Human Rights Voices

While the UN devotes its human rights operations to the demonization of the democratic state of Israel above all others and condemns the United States more often than the vast majority of non-democracies around the world, the voices of real victims around the world must be heard.

Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran summons female singer to court for performing solo in public

Original source

The Jerusalem Post

An Iranian female singer has been summoned by the Islamic republic to appear in court following a public solo performance in the Abyaneh village that was swiftly cut short by the local Cultural Heritage Organization, according to a BBC report.

Tasmin News confirmed that the chief prosecutor of the Iranian province opened an investigation into the reports, adding that the woman has not been arrested on the matter yet, but that the case will be pursued by the prosecutors office.

Iran does not have any specific law banning women from singing in public. However, authorities have punished male singers for singing with female ones in the past.

Moazzam, shortly after the incident, uploaded the exchange to her 180,000 plus Instagram followers. Female solo singers are not broadcast on Iranian TV or radio, according to the BBC, which is the main reason why she uses social media to upload her performances to the public.

The video disappeared from her social media accounts, following the announcement of the court summons. However, the video has been reposted in several other locations, to the dismay of local authorities.

Iran is no stranger to this type of treatment towards its female citizens. A year ago, another Iranian female, Azam Jangravi, took off her hijab and waved it above her head while standing atop an electrical transformer in a busy Tehran square.

It was an act of protest to denounce Iran's strict Islamic laws that restrict women and general life in Iran, and which limited her ability to live freely within her own country.

The actions earned Jangravi a three-year prison sentence.

Progetto Dreyfus, an Italian-speaking Middle East watchdog, has previously condemned Iran in protest for their lack of democracy within the government and free speech for the public within Iranian society, following the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

The watchdog has focused on Iran's hostile politics, human rights violations and archaic ideals, claiming that it is the "single most aggressive country in international politics" and that normal would-be allies of the Islamic state seek alliances with Israel instead of Iran in order to protect themselves against the ideology of the regime's religious leaders of the Iranian regime.

"Modern democracies respect human rights. Iran does not!" Progetto Dreyfus explained in a tweet on February 7.

Iranian women face disparate treatment in marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.

"The advent of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 has disrupted #Iran, trampled rights of minorities and women. The Islamic authorities impose dress code that obliges all women to wear the hijab," wrote Progetto Dreyfus on social media.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his government arrived in the country 40 years ago and "from that moment [on, the] theocratic regime has executed thousands of people, women and minorities that are still repressed," said Progetto Dreyfus.

According to the watchdog, the Iranian government and leadership within the regime have been complicit in human rights violations since the revolution.

"Iran is not only the most dangerous threat to Israel's security, it is also a champion in the state murder of actual or perceived homosexuals," said Volker Beck, a politician in Germany's Green Party and a lecturer at the Center for Studies in Religious Sciences (CERES) at the Ruhr University in Bochum. "It would be desirable for the federal government to make Iran's human rights violations more of an issue."

A few months ago, The Islamic Republic of Iran publicly hanged a 31-year-old Iranian man after he was found guilty of charges related to violations of Iran's anti-gay laws, according to the state-controlled Iranian Students' News Agency.

"The LGBT community in Iran has lived in terror for the last 40 years," said Alireza Nader, CEO of the Washington-based research and advocacy organization New Iran. "Next time Foreign Minister Zarif speaks in Washington, the host and audience should ask him why his regime is one of the top executioner of gays in the world."

In 2016, The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran's regime had executed a gay adolescent that year – the first confirmed execution of someone convicted as a juvenile in the Islamic republic.

Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak Prison in Iran's Markazi Province on July 18, 2016, after he was convicted of "forced male-to-male anal intercourse" in early 2015.

In 2011, Iran's regime executed three Iranian men after being found guilty of charges related to homosexuality.

"In #Iran, Sharia, the Islamic legal system, condemns homosexuality as a crime that provides for the death penalty. The Iranian people suffer daily violations of human rights!" Progetto Dreyfus exclaimed.

In a related incident, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, 57, formerly head of the Iranian judiciary, was sanctioned in January 2018 by the US Treasury Department - which accused him of being responsible for, or complicit in, human rights abuses.

"As head of Iran's judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani has administrative oversight over the carrying out of sentences in contravention of Iran's international obligation," the Treasury said. This involved torture and executions, including of juveniles, along with other abuses. Larijani slammed Israel and the US in July, claiming that Iran was "mightier than ever at Israel's borders," according to IRNA, Iran's news agency.

In regards to the economy, unemployment rates rose dramatically in Iran as US sanctions continue to take effect, according to a report on Radio Farda.

The official figures report the rate of unemployment among Iranian youth has surpassed the general unemployment rate by more than two-fold.

However, it is likely that these figures, high as they are, do not represent the true state of the Iranian employment sector.

Official Iranian figures differ greatly from independent statistical centers. For example, Iranian officials count those who work one hour a week as employed, while independent statistical centers classify them as unemployed.

"Even if the unemployment figures have not been manipulated [by the government], they are questionable from a methodological point of view" and therefore figures on the year could be much higher than what was originally reported, according to the Farda report.

The Islamic Republic of Iran's human rights record remained atrocious under President Hassan Rouhani, according to a report released by the New York-based Human Rights Watch in 2015.

HRW described the conditions as "dire" in Iran and wrote that the country's intelligence and judiciary "carried out serious rights abuses throughout 2014."

The report's findings are a far cry from Rouhani's 2013 pre-election campaign promise that "all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice."

"Executions, especially for drug-related offenses, continued at a high rate," according to Human Rights Watch. "Security and intelligence forces arrested journalists, bloggers and social media activists, and revolutionary courts handed down heavy sentences against them."

"Modern democracies respect the freedom of the press. Iran does not!" Progetto Dreyfus said via their Twitter page. The Iranian Republic, in addition to freedom of speech violations, does not allow the use of social media without censorship from the government, allowing the government to manipulate the information coming in or out of these websites.

In addition, within the same realm, someone speaking out against the government in any way could face punishment by the ruling regime itself - furthering the censorship on freedom of speech and freedom of information within the country.

Iranian media sources said at least 200 prisoners had been killed by October 2014, "but opposition sources said they carried out another 400 unannounced executions. Some executions were public."

Iran's regime imposes the death penalty for offenses including, "insulting the Prophet," apostasy, same-sex relations and adultery.

The Islamic republic has also been complicit in the oppression of non-Muslim minorities as well. HRW wrote that Iran "denies freedom of religion to Baha'is... and discriminates against them. At least 136 Baha'is were held in Iran's prisons as of May 2014."

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch blasted the Islamic republic for its sweeping, violent crackdown on Christians and Dervishes, including imposing lengthy prison terms on the members of those religious minority groups.

The ongoing, severe violation of human rights contradicting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's pre-election promises give the perception of a regime that is neither serious about honoring its basic human rights norms or statements that it will not build a nuclear weapons device.