The United Nations Council is investigating Iran’s bloody crackdown on peaceful protests
BERLIN (AP) – The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday voted to condemn the bloody crackdown on peaceful protests in Iran and to set up an independent fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of abuse, particularly against women and children.
A resolution tabled by Germany and Iceland was supported by 25 nations, including the United States and many European, Latin American, Asian and African nations. Six countries opposed the move – China, Pakistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Venezuela and Armenia – while 16 abstained.
The UN’s top human rights envoy had earlier called on the Iranian government to stop cracking down on protesters, but Tehran’s envoy to a special human rights council was defiant and unflinching about the country’s “deteriorating” legal record, branding the initiative “politically motivated.” “. .”
The protests were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini more than two months ago in the custody of the vice squad for violating a strictly enforced Islamic dress code.
Thursday’s meeting in Geneva is the latest international attempt to pressure Iran over its actions, which have already led to international sanctions and other measures.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was present, said the situation was “a test of courage”.
“The United Nations was established to protect the sovereignty of every state, but a regime that uses that power to violate the rights of its own people violates the values of our United Nations,” she said.
“On many occasions we have called on Iran to respect these rights to stop the crackdown on protesters, the bloodshed, arbitrary killings, mass arrests and the death penalty,” Baerbock said. “The only answer we got was more violence, more death.”
Khadijeh Karimi, Iran’s Deputy Vice President for Women’s and Family Affairs, has criticized the Western efforts as part of a “politically motivated move by Germany to distort the human rights situation in Iran”.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets that the Human Rights Council is once again being misused by some arrogant states to anger a sovereign UN member state that is fully committed to its commitment to promoting and protecting human rights,” Karimi said.
She trumpeted her government’s efforts to advance the role of women in the workplace and in higher education, and accused Western countries of turning a blind eye to rights abuses in places like Yemen, the Palestinian territories, or against indigenous peoples in Canada – what the Canadian government has acknowledged.
Karimi acknowledged Amini’s “unfortunate death” and said “necessary measures” were taken afterwards, including the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry. She accused Western countries of fomenting unrest and violence by interfering in Iran’s internal affairs.
UN human rights chief Volker Türk expressed concern that the Iranian government had not listened to the world community.
“The people of Iran, from all walks of life, ethnicities and ages, are demanding change. These protests are rooted in long-standing denials of freedoms, legal and structural inequalities, lack of access to information and internet shutdowns,” he said.
“I call on the authorities to immediately stop the use of violence and harassment against peaceful protesters and to release all those arrested for peaceful protests and, most importantly, to impose a moratorium on the death penalty,” he added.
The proposal by Germany and Iceland was aimed at stepping up years of scrutiny by the 47-member Council of State’s “special rapporteur” on Iran, whose efforts have been shunned by Islamic Republic leaders. Western diplomats say Tehran has made a quiet push in Geneva and beyond to try to avoid further scrutiny by the new Council resolution that will be considered on Thursday.
The council will now deploy a “fact-finding mission” to investigate rights violations “particularly in relation to women and children” in connection with the September 16 protests. He also demands that Tehran cooperate with the special rapporteur, such as by granting access to areas inside Iranian sovereignty, including places of detention.
The team is expected to report to the council in mid-2023.
Amini remains a powerful symbol in protests that pose one of the biggest challenges facing the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement protests drew millions into the streets.
At least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 people arrested, according to human rights activists in Iran, a group that monitors the unrest.
Activists said Iranian security forces fired heavy gunfire at protesters in a western Kurdish town on Monday, killing at least five in an anti-government protest at the funeral of two people killed the previous day.