On Thursday, March 17, as part of the 49th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Iran, presented his report and listed numerous cases of gross human rights violations in Iran and called for an independent investigation on the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and the crackdown of the November 2019 uprising as well as to end systemic impunity.
Presenting his latest report (A/HRC/49/75) to the annual UN Human Rights Council session on Iran, Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman appealed to the UN Member States to seek accountability for the 1988 massacre, stating:
“71. The Special Rapporteur urges the international community to call for accountability with respect to long-standing emblematic events that have been met with persistent impunity, including the enforced disappearances and summary and arbitrary executions of 1988 and the November 2019 protests.”
Following the report’s presentation, several UN Member States joined the call for accountability over the 1988 massacre.
During his remarks, Javaid Rehman said: “Last year, at least 280 people, including no less than 10 women, were executed in Iran. In addition to the two executed minors mentioned in my report, one person was also executed in secret without the knowledge of his family.”
“Last year we saw an increase in the number of executions,” the UN Special Rapporteur added. “Many of those executed were from ethnic minorities, including 40 Baluchis and more than 50 Kurds. The death penalty is widely being implemented, including for those who take part in protests. Judicial procedures lack access to a lawyer and forced confessions are being taken under torture.
Javaid Rehman went on: “My report to the Human Rights Council mentions the use of deadly force against rallies. The reason for the two protests was water scarcities and basic shortages of livelihoods. In both cases, Iran has prevented timely access and sharing of information by interrupting the Internet. In February, the Iranian parliament approved a bill concerning online services, despite strong opposition from civil society. The bill is a major step toward establishing a digital wall in Iran that effectively cuts the country off from the global Internet.”
In his report to the Human Rights Council, Javid Rahman also emphasized: “Other examples have been the large-scale enforced disappearances and field executions of political dissidents in 1981 and 1988, which have not been the subject of any investigation or audit to date. Crimes that seem to be the official policy of the regime to wipe off these events from people’s memories.”
“The structure of governance and the lack of an accountability system in Iran have created a culture of impunity that perpetuates cycles of violence, as human rights violations have no consequences for the government or the perpetrators,” the report further reads. “There seems to be a state policy to intimidate, prosecute or silence those who demand accountability, justice, and truth. A clear example of this is the imprisonment of a Maryam Akbari Monfared for seeking truth and justice for her relatives, who were forcibly disappeared and executed in 1988.”
Javaid Rehman added, “There are also threats and harassment of people seeking litigation for the loss of their family members following the downing of the Ukrainian plane. Or attacks and arrests of family members who seek justice and clarification of the whereabouts of their children who were killed during the November 2019 protests or who later ended up in prison.”
Citing the violent suppression of popular protests and uprisings, Javed Rehman’s report to the UN Human Rights Council also reads: Protests started in Khuzestan province and subsequently spread to other areas, including Isfahan, Lorestan, East Azerbaijan, Tehran, and Karaj and it is referred to as the ” uprising of the thirsty”. The testimonies, photos, and videos show the widespread use of force against protesters, many of whom belong to Arab residents. Security forces, counter-insurgency forces, and plainclothes officers fired live ammunition.”
The UN Special Rapporteur called on the international community to hold the Iranian regime accountable for cases involving permanent impunity, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary field executions in 1988, and the killings that took place during and after the November 2019 uprising.
Outside the UN Headquarters in Vienna, Iranians and supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization had organized a gathering, demonstrating pictures and reports of more than four decades of human rights violations in Iran.
Swiss member of parliament Sylvain Thevoz also attended the gathering and stressed the importance of seeking justice for crimes committed in the past in order to guarantee impunity for those who seek freedom in the future.