CIVICUS urges the Iranian Government to guarantee a secure environment for civil society activists to operate; and to seriously reconsider the 45 recommendations rejected by it as well as implement the 20 recommendations taken back to Tehran for further review. To prove the sincerity of the remarks made by the Secretary-General of the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, that "Iran's genuine intention in [the UPR] process was to enhance national capacities for the promotion and protection of human rights", the Iranian government must comply with the recommendations made to it, and end widespread violations of human rights of the Iranian people.
Earlier this month, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and a number of civil society groups censured Iran at the UN Human Rights Council for outright refusal to accept key recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Iran rejected 45 of the 188 recommendations made to it by diplomatic delegations of different states and took back 20 recommendations to Tehran for further review. Notably, the rejected recommendations included "end to severe restrictions on the rights to free expression, association and assembly" (United States) and the "end to the detention and trials of writers solely for the practice of their right to freedom of expression" (Slovenia).
During Iran's UPR in February, 53 delegations expressed concerns about the human rights situation in the country. Sound recommendations were provided for Iran to adopt in order to improve the situation. In particular, delegates from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel and Luxembourg reprimanded the Iranian government with regard to gross violations of human rights.
Iran continues to be one of the worst persecutors of human rights defenders in the world. In May this year, Iranian officials secretly executed teacher and trade unionist Farzad Kamangar, along with four other Kurdish political prisoners at Evin Prison in Tehran. Farzad Kamangar was reportedly subjected to severe physical and psychological torture including denial of food and sexual abuse while in custody. In a sham trial that lasted less than five minutes, Farzad Kamangar was sentenced to death in February 2008 for "endangering national security" and "enmity against God".
Farzad Kamangar's case exemplifies the massive human rights violations unleashed by the Iranian authorities against civil society and political activists: arbitrary arrests, the denial of basic rights while in detention, opaque and secretive trial proceedings and summary execution. At present, many human rights defenders are in jail, including, Emad Baghi, Bahareh Hedayat, Milad Asadi and Shiva Nazarahari. Additionally, over 170 journalists have been arrested since the 2009 elections.
Civil society organisations that advocate for the advancement of human and democratic rights are facing extreme pressure in Iran. Although permits are not officially required by law for CSOs to operate, the Ministry of Interior has made obtaining permits a de facto requirement by increasingly shutting down organisations that are not registered. The Constitution of Iran prohibits public demonstrations that "violate the principles of Islam". This provision is arbitrarily used to prevent public dissent. Private gatherings are also often disrupted on the basis of "countering immoral behavior".
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. The Civil Society Watch (CSW) programme of CIVICUS tracks threats to civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the world. In 2009, CSW tracked threats to civil society in over 75 countries around the globe.