Since mass protests spread across Iran, authorities have responded with little but brute violence.
HRW has documented security forces’ unlawful use of excessive or lethal force, including firearms against largely peaceful protesters in 13 cities. Other rights groups are investigating the reported deaths of at least 284 people, including 45 children.
Now, we’re looking into what’s happened to thousands of protesters and activists detained in Iran in recent weeks.
The two key methods authorities are using against them are dubious national security charges - which could lead to the death penalty - and grossly unfair trials.
Take the case of two women journalists, Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohamadi. The had reported on the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in the custody of the “morality police” – the initial spark for the protests.
On October 29, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence Organization accused the two reporters of participating in a training course from US intelligence-backed entities.
Of course, the authorities did not publish any evidence to support their allegation.
This kind of thing isn’t new in Iran, where authorities have a long history of using vaguely defined national security charges against protesters and dissidents in unjust trials.
The scale of the new arrests and charges, however, is vast. Tehran Province’s judiciary alone said it had issued around 1,000 indictments related to the protests.
Iranian authorities have also subjected detainees to various forms of physical and psychological torture.
Iran’s vicious security apparatus “is using every tactic in its book,” says my colleague and senior Iran researcher Tara Sepehri Far.
It starts with lethal force against protesters, moves to arrests on bogus charges, torture in custody, and then a sham trial.
“Yet, every new atrocity only reinforces why Iranians are demanding fundamental changes to a corrupt autocracy.”