Statement 158 Views

Human Rights Council Hears about Reports of Massacres of Civilians in Myanmar and Possible Crimes against Humanity in Iran Following Mass Protests in Both Countries

March 20th, 2023  •  Author:   Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights  •  29 minute read
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MORNING 20 March 2023

Council Concludes General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and started an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. It also concluded its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Thomas H. Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said two years after the military staged an illegal coup in Myanmar, it continued to wage a campaign of violence and oppression to crush widespread public opposition. But while it had utterly failed to stop this opposition, it was succeeding in destroying the nation and assaulting the fundamental human rights of its people. While opposition remained strong, the junta’s escalating assaults on the people of Myanmar were having a devastating impact. Since the coup was launched, more than 3,000 civilians had been killed; more than 1.3 million civilians had been displaced; more than 16,000 political prisoners were behind bars; and 17.6 million people were in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The Special Rapporteur said he regularly received reports of massacres of civilians, including beheadings and dismemberment. Torture and sexual violence remained a constant threat. Unfortunately, Mr. Andrews had also received reports that opposition groups had committed human rights violations, which also must end.

Mr. Andrews said the international community was not doing nearly enough. A minority of Member States and non-State entities continued to provide the junta with weapons, materials to manufacture weapons, or revenue that was being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. This must stop. Those Member States that had taken actions, such as targeted sanctions or weapons bans, had failed to do so in a strategic and coordinated fashion. A working coalition of Member States should be formed to identify actions that would have the greatest impact and then coordinate their implementation. The international community could also do better in supporting the hundreds of thousands who had been forced to flee Myanmar.

In the discussion, speakers said the Special Rapporteur’s report left no doubt about the situation in Myanmar, which was in freefall. The responsibility lay squarely on the Myanmar military, which, more than two years after its coup, inflicted continuous and increasing grave and systematic human rights violations on people across the country. Persons in vulnerable situations, and in particular persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Rohingya, continued to bear the brunt. Despite all this, the people in Myanmar continued their heroic resistance. Some speakers called upon the military to immediately end all forms of violence and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, against the people of Myanmar, including children.

One speaker pointed out that this was an internal affair of Myanmar, and that external pressure would only be counter-productive: the Human Rights Council and multilateral bodies should work to bridge differences between parties to the conflict to avoid creating further conflict. Another speaker said the Special Rapporteur’s calls for the imposition of more unilateral coercive measures on Myanmar were rejected: the extreme politicisation of his mandate was reflected in the recommendations in his report, which were selective and based on uncorroborated information.

Speaking in the discussion were the European Union, Netherlands on behalf of a group of countries, Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Baltic States, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Liechtenstein, United States, Czech Republic, Republic of Korea, France, Japan, China, Indonesia, Venezuela, Canada, India, Austria, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Spain, Türkyie, Bangladesh, Italy, Malta, the Gambia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malawi, Australia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Thailand, New Zealand, Russian Federation, South Africa, Germany, and Ukraine.

Also speaking were CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development, Human Rights Now, Article 19 – International Centre Against Censorship, International Bar Association, Human Rights Institute, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Law Council of Australia, Edmund Rice International Limited, Human Rights Watch, and iuventum e.V.

The Council then started an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, said the report was being presented today amidst the most serious human rights violations in Iran over the past four decades. Available evidence, including eyewitness testimonies and comments from reliable medical sources, established that Ms. Amini died on 16 September as a result of beatings by the State morality police. As per usual practice, State authorities denied any wrongdoing or misconduct on their part. None of the members of the morality police involved in the death of Ms. Amini had been held accountable. Mr. Rehman stressed that the death of Ms. Amini was not an isolated event but the latest in a long series of extreme violence against women and girls committed by the Iranian authorities. The responsibility of top senior officials in instigating this violence could not be ignored. Protesters, including children, were beaten to death.

Mr. Rehman said at least 527 people, including 71 children, were killed, and hundreds of protesters severely injured. From the very first days of protests, State authorities had tried to shut down all avenues of freedom of expression, with mass arbitrary arrests and detentions. Recently authorities recognised that over 22,000 people had been arrested. Mr. Rehman remained deeply concerned at the continuing and exponentially increasing violations of human rights in the country. The scale and gravity of the violations committed by Iranian authorities pointed to the possible commission of international crimes, notably the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual violence, and persecution. In the absence of accountability at the domestic level, Mr. Rehman strongly advocated for the establishment of an independent international fact-finding mission and looked towards fully cooperating with it to ensure justice and accountability for victims of human rights violations.

Iran, speaking as a country concerned, said advocacy for human rights was increasingly mistaken by some States and mandate holders for unwarranted and egotistic purposes, abusing the human rights mechanisms to target certain States; they were void of any value for the protection of human rights. The Council’s mandate was best fulfilled by dialogue and cooperation, in line with non-selectivity and impartiality. The Special Rapporteur’s report, which read like a tragic novel, had been used by some Western media as an attempt to portray the situation of human rights in Iran. The Special Rapporteur was totally in disregard of his mandate, in his lack of impartiality, using biased language, and violating the Code of Conduct. The Iranian people had witnessed nearly three months of terrorist attacks and armed riots, but the Special Rapporteur did not even mention certain terrorist attacks, which left innocent people murdered, and did not mention armed attacks on people in certain provinces.

In the discussion on Iran, many speakers commended the Special Rapporteur for his report. Since the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s so-called “Morality Police” six months ago, the world had witnessed a mass movement while Iran’s leadership had conducted a relentless and violent crackdown on the people of Iran. Some speakers said it was important to renew the mandate while also supporting the work of the newly created Fact-Finding Mission, in the name of women, life, and freedom. Some speakers strongly condemned the use of violence, harassment and detentions against peaceful protesters. Perpetrators of torture, killings and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, needed to be held accountable.

Some speakers said that abusing the United Nations human rights mechanisms to single out and harass some nations that did not align with the hegemonic and geopolitical interests of the West had nothing to do with the genuine promotion and protection of human rights. This was a violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law. It was hoped that the international community could respect the human rights development path independently chosen by the people of Iran. Of grave concern were the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Iran by other countries, which had undermined the human rights of the Iranian people and gravely affected their rights.

Speaking in the discussion were Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, European Union, Liechtenstein, United States, Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Israel, Belgium, China, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, North Macedonia, Venezuela, Canada, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, Republic of Moldova, Austria, and United Kingdom.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded the general debate on agenda item three on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. The general debate started in previous meetings and a summary can be found here and here.

In the general debate, speakers said the promotion and protection of human rights were essential to ensure a more just and equitable world for all. However, in many cases, all around the world, human rights were being violated. Some speakers highlighted increasing cases of horrific violations that occurred in a number of countries, and war and conflict zones against civilians. Violence had become a daily occurrence, with wars, bloodshed and conflicts taking place in many countries. There was a need to move towards serious United Nations-led peace processes and transitional justice needed to be achieved. Some speakers told the Council that over-compliance of businesses and banks with unilateral sanctions led to wide-scoped violations of all economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to life in the sanctioned countries.

Speakers called on the Special Procedures to report and discuss the harmful effects of unilateral sanctions in their annual reports and condemn these effects in joint statements.

Speaking in the general debate were World Muslim Congress, International Action for Peace and Sustainable Development, Promotion du Développement Economique et SocialLidskoprávní organizace Práva a svobody obcanučů Turkmenistánu z.s., Youth in Technology and Arts Network, Association Culturelle des Tamouls en FranceAsociacion Cubana de las Naciones Unidas (Cuban United Nations Association), Il Cenacolo, Baha’i International Community, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Chunhui Children’s Foundation, Human Rights Solidarity Organization, Human Rights and Democratic Participation Centre “SHAMS”, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Centre Zagros pour les Droits de l’Homme, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, and Alliance Internationale pour la défense des Droits et des Libertés.

Speaking in exercise of right of reply were Morocco, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-second regular session can be found here.

The Council will reconvene this afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue and conclude the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, followed by an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and then an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.

General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

The general debate on agenda item three on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, started in previous meetings and a summary can be found here and here.

General Debate

Speakers, among other things, said the promotion and protection of human rights were essential to ensure a more just and equitable world for all. However, in many cases all around the world, human rights were being violated. Speakers said that in some places, laws had not been effective in removing barriers and decreasing violence against women. Women and girls were often used as human shields and as a tool to incite hatred.

Some speakers highlighted the lack of attention by the Council on the human rights of women suffering the pain, stigma and discrimination associated with obstetric fistula, particularly those in rural areas. Member States were called on to pay more attention to the prevention of obstetric fistula in their policies, strategic plans and budgets. Governments needed to initiate trainings for midwives from local communities, accompanied by incentives to encourage them to return to serve their communities.

Speakers said that during her presentation to the Council, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief had recalled the important role of States in the protection of the rights of religious minorities. Not only was this in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international commitments, but allowing all persons in a given country, irrespective of their religion or belief, to live freely, contributed to the richness and the advancement of society. In spite of this, in certain areas, some religious minorities faced potential exclusion from society. The international community needed to remind authorities of their obligations to guarantee the rights of all to freely practise the religion of their choice without any fear or punishment.

Some speakers highlighted increasing cases of horrific violations that occurred in a number of countries and war and conflict zones against civilians. Violence had become a daily occurrence, with wars, bloodshed and conflicts taking place in many countries. There was a need to move towards serious United Nations-led peace processes and transitional justice needed to be achieved. Terrorism was spreading and groups were becoming more active in human smuggling, in some cases supported by authorities. It was important that they were held accountable.

Council members were invited to impose targeted sanctions on officials who had been credibly accused of war crimes and crimes of genocide. Many speakers also expressed concern about attacks on activists and human rights defenders, who were especially vulnerable and faced torture and death in pre-trial detention. The Council was called on to assess the situation of human rights defenders and take necessary steps to improve it.

Some speakers told the Council that over-compliance of businesses and banks with unilateral sanctions led to wide-scoped violations of all economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to life in the sanctioned countries. Unilateral sanctions threatened human lives, and the United Nations treaty bodies were called on to document the deadly impacts of sanctions on targeted populations and offer recommendations on how to provide the victims with compensation and redress. Speakers called on the Special Procedures to report and discuss the harmful effects of unilateral sanctions in their annual reports and condemn these effects in joint statements.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

Report

The Council has before it the report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights inMyanmar, Thomas H. Andrews (A/HRC/52/66).

Presentation of Report

THOMAS H. ANDREWS, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said two years after the military staged an illegal coup in Myanmar, it continued to wage a campaign of violence and oppression to crush widespread public opposition. But while it had utterly failed to stop this opposition, it was succeeding in destroying the nation and assaulting the fundamental human rights of its people. Even as they pursued a heroic campaign to save their country, many people from Myanmar had come to believe that a distracted world had forgotten them. The defence of human rights and citizen opposition to the junta of Myanmar had never been stronger. Protests and civil disobedience continued. The junta’s control over territory and the people of Myanmar was eroding. Opposition groups were forging alliances and gaining strength.

The people of Myanmar were exposing the junta’s lie that a military dominated future for Myanmar was inevitable. The junta did not offer any viable path to stability or an end to the human rights crisis in Myanmar because it was the very cause of this crisis. Most Member States recognised this and had acknowledged that the junta lacked even a shred of constitutional or democratic legitimacy. The junta now seemed to be gambling that it could capture a degree of international recognition and a veneer of legitimacy by going through the motions of what they would try to describe as an “election”, and the Special Rapporteur urged the members of this Council to reject this outrageous claim.

While opposition remained strong, the junta’s escalating assaults on the people of Myanmar were having a devastating impact. Since the coup was launched, more than 3,000 civilians had been killed; more than 1.3 million civilians had been displaced; more than 16,000 political prisoners were behind bars; 17.6 million people were in dire need of humanitarian assistance; 58,000 civilian homes and structures had been burned to the ground or otherwise destroyed; and State institutions had been hollowed out and the rule of law had collapsed. The Special Rapporteur said he regularly received reports of massacres of civilians, including beheadings and dismemberment. Torture and sexual violence remained a constant threat. Unfortunately, Mr. Andrews had also received reports that opposition groups had committed human rights violations, which also must end.

The hopeful news was that many world leaders had raised their voice in support of the people of Myanmar. Several nations had backed up their words with action, including targeted economic sanctions and weapons bans. The discouraging news was that the international community was not doing nearly enough. A minority of Member States and non-State entities continued to provide the junta with weapons, materials to manufacture weapons, or revenue that was being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. This must stop. Those Member States that had taken actions, such as targeted sanctions or weapons bans, had failed to do so in a strategic and coordinated fashion. A working coalition of Member States should be formed to identify actions that would have the greatest impact and then coordinate their implementation. The international community could also do better in supporting the hundreds of thousands who had been forced to flee Myanmar. The people of Myanmar continued to demonstrate remarkable courage and tenacity in the defence of their country and the human rights of its people. They deserved solidarity and support.

Discussion

Some speakers said the Special Rapporteur’s report left no doubt about the situation in Myanmar, which was in freefall. The responsibility lay squarely on the Myanmar military, which, more than two years after its coup, inflicted continuous and increasing grave and systematic human rights violations on people across the country. Persons in vulnerable situations, and in particular persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities such as the Rohingya, continued to bear the brunt. Despite all this, the people in Myanmar continued their heroic resistance.

Speakers, among other things, called upon the military to immediately end all forms of violence and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, against the people of Myanmar, including children. The military junta was urged to end the systematic intimidation and reprisals against the people of Myanmar for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The speakers called on the junta to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained – including children, political leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, and others. All parties to the conflict were urged to ensure humanitarian access for all persons affected by the situation. The military junta was urged to immediately stop all human rights violations, to lift all martial law orders at once, and to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur as well as the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. Speakers also called for the effective implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Five-point Consensus, urging Myanmar to engage constructively with the international community.

Speakers expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, and called for unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance to all parts of the country without discrimination. Concern was expressed about reports that the military was increasing its use of airstrikes, thereby indiscriminately bombing villages and camps for internally displaced persons. Speakers condemned all attacks on civilians, including extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence, and other human rights violations, many of which could amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. Human rights abuses committed by Myanmar’s security forces were appalling and showed the depths to which the military would go to consolidate their control without regard for the welfare of the country. It was imperative that the international community take strong action to support the people of Myanmar, prevent further atrocities by the military, and advance a democratic Myanmar.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation within Myanmar and also for refugees that had fled Myanmar, particularly the Rohingya community, was also a matter of concern for many speakers, who urged continuing support for these parties, as well as for the countries hosting and organizations supporting them. There was deep concern for the staggering numbers of displaced populations, which could have a destabilising effect on the region as a whole, and the international community was called upon to continue supporting the people of Myanmar in meeting their urgent humanitarian needs, both inside and outside national borders.

A speaker pointed out that this was an internal affair of Myanmar, and that external pressure would only be counter-productive: the Human Rights Council and multilateral bodies should work to bridge differences between parties to the conflict to avoid creating further conflict. The Special Rapporteur misused his expert status, went beyond his mandate, and vilified legitimate trade between countries, going against the Code of Conduct of the Special Procedures, and should stop smearing and double standards, whilst working to stabilise the situation in Myanmar. Another speaker said the Special Rapporteur’s calls for the imposition of more unilateral coercive measures on Myanmar were rejected: the extreme politicisation of his mandate was reflected in the recommendations in his report, which were selective and based on uncorroborated information. They should be rejected, replaced with dialogue and understanding to encourage the political stability of the country. The Council should cease to use Special Procedure mandates against the countries of the Global South.

Among the questions raised by speakers were: what other ways out did the Special Rapporteur see for a human rights crisis of this scale besides the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Five-point Consensus; how could the international community at this time best support the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons; how could the international community support the Special Rapporteur’s call to impose a comprehensive arms embargo and refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court; what actions could the international community take to help prevent further atrocities by the military and promote accountability for human rights abuses; and how did the Special Rapporteur intend to implement the recommendations in his report, considering that sanctions could further exacerbate the already underfunded humanitarian response in Myanmar?

Concluding Remarks

THOMAS H. ANDREWS, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, in concluding remarks, said he did not have the time to answer each and every question, but he wished to say to all that his door was open, he welcomed input and questions, even criticism. He had been asked by many what the United Nations could do to address the crisis most effectively: the Security Council passed a strong resolution in December, but more should be done, and it should take action, including an arms embargo, targeted economic sanctions, and that included reference to the International Criminal Court. It was for this reason that he recommended that States that were prepared to take such steps did so in coordination, strategically.

Mr. Andrews said he had been criticised and questioned regarding some points, including the vilification of “normal weapons trade”. What he was vilifying was the murder of thousands of normal people, gross human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The reasons these crimes were occurring was because the junta had the means to do so, the weapons and technology: the countries of the world should end that trade that was contributing and enabling these gross human rights violations.

In his report, concerning those who had been forced to leave their homes and their country, he commended all nations who were hosting and caring for them, sheltering them, extending visas, facilitating resettlement, all of which were saving lives. However, more could be done and must be done. There was a grave humanitarian crisis inside and outside Myanmar, and the consequences of not funding these humanitarian response programmes were dire, which was unconscionable, a stain on the conscience of the international community: children and families must be saved. The millions inside Myanmar could not access humanitarian aid, but there were civil society organizations that could help them, although they lacked funding. He appealed to all to fund these critical, critical programmes that could save lives.

He appreciated concerns and questions on whether he was within his mandate: this ongoing crisis included extreme human rights violations that were forcing hundreds of thousands of people across the border, and he believed that their plight should not just be the focus of his attention, but the duty of the Human Rights Council. It was his duty to shine a light on their situation, and his goal was to provide the Council with the information to address the grave human rights violations that were being perpetrated by the junta, which was not only within his mandate, but must be brought to the attention of the international community. Finally, he urged the international community to not recognise any so-called “elections” that the junta would hold.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

Report

Also before the Council is the report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman (A/HRC/52/67).

Presentation of the Report

JAVAID REHMAN, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, said the report was being presented today amidst the most serious human rights violations in Iran over the past four decades. Mr. Rehman expressed admiration for millions of peace-loving Iranian women, men, girls and boys, who since September had challenged State authorities and joined peaceful protests in all the country’s provinces at the risk of their lives. The report thoroughly examined the circumstances of the death of Ms. Amini in the custody of Iranian morality police three days after her arrest for allegedly not complying with the country’s discriminatory dress code. Available evidence, including eyewitness testimonies and comments from reliable medical sources, established that Ms. Amini died on 16 September as a result of beatings by the State morality police. As per usual practice, State authorities denied any wrongdoing or misconduct on their part. None of the members of the morality police involved in the death of Ms. Amini had been held accountable. Mr. Rehman stressed that her death was not an isolated event but the latest in a long series of extreme violence against women and girls committed by the Iranian authorities.

A month before the death of Ms. Amini, President Raisi signed a decree ordering further repressive measures for “improper hijab”. The responsibility of top senior officials in instigating this violence could not be ignored. Protesters, including children, were beaten to death. At least 527 people, including 71 children, were killed, and hundreds of protesters severely injured. From the very first days of protests, State authorities had tried to shut down all avenues of freedom of expression, with mass arbitrary arrests and detentions. Recently authorities recognised that over 22,000 people had been arrested. Dozens of human rights defenders, at least 600 students, 45 lawyers, 576 civil society activists, 170 women human rights defenders, at least 62 journalists, artists, academics were arbitrarily arrested and detained. Mr. Rehman was outraged that despite appeals by his mandate and by the international community, Iranian authorities had thus far executed at least four persons associated with protests after arbitrary, summary, and sham trials marred by torture allegations. At least 17 protestors had already been sentenced to death and more than 100 currently faced charges that carried the death penalty.

Mr. Rehman remained deeply concerned at the continuing and exponentially increasing violations of human rights in the country. At least 500 persons, including two persons sentenced as children and 13 women, were executed in 2022, the highest number of executions in the past five years. Since January 2023, 143 persons had already been executed following grossly unfair trials. Mr. Rehman was equally alarmed at the continuing violence against women and girls, including coordinated chemical attacks throughout the country against schoolgirls which were repeatedly denied by the Government. The report to the Council in March 2022 and the current report firmly established the conclusion that there was an absence of accountability for serious human rights violations and for crimes under international law within the political, constitutional, and legal system of Iran.

The scale and gravity of the violations committed by Iranian authorities pointed to the possible commission of international crimes, notably the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual violence, and persecution. In the absence of accountability at the domestic level, Mr. Rehman strongly advocated for the establishment of an independent international fact-finding mission and looked towards fully cooperating with it to ensure justice and accountability for victims of human rights violations.

Statement by Country Concerned

Iran, speaking as a country concerned, said advocacy for human rights was increasingly mistaken by some States and mandate-holders for unwarranted and egotistic purposes, abusing the human rights mechanisms to target certain States; they were void of any value for the protection of human rights. The Council’s mandate was best fulfilled by dialogue and cooperation, in line with non-selectivity and impartiality. The Council should stand away from stereotyping, and transform so that human rights were no longer used as a tool by some countries. The Special Rapporteur’s report, which read like a tragic novel, had been used by some Western media as an attempt to portray the situation of human rights in Iran. The Special Rapporteur was totally in disregard of his mandate, in his lack of impartiality, using biased language, and violating the Code of Conduct.

The Iranian people had witnessed nearly three months of terrorist attacks and armed riots, but the Special Rapporteur did not even mention certain terrorist attacks, which left innocent people murdered, and did not mention armed attacks on people in certain provinces. He had ignored the release of prisoners, and was still asking for their release. Last year the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures had visited Iran, and had met with all governmental and non-governmental sectors, and her report explicitly touched upon the human rights violations of the Iranian people by these unilateral coercive measures – there was no mention of this in Mr. Rehman’s report.

Discussion

In the discussion, speakers among other things, commended the Special Rapporteur for his report. Since the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s so-called “Morality Police” six months ago, the world had witnessed a mass movement while Iran’s leadership had conducted a relentless and violent crackdown on the people of Iran. Many were profoundly worried by the violent response by the Iranian security forces to the peaceful protests that followed the killing of Mahsa Amini in police custody. Some speakers said it was important to renew the mandate while also supporting the work of the newly created Fact-Finding Mission, in the name of women, life, and freedom.

For months, the brave people of Iran, especially women and girls, had been facing extreme and unjustified violence and crackdown by the Iranian authorities for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Speakers strongly condemned the use of violence, harassment and detentions against peaceful protesters. Perpetrators of torture, killings and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, needed to be held accountable. Iran was urged to release all persons who were imprisoned or detained for exercising their right to peacefully protest. Speakers also raised concern at the reports of poisoning of thousands of children with gas in study centres.

Some speakers said they strongly opposed the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances, calling upon Iranian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on executions. The use of the death penalty against peaceful protesters who had been exercising their rights and fundamental freedoms was particularly deplorable. Speakers were appalled at the executions of four protestors by authorities with many more facing charges that may carry the death penalty.

Concern was also expressed about the press freedom and safety of journalists in Iran. Journalists and media workers were being threatened, harassed and detained. Families of Iranians working for foreign media outlets were being intimidated and persecuted. Iran was called upon to release all arbitrarily detained persons, including journalists, media workers and their family members, and to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and access to information, both online and offline.

Many speakers noted that it was regretful that the Special Rapporteur had been unable to visit the country. Iran was urged to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, including by granting full and unhindered access to the country. Now, more than ever, the international community needed to strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s work documenting the Iranian Government’s human rights abuses. His support for the Fact-Finding Mission’s separate, vital work of uncovering the violence perpetrated against protestors was also appreciated.

Some speakers expressed concern over the politically motivated and biased approach against Iran. Abusing the United Nations human rights mechanisms to single out and harass some nations that did not align with the hegemonic and geopolitical interests of the West had nothing to do with the genuine promotion and protection of human rights. This was a violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law. Speakers maintained that Iran was a strong supporter of multilateralism and had demonstrated commitment to human rights. Iran could handle its own domestic issues properly. It was hoped that the international community could respect the human rights development path independently chosen by the people of Iran. Of grave concern were the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Iran by other countries which had undermined the human rights of the Iranian people and gravely affected their rights.

Speakers asked how the Special Rapporteur had engaged with the newly formed Fact-Finding Mission? How could accountability be ensured when the authorities were not willing to cooperate? What cooperation could there be between the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom and expression?


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