LONDON: Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the Iranian regime for numerous rights violations throughout 2020.
In its Annual World Report 2021, released on Wednesday, the NGO underlined the state’s ruthless hold on civil society.
Paying particular attention to peaceful activism and anti-regime protests – which have attracted worldwide attention in recent years – HRW accused Tehran of “jailing lawyers, human rights defenders and those protesting against government corruption, mismanagement and repression ”.
The report also focused on Iran’s handling of its coronavirus outbreak, noting that while some prisoners have been offered temporary release as the state struggles to contain the spread of COVID-19, many have been excluded from this leniency. Political prisoners were forced to stay behind bars as the virus spread through cells.
“Despite the many geopolitical, health and economic crises facing the country, the Iranian authorities view local civil society as their main threat and are still not responsible for their abuses,” said Michael Page, deputy director for the Middle East. Orient from HRW.
“By cracking down on human rights defenders and other activists, the authorities are simply fueling more dissent and frustration.”
The report highlighted Tehran’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters. He said that since January 2018, Iranian authorities have responded to regular protests across the country with extreme violence and groundless arrests of thousands of peaceful protesters.
At the height of the November 2019 protests, when global attention was drawn to Iran, HRW said the regime launched a “brutal crackdown” by ordering the near total shutdown of internet services.
HRW cited figures from Amnesty International, which claimed that the state’s response to the protests resulted in the deaths of 304 people. Tehran puts the figure at 230.
The report also criticized the regime for its indiscriminate use of the death penalty. HRW said that as of September 21, 2020, authorities executed two people convicted of murder during protests, including Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old champion wrestler, “without investigating the serious allegations of torture he said he had. suffered in detention. “
Ali Safavi, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Arab News: “The draconian repressive measures by the ruling theocracy, including the escalation of executions, arrests and torture of dissidents, must be seen in the context of the regime’s increasingly precarious state in the face of enormous public anger.
He added that the brutal crackdown on dissidents could lead to “the eruption of another national uprising, much greater in scale and intensity than the one that engulfed nearly 200 cities across the country in November 2019. ”
Safavi said the findings of HRW’s report come as little surprise when “the economy is on the verge of collapsing, Iran’s national currency is in free fall, government corruption is rampant and factional feuds are rampant. summit have reached new heights ”.