Humanists at the United Nations Human Rights Council have denounced Iran’s recent crackdown on protesters against the regime.
This year has seen a wave of pro-democracy and human rights protests across Iran, with thousands taking to the streets against the clerical hold on power, calling for a more open society, and demanding an end to compulsory veiling for women. The authorities have cracked down on ativists, intimidating and detaining peaceful protesters, with widespread reports of abuse and torture in custody.
At the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) condemned the oppression of the regime.
Iranian Justice Minister Seyyed Alireza Avaei had controversially spoken for Iran earlier in the session. Avaei is accused of involvement in arbitrary arrests, overseeing a rise in executions as president of the judiciary, and of involvement in the Islamic Republic’s execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
The IHEU cited statistics on various violations committed by the regime in recent months, noting in particular renewed suppression of the Baha’i community and the deplorable treatment of women activists demanding an end to compulsory veiling. In a statement delivered by Kacem El Ghazzali, the IHEU demanded answers to key questions:
“Minister, we ask: where is democracy and the right to peaceful protest in Iran? Where is the right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment? …
Minister, where is the right to free expression in Iran? …
Minister where is freedom of religion or belief in Iran? …
Minister, where are the rights of women and dignity in Iran?”
IHEU’s intervention was welcomed by women’s rights activists and members of the Baha’i community.
.@IHEU once again show their commitment to #FreedomOfReligion or belief by expressing their concern on the imprisonment of #Bahai-s in #Iran in their statement today at #HRC37 – we stand together for the right to choose one’s belief or not to believe @elizabethocasey #FoRB
— Diane Alai (@DianeAlai) March 14, 2018
— Zolal Habibi (@Ashrafi4ever) March 14, 2018
Dear Sir,TANX 4 your standing with #Iran people against their oppressors.#Avaei‘s name’s added 2D European🇪🇺 Union’s Sanctions list in Oct. 2011 for human rights abuses & direct participation in D torture & #1998Massacre. He should B arrested & tried 4 crime against Humanity !
— M.Reza Massali (@m_mrezamm) March 15, 2018
IHEU’s oral statement follows in full below:
International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 37th Session (27th February – 23rd March 2018)
General Debate on Item 4
Kacem El Ghazzali
At the beginning of the session, the Justice Minister of Iran addressed this Council. Civil society hasn’t yet raised concerns or asked him questions in response. We raise some now:
First: Peaceful protest. Since the start of the democratic protests in Iran, over 8000 people have been arrested. At least 50 have been shot dead or died apparently from torture whilst in detention.
Minister, we ask: where is democracy and the right to peaceful protest in Iran? Where is the right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment?
Second: Soheil Arabi. Mr Arabi has been detained since November 2017 after being accused of “insulting the Prophet” in Facebook comments he made that were critical of some senior officials.
Minister, where is the right to free expression in Iran?
Third: Freedom of belief. At least 92 Baha’is have been held in Iran’s prisons as of November 2017. Muslims cannot leave or change their religion because apostasy is punishable by death.
Minister where is freedom of religion or belief in Iran?
Fourth: Women. Iran prevents girls and women from attending certain sporting events and forces them to wear the veil. Last week two women were jailed for removing their hijab. These are some of the same women who have, since 1979, been chanting “Human rights are universal.” They are right, human rights are universal. The authorities are wrong to suppress them.
Minister, where are the rights of women and dignity in Iran?
Iran is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has legally promised to respect these rights, but is abjectly failing to do so. We call on the council to start ensuring it does so. Iran’s human rights record brings shame on us all.