GENEVA (19 March 2018) – UN human rights experts* expressed concern at the continued targeting of human rights defenders in Iran, including about reports that two well-known women human rights defenders have been subjected to beatings in detention.
Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee were transferred from Evin Prison to Shahr-e Rey prison on 24 January 2018, allegedly after being subjected to ill-treatment. They subsequently staged hunger strikes in protest against their treatment. On 12 March, the two defenders were reportedly beaten by riot guards following a disturbance, and then transferred to the general ward of the prison.
Atena Daemi is serving a seven-year term for her human rights work, including charges related to distributing anti-death penalty leaflets and posts on Facebook and Twitter criticising Iran’s execution record. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is serving a three-year term for writing a fictional story on the stoning of women to death for adultery.
“We have attempted to initiate a dialogue with the authorities on this issue, to no avail. We call for the immediate release of Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, as well as the release of all those who have been imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” the experts said.
They also called on the authorities to ensure the two women were given access to appropriate medical care.
The experts said the actions had broader ramifications, instilling a sense of fear and creating an environment hostile to public debate and the free exercise of rights.
“Their cases are illustrative of a continuing pattern of harassment, intimidation and imprisonment of those undertaking peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights and prisoners of conscience, often through using vaguely worded or overly broad national security-related charges,” they said.
The experts called on the authorities to carry out a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of beatings, and to ensure accountability for such actions.
(*) The UN experts: Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Dubravka Šimonovic, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment