Archive for September 2022

Iran grapples with most serious challenge in years

Protests have spread across Tehran and other cities

Sep. 23. 2022- By Rana Rahimpour BBC Persian- The eruption of nationwide protests in Iran following the death in police custody of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman detained for allegedly failing to adhere to hijab (headscarf) rules is the most serious challenge Iran’s leadership has faced in years.

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Mass protests in Iran, sparked by woman’s death in police custody, are the regime’s biggest challenge in years

CNBC- Sep. 23.2022 – Natasha Turak-

  • The protests, which have now spread to at least 50 Iranian cities, were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested for allegedly breaking Iran’s strict rules on wearing the hijab
  • For the conservative Islamic theocracy of 86 million people, whose rigid laws forbid any dissent, the acts of rebellion present a significant challenge to the state.
  • This comes as negotiations with the U.S. on the Iranian nuclear deal stall and inflation in Iran surpasses 50%.           

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The Desperate Effort to Silence Iranian Feminists

09.22.2022- MS.-by Shaghayegh Norouzi and Samaneh Savadi- Protests have raging across Iran over the last week after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman in the custody of the Islamic Republic’s morality police due to her defiance against the strict dress code.

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Authorities in Iran Intentionally Deny Critical Medical Attention to Political Prisoners

September 7, 2022 – A political prisoner’s precarious health situation is raising fears of another preventable death in Iranian state custody due to the authorities’ denial of proper medical treatment, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a statement today.

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Death Sentence Intended to Dissuade Other Activists

September 6, 2022 – The international community should loudly and publicly condemn the blatantly unlawful death sentences issued without due process against two LGBTQ activists in West Azerbaijan Province, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today.

“These two young women were sentenced to death for being part of the LGBTQ community in Iran, which the government has been unsuccessfully trying to eliminate for decades,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.

“This death sentence is intended to terrify and dissuade other LGBTQ activists,” he added.

“A homophobic court system could hang these two young women for daring to be themselves in the Islamic Republic of Iran—if the world chooses to be silent,” said Ghaemi.

CHRI urges the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Council, and special rapporteurs, as well as governments around the world, to publicly call for the annulment of the verdicts against Zahra Sedighi-Hamedani and Elham Choubdar, and their immediate release.

CHRI further calls on the authorities in Iran to cease persecuting individuals on the basis of their sexual preference or orientation and criminalizing the LGBTQ community in Iran.

Click Here for Our LGBTQ Rights in Iran Fact Sheet

Sentenced to Death for Being Non-Conforming, Denied Due Process

The Iranian judiciary confirmed on September 6, 2022, that Sedighi-Hamedani, known as “Sareh,” 31, and Choubdar, 24, were sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in the city of Orumiyeh on the charge of “Corruption on Earth.”

Another woman, Soheila Ashrafi, 52, was involved in the joint case, but her verdict has not been issued yet, according to news reports.

CHRI has confirmed from a well-informed source who requested anonymity that the sentences were issued after multiple violations of the women’s due process rights, including:

  •     Denial of access to legal counsel
  •     Forced false “confessions” extracted under torture and interrogations by state security forces in violation of Article 38 of the Constitution, which prohibits “all forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information”
  •     Both were illegally held in solitary confinement for 2 months during their detainment

Both women were engaged in peaceful activism for LGBTQ rights in Iran prior to their prosecution.

Sedighi-Hamedani was arrested by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence organization in October 2021 on the Turkish border, where she was trying to seek asylum.

In July of this year, the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency published a report and a video of the arrest of Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and other individuals, claiming without any presentation of evidence that they were arrested for activities related to “promoting homosexuality, gambling, fraud” as well as “destigmatizing illicit sexual relations and publishing them online.”

“I find the sentence shocking,” said Iranian human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan in an interview with BBC Persian. “So far I have not seen the death sentence being carried out against LGBTQ activists, but there may have been some that I don’t know about. The fact is that as long as the Islamic Penal Code prescribes the death sentence or flogging for private sexual relations, these punishments cannot be ruled out. There have been cases of men being executed for lavat (anal intercourse), but not LGBTQ activities.”

Dehghan continued, “The crime of ‘promoting homosexuality’ is not mentioned in Iranian laws… At most, the only law the authorities can base their accusations on is Article 639 of the Islamic Penal Code, which calls for a maximum punishment of 10 years for engaging in LGBTQ activities, not execution.”

Meanwhile, the charge of “corruption on earth” is used in the Islamic Republic’s judicial system as a vague catch-all charge to prosecute individuals for perceived political and cultural transgressions.

On September 6, 2022, the Iranian judiciary’s media agency, in publicizing the sentence, added that Sedighi was part of a “gang” that was “trafficking” women, however, the unsubstantiated claim was not listed in the case file used by the Revolutionary Court in Orumiyeh.

Same-sex relations are criminalized in the Islamic Republic of Iran, so LGBTQ individuals cannot go to the police or courts without risking prosecution themselves. Yet they are subjected to extreme rights violations and deadly violence perpetrated by both the state and society.

Iran is one of only six countries that impose the death penalty for same-sex relations. Abuses faced by the LGBTQ community in the Islamic Republic include:

  •     The death penalty can and has been applied to juvenile LGBTQ individuals
  •     Flogging and imprisonment are also imposed for many same-sex acts and cross-dressing
  •     Activists are convicted of national security crimes for peaceful LGBTQ advocacy
  •     Honor killings by LGBTQ family members are encouraged by lenient laws

“Unless the international community begins to communicate to the authorities in Iran that there will be meaningful political and diplomatic consequences for these outrageous violations of basic human rights, such abuses will only increase,” said Ghaemi.