Human rights groups call on the Iranian authorities to stop targeting activists’ families

Beirut, 9th August 2018: Three human rights organisations, including two SRT grantees, have called on the Iranian authorities to stop harassing and threatening the families of activists and journalists. The Center for Human Rights in Iran and Justice for Iran issued a press release along with Human Rights Watch condemning the authorities’ use of intimidatory tactics.

The government-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has a history of showing Iran’s critics and their family members on national TV, where they are forced to make ‘confessions’ or public statements meant to discredit them and their causes. On 27th July, Iranian state TV’s ‘20:30’ programme featured an interview with Mina Alinejad, the sister of Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, in which she publicly denounced her sister for her advocacy against Iran’s compulsory hijab laws. During the interview, Mina Alinejad said she was appearing on TV of her own free will, but Masih later claimed that Iranian authorities have pressured her family to denounce her on state television.

In March 2018, the BBC filed a complaint at the UN Human Rights Council against Iranian authorities for their campaign of harassment against BBC Persian staff. The harassment included the arrest and intimidation of employees’ family members based in Iran. A BBC public statement detailed examples of harassment that family members of staff have received in Iran; in one instance, the press statement said, ‘a senior producer’s elderly mother was called in for questioning in Tehran by one of the many intelligence agencies. She was told that her son could have a car accident in London if he continued working for the BBC’.

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, said, ‘A government that preys on the bonds of family in order to lash out at its critics is a government that has no respect for the rights of its citizens – or common decency’.

Full press release from Justice for Iran’s website:

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