Home | English | Publications | Reports | Excluded from the Public Sphere: Freedom of Assembly and Association in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Excluded from the Public Sphere: Freedom of Assembly and Association in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Excluded from the Public Sphere: Freedom of Assembly and Association in the Islamic Republic of Iran

 

NEW HAVEN, March 5, 2018 – Today the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) released its latest report, Excluded from the Public Sphere: Freedom of Association and Assembly in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Examining the Iranian government’s record on freedom of association and assembly, this prescient report discusses Iran’s history of violations of its international obligations toward its citizens and is timely given the wake of renewed violence against protestors.  

When protests erupted across Iran in December 2017 and January 2018, the Iranian government’s response was to deploy its security forces. The violent crackdown led to the deaths of more than twenty protestors, and the arrest of nearly 5,000 citizens. Although the geographical breadth of the protests was unprecedented, the Iranian government’s pattern of crushing dissent was familiar. Although this report does not cover the Government’s response to the recent protests, it provides a window into the long-running assault on the rights of Iranian citizens who come together to criticize, whether through protest or the written word, their government.

“The Iranian government is suspicious of activities that are organized by non-state actors. Labor unions, religious groups, civic associations, and even recreational water pistol fights can be viewed as threats aimed at undermining the Islamic Republic. Therefore, a wide range of activities that take place in the public sphere is subject to arbitrary state action,” said Shahin Milani, IHRDC’s Legal Director.

As with other forms of human rights violations in Iran, restrictions on freedom of association and assembly are codified in ambiguous and overly broad statutes. For instance, the platform of a political party must be “within the framework of Islamic principles.” While such definitions do not provide adequate guidance on what is permissible, they can be pretexts for legal actions taken against a political party or any other organized group.  

Excluded from the Public Sphere relies on first-person accounts to show how Iran’s intelligence apparatus and judiciary work together to neutralize political and civic engagement. Experiences of individuals subjected to abuse demonstrate how ordinary acts such as participating in a peaceful rally against corruption or student activism on campus can result in arrest, prosecution and imprisonment. Through this report, IHRDC shines a light on Iranian activists who have endured human rights violations as a result of their exercising their rights. By so doing, we hope to promote a better understanding of the risk today's protesters face, and the long-term implications of a possible crackdown on the situation of human rights in the country.

 

Background

The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center was founded in 2004 by human rights scholars and lawyers. Its mission is to establish a comprehensive and objective historical record of the human rights situation in Iran and, on the basis of this record, establish responsibility for patterns of human rights abuses; make the record available in an archive that is accessible to the public for research and educational purposes; promote accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iran; and encourage an informed dialogue on the human rights situation in Iran among scholars and the general public in Iran and abroad.

IHRDC believes that the development of an accountability movement and a culture of human rights in Iran are crucial to the long-term peace and security of the country and the Middle East region.

The full report Excluded from the Public Sphere: Freedom of Association and Assembly in the Islamic Republic of Iran can be found on IHRDC’s website: http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/.

 

 

For further media information please contact:

Shahin Milani, Legal Director

shahin@iranhrdc.org 

1 (203) 745 4247

 


 

Contents:

Introduction

1. Freedom of Assembly and Association in Practice

1.1. Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb

1.1.1. Prosecution at the Shahriar Revolutionary Court

1.1.2. Prosecution at the Tehran Criminal Court

1.1.3. Third Prosecution

1.1.4. Problems at Work

1.2. Amin Anvary

1.2.1. Encounter with Cyber Police

1.2.2. Pledges to Authorities in December 2012

1.2.3. Arrest

1.2.4. Release

1.3. Ali Asghar Sepehri

1.3.1. Student Organizations

1.3.2. Pressure on Student Newspapers

1.3.3. Ministry of Intelligence Interrogation

1.3.4. Suspension

1.4. Ashkan Yazdchi

1.4.1. Interrogation

1.4.2. Detention Conditions

1.4.3. Threats and Trial

1.5. Actions of the Iranian Government against Participants in the Cyrus Day Event

2.Freedom of Association under Iranian Law

2.1. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

2.2. The Islamic Penal Code

2.2.1. Restriction on Freedom of Association as a Form of Punishment

2.2.2. Provisions Targeting Freedom of Association

2.3. The Law on the Activities of Political Parties and Groups

2.3.1. Article 10 Commission

2.3.2. Prohibited Acts under Article 18

3.Freedom of Assembly and Association under International Law

Conclusion

 

Introduction

In December 2017 spontaneous protests erupted across Iran. Slogans uttered at these protests pointed to both economic grievances and dissatisfaction with clerical rule. The government’s crackdown was swift. According to a member of the Iranian parliament nearly 5,000 protesters were detained.[1] Protests turned violent in several cities, and more than twenty persons were killed.[2] Several others were reported to have died in custody.[3]

The Iranian government’s suppression of nationwide protests was similar to how it had confronted dissent in the past. While the Iranian Constitution, albeit conditionally, protects freedom of assembly and association, the Iranian government routinely violates this right to a wide range of Iranian citizens. The government has criminalized speech that challenges either Islam or the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic. Citizens are required to obtain the government’s approval before holding rallies or demonstrations, but the government rarely issues permits. These restrictions mean that only government-approved messages can be displayed or communicated in the public sphere, and those who attempt to act outside government approved boundaries of speech are subject to arrest and criminal prosecution.

These restrictions are by no means limited to political activities. Even the most trivial of gatherings or events can be deemed as a threat to the principles of the Islamic Republic, and, as such, it can be subject to a government crackdown. In July 2011, for instance, several young men and women were arrested for participating in a water fight in a park in Tehran. In providing the rationale for the arrests, Tehran’s police chief stated that participants had behaved “abnormally” and had disobeyed Islamic principles.[4] As the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association stated in May 2012, these two freedoms “serve as a vehicle for the exercise of many other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.”[5] The restrictions imposed on these freedoms, therefore, complement the Iranian government’s policy of stifling a host of basic freedoms.

While this report does not cover the Government’s response to the protests that broke out in December 2017, it provides a window into the long-running assault on the rights of Iranian citizens to come together to critique, whether through protest or the written word, the Iranian regime. IHRDC takes this opportunity to shine a light on those activists who have felt the full force of the Government as they sought to exercise their human rights. By so doing, we hope to promote a better understanding of the risk today's protesters face, and the long-term implications of a possible crackdown on the situation of human rights in the country.

This report first provides detailed accounts of a number of Iranian citizens who have been subjected to harassment and prosecution for their activities and associations. These accounts, which are based on interviews conducted by IHRDC, illustrate an environment in which innocuous actions are suppressed and criminalized by a judicial system that implements vaguely defined laws designed to censure political and civic dissent.

The report then examines several provisions of Iranian law, including two articles of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic and a statute that pertains to freedom of assembly and association. While on the surface they may seem to protect freedom of assembly and association, these provisions have become tools through which the Iranian government severely restricts basic freedoms. Studying these legal provisions is necessary to demonstrate that the Iranian government often ignores positive protections afforded by its own laws or unjustifiably enforces excessive overbroad measures, stifling any social and political actions that it sees as possible threats.

Finally, the report evaluates Iran’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights norms. As a party to the ICCPR, Iran is obligated to respect freedom of assembly and association. While under the ICCPR State Parties may impose limitations on these rights in order to prevent violence, the report’s analysis shows that the Islamic Republic of Iran goes far beyond what is permissible for this purpose.

 

 

1. Freedom of Assembly and Association in Practice

1.1. Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb

Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb was born in 1965 in Shahriar, Tehran Province, and he resides in the same town. Ahmadi Ragheb is a rights activist and regularly participates in protests aimed at defending the rights of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. In his interview with IHRDC, Ahmadi Ragheb stated that his activism started in early 1980s as he protested arrests of youth for behavior or attire deemed un-Islamic.[6]

 In recent years Ahmadi Ragheb has faced charges in three separate cases due to his activism.

 

Figure 1. Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, left, is shown participating in a rally. He is holding the picture of Saeed Zeynali, a student who was arrested by Iranian authorities in 1999 and his whereabouts are still unknown.

 

 

1.1.1. Prosecution at the Shahriar Revolutionary Court

In 2015, following his taking part in several peaceful protests, Ahmadi Ragheb was charged by the Shahriar Revolutionary Court with disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The protests in which Ahmadi Ragheb had participated included Nasrin Sotoudeh’s demonstration in front of the Tehran Bar Association and protests against corruption in front of the Dena Tire building in Tehran.[7] Ahmadi Ragheb posted pictures and accounts of these protests and gatherings on social media. The authorities had collected these posts as evidence against him.[8]

Ahmadi Ragheb’s trial was held on February 16, 2016.[9] He was questioned by a judge for two to three hours. One question, for instance, was why he had referred to the Islamic Republic as a dictatorship.[10]

 

 

 

Figure 2. This is an image of the court opinion sentencing Ahmadi Ragheb to six months of imprisonment on the charge of disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic through posting content on Facebook.

 

 

Ahmadi Ragheb was found guilty of disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic through “uploading content on social networks (Facebook),”and he was sentenced to six months of imprisonment by Judge Pourghaffari. He appealed this decision. On appeal his sentence was reduced to a fine of two million toumans.[11]

 

 

1.1.2. Prosecution at the Tehran Criminal Court

In 2015 Ahmadi Ragheb participated in a series of recurring protests in front of Evin Prison as well as the Dena Tire building. The protests in front of Evin Prison took place on Saturdays while the protests in front of Dena Tire took place on Mondays.[12] On Monday November 23, 2015, Ahmadi Ragheb and several others were arrested as they gathered to take part in their weekly protest in front of Dena Tire.[13] Their arrest warrant was issued by the Shahid Moghaddas prosecutor’s office located in Evin Prison.[14] The Security Police carried out these arrests.

Ahmadi Ragheb was charged with disrupting public order.[15] Ahmadi Ragheb maintained that this charge was baseless because all the activities in which he had participated were of a peaceful nature.[16]

At the prosecutor’s office, Ahmadi Ragheb was told by an investigative magistrate to provide a written statement. In his statement Ahmadi Ragheb stressed that he had not done anything against the law.[17] He was subsequently transferred to Evin Prison, where he was interrogated once.[18] Ahmadi Ragheb was held at ward 8 of Evin Prison where many other political prisoners were being held.[19]

On December 16, 2015 Ahmadi Ragheb was released on bail, which was set at 50 million toumans.[20] His trial was held on March 10, 2016.[21] The trial consisted of a few questions by the judge.[22] Ahmadi Ragheb was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and 74 lashes, but the sentence was suspended for two years.[23]

 

 

1.1.3. Third Prosecution

In November 2016 Ahmadi Ragheb was planning to attend a protest in front of Evin Prison to support political prisoners on hunger strike. Ministry of Intelligence (MOI) agents arrested Ahmadi Ragheb before he could participate in the protest.[24] Ahmadi Ragheb was taken to Evin Prison, where he started his own hunger strike. He was on hunger strike for 34 days.[25] After two months of detention he was released on bail, and he was subsequently charged with disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic. According to Ahmadi Ragheb this charge was based on his posts on social media, his participation in political gatherings, his support for families of political prisoners, and being in contact with friends who oppose the Islamic Republic and reside abroad.[26] He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment by the Shahriar Revolutionary Court. Ahmadi Ragheb has appealed this sentence to Tehran Province Court of Appeals and is currently waiting for the court to schedule a hearing.[27]

 

 

1.1.4. Problems at Work

Ahmadi Ragheb worked at Shahriar municipality for several years, and he faced problems at his workplace due to his activism. After his arrest and detention, Ahmadi Ragheb was terminated by the municipality. The pretext for his termination was being absent from work.[28] He was reinstated after he filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labor.[29] However, following his reinstatement the municipality did not assign Ahmadi Ragheb to his previous position. Instead, he was told to work as a driver in parks.[30]

 

 

1.2. Amin Anvary

Amin Anvary was a politically active student at Amir Kabir University in Tehran. He was born in June 1994 in Tokyo, Japan, where his parents resided at the time.[31]

 

1.2.1. Encounter with Cyber Police

Anvary’s first encounter with the Iranian authorities occurred in December 2011, prior to his becoming a university student. He was summoned by Iran’s cyber police because of his online activities, and he was asked to present himself to a facility in Tehran’s Afriqa Street.[32] The cyber police showed him copies of his posts on Facebook. These posts discussed topics such as civil rights of religious and sexual minorities.[33] Cyber police officials told him that he would not be arrested because he was a minor.[34] However, he was warned that if he continued his activities he would get arrested immediately after he turned 18.[35]Anvary was released after he signed a written pledge stating that he would stop his online activity.

 

 

1.2.2. Pledges to Authorities in December 2012

On December 7, 2012 Anvary participated in demonstrations commemorating University Students’ Day. According to Anvary MOI agents took pictures and videos of this demonstration.[36] On the following day Anvary and a few other university students were taken to the herasat [37] office to give another pledge, and were then instructed to present themselves to an MOI facility.[38] There, MOI agents told Anvary and other students that the authorities were very impatient with leftists, and that they should refrain from leftist political actions. Anvary was forced to give yet another pledge. This time the pledge included a promise not to participate in any protest or demonstration, even demonstrations that were exclusively about students’ demands in universities.[39] 

 

 

 

Figure 3. Amin Anvary

 

 

1.2.3. Arrest

Anvary was arrested on December 28, 2014. He first received a call from an unidentified number. The caller told him that he should report to the Amaken office.[40] Anvary asked the reasons for this instruction. In response, the unidentified caller stated that there were administrative issues relating to his driver’s license or his business license that needed to be resolved.[41]Anvary stated that he had applied for neither a driver’s license nor a business license. Nevertheless, the caller told him that he should present himself so that they could speak about these issues.[42] He instructed Anvary to at the Amaken office on Motahhari Street at 7 am on the next day.

When Anvary arrived at the Amaken office he was taken to an office four levels below the lobby, where he was told that he was under arrest, and that he was in the Security Police’s detention facility.[43] When Anvary asked to see his arrest warrant, he was informed that Branch One of Evin Prison’s prosecutor’s office had ordered his arrest and instructed the Security Police to investigate him.[44] During questioning, his interrogators appeared to be principally concerned about Anvary’s posts regarding religious minorities such as the Bahá'ís. The interrogators deemed several posts to be anti-religion. For instance, they asked Anvary why he was supporting Shahin Najafi, an Iranian rapper who resides in Germany and is well-known for satirizing Shia’ beliefs.[45]Anvary was, in fact, among a group in Iran who were in contact with Najafi.

Anvary was interrogated from 7am until 3 or 4pm.[46] Anvary stated that he was threatened with sexual violence.[47] Referring to his posts in defense of gay persons, his interrogators suggested that he would “like” being sexually abused. He was subsequently transferred to Branch One of Evin Prison’s prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office ordered the confiscation of Anvary’s laptop, and set his bail at 30 million toumans.[48] Anvary was released the following day. However, he was summoned and interrogated twice a week in the period between his arrest and his trial.[49]

Anvary was initially charged with disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic, insulting the Supreme Leader, and insulting Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.[50]

Anvary’s trial was scheduled for July 15, 2015.[51] He was tried at Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court. His trial was brief, and his sentence was issued immediately after the conclusion of the trial, although it was formally communicated to him in September 2015.[52] Anvary was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment, but his sentence was suspended for five years on the condition that he did not continue his activities during this five-year period.[53]

Despite his suspended sentence Anvary continued his activism. On October 4, 2015, approximately 20 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence agents arrested Anvary.[54] Anvary stated that four vehicles came to the street on which his house was located. Anvary, who was in his car and on his way to the bank, sent text messages to his friends indicating that his arrest was imminent. As he approached the bank, IRGC intelligence agents arrested him, which indicates that they had followed him. They subsequently told him that he was considered a high-priority national security target.[55]

After his arrest IRGC intelligence agents took Anvary to his home in order to conduct a search. Anvary asked them to show a search warrant, but they threatened to break the door, forcing Anvary to open it with his key.[56]

Inside his home, Anvary was asked to fill out a form. The form, like many other forms used by the Iranian government, asked about Anvary’s religious affiliation. Anvary refused to fill out this section. As a result, he was beaten by the agents. This beating took place in front of Anvary’s parents.[57] Anvary was also asked to provide the passwords to his social media accounts. In response, Anvary tore up the forms he had been given.[58]

This time Anvary was charged with being a member and a leader in an anti-religion group affiliated with Shahin Najafi., conspiring against national security, and disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic.[59] Anvary was threatened that if senior clerics knew what he had done he could be charged with apostasy, which is punishable by death. Under pressure, Anvary gave them his passwords.[60] He was subsequently taken to ward 2-A of Evin Prison.

Interrogations began on the next day. Anvary was blindfolded during interrogations.[61] On the first day of interrogation questions focused on an open letter Anvary had written to Iran’s Supreme Leader. A screen shot of the letter was put in front of him.[62] In addition, Anvary’s private messages to his friends were also used to exert pressure on him. The interrogators also falsely told him that his mother had been arrested.[63]

 

 

1.2.4. Release

On November 4, 2015 Anvary was released on bail after 30 days of detention, approximately 25 days of which were spent in solitary confinement.[64] His bail was set at 500 million toumans, an excessively high amount compared to other similarly situated individuals.[65] Anvary’s family provided this amount by selling a property they owned at a price far below its market value.[66] Anvary was not released in accordance with recognized procedure; rather, he was put in a car and dropped off along the Chamran Highway.[67]

Anvary sensed that he would get arrested and tried soon. He decided to leave Iran in order to avoid receiving a lengthy prison term. He fled Iran to Turkey illegally on November 19, 2015, approximately two weeks after his release.[68]

 

 

1.3. Ali Asghar Sepehri

Ali Asghar Sepehri, born in 1984, was a student at Amir Kabir University in Tehran. In his interview with IHRDC, Sepehri discussed the restrictions imposed on student associations and political activism on campus. Sepehri entered Amir Kabir University in 2002.[69] He recalled a meeting held to support Hashem Aghajari, a university professor who had been sentenced to death for apostasy.[70] A vigilante group broke the university gate on Hafez Avenue and entered the university grounds. They used pepper spray and physically assaulted the participants.[71] According to Sepehri, at that time the Ministry of Sciences would side with pro-reformist student groups known as the Islamic Associations, and, as a result, students were mostly free to conduct their activities within the confines of permissible activism in the Islamic Republic. Except for the meeting held in support of Aghajari, Sepehri did not recall any other major incident through the presidency of Mohammad Khatami.[72]

 

 

1.3.1. Student Organizations

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005 the space for freedoms allowed to student associations dwindled. In 2006 Amir Kabir University prohibited the Islamic Association from holding its elections.[73] Sepehri stated, however, that the students went ahead with their elections. All students elected to Central Council of the Islamic Association were summoned by university authorities, but none were arrested.[74] In the summer of 2006 the university closed the office of the Islamic Association and issued a statement indicating the Islamic Association was illegal.[75] During that fall the university transferred the operating permit of the Islamic Association to another group that was more aligned with their ideology. According to Sepehri, they wanted to turn the Islamic Association into another branch of the Basij.[76]

During that period the university’s disciplinary committee summoned several student activists, issuing warnings to them that they would be suspended in case of further infractions.[77] The students were forced to pledge that they would cease their political activity. In the fall of 2006 three students were suspended.

 

 

1.3.2. Pressure on Student Newspapers

Sepehri used to publish a student newspaper named Iran-e No. Sepehri’s paper was banned in early 2007. In an article Sepehri had criticized the IRGC’s involvement in political affairs.[78] The IRGC filed a complaint against Sepehri, and the Press Court[79] sentenced Sepehri to a fine of 300,00 toumans[80] in lieu of four months’ imprisonment.[81]

On April 28, 2007, a number of student newspaper editors decided to publish simultaneously the same content in nine different student publications.[82] Their goal was to voice their opposition to university policies that were being implemented to put pressure on student publications regarding their content. Sepehri, whose paper was banned months earlier, helped his friends print copies of their papers at a shop.[83] Two days later they were surprised to see forged copies of their newspapers being circulated on campus.[84] These forged copies included anti-religion content, far more radical than what the students would ever dare to publish.[85] For instance, one of the articles in the forged papers denied the existence of God.[86] Some of the students believed this to be a ploy by hardliners to provide them with a pretext for clamping down on student activists. According to Sepehri, shortly after the distribution of forged newspapers, Basij members descended on Amir Kabir University from other universities to protest, suggesting to those there that this was a coordinated plot.

Several students were arrested after this incident.[87] Sepehri accompanied Majid Tavakoli, Majid Sheikhpour and Pouyan Mahmoudian to Tehran Revolutionary Court when they were summoned. Before entering the court complex they gave their cell phones to Sepehri.[88] Tavakoli called Sepehri from inside the court building and told Sepehri that they were being taken to Evin Prison.[89]

 

 

1.3.3. Ministry of Intelligence Interrogation

On May 19, 2007, Sepehri was summoned by phone to appear at a Ministry of Intelligence office on Mozaffar Street. He was interrogated from about 2:45 pm to about 6:15 pm.[90] He was neither blindfolded nor physically abused. He was, however, threatened by the two interrogators who told him that he could be expelled from university and imprisoned.[91] Sepehri had to provide written responses to the interrogators’ question, and he was supposed to sign under each response.[92] The questions focused on how, and to what extent, he knew other student activists, and on his involvement in the publication of the anti-religion/anti-Islamic newspapers.[93] Sepehri indicated that he was pressured to confess that he was responsible for the publication of those papers, but that he refused to confess as he had nothing to do with them.

To put more pressure on Sepehri, one of the interrogators picked up the phone and called Sepehri’s family, who resided in Mashhad.[94] He falsely told Sepehri’s father that he was calling from the Ministry of Justice. He added that Sepehri was involved in publication of newspapers that insulted Shi’a Imams, and asked Sepehri’s father to speak with him. Sepehri’s desktop computer was also taken and held by the MOI for about 50 days.[95] Sepehri was released after more than three hours of interrogation. He was not further pursued by MOI agents.

 

 

1.3.4. Suspension

On October 22, 2007, students at Amir Kabir University held an event in support of student activists who had been arrested and imprisoned.[96] On that day Sepehri was prevented from entering campus grounds. He stated that he was barred from entering his university for a week. Subsequently, Sepehri was summoned before the university’s disciplinary committee, and was suspended for one semester. This suspension was put on hold after Sepehri filed an appeal.[97] 

 

 

 

Figure 4. An Order by Amir Kabir University’s Disciplinary Committee Affirming Sepehri’s Suspension for the Spring 2009 Semester

 

 

 

In February 2009 Iranian authorities buried the remains of five unidentified soldiers killed during the Iran-Iraq War in the Amir Kabir University campus. This action sparked student protests at the university.[98] Although Sepehri did not go to the protests on the day that the remains were buried, he was involved in gathering signatures opposing this action.[99] As a result, the Disciplinary Committee implemented his suspension order. For one semester Sepehri was not allowed to enroll in classes or reside in university dormitories.[100]

Sepehri continued his education after his one-semester suspension and obtained his M.S. from Amir Kabir University. He left Iran in August 2012 to continue his studies.[101]

 

 

1.4. Ashkan Yazdchi

Ashkan Yazdchi, born in 1983, was arrested during protests held on December 27, 2009. On that day large numbers of protesters used the occasion of Ashura, the most significant Shi’a holiday, to take to streets in Tehran and other major cities. Iran’s state-owned English language station, Press TV, reported that eight persons were killed during the protests.[102] Meanwhile, Jaras, a reformist website, reported that according to an internal Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) news bulletin, 37 individuals were killed on that day.[103]

Yazdchi was protesting on Nejatollahi Street in Tehran when he was arrested.[104] He was taken to Evin Prison after he was arrested, where he was held in ward 209, ward 240 and ward 8 during his detention.[105] He was released on bail after two months.

 

 

1.4.1. Interrogation

While held at Evin Prison Yazdchi was interrogated 18 times.[106] According to Yazdchi, the interrogators had come up with a narrative in advance and were trying to define the person being interrogated in their pre-defined plot line. The questions were repetitive, which Yazdchi believed were intended to tire him and other arrested individuals to have them admit their guilt.[107] Interrogations took place in a separate building from the main prison, which had become known as the “school”, because individuals had to sit on desks resembling those used in classrooms. Yazdchi indicated that he was taken to this building in a minivan. He was blindfolded during interrogations sessions.[108]

Yazdchi’s interrogator repeatedly told Yazdchi to admit that he had blinded a member of the Basij, despite Yazdchi’s stated opposition to violent resistance.[109] Later on the interrogator informed Yazdchi that he had to admit guilt regarding at least one crime so that they could let him go. Yazdchi did not admit to anything.[110]

 

 

1.4.2. Detention Conditions

Given the substantial numbers of individuals arrested, many detainees had to sleep in small rooms. Yazdchi recalled that, on some occasions, 14 people had to sleep in one room, which meant that they could not move while they were asleep.[111]. According to Yazdchi there was not a clear rationale behind many of the arrests, with some individuals having been picked up only for being in the vicinity of the protest.

 

 

1.4.3. Threats and Trial

After his release from detention, Yazdchi kept receiving threatening phone calls from the agents who had interrogated him. He stated that these threats were due to his advocacy for other political prisoners, which included raising awareness about their cases or finding attorneys for them.[112] Later, Yazdchi began working at a private firm as an engineer, but phone calls from those agents to his work place eventually led to his dismissal.[113]

Yazdchi’s trial took place in the summer of 2010. His court summons did not indicate the crimes with which he had been charged. But later on, when he was looking for work and had to go through a background check, he saw that his charges were insulting sacred religious values, destroying public property, participation in illegal gatherings, and disrupting public order.[114] His trial, presided by Judge Salavati, lasted approximately ten minutes. He received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment, which was suspended for five years. He was yet again summoned to appear at the Shahid Moghaddas prosecutor’s office, but by this point Yazdchi had decided to leave Iran, which he did on February 14, 2011.[115]

 

 

1.5. Actions of the Iranian Government against Participants in the Cyrus Day Event

On October 28, 2016, hundreds of Iranians converged on the Tomb of Cyrus the Great to celebrate his legacy in what has become an annual ritual in recent years. Some of those who had gathered chanted slogans in support of the Pahlavi dynasty. As many as 300 participants were arrested.[116] Ali Salehi, Shiraz’s General and Revolutionary Prosecutor stated, “After conducting the necessary investigation, the leaders and main organizers of this gathering, who had engaged in uttering slogans that were norm-breaking and against our values, were arrested.” Many were prosecuted at Branch One of the Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court. According to reports, 74 individuals received prison sentences ranging from one year to eight years.[117]

In 2017 Iranian authorities prevented this gathering from taking place. Reports from the area indicated that security forces had restricted the public’s access to Pasargad, where Cyrus the Great is buried.[118] Images posted to social media showed similar tactics. For instance, a flyer was handed out to drivers indicating the gathering at the Tomb of Cyrus had been organized by the Islamic Republic’s opposition, and that participating in this gathering would violate Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code, which prohibits colluding and conspiring against national security.[119]

 

 

 

Figure 5. A flyer handed out to drivers at the vicinity of the tomb of Cyrus the Great declares that participating in an October 2017 event at his tomb will constitute a violation of Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code.

 

A video posted four days before the scheduled event showed that a barricade was being set up around the tomb.[120] Meanwhile, Iranian media also reported that the Ministry of Intelligence had arrested a group of online organizers.[121]

 

 

2. Freedom of Association under Iranian Law

The government that came to power following the Iranian Revolution of 1979 espoused its commitment to basic freedoms while insisting that liberty should be limited to certain bounds, the most important of which was conformity with Islam. These boundaries, however, have been ill-defined and have caused numerous controversies. This tension is manifested in the Iranian Constitution.

 

 

2.1. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article 26 of the Iranian Constitution provides,

“The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations, as well as religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic Republic. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them.”[122]

In addition, Article 27 declares,

“Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.”[123]

The Guardian Council, a 12-member body comprised of six clerics and six legal experts, is responsible for interpreting the provisions of the Iranian Constitution.[124] This council has not yet issued an interpretive opinion regarding either of the two provisions cited above.[125]

In addition, the Iranian judiciary generally does not recognize the protections enumerated in these two provisions as defenses against national security charges. Therefore, court opinions typically do not contain any clarification or explanation regarding the meaning or extent of these provisions.

Implementation of other laws that have been passed by the Iranian parliament and approved the Guardian Council have effectively eroded the guarantees set out in Articles 26 and 27.

 

 

2.2. The Islamic Penal Code

A number of provisions of the Islamic Penal Code (IPC) impose restrictions on freedom of association. These provisions are discussed below.

 

 

2.2.1. Restriction on Freedom of Association as a Form of Punishment

Under Article 23(k) of the IPC an individual may be barred from membership in “political or social parties or groups” as a form of “complementary” punishment.[126] The range of crimes punishable under this provision is broad. Generally, an individual convicted of any crime punishable by at least six months of imprisonment, could also be punished under Article 23(k).[127] Article 23(k), however, can be applied in other circumstances as well. For instance, an individual who admits to sexual relations outside of marriage, but is not convicted of adultery, can be sentenced to between 31 and 74 lashes.[128] Under Article 23(k) this punishment can be supplemented by banning that individual from membership in political or social parties or groups.

Article 23(c) of the IPC provides that a person may be banned from holding a specific profession, career or job. This punishment can also be attached to any crime punishable by at least six months of imprisonment. This provision has been used against several journalists in recent years. Ahmad Zeidabadi, a renowned journalist, was banned from journalism for life in addition to a sentence of six years’ imprisonment.[129] Jila Baniyaghoub, who was imprisoned for a year, was banned from journalism for 30 years.[130] Likewise, Isa Saharkhiz was also barred from journalism and political activities for five years.[131]

 

 

2.2.2. Provisions Targeting Freedom of Association

Three provisions of the Fifth Book of the Islamic Penal Code are routinely used against political and civil activists. The vague language used in these three provisions allows judges to hand down harsh sentences for activities that are of a peaceful nature.

 

2.2.2.1. Article 498

Article 498 of the Fifth Book of the IPC declares,

“Anyone, with any ideology, who establishes or directs a group, society, or branch, inside or outside the country, with any name or title, that constitutes more than two individuals and aims to perturb the security of the country, if not considered as mohareb, shall be sentenced to two to ten years’ imprisonment.”[132]

The Islamic Republic considers a wide array of activities as disruptive to national security. Evangelical Christians, for example, could be prosecuted under this article. Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian convert, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for forming a group dedicated to spreading Christianity in Iran.[133] The court opinion did not specifically address whether and how promoting Christianity was adversely affecting national security. Instead, the answer to this central question was simply presumed in the affirmative.[134]

In May 2016, Nargess Mohammadi, the vice-chair of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, was sentenced to sixteen years’ imprisonment. Ten years of her sentence was due to conviction under Article 498. The basis for her conviction was her membership in Legam, a campaign aimed at gradually abolishing of the death penalty.[135] According to the IPC, she will only serve the longest of her sentences, which means that she will serve ten years in prison if her sentence is upheld.

 

 

 

Figure 6: In May 2016 Nargess Mohammadi was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for her membership in an anti-death-penalty campaign.

 

 

 

2.2.2.2. Article 499

Article 499 is similar to Article 498, but it concerns those who are members of a particular group as opposed to establishing it.

“Anyone who joins, as a member, any of the groups, societies, or branches aforementioned in article 498, shall be sentenced to three months to five years’ imprisonment, unless it is proved that he had been unaware of its aims.”[136]

This article is also often invoked to prosecute Iranian citizens for their religious affiliation. Manouchehr Kholousi, a Bahá'í residing in Mashhad, was found guilty of violating this provision and received the maximum five-year sentence.[137] The judge who wrote the opinion distinguished between being a Bahá'í and “organizational activity towards the wretched goals” of the international governing body of the Bahá'í faith. To support this finding, the court quoted messages from this international governing body that were critical of the Islamic Republic.[138]

 

2.2.2.3. Article 610

Article 610 of the Fifth Book of the IPC states,

 When two or more individuals collude and conspire to commit crimes against the national or foreign security of the country or prepare the facilities to commit the aforementioned crimes, unless they are regarded as mohareb, shall be sentenced to two to five years’ imprisonment.[139]

This article is regularly used to prosecute political and civil activists. A recent example involves Esmail Abdi, the general secretary of Iran’s teachers’ association. Abdi has been arrested a number of times. His most recent arrest occurred on July 27, 2015. This arrest took place after he was warned on the eve of a teachers’ protest scheduled for May 7, 2015. Intelligence agents told Abdi that he would face consequences if he did not stop his activity on behalf of the teachers’ association.[140] In February 2016, Abdi was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.[141] He received five years under Article 610 and one year for disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic.[142] While the Iranian Constitution guarantees the right to hold peaceful rallies, in reality organizing such events could result in national security charges such as colluding and conspiring to act against national security.

 

 

2.3. The Law on the Activities of Political Parties and Groups

In 1981 the Iranian parliament passed the Law on the Activities of Political Parties, Groups, Political and Trade Associations, Islamic Associations, and Recognized Religious Minorities.[143] This law governed formation of political parties and civic associations. This law formalizes the State’s tight control on political and civic associations. Note 1 to Article 6 read, “All groups are required to report their mission statements, founding charters, the identities of the members of their leadership commissions and subsequent changes in membership of these commissions to the Ministry of Interior.”[144]

Note 2 to the same Article effectively negated Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution. While Article 27 declares that gatherings and marches are free so long as participants are not armed and that the march is “not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam,” Article 6, Note 2 of this law declared that a permit issued by the Ministry of Interior is necessary before any group can stage a march or a protest.[145] The fact that a select group of government officials have the final say on whether a political rally can take place has meant that only certain government-sanctioned messages can be communicated in the public arena without fear of retribution. In June 2010, eight reformist political parties and organizations applied for a permit to hold a rally on the anniversary of the disputed June 12, 2009, presidential election.[146] Reformist parties reported that the Ministry of Interior had told them that their representatives should submit their planned slogans and the concluding resolution of the participants.[147] Days later, reformist parties amended their request and stated that they will hold a silent match without any slogans. An official with the ministry reportedly stated that the goal of the rally was not clear.[148] The Ministry of Interior did not officially respond to the application, and the protest was called off, citing concerns for the lives of participants.[149]

On February 6, 2011, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, two of the defeated candidates in the disputed 2009 presidential election, submitted a request for a rally.[150] The stated purposed of the rally, planned for February 14, 2011, was to show support for the Egyptian and Tunisian people, who had revolted against their respective governments. The Ministry of Interior did not approve this request. The march was not called off, and at least two individuals were fatally shot in the ensuing violence.[151] A parliamentary inquiry into the events of February 14, 2011, stated, “The Ministry of Interior’s refusal to issue a permit for the counter-revolutionary February 14 march was commendable, and we believe that invoking Article 27 of the Constitution is reserved for individuals who believe in and effectively obey the Constitution, not the counter-revolutionaries and those who act against the rights of the public and national security, and those who serve the interests of the system of [global] domination.”[152]

The pattern of denying requests for rallies and demonstrations have continued. For instance, in April 2015 a request for a protest in opposition to the nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 countries was denied by the officials with Ministry of Interior officials in Alborz Province.[153] Later in the same year, Ministry of Interior denied a request for a march in support of the nuclear deal. An official with the ministry stated that the deal was being debated by the parliament; therefore, there was no reason for approving the request.[154]

In January 2016 the Iranian parliament passed a new statute, named the Law on the Activities of Political Parties and Groups.[155] This law, which replaces the previous one, keeps similar onerous restrictions on political activity.

 

 

2.3.1. Article 10 Commission

Article 10 of the 2016 law creates a commission that is tasked with issuing permits for the formation of political and civic groups as well as marches and rallies. The members of this commission, which is known as the Article 10 Commission, are selected as follows:

  • The representative of the Attorney-General

  • The representative of the head of the judiciary
  • A representative of national political parties
  • A representative of provincial parties
  • The Minister of Interior’s Deputy for Political Affairs
  • Two representatives selected by the parliament.[156]

This commission holds significant powers, including deciding whether a particular rally or march is against Islamic principles.[157]

 

 

2.3.2. Prohibited Acts under Article 18

Article 18 of the 2016 law lists a series of prohibited acts that could result in the disciplinary measures against a political party or a civic association. Some of these acts are:

· Anti-Islam propaganda and distributing harmful books and magazines. [158]

· Any type of relationship with embassies, representatives, governmental organs or political parties of foreign countries at any level and in any manner that harms the freedom, independence, national unity and interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

· Making false accusations and spreading rumors

These provisions impose strict limitations on what political parties and civic associations may do. Furthermore, by including conditions that are impossible to define, such as ensuring that their activities do not harm the “interests of the Islamic Republic”, the existing legal frameworks exposes all groups and organizations to the risk of disciplinary measures such as a complete ban.

 

 

3. Freedom of Assembly and Association under International Law

Freedom of assembly and association is among basic rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).[159] The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party, also protects freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

Article 21 of the ICCPR declares,

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.[160]

Article 22 states,

  1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

  2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police in their exercise of this right.
  3. Nothing in this article shall authorize States Parties to the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1948 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to take legislative measures which would prejudice, or to apply the law in such a manner as to prejudice, the guarantees provided for in that Convention.[161]

Maina Kiai, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, notes that these rights are not absolute.[162] He adds, however, that when a government wants to limit these rights its action should be based on grounds listed in paragraph 2 of Article 22. In addition, any such limitation should be “prescribed by law.”[163] In other words, a law that limits the freedom of assembly or association must be reasonably clear.

The witness testimonies of individuals interviewed by IHRDC, the statutes passed by the Iranian parliament, and the manner in which the Iranian intelligence apparatus and the judiciary treat activists and ordinary citizens establish a pattern of disrespect for the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. As the testimony of Amin Anvary showed, for example, being in contact with an exiled rapper was enough for a criminal charge. Numerous Iranian citizens have been harassed, detained and sentenced for actions that were of a purely peaceful nature.

Moreover, contrary to what is required under international law, restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and association are arbitrary and unpredictable. The wording of pertinent statutes, such as the IPC and the 1981 Law on the Activities of Political Parties, Groups, Political and Trade Associations, Islamic Associations, and Recognized Religious Minorities, is often too broad. Any action or association, for instance, may be deemed as contrary to the interests of the Islamic Republic or Islam itself. Therefore, Iranian citizens are at the mercy of the will of the authorities, not knowing what action can constitute a criminal charge. Thus, it can be concluded that the existing legal framework violates Iran’s obligations under the ICCPR with respect to protections discussed in Articles 21 and 22.

Conclusion

The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association is violated in both law and practice in Iran. The statutes regulating these freedoms can be considered as facial violations; they are overbroad and lack the precision necessary for defining acceptable limits to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. In practice, the Islamic Republic considers a vast category of activities as un-Islamic, and therefore, illegitimate. Motivated by political or ideological purposes, or perhaps both, harsh sentences await activists, members of unions or trade associations and ordinary citizens.

Iran routinely violates its obligations under Articles 20 and 21 of the ICCPR. Going beyond the acceptable limits on these freedoms under international law, the Iranian government intimidates individuals who seek to address their grievances through civic and political engagement. Recent arrests and prosecutions, such as those of Esmail Abdi and Narges Mohammadi, signal that this trend is not likely to change in foreseeable future.

 

 


 

 

[1] Associated Press, Iranian Lawmaker Says 5,000 Arrested During January Protests, Wash. Post (Feb. 2, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iranian-lawmaker-say-5000-arrested-during-january-protests/2018/02/02/1f867ade-0846-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html?utm_term=.a8e2a2d715c4.

[2]Bīsh Az Hizār Nafar Dar Iʿtirāżhāyi Īrān Bāzdāsht Va Dastikam 21 Nafar Kushtih Shudihʾand, Radio Farda (Jan. 2, 2018), https://www.radiofarda.com/a/f4_killing_21_arrest_more_than_1000_iran_unrest/28951463.html.

[3] Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Iran Protests: Deaths in Custody Spark Human Rights Concerns, Guardian (Jan. 9, 2018, 12:00 AM), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/09/iran-protests-deaths-custody-human-rights.

[4]Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Iranian Youths Arrested for Public Water Pistol Fight in Tehran, Guardian (Aug. 4, 2011, 01:00 PM), http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/04/water-fight-pistols-iran-arrests

[5] Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Human Rights Council, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/20/27 (May 21, 2012) (by Maina Kiai), available at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A-HRC-20-27_en.pdf.

[6] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[7] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[8] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[9]Maḥkūmīyati Zartushti Aḥmadī Rāghib Bih Shish Mah Ḥabsi Ta ʿzīrī, Kampaign.info (Feb. 28, 2016), http://www.kampain.info/archive/10887.htm

[10] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[11] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC). This amount approximately equals $617 per the exchange rate in 2016.

[12] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[13] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[14] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[15] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[16] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[17] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[18] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[19] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[20] This amount approximately equals $13,743 per the exchange rate at the time.

[21] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[22] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[23] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[24] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[25] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[26] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[27] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[28] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[29] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[30] IHRDC Interview with Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, (Apr. 28, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[31] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[32] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[33] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[34] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[35] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[36] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[37] Every university and governmental organization in Iran has an intelligence and security office known as herasat. This office oversees the university or organization’s security, and monitors it for any subversive act or any conduct in violation of Iran’s strict Islamic code.

[38] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[39] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[40]Amaken office is a subdivision of Iran’s police force and is in charge of monitoring public buildings and spaces and ensuring the public’s compliance with the law.

[41] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[42] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[43] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[44] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[45] In 2012, Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani issued a fatwa against Shahin Najafi, referring to him as an apostate who may be killed. The lyrics of Najafi’s song “Naqi” were deemed offensive to the tenth Shia’ Imam, Ali al-Naqi. Following this fatwa, an Islamist website announced a $10,000 reward for anyone who kills Najafi.

[46] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[47] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[48] This amount approximately equals $8,693 per the exchange rate at the time.

[49] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[50] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[51] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[52] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[53] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[54] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[55] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[56] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[57] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[58] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[59] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[60] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[61] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[62] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[63] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[64] This amount approximately equals $140,252.

[65] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[66] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[67] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[68] IHRDC Interview with Amin Anvary, (Apr. 26, 2016) (on file with IHRDC).

[69] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[70] For a detailed account of Hashem Aghajari’s case see Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Apostasy in the Islamic Republic of Iran 22 (2014), available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/1000000512-apostasy-in-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html

[71] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[72] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[73] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[74] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[75] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[76]Basij is a volunteer militia force, and during the Iran-Iraq war it fought under the direction of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Basij played a significant role in suppressing the post-June 2009 election protests. Basij forces also may set up checkpoints on the streets or go to residential units to enforce the IRI’s morality code.

[77] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[78] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[79] Article 168 of the Iranian Constitution declares that offenses related to the press should be tried in Ministry of Justice courts. While the term “press court” is often used in the Iranian context, in reality there is no special court specifically designed to hear press cases. In cases brought against the press, the trial is held in public courts, but a jury is also convened in accordance with Article 168 of the Iranian Constitution. In fact, the press cases are the only cases in which a jury is used The Press Law specifies that jurors should have these qualifications:

  • Being at least 30 years old.
  • Being married.
  • Not having a serious criminal record.
  • Being known for trustworthiness, honesty and good character.
  • Scientific qualification and familiarity with cultural and press-related issues.

The court will have quorum with the presence of seven jurors, and the jury can reach a decision with a majority

[80] This amount approximately $325 in 2007 dollars.

[81] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[82] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[83] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[84] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[85] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[86] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[87]Dastgīrīi Dānishjūyān ʾIdāmih Dārad , Deutsche Welle Persian (May 10, 2007), http://www.dw.com/fa-ir/ دستگیری-دانشجویان-ادامه-دارد/a-2483949.  

[88] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[89] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[90] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[91] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[92] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[93] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[94] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[95] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[96] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[97] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[98]Tashannuj Dar Dānishgāhi Amīr Kabīr”, BBC Persian (Feb 24, 2009), http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2009/02/090224_wmj-amirkabir.shtml

[99] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[100] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[101] IHRDC Interview with Ali Asghar Sepehri, (Sept. 5, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[102]Eight Killed and Hundreds Detained in Fresh Clashes in Tehran, Deutsche Welle (Dec. 28, 2009), http://www.dw.com/en/eight-killed-and-hundreds-detained-in-fresh-clashes-in-tehran/a-5060406.

[103]ʾIkhtiṣāṣīi Jaras/ Bultani Vizhiyi Īrnā: Sīu Haft Kushtih Dar Rüzi ʿĀshūrā Dar Sarāsarih Kishvar, Jaras (Dec. 30, 2009, 02:51 PM), http://www.rahesabz.net/story/6669/.

[104] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[105] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[106] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[107] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[108] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[109] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[110] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[111] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[112] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[113] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[114] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[115] IHRDC Interview with Ashkan Yazdchi, (Sept. 10, 2017) (on file with IHRDC).

[116]ʾAḥkāmi TajammuʿKunandigan Dar Pāsārgād; Yik Tā Hasht Sāl Ḥabs, BBC Persian (Dec. 15, 2016), http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-38328177

[117] Id.

[118] Talāsh Barāyi Julugīrī Az Tajammuʿ Dar ʾĀrāmgāhi Kūrūsh, BBC Persian (Oct. 29, 2017), http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-41782490

[119] Id.

[120]Kishīdani Hiṣār Duri Pāsārgād, Maqbarihyi Kūrush, Radio Farda (Oct. 25, 2017), https://www.radiofarda.com/a/28815398.html

[121]Dastgīrīi ʾAʿżāyi Yik Gurūhi Majāzī Bih Ittihāmi Ījādi “Kampiyni Marāsimi Rūzi Kūrsh Va Bāzgashti Shāhzādih”, Radio Farda (Oct. 29. 2017), https://www.radiofarda.com/a/iran_pasargad_kooroush_security_measures_tv_confess/28822070.html

[122] Qanuni Assassi Jumhurii Islami Iran [The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran] 1358 [1980], Art. 26, available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/english/human-rights-documents/iranian-codes/3017-the-constitution-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html?p=7

[123] Id., Art. 27.

[124] Article 98 of the Iranian Constitution states, “The authority of the interpretation of the Constitution is vested with the Guardian Council, which is to be done with the consent of three-fourths of its members.” Id., art. 98.

[125]Tafāsīri Usūli Qānüni Asāsī, shora-gc.ir, http://www.shora-gc.ir/Portal/home/?news/6334/14566/14567/ (last visited Feb. 9, 2018).

[126] Qanuni Mujazati Islami [Islamic Penal Code] Tehran 1392 [2013], art. 23, available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/iranian-codes/1000000455-english-translation-of-books-1-and-2-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code.html.

[127] Article 23(a) states that individuals convicted of crimes punishable by category one through category six of punishments may be barred from membership in political or social groups. Article 19 of the IPC defines these categories. See Id.

[128] To be convicted of adultery there should be either four eyewitnesses or the defendant should confess four times. If the defendant confesses fewer than four times, he or she could be sentenced to between 31 and 74 lashes per Article 232 of the IPC. See supra note 126, art. 232.

[129] Muhammad Sahimi & Dan Geist, Jailed Iranian Journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi Wins World Press Freedom Prize, PBS.ORG (Apr. 7, 2011, 10:30 PM), http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/04/jailed-iranian-journalist-zeidabadi-wins-world-press-freedom-prize.html

[130]Jila Baniyaghoob, Crime: Journalism, Iran Wire (Aug. 4, 2014), http://en.iranwire.com/features/5928.

[131]ʿĪsā Saḥarkhīz, Faʿāli Sīāsī Va ʾIḥsāni Māzandārānī, Rūznāminigār Dar Īrān Bāzdāsht Shudand, BBC Persian (Nov. 2, 2015), http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2015/11/151102_nm_saharkhiz_arrest_journalist.

[132] Kitabi Panjumi Qanuni Mujazati Islamic [The Fifth Book of the Islamic Penal Code]Tehran 1376 [1996], art. 498, available at  http://iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/iranian-codes/1000000351-islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five.htmlhttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/1000000655-freedom-of-assembly-and-association-in-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html#1

[133]Dādnāmihyi Nukīshi Masīḥī ʾIbrāhīm Fīrüzī/Taṣāvīr, Human Rights Activists News Agency (Mar. 10, 2016), https://hra-news.org/fa/prisoners/a-4429.

[134] Id.

[135]Nargis Muḥammadī Bari Dīgar Bih Dah Sāl Zindān Maḥkūm Shud, Defenders of Human Rights Center (May 18, 2016), http://www.humanrights-ir.org/?p=1543

[136] Kitabi Panjumi Qanuni Mujazati Islamic [The Fifth Book of the Islamic Penal Code]Tehran 1376 [1996], art. 499, available at  http://iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/iranian-codes/1000000351-islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five.htmlhttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/1000000655-freedom-of-assembly-and-association-in-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html#1

[137]Maḥkūmīat Bih Dalīli Bahāyī Būdan; Matni Kāmili Ḥukmi Dādgāhi Manūchihri Khulūsī, Human Rights Activists News Agency (Feb. 10, 2015), https://hra-news.org/fa/thought-and-expression/a-16.

[138] Id.

[139] Kitabi Panjumi Qanuni Mujazati Islamic [The Fifth Book of the Islamic Penal Code]Tehran 1376 [1996], art. 610, available at  http://iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/iranian-codes/1000000351-islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-five.htmlhttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/1000000655-freedom-of-assembly-and-association-in-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html#16.

[140]Bāzdāshti Barkhī Az Ḥāżirān Dar Tajammuʿi Sukūti Muʿalimān Muqābili Majlis, Euro News Persian (July 22, 2015), http://persian.euronews.com/2015/07/22/pe-iran-teachers-protest/

[141]ʾIsmāʿīl ʿAbdī Muʿallimi Zindānī Bih Shish Sāl Ḥabs Maḥkūm Shud, Human Rights Activists News Agency (Feb. 22, 2016), https://hra-news.org/fa/prisoners/a-4175

[142] Id.

[143] Law of 29 Aug.1981(On the Activities of Political Parties, Groups, Political and Trade Associations, Islamic Associations, and Recognized Religious Minorities), available at http://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/show/90226.

[144] Id.

[145] Id.

[146]Darkhāsti 8 Ḥizbi ʾIslāḥṭalab Barāyi Mujavvizi Rāhpiymāyīi Sālgardi ʾIntikhābāt, BBC Persian (June 3, 2010), http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2010/06/100603_l10_reformist_parties_election_anniversary_rally_permit.

[147]Bāzīyi Vizārati Kishvar Bā Darkhāsti Mujavvizi Rāhpiymāyī, Deutsche Welle Persian (June 8, 2010), http://www.dw.com/fa-ir/بازی-وزارت-کشور-با-درخواست-مجوز-راهپیمایی/a-5664465.

[148] Id.

[149]Mūsavī Va Karrūbī: Barāyi Ḥifẓi Jāni Mardum Rāhpiymāyīi Sālgardi ʾIntikhābāt Barguzār Nimishavad, RADIO Farda (June 10, 2010), https://www.radiofarda.com/a/f3_karoubi_mousavi_demonstration/2067641.html.

[150] Darkhāsti Mujavvizi Rāhpiymāyī Bih Samti Miydāni ʾĀzādī, Dar Ḥimāyat Az Ḥarkati Żiddi ʾIstibdādīi Mardumi Manṭaqih, Kaleme (Feb. 6, 2011), http://www.kaleme.com/1389/11/17/klm-46546/.

[151]Du Nafar Dar Taẓāhurāti 25 Bahman Kushtih Shudand, BBC Persian (Feb. 15, 2011), http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran/2011/02/110215_25bahman_demo_counter.shtml.

[152]Matni Kāmile Guzārishi Majlis Dar Muridi Ḥavādisi 25 Bahman, Hamshahri Online (Mar. 2, 2011, 4:31 PM), http://hamshahrionline.ir/details/129628.

[153]Mujavvizi Darkhāsti Tajammuʿ Muqābile Ustāndārīi Alburz Ṣādir Nashud, Dolate Bahar (Apr. 30, 2015, 06:23 PM), http://www.dolatebahar.com/view-47132.html.

[154]Mujavvizi Tajammuʿ Barāyi Muvāfiqāni Barjām Ṣādir Nashud, Tabnak (Oct. 3, 2015, 08:17 PM), http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/news/536280/.

[155] Law of 12 Nov. 2016 (On the Activities of Political Parties and Groups), available at http://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/show/998916.

[156] Id. 

[157] Id.

[158] Id.

[159] Universal Declaration of Human Rights G.A. Res. 217 (III) A, U.N. Doc. A/RES/217 (III) (Dec. 10, 1948), available at  http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights.

[160] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 21, Dec. 16, 1966, S. Exec. Rep. 102-23, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, available at http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx.

[161] Id., art. 22.

[162] Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association 6, Human Rights Council, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/20/27 (May 21, 2012) (by Maina Kiai), available athttp://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A-HRC-20-27_en.pdf.

[163] Id.

 

  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Tagged as:

report