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‘Stop Harassing Activists’ Families,’ Rights Groups Tell Iran

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Three human rights organizations have urged Iranian authorities to stop “harassing and threatening” the families of activists and journalists as a tactic to silence dissent and criticism.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), and Justice for Iran made the appeal on August 9, after Iranian state TV last month broadcast an interview in which a woman denounced her sister for her advocacy against Iran’s compulsory hijab laws.

During the interview, Mina Alinejad said she was appearing on television of her own free will but her sister Masih later said that Iranian authorities had pressured her family to denounce her on state TV.

Masih Alinejad, an exiled journalist, founded in 2014 a popular online campaign called My Stealthy Freedom against women being forced to wear the compulsory hijab in public in Iran.

In a statement, HRW and the two other human rights watchdogs said Iran’s government-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) had a “long history of parading Iran’s critics and their family members on national TV, where they are forced to make so-called ‘confessions’ or public statements meant to discredit them and their causes.”

“A government that preys on the bonds of family in order to lash out at its critics is a government that has no respect for the rights of its citizens — or common decency,” CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi said.

Maedeh Hojabri, a teenager briefly detained earlier this year for posting videos of herself dancing on Instagram, last month appeared in a program on state-controlled Iranian TV in which she acknowledged breaking moral norms.

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