Friday, May 28, 2010

Amnesty International releases annual report

Amnesty International released its annual report on the state of the world's human rights on Thursday, May 27, 2010. The document covers the period from January to December 2009.

In the introduction to the section addressing Iran, Amnesty states:

An intensified clampdown on political protest preceded and, particularly, followed the presidential election in June, whose outcome was widely disputed, deepening the long-standing patterns of repression. The security forces, notably the paramilitary Basij, used excessive force against demonstrators; dozens of people were killed or fatally injured. The authorities suppressed freedom of expression to an unprecedented level, blocking mobile and terrestrial phone networks and internet communications. Well over 5,000 people had been detained by the end of the year. Many were tortured, including some who were alleged to have been raped in detention, or otherwise ill-treated. Some died from their injuries. Dozens were then prosecuted in grossly unfair mass “show trials”. Most were sentenced to prison terms but at least six were sentenced to death. The election-related violations occurred against a background of severe repression, which persisted throughout 2009 and whose victims included members of ethnic and religious minorities, students, human rights defenders and advocates of political reform. Women continued to face severe discrimination under the law and in practice, and women’s rights campaigners were harassed, arrested and imprisoned. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained rife and at least 12 people died in custody. Detainees were systematically denied access to lawyers, medical care and their families, and many faced unfair trials. Iran remained one of the states with the highest rates of execution and one of very few still to execute juvenile offenders: at least 388 people were executed, including one by stoning and at least five juveniles.

The report provides an overview of human rights violations in the Islamic Republic over the 12-month period which ended in December 2009 and includes the following highlights:

Unlawful killings
The authorities said 43 died in the protests but opposition sources said the true total was likely to be over 100.

Arrests and detentions
Well over 5,000 people were detained after the election by the end of the year, including opposition politicians, journalists, academics, students, lawyers, human rights activists and army officers.

Rape and other torture
Compelling evidence emerged that a number of detainees, both women and men, had been raped and otherwise tortured in detention, but instead of investigating allegations thoroughly, the authorities were quick to deny them and then harassed the victims and closed the offices of a committee collecting victims’ testimonies.

Unfair trials
Mass “show trials” involving scores of detainees were staged in successive sessions beginning in August. [...] More than 80 were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years; at least six others were sentenced to death.

Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders, including minority and women’s rights activists, lawyers and trade unionists, continued to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, prosecution and unfair trials throughout the year.

Discrimination against women
Women’s rights campaigners, including those active in the “One Million Signatures” campaign to end legal discrimination, were harassed, detained, prosecuted and banned from travelling for collecting signatures in support of their petition.

Freedom of expression and association
The authorities blocked websites voicing criticism, notably those of Iranian bloggers, and periodically blocked those of foreign news media reporting on Iran. [...] They also shut down or maintained bans on tens of journals, magazines and other print media, targeted critical journalists and infiltrated and undermined independent civil society groups.

Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities
Members of Iran’s ethnic minorities continued to face discrimination along with harassment and imprisonment for advocating greater respect for social and cultural rights. [...] Among those targeted were Sunni Muslim clerics; Shi’a clerics advocating the separation of the state from religion; members of the Dervish and Ahl-e Haqq communities; members of a philosophical association called Al-e Yasin; Christians; and members of the Baha’i community, who remained unable to access higher education.

Torture and other ill-treatment
Methods reported included severe beatings; confinement in tiny spaces; deprivation of light, food and water; and systematic denial of medical treatment. At least 12 people were believed to have died in custody in 2009 apparently as a result of ill-treatment or lack of adequate medical care.

Death penalty
The rate of reported executions rose sharply during the unrest between the presidential election on 12 June and the inauguration on 5 August – 112 executions were recorded, an average of more than two a day.

To view and download the report in PDF format, please click on the links below:
A-Z Country Entries
The full report

The following video was released as an accompaniment to the 2010 Amnesty International report: