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TITLE:  IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Iran is an Islamic republic under the leadership of Ayatollah 
Ali Khamenei.  The formal system of government, based on a 
Constitution approved in l980 by popular referendum and revised 
in July 1989, features a Parliament and a President elected 
from among multiple candidates by universal suffrage.  However, 
all candidates must meet highly restrictive religious and 
political criteria imposed by the Council of Guardians, and as 
a result the choice offered to voters is narrow.  The 
Government, dominated by a political elite composed of Shi'a 
Muslim clerics and of laymen allied with these clerics, 
attempts to impose its views of political and socioreligious 
orthodoxy.  However, there remain significant factional 
differences on important economic and political issues.

The Government continues to reinforce its hold on power through 
arrests, summary trials and executions, and other forms of 
intimidation carried out by an extensive internal security 
system.  The Revolutionary Guards and security forces operating 
under the Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the 
Interior Ministry are known to make political arrests and 
commit other human rights abuses.  

Iran has a mixed economy.  Although Islam guarantees the right 
to private ownership, the Government has nationalized the banks 
and owns several basic industries, including the petroleum and 
utilities sectors.  Oil exports are the primary source of 
foreign exchange.  The disruptions of the revolution, the 
destruction from the Iran-Iraq war, and government 
mismanagement have caused serious economic deterioration.  
However, inflation has apparently been reduced from previous 
years, although it is thought to be still over 20 percent; 
about 30 percent of the work force is unemployed, and 
widespread corruption and black-market activities continue.

There was no evidence of significant improvement in Iran's 
record as a major abuser of human rights.  As in the past, the 
Government went to considerable lengths to conceal its abuses 
and continued to obstruct the activities of international human 
rights monitors.  It is thus difficult to know precisely the 
details and numbers of such abuses.  Similarly, domestic 
elements that might monitor and report on the Government's


*Because of the absence of a United States Mission in Iran, 
this report draws heavily on unofficial sources.

practices are ruthlessly suppressed.  Abuses continued to 
include denial of citizens' right to change their government; 
summary executions; widespread torture; arbitrary detentions; 
lack of fair trials; repression of the freedoms of speech, 
press, assembly, and association; systematic repression of the 
Baha'i religious community; and severe restrictions on women's 
and worker rights.  The Government has not allowed Reynaldo 
Galindo-Pohl, the U.N. Special Representative on Human Rights, 
to revisit Iran since 1991 and did not implement the measures 
he recommended in his 1993 report.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Given the lack of basic procedural safeguards in political 
trials, most of the executions ordered each year in such cases 
amount to summary executions.  Furthermore, the Government has 
repeatedly indicated in public statements that it equates 
active political opposition to Iran's Islamic revolution with 

The Iranian press stopped reporting most executions in 1992, 
making it difficult to determine the number of people killed 
for political reasons in 1993, but it appears executions 
continue at their previous rate of several hundred a year.  In 
September the U.N. Special Representative reported obtaining a 
copy of an Iranian government document showing that Iranian 
media had eliminated most coverage of executions in order to 
preempt the Special Representative's criticism.  Reports from 
exiles and human rights monitoring groups indicate many of 
those executed for alleged criminal offenses are in fact 
political dissidents.

For example, Amnesty International (AI) reported the execution 
during 1993 of Mohsen Mohammadi Sabet, who had been held 
incommunicado in Rasht prison since September or October 1992.  
The Government has refused to reply to AI's requests for 
information regarding the precise charges brought against 
Sabet.  According to AI, the legal proceedings in Sabet's case 
failed to meet minimum international standards of fairness and 

In addition, the Government continued to carry out political 
assassinations of its opponents residing abroad.  On January 
24, Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu was killed in Ankara by a car 
bomb; an Iranian-backed Turkish group was believed 
responsible.  On March 16, Naghdi Mohammed Hussein, a leader of 
the opposition Mojahedin-e-Khalq, was assassinated in Rome.  
(Naghdi's name was among those on a list of 32 Iranian 
oppositionists found in the possession of one of the suspects 
in the 1992 assassinations of Kurds in Berlin.)  On March 18, 
three Iranian Baluchi insurgency leaders were murdered in 
Karachi.  In June another Mojahedin-e-Khalq activist, Mohammed 
Hassan Arbab, was killed in Karachi along with a bystander; 
another bystander, a child, was seriously injured.  In October 
an assailant wounded William Nygaard, the Norwegian translator 
of Salman Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses."  Investigators 
have not yet determined the motive for the assault.

The French Government's investigation into the assassination in 
August 1991 of former Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar and his 
assistant continued; two suspects, Iranian government 
officials, were under arrest awaiting trial.  In the case of 
the murder in Berlin of four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in 
1992, a German prosecutor announced in May that Kazem Darabi, 
who is in a German prison awaiting trial for the killings, is 
an agent of the Iranian intelligence service.

     b.  Disappearance

No reliable information is available on the number of 
disappearances in 1993.  Many families of executed political 
prisoners reportedly have not been informed officially of their 
relatives' deaths.  In 1993 the Government again responded to 
many of the U.N. Special Representative's requests for 
information on specific prisoners by denying that it had any 
judicial record of them.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

There continued to be credible reports of the torture and ill- 
treatment of detainees.  Common methods of torture are said to 
include suspension for long periods in contorted positions, 
burning with cigarettes, and, most frequently, severe and 
repeated beatings with cables or other instruments on the back 
and on the soles of the feet.  Prisoners are frequently held in 
solitary confinement or denied adequate rations or medical care 
as a way of forcing them to confess.  

The U.N. Special Representative reported in 1993 that the 
Government has taken no measures to establish legal or 
procedural safeguards against the torture of prisoners.  There 
were no reports of law enforcement personnel being held 
accountable for torture or other abuses.  In 1992 the 
Government expelled workers of the International Committee of 
the Red Cross (ICRC) who had been visiting detainees.  The 
Government has still not permitted the ICRC to resume this 
activity in Iran.  Information on prison conditions in 1993 was 
not available.  However, prisoner protests against poor prison 
conditions in the past reportedly prompted beatings, denial of 
medical care, and, in some cases, execution.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention has been common in the past, but 
it is not known how many cases there were in 1993.  It is known 
that some persons were arrested on trumped-up criminal charges 
when their actual "offenses" were political.  The lack of fair 
trials and other procedural safeguards encourage such practices.

Baha'is continued to face arbitrary arrest and detention.  The 
Government continued its practice of detaining a small but 
relatively steady number of Baha'is at any one time.

No judicial determination of the legality of detention exists 
in Iranian law, and there is reportedly no legal time limit on 
incommunicado detention.  Suspects are held for questioning at 
local Revolutionary Guard offices or in jails.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

There are essentially two different court systems.  The civil 
courts deal with criminal offenses, and the revolutionary 
courts, established in 1979, try "political" offenses as well 
as cases involving narcotics trafficking and "crimes against 

In January the Special Representative reported that trials in 
Iran continue to fall far short of internationally accepted 
standards.  Trials by revolutionary courts, especially, cannot 
be considered fair or public.  Some trials are conducted in 
secret.  If the trial is staged publicly, it is generally 
because the prisoner has already been forced to confess to a 
crime.  Persons tried by the revolutionary courts (including in 
drug trafficking cases) enjoy virtually no procedural or 
substantive safeguards.  The accused are often indicted under 
broad and all-encompassing charges such as "moral corruption," 
"antirevolutionary behavior," and "siding with global 
arrogance."  Trials lasting 5 minutes and less are common.

The right to a defense counsel is theoretically provided for in 
Iranian law and in the Constitution, but in the revolutionary 
courts defendants are not known to have access to a lawyer; 
moreover, they are not able to call witnesses on their behalf 
or to appeal.  Courts have failed to investigate allegations by 
defendants that they were subjected to torture during pretrial 
detention.  Some persons have been imprisoned beyond the limit 
of their sentence and even executed after the formal expiration 
of their prison term.

There was again no evidence in 1993 of any judicial reform that 
would bring Iranian courts into compliance with international 
standards; the Special Representative noted in his January 1993 
report that a new law on legal representation--which provides 
that any Muslim is eligible to represent the accused in 
court--does not in fact provide for qualified legal counsel.

The judicial system is further weakened by the fact that 
revolutionary courts may consider cases formally under the 
jurisdiction of the civil and criminal courts.  Assignment of 
cases to regular rather than revolutionary courts is haphazard 
and apparently occurs mainly when arrests are made by regular 
police.  Revolutionary courts may also overturn the decisions 
of the civilian courts.  The review authority of the Supreme 
Court is limited.  

For common criminal offenses, many elements of the 
prerevolutionary judicial system survive, and the accused often 
have the right to a public trial with benefit of lawyers of 
their own choosing.  Even this judiciary is not fully 
independent, however.  Many of the former judges were retired 
after the revolution, and new judges were selected.  One 
criterion for new judges is grounding in Islamic law; political 
acceptability is a requirement for any government position.  
According to the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human 
Rights, the 1982 Law on the Qualifications for the Appointment 
of Judges discriminates on the grounds of religion, sex, and 
political opinion, while at the same time permitting the 
appointment of judges and prosecutors who have no legal 
training or experience.  Some judges reportedly prefer to base 
their judgments on the guidance of religious scholars rather 
than on the law.  

Because the Government continues to block the activities of 
international human rights observers, no reliable estimate is 
available on the number of political prisoners, but 
knowledgeable sources estimate them in the thousands.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Government rejects the Western distinction between a public 
sphere which the State may control and a sphere of private life 
(religion, culture, thought, and private behavior) which the 
State may not properly control.  Before 1982, authorities 
entered homes and offices, wiretapped telephones, and opened 
mail.  These activities are reportedly less common now.

Special Revolutionary Guard units and security forces check on 
social activities.  Women whose clothing does not completely 
cover the hair and all of the body except hands and face, or 
who wear makeup, are subject to arrest (see also Section 5).  
Crackdowns often result in widespread harassment of women in 
the streets.  Men have also periodically been required to dress 
"modestly."  During the spring and summer of 1993, both 
official and self-appointed enforcers campaigned against 
insufficiently modest dress and even sunglasses.  For example, 
the commander of the law enforcement forces in Tehran stated 
that 802 men and women were detained from June 16 through 23 
for various dress code violations in Tehran.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

According to the Constitution, "publications and the press may 
express ideas freely, except when they are contrary to Islamic 
principles, or are detrimental to public rights."  In practice, 
most publications are controlled by the Government; independent 
publishers run the risk not only of press shutdowns, pressure 
from the Government newsprint monopoly, and confiscation of 
publications and equipment, but of arrest and summary 
punishment if they are overly critical of the Government.  The 
editor and two employees of the magazine Farad were jailed in 
1992 for publishing a cartoon which the authorities deemed 
insulting to the late Ayatollah Khomeini.  In October after the 
cartoonist, Manoucher Karimzadeh, completed his sentence, the 
Supreme Court ruled that his punishment had been insufficient 
and sentenced him to an additional 10 years' imprisonment.  

In August Revolutionary Guards detained the publisher of the 
radical daily Salam, Musavi Kho'iniha, as well as the 
newspaper's chief editor, 'Abbas 'Abdi.  The detentions were 
apparently in retaliation for criticism of the judicial 
authorities.  Both men were freed on bail after the newspaper 
printed a retraction of its criticism.  In September 
authorities detained Mehdi Nasiri, editor of the Tehran daily 
Keyhan, after the newspaper printed criticism of Ayatollah 
Mohammad Ali Yazdi, chief of the judiciary.  Nasiri was 
released on bail after several days in detention but still 
faces a trial before a special "press jury" on charges of 
slander.  In October Colonel Nasrullah Tavakoli, a retired army 
officer, was arrested and placed in incommunicado detention, 
apparently for writing a series of open letters critical of the 
current Government.

All books must be submitted to the Ministry of Islamic Culture 
and Guidance for review before they may be published.  
Publishers, authors, and printers also engage in substantial 
self-censorship before submitting books to the Ministry in an 
effort to avoid the substantial penalties, including economic 
losses, incurred when books are rejected.  Iranian authorities 
have interpreted broadly their authority to censor on religious 
grounds, including official acceptance of the February 1989 
religious decree condemning British author Salman Rushdie to 
death for his book "The Satanic Verses."  On each anniversary 
of the decree since 1992, a group of exiled Iranian writers has 
signed a public condemnation of the decree; the Iranian 
Government has responded by banning the writings of the authors 
signing the condemnation.  By mid-1993, the Government had 
banned the works of 162 such signatories.

Newspapers, which are usually associated with various 
government factions, reflect a variety of viewpoints.  
Generally, newspapers can and do criticize government policies 
and officials both in their reporting and editorials.  They are 
forbidden, however, to criticize the concept of the Islamic 
republic or to promote ethnic minority rights.  Nevertheless, 
some independent publishers out of favor with the Government 
continue to survive, and some books and pamphlets critical of 
the Government are published without reprisal.  Foreign books, 
newspapers, and magazines may be imported only after they have 
been reviewed by the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance.

All broadcasting facilities are government owned, and the 
content of their broadcasting reflects the political and 
socioreligious ideology of the Government.

Although restrictions on academic freedom have been eased 
somewhat, course content is still monitored and there is little 
genuine critical discussion of issues.  Informers are said to 
be common on campus and in the classroom.  Admission to 
universities is politicized; all applicants must pass 
"character tests" in which officials review applicants' 
background and ideology with the students' hometown religious 
authorities and neighborhood groups.  This process serves to 
exclude from universities and the professions those who are 
critical of the Government's revolutionary ideology.  To 
achieve tenure, professors reportedly must cooperate with 
government security agencies over a period of years.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution permits unarmed assemblies and marches 
"provided they do not violate the principles of Islam."  In 
practice, the only ones permitted are those sponsored by the 
Government, such as Friday prayers and parades and 
demonstrations on official occasions.  According to opposition 
sources, a student protest in March at Beheshti high school in 
west Tehran was crushed by antiriot police units who arrested 
approximately 80 students.  

The Constitution also allows the formation of political 
parties, groups, and professional associations, as well as 
Islamic and some minority religious associations, provided they 
do not violate the principles of "freedom, sovereignty, (and) 
national unity" or question Islam or the Islamic Republic.  In 
practice, most independent organizations have either been 
banned, co-opted by the Government, or are moribund.

The authorities continued to harass the Freedom Movement, 
founded in 1961 and declared illegal in 1991, tapping its 
telephones, opening its mail, and subjecting its members to 
intimidation.  While the Freedom Movement participated in the 
first parliamentary election after the revolution, it has been 
prevented from doing so in all subsequent elections.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The state religion is Islam, and religion is almost inseparable 
from government in Iran.  The President and many other top 
officials are mullahs (Islamic clergymen), as are the Speaker 
of the Parliament and many of the parliamentary deputies.

Approximately 90 percent of Iranians are Shi'a Muslims.  Aside 
from slightly over 1 percent who are non-Muslims (Baha'is, 
Christians, Zoroastrians, and Jews), the rest are Sunni 
Muslims.  The Sunnis are mostly Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, 
Baluch, and other ethnic minorities whose political influence 
is very limited.  The Constitution declares that "the official 
religion of Iran is Islam and the sect followed is Ja'fari 
Shi'ism," but it also states that "other Islamic denominations 
shall enjoy complete respect."

The small Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian (the pre-Islamic 
religion of Iran) populations are concentrated mainly in urban 
areas.  The Constitution recognizes their religions, and they 
elect representatives to seats reserved for them in the 
Parliament.  They are permitted to practice their religions, to 
instruct their children, and--although with a great deal of 
disruptive interference--to maintain schools.

Nevertheless, official harassment is commonplace.  In June the 
U.N. Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights 
observed that the U.N. Special Representative's report 
"confirm(ed) the broad consensus that there has been 
practically no progress in ensuring greater respect and 
protection for the rights of the non-Muslim religious 
communities" in Iran.   

Mehdi Debadj, a Christian convert from Islam arrested in 1983, 
was held in prison until December 1993, when Christian 
missionary groups reported that a court in Sari sentenced him 
to death for apostasy.  Following international appeals on his 
behalf, Debadj was released in January 1994.  According to the 
Government, his case is still "under investigation."

The Government continues to discriminate against the Baha'i 
community, Iran's largest non-Muslim minority (300,000 to 
350,000 members).  The Baha'i religion is considered a 
"misguided sect" by the authorities.  It is not officially 
recognized, and Baha'is may not teach their faith.  

In 1993 Tehran municipal authorities built a cultural center on 
the site of a Baha'i cemetery.  Immediately after the 1978-1979 
revolution, the cemetery's markers were removed (some 
reportedly were auctioned off), and the site was turned into a 
park.  The new construction in 1993 involved excavations that 
reportedly desecrated Baha'i graves.  The U.S. and other 
governments condemned the desecration and called on Iran to 
halt the project.  There is no indication, however, that the 
Iranian authorities stopped the construction.

The treatment of Baha'is varies somewhat, depending on the 
jurisdiction; in other places, Baha'is were still able to bury 
their dead in Baha'i cemeteries.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Iranians may travel to any part of Iran, although there have 
been restrictions on travel to Kurdish areas at times of heavy 
fighting.  Persons may change their place of residence without 
obtaining permission.  According to the Government, 
approximately 3 million refugees, primarily Afghans but also 
Kurdish and Shi'a refugees displaced from Iraq in the aftermath 
of the Gulf war, remained in Iran in mid-1993.

Males of draft age are not issued exit permits except for 
approved courses of study, and Iranians who are suspect 
politically, such as some retired military officers and 
high-level public officials under the former regime, are not 
able to leave the country.  Some Iranians, particularly those 
whose skills are in short supply and who were educated at 
government expense, have had to post bonds to obtain exit 
permits.  There was no evidence that this situation improved in 

Iranian Jews are permitted to obtain passports and to travel 
(including to Israel), but they are normally denied the 
multiple-exit permits given to most Iranians and must make a 
new application (with another fee) for each planned trip.  
Permission is not normally granted for all members of a Jewish 
family to travel outside Iran at the same time.

The Government actively encourages the many thousands of 
skilled Iranians living abroad to return to help rebuild the 
country.  Of those who have returned in recent years, a number 
have been able to pursue, through the Iranian judicial system, 
the restoration of their properties.  However, many exiles 
complain that formal legal guarantees of their safety have not 
yet been provided, and, as a result, many remain reluctant to 

There are some categories of persons who may be in danger if 
they return to Iran.  Some of those with close ties to the 
former regime, draft evaders, and those who departed the 
country illegally face possible arrest upon their return.  
Members of or sympathizers with the People's Mojahedin 
Organization of Iran or the Communist Tudeh Party, both 
opposition groups banned by the Government, are subject to 
imprisonment and torture or even execution should they return.  
In his 1993 report, the Special Representative recounted 
several cases of exiles and Baha'is who were harassed after 
returning to Iran.  Nevertheless, immediate relatives of 
persons wanted by the Government are often able to live in 
Iran, travel abroad, and return without undue difficulty.

Iranian passports have always been stamped "not valid for 
emigration," but the Government does not make a clear 
distinction between legal residence in another country and 
emigration.  According to the regulations, Iranians with a 
legal residence outside Iran may be issued passports and 
advance exit permits by the Iranian embassy, consulate, or 
interests section in their country of residence.  The 
Government does not recognize dual nationality and considers 
Iranian-born U.S. citizens to be Iranians unless they formally 
renounce their Iranian citizenship in accordance with Iranian 
law.  There have been many instances in which Iranian 
authorities have confiscated the passports of dual nationals.  

The Government of Iran and the United Nations High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR) estimate there were approximately 2.1 
million Afghan refugees in Iran in mid-1993.  The majority of 
these refugees have been integrated into Iranian life.  The 
remainder live either seminomadic lives or reside in government 
settlements in central and eastern Iran.  The Government 
provided assistance to those refugees.  The UNHCR is 
supervising the repatriation of Afghan refugees to 

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Iranian citizens do not enjoy the right to change their 
government peacefully.  Iran is ruled by a group of religious 
leaders (mullahs) and their lay associates who share a belief 
in the legitimacy of a theocratic state based on Ayatollah 
Khomeini's interpretation of Shi'a Islam.

The revolutionary Government has held elections at fairly 
regular intervals for president, Parliament deputies, members 
of the Assembly of Experts (responsible for choosing the 
Revolutionary Leader's successor), and members of local 
government councils.  Presidential elections were held in June, 
resulting in the reelection of Hojjat ol-Eslam Ali Akbar 
Hashemi-Rafsanjani.  Voting is by universal suffrage of 
everyone age 15 and older and is by secret ballot.  All 
candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians, 
however, and only those meeting the Council's vaguely described 
political and religious criteria may run.  In practice, only 
supporters of the theocratic state are accepted, and even 
clerics are often disqualified if their positions vary from the 
official line. 

A few political parties have been licensed following the 
Ministry of Interior's announcement in December 1988 that 
political parties would be allowed to form, provided they met 
the Government's religious and political criteria.

The Constitution provides for an independent Parliament, which  
exists to a large degree in practice.  While Parliament 
deputies are typically allied with various powerful political 
and religious officials, they may speak and vote independently 
and may shift from one faction to another.  Vigorous 
parliamentary debates--normally covered extensively in the 
press--cover a wide variety of issues.  Harsh criticism of 
government officials is often heard in these debates, and, in 
some cases, laws proposed by the executive branch have been 
voted down.

The Constitution provides for a Council of Guardians composed 
of 12 members:  6 clerics unilaterally appointed by the Leader, 
and 6 lay members well grounded in Islamic law who are 
nominated by the head of the judiciary, subject to the 
Parliament's approval.  The Council of Guardians must certify 
all bills passed by the Parliament as being in accordance with 
Islamic law and the Constitution.  If bills fail to be 
certified, they are sent back to the Parliament for revision.  
The Council of Guardians can and does reject important bills 
and portions of bills passed by the Parliament.  The Council 
for the Discernment of Expediency, a body created in 1988, 
resolves those legislative issues on which the Parliament and 
Council of Guardians disagree.  Approximately 4 percent of 
Parliament members are women.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Iranian organizations that attempt to speak out on human 
rights, such as the Freedom Movement and the Association for 
the Protection of Liberties and Human Rights, face severe 
harassment by the Government.  In the past, the Government 
generally has been uncooperative with foreign human rights 
groups, whether government sponsored or independent, regarding 
their activities as interference in the country's internal 

The U.N. Special Representative has not been able to visit Iran 
since his third visit in 1991; by the end of 1993, the Iranian 
Government had not replied to his repeated requests to return 
to Iran.  At the United Nations, Iran continued its efforts to 
restrict the Special Representative's mandate.  

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Language, or Social Status


The discrimination that women have traditionally faced in 
Iranian society has increased since the revolution.  
Ultraconservative dress, entirely hiding the hair and all of 
the body except the face and hands, is a requirement for all 
women, regardless of their religion, national origin, or 
citizenship.  Women have been harassed, detained, or physically 
attacked if they appeared in public in clothing that official 
or self-appointed guardians of public morality deemed 
insufficiently modest.  Enforcement of these rules has varied 
considerably since Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989; there 
was a widespread surge in enforcement during 1993 (see Section 
1.f).  According to press reports, a teenaged girl was 
accidentally shot in Tehran in late August after being stopped 
on the street by a police conscript for breaking the Islamic 
dress code.  

Although violence against women is known to occur, little is 
known about its extent.  Abuse within the family is considered 
a private matter in this conservative society and is seldom 
discussed publicly.  There are no official statistics on the 
subject.  In the past, there have been credible reports of the 
torture and execution of women detainees.

Under legislation passed in 1983, women have the right to 
divorce their husbands, and regulations promulgated in 1984 
substantially broadened the number of grounds for which a woman 
may seek divorce.  A husband may obtain a divorce without 
stating a reason or going to court.  In December 1992 the 
Council for the Discernment of Expediency reversed itself and 
ratified a bill already passed by the Parliament which added 
somewhat to a divorced woman's right to financial support from 
her ex-husband.  It is not clear yet whether this adjustment 
has had any impact in practice.


Iranian law includes provisions that prohibit the use of child 
labor in industry (see section 6.d.)  No information was 
available on the enforcement of these statutes.

     Religious Minorities

The Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, and Baha'i minorities 
suffer varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination 
in a number of areas, particularly with respect to employment, 
education, public accommodations, and property ownership.  In 
1993 non-Muslim owners of restaurants were required to post a 
distinctive notice in the windows of their establishments.

Muslims who have converted to Christianity are similarly 
discriminated against.  University applicants are required to 
pass an examination in Islamic theology.  This has the effect 
of limiting most religious minorities' access to higher 
education, although all students must receive instruction on 
Islam regardless of their religion.  Applicants for public 
sector employment are similarly screened for adherence to 
standards of Islamic orthodoxy, with much the same effect.  
Religious minorities have also suffered discrimination in the 
legal system, receiving lower awards in injury and death 
lawsuits and suffering heavier punishments than those imposed 
on Muslims.  Although Sunnis have encountered religious 
discrimination on the local level, the Government has tried to 
reduce Shi'a-Sunni antagonism.

The Government has stated that it will protect the "social and 
legal rights" of Baha'is as "normal citizens," but in practice 
there is widespread persecution and discrimination in many 
areas of public life.  Baha'i marriages are not recognized, and 
Baha'is are forbidden to participate in social welfare 

In 1993 the Special Representative reported obtaining reliable 
information on an internal Iranian government directive setting 
out policy on the Baha'is.  In the directive, dated February 
1992, the Supreme Revolutionary Council instructed government 
agencies to block the progress and development of the Baha'i 
community; expel from the universities students identified as 
Baha'is; seek to cut the Baha'is' links outside Iran; restrict 
employment for those who identify themselves as Baha'is; and 
deny Baha'is "positions of influence," including in the 
education sector.  The Government claims the policy directive 
is a forgery; it appears, however, to reflect accurately 
current government practice.

The Government continued to return some of the property of 
individual Baha'is that it had previously confiscated, although 
the amount represents a small fraction of the total seized.  
Property of the community, such as places of worship, remains 
confiscated.  Most Baha'is are now able to obtain food ration 
booklets.  Baha'i children are now permitted to attend grade 
school and high school but are generally not permitted to 
attend college or be employed on college faculties.  A small 
number of Baha'is were permitted to leave the country.  While 
some Baha'i's have been issued passports, the majority of such 
applications are denied.  

Some Baha'is continue to be denied public sector (and often 
private sector) employment on account of their religion; in a 
number of cases, ration cards have been denied on the same 
grounds.  Thousands of Baha'is dismissed from government jobs 
in the early 1980's receive no unemployment benefits and have 
been required to repay the Government for salaries or pensions 
received from the first day of employment.  Those unable to do 
so face prison sentences.  

     d.  People with Disabilities

There is no information available on government policy with 
respect to people with disabilities.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Article 131 of the Labor Code grants workers and employers 
alike the right to form and join their own organizations.  In 
practice, however, there are no real labor unions in Iran.  A 
national organization known as the Worker's House, founded in 
1982 as the labor wing of the now defunct Islamic Republican 
Party, is the only authorized national labor organization with 
nominal claims to represent all Iranian workers.  It works 
closely with the workplace Islamic councils that exist in many 
Iranian enterprises.  The Workers' House is largely a conduit 
of government influence and control, not a trade union founded 
by workers to represent their interests.

The officially sanctioned Islamic labor councils also function 
as instruments of government influence and not as bodies 
created and controlled by workers to advance their own 
interests, although the councils have frequently been able to 
block layoffs or the firing of workers.

A network of guild unions operates on a regional basis.  These 
guild unions issue vocational licenses, fund financial 
cooperatives to assist members, and help workers to find jobs.  
The guild unions operate with the backing of the Government.

According to opposition sources, there were several protests 
and strikes during the spring, including a strike involving 
thousands of workers at a tractor factory in Tabriz, a walkout 
to protest nonpayment of salaries at a government sugar factory 
in western Iran, and strikes in textile factories in northern 
Iran and near Tehran.  In the past the Government has not 
tolerated any strike deemed to be at odds with its economic and 
labor policies.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right of workers to organize independently and bargain 
collectively cannot be documented.  It is not known whether 
labor legislation and practice in the export processing zones 
differ in any significant respect from the law and practice in 
the rest of the country.  No information is available on 
mechanisms used to set wages.  

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Section 273 of the Iranian Penal Code provides that any person 
who does not have definite means of subsistence and who, 
through laziness or negligence, does not look for work may be 
obliged by the Government to take suitable employment.  This 
provision has been frequently criticized by the International 
Labor Organization (ILO) as contravening ILO Convention 29 on 
forced labor.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Iranian labor law, which exempts agriculture, domestic service, 
family businesses, and, to some extent, other small businesses, 
forbids employment of minors under 15 years of age (compulsory 
education extends through age 11) and places special 
restrictions on the employment of minors under 18.  In 
addition, women and minors may not be used for hard labor or, 
in general, for night work.  Information on the extent to which 
these regulations are enforced by the Labor Inspection 
Department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the 
local authorities is not available.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Code empowers the Supreme Labor Council to set 
minimum wage levels each year determined by industrial sector 
and region.  It is not known if minimum wage levels are in fact 
issued annually or if the Labor Ministry's inspectors enforce 
their application.  The Labor Code stipulates that the minimum 
wage should be sufficient to meet the living expenses of a 
family and should take into account the announced rate of 
inflation.  Information on the share of the working population 
covered by the minimum wage legislation or the share of the 
work force receiving a decent wage is not available.  

Labor law establishes a 6-day workweek of 48 hours maximum 
(except for overtime at premium rates), with 1 day of rest 
(normally Friday) per week as well as at least 12 days per year 
of leave with pay and a number of paid public holidays.  

According to the Labor Code, a Supreme Safety Council, chaired 
by the Labor Minister or his representative, is responsible for 
promoting workplace safety and health and issuing occupational 
safety and health regulations and codes of practice.  The 
Council has reportedly issued 28 safety directives.  The 
Supreme Safety Council is also supposed to oversee the 
activities of the safety committees that have reportedly been 
established in about 3,000 enterprises employing more than 10 
persons.  It is not known how well the Labor Ministry's 
inspectors enforce the safety and health legislation and 
regulations nor whether industrial accident rates are compiled 
and show positive trends (Iran does not furnish this data to 
the ILO for publication in its Year Book of Labor Statistics).

Given the large segments of the economy exempted from the labor 
law, the State's still unresolved administrative 
disorganization resulting from the revolution, the effects of 
the war with Iraq, and the general lack of effective labor 
unions, it is unclear to what extent the provisions of Iran's 
labor law affect most of the labor force.

The ILO has long been concerned with official discrimination in 
employment against adherents of the Baha'i religion.

[end of document]


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