Watchdog: Revolutionary Iran jails 1.7 million in 30 years

  • Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk, Taghi Rahmani, Iraj Mesdaghi, Monireh Baradarn, Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and Christophe Deloire, director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), from left to right, pose during a news conference on Iran at the Reporters without Borders (RSF) offices in Paris, France, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. The media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders says that 860 journalists were detained by Iran over 30 years period, starting with the inception in 1979 of the Islamic Republic. The organization revealed on Thursday its macabre headcount of named journalists and citizen-journalists detained around Tehran, the capital, some of them executed, in what it said was a first. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS — Media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said Thursday that Iranian authorities arrested, jailed and sometimes executed 1.7 million people around the capital Tehran alone in the first 30 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The organization revealed its count that included regime opponents, Baha’is and other religious minorities and at least 860 journalists.

The group said at a news conference that its information was based on a confidential file of judicial proceedings obtained by whistleblowers.

The file registering judicial procedures contains details on some 1.7 million people, including minors, locked up in Evin prison in the first three decades of the Islamic regime that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, shaking the region and the world.

Among the journalists, at least four were executed, according to RSF, as the watchdog group is known. The organization noted that the detailed Iranian file never mentions the professional status of individuals, suggesting this made it easier for the regime to claim it wasn’t holding journalists or, more broadly, prisoners of conscience.

RSF set up a committee that combed through the Iranian file. It is headed by 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer.

The file reveals some previously undisclosed information, RSF said,

“After months of verification, we have identified in these files of 1.7 million records, the cases of at least 61,940 political prisoners during the period of 1979 until 2009, only in Tehran,” said Christophe Deloire, head of RSF.

Of these, 520 were aged between 15 and 18, he said.

Deloire said the files show the “relentless machinations” used “to persecute men and women for their opinions or their reporting.”

RSF is referring “these state lies” to the U.N. human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, “so that Iran can be held to account,” he said.


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