Iran Human Rights Defenders under Attack, Caught in Web of Repression

Iran is waging a ruthless crackdown against people who stand up to injustice and defend human rights that have come under suffocating levels of repression at the hands of Iran’s judicial and security apparatus, Iran Human Rights Monitor reports.

Scores of human rights defenders are facing lengthy prison sentences in connection with their peaceful activities, and many others are being subjected to surveillance, interrogations and drawn out trials. Those who defend human rights are often labelled “foreign agents” and “traitors” by state media, and prosecuted and jailed by the authorities on bogus “national security” charges.

The criminalization of human rights defenders in Iran takes place against the backdrop of ongoing smear campaigns against them. The authorities routinely equate the defence of human rights to “espionage” and “incitement to sedition.”

Women who oppose compulsory veiling (hijab) have also been subject to severe smear campaigns on state media. State media often use derogatory terms such as “sluts”, “deviant” and “corrupt” to demean and degrade these women.

Smear campaigns against human rights defenders are not only intended to discredit their work in the eyes of the public but also ferment an attitude of mistrust, and even hostility, toward human rights defenders on the part of the media and the rest of society.