The international community has long been aware of the human rights abuses occurring within Iran. Despite being a member of the United Nations, Iran has faced widespread criticism for its systematic violations of basic human rights. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of documented incidents, including dates and names, shedding light on the paradoxical nature of Iran assuming the chairmanship of the United Nations Human Rights Council from November 2nd, 2023. Additionally, it will explore the international outcry that has ensued as a result of this decision.
1. Freedom of Speech and Expression:
Iran's government has consistently suppressed freedom of speech and expression, stifling dissent and silencing critical voices. In January 2018, the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for defending women's rights and protesting against mandatory hijab laws. Her case represents just one of many instances where individuals have faced severe consequences for expressing their opinions.
2. Religious Persecution:
Religious minorities in Iran, including Baha'is, Christians, and Sunni Muslims, have been subjected to discrimination and persecution. In May 2019, three Baha'i citizens, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, and Afif Naeimi, were unjustly sentenced to 20 years in prison for their religious beliefs. This is just one example of the ongoing persecution faced by the Baha'i community, who have been targeted for their faith for decades.
3. Political Repression:
Iran's government has a long history of suppressing political dissent and opposition groups. In November 2019, during nationwide protests against fuel price hikes, security forces responded with excessive force, resulting in the deaths of over 300 protesters and the arbitrary arrest of thousands more. One of the most prominent cases was that of Navid Afkari, a young wrestler who was executed in September 2020 after being falsely accused of murder following his participation in the protests.
4. Women's Rights:
Women in Iran face systematic discrimination and violations of their rights. The mandatory hijab laws restrict their freedom of choice and expression. In December 2020, the human rights defender and women's rights activist, Saba Kord Afshari, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for peacefully protesting against compulsory hijab laws. This case exemplifies the ongoing struggle faced by Iranian women in their fight for equality and freedom.
The news of Iran assuming the chairmanship of the United Nations Human Rights Council has sparked widespread international outcry. Human rights organizations, activists, and concerned individuals have expressed deep concern and disbelief at the irony of such a decision. Many argue that it undermines the credibility of the commission and sends a message that human rights violations can go unpunished.
The appointment of Ali Bahreini, the Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, as the chair of the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) 2023 Social Forum has sparked outrage. The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has called for the immediate retraction of this appointment. Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI's executive director, criticized the decision, stating that it reflects a shocking ethical blindness, especially considering the ongoing investigations into Iran's human rights abuses.
The CHRI urges governments worldwide to demand the retraction of this appointment to preserve the legitimacy and credibility of the UNHRC. The UNHRC's 2023 Social Forum, scheduled for November 2 and 3, 2023, aims to discuss the role of science, technology, and innovation in promoting human rights. Given Iran's track record of human rights violations and mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, CHRI finds it inexplicable that President Václav Balek would choose Iran's UN ambassador for this role. CHRI calls on Balek to replace Bahreini with another candidate that satisfies the UNHRC's principle of regional rotation.
Several countries and other international bodies have issued statements condemning Iran's appointment. They have called for a reevaluation of the selection process and emphasized the need for the chairmanship to be held by countries that demonstrate a genuine commitment to upholding human rights. The international outcry serves as a reminder that the fight for human rights is a global endeavor that requires the collective efforts of nations and individuals alike.