Iranian elections: human rights briefing

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

'The elections in Iran are taking place against a disturbing backdrop that includes massive use of the death penalty, the detention of political activists and widespread discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and minority groups. Whoever wins the elections needs to set in a train a major programme of human rights reform.'

Unfair trials and detention

In the pre-election period Amnesty has received reports indicating arbitrary arrests and harassment targeting Iran’s religious and ethnic minority communities, including Baha'is and converts from Islam, members of the Azerbaijani minority, lawyers, students, trade unionists and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights activists.

Death penalty

So far this year there have been at least 194 executions (including five Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights) in Iran, one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. In 2008 there were at least 346 executions (almost one per day on average), making it the second most prolific user of capital punishment in the world (behind only China). People are hanged, often in public, for crimes ranging from murder, rape, drug smuggling and corruption. Last year the Iranian parliament began discussing death penalty legislation for producing pornographic videos and for “apostasy”. Numerous people in Iran are under sentence of death for the “crime” of adultery, including seven Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and three men known to Amnesty. Since 2002 at least five men and one woman have been stoned to death, most recently in March.

Iran also has the world’s worst record in terms of executing those alleged to have committed crimes while aged below 18; such executions are expressly forbidden under international law. Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 44 people in these circumstances (including three this year) and at least 140 young people are on death row facing execution for such alleged crimes. Iran sparked international outrage last month when it abruptly hanged Delara Darabi, a 22-year-old painter who was alleged to have committed murder (which she always denied) while aged 17.

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights

All 42 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who registered as candidates for the elections have, along with a large number of male candidates, been barred by Iran’s Council of Guardians from standing in the elections on grounds of “suitability”.

Jelveh Javaheri, a prominent member of the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights Campaign For Equality was arrested at her home on 1 May by security officials acting without an arrest warrant. She has been charged with "acting against national security through membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign and with the aim of disrupting public order and security." The CFE is collecting signatures on behalf of its campaign for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights. Last year dozens of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights campaigners were detained, interrogated and some tried for their peaceful activities, including up to 10 who were sentenced by lower courts to prison terms and, in at least two cases, flogging. Meanwhile, the influential Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s magazine “Zanan” was forcibly closed down during 2008, while Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights websites are regularly blocked.

Harassment of human rights defenders

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirtin Ebadi’s Centre for Human Rights Defenders was forced to close down at the end of last year.

Torture and cruel punishments

Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iran is common, with people in prolonged pre-charge detention particularly at risk. Detainees are often denied access to lawyers and family. Last year at least four deaths in custody were reported, while no independent investigations are known to have been held into these deaths.

Clampdown on free expression

Iranians have faced internet censorship during the election campaign. The authorities have, at various times in the run up to 12 June, blocked access to Facebook and Twitter.

Discrimination against minorities

Iran's Baluch minority, mainly Sunni Muslims in a predominantly Shi’a country and constituting some 2-3% of Iran’s population, suffer entrenched discrimination at the hands of the authorities. Recent violent unrest in the Sistan-Baluchistan province in south-eastern Iran have led to dozens of people being killed in violent incidents including a major bomb attack. Three men were publicly hanged after allegedly “confessing” to one lethal bomb attack; the executions took place very soon after the bombing and it is not clear whether the men had any kind of trial.

ENDS

Amnesty International UK media information:

Neil Durkin: 020 7033 1547, neil.durkin@amnesty.org.uk
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