At the release of the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights which document human rights conditions in 177 countries, including Iran, Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski noted that the reports come at a time when “authoritarian governments…are striking out with particular ferocity against the freedoms of expression, association and the press.”
The report on Iran notes “severe restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, association, speech (including via the internet), religion and press.” It also cites limitations on citizens’ ability to choose their government through free and fair elections; abuse of due process, with escalating use of capital punishment for crimes that do not meet international minimum standards of “most serious” crimes; arbitrary detention; politically motivated violence and repression; harsh prison conditions; discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons.
The human rights reports contain numerous examples of rights abuses from around the world. In Iran they include the case of labor activist Shahrokh Zamani who died in custody in Rajai Shahr Prison; of the deteriorating medical condition of journalist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi who has been charged with “propaganda against the state” and“assembly and collusion against national security;” of the forced virginity test of imprisoned cartoonist and activist Atena Farghadani, originally sentenced to 12 years for such crimes as “spreading propaganda” and “insulting members of parliament.”
In an interview with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Assistant Secretary Malinowski noted that when President Hassan Rohani was elected, the Iranian people had high expectations because of his promises to improve human rights and the rule of law. Unfortunately, “We have not seen significant changes,” said Mr. Malinowski:
"One constant through this is that the Iranian people want to live in a more normal country. They have said that to their own government and to the international community every chance that they have had.”
Assistant Secretary Malinowski noted that the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran “has raised hopes…for greater normality in the future. But true normality is only going to come,” he said, “if the Iranian government rights its relationship with its own people through respect for law, respect for human rights, respect for those international norms which are important in Iran and everywhere in the world.”