Iran Protests: State Trying to Crush Dissent Through More Killings, Imprisonment

October 24, 2022 – The sentencing of prominent teachers and labor rights advocates to prison in Iran amid a violent crackdown on protests that has seen hundreds killed, including children, more than 12,000 arrested, and hundreds facing sham charges is a prelude to more severe repression if the international community does not act now, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“All across Iran, protesters have been risking their lives to call for an end to the Islamic Republic’s violent repression,” said Ghaemi.

“The state’s attempts to crush peaceful protest through killings, arrests, and imprisonment is a prelude to more severe state violence against Iran’s citizenry, which can only be halted through strong, collective, international action,” he said.

“The Islamic Republic, which is ignoring constitutional guarantees on peaceful demonstrations, has no qualms about arresting protesters en masse without any respect for judicial procedures,” added Ghaemi. “These arrests are more like abductions.”

“Failing to act now sends a green light to despots everywhere that they can commit atrocities and desecrate international law with impunity,” he said.

Thousands of families have been searching for their loved ones since the government began carrying out mass and arbitrary arrests last month to crush the protests.

  • CHRI calls on the Islamic Republic to release a public accounting of all political prisoners and detainees and their whereabouts, as well as a public listing of all those who have been killed since September 16, 2022, when anti-state protests erupted in the country.
  • CHRI also urges the international community, including government leaders, the UN, and bar associations across the world, to call on the government in Iran to release all detained protesters and political prisoners and halt its crackdown on peaceful dissent.
  • The U.S. and its partners should also pursue the establishment of an urgent special session at the U.N. Human Rights Council so that governments can collectively address the violence against protesters and establish an investigative, reporting, and accountability mechanism for the Islamic Republic’s many serious crimes.

Read more of CHRI’s recommendations to the international community here.

Five Prominent Rights Advocates Sentenced to Jail

On the heels of teachers’ protests around the country this past weekend to call for the release of imprisoned teachers and students, three prominent teachers’ rights activists were sentenced to prison.

Attorney Ramin Safarnia announced the following information through his Twitter account:

In a preliminary ruling, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Rasoul Bodaghi to 4.5 years in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security,” and 1 year for “propaganda against the state.”

Jafar Ebrahimi was sentenced to 4 years in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security,” and 1 year for “propaganda against the state.”

Mohammad Habibi was sentenced to 3 years and 7 months in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security,” and 1 year for “propaganda against the state.”

Meanwhile, Reza Shahabi and Hassan Saeidi, senior members of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, have each been sentenced to 5 years in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security,” and 1 year for “propaganda against the state,” tweeted their lawyer Hossein Taj.

500+ Facing Sham Charges, Some Can Carry Death Penalty

Criminal warrants and indictments have been issued against 315 people, according to Prosecutor Ali Salehi. Salehi added that four have been charged with “waging war,” which can carry the death penalty.

Other charges include “assembly and collusion against national security,” “disturbing public order,” and “propaganda against the state,” all of which carry lengthy jail sentences and are meted out routinely to smear peaceful activists and dissidents in Iran and throw them behind bars.

Indictments have also been issued against 201 people in connection with recent protests in Alborz province, said the local prosecutor, Hossein Fazeli.

Judiciary Chief Gholam-Hossein Ejei, who has built his career around repressing dissent through grave human rights abuses, meanwhile likened the protests to “riots” and called protesters “enemies” while announcing that trials would begin in Tehran this week.

CHRI notes with alarm that Ejei’s comment—that “those who expressed regret and remorse, will be released sooner”—means that detainees are being pressured to make false statements and are at risk of torture to make forced false “confessions.”

The state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has a long history of broadcasting such forced confessions. Typically well-staged productions, they are used to defame dissidents, intellectuals, and other individuals whom the authorities wish to discredit, legitimize their prosecution, and amass public support for their sentences.

“Six weeks have passed since the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini sparked nationwide, anti-state protests, and despite a violent state campaign of terror to quell the protests, people are still refusing to back down,” said Ghaemi.

“They are risking everything to make their voices heard and the international community must also step up to the plate and impose meaningful and coordinated international costs for the Islamic Republic’s crimes and violence,” he added.