Iran’s judicial and security bodies have waged a vicious crackdown against human rights defenders since Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013, demonizing and imprisoning activists who dare to stand up for people’s rights, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack details how scores of human rights activists – often labelled “foreign agents” and “traitors” by state media – have been prosecuted and jailed on spurious “national security” charges, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of human rights reform raised during President Hassan Rouhani’s first election campaign. Some activists have been sentenced to more than 10 years behind bars for simple acts such as being in contact with the UN, EU or human rights organizations including Amnesty International.
“It is a bitter irony that as the Iranian authorities boast about their increased engagement with the UN and the EU, particularly in the aftermath of the nuclear deal, human rights defenders who have made contact with these same institutions are being treated as criminals,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Rather than propagating the dangerous myth that human rights defenders pose a threat to national security, the Iranian authorities should focus on addressing the legitimate concerns they raise. These are people who have risked everything to build a more humane and just society - it is appalling that they are so viciously punished for their bravery.”
The organization is calling on the EU, which announced plans to relaunch a bilateral human rights dialogue with Iran in 2016, to speak out in the strongest terms against the persecution of human rights defenders in the country.
“The international community, and in particular the EU, must not stay silent over the outrageous treatment of human rights defenders in Iran,” said Philip Luther.
“Instead of appeasing Iranian officials, the EU should forcefully call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those jailed for their peaceful human rights activism and for an end to the misuse of the justice system to silence activists.” >>>