Increased Human Rights Violations Since President Rouhani’s Administration By Nasser Boladai
The Iran human rights documentation Center has documented 529 executions in Iran until 27 November 2013 . More than 370 of these executions have occurred since Rouhani has become president. Number of the execution is higher than than the numbers that have been announced during 2013 more than 100 of the executed are person belonging to Baloch people. People belonging to national minorities like Ahwazi Arab, Baloch and Kurds are disproportionately targeted by executions. 15 Baloch have been killed randomly by the regimes different secutity and intelligence forces
Increased human rights violations since President Rouhani’s administration
By Nasser Boladai
The Iran human rights documentation Center has documented 529 executions in Iran until 27 November 2013. More than 370 of these executions have occurred since Rouhani has become president. Number of the execution is higher than than the numbers that have been announced during 2013 more than 100 of the executed are person belonging to Baloch people. People belonging to national minorities like Ahwazi Arab, Baloch and Kurds are disproportionately targeted by executions. 15 Baloch have been killed randomly by the regimes different secutity and intelligence forces
While Iran is facing an economic crisis and it is suffering from international sanctions, President Rouhani decided to increase the budget of the Revolutionary, Intelligence service, Army and Security forces up to 35 percent. This indicates that the regime, despite economic mismanagement and creating an increased economic crisis for the people, is still pursuing its nuclear ambition and will intensify its policy of suppressing its own people in order to remain in control.
In this report, a summary of the human rights violations by newly installed President Rouhanis’ administration, in the form of arrests, enforced disappearances, hostage taking, executions and extra judicial killings will be documented and enumerated. These violations are carried out by the current Iranian regime and their supporters, like security forces, intelligence services, paramilitary forces like Baseej and Mersad, and Revolutionary Guards in Balochistan; these violations have not been fully documented.
Hanging and execution as a daily routine
The Iran human rights documentation Center has documented 529 executions in Iran until 27 November 2013. More than 370 of these executions have occurred since Rouhani has become president. About 100 of the executed are Baloch people. Some names of these people are mentioned below:
– 2 Baloch prisoners were executed in Bandar Abbas on 31 November 2013, accused of rebellion and murder. Their real names were not revealed; they were represented by their initials. These people were not provided a proper trial and defense lawyer.
– On 23 November a prisoner was hanged on charge of murder in the Zahedan central prison.
According to the report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Haj Rashid Rigi had been in Zahedan prison for 11 years and had been sentenced to death on charge of murder. He was executed in Zahedan prison in the presence of judicial authorities.
– 2 other Baloch prisoners named Ahmed Jankijo and Ismail Mahmodi son of Mosa, who was 20 years old, were executed on 7th November in Bandar Abbas prison, charged with rebellion and murder. The prisoners did not have access to a free trail and defense lawyer. At the time of arrest in 2009, Jankijo was only 15 years old.
– Another 23 year old innocent Baloch, Ahmed Esazahi was arrested purely because he belonged to the Baloch people, died as a result of an attack in prison, according to Human Rights and Democracy activist of Iran (HRDAI). Even though he was dead, his body was still hanged. The Iranian judicial system accused him of smuggling petrol, which he denied even under extreme torture. Some of his cellmates contacted his family and expressed that the deceased had previously been very concerned for his family’s wellbeing, especially for his wife and his child. He produced the income for his family.
– On 30 October, A Baloch women Mitra Shahnawazi who, as an act of defense, killed a security force official who was trying to rape her was executed after 6 years in prison. At the time of the execution she was very sick and in very bad physical and mental health. She was exiled to Gharichak prison in Varamin city in central Iran, far away from her family.
– At the end of September 2013, the Iranian Intelligence attacked the home of a Baloch family near the town of Iranshahr. They fired at this home resulting in the death of one member of the family. The family protested against the actions of the Intelligence Service. To put pressure on the family, intelligence officers took another family member hostage, named Ghasem Zardkohi. This did not stop the family from protesting and complaining, supported by their neighbors. They demanded the release of Ghasem Zardkohi, but instead he was killed under severe torture. The torture and killing of Mr Zardkohi created a tense situation in the city of Iranshahr. To avert the tense situation the authorities handed over the tortured body of Ghasem to his family. A picture of Ghasem’s mutilated body is shown below:
– In the same month, on 14 September 2013, security forces arrested Ayoub Damani, accused of smuggling. The next day his tortured body was handed over to his family. His photo is shown below:
– 5 Baloch prisoners were executed in Zahedan Central prison on 18 September 2013; they were accused (amongst other crimes) of ‘enmity against God’.
The identification of some of the victims have been confirmed as following:
1. Hamza Ghamshadzahi, 30 years old.
2. Shah Mohammad Barahouee, 33 years old. Imprisoned for 2 years under section 7 in central prison of Zahedan.
3. Nasir Barzang, 28 years old. Imprisoned for 4 years in central prison of Zahedan under section 7.
4. Hussain Sufi, 25 years old. Jailed for five years in Zahedan prison ward 5.
According to HRADI, during this execution event, the persecutor general of Zahedan Mr Mohammad Marziye, put the rope around the neck of the prisoners, and his colleague Gholami who is the head of the prisons information center, and pushed the chair away in order to perform the execution. Mr Khosravi, head of prisoners and a judge, witnessed this hanging.
– 3 people were executed in the Zahedan central prison on 30th of June 2013. Victims included one Afghan citizen and two others whose names are listed below:
1- Arif Noorazai, 37-year-old citizen of Afghanistan who was jailed for 11 months in the central prison of Zahedan’s section 5.
2- Sher Mohammad Kashani, 30-year-old who was jailed for 2 years in the central prison of Zahedan’s section 7.
3- Qurban Ali Sori, 55-year-old who was jailed for 13 years in the central prison of Zahedan’s section 3.
None of the prisoners were given access to a fair trial or defense lawyer.
– On 6 October 2013, 5 Baloch prisoners were executed in Jiroft after an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the prison. After their execution, the head of the Jiroft judiciary said that these prisoners had been sentenced to death because they were accused of smuggling. However they were executed immediately after their failed attempt to escape from the prison.
– In the early morning of 26 October 2013, 16 Baloch prisoners were hanged in a revenge act, only 8 hours after an armed clash between Sunni Rebels and Iranian border guards took place on the evening of 25 October 2013. Some of the executed names are mentioned below:
1) Abdul Malik Mir Balochzahi, known as Hamzah Rigi, was born in 1984. He was arrested in 2009 and was kept for 3 years in solitary confinement.
2) Abdulwahab Rigi who, when arrested in 2009 was only 17 years old. His brother Abdulbaseth Rigi was a blog activist, and was executed in September 2012.
3) Mehrollah Rigi who, at the time of arrest was only 17 years old, was given a death sentence for Moharebeh (= enmity to God) after arrest. He did not have access to a defense lawyer and was exiled to Semnan prison.
4)Ayoub Bahramzahi was arrested in 2010 in Rask, and was kept in solitary confinement for a month where he faced torture on a daily basis. He was exiled to Hamdan, a city far from his town in Rask.
The attorney general of the Sistan-Baluchistan province was quoted as saying that the rebels were “linked to groups hostile to the regime”, and that they were executed for the killing of Iranian border guards. While they accused some of them of being supporters or members of armed groups, about 6 others had already been charged for smuggling. It is clear they were executed because they are Baloch.
The increased execution rate in Iran, particularly in Balochistan and other regions like Kurdistan and Ahwaz, shows a systematic use of capital punishment by the administration of President Rouhani, whose cabinet is dominated by people from security and intelligence backgrounds.
Amnesty International wrote in 2009 that the Iranian government “was increasingly using the death penalty as a way of stemming unrest in areas with large ethnic minorities. Bomb attacks in the predominantly Arab province of Khuzestan and ethnic Baluch areas of Sistan-Baluchistan province in recent years were followed by a wave of often public executions. Some of the condemned men were shown on state television making “confessions” that are believed to have been extracted from them under torture or other duress.”
Baloch people are at a very high risk of being victims of these executions, when looking at the statistics. One third of all people executed in Iran is Baloch. In August 2007, Amnesty International noted that a disproportionately large number of executions in Iran that year were of Baloch citizens (50 out of 166).
Umar Farooq from the Wall Street Journal wrote in December 2013 that: “Baluchis, who are 2% of Iran’s population, have accounted for at least 20% of executions since 2006. These numbers are based on figures gathered by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based group which monitors human rights abuses in Iran. The actual number may be much higher, according to Roya Boroumand, head of the foundation, as it is becoming more difficult to track executions of Baluchis. Iranian authorities increasingly move Balochi prisoners outside the region, according to Ms. Boroumand.
Some case studies of Baloch prisoners who are currently in Iranian cells:
– On 18 November 2013, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said that it had arrested members of a terrorist cell who were involved in the assassination of a lawyer in the Sistan-Baluchistan province. According to the UPI website, “the corps provided few details about the cell or the arrests of the responsible people for Musa Noori’s death, a prosecutor from Zabol”. In this kind of incident, regimes mass arrest Baloch political, cultural and social activists, who will often be tortured and executed for various reasons without access to proper trials and defense lawyers. There is fear that arrested people will be shown on TV where they would be tortured and forced to confess to crimes that they never committed. The Campaign of Baloch Activists has quoted Zabol District Governor Hoshang Nazeri, who stated “that the arrested persons under investigation have confessed to crimes and the confessions will be broadcasted as a film”.
– After the revenge executions of 16 Baloch prisoners (mostly youths) on 25 October 2013, the regime arrested more than 15 Baloch youths in the Sarawan Region of Balochistan. Some of the arrested Baloch youths names are Rasol Mulazahi, Hossien Hasanzahi, Saifullah Hansanzai, Gol Mohammad Rigi, Ahmed Barhoui, Abdulkarim Shahbakhsh, Reza Shabakhsh, Ahmed Zahoki, Osman Rigi, Khair Andesh Bamari, Eidok Naroi. According to local blogs, the families of the arrested people have been intimidated into giving information about their loved ones .
– On the 2nd October, HRADI reported that Mersad Groups in coordination with intelligence Service had attacked the Shandak village near Zahedan, and had arrested a couple of young men. The names of these men are Delawar Ghambarzahi, Nasser Ghambarzahi, Nasirullah Ghambarzahi Nasir Ghambarzahi . These young men were all born between 1993 and 1995.
– According to HRADI, two brothers (Abdulrahman Baloch who is a 21-year-old university student and his brother Nasser Baloch) were arrested from Nikshahr district and imprisoned in the Zahedan Prison.
– 15 religious Baloch activists were arrested in March 2012; they were blamed for the planning and implementation of the assassination of Mr. Mustafa Jangizahi. They were tortured until they admitted to the crime and this was broadcasted on TV. Some of the activists who are still in prison are 1-Molawi Fateh Mohammad Naghshbandi, 55 years old arrested in Rask, 2- Abdulghafar Naghshbandi, arrested on 14 May 2012 in Rask, 3- Hamed Molazadeh, 23 years old arrested in Zahidan, 4- Habibalrahman Molazadeh, 29 years old arrested in Zahidan, 5- Nezamodin Molazadeh, 18 years old arrested in Zahidan, 6- Jaber Molazadeh, 22 years old arrested in Hiet, 7- Malek Mohammad Abadian, 50 years old arrested in Hiet, 8- Abdolhadi Abadian, 20 years old arrested in Hiet, 9- Javad Abadian, 18 years old arrested in Hiet, 10- Foaad Abadian, 17 years old arrested in Hiet, 11- Gul Mohammad Bolaidai, arrested in Hiet. The prisoners’ situations are unclear, but according to some reports execution has been used as a threat. The link to a confession video after torture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuYLnA0QmSo
– Mr. Mohammad Ismail Mulazahi, a religious activist, was arrested on the 25 October 2010, and convicted with 10 years of imprisonment. On 5 September 2011 he was charged for spying for a foreign government. The Iranian regime has not shown any evidence of Mr. Ismail’s involvement in any crime, and furthermore they have not mentioned any country Mr Ismail could have worked for.
– Sakhi Rigi, a Baloch blogger who was arrested after the elections on 18 June 2009, was convicted for 20 years because of his blogging activities. He has been exiled to Karun prison in Ahwaz where it is difficult for his family to visit him. According to local websites Sakhi Rigi was ‘a blogger and political activist’ who regularly wrote on his blog about politics and Iran’s treatment of the Baloch. He was convicted on charges of ‘acting against national security’ and ‘propagating against the regime’. Rigi’s online writings were used as evidence against him in the trial, local blogs reported. Plainclothes security forces arrested the blogger on 18 June 2009 according to other blogs dedicated to Baloch minority rights. Sakhi Rigi is currently being held at Karun Prison in Ahvaz, hundreds of miles away from his family.”
– Mohammad Saber Malik Raisi, was arrested on 24 September 2009 at the age of 16. He was held hostage because of his brother, who was involved with cultural activities and was a member of a Baloch youth association. Until his exile to Ardabil, he was always forced to call his family and tell his mother that if his brother did not come to surrender to the authorities, he would be executed. He was convicted to 15 years imprisonment on 1 August 2011. In June 2012 he led a protest against torture and the harsh treatment of Baloch prisoners in Zahedan prison. After the protest took place, he himself was tortured, beaten and exiled to Ardabil prison. Since June 2012 he has not been allowed to contact his family.
– In May 2009, in retaliation of Baloch protests against the Baseej, paramilitary forces attacked Baloch people and their property. About 700 people were arrested and some of these have since been executed, in an attempt to intimidate and terrorize the Baloch people. Some people who are still in prison are; Habibulah Regi, Khusro Regi, Jihand Regi, Abdulghani jangozahi regi, Rahim Regi, Bashir Ahmed Hossienzahi, Abad Bampouri, Eshaq Kalkali, Farough Mulazahi, Abdulkhalegh Sahozahi. (This is not a complete list). There are hundreds of Baloch people in prison simply because they are Baloch and for the reason of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Extra Judicial Killings
Extra-judicial killings are a characteristic of Iranian state policy in Balochistan. This was clearly stated by the head of Mersad (a paramilitary) who said: “We have not been given orders to arrest and hand over those who carry weapons. On the basis of a directive we have received, we will execute any bandits, wherever we capture them (Ettela’at, 25 February 1998)”.
– On 15 December 2013, a young Baloch man, , Elias Dehani, was fired on by security forces and was hit in his head, people that witnessed killing gathered in front of the security forces based asked for reason, they did not got any answer instead they were fired towards them and people were forced to disperse. Below is his photo
– Human Rights Activists for Democracy In Iran (HRDAI), reported on 21 October 2013 that ‘to create an atmosphere of terror, the Intelligence Ministry have started random killings, and these terror incidents have increased for the Baloch in Iran.’
– HRDAI has reported that a Baloch family that was returning from Eid Prayer on 20 October 2013 were ambushed, and two of the family members were killed. Karim Rigi (44 years old) and his cousin Gholam Reza Rigi, were killed. Karims Rigi’s two sons, Yaser (21 years old) and Mosadegh (9 years old) both have leg and shoulder injuries.
– HRADI reported that on 9 October 2013, a Baloch businessman named Mehdi Rigi (35 years old) was killed by the Mersad near Zahidan in the Kahnkili village, 45 kilometers from the provincial capital Zahedan. According to HRADI, Mr. Mehdi Rigi was offered to work with the Revolutionary Guards but he rejected this offer; as a result he has been threatened that he cannot leave the country and will be killed.
– In the continuation of their policies to kill innocent Baloch people, an Iranian colonel said that his forces had used heavy fire to kill four ‘rebels’ on the border area on 4 November 2013.. The policy of shooting to kill Baloch in border regions in Balochistan is a daily occurrence.
– On 2 November 2013 a Baloch owned boat was fired on, and two Balochis named Faramarz Ghaisari and Shahdad Heydari (residents of Gerog) were killed. This led to people protesting and briefly occupying the Mayor’s office. According to the Baloch Activists Campaign, this incident was the third of its type in the recent months. According to the Baloch Activists Campaign, 15 people from this protest were arrested.
– Dawn English newspaper, based in Karachi, reported on 25 November 2013 that a girl was killed and six people were injured when a rocket fired by Iranian border forces hit three houses in Tump (town from the Kech district), in Balochistan (Pakistan). An official of Kech administration said that one of the houses belonged to Mullah Omer. Two other houses were owned by Mullah Omer’s brother Abbas and his close relative. The regime blamed Mr. Omer of being a member of Jaish-ul-Adl. These are false accusations; Mr. Omer and his family have been politically active against the regime since before the creation of Jiash-ul-Adl. Jiash-ul-Adl’s members and commander live in hiding in a mountainous area for fear of reprisal by the regime. Mr. Omer (who has been living in exile for many decades) was living in a town where everybody knew his address. This attempt was also a part of a regime campaign of terror in Balochistan.
– On 18 November 2013, regime forces bombed another small town on the border region in Balochistan (Pakistan). They bombed mostly residential areas, hitting some Baloch people’s homes and a mosque. People in the town demonstrated against Iran’s bombing of the residential area of the town.
– On 25th October, two Baloch that were walking in the Pakistan side of border, were fired on by Iranian border patrol, and were killed, according to BBC Urdu Service an inquiry that were made by local people the Iranian border authority said that they had drugs, BBC reported that those people nor had drug or any kind of weapons. BBC’s Urdu Service did not gave any more details about the killed peoples identity.
– The regime death squad abroad has also become more active since the new president has come into power. The Baloch Activists Campaign reported that on 19 September 2013, a religious activist Mr. Mohamad Ghadarzahi was assassinated in exile in the city of Quetta. “Jebhe Hambastagi Meli Ahlesonnat”, a coalition of Sunni groups in Iran wrote in its weblog that the Iranian government is responsible for this assassination.
– All signs indicate that President Rohani´s administration (which is dominated by people who have made a career in the Iranian Intelligence Service) considers the Baloch peoples’ demand for political, cultural, economic and social rights as a security threat. In response to this, the regime has intensified its suppression of Baloch people in the form of extra judicial killings, kidnapping of political opponents, arrests, executions and assassinations.
Some concluding comments
The change of president in Iran has not led to any positive changes on the ground for people in Balochistan, but instead to an increase in extra judicial killings, executions, arrests and enforced disappearances. In recent months, security forces have started kidnapping people, and some of these people’s mutilated bodies have been found, showing signs of severe torture. The intensification of human rights violations is consistent with Mr. Rouhani’s administration, which is dominated by people from Iran’s security forces and intelligence service.
In his election campaign, Mr Rouhani promised the implementation of some of the constitution’s articles that would benefit national minorities. He also promoted ethnic and religious minority rights and stated that he would include national and ethnic minorities in his cabinet.
Based on his election promises and program, people voted for Rouhani overwhelmingly in regions like Balochistan and Kurdistan. In Balochistan, 73% of the people voted for him, which is 20% more than the national average according to the regime election results.
There were some expectations that for the first time in Islamic Republic’s 35-year old history, there would be a minister from a national or religious minority group. Now that Rouhani’s cabinet has been completed, the national groups and religious minorities have no representation at all. Rouhani furthermore promised he would give more power to national and religious minorities in their provinces. However, in provinces like Balochistan and Kurdistan even local posts, such as governor, were not given to people from those provinces but to functionaries from other provinces. In the case of Balochistan, the provincial governor is a man who was completely unknown in the province; his name was first heard when he was introduced as Rouhani’s choice for governor of Balochistan.
Since Rouhani has become President, the administration has intensified the security control in the Baloch region and in the region of the other national groups of Kurds and Arabs.
Rouhani’s administration finds the situation favorable in suppressing the national minorities at a time when it has created an internationally positive atmosphere concerning nuclear negotiations. It understands that the international community will not criticize its administration for its human rights violations against national minorities, particularly not against Baloch people. Historically, Iranian governments have been given credit by the international community to suppress and violate Baloch people’s human rights without facing any criticism or sanctions.
The policy to suppress the national groups is consistent with Rouhani´s security thinking, which he expressed in one of his first statements. When he was in process of declaring his candidacy for presidency he stated (in regards to the standard of a president), that:
“The individual must have the ability to manage special situations…a crisis manager…the next president should be a strong hand and powerful manager who has the power to negotiate with the world”.
Taking this into consideration, Mr. Rouhani’s has a doublespeak approach, that is to say he says something or agrees to something but does something else. As representative of Iran in the nuclear negotiations between 2003 and 2005, he signed a temporary agreement with the international community. In the spirit of the agreement, the international community trusted him but in reality the government he was representing was continuing their nuclear development more vigorously under the cover of this agreement. To some of his critics, he defended his legacy as nuclear negotiator like this:
“While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan, and much work remained to complete the project. In fact, by creating a relaxed atmosphere we were able to complete the work in Isfahan. All praises be to God (alhamdulillah), today Isfahan is completed, and we can convert yellowcake into UF4 and UF6 [uranium hexafluoride], and this is a very important matter”.
As president, he has also shown that he can break promises and agreements to further the interests of the regime that he represents.
There has never been a Sunni minister in Iran, even though they are estimated make up to 20% of Iran’s population. Additionally there has not been any Baloch ministers since Western Balochistan was annexed to the newly established centralized Iranian state in 1928 by Reza Pahlavi.
Based on the above, and on behalf of the Baloch people in Iran, the Balochistan Peoples Party urges:
– The pressurizing of the Iranian government: To stop the executions of Baloch political prisoners and prisoners arrested on other charges. The Iranian regime should release all political prisoners, and people who have actually committed crimes should have access to a fair, free and open trial and access to defense lawyer under the countries law.
– The raising of the question with the Iranian authorities of the current critical situation of the Baloch people and other minorities in Iran, who continue to see their basic human rights violated.
– Calling upon the Tehran authorities to immediately investigate the extrajudicial killings of Baloch civilians, and other minorities living in Iran, and to take immediate measures to ensure that disappearances, hostage taking of the relatives of the regime opponents, mass arrests and tortures of the Baloch people are halted.
Amnesty International Report, March 2010: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/iran-executions-send-chilling-message-2010-03-30
United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Fiftieth session, 24 August 1998, quote of a Mersad commander in its declaration on Iran in August 1998 (Ettela’at, 25 February 1998), link to United Nations Report: http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/TestFrame/e8fd3e68a3e4b563802566880051d10e?Opendocument
http://jebheahlesonnat.blogspot.se/2013/09/blog-post_7387.html and http://sunni-news.net/fa/articles.aspx?article_no=30721
“The Fifth Congress of the ‘Party of Determination'” (Persian), Center for Strategic Research, February 15, 2013, http://www.csr.ir/Center.aspx?lng=fa&subid=-1&cntid=2652. [the text has been translated by Washington Institute for Near east policy for its book, Reading Rouhani, The Promise and Peril of Iran’s New President, Steven Ditto Link: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/PolicyFocus129_Ditto_5.pdf, page 67]
Hassan Rouhani, “Farsu-ye Chalishha-ye Iran va Azhans dar Parvandah-e Hastahe” (Beyond the Challenges of Iran and the IAEA on the Nuclear Case), Rahbord, no. 37 (October 2005), p. 17, http://www.csr.ir/center.aspx?lng=fa&abtid=04&&semid=274. [the text has been translated by Washington Institute for Near east policy for its book, Reading Rouhani, The Promise and Peril of Iran’s New President, Steven Ditto Link: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/PolicyFocus129_Ditto_5.pdf,, page 43.]