Human Rights Watch Report: Iran Leader Greenlights Rampant Abuses
In its annual world report, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei “continues to greenlight rampant abuses” of human rights. HRW also criticized the United States for sanctions stifling Iran’s economy and access to essential medicines.
According to the organization’s World Report 2021, judicial and intelligence authorities continued in 2020 to imprison human-rights defenders and those speaking out against the government's conduct but took no steps to hold to account those accused of serious rights violations, particularly in using excessive and lethal force against protesters in November 2019. President Hassan Rouhani and his administration have shown little inclination to curb or confront these rights violations, the report says.
The report also criticizes the judiciary and intelligence agencies’ use of overly broad articles of the penal code, such as “propaganda against the state,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “insulting the supreme leader,” and “establishing or membership in a group to disrupt national security.” HRW condemned the continued imposition of the death penalty, unfair trials, and use as in court evidence of confessions probably obtained under torture.
“Despite numerous geopolitical, health, and economic crises facing the country, Iranian authorities are treating local civil society as their number one threat and remain unaccountable for their abuses,” the rights watchdog’s Deputy Middle East Director Michael Page said Wednesday. “By suppressing human rights defenders and other activists, the authorities are simply fueling more dissent and frustration.”
Human Rights Watch also said that banking restrictions resulting from US sanctions following Washington’s withdrawal from the Iranian 2015 nuclear agreement had “drastically constrained” Iran’s ability to finance humanitarian imports, despite the specific exemption of some humanitarian imports by the US government.
Such constraints in humanitarian imports including vital medicines and medical equipment have caused serious hardships for ordinary Iranians, and harmed their right to health, particularly during the pandemic, the report said.
“The incoming US administration should take a close look and make sure their policies are not harming the Iranians’ basic rights,” Page said on Wednesday. “The dire need to hold Iranian
officials accountable for their serious human rights violations should be a priority without inflicting additional hardship on the Iranian people.”
Pharmaceutical officials in Iran said recently that there are no problems with importing medicines and the government already spends 100 million euros each month to buy medications form abroad. Also, in 2018 and 2019 Iran reported exporting medicines and medical equipment to Iraq and Venezuela.
Iraqi authorities announced last October that they uncovered a large cargo of smuggled medications coming from Iran and detained 19 trucks.