U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Iran
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Iran, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa630.html [accessed 3 September 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
IRAN*The Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979 after a populist revolution toppled the monarchy. The Government is dominated by Shi'a Muslim clergy. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and functions as the Chief of State. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. President Seyed Mohammad Khatami was inaugurated in August, following a landslide victory in elections held on May 23. The Constitution establishes a 270-seat unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majles. The Government seeks to conform public policy to its political and socio-religious values, but serious differences exist within the leadership and within the clergy. The Government maintains power through widespread repression and intimidation. The judiciary is subject to government and religious influence. Several agencies share responsibility for internal security, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Ministry of Interior, and the Revolutionary Guards, a military force established after the revolution. Paramilitary volunteer forces known as Basijis, and gangs of street thugs, known as the Ansar-e Hezbollah (Helpers of the Party of God), who are often aligned with specific conservative members of the clergy, act as vigilantes. Both regular and paramilitary security forces committed numerous, serious human rights abuses. Iran has a mixed economy. The Government owns the petroleum and utilities industries and the banks. Large charitable foundations called bonyads, most with strong connections to the Government, control properties expropriated from the former Shah and figures associated with his regime. The bonyads exercise considerable influence in the economy. Oil exports are the primary source of foreign exchange. Mismanagement and corruption have created serious economic problems. Unemployment in 1997 was estimated to be at least 25 percent, and inflation was an estimated 20 percent. The Government's human rights record remained poor. The Government restricts the right of citizens to change their government. Systematic abuses include extrajudicial killings and summary executions; disappearances; widespread use of torture and other degrading treatment; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; unfair trials; infringement on *The United States does not have an embassy in Iran. This report draws heavily on non-U.S. Government sources. citizens' privacy; and restriction of the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The Government manipulates the electoral system and represses political dissidents. However, during the presidential election campaign however, a lively debate on political, economic, and social issues occurred, although the Government closed several newspapers, disqualified candidates, and intimidated opposition campaigners by encouraging vigilante attacks. Supreme Leader Khamenei, in a break with precedent, backed one candidate, Majles Speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri. Nonetheless, Khatami's election victory, with nearly 70% of the vote, was not disputed and the regime apparently did not engage in election fraud. Khatami's election appeared to demonstrate a strong desire among his supporters, primarily women, youth, and the middle class, for greater social and cultural freedom and increased economic opportunity. Women face legal and social discrimination. The Government discriminates against minorities and restricts important worker rights.