Advocacy statements

The human rights situation in Iran

  • Date / 2018
  • Location / Iran
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention


International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 37th Session (27th February – 23rd March 2018)

General Debate on Item 4

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[1]. 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. [2]

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.[3]

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.[4] 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[5]. 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 ICCPR, 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.


[1] http://webtv.un.org/search/islamic-republic-of-iran-high-level-segment-6th-meeting-37th-regular-session-human-rights-council-/5740975811001/?term=&lan=english&cat=Regular%2037th%20session&sort=date&page=7

[2] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/16/iran-tortures-kills-protesters-8000-citizens-arres/  https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/ncri-statements/iran-protests/24156-the-number-of-detainees-during-uprising-is-at-least-8-000

[3] https://en.radiofarda.com/a/soheil-arabi-taped-will/28766788.html

[4] https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-arrest-bahais/29042275.html

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/07/iranian-woman-who-removed-headscarf-sentenced-to-two-years?CMP=share_btn_fb

Suggested academic reference

'The human rights situation in Iran', Humanists International

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