HRA urges Tippmann Sports LLC to condemn the Iran government’s use of its equipment in the repression of protests

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) published an open letter addressed to Tippmann Sports Company, asking this company to condemn the Iranian government’s use of equipment manufactured by this company in repressing Iranian protests. According to the reports and documents received by HRA, the security forces in Iran including FARAJA have widely used paintball guns made by this company in confronting protesters.

ATTN: Tippmann Sports
4230 Lake Ave
Fort Wayne, IN 46815
United States

Human Rights Activists (HRA), a U.S. based non-governmental organization that monitors and reports on human rights violations inside Iran. HRA writes to inform Tippmann Sports LLC that based on the information we have received and other existing evidence, its manufactured paintball equipment (specifically the Model 98 Paintball Gun) has been widely used by the security forces in the repression of unarmed protestors in Iran.

In the last month, the Iranian people have come to the streets to demand their human and democratic rights. In return, the security forces of the Islamic Republic have violently suppressed unarmed protestors. Hundreds have been killed, many more injured, and tens of thousands have been arbitrarily arrested. HRA has reported serious violations of human rights by the security forces of the Islamic Republic, including by FARAJA special units, against unarmed protestors. The acts documented by HRA and others include the killing, including by indiscriminate shooting, injuring, and arbitrary arrest of civilians, including minors.

Iran is under severe economic sanctions by the United States and other democracy-supporting countries. While we are not aware, nor do we claim any malice on the part of Tippmann Sports LLC, and further, have found no evidence that supports claims that the Iranian government has obtained this weapon directly from the manufacturer, it saddens us to see that your equipment, which is designed for games and sports, has been deployed in such a fashion.

HRA urges Tippmann Sports LLC to publicly and strongly condemn the Iranian government’s use of its equipment in the repression of protests, and with this position, stand by the people who are fighting for democracy and human rights in their country. In addition, we request that it considers implementing measures in its future contractual sales that would prevent the sale of this equipment to repressive regimes, namely the Islamic Republic.

 

Keyvan Rafiee
Director
Human Rights Activists (in Iran)

Ahead of International Workers’ Day Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Activists say Iran Labor Protests Continue to Surge

Iran: Labor Protests Surge

Unpaid Wages, Unsafe Work Conditions, Arbitrary Arrests, Prosecutions

(Beirut) – Iranian workers are facing mounting economic and political challenges to realizing their labor rights, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Activists (HRA), an Iranian human rights documentation group, said today, ahead of International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2022.

Over the past four years, amid a deterioration of Iran’s economic conditions, labor protests have increased in the country, HRA found in its new Labor Rights Report. Iranian authorities have attempted to repress and silence activists in labor organizations and trade unions who have led protests against low wages and declining living standards. Moreover, a significant number of reported work-related safety incidents and cases of unpaid wages demonstrate perilous working conditions and a further erosion of labor protections in recent years.

“Iranian labor activists have been at the forefront of the struggle for the rights to free association and assembly in Iran, and they have paid heavy price from government repression,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Iranian authorities should recognize the rights of labor unions and engage in meaningful efforts to address the country’s mounting economic problems.”

Iranian authorities have responded to an increase in labor protests and related actions with arrests and prosecutions of labor rights activists. Over the past 12 months, at least 69 workers have been arrested, and dozens more have been summoned for interrogations, according to HRA. Since March, the authorities have also increased harassment and summonses for interrogation of the active members of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association (ITTA), which has been leading nationwide protests for fair wages for the past three years.

The authorities have detained Ismael Abdi, the secretary of ITTA, for the past five years. Amirabbas Azarm, Mohammad Irannejad, Nasrollah Amirlou, Morteza Seydi, Haleh Safarzadeh, Alireza Saghafi, Arash Johari, Esmail Gerami, and Alieh Eghdamdoost are among the labor rights activists who are currently imprisoned in Iran.

HRA documented that between May 2021 and May 2022, at least 10,707 workers were injured in work-related incidents. The statistics indicate that during this period at least 811 workers died in work-related incidents, with officials announcing the deaths of 438 people and local groups announcing an additional 373. While this number shows a significant decrease from 1,790 people who died due to work-related incidents in previous year, the official statistic indicates that at least 1,200 people have died of work-related injuries annually over the past 12 years.

According to Iran’s legal medicine organization data, between 2008 and 2018, 15,997 people lost their lives in work-related incidents. This office reported that 42 percent of workers who died fell from unsecured building ledges. According to Akbar Shoukat, the head of official association of labor unions, construction workers constitute 50 percent of those injured on the job. The Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported that a third of those working as construction workers are still waiting for insurance and social security coverage.

According to HRA’s compiled data, at least 45,462 workers are owed delayed wages, an increased from 34,318 in previous year. The public sector is responsible for 76 percent of these delayed wages, especially Iranian municipalities, while the private sector employers owe 14 percent and Iran’s energy sector owes 7 percent.

On March 16, Iran’s High Council of Labor, consisting of representatives of workers, employers, and the Ministry of Labor, set the base minimum monthly wage for the period between March 2022 and March 2023 at 5.679 million tomans (about US$203), a 57 percent increase from the previous year to adjust for inflation.

Under article 41 of Iran’s labor law, the High Council of Labor should determine the minimum wage based on Iran’s Central Bank inflation calculation and adjust to provide for the average family size as determined by the statistical center. On February 5, the High Council determined the minimum monthly costs for a family of 3.3 to be 8.900 million tomans (about $318), higher than the set minimum wage.

The unemployment rate in Iran is about 9 percent, with women’s unemployment almost twice as high as for men, according to official statistics. Data also shows that during the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 177,000 women have left the job market.

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in organized labor protests about declining living standards, delayed wages, and decreased insurance support. Some of these protests have been led by Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company workers, the ITTA railway workers, and retirees relying on social security pensions.

Over the past 12 months, the HRA has documented 780 strikes by labor organizations and trade unions. Since 2018, there have been at least 4,042 protests and 1,169 strikes by labor and trade associations.

In 1996, Iran’s administrative court of justice ruled that employers can use temporary contracts for what are classified as jobs of a “continuous nature.” Since then, labor union representatives have said that there has been a proliferation of temporary contracts that make workers ineligible for the protections in the country’s labor law. On February 2, 2021, Ahmadreza Moini, a representative of the high Islamic council of labor, told ISNA that more than 97 percent of workers are employed on temporary contracts.

Iran’s economy has been experiencing a contraction in various sectors since 2018. Soaring inflation of around 40 percent, according to official statics, has been affecting families’ standard of living across the country. According to the information published by the Statistical Center of Iran in January, the price of items categorized as food, beverages, and tobacco in a family’s purchasing basket has increased by 42.5 percent from the previous year.

Iran’s labor law does not recognize the right to create labor unions independent of government-sanctioned groups such as the Islamic Labor Council. Nonetheless, workers have formed large, independent unions, including the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Syndicate, and the Iran Free Workers’ Union.

Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights protect the right to form and join labor unions. Iran is a party to both of these treaties. Iran is also a member of International Labour Organization (ILO) but has not ratified ILO Conventions No. 87 (Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organize) and No. 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining).

“Iran’s ongoing and widespread rights violations against workers and labor rights activists are of grave concern,” said Skylar Thompson, senior advocacy coordinator at HRA. “The sheer number of events documented by HRA over the past several years underlines the urgency for reform in light of a serious lack of sufficient and adequate protections for workers’ rights.”

To read Human Rights Activists’ Labor Rights Report please visit:

https://www.en-hrana.org/a-statistical-look-at-the-situation-of-iranian-workers-over-the-past-year

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/en/middle-eastn-africa/iran
For more information, please contact:

 

Human Rights Watch
In New York City, Michael Page (English): +1-646-630-5062 (WhatsApp); or [email protected]. Twitter: @MichaelARPage
In Washington, DC, Tara Sepehri Far (English, Farsi): +1-617-893-0375 (mobile); or [email protected]. Twitter: @sepehrifar

 Human Rights Activists:

In Washington DC, Skylar Thompson (English): +13143087831(mobile); or [email protected]. Twitter: @SkyylarThompson

37 Human Rights Organizations Ask for the Renewal of the Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has joined other human rights organizations to urge countries for supporting the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human rights in Iran.

Below is the full text of the letter, and the list of signatories:

TO: Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organisations, call on your country to support the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran at the 49th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). We also urge your government to use this opportunity to voice concern at the situation of human rights in Iran, and to answer the Special Rapporteur’s appeal for “the international community to call for accountability with respect to long-standing emblematic events that have been met with persistent impunity” at this session.

The renewal of this mandate is essential in light of the persistence of a pattern of serious human rights violations and international crimes committed by Iranian authorities, as extensively documented by civil society monitors and by the Special Rapporteur.

At this session, the Council is yet again being presented with evidence of gross violations of the right to life, including through the use of the death penalty against child offenders in violation of the absolute prohibition on the use of the death penalty against persons who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime and through its use for offences not meeting the threshold of “most serious crimes” under international law. Throughout the past year, authorities executed men and women sentenced to death in grossly unfair trials managed by a deeply flawed judicial system that according to the Special Rapporteur “acts as a repressive organ instead of an independent body towards which individuals seek recourse”.

 

The Council is also being presented with evidence of the continued unlawful use of lethal force by law enforcement and other state agents against protesters, bystanders and border couriers, leading to scores of killings and hundreds of serious injuries including blinding. Since the renewal of the mandate last year, there have been multiple suspicious deaths in custody following credible allegations of torture and denial of health care. Consistent with entrenched patterns of impunity, none of these violations have been investigated or punished.

In the past year, human rights defenders, including labour rights defenders, bereaved relatives of those killed by security forces seeking justice, as well as lawyers and journalists have continued to be judicially harassed and arbitrarily detained. Dual and foreign nationals remained arbitrarily detained “as a means to put pressure on foreign Governments.” Iranian authorities also banned additional media outlets and social media platforms and imposed local Internet shutdowns during protests, further curtailing the right to freedom of expression.

 

As highlighted in the report of the Special Rapporteur, discrimination in law and practice remains pervasive and perpetuates violence against women and girls; persons belonging to ethnic or linguistic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen; persons belonging to religious or belief minorities, including Baha’is, Christian converts, the Yarsan (Ahl-e Haq), Sunni Muslims, atheist beliefs and non -believers , as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

 

These long-standing patters of human rights violations have been facilitated by what the Special Rapporteur describes as “institutional impunity” due to “the absence of a system for accountability for violations of human rights“, within a system where “obtaining accountability for human rights violations becomes arbitrary at best and impossible at worst.”

In such a context, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran is more than ever critical to monitor, document and report to this Council on steps taken by Iran to uphold its human rights obligations or of its failure to take such measures. It is essential to engage with Iranian authorities on issues of concern, and to make potentially life-saving urgent appeals and other communications.

The mandate draws the attention of this Council to the voices of survivors, victims and their families, and its expert findings and recommendations steer and inform the efforts of UN bodies and member states to encourage Iran’s authorities to undertake long overdue human rights reforms and hold them to account for human rights violations.

For these reasons, we urge your government to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran at this session and to press Iran to give the expert unfettered access to the country. We also call on your government to voice concern at the dire situation of human rights in Iran, and to send a strong message to the Iranian authorities that the cycle of impunity must be broken.

 

Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran (ABC)

The Advocates for Human Rights

African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)

All Human Rights for All in Iran

Amnesty International

Arseh Sevom

Article 18

ARTICLE 19

Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)

Balochistan Human Rights Group

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Centre for Supporters of Human Rights

Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)

Freedom from Torture

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA)

Human Rights Watch

Impact Iran

International Commission of Jurists

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Iran Human Rights

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

Justice for Iran

Kurdistan Human Rights Association – Geneva (KMMK-G)

Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN)

Minority Rights Group International

OutRight Action International

Siamak Pourzand Foundation (SPF)

United for Iran

World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

6Rang – Iranian Lesbian & Transgender Network

 

55 Human Rights Groups Sound Alarm Against Draconian Internet Bill

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has joined other human rights and civil society organizations to raise a concern about the ratification of a controversial bill known as the “Regulatory System for Cyberspace Services Bill.” The organizations urged Iran’s Parliament to rescind the bill which would restrict the Iranian people’s access to the global Internet.
Below is the full text of the letter, and the list of signatories:

Iran: Human rights groups sound alarm against draconian Internet Bill

We, the undersigned human rights and civil society organizations, are alarmed by Iranian parliament’s move to ratify the general outlines of the draconian “Regulatory System for Cyberspace Services Bill,” previously known as the “User Protection Bill” and referred to hereafter as “the Bill.” If passed, the Bill will violate an array of human rights of people in Iran, including the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy. We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately withdraw the Bill in its entirety. We further call on the international community, along with states engaged in dialogue with Iranian authorities, to ensure that the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran is prioritized, including by urging Iran’s parliament to rescind the Bill as a matter of urgency.

While UN Human Rights Council member states will soon vote on whether to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran, the Iranian parliament is attempting to further curtail the rights of people inside Iran with passage of this Bill. If implemented, this will carry grave risks of increased and even complete communication blackouts in Iran, and it is likely to be used as a tool to conceal serious human rights violations.

While we welcome the Iranian parliament presidium’s decision to annul the 22 February 2022 ratification attempt by the special parliamentary committee, we are still alarmed at the ratification attempt following a vote of only 18 parliamentarians. The threat of this Bill passing looms. In July 2021, parliament voted to allow the Bill to pass under Article 85 of the Iranian constitution. This   would mean a small 24-person committee (with a majority vote of 18 to pass) within parliament could ratify the Bill for an experimental period of between three and five years, circumventing typical parliamentary procedures. This unusual Article 85 process, and the moves to ratify it on 22 February, demonstrate that the authorities remain adamant to take forward this regressive legislation despite the domestic and international outcry. We are still concerned the Bill’s enforcement is at the whim of a small committee attempting to circumvent the rights of an entire country.

The Bill Introduces Alarming Changes to Internet Controls

The undersigned civil society groups are gravely concerned that the passage of the Bill will result in even further reductions in the availability of international Internet bandwidth in Iran and violate the right to privacy and access to a secure and open Internet. Particularly alarming are provisions of the Bill that place Iran’s Internet infrastructure and Internet gateways under the control of the country’s armed forces and security agencies. In the latest draft of the Bill, the Secure Gateway Taskforce will control international gateways that connect Iran to the Internet. This Taskforce, newly created  as part of the Bill’s specifications, in turn will be under the authority of National Centre of Cyberspace (NCC), which is under the direct oversight of the Supreme Leader. The Secure Gateway Taskforce is to be composed of representatives from the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC Intelligence Organization), the Ministry of Intelligence, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the Passive Defense Organization, the Police Force, and the office of Prosecutor General.

Delegating such control over Internet and communications access to entities that repeatedly commit serious human rights violations with complete impunity will have chilling effects on the right to freedom of expression in Iran. As documented by human rights organizations, Iran’s security forces, including the Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence, perpetrated gross violations of human rights and crimes under international law, including the unlawful use of lethal force, mass arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and torture and other ill-treatment to crush the nationwide protests in 2017, 2018, and November 2019. Alarmingly, passage of the Bill will make Internet shutdowns and online censorship even easier and less transparent. We note that Internet shutdowns not only constitute violations of human rights, such as the right to access information and freedom of expression, but also act as a tool to facilitate the commission and concealment of other gross violations. Indeed, Iran’s deadly repression of nationwide protests in November 2019 took place amid the darkness of a week-long near total Internet shutdown.

Disconnecting Foreign Social Media and Internet Services

In the latest draft of the Bill, all tech companies offering services inside Iran are required to introduce representatives in the country, collaborate with the Islamic Republic of Iran in surveillance and censorship efforts, and pay taxes. They are also required to store “big data and critical information inside Iran” belonging to users inside the country and can face legal penalties if they do not. Access to services provided by companies that do not comply will be throttled and the Committee Charged with Determining Offensive Content (CCDOC) can eventually decide to outright ban them from operating in Iran. Compliance by companies with such requirements will carry severe repercussions for all Internet users in Iran. The Bill therefore places platforms in a position to choose between throttling or complying with regulations that undermine the right to privacy and freedom of expression. Such requirements are meant to further consolidate the National Information Network (NIN), a domestic Internet infrastructure hosted inside Iran. This will place information and communications under the monitoring and censorship of the authorities and may result in Iran’s eventual disconnection from the global Internet. Either foreign services comply and become partially integrated into the national network (at least in terms of data storage) or they refuse, and users will be forced to seek out their alternatives on the NIN. The Bill also introduces new criminal measures against those failing to comply with its terms. Proxy or Virtual Private Network (VPN) service development, reproduction or distribution can result in two years’ imprisonment under Article 20 of the proposed Bill. Article 21 also stipulates Internet Service Providers who allow unlicensed foreign services to access the data of users inside Iran can face up to ten years’ imprisonment.

Domestic and International Backlash Against the Bill

Since the advancement of the Bill, Internet users, along with businesses and guilds representing them, as well as human rights defenders, digital rights activists, international human rights organizations and United Nations experts have raised grave concerns. In October 2021, four UN Special Rapporteurs sent a Communication to the Iranian authorities (OL IRN 29/2021) expressing concerns about the Bill and the lack of transparency that permeated its processing within the parliament and calling for it to be withdrawn. Criticisms of the Bill and parliament’s decisions to proceed with the legislation without any regard for due process have not been limited to civil society actors. As of 23 February 2022, 150 Iranian parliamentarians had signed a letter to parliament’s board of presidents requesting the Bill to be considered and voted on in a general session of parliament rather than in a special committee.

Members of the international community, including the states engaged in bilateral and multilateral negotiations and dialogues with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Human Rights Council member states must press Iran to uphold its human rights obligations. Without urgent action, people in Iran will be at even graver risk of isolation and human rights violations.

Sign On Here:

  1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran
  2. Access Now
  3. Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)
  4. All Human Rights for All in Iran
  5. Amnesty International
  6. Arc Association for the Defence of Human Rights of Azerbaijanis of Iran – ArcDH
  7. Article18
  8. ARTICLE19
  9. Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)
  10. Azerbaijan Internet Watch
  11. Center for Democracy & Technology
  12. Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI)
  13. Commission on Global Feminisms and Queer Politics, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES)
  14. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  15. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
  16. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  17. Freedom Forum
  18. Front Line Defenders
  19. Global Voices
  20. Human Rights Activists (in Iran) (HRA)
  21. Human Rights Consulting Group, Kazakhstan
  22. Human Rights Watch
  23. Ideas Beyond Borders
  24. IFEX
  25. Impact Iran
  26. Internet Protection Society, Russia
  27. INSM Network
  28. Iran Human Rights
  29. Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
  30. Justice for Iran
  31. Kijiji Yeetu
  32. Kurdistan Human Rights Association -Geneva (KMMK-G)
  33. Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN)
  34. Kurdpa Human Rights Organization
  35. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
  36. Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
  37. Miaan Group
  38. Mnemonic
  39. Open Net
  40. OutRight Action International
  41. PEN America
  42. Queer Kadeh
  43. Ranking Digital Rights
  44. RosKomSvoboda
  45. Sassoufit collective
  46. Siamak Pourzand Foundation (SPF)
  47. SMEX
  48. SOAP
  49. Spectrum
  50. Wikimédia France
  51. WITNESS (witness.org)
  52. Ubunteam
  53. United for Iran
  54. Xnet
  55. 6Rang (Iranian Lesbian and Transgender network)

 

#KeepItOn Coalition Open Letter Urges Authorities in Iran to Maintain Open Internet Access Throughout Presidential Election

On the eve of a much-anticipated presidential election, the #KeepItOn Coalition has a message for Iran’s authorities.

In their open letter, of which Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) is one of the 42 signatory organizations, the coalition emphasizes that freedom of expression online is all the more crucial in states that allow for few physical alternatives.

“The internet, social media platforms, and messaging apps play a critical role in providing a space for expression, deliberation, dissent, protest, and activism in any society, especially in contexts like Iran, where the public sphere is severely controlled and policed, including through criminalization of protected rights such as the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Censorship is by no means a new practice of the Islamic Regime. In the last few months alone, Iranian journalists and activists have reportedly received numerous threats from security forces against criticism of controversial presidential candidate and head of judiciary Ebrahim Raisi. Moreover, several editors and reporters have been summoned by IRGC agents and cyber police for questioning.

The #KeepItOn coalition, comprised of over 258 advocacy and human rights organizations working to end internet censorship, urges the President and Supreme Leader to:

 

1. Refrain from arbitrarily blocking access to social media platforms, such as Instagram and Clubhouse, and messaging apps, and publicly assure the people of Iran that the internet will remain open, accessible, inclusive, and secure across Iran throughout the election and thereafter
2. Stop blocking and tampering with VPN connections
3. Refrain from impeding access to high-quality, secure, and unrestricted internet for everyone throughout the election period and thereafter
4. Order internet service providers operating int he country to inform internet users of any potential disruptions, and to take all reasonable steps to fix any unidentified disruptions likely to impact the quality of service they receive.

Read the full open letter.

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Now is definitely not the time to stop reading!

37 rights group calls on UN General Assembly to ratify Iran rights resolution

HRANA – Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has joined 36 other rights group in calling on UN member states to ratify the recently adopted resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran at a plenary session of the General Assembly later this month.

The resolution, which was passed by the Assembly on 18 November, expresses “serious concerns” about the situation of human rights in Iran, including “severe limitations” and “increasing restrictions” on religious freedom.

In a joint letter sent out on Dec 7th, the 37 signatories say the resolution “provides an opportunity for the General Assembly to take stock of the human rights situation in Iran”

Below is the full text of the letter, and list of signatories:

TO: All Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York

Your Excellencies,

The undersigned national, regional and international civil society organizations urge your government to support resolution A/C.3/75/L.31/Rev.1 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by the General Assembly’s Third Committee, when it comes for adoption by its plenary later this month.

This resolution provides an opportunity for the General Assembly to take stock of the human rights situation in Iran, including the violent repression of nationwide protests in November 2019. It is also an opportunity for the community of states to express concern about ongoing crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian authorities and to help put an end to the systematic impunity that prevails in the country.

The resolution is presented to the General Assembly a year after the Iranian authorities perpetrated what the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran described as an “unprecedented violent crackdown against protesters”. In response to nationwide protests in November 2019, the Iranian authorities waged a campaign of mass repression, including through the deliberate use of unwarranted lethal force to kill hundreds of men, women, and children. The vast majority of protesters and bystanders killed were shot by security forces in the head or torso, indicating intent to kill and exposing utter disregard for the right to life and international norms on the use of force and firearms. Security forces also subjected thousands of men, women, and children to arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture and other ill-treatment. These human rights violations took place under the cover of the authorities’ near total shutdown of the internet, preventing people inside Iran from sharing images and videos of the crackdown with the rest of the world. Hundreds of people, including human rights defenders, have since been sentenced to prison terms and flogging, and several to the death penalty, in unfair trials stemming from the protests. Journalists have been put in jail in relation to their coverage of the protests.

To date, no public official has been investigated for ordering, committing, or acquiescing to these serious human rights violations. The Iranian authorities have ignored multiple calls for transparency and accountability from UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Secretary-General.

The draft resolution expresses concern about patterns of violations of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights detailed in the reports presented at this session by the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. These include the widespread use of the death penalty, including against individuals who were children at the time of the crime, in violation of Iran’s obligations under international law. Iranian law retains the death penalty for offences that do not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes under international law, including some drug-related offences, as well as for acts protected under international human rights law, such as some consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and for vaguely worded offences such as “enmity against god” (moharebeh). In the past year, a disproportionate number of executions have been carried out against members of Iran’s Kurdish minority while several protesters and a journalist have been sentenced to death, giving rise to concerns that the death penalty is being increasingly used as a weapon of political repression against protesters, dissidents and members of minority groups.

Arbitrary restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly are also highlighted in the draft resolution. Authorities have continued to arbitrarily detain hundreds of people for peacefully exercising their rights, including journalists and media workers, political dissidents, writers, and human rights defenders. Conditions in many prisons and detention facilities remain cruel and inhuman and have deteriorated amidst the authorities’ failure to contain the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and protect the health of those deprived of their liberty. Many of those detained for peacefully exercising their human rights have been excluded from temporary furloughs and pardons.

The draft resolution urges the Iranian authorities to eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination. The undersigned organizations are also deeply concerned about ongoing discrimination and violence based on sex, political opinion, religious belief, ethnicity, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation entrenched in Iranian laws or in policies and state practices. Ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds, and Turkmen continue to face discrimination, impeding their access to education, employment, adequate housing, and political office. Freedom of religion or belief is systematically violated in law and practice and religious minorities including Baha’is, Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Yaresan (Ahl-e Haq), and converts from Shi’a Islam to Sunni Islam or Christianity continue to face systematic discrimination. Women continue to face entrenched discrimination, enshrined in law, including in relation to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and employment. The authorities’ failure to criminalize gender-based violence, including so-called ‘honor killings’ and early and forced marriages, has led to impunity for men who murder or otherwise harm their female relatives. Women and girls continue to suffer daily harassment and violent attacks stemming from discriminatory compulsory veiling laws and several women’s rights defenders who campaigned against such laws remain arbitrarily detained.

The undersigned organizations echo concerns in the draft resolution about enforced disappearance and widespread and systematic torture and other ill-treatment, including through the denial of medical care; the failure to respect fair trial guarantees, including the systematic denial of access to a lawyer at the investigation stage to individuals facing national security charges; the use of forced “confessions” obtained under torture and other ill-treatment as evidence by courts to form the basis of convictions; and deaths in custody. We also express concern about ongoing cases of enforced disappearance through the systematic concealment of the fate and whereabouts of several thousand political dissidents forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret in 1988 and the destruction of unmarked mass grave sites believed to contain their remains.

The Iranian authorities have consistently failed to take steps to address these human rights concerns, despite repeated calls including from UN treaty bodies, special procedures, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council, and the General Assembly.

Ignoring repeated calls for transparency, the authorities in Iran have also refused to submit to the scrutiny of independent monitors such as the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Instead, they have carried out reprisals against individuals for communicating with UN human rights bodies and intimidated and harassed victims’ families seeking truth and justice for their loved ones killed during the November 2019 protests, in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane by the Revolutionary Guards in January 2020, and during the 1988 prison massacres.

With Iran’s presidential election scheduled to take place in 2021, the undersigned organizations are seriously concerned that ongoing impunity for the crimes and human rights violations committed by the Iranian authorities will embolden them to continue the pattern of severe repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as unlawful use of force against protesters, documented over the past year, especially if they are not held to account by the community of states.

For these reasons, the international community must raise the alarm and condemn these persistent and gross violations of human rights in Iran, including by voting in favor of draft resolution A/C.3/75/L.31/Rev.1. With this vote, your government will send a strong message to the Iranian authorities that the repetition of past patterns of grave violations will not be tolerated, that impunity must end, and that the international community is expecting without delay the adoption of long-overdue human rights reforms and tangible improvements to the human rights situation in the country.

➡️ Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran (ABC)

➡️ The Advocates for Human Rights

➡️ All Human Rights for All in Iran

➡️ Amnesty International

➡️ Arseh Sevom

➡️ Article 18

➡️ ARTICLE 19

➡️ Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)

➡️ Balochistan Human Rights Group

➡️ Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

➡️ Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights

➡️ Center for Human Rights in Iran

➡️ Centre for Supporters of Human Rights

➡️ CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

➡️ Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

➡️ Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)

➡️ Freedom from Torture

➡️ Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI)

➡️ Human Rights Watch

➡️ Impact Iran

➡️ International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

➡️ International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World)

➡️ International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)

➡️ International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

➡️ Iran Human Rights

➡️ Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

➡️ Justice for Iran

➡️ Kurdistan Human Rights-Geneva (KMMK-G)

➡️ Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN)

➡️ Minority Rights Group International

➡️ OutRight Action International

➡️ Siamak Pourzand Foundation

➡️ Small Media Foundation

➡️ United for Iran

➡️ World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

➡️ World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

➡️ 6Rang, Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network

 

39 Human Rights Organizations called on the UNHRC to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran

Human Rights Activists in Iran and 38 other NGOs have called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. The joint letter has been sent to all Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva, ahead of the vote scheduled for the end of this week.

Read the full text below:

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organizations, urge your government to support resolution A/HRC/43/L.8 on human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran renewing the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council.

The renewal of this mandate is essential in light of the persistence of widespread and systematic violations of a large array of human rights in the country, many of which stem directly from Iran’s restrictive laws, state policies and practices. It is further warranted by Iran’s ongoing failure to avail itself of the scrutiny of human rights monitors, to uphold the right of people in Iran to truth, justice and reparation, and to hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account.

Iran’s violent repression of nationwide popular protests that erupted in November 2019 has illustrated yet again this failure, with deeply tragic consequences for thousands of victims and their families. The intentional use of lethal force by security forces between 15 and 18 November 2019 resulted in the unlawful killing of hundreds of protesters and bystanders, including children, who posed no imminent threat to life or serious injury. Amnesty International has documented the deaths of 304 men, women and children but has noted that it believes the death toll to be higher. The scale of lethal force and other unnecessary or excessive force used against unarmed protesters is a deeply alarming escalation of past abusive practices of Iran’s security and intelligence forces, who have previously unlawfully killed and injured protesters and other dissidents with impunity.

This severe crackdown has also involved the arrest of around 7,000 people, according to a spokesperson for Iran’s parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, as well as widespread patterns of enforced disappearances, incommunicado detentions, and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Iranian officials called for charges that carry the death penalty against protest “leaders”, creating an urgent concern for the fate of those arrested; three men have already been convicted of “enmity against God” (moharebeh) and sentenced to death in a grossly unfair trial in connection with acts of arson that took place during the November 2019 protests. Hundreds more have been convicted of vague and broad national security-related charges, often stemming from the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and sentenced up to 10 years in prison as well as, in some cases, flogging. Courts relied on torture-tainted “confessions” as evidence on which they based their verdicts, even when retracted by defendants.

The repression took place under the cover of a near total shutdown of the global Internet in Iran, and ongoing severe restrictions on the free flow of information, and free expression, both online and off-line. The call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for transparency and for Iran to undertake “prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all violations that have taken place” has remained unanswered. The Iranian authorities have been carrying out systematic reprisals against the families of the victims to enforce silence and perpetuate impunity. Disturbingly, top officials in the country have been making statements that, in fact, praise the security and intelligence forces for swiftly ending the unrest, and celebrate the crackdown as a “crushing victory” against what they have described as “a vast and very dangerous conspiracy plotted by the enemy”.

This recent and ongoing human rights crisis is taking place against the backdrop of a long-term systemic refusal of the Iranian authorities to uphold the rights of people in Iran to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Individuals expressing dissenting opinions, human rights defenders, trade union activists, journalists and media workers have been routinely harassed and under attack throughout 2019 and in 2020. The Iranian authorities also intensified their crackdown against women’s rights defenders campaigning against discriminatory forced veiling laws, sentencing some to harsh prison terms. Similarly, labour rights activists have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated and unjustly sentenced to lengthy prison terms for activities related to their peaceful activism. Sixteen activists who had signed or supported an open letter calling for the resignation of the Supreme Leader and demanding fundamental changes to the country’s political system were arrested in August 2019 and are facing long-term imprisonment.

Journalists and media workers faced intimidation, harassment, summons, interrogations, and arrests, sometimes leading to prison sentences, with a surge in the aftermath of the November 2019 protests, and in the lead-up to the February 2020 Parliamentary elections, as documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Even journalists based outside Iran faced harassment and threats. Obstruction to the work of journalists and online media users seeking and publishing information in relation to the downing of the Ukrainian Airlines plane in January 2020 and to the spread of Covid-19 in Iran has also been reported. In this context, transparency and openness to independent journalism and to human rights monitoring are more than ever necessary.

After a trial lacking minimum standards of due process, a Revolutionary court also convicted and sentenced eight conservationists detained since January 2018 to prison terms ranging from six to 10 years for “cooperating with the hostile states against the Islamic Republic” in relation to spying for the United States, relying almost entirely on “confessions”, allegedly made under torture and later retracted, as the main evidence against them.

As abundantly documented in the reports of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur, discrimination in law and practice remains pervasive and a daily reality for women and girls, for persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities, including non-recognized religious minorities, as well as for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. In 2019, parliament approved a bill amending the Civil Code to allow Iranian women married to non-Iranian men to pass on the Iranian nationality to their children upon request and following a security screening of the children; the new law came into force after the Guardian Council ratified it in October 2019. Parliament, however, failed to pass a long-standing bill on violence against women. Ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen have continued to face entrenched discrimination, which curtails their access to education, work, health, housing and elected or appointed political office, and violations of their cultural, civil and political rights.

Freedom of religion or belief continues to be extensively and systematically disregarded, including for Baha’is who face widespread and systematic persecution, hate speech and obstacles to access to education and work. Christian converts and Yarsanis (Ahl-e Haq) as well as Sunni Muslims and non-believers are also persecuted for expressing or practising their faith or beliefs or face widespread discrimination. Members of Iran’s LGBT community continue to live under the threat of a penal code criminalizing same-sex sexual relations between consenting individuals with punishments ranging from flogging to death, and of a stigmatizing public discourse that make them vulnerable to police harassment, discrimination and violence.

Throughout the year, torture and other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement, was widespread and systematic in places of detention. Many of those jailed have been deliberately denied access to essential medical care. A number of human rights groups have received information from victims’ families indicating that their loved ones, who were arrested in relation to the November 2019 protests, have died in detention in suspicious circumstances, possibly resulting from torture. Human rights organizations have documented the executions of over 240 individuals in 2019. Among persons who were executed in 2019, at least four were under 18 at the time of the offence, and a dozen executions were carried out in public.

Iran’s judicial system, which should be the ultimate guardian of the rights of all people in Iran, has instead been perpetuating patterns of grave violations of human rights. The Secretary-General in his report presented at this session observed a “deterioration of fair trial guarantees” in 2019, pointing to a recent instruction from the head of the judiciary that allowed appeal proceedings to take place in writing and without a hearing, and a proposed amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure that, if adopted, would further limit the access of a person accused of national security crimes to a lawyer. These developments have come in the context of systematic violations of fair trial standards, including closed, summary trials, individuals facing national security or other charges being systematically denied access to independent lawyers at the investigation stage and some defendants being denied access to their lawyer even at trial, and extensive use of torture and other ill-treatment, especially during interrogations, to extract “confessions”, that are in many cases used as evidence on which judges base their verdict, and that are sometimes broadcasted on state television.

In an opinion adopted in August 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention raised alarm at “a systemic problem with arbitrary detention in the country, which amounts to a serious violation of international law” In a number of opinions adopted in recent years, the Working Group has further reminded the authorities that under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty, in violation of fundamental rules of international law, may constitute crimes against humanity.

In such a context, the work of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran is critical to monitor, document and report on the many systemic human rights challenges that people in Iran are facing, to engage with Iranian authorities on issues of concern, and to transmit potentially life-saving urgent communications on behalf of victims of human rights abuses, including individuals convicted of offences committed while  under the age of 18 and at risk of imminent executions or prisoners being denied access to medical care. The Special Rapporteur’s work amplifies the voices of victims within the UN system, and this mandate’s expert findings and recommendations steer and inform stakeholders’ efforts to encourage Iran to undertake long overdue human rights reforms.

For all these reasons, we urge your government to voice concern at the dire situation of human rights in the country, to call for transparency and accountability, and to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran at this session.

Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

The Advocates for Human Rights

All Human Rights for All in Iran

Amnesty International

Arseh Sevom

Article 18

ARTICLE 19

ASL19

Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)

Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran – Geneva (KMMK-G)

Balochistan Human Rights Group

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Center for Supporters of Human Rights

Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Committee to Protect Journalists

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)

Freedom from Torture

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI)

Human Rights Watch

Impact Iran

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Iran Human Rights

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Justice for Iran

Kurdistan Human Rights Network

Minority Rights Group International

OutRight Action International

Reprieve

Siamak Pourzand Foundation

Small Media

United for Iran

World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

6Rang – Iranian Lesbian & Transgender Network

Message of condolence from human rights organizations on the passing on of Ali Ajami

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ali Ajami, an exiled Iranian human rights defender and a dear colleague to many of us, who focused on documenting violations of human rights in Iran.

Ali, 37, was a gifted student of law at the University of Tehran who became a refugee after being arrested, imprisoned, and expelled from the university because of his political activism in Iran. Originally from a small village close to the city of Sabzehvar in Khorasan Razavi Province, he scored among the top twenty students in the national entrance exam for university, but due to his peaceful political activism, ended up serving two years in prison. Despite bearing the burden of finding a place in a new society as a new immigrant after leaving Iran, Ali remained committed to be a voice for the voiceless and help several of us with documenting and reporting on numerous human rights violations in Iran.

Many of us will remember Ali with a bright smile and a firm belief that the world we have can be made a better place for all those suffering under political oppression and economic injustice. It breaks our hearts that he endured oppression and imprisonment, and he had to leave his country solely for his political beliefs.

We extend our deepest condolences to Ali’s family and friends in Iran and outside the country, and we hope they can find some small comfort in knowing that he made a difference to the people around him and his fellow Iranians.

 

Roya Boroumand, Executive Director

Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation

 

Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Founder and President

Center for Supporters of Human Rights

 

Keyvan Rafiee, Executive Director

Human Rights Activists in Iran

 

Tara Sepehri Far, Iran Researcher

Human Rights Watch

 

Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director

International Center for Human Rights in Iran

 

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Executive Director

Iran Human Rights

 

Shahin Milani, Executive Director
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

 

Azadeh Pourzand, Co-Founder & Executive Director

Siamak Pourzand Foundation

 

Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director

United for Iran

 

OPEN LETTER TO RELEASE IRAN’S FEMALE PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE DURING PANDEMIC

In this COVID-19 pandemic, Iran is suffering one of the most damaging and deadliest outbreaks of any country in the world. Last week, the Iranian parliament’s research center released a report, written by independent experts, asserting that the true death toll could be nearly double the official figures and the number of infections may be up to 10 times higher. If confirmed, these numbers would make Iran the country with the highest number of cases in the world. A study by Iran’s prestigious Sharif University warns that the death toll may rise to 3.5 million in a worst-case scenario.

Despite the catastrophic situation on the ground, the government reopened businesses and resumed regularly scheduled public transportation last week— a move that is feared could spark a further wave.

The situation is even worse in Iran’s prisons. In February, the UN released a report documenting how the unsanitary and overcrowded prison conditions in Iran were already causing the spread of other infectious diseases. By the beginning of March, COVID-19 was added to the list. At that point, the women’s ward in Evin Prison, where a large number of the female prisoners of conscience are detained in cramped and unsanitary spaces, had already run out of medical and cleaning supplies. These prisoners of conscience are confined to a room with 18 women and sleep on triple bunk beds with little space in between. They are at an even greater risk than the general prison population, as their wellbeing is already often compromised by torture, denial of medical treatment, other ill-treatment, and their own hunger strikes. At least ten prisoners have reportedly died of the virus in Iran, though the numbers cannot be verified as authorities have denied outside observers access to prisons.

The authorities have reported the release of some tens of thousands of “low-level” prisoners temporarily to control the spread. However, it is not possible to verify the high number of alleged releases, and authorities have thus far refused to release hundreds of peaceful political prisoners. This is no judicial oversight. It is part of a policy that looks to further punish political prisoners by keeping them in dangerous prison conditions.

We, therefore, urge governments, non-governmental organizations, journalists, the United Nations and other international organizations to put pressure on the Iranian authorities to immediately release the following known prisoners of conscience, along with any other political prisoners, to save their lives. 

The following women are leading human rights defenders, lawyers, educators, writers, artists, and environmentalists, who have been sentenced to some of the harshest prison sentences in Iran’s history. The list includes Iranian and dual citizens.

Evin Prison:

1.    Nasrin Sotoudeh

2.    Fariba Adelkhah

3.    Kylie Moore-Gilbert

4.    Mojgan Keshavarz

5.    Saba Kord Afshari

6.    Raheleh Ahmadi

7.    Yasaman Aryani

8.    Monireh Arabshahi

9.    Atena Daemi

10. Niloufar Bayani

11. Sepideh Kashani

12. Maryam Akbari Monfared

13. Samaneh Norouz Moradi

14. Negin Ghadamian

15. Zahra Zehtabchi

16. Rezvaneh Khanbeigi

17. Elham Barmaki

18. Maryam Haj Hosseini


Other Prisons:

19. Golrokh Iraee Ebrahimi (Qarchak Prison)

20. Leila Mirghafari (Qarchak Prison)

21. Raha Ahmadi (Qarchak Prison)

22. Zohreh Sarv (Qarchak Prison)

23. Maryam Ebrahimvand (Qarchak Prison)

24. Fatemeh Khishvand (Qarchak Prison)

25. Narges Mohammadi (Zanjan Prison)

26. Zeinab Jalalian (Khoy Prison)

27. Fatemeh Sepehri (Vakilabad Prison, Mashhad)

28. Fatemeh Dadvand (Bukan Prison)

29. Mojgan Sayami (Ardebil  Central Prison)

30. Fatemeh Asma Esmaeilzadeh

31. Enis Saadet

32. Jaka Esmaeilpour

33. Sheida Najafian

34. Samira Hadian

35. Hajar Ardasr

36. Hakimeh Ahmadi

37. Fatemeh Kohanzadeh

38. Zari Tavakkoli

39. Gita Hor

40. Maryam Mokhtari

41. Saghar Mohammadi

42. Mokhgan Eskandari

43. Nahid Beshid

44. Simmin Mohammadi

45. Ehteram Sheikhi

46. Sheida Abedi

47. Masoumeh Ghasemzadeh Malekshah

48. Yalda Firouzian

49. Farideh Jaberi

50. Masoumeh Askari


Signed: 

⚫️ Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
⚫️ European Parliament, Vice-President Heidi Hautala on behalf of the Community of Sakharov Prize laureates
⚫️ Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
⚫️ Alliance Against State Hostage Taking
⚫️ Arseh Sevom
⚫️ Article 18
⚫️ Center for Human Rights in Iran
⚫️ Defenders of Human Rights Centre
⚫️ Equality Now
⚫️ Freedom House
⚫️ Human Rights Activists in Iran
⚫️ Human Rights Foundation
⚫️ Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre
⚫️ Iran Human Rights
⚫️ International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
⚫️ International Observatory of Human Rights
⚫️ Lantos Foundation
⚫️ Movements.org
⚫️ Nobel Women
⚫️ Siamak Pourzand Foundation
⚫️ Stop Child Executions
⚫️ United for Iran

 

Joint letter calling on HRC member to support the resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On Thursday, March 15, HRAI and 41 other NGOs signed a joint statement, calling HRC member states to support the resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Read the full text below:

TO: Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council

YourExcellency,

We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organisations, urge your government to support resolution A/HRC/40/L.15 renewing the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to be tabled during the 40th session of the Human Rights Council. 

The renewal of this mandate is warranted by the persistence of serious, chronic and systematic violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the country, which have only become more dire over the past year. The capacity and expertise of the mandate are necessary to address the on-going repression in Iran, including through conducting urgent documentation and urgent actions and through sustained and continuous engagement with the Iranian authorities in order to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Discontent with corruption and mismanagement of resources and demands for civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights have led to protests across the country over the last year. These protests and strikes have often been met by arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as violations of the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly. In 2018, at least 5 individuals, including protestors, have died in state custody and authorities have failed to conduct any transparent investigation into the circumstances of their death. State repression has been especially severe against already marginalized communities and ethnic minorities, for whom these issues are particularly acute. The security forces have violently dispersed peaceful demonstrations, beating unarmed protesters and using live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons against them.

The authorities have intensified their efforts to choke off the space for civil society work. Dissenting voices, including journalists, online media workers and human rights defenders, including human rights lawyers, labour rights activists and women’s rights defenders, have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, simply for speaking out. In 2018 at least 63 environmental activists were arrested. They include eight conservationists who could face the death penalty or long prison terms following a grossly unfair trial for their wildlife conservation work. Space for online expression continues to be closed off as part of efforts to inhibit the free flow of information in the country, as exemplified by the blocking of the popular instant messaging application Telegram.

Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities have consistently failed to adopt and enact legislation and policies that would address the core human rights violations that people in the country have been facing for decades, despite the many recommendations it has received from UN human rights bodies and through the UPR to that effect, and despite continued popular demands expressed through strikes and protests.

Long-standing bills pertaining to the protection of children against abuse and violence against women remain stalled, and some of the reforms included in the original drafts have already been watered down by the Guardian Council and the judiciary. In December 2018, a parliamentary committee rejected an amendment to the article on the age of marriage in the Civil Code, which would have banned marriage for girls under 13. Moreover, no legislative efforts were made to abolish the death penalty for individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the offence, which Iran practises “far more often than any other states”, as the Special Rapporteur stressed in his report.

Meanwhile, as abundantly documented by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, by the UN Secretary General, and by civil society organizations, legislation, policies and state practices continue to be at odds with international human rights standards on women’s rights, the rights of the child,  ethnic minority rights, the rights of recognized and unrecognized religious minorities, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, protection from torture and other ill-treatment, the right to life, due process and fair trial guarantees, as well as the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. 

Human rights organisations documented the executions of over 230 individuals in 2018, a decrease from last year, most likely as a result of amendments to the country’s drug law that went into force in November 2017. Authorities executed at least six who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offence. Iranians belonging to ethnic minorities, especially Kurds and Baluchis, have been disproportionately represented in execution statistics. Trials that violated due process and fair trial guarantees led to capital sentences, and death sentences were pronounced against individuals for a large range of offences that do not constitute the most serious crimes under international law. 

Rampant impunity remains prevalent in the judicial system. The most flagrant example is the systematic impunity that exists with respect to the on-going enforced disappearances and the secret extrajudicial executions of 1988; many of the perpetrators involved continue to hold positions of power, including in key judicial, prosecutorial and government bodies responsible for ensuring that victims receive justice. Indeed, the newly appointed head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, is one of the aforementioned perpetrators, who was the deputy prosecutor general of Tehran in 1988 and a member of the Tehran “death commission”.

The work carried out by the Special Rapporteur has been critical to amplifying the voices of victims of human rights abuses within the UN system. This work also supports a stifled domestic civil society, identifies systemic challenges, stimulates discussions about human rights within Iran, calls for key human rights reforms, and takes action on a large number of individual cases through individual communications, thereby saving or otherwise impacting the lives of many in Iran.

For all these reasons, we call on your government to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, and show that the community of states requires tangible change in the human rights record of the country, in line with Iran’s treaty obligations and UPR commitments.

▪️Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

▪️The Advocates for Human Rights

▪️All Human Rights for All in Iran

▪️Amnesty International

▪️Arseh Sevom

▪️Article 18

▪️ARTICLE 19

▪️ASL19

▪️Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)

▪️Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)

▪️Balochistan Human Rights Group

▪️Center for Human Rights in Iran

▪️Center for Supporters of Human Rights

▪️Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

▪️CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation

▪️Conectas Direitos Humanos

▪️Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)

▪️Freedom from Torture

▪️Freedom House

▪️Freedom Now

▪️Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI)

▪️Human Rights Watch

▪️Impact Iran

▪️International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

▪️International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

▪️International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)

▪️International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)

▪️International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

▪️Iran Human Rights

▪️Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

▪️Justice for Iran

▪️Kurdistan Human Rights Network

▪️Minority Rights Group International

▪️OutRight Action International

▪️Reprieve

▪️Siamak Pourzand Foundation

▪️Small Media

▪️United for Iran

▪️West African Human Rights Defenders’ Network

▪️World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

▪️World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

▪️6Rang – Iranian Lesbian & Transgender Network