Iranian regime 'jailed 1.7 million people' in 30 years after revolution

Iranian authorities jailed, and sometimes executed, 1.7 million people around the capital Tehran alone in the first 30 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, a leaked document has revealed. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019

Iranian regime 'jailed 1.7 million people' in 30 years after revolution

  • Confidential file registered judicial procedures contains details on some 1.7 million people
  • Reporters Without Borders said the figure also included 860 journalists

PARIS: Iranian authorities jailed, and sometimes executed, 1.7 million people around the capital Tehran alone in the first 30 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, according to a leaked file.

The number included regime opponents, Baha’is and other religious minorities and at least 860 journalists, media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said. At least four of the journalists were executed.

The information was based on a confidential file of judicial proceedings obtained by whistleblowers, the group said on Thursday in Paris.

The file registering judicial procedures contains details on some 1.7 million people, including minors, locked up in Evin prison in the first three decades of the Islamic regime that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

“The very existence of this file and its millions of entries show not only the scale of the Iranian regime’s mendacity for years when claiming that its jails were holding no political prisoners or journalists, but also the relentless machinations it used for 40 years to persecute men and women for their opinions or their reporting,” the rights group’s secretary general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

Deloire added that the findings would be sent to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

One of the prominent journalists included in the file is Farj Sarkhohi, editor of a political magazine, who Tehran said disappeared en route to Germany in 1996.

“The regime staged a press conference at the airport at which it produced Sarkhohi and claimed he had just returned from Turkmenistan. In reality, he had just spent two months in prison,” the report said.

Another was Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who according to a medical examiner died of her injuries after being beaten at Tehran’s Evin prison in 2003. She was accused of taking pictures of families waiting outside the facility.

Iran denied her killing, with an official report on her death failing to disclose the cause of death.

The report also includes details of more than 6,000 people who were arrested for protesting the re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, all accused of “action against national security.”

Full round-up of RWB's findings can be found here.


Turkish lawyers threaten boycott of Erdogan’s courts ceremony

Updated 18 August 2019

Turkish lawyers threaten boycott of Erdogan’s courts ceremony

  • The boycott protest would be a first by law associations against Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • EU: Turkey’s judicial independence and the principle of separation of powers have been eroded since 2014

ISTANBUL: Dozens of Turkish bar associations are threatening to boycott President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s planned ceremony to open the judicial year at the presidential palace, saying it would be another violation of the judiciary’s independence.
The boycott protest would be a first by law associations against Erdogan, who has faced increasing criticism from Turkey’s Western allies and rights activists over media freedoms and interference in the courts.
The European Union says Turkey’s judicial independence and the principle of separation of powers have been eroded since 2014 and that judges and prosecutors have come under increasing political pressure.
At least 42 bar associations including those for Istanbul and the capital Ankara said they would not attend the event on September 2 because they believe the ceremony should take place at the Supreme Court building, not the presidential palace.
“These past years have seen judicial independence being seriously undermined... The judiciary is under pressure from the executive,” Mehmet Durakoglu, head of the Istanbul bar association, said on Sunday.
“Under these circumstances, we would expect the ceremony for the opening of the judicial year to take place at a venue that represents the separation of powers, rather than a political location.”
Erdogan’s supporters dismiss criticism he has undermined Turkish democracy, saying his government faces domestic threats especially since a failed 2016 coup against him.
For many of his more conservative backers, he has brought prosperity and defended Turkey’s interests in his decade and a half in power.
The opening ceremony for the new judicial year was first held at the presidential palace in 2016 after the failed coup.
Since then authorities have arrested tens of thousands of people for alleged ties to the coup plotters, in what rights groups say is an unprecedented crackdown.
Erdogan has dismissed criticism over the ceremony, describing the presidential palace on the outskirts of Ankara as “the place of the people.”
“The ceremony taking place in the place of the people would only strengthen judicial independence,” the Turkish leader has said.
But for attorneys, the boycott decision represents a “reaction against violation of freedom of expression, rule of law and judicial independence,” said Dogus Aygun, another lawyer from the Istanbul bar association.
Critics say Turkey’s courts have bowed to pressure, often making rulings that favor authorities since massive purges in the judiciary following a corruption scandal in 2013 and the 2016 coup bid.
Durakoglu said the bar associations would keep up with their campaign for more judicial independence in Turkey even “at the expense of paying a heavy price.”
“We have no fear nor hesitation,” he said. “We see no solution other than keep on fighting.”