Iran: Thousands of Detained Protesters and Activists in Peril

Unfair Trials; Charges Against Protesters Include Death Penalty Risk

Iranians protesting in Tehran, Iran, on October 1, 2022. [© 2022 AP Photo | Middle East Images]

Iranian authorities have escalated their assault against widespread dissent and protests through dubious national security charges against detained activists and grossly unfair trials, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 31, 2022, the head of Tehran Province’s judiciary said that it had issued around 1,000 indictments against those arrested related to protests.


On October 29, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence Organization accused two detained women journalists of participating in a training course from US intelligence-backed entities. The journalists, Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohamadi, had reported on the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in morality police custody, which sparked widespread protests. The authorities did not publish any evidence to support their allegation.


“Iran’s vicious security apparatus is using every tactic in its book, including lethal force against protesters, arresting and slandering human rights defenders and journalists, and sham trials to crush widespread dissent,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Yet every new atrocity only reinforces why Iranians are demanding fundamental changes to a corrupt autocracy.”


Iran has a long history of using vaguely defined national security charges against protesters and dissidents in trials that fall grossly short of international standards. Iran’s intelligence agencies and state media outlets regularly publish and promote false claims against activists and dissidents.


An informal network of activists inside Iran, known as the Volunteer Committee to Follow-Up on the Situation of Detainees, said that as of October 30, in addition to mass arrests of protesters, intelligence agencies have arrested 130 human rights defenders, 38 women rights defenders, 36 political activists, 19 lawyers, and 38 journalists, the majority of whom remained in detention.


These include, according to the network: Alireza Khoshbakht, Zahr