Continued from 12-MONTH REPORT CARD: IRAN UNDER HASSAN ROUHANI – Part I
Repression and execution have intensified under Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, provoking immense international concerns.
On March 16, 2014, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed concerns over the soaring rate of executions in Iran – including as many as 675 last year – and said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council,“The new government has not changed its approach regarding the application of the death penalty and seems to have followed the practice of previous administrations, which relied heavily on the death penalty to combat crime.”
Four days previously, he had said, “The new [Iranian] administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in.”
In a January 22, 2014 –press release, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran said, “The persistent execution of individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association, and affiliation to minority groups contravenes universally accepted human rights principles and norms.”
Shaheed has reported that between 2012 and 2013, the rate of executions rose by 165%, and that there are serious questions about the standards applied to death penalty trials, especially in light of Iran’s history of executing political prisoners.
While Shaheed and other UN figures recognize that there have certainly been over 600 executions in Iran in the past year, sources inside the country show that from March 2013 to March 2014, 45 public executions were registered, along with 828 executions, political murders and suspicious deaths.
2. Arbitrary Arrests
When the US State Department released its 2013 report on worldwide human rights violations, it specifically acknowledged that the human rights situation in Iran remained poor even under the new president.
The Iranian government’s official Tabnak news oulet has admitted that for each 100,000 people in the country 800 enter prison. Iran is fourth in the world in the number of prisoners per capita.
3. Suppression of free press
Even under Rouhani, Iran continues to imprison more journalists than almost any other country.The regime regularly arrests journalists and bloggers, imprisoning them without charge or trial, or on the basis of trumped up charges such as “spreading propaganda against the system” or “insulting the .”
The regime also frequently shutters newspapers, including five so far under the Rouhani presidency: Bahr, Aseman, Ebtekar, Neshat, and Ghanoon.