachers have been arrested by security forces throughout the country, including 23 who were summoned by the judiciary to face charges. Protesters’ grievances have included below poverty-level wages and the arrest and imprisonment of their leaders, among other basic labor rights issues.

The following teachers were arrested in western and southwestern Iran with violent and excessive force: Hiwa Ghoreishi in and Omid Shahmohammadi in Divandareh; Aram Ghaderi and Aram Mohammadi in Marivan; Ali Hassan Bahamin in Yasouj; and Siamak Chehrazi in Ahvaz. Teachers’ rights activists Sha’ban Mohammadi, Tahsin Mostafa, and Sa’di Nouri were also assaulted by police at a protest rally in Marivan.

Prominent teachers’ rights advocates Rasoul Bodaghi and Jafar Ebrahimi have not been heard from 17 and 22 days, respectively, after their arrests by Intelligence Ministry agents. They are being held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison where their families have not been given permission to visit them.

In addition, labor activists Anisha Asadollahi and her husband Keyvan Mohtadi were arrested on May 9 for acting as translators for two French members of the International Labor Organization (ILO) who were invited to Iran by the Islamic Republic. Iran is a member of the ILO, yet has consistently violated the ILO’s Fundamental Principles.

In a video message on June 27, 2022, Asadollahi’s mother said: “It’s been 48 days since my daughter’s arrest, 33 of which she spent in solitary confinement. Her husband Keyvan has had a similar fate. Why? For being translators for two French nationals who were invited here by the Islamic Republic, and engaging in labor affairs…I appeal to all who feel a sense of responsibility…to join me in demanding the immediate and unconditional release of my daughter Anisha Asadollahi and Keyvan Mohtadi.”

Growing Crisis as Many Detainees Resort to Hunger Strikes to Call Attention to Their Plight

Ten teachers have been on hunger strike since June 18 in Saqqez, western Iran, to protest their unlawful detention. They include Khaled Abdollahi, Soleiman Abdi, Ahmad Ghaderi, Amanj Amini, Zahed Moradi, Esmail Reihani, Hesam Khakpour, Taher Hamedi, Mohsen Shokuhi, and Hassan Rahimian.

Meanwhile there are health concerns about the condition of detained Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company board member Reza Shahabi, who has been on hunger strike in Evin Prison since June 15. Detained labor activist Valeh Zamani is also being denied urgent medical care for Hepatitis C and severe intestinal adhesions and liver disease while in solitary confinement and facing long interrogations in Evin Prison.

UN Alone in Condemning Islamic Republic’s Crackdown

Recently, UN human rights experts weighed in with a statement condemning the “violent crackdown against civil society in Iran,” urging “those responsible for using excessive force to be held to account through comprehensive and independent investigations.”

“The space for civil society and independent associations to carry out their legitimate work…is becoming impossibly narrow,” the UN experts said, noting that “In the absence of meaningful channels of participation in Iran, peaceful protests are now the sole remaining means for individuals and groups to express themselves and share their grievances with the authorities.” The UN experts condemned the “excessive use of force against protestors, with what appears to be an active policy to shield perpetrators and prevent accountability.”

However, governments—including those currently involved in direct negotiations with the Islamic Republic over the country’s nuclear activities—have failed to echo the UN’s calls and condemnations, despite the growing toll on arrested and/or killed protesters.

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