Accessibility links

Breaking News

Persian Letters

Young members of the Basij militia display their truncheons as they sit streetside and eat ice cream in an undated photo from Iran.
Iran's paramilitary Basij force has published a report about the human rights situation in the United States.

The report has been issued in Persian, English, and Arabic.

The Basij force, which has been accused of brutality and involvement in state repression against opposition activists in Iran, says the United States is "one of the main violators of human rights."

"As soon as we all hear the phrase 'human rights,' the painful memories of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram prisons remind us of the human rights violations committed by the U.S. government," the report says.

The paper goes on to say: "However, these violations are not limited to the violent incidents after 9/11. The United States, which has presented itself as the sole protector of humanity and for that claim threatens and even attacks other countries, is violating human rights inside its own borders in terms of torture of prisoners, police brutality, and racial discrimination."

The report has several sections that include the situation of detainees, the violation of online privacy, and death sentences.

The face of a masked Basij member during a paramilitary forces parade (file photo)
The face of a masked Basij member during a paramilitary forces parade (file photo)
The hard-line Fars news agency, which is said to have ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), says Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naghdi; the head of the judiciary's human rights commission, Mohammad Javad Larijani; and senior lawmaker Alaedin Borujerdi were among officials present at the unveiling of the of the report, which took place at Tehran University.

The report appears to be a tit-for-tat move for criticism of the human rights situation in Iran by the United States. It comes amid criticism by hard-liners in the Islamic republic of a nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, which includes the United States. Hard-liners have in recent months gone to great lengths to demonstrate that despite talks over the nuclear issue, the United States remains Iran's enemy.

Iranian officials often reject criticism of the human rights abuses in the country by rights groups and other countries as interference in Iran's internal affairs.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
President Rohani has said he will ease restrictions on artists.
Iran's Writers Association says security officials have prevented the group from holding its monthly advisory meeting.

In a recently issued statement, the group says the meeting was due to be held on January 14 at the home of one of the members. But according to the statement, a few days before the scheduled meeting, the individual was summoned by the Intelligence Ministry and "forced" to cancel the gathering.

The statement comes two weeks after Iran's President Hassan Rohani pledged to ease restrictions on artists.

Rohani said art shouldn't be viewed as a security threat.

"Art without freedom is nonsense and creativity is developed in the light of freedom," he was quoted as saying in the January 8 meeting with a group of artists, writers, and poets. At least one prominent member of the Writers Association, leading author Mahmud Dolatabadi, was reportedly present at the meeting.

"Can one speak of freedom of art while the activities of the Writers Association -- which has fought for freedom of expression for half a century and believes freedom is necessary for literature and creative art -- be banned?" asks Iran's Writers Association in its statement.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, the group's secretary, Nasser Zarafshan, blamed Rohani for the pressure against the Writers Association.

"The Intelligence Ministry is part of the [government]. Ministers work directly under the supervision of the president. It would be [a mess] if Rohani wouldn't have control and supervision over his own ministries," Zarafshan said in a telephone interview from Tehran.

In recent years, a number of the members of Iran's Writers Association have been summoned by the authorities, threatened, put on trial and sent to jail. The group says Iranian authorities have not only tried to shut down the association and neutralize it, but they have also attempted to create similar groups.

In 1998, two members of the Writers Association became victims of the so-called chain murders of intellectuals and dissidents by "rogue agents " of Iran's Intelligence Ministry.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

Load more

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


Latest Posts