Country of origin information report Iran January 2010

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Country of Origin Information Report


26 January 2010

UK Border Agency

Country of Origin Information Service

Latest News
Events in Iran from 9 December 2009 to 26 January 2010
Reports on Iran published or accessed between 9 december 2009 and

26 January 2010

Background Information
1. Geography 1.01

Maps 1.04

Iran 1.04

Tehran 1.05

Calendar 1.06

Public holidays 1.07

2. Economy 2.01

3. History 3.01

Pre 1979 3.01

From 1979 to 1999 3.04

From 2000 to 2008 3.10

Student unrest 3.15

Parliamentary elections – February 2004 3.28

Presidential elections – June 2005 3.30

Assembly of Experts, local and parliamentary elections – 2006 3.36

Parliamentary elections – 2008 3.38

4. Recent developments (January to November 2009) 4.01

Nuclear programme and international diplomacy 4.01

Presidential election – 12 June 2009 4.04

Demonstrations and aftermath of the election 4.11

Detention of British Embassy Staff 4.24

5. Constitution 5.01

6. Political system 6.01

Political parties 6.04
Human Rights
7. Introduction 7.01

8. Crime 8.01

Illegal drugs situation 8.01

Arazel va obash 8.07

9. Security forces 9.01

Overview 9.01

Law Enforcement Forces (including the police) 9.06

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (‘Pasdaran’) 9.08

Qods / Quds Force 9.15

Basij 9.18

Ansar-e Hezbollah 9.20

Armed forces 9.23

Other organisations 9.25

Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and Vezarat-e

Ettela’at va Aminat-e Keshvar (VEVAK) aka Ettela’at 9.25

Human rights violations by the security forces 9.27

Arbitrary arrest and detention 9.27

Torture 9.32

Extra judicial killings 9.40

10. Military service 10.01

11. Judiciary 11.01

Organisation 11.01

Complaints 11.10

Independence 11.11

Fair trial 11.18

Trial in absentia 11.22

Bail 11.24

Enforcement of Judgements 11.25

Penal code 11.26

Qisas (retribution) 11.33

Knowledge of the judge 11.35

Court documentation 11.40

Summonses 11.40

Arrest warrants 11.47

Reporting 11.51

Amputation 11.52

12. Arrest and detention – legal rights 12.01

13. Prison conditions 13.01

14. Death penalty 14.01

Stoning 14.17

15. Political affiliation 15.01

Freedom of political expression 15.01

Presidential elections of June 2009 15.04

Political dissidents outside Iran 15.09

Political prisoners 15.12

Freedom of association and assembly 15.14

Opposition groups and political activists 15.20

Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MEK/MKO) or People’s

Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) 15.21

Rastakhiz Party and Monarchists 15.30

Savak 15.35

Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI, also DPIK) 15.36

Komala 15.41

Partiya Jiyana Azada Kurdistan (PJAK) - Kurdistan Free

Life Party 15.46

16. Freedom of speech and media 16.01

Print media 16.08

TV/radio 16.10

Internet 16.12

Academic freedom 16.18

Treatment of journalists 16.19

Treatment of bloggers 16.28

17. Human rights institutions, organisations and activists 17.01

18. Corruption 18.01

19. Freedom of religion 19.01

Overview 19.01

Religious demography 19.09

Legal framework 19.10

Apostasy (conversion from Islam) 19.13

Law on apostasy 19.16

Prosecution of apostates 19.23

Sunni Muslims 19.28

Christians 19.33

Converts to Christianity 19.38

Jews 19.43

Zoroastrians 19.45

Sabean Mandaeans 19.49

Baha’is 19.51

Sufis 19.64

20. Ethnic groups 20.01

Overview 20.01

Kurds 20.03

Arabs 20.11

Baluchis 20.15

Azeris 20.19

Qashqais 20.22

21. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons 21.01

Overview 21.01

Legal rights 21.10

Enforcement of the law 21.16

Treatment by, and attitude of, state authorities 21.35

Societal treatment and attitudes 21.45

Transgender and transsexuals 21.49

22. Disability 22.01

23. Women 23.01

Overview 23.01

Legal rights 23.07

Political rights 23.16

Social and economic rights 23.20

Marriage 23.22

‘Sigheh’ or temporary marriage 23.24

Mehriyeh 23.29

Adultery 23.33

Divorce 23.36

Dress code 23.46

Women in the workplace 23.52

Education 23.56

Violence against women 23.58

Honour killings 23.64

Government suppression of women’s rights organisations 23.71

Health and welfare 23.88

Abortion 23.88

24. Children 24.01

Overview 24.01

Basic legal information 24.04

Legal rights 24.10

Judicial and penal rights 24.13

Death penalty for children 24.21

Violence against children 24.30

Trafficking 24.31

Childcare and protection 24.33

Education 24.41

Health issues 24.50

Documentation 24.53

25. Trafficking 25.01

26. Medical issues 26.01

Overview 26.01

Drugs 26.06

Drug addiction 26.08

HIV/AIDS – anti-retroviral treatment 26.14

Mental health 26.22

27. Freedom of movement 27.01

Exiles / dissidents outside Iran 27.15

28. Foreign refugees 28.01

29. Citizenship and nationality 29.01

ID cards 29.05

30. Forged and fraudulently obtained official documents 30.01

31. Exit and return 31.01

32. Employment rights 32.01

Annex A – Chronology of major events

Annex B – Political organisations

Annex C – Prominent people

Annex D – List of abbreviations

Annex E – References to source material


i This Country of Origin Information Report (COI Report) has been produced by COI Service, United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), for use by officials involved in the asylum/human rights determination process. The Report provides general background information about the issues most commonly raised in asylum/human rights claims made in the United Kingdom. The main body of the report includes information available up to 8 December 2009. The ‘Latest News’ section contains further brief information on events and reports accessed from 9 December to 26 January 2010. The report was issued on 26 January 2010.
ii The Report is compiled wholly from material produced by a wide range of recognised external information sources and does not contain any UKBA opinion or policy. All information in the Report is attributed, throughout the text, to the original source material, which is made available to those working in the asylum/human rights determination process.
iii The Report aims to provide a brief summary of the source material identified, focusing on the main issues raised in asylum and human rights applications. It is not intended to be a detailed or comprehensive survey. For a more detailed account, the relevant source documents should be examined directly.
iv The structure and format of the COI Report reflects the way it is used by UKBA decision makers and appeals presenting officers, who require quick electronic access to information on specific issues and use the contents page to go directly to the subject required. Key issues are usually covered in some depth within a dedicated section, but may also be referred to briefly in several other sections. Some repetition is therefore inherent in the structure of the Report.
v The information included in this COI Report is limited to that which can be identified from source documents. While every effort is made to cover all relevant aspects of a particular topic, it is not always possible to obtain the information concerned. For this reason, it is important to note that information included in the Report should not be taken to imply anything beyond what is actually stated. For example, if it is stated that a particular law has been passed, this should not be taken to imply that it has been effectively implemented unless stated.
vi As noted above, the Report is a collation of material produced by a number of reliable information sources. In compiling the Report, no attempt has been made to resolve discrepancies between information provided in different source documents. For example, different source documents often contain different versions of names and spellings of individuals, places and political parties, etc. COI Reports do not aim to bring consistency of spelling, but to reflect faithfully the spellings used in the original source documents. Similarly, figures given in different source documents sometimes vary and these are simply quoted as per the original text. The term ‘sic’ has been used in this document only to denote incorrect spellings or typographical errors in quoted text; its use is not intended to imply any comment on the content of the material.
vii The Report is based substantially upon source documents issued during the previous two years. However, some older source documents may have been included because they contain relevant information not available in more recent documents. All sources contain information considered relevant at the time this Report was issued.
viii This COI Report and the accompanying source material are public documents. All COI Reports are published on the RDS section of the Home Office website and the great majority of the source material for the Report is readily available in the public domain. Where the source documents identified in the Report are available in electronic form, the relevant web link has been included, together with the date that the link was accessed. Copies of less accessible source documents, such as those provided by government offices or subscription services, are available from the COI Service upon request.
ix COI Reports are published regularly on the top 20 asylum intake countries. COI Key Documents are produced on lower asylum intake countries according to operational need. UKBA officials also have constant access to an information request service for specific enquiries.
x In producing this COI Report, COI Service has sought to provide an accurate, balanced summary of the available source material. Any comments regarding this Report or suggestions for additional source material are very welcome and should be submitted to UKBA as below.
Country of Origin Information Service

UK Border Agency

Block B, Whitgift Centre

15 Wellesley Road

Croydon, CR9 1AT

United Kingdom


Independent Advisory Group on Country Information
xi The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) was set up in March 2009 by the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency to make recommendations to him about the content of the UKBA’s country of origin information material. The IAGCI welcomes feedback on UKBA’s COI Reports, COI Key Documents and other country of origin information material. Information about the IAGCI’s work can be found on the Chief Inspector’s website at
xii In the course of its work, the IAGCI reviews the content of selected UKBA COI documents and makes recommendations specific to those documents and of a more general nature. A list of the COI Reports and other documents which have been reviewed by the IAGCI or the Advisory Panel on Country Information (the independent organisation which monitored UKBA’s COI material from September 2003 to October 2008) is available at
xiii Please note: it is not the function of the IAGCI to endorse any UKBA material or procedures. Some of the material examined by the Group relates to countries designated or proposed for designation to the Non-Suspensive Appeals (NSA) list. In such cases, the Group’s work should not be taken to imply any endorsement of the decision or proposal to designate a particular country for NSA, nor of the NSA process itself.
Independent Advisory Group on Country Information contact details:

Office of the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency

4th floor, 8-10 Great George Street,

London, SW1P 3AE


Latest News
Events in Iran from 9 December 2009 to 26 January 2010
25 January “Prominent Iran opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi has said he recognises Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, despite saying last year's poll was rigged. Mr Karoubi had refused to accept the president's controversial re-election. Mr Karoubi's son says his father still has doubts about the vote, but accepts the results following Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's endorsement.”

Iran opposition leader Karoubi acknowledges president, 25 January 2010

Date accessed: 26 January 2010

22 January “Students in Iran have been boycotting end-of-term exams as they continue to show their opposition to the outcome of last year's disputed presidential election. The move comes a month after thousands of students held street demonstrations to protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election last June.”

BBC News, Iran students boycott exams to protest disputed election, 22 January 2010

Date accessed: 25 January 2010

See also Demonstrations and aftermath of the election
19 January “Four people have been arrested after an Iranian state prosecutor was shot dead outside his home in northern Iran. Vali Hajgholizadeh, who officials say had a reputation for fighting corruption, was killed in the town of Khoy near the Turkish border… The Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), a Kurdish militant group based in Iraqi Kurdistan claimed it carried out the attack...”

BBC News, Four arrested after Iran prosecutor assassinated, 19 January 2010

Date accessed: 19 January 2010

16 January “Iranian authorities have warned opposition supporters against using text and e-mail messages to organise protest rallies. The country's police chief said these systems were monitored and people misusing them would be prosecuted… He warned that those who incited others to protest or issued appeals: ‘have committed a worse crime than those who come to the streets’.”

BBC News, Iran warns opposition on e-mails, 16 January 2010

Date accessed: 18 January 2010

15 January A Kurdish political prisoner, Shirin Alam Hovi, has been sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court following charges of “moharebeh” or “warring against God”. She had been found guilty of cooperating with an opposition group in Kurdistan. There is a right of appeal against the sentence.

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Death sentence for Shirin Alam Hovi, Kurdish political prisoner, 15 January 2010

Date accessed: 18 January 2010

14 January “Iran is facing mounting international protests about its jamming of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV) after the channel – which has millions of viewers and is hugely popular with opposition supporters – was taken off a satellite owned by Europe's leading operator. The BBC said today it was ‘actively supporting’ a formal complaint to the International Telecommunication Union, a UN-affiliated body, about ‘deliberate interference’ from Iran… Tehran has repeatedly attacked PTV as an arm of the British government, which it accuses of seeking to foment a ‘velvet revolution’. Last week, it included the BBC on a list of 60 ‘subversive’ international organisations.”

Guardian, BBC joins international protests against Iranian TV interference, 14 January 2010

Date accessed: 19 January 2010

Dr Nooshin Ebadi, the sister of Nobel Peace Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, was released on 13 January without any charges, after being detained since her arrest on 28 December 2009. “…the fates of 150 others detained during the post-Ashura events remain unknown.”

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 14 January 2010

Date accessed: 18 January 2010

12 January Seven Baha’is who were arrested in 2008 were put on trial in a revolutionary court in Tehran. “The defendants face charges of spying for foreigners, cooperating with Israel and ‘corruption on Earth’, a charge which carries the death sentence…The US government has condemned the trial, expressing concern about Iran's treatment of Bahais.”

BBC News, Iran Bahais begin spying trials, 12 January 2010

Date accessed: 14 January 2010

See also Baha’is
A university professor of nuclear physics, Masoud Mohammadi, was killed after a bomb exploded near his home in the Qeytariyeh district of Tehran. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the incident; however, state media have accused Israel and the US of being involved, an allegation which the US State Department has denied.

BBC News, Israel and US behind Tehran blast - Iranian state media, 12 January 2010

Date accessed: 18 January 2010

11 January Police in Iran arrested two people and violently disrupted a demonstration in Tehran by relatives of a group of arrested mothers whose children are missing. “Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesman at the U.S.-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told Radio Farda that the police actions took place one day after the authorities arrested about 30 ‘mournful mothers’ and their supporters. The ‘mournful mothers’ are a group of women whose children have disappeared or been killed in protests held since Iran's controversial presidential election in June.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Relatives of arrested mothers dispersed by Iranian police, 11 January 2010

Date accessed: 12 January 2010

10 January Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, published the first publicly documented admission that abuses had occurred following the June 2009 presidential elections. Former Tehran chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi was identified as the main culprit in the Kahrizak detention centre scandal in which at least three prisoners died after being arrested at a demonstration on 9 July 2009. “The deaths were caused by ‘limitation of space, poor sanitary conditions, ­inappropriate nutrition, heat, lack of ventilation and … also as a result of physical attacks’, the report said.”

Guardian, Iran's parliament exposes abuse of opposition prisoners at Tehran jail, 10 January 2010

Date accessed: 12 January 2010

6 January Iranian police arrested 13 members of the Baha’i community on 3 January for “alleged involvement in antigovernment protests”. Three of those arrested were subsequently released but 10 remained in Evin prison in Tehran.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Baha’is arrested in Iran after protests, 6 January 2010

Date accessed: 12 January 2010
5 January “Authorities in Iran intensified their campaign to blame the country's political turmoil on foreigners today by banning contact with more than 60 international organisations. The intelligence ministry said the blacklist included thinktanks, universities and broadcasting organisations identified as waging a ‘soft war’ aimed at toppling Iran's Islamic system. It forbade Iranians from talking to or receiving aid from the proscribed organisations, including the BBC, which last year launched a Farsi satellite television channel, as well as two US government-funded outlets, Voice of America and Radio Farda, both of which broadcast in Farsi.”

Guardian, Iran bans contact with foreign organisations, including the BBC, 5 January 2010

Date accessed: 7 January 2010

4 January “Iran is deepening its fight against the opposition Green Movement by publishing photographs of protesters in the hopes that informants will step forward and identify them to authorities. Two sets of photographs were published on the pro-Ahmadinejad Raja News site, both in the wake of violent Dec. 27 demonstrations on the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura. The latest, published Monday, displays 47 images containing about 100 faces circled in red – adding to the 38 photos published last week with 65 faces circled. The announcement offered readers a hotline and a website to give Iranian police tips on the identity of those individuals.”

Christian Science Monitor, Iran uses Internet as tool against protestors, 4 January 2010

Date accessed: 6 January 2010

30 December “Tens of thousands of Iranians have protested in favour of their government in major cities across the country, following recent opposition protests. Government supporters marched in Tehran, Shiraz, Qom and elsewhere, chanting ‘Death to opponents!’ The rallies - reportedly organised by the government - were a response to the opposition demonstrations on Sunday.”

BBC News, Supporters of Iran's government stage big rallies, 30 December 2009

Date accessed: 31 December 2009
Further arrests [see articles dated 27 and 28 December below] were made as the authorities attempted to suppress the resurgent opposition. Those reportedly arrested include the sister of exiled Nobel Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi, the brother-in-law of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and “…numerous reformist academics, journalists and human rights activists…Far from retreating after Sunday’s [27 December] bloody scenes, the regime showed every sign yesterday of preparing for an even tougher crackdown. Abbas Vaez-Tabasi, a cleric close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, called the opposition leaders ‘enemies of God’ who should be executed under Sharia. Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the conservative-controlled Parliament, demanded ‘maximum punishment’ for protesters who ‘hijacked’ the religious holiday of Ashura on Sunday [27 December].”

The Times, Iranian regime rounds up relatives of opposition leaders in bid to stop protests, 30 December 2009

Date accessed: 30 December 2009

28 December “A number of opposition figures have been arrested in Iran, a day after at least eight people died during the most violent protests for months.” Those reportedly arrested include “…opposition politician Ebrahim Yazdi, a foreign minister after the 1979 revolution and now leader of the Freedom Movement of Iran, [and] his nephew, Lily Tavasoli… The Parlemannews website reported that three aides to Mir Hossein Mousavi had been arrested. It also named two aides to reformist former President Mohammad Khatami as being among those rounded up by the authorities. Mousavi Tebrizi, a senior cleric from the holy city of Qom who is close to Mr Mousavi, is also reported to have been arrested, as is human-rights campaigner and journalist Emeddin Baghi…The official death toll for Sunday’s confrontation is the highest since June, and police said about 300 people had been detained.”

BBC News, Iran opposition figures arrested after protests, 28 December 2009

Date accessed: 30 December 2009
27 December “The nephew of Iran's reformist opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was reported to be among at least nine people killed after the streets of Tehran and other cities erupted in violent clashes between security forces and protesters.” The authorities responded by declaring a 7pm curfew and banning all gatherings of more than three people. “Disturbances were also reported in Isfahan, Shiraz, Masshad, Arak and Najafabad, where the Rah-e Sabz [reformist website] described the situation as ‘severe’”.

Guardian, Iran protests leave nine dead, reports claim, 27 December 2009

Date accessed: 30 December 2009
23 December “Two Iranian convicts who escaped execution on Tuesday were hanged hours after being recaptured, Iranian media has reported. The men and five relatives who aided their escape from the hangman's noose were caught on the way to the coastal town of Bandar Abbas, officials said… The men were convicted of arms smuggling offences and bank robbery, the Fars news agency reported…The officials have not said what punishment the family members will face.”

BBC News, Iran hangs convicts recaptured after escape, 23 December 2009

Date accessed: 5 January 2010
“More than 50 people were arrested in a mosque in Isfahan, Iran's second biggest city, as police fired pepper spray and teargas at mourners paying their respects to Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died on Sunday. In a related incident, security forces detained and surrounded the home of a local reformist cleric, Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, as he attempted to travel to the ceremony.” Confrontations were also reported in Najafabad, Montazeri’s birthplace.

Guardian, Iran security forces clash with Montazeri mourners, 23 December 2009

Date accessed: 23 December 2009
22 December Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who came second in the June election, has been fired as head of the Arts Institution. “The Council for Cultural Revolution, a high-ranking body chaired by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissed him on Tuesday night, state media said. Mr Mousavi had run the institution, affiliated to the president's office, since its inception 11 years ago. In recent days, hardliners have urged Iran's judiciary to put Mr Mousavi on trial for instigating unrest.” He retains his post on the Expediency Council.

BBC News, Iran's Mousavi loses public post, 22 December 2009

Date accessed: 23 December 2009
21 December “Hundreds of thousand of mourners, many chanting anti-government slogans, gathered in the Iranian city of Qom for the funeral today of the leading reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Defying a heavy presence of security forces, the funeral became a rallying point for further protests against the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Pictures showed the defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi among the mourners, after the opposition movement called for a national day of mourning.”

Guardian, Iran braces for protests as 'up to 1m' attend funeral of reformist cleric, 21 December 2009

Date accessed: 21 December 2009

19 December Military prosecutors charged three officials with the killing of three people held at Kahrizak prison, south of Tehran, following their arrest during the post presidential election demonstrations in June 2009. In total, indictments were issued against 12 staff working at the prison. “The Kahrizak centre was shut in July [2009], after Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said it had failed to ‘preserve the rights of detainees’.”

BBC News, Iran officials on murder charges over inmates' deaths, 19 December 2009

Date accessed: 21 December 2009
See also Prison conditions
14 December Tehran prosecutor, Abbas Jafari, was quoted as saying that several people had been arrested in connection with the tearing up of a picture of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic, during anti government protests in Tehran last week. “The prosecutor also said there would be ‘no mercy towards those who insulted the founder of the revolution,’ the official IRNA news agency reported.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Iran makes arrests over torn Khomeini picture, 14 December 2009

Date accessed: 15 December 2009

Reports on Iran published or accessed between 9 December to 26 January 2010

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