Human rights

Iran. The UN Rights Council should create a fact-finding mission

(Beirut) – Member countries of the UN Human Rights Council should vote in favor of the creation of an independent fact-finding mission to investigate Iran’s deadly crackdown on widespread protests, first step toward accountability, Human Rights Watch said today. On November 24, 2022, the council will hold a special session on ongoing human rights abuses in Iran.

The protests began on September 16, 2022, following the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, detained by the “morals police”. As of November 22, human rights groups were investigating the deaths of 434 people including 60 children. Human Rights Watch has documented a pattern of Iranian authorities using excessive and unlawful lethal force against protesters in dozens of cases in several cities, including Sanandaj, Saghez, Mahabad, Rasht, Amol, Shiraz, Mashhad, and Zahedan.

“Iranian authorities appear determined to unleash brute force to crush the protests and have ignored calls to investigate the mountains of evidence of serious rights violations,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch. . “The UN Human Rights Council should shine a spotlight on the worsening repression and create an independent mechanism to investigate abuses by the Iranian government and hold those responsible to account.

Since mid-November, Iranian authorities have dramatically stepped up their crackdown on protests in several Kurdish towns, killing at least 39 people, according to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network. The group reported that from November 15-18, at least 25 Kurdish-Iranian residents were killed in Kurdish towns during three days of protests and strikes to commemorate the victims of the government’s bloody crackdown on the November protests. 2019.

Authorities have pressured the families of recent victims to bury their loved ones without a public gathering, but several funerals have become the scene of further protests. The group said at least 14 people were killed in Javanrood, Piranshahr, Sanandaj, Dehgan and Bookan from November 19 to 21, 2022. Radio Zamaneh said victims included Ghader Shakri, 16, killed in Piranshahr on November 19 , and Bahaedin Veisi. , 16, killed in Javanrood on 20 November.

A 32-year-old resident of Sanandaj told Human Rights Watch that security forces shot and killed Shaho Bahmani and Aram Rahimi on November 17 and forcibly removed their bodies from Kowsar Hospital in Sanandaj, and threatened the families of the two men outside the hospital.

Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, an MP from Mahabad, said Daily Shargh November 21 that between October 27 and 29, security forces killed seven protesters in the city of Mahabad. Mahmoudzadeh said security forces also damaged homes; a woman was killed in her home outside the protests. He said that since then another man had been killed, and three more were shot during his funeral, bringing the total death toll in Mahabad to 11 since October 27.

Videos circulating on social media show authorities deploying special forces and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps units armed with military assault rifles, vehicle-mounted DShK 12.7mm heavy machine guns and vehicles shielded.

On October 24, Masoud Setayeshi, the spokesman for the judiciary, told the media that authorities had begun to prosecute thousands of protesters. These trials, which are often publicized by state media, fall far short of international human rights standards, with courts routinely using coerced confessions and defendants not having access to a lawyer of their choice. As of November 21, trial courts have handed down death sentences to at least six protesters for corruption on earth and enmity against God. Acts cited by judicial authorities to bring charges against the defendants include “burning a government building” or “using a ‘cold weapon’ to ‘sow terror among the public’. Amnesty International said at least 21 people face charges in connection with the protests carrying the death penalty.

Since the protests began in September, authorities have arrested thousands of people at protests as well as hundreds of students, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers outside protests. Detainees are held in overcrowded conditions and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual harassment, Human Rights Watch said.

Two women who were arrested during the first week of protests in Sanandaj told Human Rights Watch that authorities brutally beat them, sexually harassed them, and threatened them during their arrest and later while they were held in a police station. One of these women said she suffered several serious injuries, including internal bleeding and broken bones.

Over the past four years, Iran has seen several waves of widespread protests. Authorities responded with excessive and unlawful lethal force and arbitrary arrests of thousands of protesters. In one of the most brutal crackdowns, in November 2019, security forces used unlawful force against massive protests across the country, killing at least 321 people. Iranian authorities have failed to conduct credible and transparent investigations into serious abuses committed by the security forces in recent years.

Iranian authorities have also used partial or full internet shutdowns during widespread protests to restrict access to information and ban the dissemination of information, especially videos of the protests, Human Rights Watch said. They have blocked several social media platforms, including the messaging app WhatsApp and Instagram, since September 21, 2022, by order of Iran’s National Security Council.

“On November 24, members of the UN Human Rights Council are expected to vote to establish an independent mechanism to document serious human rights abuses in Iran and move towards accountability. “said Sepehri Far.