This month marks the anniversary of the 2019 Iranian uprising – a series of nationwide protests that called for regime change and the removal of Hassan Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The protests took place in over 190 Iranian cities in all 31 provinces, eventually becoming the most violent and unprecedented anti-government protests since the 1979 revolution, with 1500 killed and over 7000 arrested. A representative of the Iranian State Security Forces described the protests as:
“more complex and their catastrophe more palpable than those in 1999, 2008 and 2017.”
The violence that met these protests was a reminder that the Iranian regime is determined to suppress the rights of its people to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
Many Iranian officials and state-aligned media outlets blamed the unrest on the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), the main opposition, for providing logistical, tactical, financial, and intelligence support for the demonstrations, with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei saying the protests were:
“a security matter” and “not a popular movement”
However, a year later, no government officials or perpetrators have been held accountable for this brazen violation of human rights.
Instead, Iran has re-arrested freed political prisoners and PMOI members, fearful of the eruption of mass protests on the anniversary of the 2019 uprising, and has continued its questionable employment of human rights.
Throughout November 2020, Intelligence Ministry agents raided the homes of several former political prisoners, including Saeed Asghari, Saeed Samimi, Kasra Bani-Ameriyan, and Sina Zahiri, arresting and taking them to Evin Prison in Tehran.
Additionally, the Iranian judicial authorities have ramped up their prosecution of human rights defenders for reporting abuse in detention, bringing charges against two imprisoned activists, who had published letters alleging mistreatment since September 2020.
The prosecution of people reporting mistreatment in Iranian detention facilities demonstrates a “warped sense of justice” according to Tara Sepehri Far, Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The continued abuse of human rights by the Iranian Government is partially the result of the impunity enjoyed by many Iranian officials – exemplified by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameni, who has remained the country’s unelected and unaccountable head of state since he came to power in 1989.
The Iranian regimes continued persecution of those who demand change has once again demonstrated its blatant disregard for the freedom and rights of the people.