Reports of political arrests, torture, unfair trials and summary executions continued to be received. Thousands of political prisoners were held during the year, including prisoners of conscience; some were detained without charge or trial, while others were serving long prison sentences imposed after unfair trials. The judicial punishment of flogging continued to be implemented. Several "disappearances" both inside and outside Iran were reported. At least 47 people, including political prisoners, were executed. The government, headed by President ‘Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, continued to face armed opposition from the Iraq-based Peoples' Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), and organizations such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in Kurdistan and Baluchi groups in Sistan-Baluchistan. In April up to 10 demonstrators were shot dead in Islamshahr by members of the Revolutionary Guards during protests at price rises and inadequate water supplies. Hundreds were arrested; most were later released, but about 50 remained in detention facing unspecified charges. They were not known to have been tried by the end of the year. In April the head of the judiciary announced the establishment of an Islamic Human Rights Commission. In May legislation, passed in 1994, reforming the court system came into effect in most courts in the country. Under this legislation, judges became responsible for prosecution in public and revolutionary courts. In March and July, the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities adopted resolutions condemning human rights violations in Iran (see Amnesty International Report 1995). The Commission extended the mandate of the UN Special Representative on the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further year. The UN Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance visited Iran in December for the first time. Invitations were also extended to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, but they had not visited the country by the end of the year. Thousands of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, were held during the year. Javad Rouhani, the son of Grand Ayatollah Sadeq Rouhani, was arrested in July in Qom. Grand Ayatollah Rouhani had written an open letter to President Hashemi Rafsanjani criticizing certain government policies and complaining that he had been held under house arrest for more than 10 years. In August at least 25 people were arrested when they gathered outside Grand Ayatollah Rouhani's house to protest at the authorities' actions. Javad Rouhani was later sentenced to one year's imprisonment by a religious court, possibly on charges of opposition activities and contact with opposition figures abroad, but was released in December. The fate of the others was still unknown at the end of the year. All were possible prisoners of conscience. At least 21 followers of Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, a senior religious figure, including his son, Morteza, were arrested between September and December. They may have been arrested solely on account of their association with Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, who had opposed certain government policies. Their whereabouts were unknown at the end of the year. Sheikh Makki Akhound was reportedly sentenced to three years' imprisonment in connection with his association with Grand Ayatollah Shirazi. No information was received as to the fate of at least 14 followers of Ayatollah Montazeri arrested in 1993 and 1994 (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 and 1995). Five members of the Baha'i faith were reportedly held at the end of the year. Two of them, Behnam Mithaqi and Kayvan Khalajabadi, remained under sentence of death (see Amnesty International Report 1994). Arrests of Christians, apparently on account of their religious activities, were also reported. ‘Abbas Amir Entezam, a former Deputy Prime Minister arrested in December 1979 and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of espionage, continued to be held; he was a possible prisoner of conscience. In February 1995 he was transferred to a heavily guarded, government-owned house in Tehran. He continued to call publicly for a retrial in accordance with international standards. Other political prisoners arrested during the year and held without trial included members of opposition groups such as the PMOI and supporters of Kurdish organizations including the KDPI. In August and September, 26 Kurds were reportedly arrested in connection with membership of the KDPI. All but two, Sadigh Majidi and Zaher Ahmadi, had been released by the end of the year. Political prisoners serving long prison terms after unfair trials included supporters of the PMOI; at least 10 followers of Dr ‘Ali Shari‘ati; members of left-wing organizations such as the Tudeh Party; supporters of Kurdish organizations such as the KDPI and Komala; and members of other groups representing ethnic minorities such as Baluchis and Arabs (see previous Amnesty International Reports). Retired General Azizollah Amir Rahimi and his son, Mehrdad Amir Rahimi, who were prisoners of conscience arrested in November 1994 (see Amnesty International Report 1995), were both released in March. Officials said that they had been freed pending trial on charges of "possessing unauthorized weapons and use of illicit drugs". They were not known to have been tried by the end of the year. Several amnesties were pronounced during 1995 but it was not known whether any political prisoners were released as a result. Political trials continued to fall far short of international standards for fair trial. The transfer to judges of authority for prosecution in public and revolutionary courts in particular compromised the independence of the judiciary. Trial hearings were often held in camera and reports continued to indicate that political detainees were denied access to legal counsel during judicial proceedings, despite official assurances to the contrary. For example, Javad Rouhani (see above) was reportedly denied access to a lawyer throughout his trial. There were continuing reports of torture or ill-treatment of prisoners and detainees. In March Emin Olcer, a Turkish national who had entered Iran illegally, was reportedly arrested and detained for 39 days in a police station where he was blindfolded and given electric shocks. He was reportedly tortured again after being brought to trial. He was later deported to Turkey. At least three people reportedly died in custody, or shortly after release, possibly as a result of torture or ill-treatment. Mohammad Ali Norouzi was reportedly arrested in July and held in Naqadeh prison for about 10 days. He died on the day of his release from a heart attack, according to official sources. Sayed Ibrahim Taheri's body was returned to his family in August. He had been detained in March 1994. Both were members of the KDPI. No independent investigations were known to have been carried out into these deaths. Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including flogging and amputation, remained in force. Floggings were reported for a wide range of offences, often in conjunction with prison terms. In September a bride and her sister were reportedly sentenced to 85 and 75 lashes respectively for dancing with men at the wedding and 127 guests were sentenced to between 20 and 85 lashes or fines. In October a 16-year-old girl in Najafabad was reportedly sentenced to life imprisonment and to have both her eyes gouged out for the murder of members of her family. The sentence was not known to have been carried out by the end of the year. "Disappearances" were reported, both inside and outside the country. In January Mollah Ahmad Khezri and Majid Sulduzi, Iranian Kurds who had fled to Iraq in 1992, were reportedly handed over to the Iranian authorities by members of the Kurdish Revolutionary Hizbullah after they were abducted at a check-point on their way to Rawanduz in Iraqi Kurdistan. In March Iranian officials denied having any information as to their whereabouts. ‘Ali Tavassoli, a former member of the Organization of the Iranian People's Fedaian (Majority) (OIPF-Majority), went missing while on business in Azerbaijan in September. The authorities denied reports that Iranian agents had been responsible for his abduction. In October, three women were convicted of the murder of Reverend Tatavous Michaelian and Reverend Mehdi Dibaj (see Amnesty International Report 1995) and sentenced to prison terms of between 20 and 30 years. According to official reports, they had confessed to carrying out the killings on behalf of the PMOI, which denied any involvement. Amnesty International sought a copy of the full trial transcript, as well as the methods and detailed findings of the investigation carried out by the Iranian authorities into these two deaths and that of a third Christian leader. In May the authorities said that a police report about the death of Sunni leader Haji Mohammad Zia'ie (see Amnesty International Report 1995) had concluded that he had died as a result of a car accident. However, the report did not include full details of the methods and results of the investigation. The threat of extrajudicial execution extended to many Iranian nationals abroad, as well as to non-Iranians such as the British writer Salman Rushdie whose killing had been called for in a fatwa (religious edict) in 1989. At least 47 people were executed, some in public. As in previous years, the true number of executions for political and non-political offences, such as drug-trafficking and murder, was believed to be considerably higher than publicly reported. Among the political prisoners reportedly sentenced to death in 1995 was Rahman Rajabi who was sentenced to death in October, apparently in connection with suspected membership of the KDPI. He had been arrested in July and held in Darya prison in Oromieh. Political prisoners executed in 1995 included Assad Akhavan, a member of the OIPF-Majority. His body was returned to his family in Langrud in September after several years' imprisonment. In November Mehdi Barazandeh was reportedly stoned to death for adultery and sodomy in Hamadan. Salim Saberniah and Mustafa Ghaderi, two alleged members of Komala (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 and 1995), remained under sentence of death. In August officials said that a court in Tabriz was investigating their petition for a new trial. Mahmood Zangari, sentenced to death in 1993 for a murder he allegedly committed when he was 17, was reported to be at imminent risk of execution in May, but was not known to have been executed by the end of the year. Amnesty International sought clarification of reports that the PMOI had tortured or ill-treated detainees in its custody in previous years. In response, the PMOI-dominated National Council of Resist-ance of Iran denied these allegations but failed to allay the organization's concerns. Amnesty International continued to investigate the allegations. Amnesty International continued to press for the release of all prisoners of conscience and for a review of the cases of all political prisoners held without trial or after unfair trials. It called on the government to take effective measures to prevent torture and to ensure fair trials for all political prisoners. The organization sought information about the fate of people reported to have "disappeared" and appealed for cruel judicial punishments and death sentences to be commuted. The government replied to certain inquiries, but rarely provided sufficient information to allay the organization's concerns. In May Amnesty International published a report, Iran: Official secrecy hides continuing repression, highlighting cases of political prisoners held without trial or after unfair trial; the death penalty; and possible extrajudicial executions both inside and outside Iran. The government responded to the report, referring to its response to a previous report which accused the organization of "double standards" and "selectivity". It said that most of the cases raised had been examined and found to be without any reliable basis, but did not give details of any investigations.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.