Situation Deteriorates for Iran’s Religious Minorities, Experts Say

A year after Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration as Iran’s president, the human rights situation in the country has deteriorated for many human rights defenders and especially for Baha’is and Christian converts as a result of what some experts describe as a hard-line counteroffensive against the pro-Rouhani pragmatist/Reformist camp.

Rouhani has devoted most of his efforts during his first year in office to trying to resolve the nuclear crisis in hopes of gaining sanctions relief and boosting Iran’s anemic economy. But the cleric also promised to increase civil liberties in Iran — a promise that he has had difficulty fulfilling.

While the overall atmosphere has improved somewhat for ordinary Iranians, “human rights violations are widespread and very serious,”

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told a July 28 briefing on Capitol Hill. “Hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars” including prominent human rights defenders such as lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani. Just last week, Ghaemi noted, Iran detained several Iranian-American journalists including Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post. Ghaemi said that there is still “no record of their detention” by the judiciary, a sign that intelligence authorities may be interrogating them and trying to build a case against them.

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