Annual Analytical and Statistical Report on Human Rights in Iran for the year 2022

Department of Statistics and Publications of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA)— 2022, has been an eventful year in Iran, with at least 3046 protests being held across all provinces of Iran, and at least 22655 individuals arrested in violation of their right to freedom of expression. More so in an extremely alarming rate the executions carried out in 2022 compared to the previous year, increased by 88%, and the number of death sentences issued has also increased by 8%.

This annual report on human rights violations in Iran is the result of collection, analysis, and documentation of 13342 reports concerning human rights, gathered from 267 news sources during 2022. The report is divided into sections based on the categories of human rights areas of concern such as women rights, ethnic rights, religious rights, death penalty, etc. In each section charts, graphs, and illustrations in addition to analysis discusses the human rights concerns and emerging trends compared to the previous year.

This report is the result of the work of courageous human rights activists in Iran who pay a very high cost for striving to enact their humanitarian beliefs. However, for obvious reasons (i.e. existing governmental limitations, bans on the free exchange of information and government interference with the existence of human rights organizations in the country), this report by no means is free of errors and cannot solely reflect the actual status of human rights in Iran. Having said that, it should be emphasized that this report is considered one of the most accurate, comprehensive, and authentic reports on human rights conditions in Iran. It serves as an informative resource for human rights activists and organizations working on Iran who seek to better understand the challenges and opportunities that they may face.

Click on the Image Above to download the PDF version of the Full report

A Comprehensive Report of the First 82 days of Nationwide Protests in Iran

HRANA – Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old young woman, was arrested by the morality police for the crime of improper hijab. Her arrest and death in detention fueled nationwide protests in Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws, and structure of the regime. The following 486-page report is dedicated to the statistical review, analysis, and summary of the first eighty-two days of the ongoing protests (September 17 to December 7, 2022). In this report, in addition to the geographic analysis and the presentation of maps and charts, the identity of 481 deceased, including 68 children and teenagers, an estimated of 18,242 arrested along with the identity of 3,670 arrested citizens, 605 students and 61 journalists or activists in the field of information is compiled. In addition, the report includes a complete collection of 1988 verified video reports by date and topic. The report examines protests across 1115 documented gatherings in all 31 provinces of the country, including 160 cities and 143 universities.

Summary

Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a young 22-year-old woman from Saqqez, Kurdistan was visiting Tehran, when she was taken into custody on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, by the Morality Police officers at the Haqqani metro station in Tehran. The reason for her arrest: not properly observing the strict Islamic dress code. Mahsa/Zhina was taken to the infamous detention center of Moral Security Police known as Vozara.
Shortly after Mahsa’s arrest, she went into a coma with level three concussion, and her partially alive body was transferred to the intensive care unit of Kasra Hospital. Given the track record of the police and Guidance Patrols in mistreating the arrestees and similar previous incidents, with the believe that Mahsa was beaten during the arrest people were outraged.
Unpersuasive explanations given by the Central Command of the Islamic Republic Police Force (FARAJA) in defense of its actions regarding the death of Mahsa, the past performance of the police force, along with widespread dissatisfaction with the existence of a body called the Moral Security Police, fueled widespread protests in Iran.
The widespread protests sparked at the time Mahsa Amini was announced dead in front of Kasra Hospital on Argentina Street in Tehran, and then quickly spread to the streets despite the intimidating presence of Iran’s security forces. The protests intensified after Mahsa’s burial in a Saqqez cemetery. To the extent that after eighty-two days of nationwide protests between September 17, 2022, to December 7, 2022, they have spread to Iran’s all 31 provinces, 160 cities, and 143 major universities.
The protests did not stay limited to Mahsa’s death, it rather, quickly targeted the Iranian government’s political and ideological foundations. These protests were violently quashed by the anti-riot police and Iran’s militia force (Basij). teargas, pellets, and live ammunition were used in the repression of protestors. This widespread crackdown has led to the death of dozens of people and the wounding of hundreds of protestors.
Despite sever communication restrictions imposed by the Islamic Republic, this report attempts to give a clearer picture of the first 82 days of the protests between September 17, to December 7, 2022. It’s worth mentioning at the time of this report the protests are still ongoing in various forms.

For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]

HRAs Spreading Justice urges governments to deny active members of Student Basij entry visas abroad. 

The Spreading Justice initiative (SJ) of Human Rights Activists (HRA) has received ample evidence and information on the involvement of University Student Basij Forces in the crackdown of protesters during the ongoing protests in Iran, especially at the universities. These involvements include physical confrontation with protesting students, gathering protesting student information and providing them to security forces, and doing so aiding the arrests of students. 

However Student Basij members, despite their vital role in the crackdowns are left under the radar and often do not pay any cost for their involvement with the suppression of student movements. Many of the Student Basij members travel, study, or immigrate abroad with full impunity. 

The Student Basij was formed by the direct order of the founder of Islamic Republic, Khomeini, on 23 November 1988. This institution was formed in universities with the aim of “the defense of Islam, the revolution, and the values of the ruling system, to link the Hawza and the university”, “explaining, promoting, and realizing the orders of the former and current supreme leaders of Islamic Republic, namely Ruhollah Khomeini and Seyed Ali Khamenei”, and “Identifying and training of loyal, committed, and aligned forces with the characteristics of the Islamic Revolution for the perpetuation of the Islamic Revolution”. Ever since, Student Basij has had offices in universities across the country where students have been voluntarily recruited.

Student Basij is organizationally affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Ground Forces (NEZSA). The commander of the national student Basij is appointed by the IRGC commander, and the provincial commanders of Student Basij are appointed by the provincial IRGC commanders. 

The Student Basij have a history of involvement in the suppression of student movements in the universities at least since 1999, and their role in crackdowns on university movements and activists has increased ever since. The Student Basij has a history of violent confrontations, spying on students, and paving the way for the entry of intelligence-security forces to repress student movements. 

Student Basij members receive ideological training and are highly loyal to the supreme leader, Khamenei. Often, their role within the system does not end with their studies. Due to their loyalty and training, they are of great value for the government and often they move on to assume governmental and security positions within the system following their studies. 

We believe that Student Basij and its affiliations should not enjoy international impunity for three main reasons. 

  1. Student Basij plays a vital role in combating democratic seeking movements of Iranian people, especially the student movement. 
  2. Student Basij members are the governments ideological reserve for assuming important roles within the system in the future 
  3. Student Basij is officially under the command of IRGC

Having said that, we realized the Student Basij members are more likely to consider immigrating or studying abroad. Therefore we have started collecting evidence and data on the active members of Student Basij, and have called on people to share any information regarding the members of this organization with Spreading Justice. 

We have compiled the collected data and information, including names of current and former active Student Basij members, especially those that are actively serving the ruling ideology and confronting student movements. We have made the decision to not share this information publicly given its complexity, rather we aim to share with universities and immigration offices globally, and further urge governments to deny active members of Student Basij entry visas. 


For media inquiries please contact HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

HRA urges Tippmann Sports LLC to Condemn the Iranian government’s use of its equipment in the repression of protests

HRA urges Tippmann Sports LLC to Condemn the Iranian government’s use of its equipment in the repression of protests

ATTN: Tippmann Sports
4230 Lake Ave
Fort Wayne, IN 46815
United states

Human Rights Activists (HRA), a U.S. based non-governmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights violations inside Iran. HRA writes to inform Tippmann Sports LLC that  based on the information we have received and other existing evidence, its manufactured paintball equipment (specifically the Model 98 Paintball Gun) has been widely used by the security forces in the repression of unarmed protestors in Iran.

In the last month, the Iranian people have come to the streets to demand their human and democratic rights. In return, the security forces of the Islamic Republic have violently suppressed unarmed protestors. Hundreds have been killed, many more injured, and tens of thousands have been arbitrarily arrested. HRA has reported serious violations of human rights by the security forces of the Islamic Republic, including by FARAJA special units, against unarmed protestors. The acts documented by HRA and others include the killing, including by indiscriminate shooting, injuring, and arbitrary arrest of civilians, including minors. 

Iran is under severe economic sanctions by the United States and other democracy-supporting countries. While we are not aware, nor do we claim any malice on the part of Tippmann Sports LLC, and further, have found no evidence that supports claims that the Iranian government has obtained this weapon directly from the manufacturer, it saddens us to see that your equipment, which is designed for games and sports, has been deployed in such a fashion. 

HRA urges Tippmann Sports LLC to publicly and strongly condemn the Iranian government’s use of its equipment in the repression of protests, and with this position, stand by the people who are fighting for democracy and human rights in their country. In addition, we request that it considers implementing measures in its future contractual sales that would prevent the sale of this equipment to repressive regimes, namely the Islamic Republic. 

Keyvan Rafiee
Director
Human Rights Activists (in Iran)

Iran Protests Weapons Analysis: Officials fail to use non-violent means before resorting to the use of force or firearms

Iran Protests Weapons Analysis

Iranian officials fail to use non-violent means before resorting to the use of force or firearms

SPREADING JUSTICE– As nationwide protests continue across Iran, Spreading Justice continues to monitor the use of violence namely lethal force against protestors. Despite the claims of authorities, there is concrete evidence pointing to the the use of excessive and lethal force against protestors.

The presence of the FARAJA force is prominent; indeed, these special units are much more visible in the current unrest than in previous instances. In addition to the FARAJA, the Imam Ali Security Battalions, affiliated with the Basij Forces, under the command of the IRGC ground forces are playing a key role in the suppression of unarmed protestors.

Spreading Justice has collected evidence which shows the use of lethal weapons by the above forces. In addition to anti-riot equipment such as tear gas, pepper spray, shockers, and batons, the repressive forces have used a variety of prohibited weapons against civilians. The report released today documents a series of reports analyzed by Spreading Justice pointing to the overwhelming conclusion that there has been an ongoing use of lethal weapons against protestors.

Paintball Guns

The paintball gun, which can be bought and sold in the market, is designed as a weapon for playing or using in sport clubs. This gun, which is mainly made of aluminum, works with various gases, including CO2 gas, compressed air, or nitrogen.

The caliber of this weapon is 0.68, it has a range of approximately 45 meters, and it can hold up to 200 bullets per load and operate semi-automatically.

Paintball guns are not considered lethal weapons in general, however their use by law enforcement against protesters specially targeting of their face and upper body is prohibited. Several reports have been submitted to Spreading Justice, showing that FARAJA units use this weapon to target the faces of protesters, which in some cases have caused injury, especially to the eye. Spreading Justice has documented the dangerous use of this weapon in various cities including Tehran, Mashhad, Rasht, Karaj and Sanandaj.

Shotguns

A shotgun is a type of gun that has a groove-less barrel and fires many spherical pallets at the target in each shot. This type of gun is usually used in hunting and sports and sometimes in war and for police forces. Shotguns range usually does not exceed 100 meters. Most two-barrel guns fall under this division of firearms. A shotgun cartridge usually has a cardboard or plastic casing called shotshell, and its size is expressed by a number that is sometimes called caliber in Farsi, analogously to bullet guns.

Shotguns usually exist in the form of long barreled or waist guns, but evidence found so far indicates that the only ones used in facing protesters are long-barreled types.

Shotguns have been systematically used in various cities by plain clothes or uniformed forces against protestors in recent protests, despite being prohibited and potentially its use being considered unlawful. OHCHR indicates that use of projectile weapons is unlawful under certain circumstances. The use of shotguns in recent protests against the protesters fails at least 3 of the requirements for the use of this weapon, in addition to having been used on unarmed peaceful protestors, shot guns have been used unlawfully because (1) multiple pallets were fired at the same time which means it cannot comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality. (2) in some cases, were used in a very short distance, (3) they were targeted at the face and neck of protestors.

According to the documents collected by the Spreading Justice, most of the shells used in the recent protests were 12mm pallets, which usually hold 9 bullets and can be deadly if used at less than 40 meters.

After studying the forensic documents and speaking to eyewitnesses, Spreading Justice confirms that the FARAJA forces used a shotgun was the weapon used to kill Mohammad-Javad Zahedi in the city of Sari.

Spreading Justice has talked to at least three doctors who have treated the injured in recent incidents. According to the testimony of these doctors, more than 80 patients were wounded by pallets from shotguns. It should be noted that this large number is based on the testimony of only three doctors in the cities of Tehran, Rasht and Karaj.

According to testimonies and reliable video documentation, the pallets did not only hit the lower body of the protestors, but they were found in various parts of the body including the face and torso. This shows that contrary to the statements of law enforcement officials, the forces present at the scene have used this weapon, which can be deadly, by firing indiscriminately at the protesters.

In addition to unbranded ammunition, Spreading Justice has analyzed pictures of used shotshells, which belong to the Maham company. Maham is a subsidiary of Iran’s Ministry of Defense.

Assault rifles

Based on reports received by Spreading Justice, the weapons of war used to suppress protestors were mainly one of the below:

  1. Kalashnikova
  2. Heckler & Koch G3
  3. Steyr HS .50

Spreading Justice has received information on the use of Styr HS .50, however has not been able to confirm its use and is in the process of examining and monitoring for additional evidence on the use of this weapon, therefore the details of use of this weapon is not discussed in this report and will be discussed in the future reports.

Kalashnikova (known as: Kalash or AK-47) is an assault rifle that operates with gas and is chambered for 7.62 x 39mm cartridge. The effective firing range for an AK-47 is between 300 to 400m and its maximum range is 2000m. The standard magazine capacities of this weapon are 30 or 75 rounds drum.

Another weapon that falls under this category is Heckler & Koch G3. This weapon has caliber of 7.62 and 51mm bullets. Its effective firing range is 200 to 400m and its standard magazine capacity is 30 as well as up to 100 round drum magazines.

Although these weapons are being used less than in previous instances, they were most documented in the massacre of Zahedan that came to be known as bloody Friday of Zahedan, and the use of Kalashnikova in the deadly attacks on Sanandaj.

 According to the opinion of the doctors consulted by Spreading Justice, the effects of this weapon can be seen on the bodies of some victims, including Omid Sarani and Matin Ghanbarzehi.

As mentioned, the death of about 90 Baloch protesters in the event of Black Friday in Zahedan are considered the most concrete evidence of the use of these weapons against the protesters.

Considering the extent of protests in 114 cities and 79 universities, Spreading Justice cannot consider the use of these weapons as dominant way of suppressing the protestors in recent protests.

Handguns

There are many types of handguns, but according to Spreading Justice in consultation with experts, the most common type available to the FARAJA forces is the German Sig Sauer, which is known as Zoaf in Iran.

This 9mm semi-automatic weapon is armed with direct gas pressure and its barrel is air-cooled. This weapon is used in short distances and its magazine usually holds 8 bullets.

There are reports of the use of revolvers and various Glock or Beretta by the security and military forces, however Spreading Justice has not been able to independently confirm their use in the recent protests, we continue to monitor and examine evidence and will update our future reports on the use of these lethal weapons in our future reports.

By examining the available evidence, Spreading Justice can confirm that this lethal weapon has been used by FARAJA uniformed officers in at least four locations in Zahedan, Karaj, Rasht, and Tehran.

However, from Spreading Justice examination of reports and evidence it is apparent that the use of handguns has not been in a systematic manner.

Spreading Justice continues its investigation and evidence gathering related to the use of weapons to suppress protestors. Official claims that the forces at the scene were not equipped with lethal weapons is false. Spreading Justice will continue its monitoring of the deployment of lethal force against protestors by FARAJA and other forces.  

For media inquiries please contact HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

Human Rights Activists and the Atlantic Council’s joint panel on Iran human rights

“A surge in Crackdowns Across Iran” Panel Discussion was held yesterday, 27 September 2022 in person at Atlantic council building in Washington DC. The panel discussion that was hosted jointly by Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) and Atlantic council was also broadcasted online through various channels.

The discussion Moderated by Holly Darges from Atlantic council’s Iran Source included diverse speakers and panelists from US Department of States, Atlantic Council, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Baha’is of the United States, and Human rights Activists in Iran (HRA).

William F. Wechsler the senior Director of Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East programs of Atlantic Council started the seminar by welcoming the guests. He also mentioned that the initial objective of the event at the early stages of planning has been “to call attention to dynamic that was happening inside Iran that was not getting as much attention and now, of course, the world is watching”, then he continues to remind us that Iran threatens neighbors in the region and in the rest of the world however “the first people that it threatens and the first victims are the people in Iran itself.” After setting the tone for the panel discussion ahead, Wechsler introduces the Keynote speaker Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran and Iraq, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Press, and public diplomacy of US Department of State, Jennifer Gavito.

“The government of Iran has denied Iranians their human rights including through severe restrictions on the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression. For decades political decent has been met with violent repression from the Iranian regime”, Das Gavito expressed concerns for the human right situation in Iran.

Das Gavito mentions the recent violent crackdown on peaceful protestors following the Mahsa Amini’s Death and the increased pressure on Iranian women by the Morality Police. Then she speaks of brave women who fight for their fundamental rights and continues to say, “The protests that we are seeing throughout Iran in spite of the government retaliation and attempts to obfuscate reality show very clearly that the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic of Iran do not see eye to eye”.

“The United States strongly supports the human rights of all Iranian women including the right to peacefully assemble and to express themselves without fear of violence” DAS Gavito then emphasizes that Iran’s human rights abuses is not limited to suppression women’s rights and peaceful assembly, rather Iran has a large number of political prisoners. She mentions the violation of rights of religious minorities by Iranian Government who have been targeted for their beliefs as well. DAS Gavito promised the people of Iran that the American government will hold the violators of human rights accountable. As an example, she pointed to the recent sanction of the moral security police and high-rank officials and said that the actions of the American government will not be limited to these cases and sanctions.

After DAS Gavito, Holly Darges, as the Moderator, gave a general explanation about the panel process and the general description of the events of the recent protests in Iran, and noted that the suppression of protests and the human rights situation in Iran is at a very critical stage. Darges then introduces all the panelists and starts the panel by Yeganeh Rezaian.

Yeganeh Rezaian, Journalist and Senior Researcher at the committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) spoke about her experience of encountering the Morality police as a woman who lived in Iran and her arrest and transfers to the same detention center where Mahsa Amini had been taken to. She continues by reminding that many women in Iran have a similar experience and are repeatedly detained for their choice of clothing. She also pointed to the courage of the new generation in Iran and said that the new generation is fundamentally different from its previous generations and does not bow down to the police and the ruling class.

Ms. Rezaian, who as a journalist has a history of being imprisoned in Iran, emphasized the importance of keeping track of arrests and the role of journalists, by saying Journalists working in international media have many restrictions on traveling to Iran, preparing documents and news reports, and that is why they usually only refer to the reports prepared by journalists inside Iran – despite the many restrictions. This is in a situation where the arrest of Iranian journalists and the pressure on them has increased dramatically in recent days, and this issue has made providing information more challenging than before.

Furthermore, she raised concern about increasing arrests of journalists even local journalists in very small towns, she claimed at least half of journalists arrested in recent days have been women and asked the international community to increase the pressure on Iran for the suppression and arrests of journalists in Iran.

Senior Advocacy Coordinator at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), Skylar Thompson, started her remarks by reporting on the alarming situation of women and human rights in Iran. While presenting a heat map of current protests, Thompson highlights that just in the first 10 days of protests, “protests are spanning 93 cities at least there are in 30 of 31 provinces, they are in 18 universities” she then continues by saying that these protests are not just in urban streets of Tehran, but they are spawning geographically, class, gender, and age wise.

Skylar Thompson presented statistics on the repression of protesters in recent days in Iran, stating according to HRA’s documentation received to this point the youngest person killed was a 16-year-old boy, and she added, A 10-year-old girl was also targeted in these protests. she was shot by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but fortunately she survived, although she is in critical condition.

According to Thompson, the senior advocacy coordinator at HRA the situation of human rights has exacerbated during Raisi’s term. She mentioned the upward trends in executions, the return of public executions after two years, and the execution of minor offenders. She also mentioned the surge in inhumane retaliation sentences such as amputation of hands and blinding of eyes.

Mrs. Thompson further pointed to the actions that the international community is obliged to take, such as sanctioning the officials behind suppression, as well as sanctioning institutions that violate women’s rights in Iran, and said: “The fact that the American and Canadian governments have imposed sanctions on the Morality Police and some officials is a positive step, but we do not know who the Canadian government has specifically sanctioned. On the other hand, the silence of countries like England is questionable, and we still do not know the result of the decision and possible actions of the European Union.

In addition, in answer to a question raised by the audience, Mrs. Thompson addressed the difficult livelihood situation of workers and teachers in Iran. She pointed out that teachers had organized many protest rallies in recent months, which led to the arrest of more than 150 teachers’ union activists.

Senior Researcher MENA region at Article 19, Mahsa Alimardani, raised concerns regarding free flow of information due to the internet disruption and blocking of many online services in Iran during recent protests.

Alimardani, as an expert in the field of technology and communication, discussed the challenges of communication in Iran in the last eleven days and that the Islamic Republic has used new methods to limit access to the Internet. She discussed the difference between the communication restrictions in recent events and what happened in November 2019 and explained that even though this time the internet was not cut off completely like in November 2019 and some Iranians have been able to use the internet in recent days. She added that the disruptions are more strategic than before and at hours that protests usually increase after 4pm, outages and other disruptions increase.

Alimardani Also spoke about Satellite Internet (Namely Starlink) and called the lifting of U.S. sanctions in this regard a positive step. She also warned of the vast disinformation in this regard and even malwares and unsafe apps that have claimed by their downloads users in Iran can connect to Starlink.

Despite the existing challenges, Alimardani expressed hope about the possibility of using satellite internet but also warned that the excessive attention to Starlink in recent days has been a bit misleading and has caused attention to be taken away from the actions that can be taken, such as providing safe and secure VPNs for users in Iran.

Anthony Vance, director of public affairs of the Baha’is of the United States, was another speaker at the meeting who addressed the problems of the Baha’is in Iran and said that the pressure on the Baha’is of Iran has increased systematically in the government of Ibrahim Raisi, especially since June. Depriving Baha’is of education, destroying their homes and spreading hatred against the Baha’i community are only a few examples of the oppression that Vance mentioned.

At the end of the joint meeting of the group of human rights activists in Iran and the Atlantic Council, the Panelists Answered questions submitted by the audience.

Watch the full Event online

From Forced Veiling to Forced Confessions

From Forced Veiling to Forced Confessions;
A spike in crackdowns against women in Iran 

In Iran the punishment for being seen in public without a headscarf and what is deemed ‘appropriate’ clothing includes arrest, a prison sentence, flogging or a fine. Such a “use of repressive legislation to criminalize the exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is incompatible with Iran’s obligations under international human rights law”. Historically, women’s rights activists have been arrested and sentenced to prison for protesting against what has been termed “forced veiling” or “compulsory hijab”. 

Most recently there has been a frightening uptick in crackdowns against women in Iran and  a slew of those women’s rights activists have additionally been coerced into forced confessions televised across Iranian State media after being arrested for protesting against forced veiling; a violation of the freedom from torture, the right to fair trial and due process. 

In July, a video circulated online depicting a woman harassing activist Sepideh Rashno for what she perceived as an “improper hijab”. This is common as the public is encouraged under principles of “enjoining good and forbidding evil” to police their peers on such matters. 

Rashno was later arrested. She was held incommunicado, her whereabouts unknown, until a televised confession aired where signs of physical torture were evident. Prior to the airing of her confession, HRANA reported her transfer due to possible internal bleeding–believed to be a result of physical torture. She continues to be held without access to legal counsel. 

Of those complicit in the surge in crackdowns against women there are many. However, when it comes to the later point on violations connected to coerced forced confessions, Ameneh Sadat Zabihpour-Ahmadi stands out amongst the crowd. A high ranking individual within the IRIB, she is notorious for producing forced confessions; her voice and name as producer can be seen in Rashno’s confession which aired on 31/July/2022. The IRIB is well-known for broadcasting forced confessions and show trials, this fact has been noted by numerous governments around the globe, the United Nations, and a number of human rights organizations. IRIB is a State controlled media organization; the head of the IRIB appointed by the Supreme Leader. Previous heads have been designated under Global Human Rights Sanctions regimes for this very behavior. The current head of the IRIB, Peyman Jebeli is complicit in the violations surrounding the televised forced confession of Rashno and others and as such should be held to account.  

The right not to wear the hijab is a right protected in Articles 19 and 26 of the ICCPR to which Iran is a State party. Iran, and its law enforcement leaders, are bound by the ICCPR and as such should be held accountable. In addition related acts of coerced, televised forced confessions are violations of freedom from torture and the right to fair trial and due process. These acts should be thoroughly and separately investigated. 

A Swedish court has sentenced an Iranian Official to life in prison in a historic trial.

Hamid Noury (Abbasi), 61, was a judicial official in the early years of the inception of Islamic Republic of Iran. He was directly linked to Mass executions of 1988 in Gohardasht prison, and sentenced to life in a historic trial by a Swedish court. 

The Trial is of historic significance, as it is the first time an Islamic Republic’s official is held accountable internationally for atrocities committed locally and the violation of international law. 

Hamid Noury worked as Assistant to the deputy prosecutor in Evin Prisons in Tehran and Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison in Karaj From 1982 to 1991. At the time of  the mass executions of the summer of 1988, in which thousands of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience were executed by the judiciary of the Islamic Republic, he was one of the effective members of the execution committee in Gohardasht prison during this massacre.

Historic Significance of the Trial for Universal Jurisdiction

Today on Thursday July 14, 2022, in a historic sentence, the final verdict was issued by Judge Tomas Zander in the Swedish court, and Hamid Noury was sentenced to life in prison for “Mass execution and Torture of political prisoners.”

Hamid Noury was arrested on November 9, 2019 during a trip to Sweden at Stockholm Airport on charges of “premeditated murder, crime against international law and war crimes” for direct role in a serious and widespread human rights violation.

Hamid Noury’s trial began in 2021, and over many sessions witnesses have testified to his role in giving death sentences and walking prisoners to their execution sites. 

Hamid Noury’s Trial is remarkable for many reasons. Most importantly, It is the first time an Iranian official is sentenced in a foreign court for violations of International Law. 

Secondly, the crimes took place about 34 years ago and there has been no site access for investigations and NGO’s Private investigations were submitted for the trial, also the trial largely depended on heart wrenching testimonies of witnesses. 

Thirdly, this was an international effort for justice, as witnesses and activists from across the world set foot forward to testify against Noury’s crimes, in multiple trials that took place over a year. In this rare international effort for justice, the court briefly relocated to Albania to accommodate witnesses that could not be present in sweden. 


This Trial is of historic significance not just for Iranians but for everyone seeking international justice, as it brings hope to possible prosecution of other perpetrators that have committed atrocious crimes years ago and who enjoy impunity locally. 

SJ identifies Ehsan Gholampour: A member of IRGC involved in attempted arbitrary arrest of teacher union activist 

SJ identifies Ehsan Gholampour:

A member of IRGC involved in attempted arbitrary arrest of teacher union activist 

A Spreading Justice investigation has identified Ehsan Gholampour as a member of the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) unit involved in the April 25 failed arrest of teachers union activists, Ali Hassan Bahamin. 

On April 25, 2022, a number of security agents affiliated with the IRGC of Kohgiluye and Boyer-Ahmad province attempted to forcibly arrest Ali-Hassan Bahamin upon departure from his place of work. Efforts to detain Bahamin without warrant were met with heavy resistance due to the actions of Bahamin and others present at the scene. Video of the situation began circulating online shortly following the IRGC’s attempted arrest. This video evidence allowed the Spreading Justice team to analyze those present at the scene and work in close coordination with volunteers to confirm Ehsan Gholampour’s presence.   

A number of trusted sources assisted the Spreading Justice team in the primary identification and fact-checking process of those present at the scene. 

The video evidence demonstrates the severity of the violence used by the agents, including Ehsan Gholampour. Notably, as a result of the violence, Bahamin’s hand was severely damaged. The attempt to arbitrarily detain Bahamin is a blatant violation of the right to liberty and security of person as guaranteed by Article 9 of the ICCPR to which Iran is a State party. Attempts to suppress the freedom of association and assembly through arbitrary detention must be widely condemned. 

According to the statements collected by the Spreading Justice, Ehsan Gholampour was also an agent directly involved in the suppression of protesters in November 2019 in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad provinces.

Spreading Justice spoke to individual victims of human rights abuses at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards in the region. One of the sources told Spreading Justice: “Ehsan Gholampour, along with 50 plainclothes forces, […] played a large role in suppressing the population in the town of Likak in the Bahmai district of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Provinces”.

According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the November protests took place in 719 locations across the country, including Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Provinces. Seyyed Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the then spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the parliament, announced that the number of detainees for the November 2019 protests was about 7,000. According to reports by numerous Human Rights organizations, hundreds of people also died in the bloody protests.

According to sources, Ehsan Gholampour is also a manager of the “Sobh Zagros” website known to be affiliated with the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Corps. He is also part of the intelligence unit of the Fath Corps in this province.

Spreading Justice, alongside the release of this statement, has added Ehsan Gholampour’s identity to the online database of human rights violators. Gholampour now sits among more than 500 others independently verified by the Spreading Justice team. SJ asks citizens, private sources, and others to visit the database for the images and videos of this incident in order to identify the others involved in this violation and others. 

* The identity of the informants involved in the identification of this human right violator has been kept confidential with respect for their security. 

Individual Accountability Mechanisms for Violations of Human Rights in Iran

States have an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights as guaranteed by the mechanisms under which they agree to be held accountable. Core human rights instruments like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  (ICESCR) contain the bulk of basic human rights law while a variety of thematic instruments focus on specific issues ranging from torture, the rights of the child, refugees, and more. Each of these instruments is monitored by a specific body under which the State is required to report on an annual basis. Violations of these instruments, which includes the failure to ensure that the rights guaranteed within are upheld,  constitute a State’s violation of human rights law. Unfortunately, in the case of Iran, these violations are seemingly endless. The State regularly fails to comply with reporting requirements, and blatantly disregards obligations to protect human rights using a variety of inadequate justifications.

HRA collaborated closely with partners at Impact Iran to highlight this issue more broadly in the Iran Rights Index. The index demonstrates the hundreds of recommendations Iran has received urging compliance with international human rights mechanisms. With HRA and partner documentation it is clear, as one moves through the index, the State, while often stating otherwise, consistently fails to meet the standards set forth. 

There has been comprehensive work done on the need for State accountability in the context of Iran. While continued work on the subject is necessary, this article aims to focus on the individual and the need for more than blanketed calls for accountability as a means to end the cycle of impunity. The following is a non-exhaustive look at mechanisms for just that.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation of impunity, in his latest report to the Human Rights Council, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, stated 

“The system of governance and the corresponding absence of a system of accountability has created a culture of impunity that perpetuates the cycles of violence since violations of human rights have no consequences for the State or for individual perpetrators. There appears to be a State policy of intimidating, prosecuting, or silencing those who call for accountability, justice, and truth, whether they are victims themselves, relatives, human rights defenders, lawyers, or organizations.”

The need for a discussion around individual accountability mechanisms is vital to the discussion of the situation of human rights in Iran. HRA’s Spreading Justice database, by way of illustration, lists over 440 individual violators independently verified by HRA experts to have been involved in serious violations of human rights; a list that grows daily. The individuals range from high-ranking government and intelligence officials to prison guards and interrogators. It is clear that these individuals will not be held accountable for their crimes within Iran’s domestic judicial framework (as it stands today), and as such, it is necessary to look outward, and explore international accountability mechanisms available when domestic remedies are either exhausted or have otherwise failed. It is of note that the following paths are not unique to the situation in Iran. 

Sanctions 

Developed as a means to hold perpetrators accountable for serious human rights abuses, individual sanctions designations are particularly powerful tools in the context of authoritarian regimes where accountability in a domestic judicial framework is unlikely at best. 

Several jurisdictions across the globe employ a variety of targeted human rights sanctions regimes. No regime is identical in legal character, language, consequence, or otherwise. Nonetheless, they share common characteristics and the goal of holding individual human rights violators, and in some cases, entities, to account. 

While there are country-specific human rights lists, such as the United States’ “IRAN-HR” (instituted under the United States Executive Order 13553), there is growing momentum for Global Magnitsky Human Rights Legislation (or GloMag as it is often referred to). Currently adopted and employed by a number of States and interstate institutions, GloMag sanctions designate foreign offenders accused of corruption and/or human rights abuses and typically result in asset freezing and/or travel bans. The use of these targeted tools is a welcome shift from the consequential collective punishment that their broad-sectoral, and often conflated counterpart imposes on innocent, often revictimized civilians.

The United States signed its version of Magnitsky legislation into law in 2012. The original law was amended in 2016 to capture what it does today in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The amended law allows for the designation of foreign officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. Canada followed in 2017, passing the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, The European Union in June 2020, the United Kingdom in July 2020, and Australia in 2021. A number of other states have enacted the legislation and/or have pending legislation tabled. 

HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson says, “It’s an important moment in history as the consecutive passing of such legislation around the globe signifies a strong and united goal of holding individual perpetrators of serious human rights abuses accountable and codifying the ability to do so into law. Passing laws however is not enough. There must be a broadened, coordinated use of the available tools in order to conceive their full effectiveness.”  

The international community would benefit immensely from greater coordination and information sharing on individual designations. A precursor for much of the work on designations is the designator States’ coordination with civil society. According to Human Rights First, in the first year of the United States’ GloMag program more than one-third of the 240 first-year designations had a basis in civil society recommendations. “Coordinated efforts among States with shared interests would lessen the burden on a civil society whose documentation is essential and resources stretched thin,” says Thompson. 

Universal Jurisdiction 

The previous year was monumental for the growing importance of Universal Jurisdiction. A recent report published by Trial International cited the 2021 conviction of 15 individuals responsible for international crimes under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, with 17 accused remaining on trial, including one Iranian in Sweden, Hamid Noury. Noury is accused of participating in the mass murder and torture of political prisoners in Karaj prison in 1988. 

The Universal Jurisdiction case against an Iranian official in Sweden is not only monumental for the principle, it’s monumental for Iranian justice and accountability efforts. For Iranians, witnessing an individual tried in a foreign court for the mass murder and torture of political prisoners in Iran is the first form of accountability of its kind. Never before has anyone been criminally charged or held accountable for these crimes. On the contrary, many involved have seemingly continued to move up the ranks. 

A case of this kind sets a precedent and lays the groundwork for others to follow suit. It also sends a strong message to those inside of the country that impunity at home, no matter how long it is enjoyed, does not mean impunity abroad. More details on Noury are available here. 

The principle of Universal Jurisdiction dates back to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and applies to crimes including crimes against humanity, war crimes, or genocide as defined under international law.  The principle sets forth that some crimes are so grave that they merit prosecution in the territory of another State, the crime taking place requiring no direct relation to the prosecuting State. Much like the various sanctions regimes, each State that applies Universal Jurisdiction applies it differently, they have varying degrees of application, statutes of limitations, legal frameworks, etc. Nonetheless, also much like the sanctions regimes, they share a common goal of holding individuals accountable for serious violations of human rights. 

Universal Jurisdiction can be seen as one of the foremost powerful tools in the realm of international justice. The case of Hamid Noury may be the first, but it will surely not be the last. 

International Courts and Special Tribunals 

International Criminal Court (ICC)

While it is a theoretically available path, Iran is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over its crimes unless such crimes are committed in the territory of a signatory State (there is a myriad of other pathways available to create jurisdiction that is outside the scope of this article). It’s worth noting due to the vast amount of evidence of crimes committed in Europe, for example, this is not out of the realm of possibility. 

However, if Iran’s failure to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms in the past is any indication, it is safe to say that any communication from the ICC would be met with great indignation. And while the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) could discuss the human rights situation and submit a referral to the Office of the Prosecutor, it would more than likely receive a veto. A discussion of referring the situation to the ICC however could bring more attention to the issue and lead to opportunities elsewhere.

There is some confusion over this issue, as Iran often cites themselves as a ‘signatory of the Rome Statute’ which although not false, is misleading, as the State has never ratified the text. 

This is not a unique posture to the Rome Statute and aligns quite well with similar State language around attested compliance with international human rights mechanisms–despite the tremendous amount of evidence to the contrary. 

Domestic Litigation –The United States and Elsewhere 

While much narrower in scope, there are an array of domestic litigation tools across the globe available to prosecute perpetrators of specific human rights abuses like, for example, the recruitment of child soldiers or torture. By way of illustration, the United States’ Child Soldiers Recruitment Accountability Act of 2008 permits the United States jurisdiction over an alleged offender of child soldier recruitment found within the territory of the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the alleged offender. This is particularly relevant in the case of Iran. There is substantial evidence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recruiting child soldiers for direct participation in hostilities in Syria. A 2017 Human Rights Watch report documented Afghan children, as young as 14, recruited for combat in the Iran-backed Fatemiyoun division. HRA has also collected evidence of IRGC-recruited child soldiers killed in combat. Recruitment of child soldiers is not only punishable under the United States’ Child Soldiers Recruitment Accountability Act, it is a war crime under international law (which presents its own array of accountability mechanisms). There should be strengthened coordination between Iranian and Syrian human rights groups documenting the use of child soldiers in Syria. Such coordination would surely provide strengthened evidence and in turn, would produce heightened support for accountability efforts. 

In keeping with the example of the United States, the Torture Victim Protection Act also offers a strong set of language that enables citizens and noncitizens to file suits against perpetrators of foreign States who, acting in an official capacity, tortured and/or committed extrajudicial killings outside of the United States. Another strong US legal tool is the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The ATS is a federal law that gives U.S. courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by noncitizens on violations (like the TVPA the violations must have been committed in an official capacity) of torture, extrajudicial killing, forced disappearance, crimes against humanity, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, prolonged arbitrary detention, genocide, war crimes, slavery, and state-sponsored sexual violence and rape. 

It is of note that these are a mere few examples of several that could merit domestic litigation in the United States. Jurisdictions across the world have a wide range of similar legislation. 

Why does such an extensive accountability gap remain?

In seeking an answer to this question, it seems necessary to recall the remarks of the Special Rapporteur.

“There appears to be a State policy of intimidating, prosecuting, or silencing those who call for accountability, justice, and truth…”

With such a strong machine of State-sponsored repression against those seeking accountability, one can understand how a cycle of impunity continues. Human rights activists and lawyers are tortured, detained, and even executed, and well-founded fear of reprisal is high. The international community must be committed to holding individual violators accountable. The tools are there and the documentation is plentiful. The establishment of the above listed and numerous other existing tools sends a strong united message. The message however has not been fully received. The tools must be used. Their implementation must be broadened. States and interstate institutions must work with civil society to discuss strategic and creative pathways to end the egregious abuse dealt by individuals enjoying impunity inside of Iran. The international community must move beyond blanketed calls for accountability and look to specific and practical steps forward.  

**This article in no way seeks to be exhaustive. Rather, it aims to shed light on potential paths forward and spark conversation. HRA welcomes, engages in, and recognizes the need for creative and strategic discussions in light of the ongoing cycle of impunity in Iran. 


For more on HRA’s international accountability efforts contact Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson at [email protected]