U.S. Charges Iran on Human Rights

The U.S. State Department condemned Iran on two consecutive days for human rights abuses. On April 30, Washington denounced the “growing crackdown on women advocating for their human rights,” including the right to choose whether or not to wear hijab, the compulsory head covering. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus also criticized the “cruel sentencing of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh to 148 lashes and 33 years in prison for standing up for those the Iranian government oppresses.” Sotoudeh has been detained since June 2018. 

On May 1, the State Department highlighted Amnesty International's report on the execution of two 17-year old males. “The United States condemns Iran’s practice of executing and even torturing minors, giving it the appalling distinction as the world’ leading executioner of children,” said Ortagus. The following are statements from the State Department with reports from the Center for Human Rights in Iran and Amnesty International.


State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus

April 30, 2019

The Iranian Regime’s Crackdown on Women Activists

Dos SealThe United States strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s growing crackdown on women advocating for their human rights.  Yasmin Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz have been arrested in recent days for the crime of peacefully protesting compulsory hijab.  Vida Movahedi, who became the symbol of the nationwide protests against the regime last year as the Girl of Engelhab Street, has been unjustly sentenced to one year in prison for her protests against forced veiling.  Shaparak Shajarizadeh was sentenced to 20 years in prison for peacefully protesting the hijab.  

The United States again denounces the cruel sentencing of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh to 148 lashes and 33 years in prison for standing up for those the Iranian government oppresses.  Many other women are being threatened and interrogated by security forces as the regime increasingly fears the voices of its own people.  We call on the Iranian authorities to end their harassment and imprisonment of women who are simply expressing their conscience and demanding basic rights.

May 1, 2019

Unconscionable Reports of Secret Executions of Minors in Iran

The Department of State is appalled by the Iranian regime’s secret execution of two 17-year old males, Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat, in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, as reported by Amnesty International.  According to this report, Iran has resumed its execution of minors, while attempting to keep this inhumane practice hidden from the world.  The report notes that Iran is also the top executioner of children in the world.

The Iranian regime unjustly cut short the two boys’ lives.  The Amnesty International report also documented disturbing abuse and floggings inflicted by authorities in the final moments before their deaths.  According to the Amnesty report, the boys were just 15 when they received hasty convictions following a questionable set of legal maneuvers that suggest arbitrary detention.

These most recent juvenile executions follow an all-too-familiar practice in Iran.  The United States condemns Iran’s practice of executing and even torturing minors, giving it the appalling distinction as the world’ leading executioner of children.  Amnesty International’s finding unfortunately is consistent with Iran’s egregious overall human rights record.  More than 90 juveniles, as Amnesty International notes, are currently at risk of execution.
This is unacceptable.  We will continue to shine the light on the regime and ask others to join us in holding Iran’s corrupt leaders accountable for their crimes.


Center for Human Rights in Iran

Anti-Compulsory Hijab Protester, Mother in Widely Shared Tehran Metro Video Both Arrested

Activist Yasaman Aryani was arrested in Tehran on April 10, 2019, after appearing in a widely shared video of women peacefully protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab law in a Tehran Metro train on March 8, International Women’s Day.

Aryani is the woman wearing red in the video above

Her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, was detained the following day after she inquired about her daughter, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.

They are both being held in the Vozara Detention Center based on a complaint by the judiciary’s Islamic Guidance branch, according to news reports.

Aryani, 23, and her mother can be seen in the video with their hair uncovered, distributing flowers to passengers on a Tehran metro train while saying they look forward to the day that Iranian women will be allowed to choose whether to wear a hijab or not.

A source with detailed knowledge of the cases informed CHRI that unidentified security forces raided the Aryani family home during the early evening of April 10, arresting her and confiscating her laptop, mobile phone and other personal belongings.

The arrest was initially confirmed by Fars news, which has ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

On April 11, US-based Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad tweeted: “Today, Iranians authorities arrested this mother. Her name is Monireh Arabshahi, her crime is to support #WhiteWednesday & handout flowers to women who wear hijab alongside her daughter #YasamanAryani. Now mother & daughter are in jail. Be their voices. They are not criminals.”

The tweet included a video message from Arabshahi saying her daughter “is neither a terrorist nor an embezzler.”


On April 8, two days before her arrest, Aryani revealed she had been suspended and cut from the cast of a play, “Actors’ Studio,” which opened at Malek Theater in Tehran on April 11 without her.

Aryani has publicly supported women’s rights in Iran and has advocated peacefully rejecting Iran’s compulsory hijab law. She has also posted numerous photos and video clips of herself walking without a hijab in the streets of Tehran.

She is currently awaiting a decision on her appeal against the one-year prison sentence she was issued by Branch 28 of the revolutionary court for taking part in mass protests against Iran’s economic problems in August 2018.

In a video message posted on YouTube on November 1, 2018, Aryani’s mother said: “To the men in power I say, enough. You have arrested enough innocent young people. Why don’t you go after those who fooled the people with their false promises and delivered nothing? Why don’t you go after those who have embezzled billions? Why don’t you go after those agents who beat our children black and blue with electric batons and clubs?”


Amnesty International on Execution of Juveniles

Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director 

“The Iranian authorities have once again proved that they are sickeningly prepared to put children to death, in flagrant disregard of international law. It seems they cruelly kept these two boys in the dark about their death sentences for two years, flogged them in the final moments of their lives and then carried out their executions in secret.”

“The use of the death penalty against people who were under 18 at the time of the crime is strictly prohibited under international human rights law and is a flagrant assault on children’s rights. It is long overdue for Iranian parliamentarians to put an end to this harrowing situation by amending the penal code to ban the use of the death penalty against anyone who was under 18 at the time of the offence.”

“We have identified a trend in which Iran’s authorities are carrying out executions of juvenile offenders in secret and without giving advance notice to the families, seemingly in a deliberate attempt to avoid global outrage. This makes it all the more important for influential international actors such as the EU to increase their diplomatic and public interventions to pressure Iran to end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders.”

—April 29, 2019, in a press release